St. Brigid of Ireland's Literary and Crafting Society

St. Brigid prayer

Today we held our first meeting of a new girls’ group that I’ve created for my 11yod and her friends. Named after the great Irish saint, St. Brigid of Ireland (patron saint of scholars and reading and thus, our patron for the club), our club will be reading and crafting all year. We’ll start each meeting praying the prayer to St. Brigid.

We will meet every other Tuesday, after morning Mass, to discuss various authors/books, eat a snack and make a craft related to the author, the book, or the time setting within the book. All the books we’re reading are written by female authors and have the same theme: they are all novels of manners … novels that take the reader through common everyday existence, showing that the right and proper friend or spouse, is the one who not only appears good but is good through and through.

Our first author, Jane Austen, is a master at writing novels of manners. Her focus is never on the great, weighty issues of the day, not on the morality of the time or exotic locals. Austen is interested in human relationships and the manners exemplified by the saints and the sinners in the story. Austen’s boks are full of examples (both proper and improper) of manners in act/word: the virtue of self-command, delicacy of emotion, magnanimity, duty and the virtue of well-regulated hatred (command of your emotions in front of others). Manners, in Austen’s world, are a window into the soul and character of another person.

We’re reading Northanger Abbey, a lesser-known but excellent example of Austen’s writing craft. Before starting the book, I gave the girls an overview of both Austen’s life and a summary of the book, with a brief character sketches of the principal players in the story. After a sweet and tasty snack of caramel-topped brownies (made a bit more nutritious with a glass of milk), we started our craft: covering one-inch binders as our “journal” or “scrapbook” for the year. Here are pictures of the girls’ efforts:

Girls working hard with fabrics, ribbons, buttons and glue

Finished journals all ready for next meeting

The inside cover of my binder shows the tags I made for all and the prayer -- both done as stickers!

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