Sanctifying everyday life is something that I have made a priority within the Palcsey domestic church.  Praying for meals, praying before school, and praying before bed are probably the most common, almost rote ways we all do this.  My kids are excitable, so I like to capitalize on that energy and youthful innocence by making a big deal out of cool Catholic things.

Probably the most fun my kids have aside from Christmas, Easter, and their birthdays, is on their patronal feast days.  For the last several years, we’ve been treating the feasts of Saints John Bosco, Patrick, and Nicholas as full-on Solemnities! I always ask them a few weeks in advance what they’d like to do to celebrate their feast days.  Finding an evening daily Mass usually presents a challenge, but asking for that saint’s intercession is happening all day in our house or at school, wherever the feast day boy happens to be.  Inevitably, we end up getting delicious burgers and milkshakes just after spending two hours at a trampoline park.  

As time goes on, I expect those interests to change, but what remains the same is purpose, intention, and prayerfulness.  Just before we do our bedtime prayers, I am always humbled to give my son the blessing on his name day from the Catholic Household Book of Blessings and Prayers.  What makes this extra fun is that my kids always seem to tell the server or the worker at the park that they’re there celebrating their feast day, which turns into them running away and me taking a minute to explain what we do.  This type of evangelization may only happen a few times a year, but eventually, my sons will be explaining this all on their own to their friends and the people they encounter.  

Birthdays are fun and a great part of our tradition as humans, but feast days always remind us to be grateful for the Communion of Saints and their constant intercession for us.  And plus, it gives our children’s names so much more meaning, to put a name with the face as the old adage goes, so they know who they can go to for help when they pray.  The extra special milkshake may be an added source of joy, but maybe it’s just the brush with holiness they get from their intercessors!  

Aside from celebrating these individual feast days as a family, we make a big deal out of all the Solemnities we can.  We’ll always pick a special meal or fun activity on Holy Days of Obligation or great Solemnities so that we can pray at Mass together and then continue family time after that.  Honestly, my favorite might be having a cookout on the Feast of the Assumption, complete with friends, music, grilled/smoked meats, and cold beverages, poolside.  Making time to ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession with the smell of chlorinated water and barbecue sauce in the air may seem odd, but I have some great memories of playing in water and having a blast outside in my youth as my mom cooked on the grill.  Let us never forget that Mary is our mother, and that even with her Immaculate Conception, she was most certainly human.  I would imagine she provided similar experiences for Jesus as a boy.  Giving Mary these very palpable, human, motherly qualities can help to draw us even closer to her embrace.  Who wouldn’t love to run to her and be draped in her mantle when the skies open up and rain interrupts your barbecue and pool time.  Consider a BVM BBQ the next time you’re planning a back to school/end of summer get together, you won’t regret it.

As wild as some of our family’s traditions might seem, we’ve just made it a point to take hold of what most people do on Christmas and Easter and extend it out to other important feasts of the year.  Some of them are more unique to our family, but we all have Mary as our Mother, and we all can go to Saint Joseph for his silent wisdom.  Making the Church and Her beauty more accessible to my kids is where this all started for me as a father, but truthfully, making sure we celebrate these things together have helped me to grow so much closer to Mary and the Saints than I ever thought I would have otherwise.  Echoing my Benedictine roots, I see all of this play as work and prayer united: Ora et Labora.  Let us pray with our hands as they flip the burger, pray with our feet as they strike the trampoline, and pray with our hearts as they grow in love for the Lord, our God through His Mother and His Saints.