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 from TAN Publishers 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!

Saints and Objects Matching Game

all saints day activity This is a fun All Saints’ Day game for all ages to enjoy! It is also so easy to assemble.

all saints day game We used:

* black foam board
* string for hanging the objects
*”s” hooks
* color pictures of the saints-we specifically chose images of the saints that did not show their objects, to make the game a little more challenging
*objects associated with each of the saints
*pictures of these objects

all saints day game

We attached the pictures with narrow strips of cardstock folded in half, gluing one half to the picture and the other to the board, creating a “hinge.” Be sure to glue your cardstock to the very top of the back of your pictures so that the pictures can be flipped up to reveal the image on the back of each saint picture.  This image on the back will match the object for that saint.
all saints day game Below each picture, we poked small holes and slipped an s-hook in each hole for hanging objects.
all saints day game Best of all…
all saints day game …we were able to create the game with objects we already had around the house.
all saints day game

Use a little string or ribbon and hot glue to create loops on your objects for hanging.
all saints day game

Here is a list of the saints and their objects we used:
all saints day game

  • St. Agnes (lamb)
  • St. Andrew (X-shaped cross)
  • St. Blaise (two small candles crossed)
  • St. Catherine Laboure (miraculous medal)
  • St. Cecilia (harp)
  • St. Clare (monstrance)
  • St. Dominic (one decade rosary)
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (chalkboard)
  • St. Francis of Assisi (wolf)
  • St. Francis Xavier (crocodile)
  • St. Helena (cross)
  • St. Ignatius of Antioch (lion)
  • St. Joan of Arc (armor, helmet, sword, and shield)
  • St. Juan Diego (tilma)
  • St. Joseph (hammer)
  • St. Longinus (spear)
  • St. Patrick (shamrock)
  • St. Peter (key)
  • St. Therese (rose)
  • St. Veronica (veil)
  • St. Zita (bread)

You can add or change the saints in your game based on items in your own home.
all saints day game
Underneath each picture of a saint, we put a picture of the correct object so that participants can “check” their matches.

Other ideas include labeling the pictures with the saints’ names or including information about each saint, and how he/she is associated with each object, on the back of his/her picture.

What other saints and objects would you include in your game? Let us know in a comment below!
all saints day game

Happy Feast of All Saints!


Book review: The Secret of Mary

The Secret of Mary by St. Louis Marie de Monfort (89 pages)

“Predestinate soul, how are you to do it? What means will you choose to reach the height to which God has called you?… It all comes to this, then: that you should find an easy means for obtaining from God the grace necessary to make you holy; and this means I wish to make known to you. Now, I say that to find this grace of God, we must find Mary…”
from The Secret of Mary pgs. 11-12

Each book by St. Louis de Monfort is spiritually powerful, but The Secret of Mary is a treasure. This little book presents the key to sanctity: our salvation is “to Jesus through Mary.” Her role in our salvation did not end with the birth of the Savior. Rather, she is a constant part of our souls that cannot be neglected if we truly desire Heaven. Divided into three sections (“The Secret of Mary,” “Consecration to Jesus Through Mary,” and “The Confraternity of Mary, Queen of All Hearts”), this book promotes dedication to Mary, as St. Louis de Monfort discusses the beauty and power of her role in our lives. In brief paragraphs, the author discusses ideas such as “Mary Nourishes Souls and Gives Them Growth in God,” “Mary Forms Jesus in Us,” and “Through Mary Jesus Will Reign.” This is an excellent addition to every Catholic family’s bookshelf!

Book review: The Deliverance of Sister Cecilia

The Deliverance of Sister Cecilia as told to William Brinkley (223 pgs.)


From the very first page, Sister Cecilia’s story is gripping and suspenseful. Through determination and many sacrifices, Cecilia transforms from a simple farm girl to a courageous nun able to outwit the Communists while remaining loyal to her calling. Sister Cecilia’s unique story-telling weaves together amusing stories from her childhood, her call to the religious life, the role she played in defying Communism, and her love for the Catholic faith into a beautiful and inspiring adventure. This remarkable true story will transport you back over 50 years to Catholic Slovakia, a time that was charming and simple, yet at the hands of the Communists, became dangerous and deadly.

Note: This book is out of print, though occasionally can be found on Amazon or eBay.

Pentecost cupcakes

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit…”  Acts 2:1-4

This is a great project for young children and teenagers to help celebrate the Descent of the Holy Spirit. They can help with almost every step!

pentecost cupcakes

Pentecost cupcakes

You will need:

  • 1 batch of cupcakes, frosted white
  • hard candy (“flame” colors: red, yellow, orange, etc.)
  • tin foil
  • cookie sheet
  • ziploc bag
  • cutting board

Begin by crushing the hard candy. The best method we have found is putting a mix of red, yellow, and orange candy into a ziploc bag and crushing it with a meat tenderizer. You might want to do this on a cutting board.

pentecost cupcakes

Line a  cookie sheet (with sides) with tinfoil. When the candy is in little pieces, spread it onto the tin foil.
pentecost cupcakes pentecost cupcakes

Place the cookie sheet in an oven heated to 300 degrees and let the candy melt completely.

pentecost cupcakes

When it looks like the candy has melted together, removed the sheet from the oven and allow the candy to cool completely. When it is cool, you should be able to remove it in one big sheet like this:
pentecost cupcakes

Break the candy into “flame-shaped” chunks and slide them into your cupcakes.

pentecost cupcakes

Optional: Place a dove in front of each flame. We placed wooden toothpicks  into miniature dove sugar cookies- after the cookies were baked and frosted white.

pentecost cupcakes


Stations of the Cross Booklet

One of the most common suggestions and requests we receive is for coloring pages that are more suited to little hands.

This Lent, we are excited to offer our first mini coloring booklet!

little stations of the cross booklet

Our booklet features our Stations of the Cross coloring pages- now in 1/4 page size!

Click the image to print the sheets.

stations of the cross booklet

To print the sheets, you will need to set your printer settings to double-sided and follow the instructions. The sheets will print out with 4 stations per side.

little stations of the cross booklet

Simply cut the pages in half horizontally…

little stations of the cross booklet

…then put the pages in order! It’s that easy :)

little stations of the cross booklet

We recommend stapling the pages together for easier coloring and to keep the book in order.

little stations of the cross booklet

This is a great way to introduce your children to the Stations! We’ve found that children love to lead prayers. Let your young ones lead Stations this Lent, using their booklets and adding an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to each Station, or any other prayers you choose to say.

little stations of the cross booklet

Leave a comment below and let us know how you will use your Stations booklet this Lent!

Our Lady of Lourdes Snow Grotto

Have you ever made snow paint?  All you need is a little food coloring, water and a spray bottle…

After shoveling our driveway for the tenth time this winter, we thought of a great way to use the high mounds of snow that have accumulated!

catholic snow craft

Creating your own snow grotto is easy! We began by carving out the inside of this mound of snow.

snow grotto

We wanted to add some color to our creation so we mixed a couple drops of black food coloring with water in a spray bottle.  This gave us a medium gray mixture that turned a little greenish as it soaked into the snow.  For  darker colors, you can add more food coloring.

snow grotto

Heavy, wet snow works best for molding people and other figures. If your snow is too powdery, use a spray bottle with plain water to wet the snow as you work.

snow grotto

…and this is our grotto lit up at night…
catholic snow ideas

We chose to make this grotto in time for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11th), but you could mold  other Catholic objects or scenes.

snow grotto

Leave a comment and let us know what you create!

Book review: The Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass

The Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass
by St. Leonard of Port Maruice (123 pages)

hidden treasure holy mass book

“Treasures, however great and precious, are never appreciated until examined, counted over, and summed up.” Thus begins one of the most compelling discussions of the Mass ever written. As Catholics, we tend to take the Mass for granted, attending out of obligation, rather than desire. However, St. Leonard warns, this is not enough. In his book, St. Leonard offers a beautiful meditation on the tremendous powers of the Holy Mass, while fervently urging the reader to take advantage of these powers by hearing the Mass as frequently as possible. Not only does he discuss the great powers of a single Mass, but he also offers many suggestions for hearing Mass more devoutly. The Hidden Treasure is beautifully woven together with Scripture, anecdotes, stories of the saints, and the author’s own compelling voice. If you desire to better understand the mystery of the Holy Mass and attend it more often, then put this book at the top of your list of books to read!

Perler bead Advent wreath

The tradition of the Advent wreath is relatively newer. Originating in Germany, it was brought over to the United States by immigrants in the early 20th century. The beautiful custom of lighting a new candle each Sunday of Advent not only anticipates Christ’s birth on Christmas Day, but also the second coming of Christ.

This Advent, celebrate the tradition of the Advent wreath with our newest Perler bead project!
perler bead advent wreath
You will need:

  • Advent wreath and candle template
  • 1 large, square peg board
  • 1 sheet of Perler ironing paper or parchment paper
  • Perler beads:
    168 dark green
    29 light green
    63 purple
    21 pink
    4 yellow
    4 orange
  • an iron

Place the template beneath your peg board. You might want to tape the template to the table or work surface.
perler bead advent wreath
It is important to leave the gaps in the wreath, to allow your candles to stand up.

We made our candles on a heart-shaped peg board, creating bigger flames on our candles. If you have extra beads, get creative with your candles and wreath and let us know what you discover!

Remember to use Perler paper or parchment paper between your project and the iron!

You can add your candles all at once, or add a new candle each Sunday.

Blessed Advent!