Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning November 30th, 2014

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“Stay awake; Be Ready.” Mark 1

November 30th is the First Sunday of Advent.
“Prepare for hearing the Word of God with these questions: This Sunday is the Frist Sunday of Advent. Be watchful for any changes that may have been made in the colours and decorations in your parish church. How does the time of preparation and waiting during Advent help us to celebrate Christmas more fully?
Reflecting on God’s Word: What can you do to make more time for prayer in your daily routine? How do you experience Jesus’ presence in the Mass?
Act on the Word: Because we spend so much time with the members of our families, we are perhaps least attentive to their needs and wants. During the month of December, family life often becomes more chaotic. This week, write a list of things you’d like to know about each member of your family such as the title of your mother’s favourite book, or who your brother sits next to in Biology class. Spend time watching, listening, and talking with family members to gain new insight about them. Look for little tasks you can do to help each person. Write a prayer in which you thank Jesus for the gift of your family and ask Jesus to help each with a particular challenge or source of stress.” 2014-2015 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, page 73.

“Advent compresses history, theology, and inspiration into just four Sundays. During the time of preparation in darkness for the coming of the light, we remember, we wait, and we rejoice. We remember those who have longed for a Saviour over thousands of years. We wait for Jesus to return again as he promised. We wait with Mary for the miraculous birth of Jesus. We rejoice in the faithfulness of God, who became incarnate out of love for us. Our preparation renews our rootedness in salvation history, our patient faith, and our joyful discipleship.

Try to hold off putting Christmas decorations in your spaces until the week of December 15th. Set an Advent mood with candlelight or dimmed lighting and simple decorations in shades of violet and rose. Bring an Advent wreath into your space and set it in a central place, lighting the appropriate number of candles each time you pray. Take effort to make this a prayerful, quiet, expectant space. Slow down the pace of your gatherings in order to give the students time to reflect and relax in silence. Advent holds great value in our consumer society.” 2014-2015 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, page 75.

Month of December – “The word for the last month of the year means, in Latin, “tenth month.” The ancient calendar of the Romans began in March, which made December the tenth month. In ancient times, people of northern Europe stopped counting the days during winter. There wasn’t any farm work to do, so there wasn’t any reason to keep track of time. They called this free time Yule. This word comes from the same root as the word wheel. The days of Yule connected the old year to the new.” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 146.

December 1st is World AIDS Day. “Those simple loops of red ribbon that people wear on their lapels today are recognized around the world – because people everywhere have encountered AIDS and HIV that leads to AIDS if left untreated. Unknown in 1980, HIV and AIDS have by now created a genuine pandemic. Those who suffer with these illnesses live mostly in middle – and low-income areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. Most of those who are ill have no access to the life-giving retroviral drugs that can stop HIV, ease the suffering of those with full-blown AIDS, and prevent the spread of the illness. World AIDS Day began in 1988 to call for greater awareness of their plight. Only universal access to prevention, treatment, and care can stop the disease.” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 147. Wear red mitts or a red scarf or red socks to show your awareness of HIV and AIDS today.

December 3rd is the memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest. “St. Francis Xavier came from a noble family in the Basque region of Spain. He went to study at the University of Paris. There he met Ignatius Loyola, who invited him to become one of the first Jesuits. After Ordination, Francis became a missionary to Asia, first in India and then in Japan. He yearned to bring the Gospel to the Chinese and had made arrangements to enter the country, but worn out from his work, he died on the island of Sancian within sight of the coast of China. Pope Pius X named him patron saint of foreign missions.” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 147. St. Francis Xavier inspire us to bring the Gospel message of love everywhere we go. Say a prayer for the Christians in China who suffer persecution because they believe in Jesus.

December 6th is the memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop. “Little is known about this saint, the “wonder-worker,” other than the fact that he lived sometime during the fourth century and was bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor. There is some evidence that he was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecutions and later condemned Arianism, a heresy that denied the Son was co-eternal with the Father. Many stories exist about St. Nicholas, but one more frequently passed down speaks of a poor man who could not feed or clothe his three daughters. Upon hearing of this man’s dire situation, St. Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through his window one evening so the man could tend his daughter’s needs. Modern folklore about Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas are based in the stories of St. Nicholas and his great love for and generosity toward children. Whatever is known or not known about this great saint, it can be said, to quote an anonymous Greek from the tenth century, “All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence his memory and call upon his protection” (as quoted in Butler’s Lives of the Saints: December, New Full Edition, p. 60).” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 147-148 St. Nicholas teach us to be generous, especially to those who struggle financially. Look for a way to do some kindness secretly, like St. Nick!

Exploring Paths of Joy – Walking together and sharing our stories ~ a quote for the week

“For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Rm 1:11

New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Celebrating ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes
By the end of grade 6, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:
❖ Cherish and participate in the sacramental life of the Church as the gift of God’s presence in our lives to nourish, restore, guide and form us as children of God;
❖ Honour and respect the sacred bread and wine of the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ;
❖ Seek to understand the multi-fold meaning of the biblical narratives, symbols and ritual actions associated with the five seasons of the Liturgical year.

Grade Four CL 3.1: Examine scripture passages of the Old Testament and New Testament which are proclaimed during specific Liturgical seasons i.e. Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, and communicate what they reveal about and celebrate in Jesus’ life. [CCC 1168-1173]
There are many scripture passages in the Jewish scriptures which are proclaimed during the liturgical season of Advent. Most of these passages are prophetic ~ they foretell the coming of the Messiah. I included a missallette in the resources for Advent package. [ If you want a personal copy – send me an email and I will send them out until I have none left] The first reading for the first two weeks of Advent is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah (except on December 8 – Immaculate Conception and December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe). These readings tell of the coming of the Messiah who will judge and arbitrate for the poor. It tells of a time when the house of Jacob will walk in the light. You could read these passages to your class. Explain what a prophecy is = a prediction about what will happen, God gives the prophecy to certain people so they can tell the people of God. During the time of Isaiah (783-687 BCE), the people of Jerusalem and Judah had been taken into captivity by armies of other nations. The people were not living the way God asked them to live. The people were spiritually very poor. They were living greedy lives. Isaiah reminds the people that they are God’s people and they have to change their ways. Isaiah tells that the Messiah is going to come to make right all that is wrong. We use these ancient readings to teach us about the time of anticipation of Jesus’ coming in history. We no longer wait for Jesus to come as a baby but Jesus is going to come again. He told us when he ascended into heaven that he would come again at the end of time. So Advent is a time of expectation, of waiting, of hoping. Ask the students to draw pictures of the images in the daily readings. The images are very explicit.

Grade Five CL 3.1: Identify and examine a selection of the scripture passages in the New Testament which reveal the divinity of Jesus (e.g. Epiphany, miracles, transfiguration, resurrection) and explain using examples, how images, signs and symbols in the Liturgical year convey this important truth of faith for Christians. [CCC 1153-1162] In the prophecies of a Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures, it was revealed that Jesus would be born as part of the family tree of King David. So Jesus would be a king in the lineage of David, just like Prince William is in line for the throne of England. John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah spoke of this prophecy in Luke’s gospel – Luke 1:67-79. I would explain this idea above to the class then read the passage. Ask your class “From what is said in the prophecy, how is the King supposed to act?” [The king would save us from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; he would remember his holy covenant; he would show mercy; he would rescue us so we might serve him without fear] In the second half of the prayer it is speaking about John the Baptist – “and you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High…” You can play the song JOY TO THE WORLD, WHAT CHILD IS THIS, HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING and THE FIRST NOWELL to highlight the role of Jesus as King. It is because Jesus is a king that the three wise ones come from the East to pay him homage. Read to the students Matthew 2:1-12. The three wise ones were kings in their lands. They came to Bethlehem to honour and pay homage to the new born King, Jesus. They brought the baby gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are symbolic gifts. Go to the following website to explore what these gifts represent. http://www.spiritualliving360.com/index.php/meaning-behind-the-gifts-of-the-wise-men-22467/ This visit is so important that one Sunday during the Christmas season is called the Epiphany (this year on January 4th, 2015) and we celebrate the visit of the Kings from the Orient. It would be good to sing or listen to the songs associated with this event: WE THREE KINGS. You may want to put three gift boxes in your prayer centre to be symbols of the three gifts brought to the king. One of the important signs connected to this important truth is the Star of David. It symbolizes the star that shone in the sky that the kings followed to get to Jesus. Show students a Star of David from the internet so they know it as a symbol of the Jewish people and the Christmas Story. We will revisit this expectation to complete it later in the year.

Living a Moral Life ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes
By the end of grade 6, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:
❖ Seek to grow in their understanding of the depth and breadth of the Decalogue and the moral teachings of Jesus;
❖ Apply Catholic moral teaching to moral decisions they face in their own lives;
❖ Acknowledge their own human weakness and reflect on their sins as the first step in seeking forgiveness and God’s grace for their ongoing conversion;
❖ Appreciate Catholic moral teaching as a valid, authoritative interpretation of scripture that addresses contemporary moral issues to guide moral decision-making.

Grade Six ML 2.1: Examine a selection of Scripture passages and summarize what Jesus taught his disciples to help form their conscience (live in accordance to God’s will – Matt. 5-7: Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount; instructions on becoming a disciple and servant – Matt. 25: Thy will be done – the Garden of Gethsemane: Matt. 26: 36-46). [CCC nos. 1783-1785] In the Catechism it says “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice.” [CCC 1785] The passages that belong to the Sermon on the Mount include the Beatitudes and many other teachings that Jesus gave his followers. [This Sermon is also available in Luke’s gospel but it does not happen on the Mount but on a plane.] Jesus taught his disciples many lessons to help them form their conscience and to live according to God’s will. The Beatitudes explain how to live blessed lives. There is a passage about being salt and light for the world. Jesus gives a talk concerning anger, adultery (being unfaithful in committed relationships), divorce, swearing oaths, retaliation, love of enemies, almsgiving, prayer, fasting, treasures, serving two masters, about worry, judging others, profaning the holy, the golden rule, the narrow gate, false prophets, self-deception, and hearers and doers. To tie this to Advent, I would read the three chapters of Matthew’s gospel a section at a time/lesson and ask: “What is Jesus trying to teach his disciples and us about forming their/our conscience?” Read the passage then invite your students to discuss the passage i.e., 5:1-12 and decide as a group what lesson is Jesus teaching. If you have a smart board – you may want to put the passage up on the board so the class can use the board as a reference point. You could build an Advent Road – and place stepping stones in Advent preparation – on the stepping stones write one lesson that Jesus teaches and ask the class to work on the lesson as disciples on the road to Bethlehem. I would only ask for one lesson from the whole Beatitudes so you can go back to the passage later in the year. Which lesson do most students feel they need to practice during Advent? And as the days pass, the road to Bethlehem is formed and students are closer disciples to Jesus. [These are all the passages that can be selected for the Advent Road: 5:1-12; 5:13-14; 5:21-26; 5:27-30; 5:33-37; 5:38-42; 5:43-48; 6:1-4; 6:5-14; 6:16-18; 6:19-21; 6:22-23; 6:24; 6:25-34; 7:1-5; 7:6; 7:7-11; 7:12; 7:13-14; 7:15-20; 7:21-23; 7:24-29] We can come back to the other passages given later in the year.

Twenty-first Century Education
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=W676WLNX&utm_source > Glorious Unfolding – Steven Curtis Chapman > Music video ~ 5.06 min – a great video with a great message in the song.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=02B01MNU&utm_source > Matthew West – Wonderfully Made (Live) >Music video 6.22 min [you can show Matthew’s story or the whole video + both are worth watching]

http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org – a resource for integrating life, faith and family

http://www.catholicmom.com – has a variety of resources for teachers of religious education

http://www.catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com

http://www.4catholiceducators.com > a Canadian based website for Catholic teachers of Religious Education (my new fav)

http://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
“Is There a Magnet in Your House? If somebody in your house collects refrigerator magnets, there may be LOTS of magnets in your house! But if you have ANY kind of bar magnet, it can be fun to find out WHAT it will attract. Take your magnet around the house and see where it will stick. It will probably stick to paper clips and coat hangers…it might NOT stick to a cooking pot but it might stick to a toaster. You can put a paper clip on top of a piece of paper and the magnet UNDER the paper and if you move the magnet around, the paper clip will move too – like magic. You can even put the paper clip in a glass or in a glass of water and the magnet will still pull it around. But did you know some people are magnets too? Or at least, it seems like it, because some people are so nice or so much fun, they just seem to draw other people to them like a magnet draws the paper clip! You might say they have a magnetic personality. Do you know anyone like that? If you would like to BE like that, remember the Be-attitudes – be good, be kind, be thoughtful, be helpful, be a friend, be yourself. What could be more magnetic than that!” p. 107

Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?
HOLY TRIVIA!
What’s Your Catholic IQ on the Sacraments? by Page McKean Zyromski
1. After his Resurrection, Jesus told his apostles to B. go and baptize all nations
​​​
2. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
A. is not just for those in danger of death ​ B. may be received more than once C. should be received before any serious operation D. all of these

3. The word that means to “plunge or immerse in water” is A. baptize
​​
4. A special outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the disciples happened C. at Pentecost

Sorry, I forgot to add a fifth trivia question Mona!

Advent and Christmas Gospel readings – Use this trivia to encourage careful listening of the Advent and Christmas Gospel readings. You can find hints by looking at Matthew chapters 3 and 24 and Luke chpt. 2. It may prompt a desire to read Scripture more! See what you already know!
1st Sunday of Advent (Matthew 24)
1. Where was Jesus sitting?
2. What sign will appear in the sky?
3. What kind of tree does Jesus want the disciples to learn from?
4. What will two women be doing when the Son of Man comes?
5. When will the Son of Man come?

Movie Blog by Sister Pat
St. Vincent – Every Catholic teacher ought to go see this movie. For one, Catholic education is shown in a balanced way. For two, Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy do a fantastic job in their roles. For three, we all want students like the little boy in the movie. It is a refreshing story of humanity bumping up against humanity and experiencing deep grace (God’s presence.) Two thumbs up!!!

Weird Facts – how many people will read this far down the email…? Are you one who will?
“The Neanderthal’s brain was bigger than yours is.” Huh! http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~bingbin/

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