Take an iPad to Dinner

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DSCF5898Really?  Really.  Normally, I’d  be against such actions.  I am tireless in my efforts to keep my kids’ screen time to an absolute minimum.  And for us, dinner time is one of those textless, phoneless times for sure.  So what do I mean?

Recently, after much time of prayer and contemplation, I have reconfigured my Smart Martha ministry.  For those of you unfamiliar with this ministry, I have tried through seminars, speaking engagements, books, and website to encourage women in their household duties all the while, turning to Christ and finding Him in every moment.  (Like the lesson from the Mary/Martha story in the Bible.)

One of the ways that has been helpful for our family in “finding Jesus at our dinner table” has been to celebrate liturgical feast days as part of the meal.   Although this is sometimes cumbersome, inconvenient, and nearly impossible with our busy schedule, the times that we have been able to do it, have been truly a blessing.  That is why I’ve tried to incorporate this into the Smart Martha ministry.  Until now.

Not that it isn’t part of finding Christ in your housework, but mostly because I wanted it to be its own identity.  In this way I am working on making it something easy and convenient for families to use so even more families can try to “Live a little more liturgically.”

St. John Paul II says, “The Gospel lives in conversation with culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent. Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place.”

In a small way, by encouraging families to celebrate some of these liturgical feast days through websites, facebook, pinterest, etc.  I believe that we are having “conversation with the culture . . . within the information revolution now taking place.”

So this is what I have done (and am working on.)  On my new website, www.CatholicFamilyCelebrations.com,   I have suggested feast day celebrations and even some national holidays planned for each month.  It usually amounts to 2 or 3 a week.  You simply click on the month and date, and voilà there is a simple prayer, story, tradition, food, short youtube, discussion questions, litany or other activity that can be done that evening at your dinner table.   You, of course, can pick and choose which days to celebrate and which activities to do.  Some may take a little advanced planning, but many you can do on the spot.

And most of the time, they do not involve pasting or cutting, or singing, or otherwise doing activities at which average teens would roll their eyes.  (Out of my 10 children, 8 are teenagers and older.) Some follow Catholic traditions from different cultures, mostly involving food.  Others simple tell the saint’s incredible story and conclude with the collect from the Mass that day.

Here is how a typical saint’s day celebration looks in our family:  After our dinner meal and dessert, (sometimes it will have something to do with the Saint’s day, but usually it doesn’t.)  My husband gets out his iPad at the dinner table.  He simply clicks to the website, www.CatholicFamilyCelebrations.com, then to July, then to July 14, St. Kateri Tekawitha.  He enlarges the picture of her statue, then of the sign of her shrine—which is of particular interest to us because this lovely saint is native to NY (we are from Pennsylvania—kinda close).  He clicks on the link to the shrine’s website and reads from the bottom of that page starting at “Kateri’s final words” — he could read the whole page, but time is running short.  He goes back to the July 14th  webpage to say one of the prayers.  He shows the younger kids the rosary that someone made in honor of Kateri.  End of dinner.

For those families without an iPad or other tablet (you could use a laptop, too), I do provide a printout that has prayers and stories for each of the saints I have listed so far.  It is free and located on the monthly page.  I like to print this out and keep it on my refrigerator just to serve as a reminder of which days are coming up.

And really, this website is just a start.  Your family may like to do different saints and in different ways.  There are so many ideas available to us instantaneously—search for a saint and you’ve got his picture and 10 biographies in less than a sec.   Let’s put our modern technologies to good use.  Let’s live a little more liturgically!

What would make celebrating feast days easier for your family?

Go to www.CatholicFamilyCelebrations.com and let me know if this could work for you.

Copyright 2014 Tami Kiser

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About Author

Tami is the author Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms and the founder of www.smartmartha.com. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband of 29 years.  She has 10 children:  8 boys and 2 girls ranging in age from 27 to 4. She also has 5 grandchildren.   Tami runs the Smart Martha ministry, CatholicFamilyCelebrations.com, the CatholicMosaic.com, and teaches dance classes.  Thinking like a Smart Martha has helped her to constantly seek to “sit at Christ’s feet” even in the midst of piles of laundry and sinks of dirty dishes. Visit Tami at www.smartmartha.com.

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