“Lord, come and save us.” Psalm 146
December 15th is the Third Sunday of Advent. “Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” ponders the reality of barriers and borders. History is full of barriers: The Great Wall of China; the wall in Israel; and the Iron Curtain of Europe, now broken down. I write this reflection from El Paso, Texas, where a metal wall separates its citizens from the neighbouring city of Juarez, Mexico. We are really one community, split in two by a barrier that is both physical and psychological. The Gospel addresses barriers in a subtle way. Behind prison walls, John the Baptist searches for the living Christ. Physically, he is walled in a confined place, but his heart is free. The Baptist is free because his questions make him so. No question can be chained. The prophet sends his disciples to Jesus with the question: “Are you the one?” Jesus’ answer points to those who are free from the physical barriers of blindness, disease and death itself. Jesus, the Good News incarnate, is the source of all freedom. Robert Frost writes: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out.” During this time of Advent, let us become more conscious of the false barriers enclosing our minds and hearts and keeping us from being truly free. The Eucharist is a reminder that all are invited to the table, where there are no walls or borders,” Rev. Robert Dueweke, December Living with Christ, page 81.
The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at the prayer time called Vespers during the last seven days before Christmas. These are different names for Jesus Christ based on some of His attributes mentioned in Scripture. These titles are called the O antiphons because each title begins with the interjection “O”.
- December 17th is Come, O Wisdom of our God Most High.
- December 18th is Come, O Leader of ancient Israel.
- December 19th is Come, O Flower of Jesse’s stem.
- December 20th is Come, O Key of David.
- December 21st is Come, O Emmanuel.
December 22nd is the memorial of St. Marguerite d’Youville. “Marguerite was born in Quebec, Canada, on October 25, 1701. Her father died in 1708 and the family lived in poverty. Relatives paid her tuition at the Ursuline convent school in Quebec. Her two years at the boarding school prepared her to teach her younger brothers and sisters. Marguerite was gracious and friendly. She helped support her family by making and selling fine lace. In 1722, Marguerite married Francois d’Youville. It seemed like the marriage was going to be a truly happy one. But Francois’ real self came out as the months passed. He was more interested in making money and spending money than in being with his family. He left Marguerite alone with their children and did not take care of them. Francois died quite suddenly in 1730 after eight years of marriage. He left Marguerite with large debts. A kind priest named Father du Lescoat gave her courage. He assured her that she was loved by God and that soon she would begin a great work for him. Marguerite took in a blind, homeless woman on November 21, 1737. This marks the beginning of a marvelous work of caring for the sick poor in infirmaries and then actual hospitals. She began a community of sisters who became known as the “Grey Nuns,” because their religious habit was grey. The sisters took over the general hospital in Montreal. It was run-down and very much in debt. People laughed at the sisters. It was hard to believe they would be able to succeed at such a difficult task. But Mother d’Youville and her sisters did not lose heart. They worked, and built, and fixed. Above all, they welcomed everyone in need. No one was too poor or too sick to come to their hospital. IN 1765, a fire destroyed the hospital, but Mother d’Youville and her sisters had it rebuilt in four years. Marguerite’s two sons became priests: Charles, pastor of Boucherville, and Francois, pastor of St. Ours. In 1769, Father Francois broke his arm. His mother hastened to take care of him. Mother d’Youville was equally generous when an epidemic of smallpox spread through the Indian mission of Montreal. And during the Seven Years’ War between the French and British, she helped soldiers on both sides. She hid the British soldiers in the dark rooms of the convent cellars. There her sisters quietly nursed them back to health. …Marguerite was the first Canadian born saint. Mother d’Youville, you didn’t let the difficulties of your life discourage you. You saw what needed to be done, and you believed you were able to do it. Increase our faith and trust in God to help us to do as you did.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol. 2 pages 311-312. Place a band-aid on your finger so you can be reminded to be a healing presence today like St. Marguerite was.
Serving in the Light of Christ – a quote for the week
“Life in abundance comes through great love.” Elbert Hubbard
New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education
Believing ~ Hope Expectations for Intermediate Classes
By the end of grade 8, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:
Recognize in the saving story of the Christian faith God’s call to holiness;
Appreciate the authority of the Magisterium in the interpretation of scripture and its message for contemporary Christian living;
Actively reflect on Sacred Scripture as a means to grow in understanding and practice of the Catholic faith;
Proclaim with confidence a belief in the mysteries of the Catholic faith, the Creed.
Grade Seven Compare the Old and New Testament images of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God and link these to the understanding of the “unique Word” – Jesus Christ and his teaching of the Beatitudes.
I would take first the images of the Old Testament and link them to Jesus. In the Jewish tradition they longed for a Messiah, the one who would come as anointed by God. In the book of the prophet Isaiah (one who spoke for God) it is said – A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, (Is. 11: 1-9) and it continues to outline the gifts of the spirit. Jesse was King David’s father. Jesus is part of the family tree of David. This is why he is born in Bethlehem, the city of David. David was the great King of the Jews. Is. 9: 2-7 “describes Immanuel as a wise, brave, courageous, virtuous, and righteous king. Here, First Isaiah may be referring to King Hezekiah, the reformer king of Judah (see 2 Chronicles 29-33). However, after Hezekiah’s death, the passage came to be understood as predicting the coming of an ideal future savior or messiah. That’s why the passage is called a messianic prophecy. Christians see in these words a perfect description of Jesus.” The Catholic Youth Bible-NRSV In Micah 5:2, it states “from you (referring to Bethlehem) shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel…” It is thought that this prophetic reference is to Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. Zech. 9:9 prophetically refers to Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday [Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey.] Again the book of Zechariah is written sometime after 333 B.C.E. The prophecies of Zechariah are quoted in the Christian Scriptures as proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah. In Isaiah 49:6, 53:2, 53:3; 53:5-7, 53:9 are descriptions when read from the Christian perspective can describe the type of death Jesus experienced.
Grade Eight Describe the “four senses of scripture” that assist the Church in understanding scripture (i.e. literal, spiritual, allegorical, moral and analogical)…
“According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.” [CCC 115] “The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: ‘All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”“The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.
2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction.”
3. The anagogical sense. (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses: The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.”[CCC 117-118] …and apply each to an examination of a selection of Scripture passages (e.g. Gen. 3 – the promise of redemption…) LITERAL SENSE: “The story of Adam and Eve is about the human weakness for sinning and disobeying God. The serpent tells Adam and Eve they can be like God, and know good and evil. After disobeying God, they recognize that they are naked and feel shame. Their relationship of trust with God is broken. This story teaches that soon after men and women were created, sin entered human history and led to pain and suffering.” Catholic Youth Bible page 9. ALLEGORICAL SENSE: “This reality – that every human person, beginning with our first ancestors, chooses to disobey God – the Catholic church calls original sin. Original sin is another way of saying that every person makes choices that separate him or her from God. We are born into this condition, which has been passed on from the beginning of the human race.” Catholic Youth Bible p. 9. So Jesus was born into our human in order to free us from Original sin and we are baptized into Christ. MORAL SENSE: It is important that we learn from our mistakes and ask forgiveness in order that we renew our relationships with others and with God. We must try to make choices that keep us close to God and close to those around us. ANAGOGICAL SENSE: It is our desire to be with God forever in eternal life and so we must live a penitent life when we become aware of our sins.
Equity and Inclusive Education – Leadership for Equitable and Inclusive Schools
“Implementation Matters. An effective implementation strategy has six elements: 1. Develop a plan with clear priorities.; 2. Select a lead person.; 3. Build a team for support.; 4. Provide ongoing professional learning.; 5. Identify indicators of progress.; and 6. Communicate often. Having these elements in place, in turn, requires attention to another challenge: maintain focus and managing distractions.” DEVELOP A PLAN WITH CLEAR PRIORITIES. A good plan is short, sharp, and focused. It has a small number of key priorities, preferably no more than three. These priorities have clear and measurable indicators of success. They are also sustained over more than one school year… Building a school or district plan is a collective activity that involves input from many people across the organization. …they have a personal stake in the plan… The planning processes should be short but participative.” Breaking Barriers: Excellence and Equity for All pages 139-140.
A Teaching from the Catholic Book of Days
“There’s no corresponding feast in the Western church, but in the East on December 17th is the day on which Daniel is remembered. Daniel, of course, is the protagonist of the Jewish Scripture book which bears his name and which he reputedly wrote – “reputedly,” because the book (moral fiction in content, not strictly history) seems to have alternated in languages, and thus likely evolved as a series of separate parts over a considerable period of time. Whatever, Daniel is the Bible’s wunderkind, a kind of Jack Armstrong and Tom Swift wrapped in one, experiencing exotic challenges and, naturally, always triumphing – he, that is, and his three companions. Their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, but most of us know them by the names given them in their Babylonian captivity: Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel, whose name in Hebrew means “my judge is God,” was assigned the name Belteshazzar. The Book of Daniel relates the adventures of the four of them – and at least two of the stories are as familiar as any in all literature. One is that of Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace (from which the three emerged unsigned, though the fire, stoked with brimstone, pitch, tow and faggots, rose forty-nine cubits into the air.) Daniel isn’t mentioned at all here, but he dominates the other famous story – you guessed it – the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (where an angel of the Lord shut the lion’s mouths, rendering them as kittens in Daniel’s presence). There are other fascinating tales – the food test, King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of a great tree – followed in the book’s second part by Daniel’s visions of the four kingdoms inimical to God before the establishment of God’s own kingdom for his chosen people. Overall purpose of the Book of Daniel: to underscore God’s commitment to his people and to encourage faithfulness to the ancestral religion.”
28 Different Ways to Pray
“As Jesus taught us by His word and example, daily prayer is essential for all Christians. Our individual prayer life follows the rhythm of our daily life. ……Way #26 Using Icons and Art for Prayer
Indeed, Eastern Christians often speak of the icons as not painted at all, but written. Each unlocks the Divine Word of God’s revelation through that saint or biblical scene. The one who prays with the icon then “reads” its different symbols and traditional elements. The depictions are rarely completely original, but follow the traditional ways from ages past. And yet each icon is also the unique work of an inspired painter, so that no two are ever exactly alike. Icons of the Greek Church tend to be sharper and bolder, while those of the Russian Church tradition use more curves and softer lines. But in all of them, the major qualities seem to be balance, harmony, and peace. We can often see two other qualities that alternate depending on the subject matter: ascetical strength or tenderness. No matter which, the positioned figures and the surrounding space create a silence and mystery that invites us to contemplative prayer.”Paulist Press page 135-136.
Twenty-first Century Education
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WKLPLLNX&utm_source > You Are by Colton Dixon – A good Advent song. 3.23 min
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FMM2C1NU&utm_source > Here by Kari Jobi – another good sung reminder during Advent that God is here. 5.39 min
http://www.schoolimprovement.com/resources/strategy-of-the-week > Six Strategies to Promote Respect for LGBTQ Students in our Schools. 12.14 min video of one teacher’s strategies. This presentation will give voice to some of the issues faced by our LGBTQ students who struggle to feel safe at school
http://fluency21.com/blog/2013/12/10/parenting-in-the-social-media-age-how-to-keep-your-child-safe > Parenting in the Social Media Age and How to Keep your Child Safe
http://www.loyolapress.com/liturgical-year-advent.htm > Digital Advent resources for every grade and every division
http://bustedhalo.com/dailyjolt/advent-2013 > a great activity for everyday of advent…a digital Advent calendar for Intermediate and Senior students – Adults may really enjoy the challenges offered. Maybe the whole staff want to live advent together by viewing this resource before heading to Lunch together.
www.carfleo.org > best kept secret for religious education teachers of every grade
130 Fun Facts from God’s Wonder-Filled WORLD by Bernadette McCarver Snyder
“What Is the Thirstiest Plant?
Plants get thirsty – just like you do – but probably the thirstiest one is the rattan plant …a strong, flexible cane that can be cut and woven to make wickerwork like chair seats and baskets. This plant is a climbing member of the palm family that can grow to six hundred fifty feet – as long as some buildings are tall. And to prove how thirsty it gets, if you cut off a six-foot piece of this plant, about two pints of clear, drinkable water will pour out – water that the plant has sucked up from its roots! That’s even more than YOU suck up when you drink down a giant-sized slushy! The next time you get real thirsty, think about how God made you and the rattan to be very different – but very alike. The rattan knows that to keep fresh and growing, it has to drink enough water. For YOU to keep healthy and growing, you need to drink about eight glasses of water a day – so that’s why you get thirsty. Are you surprised to know that you have something in common with a climbing palm plant?” Page 59
WHAT’S YOUR CATHOLIC IQ? by Page McKean Zyromski
CATHOLIC Who Wants to be A Millionaire? – Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?
1. The name Emmanuel means C. “God is with us”
2. The custom of having a Nativity scene at Christmas began A. with Francis of Assisi
3. An important belief of Christianity – the teaching that the Son of God became a man and was born of the Virgin
Mary – is called B. the Incarnation
4. The word the Bible uses for the wise men in the Christmas story is B. Magi
5. When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple as a baby, the two people who witnessed it were named
B. Simeon and Anna
Scroll down for Catholic Jeopardy questions
The Category is Advent
Be sure to give your answer in the form of a question.
For 100 points – The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of this.
For 200 points – The liturgical colour used during Advent
For 300 points – The season we celebrate after Advent
For 400 points – The Sunday we celebrate as Gaudete
For 500 points – This feast is celebrated on December 9th
Weird Facts – how many people will read this far down the email…? Are you one who will?
“Pablo Picasso was a Spaniard not an Italian.” Huh! 35 Weird Facts You Never Heard Of