For by me your days will be multiplied and the years of your life increased. – Proverbs 9:11
For my family, we are in the middle of birthday season with over half of the celebrations falling in the next few weeks! Big number years filled our family this year, but for us, each year is a gift and a reason to celebrate no matter the number. We use each birthday as a time to celebrate together as a family with special meals, activities and sharing our love through simple gifts.
Cultures and families all celebrate differently. Ultimately there is no one “Catholic” way to celebrate, but here are some ideas to consider that might allow the birthdays of our families to be more faith-filled:
Offer a blessing
Prayer is an eternal gift we can give to those we love. It is a gift that God can take and fill with so many more graces and effectiveness than we can ever imagine. Taking the time to offer a birthday blessing for our loved ones is a magnificent way to show our love. Here are some options:
Blessing on a Child’s Birthday
Blessing on the Occasion of a Birthday from the Book of Blessings
Birthday blessings are given by our priests here at Sacred Heart at the end of Mass on the first weekend of each month. This is another reminder of the gift of birthday blessings.
Fill with gratitude
Having another day to live should fill our hearts with joy and gratitude. No matter what we are dealing with, it is a day to remember especially when we can never be guaranteed another day. Each of us owes so much to God for the gift of life and to our parents for choosing to be open to life. I know that not all births and birthdays are easy for people if they come from broken relationships or other traumatic experiences. But I hope that each of us can find a way to fill our hearts and birthdays with gratitude for another day of life.
Gifts are not the center
Love is the center of birthdays! Let us be sure we teach our children to not just focus on the gifts they want or the gifts they did not get. Those toys that they will likely forget about by their next birthday might not seem quite so important if they remember that love is the most important gift they can receive—the love of God and of family. Gifts are just a way to show love to those we care about.
Each life is important
Take moment to reflect on the wonder of God’s love from before the day of birth. He had a plan for each of those we love and even for those we struggle to get along with!
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!
My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
– Psalm 139:13-16
Our Blessed Mother’s Nativity (birthday) is coming up on September 8. On this day, the beautiful soul chosen by God to bring about our salvation was born into the word by her parents St. Joachim and St. Anne. God truly had an amazing and crucial plan for Mary’s birth and life!
Along with Mary, the only other birthdays that are celebrated in the liturgical year is, of course, Christ’s birthday on December 25th and St. John the Baptist’s on June 24th. Saints are usually remembered on the day of their death as their celebration into eternal life. But it was the years leading up to that day of death that allowed them this great honor to be called a saint of God.
Happy birthday, Blessed Mother! Teach us to love as you do and prepare our hearts to be better disciples of your Son, Jesus!
How are we glorifying God with each new year He gives to us?
In what ways can we use birthdays in our family to thank God more for the gift of life and love?
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Homeschool Coordinator