Feast of St. Aidan Tea

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

On Wednesday, August 31, we celebrated the feast day of Aidan’s name saint, St. Aidan of Lindisfarne (d.651).  St. Aidan founded a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of northeast England.   The local community there had been given up for lost to paganism, but Aidan befriended the local community, helped the youth, and spread the message of Christianity through his leadership-by-service approach to ministry.


Gospel of John

Within a century, Lindisfarne became a center of learning.  It was at Lindisfarne that the glorious illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels was created.  I studied paleography in graduate school in England, and the Lindisfarne Gospels are my favorite manuscript.


For our Feast Day Tea, I dug out an illuminated lettering kit that I had purchased last year.  The kids each decorated their own letters, then we enjoyed a simple tea of home-baked sugar cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries. Continue reading

Perfectly Imperfect Feasts!

This week we celebrated the Feast Days of Dominic and Claire’s name saints:  St. Dominic on August 8 and St. Clare on August 11 (today).  Claire loves planning the crafts and Dominic likes to help with the food.  Aidan helps with planning and watching Lydia.  We always read something about the saint while we are having our family tea.

My favorite photo is the one of Lydia after she quietly discovered the craft box . . . unguarded!  She was a very glittery, colorful baby!

We have one more name saint feast at the end of the month:  St. Aidan. St. Aidan is very special to me; I can hardly wait!

A few thoughts about our family teas:

  • Everything doesn’t have to be perfect!  My pride can lead me to obsess over the perfect games to match the day’s saint and the most elegant desserts to grace the table. (Where’s the tablecloth that matches the prayer card?  Is my favorite white enamel vase too big? Too small?)  I have to catch myself!!  The idea is to have fellowship with my family and build family traditions, and to honor the saints and learn more about their journeys to sainthood.  If the cake is crooked and the glitter gets glued onto the chair it’s okay!
  • Even though the table doesn’t have to be perfect, I can help the children understand what it means to want to become a saint, to want to seek perfect holiness despite our limitations.  The saints were really ordinary people who led amazing lives because they loved God so much.  They sought perfection even in their imperfection.  This is the most important thing I want the children to know.

God of Mercy, You inspired Saint Claire with the love of poverty.  By the help of her prayers, may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit and come to the joyful vision of your glory in the kingdom of heaven.  We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

St. Lydia and Our Hospitali-Tea

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us-Acts 16:13-15

Lydia and Hospitality: Today we’re celebrating the Feast Day of our Little Lydia’s name saint.

Saint Lydia was a wealthy business woman and Paul’s first convert.  She sold purple dye and cloth, which was expensive and reserved for people of great honor.  Recent studies of his tomb have revealed that the remains of St. Paul are wrapped in purple cloth.

After her baptism, Lydia used her gift of hospitality to serve the Lord, and her home became a true Christian center where guests gathered for Mass and fellowship.  Today, hospitality is basically about manners and making guests feel welcome.  However, in the first century world hospitality meant even more: survival.  Travelers had to rely upon the hospitality of strangers because they wouldn’t run into a Holiday Inn and a McDonalds every five miles. Traveling was downright dangerous, because of political unrest and instability.  So it means something that Lydia opened her doors to the early Christians. She not only gave them a place to sleep and eat, but she provided a place for the early Church to mature in safety.

Today’s Tea:  As we remember St. Lydia’s contribution to the early Church, today we
created a family tea in her honor.  Our darling little Lydia is only 18 months old, but she already appreciates her saint’s day tea (yum yum!):

For our tea:

  • We covered the table with a purple cloth (of course purple!).
  • We served chocolate dipped strawberries, butter cookies, and pineapple.
  • We had pear and apple tea, and also chocolate milk.
  • Claire made bookmarks from St. Lydia icons.

Other possible activities: tie-dye project or make dye from natural sources like berries or flower petals. (Apparently in St. Lydia’s day, a single drop of purple dye was produced
by crushing hundreds of shells.)

We are grateful today for our Lydia, and the gifts she has brought to our family.  We are grateful for the way she helps us cherish innocence and wonder.

Patron Saint Teas

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

This year we’re starting a new family tradition: celebrating the feast days of the children’s name saints.

Any family tradition is important for creating a sense of family identity and building a family history.  However, this tradition is particularly special: we not only honor the lives of these holy heroes; we also celebrate the lives of our children.  We demonstrate to them the prized place they hold in God’s family. I hope as the children learn about their patron saints that they’ll be inspired by their lives and comforted by their protection.

For our celebrations we’ll plan separate family teas and study the lives of the relevant saints.  I confess I didn’t know the feast days of the children’s patron saints until this week.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered all of them have August feast days!   As I begin our new family blog I’m looking forward to sharing details of the four teas coming up next month:

  • Aug 3: St. Lydia
  • Aug 8: St. Dominic
  • Aug  11: St. Claire
  • Aug 31:  St. Aidan

I’ve found inspiration about Liturgical Teas on Alice Gunther’s wonderful blog. Alice has such a gift for helping us understand the importance of friendship and creating beautiful gatherings for people we love.