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Fall is such a cozy time of year. The weather is cooling down here in New York, the leaves are changing to yellow, orange and red, and the smells of soup and fresh baked pumpkin goodies fill our home. There are so many seasonal changes as well as Catholic feast days to look forward to in the autumn months. Think: trick-or-treating and fall treats, but make it Catholic!  Whether you are new to liturgical living or a seasoned pro, this post will provide 8 meaningful ways to welcome autumn and the last stretch of Ordinary time before the Catholic liturgical year is done. Liturgical living is truly the most natural, rich, fun and meaningful way to teach our children the faith.

Today, I will share some of the important Catholic feast days (and a Holy Day of Obligation!) happening in the fall and ways to live them liturgically. These feasts and holy days will be broken down by month:

  • Angels Among Us in September
  • October is the Month of the Rosary
  • November is Dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Table of Contents

Liturgical Living in Sweater Weather

Growing up in Florida, we had 2 seasons- hot and hotter. Kidding! However, the transition from summer to fall in the Sunshine State was nothing compared to the incredible contrast between summer and fall that I now see as a New Yorker. When I moved to New York to attend college, Fall quickly became my absolute favorite season because sweater weather! So, it comes as no surprise that the fall liturgical feast days are also at the top of my list.

Liturgical living in fall really showed me the beauty and wisdom of Holy Mother Church and how the cycle of the liturgical year is set up. For example, Easter is in spring because it is a seasonal time of rebirth, new life, and renewal (flowers, baby chicks, baby bunnies, etc) just as Jesus was raised into eternal life. It makes so much sense.

In the fall, the leaves change and the geese fly south because everything is, well, dying. Now, can you guess what happens in the fall liturgically? Yep, ending and death.

Fall is when the liturgical year ends and prepares to start anew with Advent. Fall is also when we pray to and for the deceased (the Saints and the Holy Souls in Purgatory). Death can seem morbid to many, but as Catholics we know that, thankfully, our death is not the end of our story. It’s really just the beginning. We have a whole eternity to look forward to! Let’s dive into how to celebrate some of my favorite fall feast days.

Angels Among us in September

1. Fall Ember Days, September 20, 22, and 23 (in 2023)

Observing Ember Days is a new devotion to me. There are 4 sets of Ember Days – one in each season. The fall Ember Days begin on the Wednesday following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (which always falls on September 14).

Each season, we give thanks for a specific crop that grows in that season on that season’s particular Ember Days. The fall Ember Days “…are offered in thanksgiving for the grape harvest, which gives us the Precious Blood.” (Catholicallyear.com)

The Ember Days are a time dedicated to voluntary penance. They are not required by the church, but a little extra intentional penance and thanksgiving can do a lot of good! For the Ember Days, we are to fast on Wednesday (reminding us of Judas’s betrayal) and Saturday (reminding us of the tomb) and fast and abstain from meat on Friday (reminding us of the crucifixion). 

Here is an excellent summary and explanation of Ember Days. This link also further explains the fasting and abstinence recommended for these days. 

2. Michaelmas (aka The Feast of the Archangels), September 29

The second feast in our round up is the Feast of the Archangels, also called Michaelmas (Prounouced like the name “Michael” and the end of ChristMAS). First and foremost, we make sure to make it to Mass on our favorite feast days, even if they aren’t Holy Days of Obligation. Mass is the ultimate prayer and celebration for Catholics!

When we get home from Mass, a tea party is arranged, as well as any angel décor.

This feast is for celebrating the 3 Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. During our tea party we have blackberries and skewered cheese (get the little cocktail swords for this!) Why blackberries? Legend has it that when Lucifer (Satan) and his followers fell from heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush and spat on the berries so blackberries were thought to be no longer edible after September 29!

We have also gotten fancy and made angel shaped rice crispy treats or angel food cake. Here are some favorite links and ideas for celebrating Michaelmas:

  1. An awesome devil pinata and recipes! 
  2. Lots of recipes, crafts, and books! The paper bag Archangel puppets are a must! 
  3. Lots of details, homilies, catechism, and Bible references for celebrating and teaching kids about this Feast
  4. Of course, the prayer to St Michael is a given!

October is the Month of the Rosary

1. The Month of the Holy Rosary and Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7

My favorite prayer in one of my favorite months. The rosary did not always come easy to me, nor did I even know how to pray it properly until 2020. The pandemic seemed as good a time as any to learn to pray the rosary. When I needed consolation and comfort in March of 2020, Our Lady rushed to my assistance by way of the rosary. I fumbled through it listening to groups praying it on Instagram and youtube. Spotify also has many beautiful versions! Find a recording (or a friend!) and be sure to pray the rosary as much as possible this month.

Check out my post for learning to pray the rosary and praying the rosary with kids here.

2. The Miracle of the Sun, October 13

I also developed a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima in 2020. This apparition and story is truly incredible. The feast of Our Lady of Fatima is on May 13, but we love celebrating the anniversary of the miracle that occurred in October.

On May 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared to 3 shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal and continued appearing in the same spot for the next 5 months. She promised a miracle on October 13, and on that day after thousands of pilgrims traveled to the Cova de Iria drenched in rain, the sun miraculously started spinning and pummeling towards the earth! After this event, the ground and people were also miraculously dry. This event was reported in newspapers as seen in this video:

We also love watching both the 1952 and 2020  Fatima movies, and this spinning sun craft is always a hit.

3. All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween, but make it Catholic), October 31

all hallows eve

This is one you probably already know about, so now let’s connect it to its Catholic roots. The word “Halloween” is derived from the words “All Hallows Eve,” and “hallow” means “holy”. All Hallows Eve (like Christmas Eve) falls on the night (or eve) of a very important Feast Day (All Saints Day, which we will discuss next). All Hallows Eve is also known as the Vigil of All Saints Day, and marks the start of Hallowtide.

Hallowtide includes the Vigil of All Saints, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.

The eves (or vigils) of Catholic feasts have been traditionally reserved for fasting and preparing for the holy feast. Pre-Vatican II, it was actually required for all Catholics to fast and abstain from meat on both Christmas Eve and All Hallows Eve. Fasting from meat and offering extra prayers and sacrifices on All Hallows Eve is a very good and very Catholic thing to do. Highly recommend!

Halloween is also a fantastic chance to evangelize by dressing up as saints (and these costumes can be put to good use again tomorrow!)

Older children can also give up their treats as an extra sacrifice and observance of this Holy Eve. You could also choose to attend a vigil Mass, and then break your fast by trick or treating! Beautiful, holy, and fun!

Unfortunately, society encourages a lot of unholy (and downright evil) behavior on this night, and this can be hard (or even impossible) to avoid. Again, Halloween is NOT the focus for Catholics, so I believe it’s a good idea not to idolize or overdo Halloween, and, of course, I do not recommend or condone anyone partaking in anything evil, scary, or scandalous on this night or ever! 

You could also take some time away from school or work on this day to bake some soul cakes to prepare for a beautiful and holy feast day coming up in just 2 more days. Tomorrow is November, and it’s about to get busy (and extremely prayerful)!

For more information, read this lovely and informative article about “Restoring Halloween to the Domestic Church” by Claudio Salvucci here.

November is Dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Remember when I talked about November being a time of ending and death? November is the last big push before the liturgical year ends. It is also the time set aside to honor all of the Saints and pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

1. All Saints Day, November 1

all saints day

Now that we sorted out the origin of the word “Halloween,” we will always remember the very important feast (which is also a Holy Day of Obligation) that follows – All Saints Day! Catholics MUST attend Mass every November 1st just as we attend Mass every Sunday. All Saints Day is the day when we celebrate all of the Saints (canonized or not) in heaven. THIS is true joy, beauty and hope!

First, I recommend attending Mass on All Saints Day as a family and/or with friends.

Then, you can continue the celebration by dressing up as favorite saints, playing games, and having each child talk about the saint they chose. Here is an awesome post for making saint costumes from tshirts! Brilliant!

You could also organize a trunk or treat (saint themed, of course) or potluck. Ask everyone to bring a dish that represents their favorite saint! This is my all time favorite cookbook just for this purpose.

Here are the most adorable treat labels for a tea party or gathering. You could also re-use these throughout the year on each saint’s feast day.

Read lots more ideas for celebrating All Saints Day with kids here!

2. All Souls Day, November 2

While All Souls Day (or Dia de los Muertos in Mexico) is not a Holy Day of obligation (you guessed it) you should attend Mass! At Mass, you should specially pray for any family or friends who have died. We cannot assume that everyone who dies goes straight to heaven, and they need our prayers. All Souls Day (and the entire month of November) is set aside to pray specifically for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Whenever a deceased loved on comes to mind, I pray this prayer for them. This is perfect to pray all November or any time you pass a cemetery:

What is purgatory? At our death, our soul will leave our body, we will come face-to-face with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and He will judge the state of our souls. If a person chooses to be completely separated from Him, he or she will go to hell.

If the soul is in a perfect state of grace, he or she will join Our Lord and all of the angels and saints in heaven. If the soul needs further purification, he or she will enter purgatory, where the soul may no longer offer penances or sacrifices. That’s where we come in.

On All Souls Day, we pray and celebrate Masses for the dead – specifically the souls in purgatory who need further purification before entering heaven. Catholics can also gain plenary indulgences this first week in November (see here).  

Remember the soul cakes you baked on Halloween? Now, you get to break them out for our next liturgical living adventure!

On All Souls Day, invite friends to meet at a cemetery to pray and exchange soul cakes. Soul cakes originated in the UK and were baked and exchanged for prayers for the dead on All Hallows Eve (trick or treat…prayer for a treat…get it??).

Even when my children were small, they truly enjoyed participating in the spiritual work of mercy of “praying for the living and the dead” by praying for each name we passed on the tombstone and leaving a rose at the gravesite.

We always make sure to especially pray for the people with very old, worn, or bare gravesites because maybe they no longer have anyone to pray for them.

3. The Feast of Christ the King, last Sunday in Ordinary Time (aka the last Sunday before Advent)

This feast is near and dear to my heart because Christ the King is the name of the parish in Tampa that I grew up in, and it’s also the name of my family’s current parish! Last year, our parish had a huge celebration with donuts and goodies after Mass and lots of big, gold crown balloons and decorations.

The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of this period of Ordinary time in the Church, AND the end of the liturgical year. This means that Advent is coming which means Christmas is coming! But there’s a whole separate post coming all about that…

Memento Mori (Remember you must die)

For much of my life, the death of a loved one was hard to experience or even talk about. Leaning into the feast days mentioned here brings me a tremendous amount of peace every fall. Holy Mother Church, in all of her wisdom, gives us some amazing liturgical feasts in the fall (such as All Saints and All Souls Day) to hope for, process, and grieve this inevitable ending to all life. 

I hope you enjoyed my mini round up of my favorite fall Catholic feast days and holy-days. Here they are one more time: 

  1. Fall Ember Days
  2. Michaelmas
  3. The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
  4. The Miracle of the Sun
  5. All Hallows Eve
  6. All Saints Day
  7. All Souls Day
  8. The Feast of Christ the King

There are so many more feast days during this last stretch of Ordinary time, so I would love to hear your favorites! Please leave them in the comments!

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