Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Feast Day Celebrations: St. Francis of Assisi

We love learning about the saints with our kids!  Celebrating their feast days with food, activities, and fun are a great way to teach the kids about these holy men and women's beautiful lives for Christ.   

And October 4th is St. Francis of Assisi's feast day!

Francis was born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy to a cloth merchant.  He lived a life of luxury and loved to spend money.  One day as a young man heading off to war, everything changed.  He was taken captive and became ill.  He was imprisoned for over a year and during this time he realized that the glory of battle was nothing compared to the glory of Christ.

After returning home, he visited an old, dilapidated church.  He heard Jesus on the Crucifix say to him, "Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down."  He quickly went about doing this in any way he could (which got him in a lot of trouble with his family).  He rebuilt the physical church but came to realize that it was not just the physical church that Jesus asked him to help rebuild.  He was called to care for the spiritual well being of the people of His Church.

Over the next several years, he began living an austere life, following Matthew 10 as an example.  He took care of lepers, was a true friend of animals, preached repentance and the Gospel, was a writer and stigmatist (he was given the Wounds of the Crucified Christ), and lived in complete simplicity and poverty.  His way of life began to spread and many men joined him then and still do today.

I have completely glossed over this incredible saint's life - he is amazing and this blog post would be way too long if I included everything!  So I hope you'll read more about St. Francis of Assisi here or here.

Ok, on to the celebration of his holy life! 

Here are some fun and simple ideas to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis with your family:

St. Francis and Franciscan brothers have a very different hairstyle, which is called a tonsure.  Franciscans have tonsures as a sign of religious devotion and humility.  So we'll be eating tonsures today in the form of donuts!

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To learn a little about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, we'll watch our CCC of America animated movie Francis: The Knight of Assisi.  It is a really fun one, especially for little boys.  I think it really shows the adventure of living a life for Christ.

We'll also read The Song of St. Francis by Tomie dePaola.  We just love his books, especially the ones on the saints.  They are so colorful and beautifully written!

Moving on to some fun little activities!  Here are two that we're going to do: this coloring page...

...and this St. Francis Peace Prayer activity.

Another important aspect of St. Francis's life was his love for animals!

He was a true friend of animals - he had a tremendous love for all of God's creation in nature.  There are many stories of how he loved and was able to talk to animals.  It's very common practice in and around his feast day for there to be a blessing of animals and pets.

Well, we don't have any pets, so we are going to say the blessing for our stuffed animals instead!

Some other fun ideas for celebrating St. Francis's love of animals:

Go to the zoo, take a hike in the woods, or wear clothes with animals on them (even Mickey counts!).

And make bird seed cakes - these were so fun to make with the kids!

Bird Seed Cakes
(adapted from Living My Life on Purpose)

Ingredients and Materials:

3 cups bird seed
1 cup boiling water
2 packets unflavored gelatin
Muffin tin or mold
Yarn or string
Straws (cut into 2-3 inch pieces)


1.  Boil 1 cup of water.

2.  Add packets of gelatin slowly and stir until (mostly) dissolved.

3.  Add bird seed and stir until seed is covered.  It will be pretty wet.

4.  Spoon bird seed mixture evenly into your greased mold or muffin tin.  (I used cooking spray to grease the pan.)

5.  Place a straw an inch down from the top.  Let the cakes set overnight.

6.  When the bird seed cakes are hardened the following day, pull out the straw and string yarn through the hole.  Tie the yarn and then it's ready to hang up for our feathered friends!

Notes:  A donut mold would be perfect for this!  Then you wouldn't need the straws and you could just string your yarn through the donut hole!

Also, I made these bird seed cakes for the first time yesterday - so I'll let you know how they hold up!

We have really loved learning more about the lives of the saints this year through celebrating their lives as a family.  Their words and actions point directly to Christ!

Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!  Like this amazing saint, may we live lives of generosity and simplicity and may we always build up His Church in the world and within our own home in everything we say and do.

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