Catechesis in the Third Millennium

relevant catechesis

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relevant catechesis

My new blog replaces this blog.  Visit and register for new posts at


Check it out and share it with others!!!

pointingOne of the latest issues in the sports world that has been spoken of non-stop in the last 24 hours is the domestic violence occurrence by Ray Rice to his now wife Janay Rice (when the event occurred they were not yet married).   Here is what she had to say about all the media reports:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing.

“To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his butt off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravens nation we love you!”


Taking her comments at face value her response should fill us with great sadness.  In a world that is intolerant to others being judged and condemned Ray Rice is being cast as less than human and worthless.  Yes, we should be outraged by his actions and the domestic violence going on in our communities.  It is good that the Media is speaking about the horror and evil of domestic violence.  However, at what point do we portray an individual unjustly?  Justice is “that which is owed to another”.  God has given each and every person human dignity.  Each of us are created in the image and likeness of God.  The Gospel Message is for sinners.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost (cf. Lk. 19:10).  We can and should judge actions but we owe each and every person the respect they deserve.  Repentance and forgiveness are both significant aspects of the Christian Message.  The Media thrives on the hype and drama of events like this one, but they are doing little good speaking about it in the manner they are.  Ironically the individuals in the Media can be the harshest at judging others.  Reminds me of what Jesus said: “You blind guides”.

Catechetical Take Awayprodigal son1

1. Judge actions and speak of how are decisions/actions can separate us from God and our neighbor.

2. Acknowledge the dignity of each and ever person – we are so much more than the actions we do.  Our value and worth goes far far deeper.

3. Forgiveness.  A person is a person no matter what right?  Ray Rice made a very serious error in judgement that has resulted in serious consequences.  But he has expressed sorrow and could be just as repentant as St. Mary Magdaline or St. Peter.  Pope Francis put in very well:

How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!


Let us pray for Ray Rice.  Let us pray for those who perform acts of domestic violence to change their ways.  Let us pray for a more merciful world where each and every person can come to know and respond to the Father who has great plans for us (cf. Jer. 29:11).

Next week I will be switching to a new domain/blog.  It’s called Catechesistoday.com .  Look for it next week.


Have a blessed weekend!  Let us pray for our brothers and sisters being persecuted and killed for their faith in the Middle East!


In Christ,

William O’Leary

Here are 5 ways to encourage parents to contribute to making their child’s Faith Formation most impactful:

parent working with child







  1. Parents are first – You are the first and primary educators of the faith to your children. How are you helping them, as Pope Francis says, “meet Jesus”?  How are they growing in “grace and wisdom” (Lk. 2:52) during the years you have them under your roof? Do your children see you taking time to pray & grow in your faith? The habits and attitudes you model are the most important ones in your child’s life and make the most impact. Your words & actions speak to what your kids see as most important to you.


  1. Attitude – Your attitude can make a world of difference to your child(ren). Weekly class attendance, family discussions about what was covered in class and general attitudes on going to Mass, praying together and involvement in the parish have an effect on your child.


  1. Faithfulness – God desires to reveal Himself to us because He loves each one of us so very much. Through weekly attendance in our School of Religion Program you are witnessing your faithfulness to the promise you made at your child’s baptism: to raise them in the faith and assist them in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to help your kids get to heaven – this is the most important thing you can do as parents.


  1. Prioritize – When your child sees (even when she/he doesn’t always like it) that you put weekly faith formation as a top priority they become aware by your example how important faith is to you as parents. Your actions and choices speak volumes!


  1. The power of praying parents – Pray daily for holiness in your family and for the spiritual needs of your parish community. Put your trust completely in God, our heavenly Father, who will hear you and do what is best for you.  After praying and seeking God’s intercession for a specific intention which was answered, St. Faustina said: “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God”(Diary 202).

What tips do you have?  Please share!

I recently gave a catechist retreat/In-Service to a group of catechists at a parish in the Archdiocese.  One of the things I shared with them is the importance of them bringing everything together.  It is not the textbook, the DVD, the music, the pictures or the great use of the powerpoint/smartboard you used that helped make your class a fruitful one.  Although helpful and very important in passing on the faith in a suitable manner to young people in the Third Millennium, nothing replaces the person of the catechist.  The catechist is the person who unites, organizes and links all the great tools available together in order that our Catholic Faith can be made known in the lives of their students.  Our Faith is full of life and has the potential to draw students into the life and mission of the Church.  It is the person of the catechist who is the linchpin, the crux, and central to helping students encounter Christ and the Gospel Message.

The National Directory of Catechesis says: “No number of attractive personal qualities, no amount of skill and training, and no level of scholarship of erudition can replace the power of God’s word communicated through a life lived in the Spirit (pg. 243).” A person who desires to grow in holiness and proclaim in word and deed a life rooted in Christ is irreplaceable in the ministry of Catechesis.

Come Holy Spirit lead us as catechists to radiate you through our teaching, and through our very being!  And students will be saying…Ahh see how they love Jesus…I want that too”.

ImageThe French proverb “The more things change the more they stay the same” seems to be very appropriate for the hugely popular show on PBS of the post-Edwardian era in England.  Something that struck me about a recent episode is that the quest for ones happiness can often lead one away from the very thing they are searching for.  Lady Edith Crawley allows herself to be sweaped up into a romance with a Michael Gregson who’s wife is considered insane, but British law will not allow him to divorce (presuming he has every right to do so).  He’s going to great lengths to prove his love to Lady Edith by becoming a German citizen so he can divorce his wife and marry her. This example is just one among so many others of how we can distort truth.  The world back then and now too often sees fidelity in marriage to be good so long as your wife is not, as in the case of Mr. Gregson, insane (or a number of others reasons).   

Catechetical Takeaway 

3 catechetical points that are vital to catechesis in the Third Millennium:

1. Proclaiming the truth (whether on the issue of marriage or another aspect of life)  is essential to the freedom of God’s children.  Sometimes the truth is seen as judgmental because it challenges ones freedom and what is often socially acceptable (although not morally acceptable).   

2. Keep in mind that catechesis on “Life in Christ” is not merely “morality” but about life with God.  The Catechism paragraph 1691 says:

“Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” [St. Leo the Great Sermo 22 in nat. Dom., 3: PL 54, 192C] [790]

3. Let your message be clear.  Catechism paragraph 1697 goes onto say that “Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ”.  The demands of being a doctor, a professional sports player or a renowned scientist are quite high and so also are the demands of the Christian life (which so often we can resist because it is perceived that a loving God should help make our lives good and happy).  The Christian life, although having its challenges, is filled with abundant joy, peace beyond understanding, transforming grace and total charity which brings authentic freedom and true happiness.  


The life we’ve been given is a true gift even with all it’s demands.  May our eyes and heart always look to Christ for the ultimate answers that allow us to respond according to the truth of the Gospel and all that entails.  



ImageOur Religious Education classes are like the current NFL playoffs.  Win or go home.  This is an approach we need to take regarding the souls we proclaim the Gospel to each week.  Our goal should always be to “win” them for Christ.  This means drawing adults and children deeper into their love for Christ and His Church.  We should always set out to lead and inspire hearts deeper into the mystery of Christ.  How are your playoffs going at your parish?

St. Augustine said:
Awake! For your sake God was made man! ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.’ For your sake, I say, God was made man.
Eternal death awaited you had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. Everlasting would have been your misery, had he not acted in mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost, had he not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.
Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the hallowed day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short span of time. ‘He has become our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption, and so, as it is written: Let those who glory, glory in the Lord.’
May this celebration of Our Lord’s Birth be filled with His glory and draw our hearts ever closer, ever fresh, every ready to dwell with Jesus Christ!
To you and your family I wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!!


O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

~ Fr. William Sanders


Emmanuel means God with us. It is almost Christmas and God will truly be with us. Yet it means more than this. By becoming one of us, He knows what it is to be a human being, with all its joys and griefs. None has experienced pain more than He on the cross and none has known the joy He manifested in the Transfiguration. He is with us, never to leave us. Today we pray that when we receive our Lord in his Sacrament we may truly welcome Him as our saviour, and bid him welcome for the rest of our lives. 

O Emmanuel, you come to us, not only as the Babe in a manger, but each day in the Holy Eucharist; Come O Holy Spirit, empty my heart of all that is unholy, so that we can truly give all good things to the Christ-Child at Christmas. Amen.



O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .

~ Fr. William Sanders

Christ’s birth made the corner-stone of two walls in a building: here representing Jews and Gentiles, and thus ushered in salvation for all people. Remember those Greeks who came to Jerusalem seeking Jesus in the Johannine Gospel. Christ is not only the corner stone binding all creatures but He is also king of the nations. This antiphon should also be a reminder of our humble beginning brought into existence by the breath of God. Today we pray that the news of a saviour and ruler will be heard by all, wherever they live and however they live.
O Rex Gentium, although you took our human flesh to make us all brothers and sisters in you, you are also our Ruler; Come O Holy Spirit, help us to acknowledge Christ as our Sovereign,  and lead all footsteps to the Christ this Christmas. Amen.
                                                                                                                                                         ~ http://mariannedorman.homestead.com


 O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

~ Fr. William Sanders

Oriens means the rising sun. Its light brings victory over the darkness or shadows of the night. We are reminded of this daily in the morning Office when we sing the Benedicitus “To give light to those in darkness and in the shadow of death.”  As Christ is “the Light of the world” He is Oriens. Spring also dispels the darkness of the long gloomy winter. With Christ however there is eternal spring, and Heaven will be like Spring, ever green and luscious. Today we pray that the Light will penetrate our hearts so that we see all our deeds through His rays, and knowing that when we have failed, the warmth of the sunshine will always strengthen us to start afresh.
O Oriens, you have warmed and enlightened us to the teachings of your kingdom; Come O Holy Spirit and fill us with radiant joy as we celebrate the coming of the true Light of the world. Amen.


O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

~ Fr. William Sanders

The key of the House of David is turned with the Annunciation and it opens the door at Christmas. Through that door comes salvation and every one is invited to come through, the poor, the destitute, and he despised. In Christ opening the door, none is refused entry. Today we thank God for our deliverance, knowing that the door opens to eternal life, and that we no longer have to live in the shadow of death. 

O Clavis David, you have delivered us from the tyranny of darkness, death and sin; Come, O Holy Spirit cleanse our hearts so that we may be truly penitent and acknowledge our sins before we come to you this Christmas. Amen.


O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10).
                                                                                                                         ~ Fr. William Sanders
Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).This antiphon reflects on the Jesse tree family. Jesus was a descendant from King David whose father was Jesse and his father was Obed and so on. But the root goes deeper, even to creation itself. Christ superseded David and indeed all rulers of this earth because He is King of all creation. Today we pray that we may recognize our Lord’s sovereignty in our lives.
O Root of Jesse, you left your heavenly throne in order to let us share in your heavenly kingdom; Come, O Holy Spirit prepare our hearts so that we recognise Christ rule in our hearts. Amen.
                                                                                                 ~ http://mariannedorman.homestead.com


O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

~ Fr. William Sanders


This antiphon reflects firstly on Moses’ encounter with Adonai manifesting himself firstly in the burning bush and secondly on Mt. Sinai. The fire symbolised God’s presence and like the fire is not consumed. That fire was a sign that God would be fully revealed in His Son.
The coming of Christ expanded that Law on Sinai given to Moses for the Israelites. Our Adonai has given us a wider Law based on love – love one another as I have loved you. Today let us pray that our lives will be ones of love in which there is no bitterness, resentment, anger or fear, but only tenderness, gentleness and compassion.
O Adonai, you so loved us that you became incarnate so that we may have your example of divine love in giving us the Law of Love. Come, O Holy Spirit prepare our hearts to acknowledge you as our leader this Christmas. Amen.
                                                                                                                                                  ~ http://mariannedorman.homestead.com

Waiting For Justice


Pope Benedict XVI said:

We are waiting for justice but it cannot be merely the expression of a certain requirement with regard to others. Waiting for justice in the Christian sense means above all that we ourselves begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, in accordance with the criteria of the Judge; that we begin to live in his presence, doing justice in our own lives. Thus, by doing justice, putting ourselves in the Judge’s presence, we wait for justice in reality. And this is the meaning of Advent, of vigilance.

The watchfulness of Advent means living under the eyes of the Judge and thus preparing ourselves and the world for justice. In this way, therefore, living under the eyes of the God-Judge, we can open the world to the coming of his Son and predispose hearts to welcome “the Lord who comes”.

The Child whom the shepherds adored in a grotto on the night of Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago, never tires of visiting us in our daily lives while we journey on as pilgrims towards the Kingdom. In his expectation, therefore, the believer becomes an interpreter of the hopes of all humanity; humanity yearns for justice and thus, although often unconsciously, is waiting for God, waiting for salvation which God alone can give to us.


Live under the eyes of the Judge who desire for you to live in His truth and His ways.


Lord, you are the just Judge who never tires of visiting us in our joys and sorrows.  Thank you.  I pray for my enemies today and those who I don’t prefer to spend my time with knowing that you judge them and judge me with the same fatherly love.

St. Lucy – Bearer of Light


Responsorial Psalm: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

~ Psalm 1

Today’s feast can easily be harmonized with Advent themes. The very name Lucy pulsates with light, a living symbol amid the season’s darkness (the days are now the shortest of the year). As a wise virgin Lucy advances with a burning lamp to meet the Bridegroom. She typifies the Church and the soul now preparing their bridal robes for a Christmas marriage. (catholicculture.org)


Today, I will recall the Advent candles, lights on trees and around town as procliaming Christ and recall that Christ has come to disspell the darkness.


Light of Jesus fill my life and most importantly the darkness of my heart so your light can transform it!

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”


What are you afraid of – surrender to what you can’t control, looking too religious, not be accepted because of your Catholic beliefs, giving God your life and not being self-sufficient?  Take one thing for the next week to prayer; something that you are afraid of – something that prevents you from growing in your relationship with God.


Your promises are true Lord God and your grace is sufficient. Please help me to trust in you.  I can’t do this by myself – I need you! I will pray as the Angel did: Hail [Mary] full of grace…

Lord, Lord!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Too often today the idea of “being a good person” is all you need to get to heaven is too common.  “I’m a good person and God knows that”.  Yes, each of us is good by nature of being created in His image and likeness. However, we if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven we must be more than “a good person, a nice person” but we must seek to do the will of God which requires something of us.

Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for being ready for when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead.


Today pray often of doing God’s will…. “Thy will be done” could be your phrase of the day.


Jesus give me the grace to do your will and not my own today.

ImageJesus said today in the Gospel: “I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.” Jesus is our savior and without Him we fail – maybe not immediately but in the end He is our only hope and He is the hope of the world.  The world needs Jesus!  In our society everyone is saying its Christmas time and how “magical” it is.  But non-Christian and Christians alike seek to feast on things that are not what Jesus wants to feed us with.  What in your life might cause you to “collapse on the way”?


Seek to attend a daily Mass for Jesus to fill you with the most delightful of food – Himself.  Or if you are not able to attend Mass read the daily Mass readings so that Jesus may fill you with His Words of life!


Jesus nourish and guide me this Advent Season!  May others know your goodness and love through my witness of you! Amen.


   “Each year, God asks us to shed one more coat of awareness, one more dream state and come alive to the vision of God’s plan for each of us and the world-at-large.

   “The older we get, the harder this is to do. As children we had a sense of wonder. Our eyes were wide open and drinking in the fascinating gifts we beheld…Our thirsty souls could not have enough of the wonders of creation.

   “Then, somehow, we grew too old to dream. We tired of the abundance of the world, or at least grew weary of keeping up with the feast of life, and stepped away from the banquet of life.

   “The natural gift of wonder God gave us as children was meant to be kept alive.…Instead we let wonder go to sleep. We entered the typical dream state of most humans.

   “Why else does Jesus tell us today, ‘Stay awake!’…Advent says, ‘Wake up and realize the gifts of love you have received.’

   “…Psychology says, ‘Let go.’ Spirituality says, ‘Wake up.’ In both cases there is a withdrawal from the busyness of daily life (our dream state) and a waking up to the subconscious and spiritual depths of ourselves.”

                      ~Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem.,THE PRIEST, Oct. ‘87, p.26


I will take a few moments today to “Wake Up” by being a sign up hope to someone, or to pray today or go to Mass.


Jesus, my life can be so busy, please give me your strength to set aside all of the busy but good things in my life so I can take time for you.  Amen.

Take Time to Be Aware








“Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.

   “An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’

   “The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.”

~Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196



Will you make the time to be aware of what Christ wants to do in your life? At the beginning of each day ask for Jesus’ help to carve out more space for Him.


R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.




A blessed Advent to you and a happy new year!  This Advent I will be sharing a brief moment of reflection each day during Advent.  I pray that it may draw each of us closer to the Lord Jesus as we prepare to celebrate his birth as well as prepare for when he will come again!

In Christ,

William O’Leary

Moment #1:

In today’s 1st Reading from Isaiah it says:

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”

Action: Make a resolution to “climb the Lord’s Mountain” that you may be open to Christ “that he may instruct us in his ways and [that] we may walk in his paths.”

Prayer: God is the universe, God of my heart, may my Advent be simple and pleasing to you.  I want to climb, I want to be instructed, I want to open my heart to you! Give me your grace and wisdom.  Amen.


This time it’s not the cart before the horse but the sled before the turkey.  What happened to preparations for Thanksgiving?  According to all that I’m see and hearing it’s about Christmas and that the Christmas Season is here.  So much of what we hear speaks about this being the happiest time of year and Christmas being the best day of the year.  Why does society find it to be such a great time of year? Is it in celebrations of Christ’s Birth which is one of the single greatest events in human history?  Is it that it is an opportunity to prepare for His second coming when he will come again to judge the living and the dead?  Unfortunately, I’m afraid non-Christians and even Christians alike tend to “love” this time of year because it raises up in them warm and happy feelings (not that it and of itself that is bad) and of people feeling like it is a magical time of year.  Some factors are: the weather, the decorations are different, the music playing is full of delight and of course we get to do one of the most enjoyable things as a society — Buy Stuff!  Image

Before we enter into the Advent Season which is still a half a month away, as followers of Christ let’s not respond to the upcoming holiday season as merely magical but as something deeply spiritual.  I like the holiday season as much as anyone, but I believe God is calling me to be rooted in the true reasons why the holiday season is special.  It’s about what God has done for us and his great care, kindness and mercy for us – for me. 

As disciples, as catechists, as parents let us seek to be in Christ, with Christ and seek Him to act through us so that the world may know Jesus, know the goodness of God the Father who provides for his people and know that presents, annual holiday parties are only secondary to celebrating the wonders of God and his infinite blessings!!!


 As the Church approaches the end of the Year of Faith, the Vatican held a Catechetical Congress.  Thousands of catechists attended. Pope Francis said some things worth pondering:

1. Being a catechist “begins with Christ.”

2.   “The first thing, for a disciple, is to be with the Master: to listen to and learn from Him. This is always the case, and it is a way that lasts a lifetime!”

3. “In the heart of the catechist, there always lives this ‘systolic- diastolic’ movement: union with Jesus; encounter with the other, if one of these two movements is no longer beating, then you do not live.” 

4. “Be careful. I have not said to do the work of a catechist, but rather to be one, because it involves all your life. It means guiding towards the encounter with Jesus with words and with life, with your witness.”


It would be easy to comment about all these but for now I encourage you to ponder these thoughts from Pope Francis. 


What did he say that spoke to you most?Image


Our Lady of Misericordia“It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship,”… “that is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.”

“I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary … that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal.”


~ Pope Francis

VATICAN POPEWe are in a historic moment in the Church.  It is full of many emotions from Pope Benedict finishing his papacy to the upcoming election of another pope.  Recently, I’ve created a variety of lessons for various grade levels.  I’ve created these lessons by taking various resources I’ve found on the internet and pieced them together.  I’ve tried to give credit to those sources.  I hope you find some value in what I’ve put together:

1-6 grade – electing a pope

Lesson about Pope Benedict XVI and Electing A New Pope (Middle School)

I also have an outline for more of a youth ministry setting.  Please let me know if you would like a copy of that.

Let us pray for our Pope Emeritus as he begins his life of prayer and for the Cardinals as they choose a new successor of St. Peter.

beyond catechist toolboxRecently, I was asked by Joe Paprocki to review his new book: Beyond the Catechist Toolbox.  He was kind to send me copy.  In this book, Joe aims to show how one goes beyond tools in your toolbox and moves into methods and ways that really help students not only be informed but to be transformed.

This book is short and packed with great ideas.  It will encourage DRE and catechists to lead their students closer to Christ through not only informing them but helping them be drawn into an encounter with the living God and long for more.

Joe spends most of the book giving examples and illustrating the method used in the Loyola Press textbook series “Finding God”.  I’m a big advocate of a clear and simple method to help catechists pass on the teachings of Christ and His Church as well as leading students to respond through practical application.   This book gives clear ideas from how to reinforce the “big idea” of the lesson to what to do when praying with your students so they will be led into a deeper encounter with God.

A few quotes from the book that I highlighted:

“Teaching the Catholic faith is so much more than passing along information.  As they [your students] enter more deeply into the catechetical experience, they realize that they are encountering a mystery.”

“We catechists are not teachers of a subject.  We are facilitators of an encounter – an encounter with a living God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

When speaking of greeting your students when they arrive and having them sign themselves with Holy Water he says: “…it will also put them in touch with a welcoming human face, one of the most powerful expressions of God’s presence.”

He talks about various ways to use the textbook and then he make the point: “The bottom line, though, is that a more active and less passive reading experience will reinforce an important idea in the minds of your participants: God deserves – and inspires- our energy and enthusiasm.

This is a great resource that I happily recommend to all DRE’s and catechists.

Pope Benedict XVI gestures at St.Peter'sI think the universal Church is astonished today at the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation from the See of Peter which will be official next Thursday, February 28th (Feast of Pope St. Hilary).  His letter of resignation is profound:

“Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

It has been almost 600 years (1415) since a Pope has resigned from the Papacy.  I would like to share a few thoughts about todays announcement:

1) Pope Benedict’s humility is evident in this announcements and he realizes the great significance of his decision.

2) I find his letter filled with courage being in on the heals of Blessed John Paul II who with great suffering and courage himself persevered.  But I wonder if he saw things we didn’t see about the effects of a pope who could not perform the tasks that were necessary of the Office of Peter.  I admire Him for his courage and what I’d call “leadership” to do what he thought best for Christ’s Church.

3) The conclusion was most touching as he spoke of entrusting “the Holy Church to the care of the Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary…”

4) Let us together seek the guidance, strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit as the college of Cardinals discern who is to lead Christ’s Church on earth next.  Since Lent is just a couple of days away, let us seek to make small sacrifices for the sake of the Cardinals who will prayerfully choose with God’s help the next vicar of Christ.

ImageIt’s only the middle of January so I’m sure many people who started off the year with some New Year’s Resolutions feel good.  I think catechists and children alike should consider as 2013 gets off to a running start to write down and then follow up on how they hope to grow this year.  Have we made spiritual goals for 2013.  Yes, even kids should have some spiritual goals.  One way to do this in a Religious Education setting is to give your students an index card or a half sheet of paper.  Have them write down 2 or 3 ways they want to grow in their relationship with God this year.  After doing so have them put it in an envelope and seal it.  Take it up and keep it until the end of your Religious Education year give it back to then and have them open it.  Then share with them – how are you doing so far?  If they don’t feel like they are doing great, just encourage them to take the summer to really dive into making 2013 a year of growth and deeper love for Jesus.   

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