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 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

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!

Felt Board Priest Vestments

Recently, we came up with a fun, interactive way of learning the different parts of the priest’s vestments.


felt board vestments

To create your own Felt Board Priest Vestments, you will need:

  • felt: red, green, purple, white, peach, and any solid color to cover the background
  • white trim
  • gold trim
  • a small piece of cord
  • scissors
  • hot glue
  • cardboard, foam board, or other stiff material to create your board
  • our priest vestments template

felt board vestmentsWe made the alb, cincture, chasuble, and stole. To begin, trace the outline of the man onto the peach felt and cut.

For the alb, trace the template onto the white felt and cut.

We twisted a piece of cord stiffened with wire into a cincture.

felt board vestmentsFor the stole, trace the template onto the felt and cut.

And last but not least, use the template to cut out the chasuble.

We repeated these steps on each color of felt to create garments to represent each of the liturgical seasons.
felt board vestmentsWe took a piece of foam board and covered it with a dark green felt to create a background to play on. The felt is secured to the back with hot glue.
felt board vestmentsWe also used hot glue to add trim to both the alb and the chasuble. We put little pieces of lace on the bottom and arms of the alb and gold on the chasuble.
felt board vestments

These are just simple vestments, but there’s a lot more you could do with this project! Let us know what you think!

Saint Therese of Lisieux Shower of Roses Ring Toss

“If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.”

– St. Therese of Lisieux

saint therese of lisieux

For this game, we created a life-size St. Therese, similar to the Saint Francis of Assisi Animal Toss.

To create St. Therese, you will need:

  • a large (tall) piece of cardboard or foam board
  • a picture of the face of St. Therese
  • brown, white, and black fabric
  • scissors (or knife for cutting)
  • tape
  • roses and a crucifix (optional)

To create the ring toss, you will need:

  • a cardboard tube or other stiff tube
  • colored tape
  • craft roses
  • grapevine wreaths (found at craft stores)
  • coffee can or or similar container
  • spray paint
  • sand

Begin by assembling your St. Therese.

To create the body, trace the outline of a person onto your cardboard or foam board. Cut out the body and arrange the fabric to look like her habit. We pinned some fabric to the front of St. Therese to create the look of “arms,” and also gave her roses and a crucifix. Tape or glue her face on.

Our St. Therese is about 5 feet tall. Simply tape her to the wall or prop her against it, if your material is stiff enough.

For the ring toss game, we used an old coffee can and spray painted it.

saint therese of lisieux

It took a few coats to cover the can, but it dried very quickly and was ready to use in just a few hours.

Next, we hot glued the craft roses to the grapevine wreaths and covered the tube in green tape. The thicker the tube, the better it will hold up. Our tube was actually from a box of aluminum foil.

saint therese of lisieux

We filled the coffee can with sand and stuck the tape-covered tube in it. Pack the sand as tightly as you can. We filled the can about an inch from the top.

Because we didn’t want the sand spilling or covering the wreaths, we topped off the sand with brown gift basket filler. You could also use stones, marbles, etc.

saint therese of lisieux

saint therese of lisieux

Another option could be to create two cans and split players into teams– for a more competitive game!

saint therese of lisieux

St. Therese, pray for us!

Saints Edition 20 Questions

catholic saints 20 questions

This is a challenging group game that we’ve played at many parties. It’s a Catholic twist on the game “20 Questions.”

all saints day party games

First, attach a name of a saint to each person’s back with tape or a pin.

You can make the names as easy or as hard as you like, depending on the ages of your participants.

all saints day party gamesThe object of the game is to guess the name of the saint on your back- in 20 questions or less!

all saints day party gamesSound easy? Remember that you can only ask YES or NO questions!

To get you started, we’ve created a list of “sample questions” you could ask.

Click the image below to print the questions sheet.

all saints day party ideas

Before starting the game, we let everyone decorate his/her own treat bag.

Everyone starts with 20 pieces of candy in his/her bag.

all saints day party games

Everyone sits in a circle. One person stands and shows his/her back to the group. He/she then begins by asking a question to the person on his/her left. He/she can then ask the next person another question or take a guess. The player continues until his 20 questions are up. It will then be someone else’s turn. Continue until everyone has had a chance to figure out their saint.

Each question or guess “costs” one piece of candy.

all saints day party games

The great thing about this game is that even if it takes you all 20 questions to figure out your saint, you will still have candy left in your bag from other people asking you their questions :)

Can you name your saint in 20 questions or less? Good luck!