It’s summertime . . . . and the livin’ is liturgical. As I say in The Catholic All Year Compendium,
“Maybe we’ve got some extra downtime, and some time with all the kids at home, and we were going to eat dinner anyway, right?
I try to find saints’ days to attach to various activities we want to do each summer anyway, like hiking, camping, bonfires, and going to the beach, which makes me less likely to blow them off and just stay inside where the A/C is.”
In the spirit of that, I figured we could all benefit from an Ultimate Catholic Summer Challenge. Let’s get motivated, learn about the saints, have fun, be granted full or partial remission of the punishment of sin for ourselves or the soul of a deceased person*, and spend some time with loved ones with these 25 summer activities for Catholic families!
*read more about Catholic Indulgences here: Catholic Indulgences: what they are, when they are, and why you should care (as of the 1999 Manual of Indulgences revision of the Enchiridion of Indulgences)
Download the printable challenge sheet here.
Well, they’re more like suggestions, really, because it’s all up to you.
Print out a challenge sheet for the family or for individuals. Complete the tasks throughout the summer. X them off as you go. Challenge your friends and extended family to play along! If you’re on social media, join in on the fun together by following #catholicsummerchallenge
Complete the challenge by achieving all the activities by August 31, 2022 and enter to win a $100 gift card to the Catholic All Year Shop!
Details at the bottom of the post.
Many activities included in the challenge are associated with an indulgence. In some cases the conditions of the plenary indulgence require that the actions take place on a particular day.
See this post for all the details on conditions for gaining indulgences, but the most important thing to remember is that even if you can’t fulfill all the conditions of a plenary indulgence, it is still VERY WORTHWHILE to gain a partial indulgence.
Many of the activities are associated with a particular feast day. These are ideally done on that feast day, but when that’s not possible definitely feel free to do the activity early or late and check it off.
If certain tasks aren’t achievable (for instance no Corpus Christi Procession or beach nearby), substitute an alternate activity of your choosing.
1. Spend 30 minutes in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
This can be achieved before the exposed monstrance in an Adoration Chapel or before the tabernacle. A plenary indulgence is available according to the usual conditions. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 7)
2. Pray a Rosary with your family, religious community, friends, or in a church
ANY Rosary is always better than no Rosary at all, but the Church does recommend to us that we pray five decades without stopping, meditate upon the mysteries for the day, and pray with our family, religious community, friends, or in a Church. A plenary indulgence is available according to the usual conditions. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 17)
Want to level up? Check out this post: Making a Rosary with No Special Tools and Almost No Knots (because knots are hard) and our rosary kits here.
3. Go to Confession
Most indulgences require that a good confession be made within within several days (about 20) before or after the actions for the indulgence. One confession can apply to many indulgences. We set a really important example for our children when we take them to confession regularly. If my kids are seeing me sin, they should also see me going to confession!
P.S. Did you know I wrote a book about confession for kids?
FEAST DAY CHALLENGES IN JUNE
CORPUS CHRISTI June 19
4. Participate in a Eucharistic Procession
Participate in a Eucharistic Procession for the solemnity of Corpus Christi, either inside or outside a church. A plenary indulgence is available according to the usual conditions. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 7)
FEAST OF SS. JOHN FISHER AND THOMAS MORE June 22
5. Make S’mores
Sometimes a liturgical food pun is just too good to pass up. I give you: St. Thomas S’mores.
SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST June 24 (observed on June 23 in 2022)
6. Have a bonfire
Have a solemnity eve bonfire on the night before the feast day. Dive into the deep (slash crazy) end of liturgical living with this awesome ancient tradition.
7. Eat crickets & wild honey.
It’s in THE BIBLE. “His food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). It’s also pretty fun. Bonus points for also wearing party hats.
Read more about the history of the liturgical living bonfire, and why St. John the Baptist gets an extra feast day for his BIRTHDAY in this post. Or watch the video here. (Spoiler alert, I get a bucket of water in the face.)
Note for 2022: because the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on June 24 this year, the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is observed on June 23.
SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS second Friday after Pentecost (June 24 in 2022)
8. Publicly recite the act of reparation.
A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, on the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, publicly recite the act of reparation (Iesu dulcissime). See the prayer here. A plenary indulgence is available according to the usual conditions. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 3)
Note: Publicly means in a church, family, religious community, or group of friends.
FEAST OF ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA June 26
9. Say the Morning Offering.
O my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you all my prayers, works, joys,
and sufferings of this day,
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of my relatives and friends,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father. Amen.Get a free printable version here.
St. Josemaría Escrivá was a big advocate of having a “Plan of Life” to keep track of daily spiritual practices and goals. A really great way to start is by incorporating a Morning Offering prayer as the first thing you do upon waking. Today is a great day to give it a try!
Want some help keeping track of your goals? Try our Plan of Life Notepad.
Read more about encouraging a habit of prayer with kids: Our Catholic Morning Prayer Routine with Kids
SOLEMNITY OF SS. PETER AND PAUL June 29
10. Visit a basilica or cathedral.
Visit a basilica or cathedral on June 29, and there devoutly recite an Our Father and the Creed. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 33)
11. Use something blessed by a pope or bishop.
Use an article of devotion (a crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular, or medal) blessed by the pope or a bishop and make a Profession of Faith (Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed). A plenary indulgence is available according to the usual conditions. (Manual of Indulgences Grant 14)
Don’t have an item blessed by the pope? A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who devoutly use such articles of devotion properly blessed by either a priest or a deacon.
Note: CAY Liturgical Year Box subscribers received a medal blessed by Pope Francis, donated by our friends at Discount Catholic Products, for FREE in the June box! Get a Ss. Peter & Paul keychain for yourself with a FREE bonus blessed medal here.
12. Sleep in a tent like St. Paul and/or fish like St. Peter.
Also, arguing would be historically accurate.
FEAST DAY CHALLENGES IN JULY
FEAST OF SS. LOUIS & ZELIE MARTIN July 12
13. Make a string craft.
Do a craft with string to honor St. Zelie, who was a lace-maker. Try friendship bracelets, hair wraps, embroidery, crochet, knitting, finger knitting, knot-tying, bobbin lace, or sting art. (See our St. Zelie string art kit here.)
FEAST OF ST. KATERI TEKAKWITHA July 14
14. Make maple snow taffy.
Eighteenth-century Jesuit missionaries like Father Sébastien Rale and Father Joseph-François Lafitau described the making and use of maple syrup by the indigenous peoples with whom they lived. Making maple snow taffy is a simple way to enjoy maple syrup as Saint Kateri might have! As you might have gathered from the name, this treat is usually enjoyed during the winter. We don’t have snow at our house, ever. So we might as well make this treat in the summer. All that’s required is to bring real 100% pure maple syrup to a boil (235º – 240ºF), then pour it over “snow” (we make our own in a blender). It cools to a sticky maple taffy that can be rolled up onto a stick. We like to use backyard sticks, as they seem more authentic, but if you prefer your treats to be 100% tree bark-free you might prefer a popsicle stick. P.S. Snowball fight!
Get our St. Kateri Maple Snow Taffy set here.
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL July 16
15. Get invested with the brown scapular.
Learn more about the brown scapular and how to dispose of unwanted sacramentals in this post. Or this video.
FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE July 22
16. Play an egg tapping game.
Sure, it’s “off-season” for dyeing eggs, but this tradition is SO FUN! More about the egg tapping game here.
Read more here: How to Dye Your Easter Eggs the Way Mary Magdalene Would Have Except Her Eggs Dyed Miraculously Get our natural egg dye kit here. Get the Mary Magdalene set including onion skin for dyeing, egg cups, decorative tattoos, and an egg tapping champion button here.
FEAST OF ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN July 23
17. Eat lingonberries or Swedish fish candies.
You might also want to honor St. Bridget’s devotion to the seven sorrows of Mary by trying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. Get a printable booklet here.
FEAST DAY CHALLENGES IN AUGUST
FEAST OF OUR LADY, QUEEN OF ANGELS August 2
18. Visit a church.
With a contrite heart, visit a church on August 2. For a plenary indulgence. Pretty amazing, no? It’s the Portiuncula Indulgence courtesy of St. Francis of Assisi. Read all about it here. Or watch all about it here.
FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION August 6
19. Take a hike!
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.Matthew 17:1-2 NRSVCE
Jesus took his people on a hike. Let’s take our people on a hike.
FEAST OF ST. LAWRENCE August 10
20. Grill out.
The Catholic Church takes delightful ownership of our beloved martyrs in the cheerfully macabre assignment of patron saints. St. Lawrence was martyred by being cooked on a gridiron, and he was so tough he managed to crack jokes while it was happening. The stories say he quipped, “You better turn me over, I’m done on this side.”
So, of course, he’s the patron saint of cooks and comedians. So grill up something tasty, and maybe have a family joke night!
FEAST OF ST. CLARE August 11
21. Watch T.V.
Although she lived 800 years ago, St. Clare of Assisi was named the patroness of T.V. by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Why? Well, the story goes that one Christmas Eve, Clare was devastated about being bedridden, too sick to attend Mass. In answer to her prayers, she saw and heard the images and sounds of the Mass, as it happened, projected on the wall of her cell.
Looking for ideas for something to watch? Check out Family Movie Nights, Are They Even Possible? . . . Our Favorite Movies (Mostly) Appropriate for All Ages or The Problem With Every Movie From My Youth: and ten family movies that won’t teach your kids to swear like a sailor
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN (HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION) August 15
22. Get some herbs blessed.
The blessing of herbs is traditionally associated with the feast of the Assumption. Our Lady’s association with plants—especially herbs which have traditionally been used as natural healing remedies—came about in part “because of the Biblical images applied to her such as vine, lavender, cypress and lily, partly from seeing her in terms of a sweet smelling flower because of her virtue, and most of all because of Isaiah 11:1, and his reference to the ‘shoot springing from the side of Jesse’, which would bear the blessed fruit of Jesus.” Grab this booklet for a blessing that is appropriate for lay use in the home. But especially since it’s a holyday of obligation, it’s also appropriate to bring herbs or other produce along to Mass and ask for Father’s blessing.
QUEENSHIP OF MARY August 22
23. Have an at home Marian procession.
FEAST OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW August 24
24. Skin / peel something.
Ready for more fun with gruesome martyrdoms? Another chance is St. Bartholomew. Himself skinned alive before being martyred, he is the patron saint of tanners, leatherworkers, and bookbinders. (Remember Jack’s St. Bartholomew costume? Good times.)
Peel a clementine and call it a day. Peel some apples and make homemade applesauce or apple butter. Skin a rotisserie chicken and make a casserole for dinner. And/or try a leather craft like stamping.
FEAST OF ST. AUGUSTINE August 28
25. Visit a beach!
My favorite story from The Golden Legend old-time hagiography of St. Augustine (added by translator William Caxton in 1483) is known as “the boy by the sea.”
The story goes that one day, Augustine was walking along the beach in North Africa, pondering the mystery of the Holy Trinity and trying desperately to understand once and for all how there could be three persons in one God. He was distracted from his thoughts by the sight of a boy, who had dug a hole in the sand, and was running back and forth, from the ocean to the hole, dumping in bucketful after bucketful of water. Finally, Augustine’s curiosity got the best of him and he asked the boy, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “I’m emptying the ocean into this hole.” The man, amused, said, “Why, you can’t empty the ocean into a hole!” The boy looked into his eyes and said, “Neither can you understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity.” And then the boy was gone.Edited / adapted by me for inclusion in the Catholic All Year Compendium
And that’s it! You’ve got eleven weeks to git ‘er done. I believe in you! Here’s your chance to establish a habit of liturgical living in the home and have fun doing it. Plus have a chance to win a $100 gift certificate and finally get yourself that liturgical living box subscription you’ve had your eye on, so we do the work for you!
To enter, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of your completed sheet and/or photos of you completing various tasks. More photos = more entries. Submitted photos may be included in a wrap up blog post and/or video. Your email must include this sentence: I, (your name here), and/or my immediate family have completed all of the tasks of the Catholic All Year Ultimate Summer Liturgical Living Bucket Challenge to the best of our ability. Cheating is wrong and could negate all those great indulgences we worked so hard to gain, so I/we did not cheat.
One winner will be chosen by random number generator and notified via email on September 2, 2022.
There will be another drawing among participants on Instagram and Facebook. Check us out there to learn more.