image Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning January 12th, 2014


Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3.17

 January 12th is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. “The Incarnation demonstrates God’s complete and total love for humankind.  By becoming one of us, Jesus demonstrates the humility necessary to be of service to all of humanity.  He is the embodiment of the Servant of whom Isaiah sings in the first reading, someone who sacrifices himself for the sake of others in order to be “a covenant to the people.”  Jesus’ baptism is just one example of this.  When Jesus approaches John, John objects, because he is aware of his own subordinate status relative to Jesus.  Moreover, John’s baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, but since he is sinless, Jesus has no need of such a baptism.  He submits, however, to provide an example of his willingness to give up his own position of importance, as well as to emphasize the means by which we are cleansed of sin.  His submission is affirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit, and by the message of the heavenly voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  Every time we participate in the Eucharist we celebrate Jesus’ life, reminding ourselves of what he has done for us through his baptism, his earthly ministry, his death, and his resurrection.  We also receive spiritual nourishment through his body and blood, so that we are able to imitate him and be “a light to the nations.”  John L. McLaughlin, January Living with Christ, page 71.  God of great love, thank you for the gift of your Son who shows us how to serve with great love.  When you bless yourself with holy water today, remember you are baptized as was Jesus.

January 12th is the memorial of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.  “Marguerite was born in Troyes, France, on April 17, 1620.  She was the sixth of twelve children.  Her parents were hardworking, religious people.  When Marguerite was nineteen, her mother died.  Marguerite took care of her younger brothers and sisters.  Her father died when she was twenty-seven.  The family was now raised, and Marguerite prayed to know what to do with her life.  The governor of Montreal, Canada, was visiting France at that time, trying to find teachers for the New World.  He invited Marguerite to come to Montreal to teach school and religion classes.  She accepted.  Marguerite gave the inheritance her parents had left her to other members of her family.  They couldn’t believe that she would really leave their civilized country to go to live in the wilderness an ocean away.  But on June 20, 1653, she did just that.

She sailed from France and arrived in Canada in mid-November.  Marguerite began the construction of a chapel in honour of Our Lady of Good Help in 1657.  She opened her first school in 1658.  Soon Marguerite realized that she needed more teachers.  She sailed to France in 1659 and returned to Canada with four companions.  In 1670, she went to France again.  This time she brought six more teachers back to Canada with her.  These brave women became the first sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.  Mother Marguerite and her sisters helped people in the colony survive when food was scarce.  They opened a vocational school and taught young people how to run a home and farm.  Mother Marguerite’s congregation was growing.  By 1681 there were eighteen sisters.  Seven of them were Canadian.  They opened more missions, including a Native American mission.  Mother Marguerite herself received the first two Native American women into the congregation.  In 1693, Mother Marguerite asked Sister Marie Barbier, the first Canadian to join the order, to take over as the community’s superior.

The Church approved Marguerite’s religious rule in 1698.  Marguerite spent her last few years praying and writing the story of her life.  On the last day of 1699, a young sister lay dying.  Mother Marguerite asked the Lord to take her own life in exchange.  By the morning of January 1, 1700, the sister was completely well, and Mother Marguerite had a very high fever.  She suffered for twelve days and died on January 12, 1700.  Pope John Paul II proclaimed Marguerite Bourgeoys a saint on April 2, 1982.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol.1 pages 23-25   St. Marguerite help us when we feel afraid of what we must do.  Work on your school work today with enthusiasm and intentionality in honour of St. Marguerite.

January 13th is the memorial of St. Hilary of Poitiers. “In the early centuries of Christianity, there were still many people who did not believe in God as we do.  They believed that there were many gods, some more powerful than others.  In the year 315, Hilary was born into just such a family in Poitiers, a town in France.  His family was rich and well known.  Hilary received a good education.  He married and raised a family.  Through his studies, Hilary learned that a person should practice patience, kindness, justice and as many good habits as possible.  These good acts would be rewarded in the life after death.

Hilary’s studies also convinced him that there could only be one God who is eternal, all-powerful and good.  He read the Bible for the first time.  When he came to the story of Moses and the burning bush, Hilary was very impressed by the name God gave himself:  I AM WHO AM.  Hilary read the writing of the prophets, too.  Then he read the whole [Christian Scriptures.]  By the time he finished, Hilary was completely converted to Christianity, and he asked to be baptized.

Hilary lived the faith so well that he was appointed a bishop.  This did not make his life easy because the emperor was interfering in Church matters.  When Hilary opposed him, the emperor exiled him.  That was when Hilary’s great virtues of patience and courage stood out.  He accepted exile calmly and used the time to write books explaining the Catholic faith.  Since he was becoming famous, Hilary’s enemies asked the emperor to send him back to his home in France.  They hoped that people would pay less attention to him there.

So Hilary was sent back to Poitiers in 360.  He continued writing and teaching the people about the faith.  Hilary died eight years later, at the age of fifty-two.  His books have influenced the Church right to our own day.  That is why he is called a Doctor of the Church.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol.1 pages 25-26 St. Hilary inspire us to live our faith the way you did.  Read a passage from the Christian Scriptures today and ponder its meaning for your life.

 January 14th is the memorial of St. Macrina the Elder.  “On January 2, we celebrated the feast of St. Basil the Great, who was a grandchild of today’s saint, St. Macrina.  Basil, who was born around 329, came from a family of saints.  Macrina, his father’s mother, was one of his favourites.  She seems to have raised Basil.  As an adult, Basil praised his grandmother for all the good she had done for him.  He especially thanked her for having taught him to live the Christian faith from the time he was very small.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol.1 page 27.  St. Macrina, help us to grow in our faith like you helped St. Basil.  Tell your grandmother you love her!

 January 15th is the memorial of St. Paul the Hermit.  “Paul was born into a Christian family in the year 229.  They lived in Thebes, Egypt.  Paul’s parents showed him by their own lives how to love God and worship him with one’s whole heart.  Paul was very sad to lose both his parents when he was just fifteen years old.  A few years later, in 250, Emperor Decius started a cruel persecution of the Christians.  Paul hid in his friend’s home, but he still wasn’t safe.  His brother-in-law was after his money and property.  Paul realized that this greedy relative could easily betray him to the authorities, so he ran away to the desert.  Paul found a cave near a palm tree and a spring of fresh water and he settled there.  He sewed palm branches together for clothes, and he lived on fruit and water.  Paul had intended to stay in the desert only until the persecution was over.  But by the time it ended, he had fallen in love with his life of prayer.  He felt so close to God.  How could he give it all up?  He decided to remain in the desert and never return to his wealthy city life.  He would spend his life praying for the needs of all people and offering God penances to make up for sin.”  Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol.1 pages 28-29.  St. Paul, show us how to love God like you do.  When you eat a piece of fruit today, think about St. Paul the Hermit.

January 17th is the memorial of St. Anthony of Egypt.  “St. Anthony was born in 251 in a small village in Egypt.  When he was twenty years old, his parents died.  They left him a large estate and placed him in charge of the care of his younger sister.  Anthony felt overwhelmed and turned to God in prayer.  Gradually he became more and more aware of the power of God in his life.  About six months later, he heard this quotation of Jesus from the Gospel: ‘Go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven’ (Mk 20.21).  He took the words as a personal message in answer to his prayer for guidance.  Anthony sold most of his possessions, keeping only enough to support his sister and himself.  Then he gave the rest of the money to people who needed it.” Saints for Young Readers for Every Day vol.1 pages 31-32.  St. Anthony, teach us to believe God’s word.  St. Anthony was a friend of St. Paul the Hermit.  They helped each other grow to be holy men.  Do your friends help you to grow in holiness?  If yes, say thank you to them.  If no, try to help your friends by following St. Anthony’s example.

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

“A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”  Jackie Robinson

THE EVOLUTION OF THE EUCHARISTIC FAST… In the first three centuries of the Christian era, there was no such thing as a Eucharistic fast.  Communion, in fact, was commonly received in conjunction with a communal meal, the agape.

In the fourth century, things began to change and fasting before communion became so widespread that St. Augustine wrote the custom must have been due to divine inspiration.  At fist local councils regulated fast requirements.  In 1418 the Council of Constance took steps to formalize the code, and in time Catholics receiving communion were expected to fast from the previous midnight from all food and liquids, water included.  Indeed, so conscientiously were the requirements observed that people worried whether water accidentally ingested while brushing teeth or food particles lodged between teeth then swallowed broke one’s fast.  (They didn’t.)  The iron Eucharistic fast rules of yesterday began to ease on January 16, 1953, when Pope Pius XII issued the apostolic constitution Christus dominus stating that though fasting from midnight was still required, water did not break the Eucharistic fast, no matter when taken.  Christus dominus provided further that under certain circumstances other liquids, alcohol excepted, could be taken up to one hour before Mass and communion – as by those engaged in energy-sapping work or those travelling a long distance to Mass.  Other relaxations were to follow.  With the motu proprio Sacram communionem of 1957 Pius XII abolished the midnight rule and reduced this fast requirement to three hours for solids and one hour for liquids, alcohol again excepted.  The change was attributed to Pius’ recognition of the social and economic demands of modern society.  The next change, the one by which Catholic live today, came with the close of the third session of Vatican Council II, November 21, 1964, when Pope Paul VI reduced the Eucharistic fast requirement to one hour.” +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 #27 Poetry and Songs

How often do lyrics from a song or words from a poem keep recurring in our mind?  While a great deal of communication is frequently done in ordinary conversation and written prose, the language of poetry and music offer a different form for artistic expression.  Poems and songs seem to flow more from the heart rather than the mind.  Whereas prose is straightforward and sequential, fostering a cognitive sense of understanding, poetry and music use words differently in imaginative and creative ways.  Poems and songs come alive in a way that involves the auditory sense of attentively listening to the words, as well as the interior act of reflecting upon the meaning of them.  Poems and songs are meant to be heard aloud, not read quietly.” Paulist Press page 137.

Equity and Inclusive Education – Leadership for Equitable and Inclusive Schools

Implementation Matters   3.  BUILD A TEAM FOR SUPPORT A key implementation task is to build a team of people who work together and support one another in achieving important goals.  Working in a good team gives everyone more energy.  It distributes the work but also provides mutual encouragement and support.  A school…equity team should involve a senior leader, such as a principal or vice principal in a school, and should include the person with designated responsibility for the issue.  The team should also reach out to others who have an interest in the issue, perhaps teachers, students, support staff, and parents. …”  Breaking Barriers:  Excellence and Equity for All page 141.

Twenty-first Century Education > Talking Squirrel Sends Message of Love to his Human Neighbour – 11 sec.  Very funny video to share with anyone with a sense of humour. > Ephesians 4:29 > Inspirational video – 1.53 min How do we use our words? This video asks us to stop and take Ephesians 4:29 seriously— be the first to reject using any words that don’t help those who are listening.> Given that the Pope only became Pope in March last year, it is amazing all the things he did accomplish. > FIVE ways to make class discussions more exciting.  How do you make classroom discussion more exciting? Dr. Richard Curwin has the answer. Dr. Curwin is the director of the graduate program for behaviour disorder at David Yellin College. A few of the exercises that he profiles in this Edutopia article are similar to ones I’ve used in theatre studies to connect and engage with others. Try them with students—they’re fun and effective in equal measures!”Ross Crockett > Can virtual reality be used to tackle racism?  Implicit racism—a bias the holder is unaware of—can be reduced after spending a short time in virtual reality. In the following BBC article, Melissa Hogenboom asks if this could possibly have a longer lasting effect. Read on to find out more …” Andrew Churches  and > best kept secret for religious education teachers of every grade


130 Fun Facts from God’s Wonder-Filled WORLD! by Bernadette McCarver Snyder

“Are You a Pencil Pusher!

People who work in offices and do a lot of “paperwork” are sometimes called pencil pushers.  But anyone who uses a pencil could be called that too – and YOU have probably used a pencil.  Years ago, people had to write by dipping the sharp end of a bird feather into ink, but then came the pencil – and then the ink pen and the ballpoint pen and the typewriter and the computer and then e-mail!  But a lot of people still use pencils which are usually round and made of wood with a thin black centre section that will make marks on paper when you draw or write.  Although these are often called “lead pencils,” the “marker” in the centre is usually made of something called graphite.  In fact, there’s a Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick, England, where they will tell you how Keswick was the first place in the world to make pencils with graphite.  Would you like to tour a pencil museum?  Maybe some day, but not today.  Instead, you COULD use today to pick up a pencil or pen and write a note or pick up a crayon and draw a picture and send it to someone who will be happily surprised to hear from you.  Who will that be?  Maybe a grandma or grandpa, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, or a good friend.  Or you could write a little note to God, who would also be happy to hear from you!”

page 61



Holy  Trivia

WHAT’S YOUR CATHOLIC IQ?  by Page McKean Zyromski


1.  The sign in the sky that led the wise men to Jesus was  C.  a star in the East


2.  The wise men did not return to King Herod to tell him where the newborn king was because

A.  they were warned in a dream and went home another way


3.  The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s is the feast of   B.  the Holy Family


4.  When Jesus was still a baby, Joseph and Mary took him all the way to Jerusalem to  C.  present him in the Temple


5.  After Jesus was born, King Herod  C.  ordered his soldiers to kill all children in Bethlehem two years old or younger


Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?



1.  What were Mary’s parents’ names?


2.  What was the name of the angel who visited Mary to announce the birth of Jesus?


3.  To whom was Mary betrothed?


4.  After the angel’s visit, whom did Mary visit?


5.  What was the name of Mary’s cousin’s baby?



Weird Facts – how many people will read this far down the email…?  Are you one who will?

“The oldest known vegetable is the pea.”   Huh!

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