Does it feel like Grow Christians just honored a major feast?
Yes, it does. Because the feast day for St. Mark was yesterday. But guess what? There’s another major feast coming up on Sunday! The feast day for St. Philip and St. James. (Update: actually, it’s coming up on Monday, having been transferred from Sunday. Apologies from the editor!)
Long ago before Grow Christians launched, I followed a few Roman Catholic mom blogs. Their families often celebrated saints days, especially if there was a person in the family connected to the saint in some way. Their families also had more celebrations than mine did!
But I was not Roman Catholic. When I looked at the Episcopal calendar, I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t just copy the mom blogs; they didn’t quite fit. I was not good at planning ahead in those days. I had zero background in celebrating saints days. And so a lot of the time I did nothing.
My kids are teenagers now. When I look back at their childhood, I wish I had picked a family patron saint – or a few – and made a big deal of those feast days. If I had done that when my kids were still young, it would have contributed to the culture of our family. I can do it now, but the wonder years are behind me; I am deep into the independent thinking years.
So for those of you with young children, ponder which saints speak to you. Look them up and learn about them. And then decide how you can honor them at home. This is my unsolicited “seasoned mom” advice.
Fortunately, our calendar offers many saints worth emulating – including two who are celebrated on May 1.
St. Philip’s combination of evangelism, practical-mindedness and desire to know God is inspiring. As soon as he is invited to follow Jesus, he goes to find a friend to accompany him. When he is asked how to feed the five thousand, he does some quick accounting. Then, later, he asks Jesus to “show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”
The identity of St. James is not quite as clear – and so we are reminded that a life offered in humility to God’s service is blessed, even when stories about it do not survive. Some believe that this James authored the book of James – one of the shortest books of the Bible. (Scholars say that may not be historically accurate. In case you wonder about all the different people named James in the Bible, James Kiefer offers this.)
Here are some ways to honor these saints at home:
- Print out an image of the saint and put it in a place of honor. (We will publish one that morning, or you can search for one online.)
- If your kids are old enough to read, offer the prayer of the day as a family. (We’ll publish that too.)
- Make barley bread (or lemon barley scones – not ancient, but they look yummy) for your family.
- Celebrate with a pastry in honor of St. Philip, the patron saint of pastry chefs.
- Or eat Greek food in honor of St. Philip, who was the intermediary for the Greeks who came to see Jesus.
- Bring out the family Bible and read the book of James. Even if scholars dispute the attribution, it’s good to read James anyway. If your kids are young, you may want to do this reading on your own, somewhere your kids can see you. Or, if your kids are older, discuss James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” What is it to keep oneself unstained by the world? How do we care for orphans and widows?
- Nothing above fit quite right? Read Forward Movement’s short web biographies of the saints and figure out a way to celebrate that suits you.
In my family, with my eleven and fourteen year olds, we’ll be enjoying Greek food and saying the prayer of the day. It’s not much, but it’s not nothing either. I may not have started early, but I can always begin now.
And so can you.
[Image credit: NY Photographic, Creative Commons 3 license]
How does celebrating the saints at home fit in your faith practice? Does it?