Book review: My Master’s Touch: A Heartwarming Tale of Love, Loyalty, and Devotion

My Master’s Touch: A Heartwarming Tale of Love, Loyalty, and Devotion by Lynda M. Nelson (120 pages)

As we grew up, this little hardcover book became a favorite of ours. Even now, just seeing the book on the shelf takes me back to Advent many years ago, when Mom would gather us in the glow of the Christmas tree and read aloud Meshak’s story. Who is Meshak? He is a kind and simple burro who tells the story of faithfully serving his master and his master’s family for many years. But slowly, the reader begins to realize that this isn’t just any burro. And his master is anyone but ordinary. Be prepared to add this beautiful and emotional story to your Christmas traditions!

Book Review: Augustine Came to Kent

Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard (179 pages)


This is not the story of St. Augustine (author of Confessions), but the story of yet another great saint: St. Augustine of Canterbury. Although he is not as “popular” as St. Augustine of Hippo, this is not a story to be missed! Augustine of Canterbury was a monk who lived in the 6th century and went on to become the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Just before becoming archbishop, Augustine was called by Pope Gregory the Great to travel to England to spread Christianity and convert the king, Æthelberht. This book focuses on the meeting of these two great men and Augustine’s work in England just before his death in the early 7th century. It would be a great supplement to a child or student’s study of history and religion!

Saint Quotes


Faith is characteristic not of the proud but of the humble.
-Saint Augustine

The devil has never succeeded in tempting me against faith. It even seems to me that the less I can comprehend the truths of faith, the more readily I give them my assent.
– Saint Teresa of Avila

Show by your deeds that you believe; by a virtuous life a Christian must prove that he has faith.
-Saint Bernard

He who acknowledges God with his tongue but denies Him in deed, dedicates his tongue to the Lord and his soul to the devil.
-Saint Bernard

The business of the Christian is nothing else but to be ever preparing for death.

-Saint Irenaeus


The good that I hope for is so great that every suffering becomes for me a pleasure.
-Saint Francis of Assisi

I rejoice and am glad, for my sentence on judgment day depends on Jesus my Brother and on Mary my mother.
-Saint Bonaventure

O blessed confidence! O safe refuge! The Mother of God is also my Mother; with what security I can hope for eternal happiness, for that happiness depends on the decision of a good Brother and on a compassionate Mother.
-Saint Anselm


Humble yourself and God will descent to unite Himself with you; but if you are proud He will depart from you.
-Saint Augustine

Humility is the clearest sign of the elect.
-Saint Gregory

Nothing is so edifying as amiable meekness.
-Saint Francis de Sales

Gentleness, love, and humility have a wonderful effect in winning the hearts of men and in causing them to do willingly what is opposed to human nature.
-Saint Vincent de Paul

I’m like a little pencil in God’s hand. That’s all. He does the thinking.  He does the writing.  The pencil has nothing to do it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.
Mother Teresa


Thou hast sinned O Christian, but dost thou desire forgiveness? Fear not, for  God’s desire to grant it is greater than  your desire to receive it.
-Saint John Chrysostom

Why should you fear, O sinner, as long as you detest your sins? How could He reject the repentant sinner, since He came down from Heaven to seek that sinner?
-Saint Thomas of Villanova

The efforts of Hell at this moment are very great, but by the merits of His suffering our Savior takes from them all their power.
-Saint Eleazar


Hasten to Mary, for I say it without hesitation, the Son will certainly hear the Mother. She is the ladder of safety for poor sinners. She is my greatest assurance; she is the only ground of my hope.
-Saint Bernard

Happy is he who loves thy holy name, O Mary! Thy name is a glorious and wonderful name; they who invoke thy powerful name at the hour of death have nothing to fear from the assaults of hell.
-Saint Bonaventure


With what love would  we be inflamed, did we but see the flames of love that burn in the heart of Christ!
-Saint Francis de Sales

Those who withdraw into the little heaven of their soul, where He who created them is enthroned, can be certain that in a brief space of time they will have advanced far on the road to perfection.
-Saint Teresa of Avila

I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.
-Mother Teresa

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
-Mother Teresa

I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.
-Saint Thomas More

I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.
-Saint Kateri Tekakwitha


If you wish to know how much a person loves his God, see how much he loves his neighbor.
-Saint Catherine of Genoa

In our neighbor we must direct our attention to the good and not to the evil.
-Saint Jane de Chantal

If, in the course of his life, a man never spoke ill of his fellow man, I would consider him a saint.
-Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Say nothing of an absent brother that you would not wish to say in his presence.
-Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

An ounce of charity is better than tons of right.
-Saint Robert Bellarmine

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
-Mother Teresa

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
-Mother Teresa

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
-Mother Teresa

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
-Mother Teresa

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts,  there can be no more hurt, only  more love.
-Mother Teresa


Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself.”
― Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

One should not seek among others the truth that can be easily gotten from the Church. For in her, as in a rich treasury, the apostles have placed all that pertains to truth, so that everyone can drink this beverage of life. She is the door of life.
-Saint Irenaeus


Nothing proves our love for Jesus Christ better than the zeal we  have to pray for our brethren.
-Saint John Chrysostom

If you are occupied during the whole meditation in fighting distractions and temptations you will have made a good meditation.  The Lord looks to the good intention we have and the effort we make, and these He rewards.
-Saint Francis de Sales


There are no times so bad that a good man cannot live in them.
-Saint Thomas More


If we only knew what a treasure we possess in hidden sufferings, we would gladly accept them as the greatest benefits.
-Saint Vincent de Paul

Learn to suffer for the love of God, and don’t be anxious for everyone to find it out.
-Saint Teresa of Avila


The less we have here, the greater will be our joy in heaven.
-Saint Teresa of Avila

Oh what happiness voluntary poverty bestows. The poor man possesses  nothing and therefore has nothing to fear; he is always cheerful for he has an abundance, since he knows how to draw spiritual gain out of everything that is burdensome.
-Saint Bernard

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
-Mother Teresa


Chastity makes man very similar to God Himself, who is a pure spirit.
– Saint Basil

O holy purity, thou are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the life of angels and the crown of saints.
– Saint Athanasius

The first arrows that strike chaste souls and frequently cause deadly wounds, pierce through the eyes.
-Saint Bernard


When a thief is trying to break in the door, it is  a sign he is not yet in the house.
-Saint Francis de Sales

From the look proceeds the thought and from the thought the desire.
-Saint Augustine

He who does not wish the enemy to force his way into the fortress must keep the gates closed.
-Saint Francis de Sales

Downcast eyes direct the heart to Heaven.
-Saint Bernard


Through a tree we were made debtors to God; so through a tree we have our debt canceled.
-Saint Irenaeus

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Novena to the Immaculate Conception
Begin the Novena to the Immaculate Conception on November 29 and end on December 7, the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.326px-The_Immaculate_Conception,_by_Giovanni_Battista_Tiepolo,_from_Prado_in_Google_Earth

Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were pleasing in the sight of God from the first moment of your conception in the womb of your mother, St. Anne. You were chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe the teaching of Holy Mother Church, that in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race and beloved Son of God, you were preserved from all stain of original sin. I thank God for this wonderful privilege and grace He bestowed upon you as I honor your Immaculate Conception.

Look graciously upon me as I implore this special favor: (mention your request).

Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your throne in heaven turn your eyes of pity upon me. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, I beg you to help me in this journey of life which is so full of dangers for my soul. I entrust myself entirely to you, that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life.

My holy Mother, I beseech you to pray that I may desire God’s will in all things, and that I may increase in my faith, hope, and love for our risen Lord.

I consecrate myself to you forever, for my only desire is to love your divine Son, Jesus. O Blessed Mother, since none of your devout servants has perished, may I, too, be saved.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.


Saint Quote Scrambles

Here is a fun worksheet that combines your puzzle skills with quotes from the saints. There are two levels: easy and hard. Detailed instructions are on the sheets. Enjoy!

Click the image below to print the (easy) Saint Quote Scramble.
catholic worksheet


Click the image below to print the (hard) Saint Quote Scramble.

catholic worksheet

Book Review: Our Savior and His Love for Us

Our Savior And His Love For Us by Father Garrigou-LaGrange (398 pages)

Among the hundreds of books Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange wrote during his lifetime is a fascinating work focusing on the relationship between Christ’s divinity and the redemption of humanity. This book features 32 different topics on the life of Christ with the purpose of understanding what is meant by the interior life and how it is developed. Fr. Farrigou-LaGrange writes on topics such as “The Priesthood of Christ” and “Christ’s Redemptive Love” with rich and beautiful language, making this a true treasure for growing closer to Christ.

Book review: The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith

The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith
by Josephine Nobisso (32 pages)

How important is one Mass? The Weight of a Mass is a beautifully illustrated book to teach children- and adults!- how much a single Mass is worth. When an old woman begs a crust of bread in exchange for one Mass, the angry baker receives an incredible surprise. The baker, his son, and the whole town are shown just how great one Mass is. The story is based on a true incident that occurred in a little town in Luxembourg many years ago. This wonderful book would make a great gift for a First Holy Communion.

Marian apparitions: create a mini grotto!

Create three scenes from Marian apparitions using our free template and items from around the house!

marian grottos

Begin by coloring the images on the  template , which are resized pictures of coloring pages here on the Catholic Playground. Though they are very easy to create, below are steps and suggestions for assembling each grotto:

Our Lady of Lourdes
On the  template , you will find an outline for the grotto (cut on the solid line, fold on the dotted line). We traced this onto stiff brown paper, cut it out, and glued it together at the bottom. It should curve a little to give it a “grotto” or “cave” look. We used crepe paper, cut into strips and rolled into little balls, as roses to decorate the grotto. For the gold roses that were on Mary’s feet when she appeared, we hole-punched gold, glittery foam previously purchased from the craft store.

marian grottos

Our Lady of Fatima
This scene was a lot of fun to put together. We ended up using a blue Kleenex box to form the “grotto.” What you see is the bottom and side of the inside of the box. We liked the blue pattern of the Kleenex box and glued that to the inside as the sky. By including the sky and the sun, we tried to incorporate the miracle of the sun dancing at Fatima :) The sun was traced from the  template onto gold foam. We used fishing line to hang the sun, so that it would move. The bottom of the scene is covered in green paper for grass and the image of Mary we attached to cotton, for a cloud. marian grottos

Our Lady of Guadalupe
The most important item in this scene is the green floral foam (craft foam) found in most craft stores. We originally purchased ours from the dollar store. A half ball or disc shape will work best. We used a flat-topped dome, cut it in half, and used the top half as the base of the scene. From the bottom half of the foam, we cut out a cactus shape. Our cactus is in one piece, but you could also cut little pieces and let children build their own cacti with glue or pieces of toothpicks. We attached both the image and the cactus with toothpicks in this scene.
marian grottosA few notes on creating the grottos:

  • When cutting out your pictures, you can cut as close to the image as you’d like. However, we recommend leaving more room at the bottom of the image. This will allow you to fold part of the image under and glue it to your grotto.
  • We were able to use materials already on hand at home. Feel free to add or substitute based on what is available to you.

Have fun and be creative! We’d love to hear how you made your grottos! Let us know in a comment below.

Catholic Coasters

It’s inevitable in any Catholic household: a broken  rosary with missing beads, duplicate holy cards and medals and such! We’re always looking for ways to use or repurpose the plethora of Catholic objects in our home. This past fall, we came up with an idea we think you’ll love!

Introducing… Catholic coasters!

catholic coasters

They are so fun and easy to make, not to mention a great way to put the Catholic faith on display! If you don’t use coasters in your home, these can also make great decorations, paper weights, or gifts!

catholic coasters

The video below will walk you through the super easy process of creating Catholic resin coasters!

catholic coasters

Saint Juan Diego coloring page: December 9th

saint juan diego coloring page

What Happened to the Apostles?

Jesus’ ascension into Heaven wasn’t the end of the Church, but the beginning!

He left behind 12 close companions and successors of the Church.

What happened to these apostles?

how did saint peter diePETER was declared by Jesus to be the “rock [upon which] I will build my church,” and therefore, the first pope. Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.





how did saint peter dieANDREW was also crucified on an x-shaped cross. It is said that Andrew greeted his martyrdom saying, ‘I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.’ For two days, he continued to preach from the cross until he died.






how did saint peter dieTHOMAS spent his life as a missionary, traveling as far as India.  He is credited with preaching to the people there, baptizing them, and performing miracles. It was there that Thomas was stabbed with a spear, becoming a martyr for the Faith.





how did saint peter dieJAMES  was the first bishop of Jerusalem. He wrote the Epistle that is now part of the New Testament. In 62 AD, James was martyred by the Jews.







how did saint peter dieJAMES THE GREAT was a simple fisherman, called by Jesus to follow Him. Tradition tells us that James, who was a missionary, was one of the Church’s first martyrs. James continued to preach the Gospel until his death. It is said that a Roman officer watching James was converted by his words. After the officer declared himself to be a Christian, the two were beheaded together.



how did saint peter die

MATTHEW left behind a career as a tax collector to follow Christ. He wrote the first Gospel of the New Testament and traveled to several countries as a missionary. It is believed he died as a martyr, possibly in modern-day Turkery or Ethiopia, although little is actually known about his death.




how did saint peter dieLUKE, who was believed to be a physician, became a missionary after Christ’s Ascension. Eventually, Luke met the apostle Paul and spent time with him on a missionary journey. In fact, Luke was with Paul when he died. Luke faced his own martyrdom in Greece, where he was tortured and hanged.



how did saint peter dieMARK traveled to spread the Faith in Cyprus and also wrote the second Gospel. He later traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, to establish the Church there. Mark became the first bishop of Alexandria. It was here that he died a martyr’s death, after being dragged by horses for two days.




how did saint peter dieBARTHOLOMEW spent his life as a missionary, specifically to Asia. It was in Armenia that Bartholomew scourged and beheaded for his work spreading the Gospel. Although little is known about the life of Bartholomew, tradition tells us that many miracles have been attributed to him since his death.






how did saint peter dieJUDE traveled all over, preaching the Gospel, before returning to Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that his brother, St. Simeon, became bishop.  Tradition tells us that the two refused to deny their faith and were most likely killed together. Today, St. Jude is a patron saint of impossible causes.





how did saint peter dieMATTHIAS was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, after he betrayed Christ. Although not selected by Jesus himself, he is counted as one of the twelve apostles and was with the others at Pentecost. Matthias traveled to parts of present-day Turkey and Georgia, before receiving a martyr’s death. Although it is uncertain where he died, he mostly likely was stoned.





how did saint peter dieJOHN escaped a death of being boiled in oil during a persecution in Rome. Afterwards, he was banished to the island of Patmos. It was there that he wrote the Book of Revelation. Later in life, John returned to modern-day Turkey, where he became Bishop of Edessa. He was in his 90s when he died, and was the only apostle to die peacefully.

Book review: St. Maria Goretti: In Garments All Red

St. Maria Goretti: In Garments All Red by Fr. Godfrey Poage, C.P. (87 pages)

Most people know the story of young Maria Goretti who chose to die, rather than commit a mortal sin. Few, however, know the amazing and beautiful story that preceded and followed Maria’s death. How did Maria make such a remarkable decision at such a young age? What happened in the hours that followed the stabbing, as Maria lingered between life and death? And perhaps one of the greatest questions: What happened to Alessandro Serenelli, the man who fatally wounded Maria?

This little book tells the story of Maria: her family and their struggles, her own virtuous life, the great martyrdom she accepted, and finally, her canonization. Following the Epilogue are pictures of the home where Maria lived, the chapels created in her memory, her canonization, and pictures of her mother and Alessandro years after her death. The book ends with the homily given at Maria’s canonization, as well as prayers and novena specifically dedicated to Maria. This book is an inspiring must-read for all young people.

Book review: Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco

Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco by St. John Bosco (234 pages)

” ‘You hideous beast,’ I exclaimed… Amid the general uproar, I realized that I could get nothing more from the monster… Then I sprinkled holy water all about, and in the pandemonium which ensued, all those cats scurried away. The din awakened me, and I found myself in bed. ” (from Forty Dreams)

Through a series of dreams that occurred during his life, St. John Bosco received messages and signs from God that formed both his calling to the priesthood and his spiritual life. The first of these dreams occurred when he was just nine years old. Some of these dreams even repeated themselves multiple times throughout his life. This book is a compilation of these dreams, as recorded in his memoirs. From “The Snake and the Rosary” to “Two Boys Attacked by a Monster,” these dreams relate messages that are just as important today as they were one hundred years ago. Be sure to set aside plenty of time when you pick up this book- you won’t be able to put it down!

Article: “How the Miraculous Medal Changed My Life”

Below is from a talk that Fr. John Hardon gave many times during his life.  I (Gemma) was blessed to attend Mass said by Fr. Hardon before he passed away in 2000, and was also enrolled in the Miraculous Medal by him. The cause for his beatification and canonization is open.

How the Miraculous Medal Changed My Life
by Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

One of the most memorable experiences that I ever had was with the Miraculous Medal! It changed my life.

In the fall of 1948, the year after my ordination, I was in what we call the Tertianship. This is a third year of Novitiate before taking final vows.

In October of that year, a Vincentian priest came to speak to us young Jesuit priests. He encouraged us to obtain faculties, as they are called, to enroll people in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. Among other things, he said, “Fathers, the Miraculous Medal works. Miracles have been performed by Our Lady through the Miraculous Medal.”

I was not impressed by what the Vincentian priest was telling. I was not the medal-wearing kind of person and I certainly did not have a Miraculous Medal. But I thought to myself, “It does not cost anything.” So I put my name down to get a four page leaflet from the Vincentians, with the then-Latin formula for blessing Miraculous Medals and enrolling people in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. About two weeks later, I got the leaflet for blessing and enrollment, put it into my office book and forgot about it.

In February of the next year, I was sent to assist the chaplain of St. Alexis Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. I was to be there helping the regular chaplain for two weeks.

Each morning I received a list of all the patients admitted into the hospital that day. There were so many Catholics admitted that I could not visit them all as soon as they came.

Among the patients admitted was a boy about nine years old. He had been sled-riding down hill, lost control of the sled and ran into a tree head-on. He fractured his skull and X-rays showed he had suffered severe brain damage.

When I finally got to visit his room at the hospital, he had been in a coma for ten days, no speech, no voluntary movements of the body. His condition was such that the only question was whether he would live. There was no question of recovering from what was diagnosed as permanent and inoperble brain damage.

After blessing the boy and consoling his parents, I was about to leave his hospital room. But then a thought came to me. “That Vincentian priest. He said, ‘The Miraculous Medal works.’ Now this will be a test of its alleged miraculous powers!”

I didn’t have a Miraculous Medal of my own. And everyone I asked at the hospital also did not have one. But I persisted, and finally one of the nursing sisters on night duty found a Miraculous Medal.

What I found out was that you don’t just bless the medal, you have to put it around a person’s neck on a chain or ribbon. So the sister-nurse found a blue ribbon for the medal, which made me feel silly. What was I doing with medals and blue ribbons.

However, I blessed the medal and had the father hold the leaflet for investing a person in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. I proceeded to recite the words of investiture. No sooner did I finish the prayer of enrolling the boy in the Confraternity than he opened his eyes for the first time in two weeks. He saw his mother and said, “Ma, I want some ice cream.” He had been given only intravenous feeding.

This Experience Changed My Life
Then he proceeded to talk to his father and mother. After a few minutes of stunned silence, a doctor was called. The doctor examined the boy and told the parents they could give him something to eat.

The next day began a series of tests on the boy’s condition. X-rays showed the brain damage was gone.

Then still more tests. After three days, when all examinations showed there was complete restoration to health, the boy was released from the hospital.

This experience so changed my life that I have not been the same since. My faith in God, faith in His power to work miracles, was strengthened beyond description.

Since then, of course, I have been promoting devotion to Our Lady and the use of the Miraculous Medal. The wonders she performs, provided we believe, are extraordinary.

In teaching theology over the years, I have many semesters taught the theology of miracles. And I have an unpublished book manuscript on “The History and Theology of Miracles.” My hope is to publish the manuscript in the near future.

Copyright © 2003 by Inter Mirifica

Saints of the Pro-Life Movement Crossword Puzzle

As Catholics, we are called to protect and defend life, from the smallest and most vulnerable, to the sick and the elderly. From conception to natural death, our mission is to love what God has given and created.

In the Catholic Church, we are so blessed to have incredible and holy examples of unconditional love to guide and inspire us. The list of canonized saints is numerous, especially those committed to protecting and promoting the sacredness of life.

Our newest activity sheet highlights 11 of these saints. These are saints who spent their lives living out the calling of Christ to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” They served the people around them, made remarkable choices, defended the Faith, and inspired others by their words and actions.

Test your knowledge of the more common names- and maybe learn a thing or two about the saints that are not as familiar! Challenge yourself to find the answers, or use our word bank to help solve the puzzle.

The crossword puzzle will print as one full sheet. The word bank will print as a second sheet, or print it on the back to save paper.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Click the image below to print the crossword.

saints of the pro life movement crossword

Catholic Candles

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ ” John 14:6

The darkness of winter brings with it a greater appreciation for LIGHT. The shorter days and longer nights remind us not only of our need for light, but also our need for The Light, who came to earth as a brightness for all.

saint michael candle craft

Needless to say, we tend to burn more candles in the winter. Today we decided our candles could use some “dressing up,” Catholic Playground style :)

saint michael candle craft

We used a flameless candle for this craft, in order to enjoy it a while longer.

Begin by choosing an image for your candle. You will want to use an image that has a VERY clear outline. We chose St. Michael the Archangel, as his silhouette is very distinct. After printing the image, we carefully traced it onto black tissue paper.

saint michael candle craft

Tissue paper is very thin and very difficult to work with, so be sure to cut carefully and slowly with a sharp pair of scissors. We glued the black image to the candle with craft glue.

saint michael candle craft

The letters are stickers, purchased at the craft store for a few dollars. We chose black letters, hoping they would stand out the best when the candle is “lit.”

saint michael candle craft

Not only do these candles bring light to a room, but they make wonderful gifts or feast day projects. With different pictures and wording, a candle could make a great Confirmation or First Holy Communion gift.

Another benefit to using flameless candles is that they are child-friendly! Flameless candles are battery operated and do not burn. Your Catholic candle could double as a Catholic nightlight! 😉

How do you plan to dress up your candles? Let us know in a comment below!