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”.


Is your catechesis evangelistic?  What does that even mean?  Well, it means a lot of things, but most importantly it means being a person to brings the light, joy, life and love of Jesus to others.  The heart of our catechesis to children, youth and adults must be evangelistic or it is not authentically Catholic/Christian.

How do I shine Jesus in my catechesis?  How do others encounter Jesus through my classes, presentations or by encountering me?  These are questions worth thinking about.  I found a compelling video clip by Fr. Robert Barron about Evangelization.  It’s a little academic, but it’s really good.  Take a couple minutes and check it out.


For years I’ve understood that the textbook was just a tool and not the end-all of the catechetical lesson.  One of the challenges today is to equip volunteer catechists to go beyond the textbook, i.e., not relying on the textbook as a crutch which they have to teach from in order to convey the content of the chapter.  Although I have some ideas on what we need to do about that, I want to share a few things that seem to be essential in this Ministry of the Word and the Proclamation of the Good News of Christ and His Church today. This are some things needed for Catechesis in the Third Millennium:

 

1. We need a holistic approach to catechesis.

As many have been saying, we need to do more than pass on content – we need to see our catechesis as initiating people into the Christian Life.  Much has been said about this, especially in the last number of years. Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that it’s not a victory to get through the 30 chapters of the textbook.  It’s a victory if over the course of a year we have helped those we catechize be inspired, grow in hunger for being in communion with Jesus Christ and desire to continue that friendship they have with Him.

2. We need to help Catechists see that what they are transmitting is something that is unified.

Textbooks, among other resources, can have a tendency to compartmentalize the content of the Faith.  At times for the sake of order this is understandable and necessary.  However, too often we struggle to catechize seeing that the faith is unified not just a set of various truths.  For example, in the 3 part of the Catechism in the second paragraph of that section it expresses this truth I’m speaking of beautifully:

The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”2 “partakers of the divine nature.”3 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”4 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer. (Paragraph 1692)

Even in the 3 part of the Catechism it has not “moved on” from the first two parts to now cover the 3 part (although it does cover the Christian Life lived out and what we believe about that).  But it does so in a unified manner helping the believer see that the faith in intricately woven together as a unified whole.  Catechesis today needs to keep this in mind and make positive strides in helping others see the unity of the Catholic Faith.

3. We need to root our Catechesis in the Holy Trinity.

Yes, I’m sure we all have heard that the Trinity is the central mystery of the faith and how as the Catechism says: “It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them” (#234).

If what we are teaching does not relate to one of the persons of the Trinity then we should not be teaching it.  As stated above regarding the unity of the faith we have to show those we catechize that God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revealing Himself to us and inviting us to community with Him.  When you have a moment take a look at Ephesians 1:3-14 which conveys beautifully the Trinities Mission.  Our catechesis should always be linked with the Trinity.

4. We need to present the faith today as a compelling story — of God’s loving plan.

The Good News is a story to be told, a story to be celebrated, a story to be lived and a story to be in communion with.  It is not romanticizing to say that it is a love story because it truly is, but it is a love story that has tragedy, hope, love and joy which are all a part of the human condition.  We have a tendency in catechesis to present the faith as a lot of great truths but can struggle to help those we catechize see that it’s more a story we are a part of than a number of great truths that happened in the past.  The more we can show others that what we are proclaiming and teaching is all part of a beautiful story of God’s plan and purpose for creation then we help others see just how compelling God and his ways are.

5. We need to put people in contact with Jesus (in relationship with Him).

If we begin and end each catechetical session with a brief prayer lasting no more than 30 seconds then it is not likely that we are able to allow for the proper setting to help those we catechize come into contact with Jesus.  We need to have more prayer in our catechesis, more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, more time of silence and reflection (as challenging as all this can be).  I recently heard a story about how two priests had devoted much time to being present to the First Communion class by stopping by the classes to talk with the 2nd graders and how they also were present at the parent meetings.  Even so, after First Communion none of the parents brought their children to Mass.  One of the things the priests discovered is that they never took to time to take them to the church and have direct contact with Jesus.  They did not take them into the church to show them how this is where the Christian community gathers to celebrate, proclaim and encounter God.  Therefore, helping find more opportunities of putting people in contact with Jesus Christ is essential for fruitful discipleship.

6. The Catechism needs to be better utilized in elementary catechesis

When Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of the Catechism as a reference text he did not intend for it to merely be something we use as one among many resources.  Textbook publishers have a tendency to site the Catechism as a reference or a way to show that the teaching in a particular chapter is linked to a teaching in the Catechism.  Although this is a great first step to what we had 20 years ago it lacks something significant.  The Catechism is the essential Deposit of Faith which the Church guards as a most important and vital treasure to the universal Church. The Catechism helps articulate the beauty of the Faith.  The Catechism shows how the Faith is organic and unified.  The Catechism threads the faith together in a way that we can see just how unified and simple the faith is.  When I say simple, I mean that at the heart of the Deposit of Faith we see the simple Gospel Message that God so loved the world that he gave his only son that we may not perish but have eternal life (Cf. John 3:16).  The Catechism conveys the simplicity of God’s plan accomplished through Creation, through His relationship with us, through sending His Son to redeem us and sending the Holy Spirit to sanctify the world and prepare us for the world to come.  Therefore, the Catechism needs to be used more fully in equipping catechists in their ministry of catechesis.

These are 6 things I see as vital to Catechesis in the 21st Century.  May God our heavenly and gracious Father direct us and lead us to greater renewal and communion with Himself.

What do you see as things that are needed for Catechesis in the 21st Century?


thinking

My friend Marc Cardaronella over at Evangelizing Catechesis said something recently that I keep reflecting on:

We may not be doing anything for our student’s salvation by merely teaching them the facts of the Faith. If we’re not teaching them in a way that moves them to love God and respond to him in faith, they may not be saved at all.

What have you found fruitful to “move your students to love God and want to respond to Him”?  It would be great to hear what you have found beneficial!

 


Pope Emaritus Benedict spoke back in 2010 to the Italian Bishops conference in Assisi about the translation of the Roman Missal in the context of liturgical reform.  He said that “all true reformers are, in fact, obedient to the faith.” He explained:

“They do not move arbitrarily, they do not claim any discretional jurisdiction over rites. They are not masters but custodians of the treasure that was instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The entire Church is present in each liturgical act, and adhering to its form is a condition for the authenticity of the celebration.”

The “reformers” he is speaking of are all the bishops, priests and liturgists who will be implementing the new translation of the Roman Missal.  I think the Pope’s message also applies to the work of catechesis when passing on the Deposit of Faith.  We cannot teach personal opinions or only the truths that “we think” are more relevant.  There is a temptation to side-step the more challenging teachings of the Gospel and the Church. The Lord has entrusted to His Church the full Deposit of Faith and we, in the ministry of catechesis, must never see ourselves as the “masters but custodians of the treasure(s) that was instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us.”

3 Ways we can do this in our Religious Education Programs:

1) Make sure and talk to your DRE about what are the fundamental truths of the Faith, e.g., Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery, the Sacraments, the doctrine of sin, etc.

2) Be faithful to the teachings of Christ and His Church in your own life. As we allow comfort or lukewarmness to infect our own Faith lives, it becomes contagious and spreads to the programs we lead and the teachings we pass on.  The teachings of the Church are life-giving and inspire one to go deeper and grow in a relationship with God.

3.    Be sure to find small teachable moments to pass on to the parents as well.  It is becoming increasingly more challenging to encourage parents to attend any presentations about the faith.  Look to newsletters, emails, and small assignments in which students and parents can work together, so that parents can deepen their understanding of the blessings and joy of knowing the teachings of the Church and desire more fervently to live them in their lives.

Come Holy Spirit!


Today is a significant day for a few reasons:

1) The Opening of the Second Vatican Council was 50 years ago today.

2) The Catechism of the Catholic Church was published 20 years ago today.

3) The Year of Faith Begins Today!

Pope Benedict announced this year of faith last October 2011 asking the Church to prepare for a year of faith that would “give renewed energy to the Church’s mission to lead men and women out of the desert in which they so often find themselves, and towards the place of life, towards friendship with Christ who gives us life in all its fullness”.  He also spoke of it as an opportunity “to strengthen our faith in Christ and joyfully to announce Him to the men and women of our time”.

What are the implications of this in our ministry?                                                                           

1) Prayer

Prayer is at the top of the list – we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew our faith and the faith of His pilgrim Church.  Due to the secularism of our society we need to draw closer and more fully into the life of Christ.  Maybe that sounds too simplistic but it reminds me of a quote I’m fond of by the late Fr. Thomas Dubay who once wrote:

If we wonder why, despite the millions of us who follow Christ, the world has not long ago been converted, we need not look far for one solution.  We are not perceived as men on fire.  We look too much like everyone else.  We appear to be compromisers, people who say that they believe in everlasting life but actually live as though this life is the only one we have.

Fr. Dubay knew better than most the importance of prayer as he dedicated most of his life to helping others grow in their prayer lives and relationship with God.

A few things to consider regarding prayer:

Adults and Ministry leaders

Take more time during your busy lives to pray or at least get back to being faithful to your daily prayer schedule.

Students

Help your students to grow in prayer by giving them insights on how to pray – take them to the adoration chapel, to the church, spend time at the beginning and end of class praying.  Help them have different prayer experiences – times of silence, times of petition and intercession, times of praise and blessing.  Help them pray with Scripture, help them find life in praying the mysteries of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

2) Renewal

We have to set out this year seeking to lead our students into a deeper relationship with Christ.  We want to avoid emphasizing too much on learning about Jesus at the cost of them getting to know Jesus.  Both are possible and important but sometimes we sacrifice one for the other.

What we need is to go from a “maintenance” mentality to a “mission” mentality.  This requires getting out of our comfort zone and exploring ways to ignite the flame of faith in the lives of our students.  It might mean getting back to the basics – do people know the story?– That God created us in His image and likeness, that sin separated us from God, that God had a plan to bring us back to union with him that was finally fulfilled in Christ who suffered and died for our sins and destroyed death through the Resurrection and Ascension and promised manifold graces to draw His Church to sanctity.

What we need is to go from faith as usual to how can I as a Catholic Christian witness and proclaim my faith so as to lead others closer to Jesus.  One statistic I heard is that only about 17% of Catholics go to Mass every Sunday.  If this is true then we should seek to be on a mission to encourage and help others be drawn back in and want to experience the joy and peace that can only be found in Christ who we experience each time we receive the Eucharist.  Our students will see this if our faith is alive – our faith will by God’s grace “compel” them to want more themselves.

Entrust this Year to Mary                                                 

Last week the Pope made a visit to Our Lady of Loreto seeking her intercession for the Year of Faith.  Let us likewise entrust this year to Mary who shows us the way of Faith par excellence!  Mary, increase our faith, intercede for us and assist us in having all of God’s ways be “done to us according to His word”!


Do you have Confirmation in the 8th grade?  Do the students in your program want to attend class each week or do you see that they are less than excited?  Last year we began a new program that we entitled S&L (Spirit & Life).  We promoted it as a Confirmation experience for all 8th graders – both our School of Religion students and our Catholic School students.

Here what we did: Our School of Religion/Religious Ed. office have teamed up with the youth ministers to create an out of the classroom experience.  It is more of a group gathering model.  We knew if we could help teens grow in their faith in a way that was not the traditional classroom model we would have a better chance of engaging them in their faith and fostering in them a desire to stay involved long after the 8th grade year.

Our Format on a given Sunday goes more or less like this:

~ Gather in the Gym where many adult mentors are around greeting them, talking with them and playing basketball, frisbee, & hacky sack.

~ We begin usually with an icebreaker/activity.

~ We move into the Youth Room and either show a video, have some kind of skit/role-play and intro to the topic of the night.

~ Usually one of our youth ministers shares something about the topic and gives some thoughts about it.

~ Then we break everyone up into small groups to explore further the topic of the night.

~ Finally, we gather in the Youth Room to de-brief and encourage them to live their faith.  We often have something that we give them to remind them of the night – a bookmark, a sticker that they put on their shoe (I will follow Christ), etc…

The feedback we received last year and so far this year is very positive.  Almost all the students prefer this format to the classroom model.  This year we asked all the parents and students to attend on the first night where we gave everyone a glimpse of what we do and what our vision was.  That too was well received and really helped give parents an insight to it all.

 

What are you doing in your program that is helping your Confirmation candidates want to stay involved even after Confirmation?


Are You Intriguing?

Recently I watched a youtube recording of Matthew Kelly’s talk from the L.A. Congress 2012.  His talk was around an hour and in part of it he spoke about how Protestant faiths do a much better job of intriguing people or as I would say – drawing people in to “want more” (more of God) than Catholics do.  Matthew Kelly went on to ask “as Catholics do we intrigue anyone by our faith”?  In order to draw others into the Faith they have to see us live, love and work differently than what they see in the people around them.  Does our Catholic Faith and our life of holiness contribute significantly to making us “look different” in the way we live each day?  Do others experience the love of Christ in our daily actions?  And do we work in a different way than others – not that we have to work longer but do we work harder (not just half-hearted), do we work without complaining?  The more we do this the more we as Catholics will be intriguing to a world hungry for God.

2 questions

1) What are characteristics of an authentic witness of Christian life (these characteristics are what the world finds “intriguing”)?

2) As catechists, how do you empower your students to be “intriguing” or how to you help your students witness their faith?


Are your Confirmation Sessions teaching teens the faith or forming them in the faith?  Ok, this is a bit of a trick question, because we ideally need to do both: catechize so transformation will occur.  Recently we had a Confirmation Session with 100 8th graders that was extremely powerful and really blew all of us away at what the Holy Spirit did.

Some background

This year we have implemented a new format for our Confirmation Program by taking kids out of the classroom setting and gathering them all together and trying to do more formation in the faith as compared to merely a catechesis about various topics of the faith.  New Programs/formats always need tweaking.  We have learned a lot this year about empowering volunteers and engaging large numbers of teens.  We have had many frustrations with attendance, volunteers not showing up and a lack of the right kind of engagement from volunteers but we’ve persevered, continued to pray and asked the Holy Spirit to lead us.

Confirmation

We wanted to create a night that gave teens an idea of what happens during the Confirmation Mass.  Many who’ve been through it have said they didn’t really have much of a clue what was going on while it was happening.  So the following is what we did to try to change that.

Gather and Proclaim

We open the night with a humorous 2 minute video about what Confirmation is (the video does not give any answers).  We then had a skit entitled: At the Movies with Jesus and it focused on choosing Christ.  We then debriefed about the skit and shared how tonight we were going to explore a little about Confirmation and the amazing things that happen at the Confirmation Mass.

Break

Small group leaders then took their students to discuss some of the aspects of the Confirmation Mass.  The leaders shared that there was some good discussion during this time.

Send

We concluded by showing another movie clip and discussed that God is asking us to give Him permission.  Joe, one of our youth ministers shared a story and ended up giving away a rosary that was very valuable to him and blessed by the pope.  It truly was a Holy Spirit moment and it was very powerful for the person who received it. She had a hard time receiving it because she felt she didn’t deserve it (that’s exactly the point – we don’t deserve God’s gave and gifts but He cares for us so much that He freely and lovingly showers his grace and gifts upon us).

The Holy Spirit continued to work as we invited teens to come up and share why they were excited about Confirmation.  They came up and shared things like – It’ll bring me closer to God, it’ll strengthen my faith, it’s very important to me.  This was their way of standing up in front of others and witnessing their faith.  It was powerful and exciting to see the teens stand up for their faith.  We had one of those “they finally got it” moments.

It turned out to be a great night!  We were skeptical before the evening began regarding how it would go and how much involvement we’d get from the teens.  God certainly was not outdone is generosity.  Thank you Holy Spirit!

This is one example of how we’ve sought to really engage our teens and form them into the disciples Christ He is calling them to be.  We pray that their faith continues to grow.  Here is an outline of the night – Confirmation.

How About You?

What have you done to engage your Confirmation Candidates?


It’s is midway through the year.  Where does the time go?  I once heard it said that the days go slow but the years go fast.  I now understand this to an even greater degree with a 4,3 and 2 year old.  Time does seem in so many ways to fly by.  I thought halfway through the year it might be helpful to evaluate your ministry by considering the following:

1) How have you connected with your students?

2) Are you successfully getting through each lesson?  How well are your students retaining what you are covering?

3) Do you feel like you are engaging your students?

4) Are you helping your students grow in their friendship/relationship with God?

5) Are you looking to your DRE and veteran catechists for ideas and wisdom?

 

Continue throughout this year in the classroom to be aware of the ways you can assist your students as you proclaim this powerful and exciting “Good News” and  lead them to a more dynamic relationship with Christ!

 

Do you have any other things that would be good to consider when evaluating ones ministry mid-way through the year?


This past Sunday evening at our S&L meeting with 8th grade Confirmation students we explored the Works of Mercy in a very unique way.  They learned specifically about 3 of the Works of Mercy.  We split 125 teens up into 3 groups where they rotated to 3 different stations.  

Here is a description of each Stations:

Feed the Hungry

Kids came into a room where they were given a colored piece of paper representing the country they were from.  Then they sat together at a table and would be given a certain amount of food based on how much food is available in that country.  The teens were asked a series of questions: 1) Did any of you get to choose what country you were from?  2) Is the population of the world evenly distributed on each continent?  The teens were then shown 1 large pizza which represented all the food in the world.  Africa got 8%, Asia 23% Europe 36%, South America 11% and North America 22%.  Teens quickly realized after we distributed the food by continent how not all the food in the world is distributed equally.  A third question was then posed: What do you notice about the food distribution.  Some examples were: Asia doesn’t have enough for everyone, Europe sure has a lot, North America has a lot also, South America does not have enough to go around.  Then every table was able to share their portion of the food (pizza).  A representative from each table then shared a little about their experience.

Give Drink to the Thirsty

At this station the large group was broken up into 4 smaller groups where each participated in a relay.  Here’s how it went: They went to the first line and took off 1 shoe and sock and then ran to the 2nd line where they had a pick up a 40 pound piece of luggage and carry it about 20 feet to a small water bucket where they had to stick their foot into it and pull out a twizzler (I’d recommend a gummy worms) and then they had a carry the luggage back to the place to they originally picked it up.  Finally they put their sock and shoe back on and tagged the next person in their line.  The 40 pound luggage represented the weight of the water that people have to carry back to their homes (average is about 2 miles).  The twizzlers represented all the kinds of tapeworms that are found in unclean drinking water (resulting in malnutrition, diseases & infections).  Putting their feet in the water shows that the water was not clean but 884 million people in our world do not have access to clean drinking water.    We discussed what we could do to make an impact and live out this work of mercy.  Giving money so a community could get access to clean drinking water, making spiritual sacrifices like taking shorter showers and not wasting water are some examples that we discussed.  

Shelter the Homeless

At this Station we had a woman who was homeless as a teenager.  She’s now 23 and doing alright.  She shared some of her experiences of being homeless.  The teens were mesmerized by what she had to share.  

At each station there was a donation basket where kids donated spare change they brought.  We probably raised between $25 and $35 (I am going to have to get it counted today).  We will donate it to Catholic Charities.

We closed the night by showing a video by Audio Adrenaline called Hands and Feet and had different students read a line from a prayer by St. Faustine about serving others.  It was a great night!!!
What have you done in your ministry to help make the works of mercy more concrete?   


This video is very inspirational!  Consider showing it to your class regarding the following topics:

Hope, Courage, living a joy-filled life, perseverance, redemptive suffering, loving like Jesus.  These are just a few themes you could use this video to further your teaching objectives. Our 7th graders just watched this regarding the sanctity of life. This guy really gets peoples attention. Enjoy!


Ever have one of those days where you need to be reminded of those sources of life that draw us toward Christ and help us be open to all that God has for us in the spiritual life?  The Evangelical Catholic, a website that focuses on ministering to college students, lists these 10 sources.  I believe the following sources are also worth keeping in mind for anyone doing ministry in the Church and very much in the ministry of catechesis.  My comments are in brackets.

Interior Conversion

Interior Conversion occurs each time we turn from self-will to God’s will. Initial conversion is when one surrenders to God for the first time. Catholic theologians often refer to this as making “the fundamental option.” [The General Directory for Catechesis refers to it as the initial conversion.  Conversion, however, should be ongoing and occur daily.]

Christian Discipleship

To follow Jesus in true discipleship is a costly endeavor, involving self-denial in the deepest level of one’s being.  [I like the way George Weigel said it: “Because it is in Mary’s fiat –“Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) – that we discover the pattern or form of all Christian discipleship”.]

Devotion to the Scriptures

“It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the Biblical text the living word which questions, directs, and shapes our lives” (Novo Millennio Ineunte).  [Scripture is at the heart of catechesis – when we echo Christ in His person and His message it should be rooted in Scripture.]

Obedience to Christ through the Church

The various evangelical movements of the Church’s history have a shared experience of testing and trial at the hands of Church authorities. An evangelical Catholic finds God’s presence and guidance in such trials. [The Church exists to proclaim the Gospel whole and entire by guarding the deposit of faith and being faithful to it.  Obedience to the Church is obedience to Christ.]

Communion of the Saints

We are part of the Body of Christ, which extends back to Christ and the apostles. Together, in heaven and on Earth, we are working for the healing and salvation of the world.  [The saints show us how holiness and perfect charity is possible.  They also show us how to live for Christ and do His will.]

A Sacramental Life

While all the Sacraments are there for us at key moments in our journey, the Eucharistic celebration is the source and summit of an evangelical Catholic life. [The sacraments give us God’s very life.  They are “moments in our journey” but they are also far more significant than that alone.  Nothing is more significant than tapping into God’s very life in order to live as one who is sufficient only in Christ and not in oneself.  The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist are ways we can continually grow in grace and holiness as well as tapping into the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.]

A Prayerful Life

God speaks to us in his Word; we speak to him in prayer. To be Christ’s disciple means to follow his example of seeking his Father in prayer. This dialogue of word and prayer is at the heart of a relationship with God.  [The 4th section of the Catechism is prayer and this testifies to the significance of prayer being key to the Christian life.  One cannot grow without prayer.]

A Spirit-Filled Life

The Holy Spirit is the great gift of the Father, made possible to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us is so remarkable that Jesus said it was better that he go so that the Spirit could come.  [Without the Holy Spirit we could not be faithful to the commandments and living life in God’s grace.]

An Ascetic Life

Asceticism is the practice of self-denial — the training by which our spirit gains mastery over our body and our union with God increases.  [Jesus and the saints show us the importance of our walk in discipleship.  It needs to be cultivated through practices of self-denial (penance).]

A Disciplined Life

To facilitate living the type of spirituality we have outlined, it is helpful to follow a guide, or commitment, for daily living — a practice that has a long and honored place in Catholic spirituality.  [Consider the daily Mass readings as a guide for daily living or meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary of the day, going to daily Mass or a certain amount of personal prayer time to be a guide/commitment for daily living).]

I think each of these “sources” can be “wellsprings of grace” in the life of a disciple.  These sources lead us to that abundant life promised by Christ.

Would you add anything that you believe would be considered sources of abundant life?


Like Change?

Change is not easy for people.  Even in a world that is in a constant state of change it is difficult to experience, especially when we have become so accustom to the way things are.  Are you looking forward, indifferent or are hesitant to the new changes of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal?

Seeing the Mass with New Eyes

Almost all diocese across the country have had numerous workshops to discuss the changes which are bringing a sense of renewal in general to the Liturgy.  Hopefully the faithful everywhere have come to a greater awareness of the beauty and the depth of the Mass.  I just recently gave a talk to parents about the Mass in general and hope that it brought a greater sense of all that is going on at Mass and how we are truly engaging in something heavenly and supernatural at Mass.  My talk was not so much about the upcoming changes as it was to focus on the wonder of the Mass and how it makes present the events of Calvary. Participating in the Mass is the closest we come to heaven this side of it.

Helping Your Students

What are you doing in your Religious Education, Youth Ministry and Adult Faith Formation to help individuals prepare for the changes?  Many resources have been printed and made available to help various age groups understand the changes and be ready for them in Advent.  Here are a few ideas for the various age groups to consider:

Adults:

~ A series of presentations on the changes for the parish.

~ Resources published in the Bulletin and made available on your parish website.

Elementary and Youth:

~ 30 minute lessons on the specific changes that will happen (I’m especially doing this with 4th – 6th graders).

~ Taking lesson plans and connecting them with the changes.  For example when the lesson plan mentions the Creed take that opportunity to discuss the changes in wording. Or when you do a lesson on Reconciliation take that opportunity to discuss why the changes in the penitential rite.

~ Learning Stations:  We recently had an enrichment session at our parish for 1st – 6th graders about the changes.  We set up 6 learning stations where students and parents spent 10 minutes at each station focusing on some aspect of the Mass (4 stations related to the changes and the other two were intended to give a greater appreciation of the Mass)  They walked away with something from each station.

~ Aim to mention the Mass and how it is central to our life and worship as Catholic Christians.  What a great opportunity to dive more deeply into the Mass and why it is so important to us as Catholics.  St. Bernard said “you will gain more from one single Mass than you would from distributing all your goods to the poor or making pilgrimages to all the most holy shrines in Christendom.”

Opportunity Knocks

Don’t miss this opportunity to talk about something ever ancient yet ever new.  I’ll repeat what has been said by many for the last 2 years about these changes: It gives us a great opportunity, a unique moment to really emphasize and help those we catechize not only become aware of why the changes but how the Mass continues to be our strength, life and source of life giving grace for the faithful.


Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  This feast day was originally called the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.  I love the title of Our Lady of Victory.  St. Therese constantly mentioned this title of Our Lady in Story of a Soul.  Pope Clement XI changed the feast day to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, because it was in fact the power of praying the Rosary that the Christians won the battle over the mighty Turkish Army.

Our Lady has continually shared with the faithful to pray the Rosary for penance and conversion.  In addition Pope’s and holy men and women have not only encouraged devotion to Mary through the Rosary but also testified to its power.

Empowering Students

As Catechists we cannot underestimate the value to praying the Rosary and passing this devotion onto the next generation.  Here are some ways to help students foster devotion to the Holy Rosary:

1) Open your class by praying a decade of the Rosary.  Or pray it at the end of class by offering up the petitions of the students as well as offering up that particular days lesson asking Mary to draw us closer to Jesus helping each of the students live out their faith.

2) Instead of taking time to do a craft or watching a video that takes up 20 minutes of class time, pray the Rosary.  Helping students learn how to meditate on the beautiful mysteries of the Rosary is an invaluable lesson.

3) Give examples of how students can pray the Rosary throughout their lives (e.g., on their way to and from school, before they begin doing their homework, at the end of the day, while traveling on a trip, etc.).  The Rosary is a source of strength and consolation in times of worry and struggle as well as times of thanksgiving and praise to God for His many blessings.

Contemplating the Face of Christ

I want to close with something Blessed John Paul II said during the recitation of the Angelus in 2002:

The Rosary is a way of contemplating the face of Christ seeing him – we may say – with the eyes of Mary. For this reason, it is a prayer that drawing upon the core of the Gospel is in full accord with the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council and very much in keeping with the direction I gave in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte: the Church has to launch out “into the deep” in the new millennium beginning with the contemplation of the face of Christ.

Therefore, I wish to suggest the recitation of the Rosary to individuals, families and Christian communities. To give force to this invitation, I am preparing a document which will help to rediscover the beauty and depth of this prayer.

I wish once again to entrust the great cause of peace to the praying of the Rosary. We are facing an international situation that is full of tensions, at times threatening to explode. In some parts of the world, where the confrontation is harsher – I think particularly of the suffering land of Christ – we can realize that, even though they are necessary, political efforts are worth little if one remains exacerbated in his mind and no one cares to demonstrate a new disposition of heart in the hope of reviving the struggle and effort of dialogue. 

Who but God alone can infuse such sentiments? It is more necessary than ever that from every part of the earth prayer for peace be made to Him. In this perspective, the Rosary turns out to be the form of prayer most needed. It builds peace because, while it appeals to the grace of God, it sows in the one praying it the seed of good from which we can expect the fruit of justice and solidarity for personal and community life.

I am thinking of nations and also of families. How much peace would flow into family relationships if the family would begin again to pray the Rosary.

How do you promote and foster devotion?

How else would you encourage students to pray the Rosary?  How do you foster devotion to the Holy Rosary?

 

 


I’m am not usually a fan of America Magazine but when I saw this posted from the NCCL newsletter I found it very interesting.  The September 19th edition of the Magazine had an editorial about Steve Jobs and asked the question,  What would the church of Steve Jobs look like regarding how it would reach out to young people?

The last paragraph asked the following:

“One hears that young people want what the church has to offer, but they cannot find it in that church. The delivery system fails. Imagine a Bishop Steve Jobs. What would his diocese—the Diocese of Appleton, perhaps—look like? How would entrenched interests react to his challenge? What is out there in plain sight that he would see and point out to fellow church leaders? How would he change not the message, not the content, not the words but the delivery system? The human side of the church could use the energy of new vision.”

How would you answer this?

What about the delivery system in the Church is going well and what needs renewal or in the technology world what “updates” need to be made?


This past Sunday our parish began a new 8th grade Confirmation Program.  Our goal was to get our students out of the traditional classroom model of religious education and find a way to more fully engage them as well as involve the whole parish (public school and Catholic school students).  We want to foster a Confirmation program that is bringing all or our Confirmation candidates together in an environment that engages them and inspires them in their Catholic Faith. 

Here’s what we did on our first night:

We gathered 200 kids in our Gym for a few icebreakers which they seemed to really enjoy.  Then we moved into our youth room where we did a random skit.  We kept the kids laughing at the beginning of this night.  We really wanted to set the mood for this year and start things off right.  Then we introduced our theme for the night: “Come Follow Me”.  Jesus Christ is at the heart of our ministry to these young teens and we don’t just want to teach them about Jesus but we desire to lead them closer to Jesus and in a relationship with Him.  We showed video clips from 4 different movies that focused on making a decision to go forward, to do something that was challenging but significant.  After each video clip a 30 second to one minute commentary was given.  We wrapped this part up by reading from Matthew 4 where Jesus called Peter and Andrew to be fishers of Men. 

Next we had students gather in small groups (they will be in these small groups all year) and take some time to get to know one another as well as have the catechist/small group leader shared how they have followed Jesus in their lives and what difference that has made in it. 

We concluded the night by gathering back in the youth room and challenging them to follow Jesus and walk in His footsteps.  We had them put a sticker on the bottom of their shoes that said: Come Follow Me.  

It was a great night!  We are very excited about our new format which we hope really draws these students closer to Christ in a way that they will enjoy.  May the Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide us. 

What are you doing in your ministry to engage students?


 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Curriculum

Last night we had our 7th grade catechists gather for our In-Service.  We rolled out a new vision and curriculum.  There was great excitement about it all. 

Toward the end of last year’s religious education program we decided we needed our middle school program to look different from what religious education students were use to going to from K-6 grade.  By middle school we want to avoid a mentality of “this is the same old thing every year”.  Yes, we want them to continue to grow in their knowledge of faith, but more importantly we want them to be formed in their faith and able to witness to it in their everyday lives.  Not to mention the need to do it in a way that engages them and keeps them guessing what is going to happen next.  While, we are not professional entertainers nor experts in engaging middle schoolers, we wanted to create a curriculum that draws them into the Scriptures as well as how it relates to their current lives.


Nuts and Bolts

Our curriculum aims to cover the key aspects of Salvation History through the 6 major covenants (5 in the Old Testament and 1 in the New).  We will be covering the key aspects through the following method:

1) We will spend between 30 to 45 minutes each week cover the topic of the day.

2) Students then will switch classes (each class has what we call a “team class”) and cover either “practical application” or “spotlight”.  After 25 to 30 minutes of that they switch again and cover whatever they did not cover in the previous 25-30 minutes.  Practical Application seeks to make application of the topic and help them respond to it.  Spotlight aims to highlight something via a video, a testimony or activity that assists students in further applying and understanding how the topic affects and relates to them.

3) At times we will not have them switch but we will gather all the students together (e.g. gather in the church for a prayer/blessing or watch a video as a whole group.  

Engaging Middle Schoolers 

We are very excited about this new program and last night our catechists and aides responded very positively and with enthusiasm about this new curriculum.  We currently have 4 lessons created and are working on developing the other lessons.  It’s a time-consuming process since there does not really exist a program out their that covers salvation history for middle schoolers and engages them.  There are textbooks that cover the Bible but not in a way that is less classroom presentation style.  We are looking to be less textbook driven and more engaging as our students gather.  There will be a component of presenting material while not relying on a textbook.

Please say a pray for our endeavor and let me know if you’d like me to share more.   


Today in our summer program students took an hour a 15 minutes to visit 5 saints.  Each group (divided by grade level) spent 15 minutes a piece learning about St. Francis Xavier, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Nicholas of Myra.  The Catechists and kids seemed to really enjoy learning about these saints through people dressing up as them.  During this Summer School of Religion Program students are also learning about 5 other saints (this year I’ve asked that 10 saints be covered).  I am so grateful for those who were willing to dress up as a saint today and share about the holy lives of these saints.  The theme for our Program this year is “We Are Called” and one of the phrases that I’ve emphasized is that we are called to be saints.

May the Holy Spirit lead these children and all of us to be holy and to be saints…for “We Are Called”!

 

 


This Monday begins our Summer School of Religion Program.  About 10 years ago my parish began an alternative religious education program.  It offers an intensive two week session that is 3 and a half hours a day for two weeks.  Last year 258 students participated.  Many parents love it and other parents would not even consider having their child only go to class for only two weeks in the summer (some think that would be merely getting it out of the way).   There are some real positives to a program of this sort as well as challenges (more in my next post about this).

Over the last three years I’ve worked hard to make sure the classes are covering the same amount of material as classes during the school year.  I’ve outlined the chapters for each grade (1st, 3rd – 6th) in order to help the catechists be prepared and ready to cover their lessons well.  Our program also has music, a church tour, time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, field trips for some grades, Stations of the Cross, Mass, and a food drive.  It aims to not merely get through so many chapters but to help the students encounter a Catholic culture and a program that forms the whole person.

In my next post I’ll share some of the pro’s and con’s of a alternative program like this one.

Does your parish do anything like this?


On Monday I wrote a post regarding Pope Benedict’s address to the Bishops of India regarding sound catechesis.  He also spoke to these bishops about transformation and how it is at the heart of our proclamation of the Faith.  He said:

“Christian revelation, when accepted in freedom and by the working of God’s grace, transforms men and women from within and establishes a wonderful, redemptive relationship with God our heavenly Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.  This is the heart of the message we teach, this is the great gift we offer in charity to our neighbour: a share in the very life of God. “
 

3 practical ways to communicate it

Here are 3 ways to communicate the life-transformation of Christian living and teaching.

1. Lead Catechists spiritually.  Encourage their spiritual growth.  Many times we merely want to empower our catechists intellectually or focus on strengthening their skills, but struggle to make the time to help them grow spiritually.  Find ways through the times you gather with them or the emails and letters you may send to them helping them grow and develop spiritually so they in turn will be better able to help those they are serving.

2.  Show catechists how they are not only to pass on the wonderful and rich content of the lesson plan but also how they can help their students/audience see the spiritual truths within the lesson – especially those spiritual truths that assist them to encounter Jesus.

3. Pray for your catechists, have catechists pray for their students/those they are catechizing.  Prayer is powerful!

After all our aim is to help others have “a share in the very life of God”.


Who Is Your Hero?

Glimpses of heroism are exciting aren’t they?  They help motivate us to keep going and to remember that we can do it!  Lisa Mladnich recently wrote an article entitled: Humble Heroes: Teaching Children the Value of Suffering which discuss how children can be inspired by the many heroes of faith we can tap into as Catholics.  We all desire the example of heroes of the Faith to inspire and encourage us.  There are many heroes in our Catholic tradition but the saints are the ones who inspire me most.  The things they endured for the love of God never cease to amaze me.

10 Ways

Here are some ways Lisa suggests parents and catechists can do to inspire children toward a heroic faith:

  1. Pray for them and their families. Make sacrifices for them at least one day a week: fast from junk food, gossip, or procrastination; offer up your chores or exercise.
  2. Remind them of the value of suffering. Read the story of Christ’s passion and explain that in His holy sacrifice Jesus endowed suffering with redemptive power. Help them offer up their sufferings for others and thereby engage them in helping to save souls.
  3. Point out the quiet heroism of those who care for the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. Ask them for examples in their own lives.
  4. Introduce them to the lives of biblical heroes and Catholic saints throughout the liturgical year. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “By keeping the memorials of the saints . . . the Church on earth shows that she is connected with the liturgy of heaven” (1195). See here.
  5. Ask for the intercession of these heavenly allies and tell your students their stories of faith. Presented vividly, their lives are captivating and thrilling to children. They’ll love you for sharing them. See here and here.
  6. Share your own faith walk with them. In brief, appropriate doses, there’s nothing like the power of a personal witness. Listen to their responses and respect their experiences. The Holy Spirit works in marvelous and mysterious ways.
  7. Remember that you are the face of the Church to some of your students, since many are not taken to Mass on a regular basis. Teach them with great kindness and enthusiasm. While maintaining a calm and loving discipline, be affectionate in your attitude toward them, even if they seem disinterested. As a wonderful catechist said to me recently, “They often remember you and how you made them feel more than they remember the lesson.”
  8. Remind them that our heroes are broken, like we are. This is a great topic to bring up with children of all ages, especially in preparation for First Reconciliation. With the notable exceptions of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Christ, all of our heroes were/are sinners like us. And God still treasures us and uses us to accomplish great things! Consider offering the graces of your confessions for young people, as they are led to humbly seek God’s will and discover the hero in themselves.
  9. Check out this beautiful article by Sarah Reinhard, about Our Lady’s willingness to suffer in faithfulness to her Son.
  10. Order Barbara Falk’s excellent CD: “Fostering Heroism in Your Children”

 

What ways have you found helpful in inspiring children to a heroic faith?


For the last number of years I’ve tried to use a variety of video clips to help engage and catechize students.  Taking 30 minutes to an hour of class time to show a video is mostly an unproductive use of time.  However, using a 2 to 7 minute video clip from movies (wingclips.com is a great site), commercials, and youtube can be a great way to make a particular point and expand on it.  Feel free to check out some of the clip I have on my blog page (go to the right side of the page).

How do you use video clips to teach?


In Pope Benedict XVI’s last general audience before Christmas 2010 he said:

“In the night of the world, let us still allow ourselves to be surprised and illuminated by this coming, by the Star which, rising in the East, has inundated the universe with joy.  Let us purify our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with this coming – thoughts, words, attitudes and actions – spurring ourselves on to do good and to help bring peace and justice to our world for all men and women, and thus to walk towards the Lord”.

Catechesis for Today:

~ The Christmas season will come and go but being illuminated and lead by Christ must be a constant goal for followers of Christ.  In our catechesis may we always seek to bring that wonder and joy that helps illuminate the riches of our Catholic Faith.

~ This image of purifying our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with His coming is key for every Christian disciple.  May we spiritually seek to do this not only as we welcome into our hearts the Savior at the remembrance of His birth, but know that he will come again and we must be purified and ready!  There will be great spiritual benefit assisting those we catechize understand this.

~ Bringing peace and justice into the world for most of us is on the grassroots level – in our homes, work places, interactions wtih those in our town.  We bring not just peace from war but peace that is from God drawing others closer to Christ and His law of love.  Justice needs to be worked for and for most of us, seeking to love as Christ loves, seeking to serve as He would serve, seeking to treat others with respect, gratitude and joy is what will help us live justly.

“In the Night of the World…Be surprised and illuminated by his coming!”

Originally posted on amazingcatechists.com


This past Sunday we gathered students in our program who do Home Study and those who attended our Summer School of Religion (an intensive religious education program over the summer – I shared a little bit about it a number of months ago Part I and Part II).  We’ve asked those participating in our Home Study or Summer Session to attend 4 enrichment session during the year.  It is a way to keep them plugged-in to the parish throughout the year.  We ask at least one parent attend with their child(ren).  Our team (about 6 adults) wanted to do something that would draw those attending into the the Advent and Christmas Season.

Our play or skit was entitled “An Ascension Christmas Carol…in a neighbor near you.”  It focused on Christmas past (the birth of Jesus), Christmas Present (living for Jesus in our everyday lives) and Christmas Future (The Eucharistic Feast of Heaven).  The skit began with a few grumpy kids beginning to decorate their family Christmas Tree for the holiday season.  The kids were sent to bed and while asleep all had an Angel visit them and take them on a “tour” showing them the true meaning of Christmas – past, present and future.  The skit lasted about a half an hour and it was wonderful!

Following the skit kids and parents went from the church to our parish hall to work on an Advent calendar where we played some music and served cider and cookies while families worked on their Advent Calendar (each day of the calendar had an faith action to perform.

Many parents commented on how their kids liked it as well as themselves.  We also got a lot of positive feedback from the evaluation forms we asked them to fill out.  Praise God!

Has your parish done anything like this? I’d like to hear how your parish is involving families.


Happy Memorial of St. Nicholas!  Yesterday, I dressed up as St. Nicholas, no not Santa Claus but St. Nicholas for the Pre-School 3 and 4 year old’s as well as our kindergarten students.  I had my Miter, a priestly robe, and a beard.  It was an enjoyable time with the students.  Many catechists commented on how attentive their students were.

If you have class this week, here are a few things to keep in mind and possibly work sharing about St. Nicholas.

1. Why is St. Nicholas the Patron Saint of Children?

He is known especially in the West as the patron saint of children.  There are many stories about him assisting children who were in danger or harms way as well as the many healings and miracles that occurred while he was alive and after his death.  I’ll comment a little more under St. Nicholas and Santa regarding his patronage of children.

2. Why is St. Nicholas the Patron Saint of Brides (those to be married).

The most popular story is Nicholas discovering that 3 young women who were fairly poor and would not be able to Marry (some stories say they would have been sold into slavery)  in the future unless they had a dowry (the sum of money given from the bride’s family to the groom’s to help provide for the newly married couple).  One night, Nicholas threw/tossed three bags of gold through an open window and they landed in the stockings of the three girls who were drying their socks above the fire place (other stories say they landed in or just beside their shoes).  Some countries even to this day have children leave their shoes out the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas in order for their shoes to be filled with candy and treats.

3. Why is he Patron Saint of Sailors and those setting out on boats/ships?

Tradition has it that he was on a ship with many others and there arose a fierce storm.  All feared that death was near.  They realized that  Nicholas was calm and in prayer.  Soon after the storm ceased and all were safe.

4. What is the the connection/link between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus?

The word Santa Claus is a derivative of the name St. Nicholas.  It is said that Nicholas spent the wealth he received from his parents on giving gifts to others to those who were in need.  In many places a tradition of anonymous/secret gift-giving began after his death.

5. What can we learn from St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas like all the saints are models of imitating Christ.  His compassion, love, and desire to give unconditionally are all qualities that model Christ-like behavior.  He stands out as a dynamic and vivid model for us to imitate.  St. Nicholas and Santa Claus should keep our eyes focused on Christ.  Christ is the reason for the Season.  Without the Birth of the Messiah, the Word becoming flesh in human history, the tradition of Santa Claus coming once a year on Christmas would have never come to be what it is today.  A perfect image is the kneeling Santa before the Christ child.  Santa Claus should teach us to model Holiness – Ho Ho Ho (I teach kids that this is short for Holy, Holy, Holy).

Do one thing today that reflects the kindness, compassion and generosity of St. Nicholas who did it all for the love and glory of God!  St. Nicholas…Pray for us!


As Catechists and individuals in ministry how do we make Advent for ourselves and our students more than a merely happy and festive time?  Often it is a time where many await and countdown to Christmas not primarily because of the spiritual meaning of the season but more for the joys of exchanging gifts and getting together with family and friends.  Even the secular culture promotes this time of year as a joy filled and special few weeks.   Although this is all well and even good it often seems to miss the heart of this time of year.  How do we help others prepare well in Advent for the Solemnity of Christmas?

Fr. Ronald Knox in a sermon on Advent said:

“This attitude of expectation is one which the Church wants to encourage in us, her children, permanently.  She sees it as an essential part of our Christian drill that we should still be looking forward; getting on for two thousand years, now, since the first Christmas Day came and went, and we must still be looking forward.”

4 Ways to Look Forward

1. Promote and teach a spirit of preparation.  Jesus said: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Lk. 24:42)

2. Teach students not only that we remember and celebrate Jesus’ Birthday and how He came to earth to save us but also share that He will come again and we need to be ready.

3. Pray for all those who will die this month and will be meeting Jesus.  Pray that they are spiritually ready.

4. The liturgical color is purple which communicates to the faithful a spirit of sacrifice.  Encourage a spirit of penance and sacrifice during Advent.


1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you… The Holy Spirit is our interior teacher and our constant guide as we pass on the faith to others.  It is the Holy Spirit who uses us, our words, our actions, our joy, our love for God to inspire those we teach.

2. Prepare and Review your lesson – Preparation is 70% is the success of your lesson.  If you take the time and prepare you are in a position to have a very successful class.  Don’t forget to review your lesson before you walk into your classroom.  That way, you’ll be ready to execute from the start with no wasted time (especially since the average religious education class is only between 1 hour and 1.5 hours.)

3. Have materials ready – Be ready before arriving at class with the materials you will need to carry out your lesson.  That way, you won’t need to go after something in the middle of class or you won’t need to take any time in front of your students doing last minute prep work.

4. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of your students – We should not only pray that the Holy Spirit works through us but also that the Holy Spirit speaks to the hearts of our students.  It is the Holy Spirit who is drawing them closer to Himself.  We must beg God for His help so that they will be touched, so that they will encounter Christ more fully through each lesson we cover.


The Vatican News Services reported on the Pope’s message on the Feast of the Visitation(May 31).  Below is the message he gave and it has great relevance for those in the ministry of catechesis.  There is much to ponder here regarding our call as witnesses of the Gospel message in a world “longing for Jesus”.

Pope Benedict XVI:  “We recognize the clearest example and the truest meaning of our path as believers and the path of the Church itself. By its nature, the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and at all times, to spread the faith to every man and woman and to every culture”.

“Mary remained with Elizabeth for three months to offer her loving nearness, concrete assistance, and all the everyday services that were needed. In this way, Elizabeth becomes the symbol of the many aged and ill, even more, of all those who need assistance and love. How many of these persons there are today in our families, in our communities, in our cities! And Mary — who called herself ‘the handmaid of the Lord’ — made herself the servant of mankind. More specifically, she served the Lord whom she encountered in her brothers and sisters”.

“It should be noted that ‘Mary’s charity’ is not limited to concrete assistance but achieves its highest form in bestowing Jesus himself, in ‘making him present'”, the Pope said. “This is the heart and the height of the evangelical mission. This is the true meaning and the most genuine purpose of every missionary path: to offer human beings the living and personal Gospel, which is the Lord Jesus himself”.

“Jesus”, he continued, “is the true and only treasure that we have to give humanity. Today’s men and women have a profound longing for Him, including when it seems they are ignoring or rejecting Him. The society we live in, Europe, the entire world has great need of Him”.

The Holy Father concluded by underlining that “we have been entrusted with this extraordinary responsibility. Let us live it with joy and devotion so that ours might truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, liberty, and love reign, the fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a truly shared life that is ordered and peaceful. Let us live this responsibility remaining steadfast in listening to the Word of God, in communal life, in breaking of the bread, and in our prayers. May this be the grace that together this evening we ask of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary”.

This summer may we consider the following:

1) Share Jesus with 3 unlikely people you encounter.

2) Email parents and/or your students and encourage them to live like Jesus so they can bring him wherever they may find themselves this summer.

3) Pray that those who are Catholics may faithfully go to the source – Sunday Mass where they receive the one the world longs for.  Only then can we truly radiate Jesus to others.


I found two clips from the movie “Letters to God” which gives a wonderful illustration of how Tyler, who has cancer, can lead or show others to God even when people are not kind or merciful.  This would be a great clip when speaking about living our faith when we are suffering – suffering from persecution, from being different, from not being like everyone else. It is also a good clip to use when talking about witnessing our faith in Christ to others.

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/letters-to-god/gods-warrior   Or you could view it from my list of videos on the right side of my blog page.

Here is a second video from the same movie “Letters to God” about Tyler asking his Mom if the birth of a friends baby was born to replace him.  This clip illustrates wonderfully how no one is replaceable.

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/letters-to-god/god-picked-you?play=1   Or you could view it from my list of videos on the right side of my blog page.