Convert trying to implement Catholic traditions

Hello everyone–

I converted to Catholicism nine years ago, and having not been raised Catholic, I missed out on spiritual practices/traditions for the Lenten and Advent seasons. I would like to start a new generation of Catholics with my future children, and am looking for ways to make these times to speak to them and stick out in their minds.

So far, I’d like to switch from a normal dining set to wooden plates/bowls during Lent. I recently went to Central America and noticed several homes had crosses draped with purple cloth outside, and I’d like to do that also. I also bought a gold, frankincense, and myrrh set that I’d like to bring out during Advent, and explain the significance and meaning of them to my children.

Does anyone have any other ideas on how to make these times stand out to children? Are there specific events or traditions your family did that stuck out in your mind as a child?

Meredith Gould is also a convert, and she has written an excellent book called The Catholic Home which addresses these types of issues. I found her book at the public library.

I second this recommendation. My wife owns a copy of this book and it has innumerable suggestions.

Are you looking for ways to express your Catholicism or actual Catholic traditions? None of the things you mentioned above are really Catholic traditions - at least not in the US. Crucifixes being draped is something that is done in Church but I haven’t ever seen it done in a home. (covering statues, yes, crucifixes, no) I have never heard of the wooden plate thing and the gold, frankincense and myrrh sets are a pretty new devotion.

Many of the longer-standing Catholic traditions grew out of national or ethnic traditions. Perhaps you can find something that rings true based on your heritage.

My RCIA instructor celebrated Advent with her children by setting up an empty Nativity scene, and then making the shepherds, wisemen, etc. “journey” closer and closer to it as Advent progressed. On Christmas Eve, everyone except the baby Jesus had “arrived”, and on Christmas morning she placed the child in the manger.

Here is something my daughter does at Advent with her daughters–a Jesse Tree.

There are books with Jesse tree ornaments already made if desired, they can be found at Catholic bookstores. I was amazed at how much Bible my little granddaughters learned, and how well they could tell the stories.

There are a number of advent traditions (lighting the Advent wreath and offering a prayer based upon that day’s Mass readings), moving the baby Jesus closer to the nativity as advent goes along, etc.

For Lent, you can encourage your kids to “give something up” for the season or choose an act of charity to do each day. I love your idea of the wooden bowls/spoons as it would remind them of the simplicity of the Lenten season. Perhaps pick a novena that speaks to you and pray it with the family for a particular intention.

I’m afraid that my family wasn’t particularly big on Catholic traditions in the home (my mother is Methodist). However, we always offered something up for Lent, no meat Fridays, and fasted on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday. One of my friends’ in college introduced me to the Holy Thursday tradition of “church hopping”. After Holy Thursday Mass, we would meet up and visit the Blessed Sacrament in various churches while offering a different prayer (I’d bring my liturgy of the hours book and pray a portion of evening prayer at each stop). Although, that might be difficult when the kids are really young.

Hope this helps!

Daily Mass, if available.

Thank you for the suggestions! I did buy a copy of that book that was suggested, along with a cook book that has recipes for throughout the Liturgical year.

To answer the one poster’s question, I’m mostly looking for anything that would create a Catholic culture for my future children, whether traditional or just something that incorporates a traditional Catholic idea.

I really hope I have the opportunity to go to daily Mass year round!

Hi hooveam,

Got to say, really nice hearing another person who wants to make sure their children grow up with a rich Catholic tradition at home. I wish you the best of luck.

Obviously, mass is the most important, but many of the posters have already hit on the major ones - Advent Wreath leading up to Christmas, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (never heard of fasting on Palm Sunday since it’s a feast day), and obviously giving up something for Lent. Those are the things that stand out in my childhood.

The one other item that should not be forgotten is prayer… lots of prayer (meals, bedtime, etc.)

God bless!

We often use suggestions from here with our kids:

They really liked “burying alleluia” for lent this year!

Ooops, I did type fasting on Palm Sunday, didn’t I? Good catch! Fasting on Good Friday is preferable :wink:

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