image Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning December 22nd, 2013


Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning December 22nd, 2013

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“May the Lord come in; he is king of glory.”  Psalm 24

December 22nd is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. “On the First Sunday of Advent, Saint Paul told us “it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep,” and we heard Jesus say “keep awake.”  From the beginning of Advent we are reminded to be open to the Lord’s presence and future coming.  In today’s Gospel Joseph wakes from sleep literally and spiritually.  “When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him.”  Joseph no doubt felt confused, hurt, betrayed: the woman he was to marry was pregnant and he was not the father.  Perhaps, like King Ahaz in the first reading, he was reluctant to ask God for guidance, for a sign.  But Ahaz is given a sign and hope for the future in the promise of a child.  For Christians, this is the deeper, more far-reaching promise of the Messiah – the Promised One.  This promise will be fulfilled in Joseph’s time: the young woman – a virgin – is with child.  Joseph, too, receives a sign, in his case in a dream.  Now he is awake, for he has also been given discernment.  He knows God’s will and he will follow it.  How can we awaken to God’s presence and God’s will?  What signs does God send?  Through Scripture, prayer, the Eucharist and the other sacraments, other people – in these and other ways God wakes us from sleep to know and do his will.”  Dinah Simmons, December Living with Christ, page 107.  Loving God, help us to keep your will ever before us.  What decisions do you have to make in the New Year that need to be discerned?

‘O Antiphons’

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 22nd is Come, King of all the Nations.
  • December 23rd is O 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.

December 26th is the memorial of St. Stephen and the beginning of the Octave of Christmas.

“The name Stephen means crown.  Today’s saint was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr’s crown.  Stephen was a deacon in the early Church.  We read about him in chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles.  In this book, Luke tells us that as the followers of Jesus continued to grow, Peter and the apostles decided that they needed helpers to see to the care of widows and the poor.  So they ordained seven deacons.  Stephen is the best known of these.  God worked many miracles through St. Stephen.  He spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus.  The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful St. Stephen’s preaching was.  At last, they laid a plot for him.  They could not answer his wise arguments, so they got men to lie about him.  These men said that he has spoken sinfully against God.  St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without any fear.  In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.  Stephen spoke about Jesus, proclaiming him to be the Saviour God had promised to send.  He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus.  At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him.  But Stephen looked up to heaven.  He said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word.  They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death.  The saint prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”  Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.  After such an expression of faith, the martyr went to his heavenly reward.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol. 2 pages 318-319 God of forgiveness and mercy, help me to forgive my enemies like St. Stephen did.  Try to do one random act of kindness today!

December 27th is the memorial of St. John the Apostle.  “St. John was a fisherman in Galilee. He was called to be an apostle with his brother, St. James.  Jesus gave these sons of Zebedee the nickname “sons of thunder.”  St. John was the youngest apostle and is believed to be the one called “the beloved disciple.”  At the Last Supper, it was John who was permitted to lean his head on the chest of Jesus.  He was also the only apostle who stood at the foot of the cross.  The dying Jesus gave the care of his Blessed Mother Mary to this beloved apostle.  Looking at Mary, he said, “Behold your mother.”  On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other women went with spices to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body.  They came running back to the apostles with disturbing news.  The body of Jesus was gone from the tomb.  Peter and John set out to investigate.  John arrived first but waited for Peter to go in ahead of him.  Then he went in and saw the neatly folded linen cloths, and he understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.  Later, that same week, the disciples were fishing on the lake of Tiberias without success.  A man standing on the beach suggested they let down their nets on the other side of the boat.  When they pulled it up again it was full of large fish.  Now John, who recognized this man, called to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  With the descent of the Holy Spirit the apostles were filled with new courage.  After the ascension of Jesus, Peter, and John cured a crippled man by calling on the name of Jesus.  It is believed that John lived nearly a century and was the only apostle not to suffer martyrdom.  He preached the Gospel and may have become bishop of Ephesus.  It is said that in the last years of his life, when he could no longer preach, his disciples would carry him to the crowds of Christians.  His simple message was, “My dear children, love one another.”  St. John died in Ephesus around the year 100.”  Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol. 2 pages 319-321.

Serving in the Light of Christ – a quote for the week

“One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.” Leo Tolstoy

A Teaching from the Catholic Book of Days

“AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH… The vigil of the incarnation: the assumption of human nature by the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son.  The Incarnation is the central doctrine of Christianity.  It is a supernatural mystery coincident to Christ’s earthly life and continuing in the eternal in Christ’s concern with the Father for the salvation of humankind.  God the Son is human and divine.  As God he is invisible, comprehensible, timeless; as man he is visible, comprehensible, bound by time.  The mystery of it all is conveyed in the magnificent, albeit somewhat sexually chauvinist, prologue to St. John’s Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and darkness did not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”NRSV translation When that gospel prayer was said at the end of every low Mass, knees genuflected at the words And the Word was made flesh.  Christ was born among us.” +John Deedy

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 > Steven Curtis Chapman sings Christmas Card – 4.03 min > Jadon Lavik sings Little Drummer Boy – 2.58 min > Digital Advent resources for every grade and every division > 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 wants to live advent together by viewing this resource before heading to Lunch together.  > best kept secret for religious education teachers of every grade

115 Saintly Fun Facts Smiles and Surprises for Kids of All Ages! by Bernadette McCarver Snyder

John of the Many!

Would you believe there are SEVENTY saints officially recorded with the name of John?  And there are probably many more “saintly” Johns who are NOT recorded!  The first Saint John was, of course, John the Apostle, said to be a good friend and the “favourite apostle of Jesus.  A recent “saintly” John is, of course, Pope John Paul II.  And in between there have been John the Good, John the Silent, John the Almgiver, John the Spaniard, John of Nicodemia, John of Perugia, John of the Marches, John of the Grating – and LOTS more.  What a saintly name this is!

So YOU have a saintly name?  Or an unusual name? Or a popular name?  Or a name you hate?  Well, you’ll never have to take the blame for your name – since somebody else gave it to you!  If you like it, flaunt it.  If you don’t like it, change it!  But you DO have to take the blame for the way you use GOD’s name.  Some people throw it around, using it casually, sarcastically, and NOT reverently.  You would never do that, would you?”

WHAT’S YOUR CATHOLIC IQ?  by Page McKean Zyromski

Catholic Jeopardy

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.  What is the beginning of the LITURGICAL year?

For 200 points – The liturgical colour used during Advent.  What is the colour PURPLE?

For 300 points – The season we celebrate after Advent.  What is the CHRISTMAS season?

For 400 points – The Sunday we celebrate as Gaudete.  What is the THIRD Sunday?

For 500 points – This feast is celebrated on December 9th. What is the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION?


Year of Faith

For 200 points – This pope declared the Year of Faith.

For 400 points – The meaning of Porta Fidei.

For 600 points – The first day of the year of faith was also the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

For 800 points – This day also marked the 20th anniversary for this important teaching resource.

For 1000 points – This feast day marked the closing of the Year of Faith.


For 200 points – This is the liturgical name for Christmas.

For 400 points – This is the meaning of the word crèche.

For 600 points – These liturgical prayers are said December 17-23.

For 800 points – This is the liturgical colour used during Christmas.

For 1000 points – This is the day when the Christmas season ends.

BONUS question – This is the day of the feast of St. Andrew.  (this is a check to see if you read the entire CCU or do you just go to the Trivia questions? LOL)

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

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