Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning December 7th, 2014

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“Prepare the way of the Lord.” Luke 3:4

December 7th is the Second Sunday of Advent.

“Prepare for hearing the Word of God with these questions: What do you know about prophets? How many prophets can you name? If you have never read some of the prophetic books in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as the books of Isaiah and Sirach, take time to read a few verses from some of them prior to Mass. How did these prophets prepare the people for Jesus?

Reflecting on God’s Word: How straight is your path to Jesus? How many obstacles do you put in the way of getting closer to Jesus? How do you understand repentance? For what do you need to repent?

Act on the Word: John the Baptist was a talented preacher and witness to Jesus. Like John, each of us is called to share our faith and use our unique talents to point others toward Jesus. This week, talk with your family and friends about how you can use your talents to share the Good News of the Gospel. Perhaps your interest in travel can inspire research on missionary efforts throughout the world. A flair for cooking might bring you to a soup kitchen. Talented athletes might use their skill to mentor young children. A gifted musician can add much to parish liturgies. Whatever talents you have, develop a plan for using them to bring others closer to Jesus.” 2014-2015 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, page 79.

“Prophet Identification: Read an account of a modern-day prophet who proclaimed the need to convert and prepare our hearts for the Lord. Examples include Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or a local community activist (Pope Francis and Tony Martin who started the Soup Kitchen in SSM). Discuss some of the elements of being a prophet like Isaiah or John the Baptist, such as the following:

  • a strong voice of leadership
  • loyalty to the truth in spite of opposition
  • faithfulness to a relationship with God
  • inner peace
  • ability to call others to action
  • a life of integrity
  • Once you have listed some of the common attributes of prophets, discuss modern-day prophets using the following questions.
  • Is there anyone whom you know personally or have heard about who might have some of the qualities of a prophet?
  • Would you like to be called a prophet? Why or why not?” 2014-2015 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, page 82.

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.

 December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “The dogma that Mary was kept free from original sin from the first moment of her conception was solemnly declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854, but it was by no means a new invention. The Eastern Church had celebrated this day from as early as the eighth century, and it soon spread to the West. It has been on the Church’s universal calendar since 1708. The Immaculate Conception is a singular grace, given to Mary to enable her to say “yes” to God. No stain of original sin touches her who is to become the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple in which God comes to dwell. This is a unique grace. And yet, Mary is our model for holiness. By our Baptism, we have been washed clean of the stain of original sin to become temples for the Holy Spirit. And we look to Mary for an example of the life of discipleship, open to God’s word, obedient to God’s will. This Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated with great festivity in many places around the world, particularly in Spain. In the Cathedral of Seville, there is a unique tradition called Los Seises or the “Dance of the Six.” Six boys perform a solemn dance before the Blessed Sacrament as hymns are sung in honour of the Immaculate Conception. It is a tradition that survives to this day, a vivid image of the joy of the Church in this celebration of the grace of God at work in the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Companion to the Calendar: A Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 148-9.

Mary, help us to make good choices each day.

When you use or see the colour blue – say Hail Mary, full of grace!

December 9th is the memorial of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. “St. Juan Diego (1474-1548) was a native Mexican, a farmer, and a labourer. On December 9, 1531, on his way to attend Mass, he heard a woman call out from Tepeyac Hill. She was the Virgin Mary, and she asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop to build a chapel on the site. Juan Diego went to the bishop with the request, but the bishop scoffed at him. He returned with his cloak, or tilma, filled with roses, and when he unfurled it before the bishop, the woman’s image was imprinted on the inside. The bishop believed, and the church was built. The image of Juan Diego’s tilma is venerated as that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 149 St. Juan Diego, help us to believe in the power of Mary’s intercession.

When you put your coat on and off today, remember the story of Juan Diego’s tilma and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

 December 10th is International Human Rights Day. “In 1945, when the Second World War ended, world leaders realized that new and better ways of solving disputes among nations must be found. They created the United Nations to provide a forum where countries can debate peacefully, rather than taking up arms to settle grievances. The United Nations works for peace. It works against hunger, disease, and poverty. In 1948, after much hard work, the United Nations produced a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Delegates from member nations all over the world hammered out their definition of 30 rights that all human beings need to live a decent life. The Declaration says that everyone on the planet, regardless of race, sex, language, or religion, has a right to certain basic freedoms. Among these freedoms are the right to life, health care, education, and privacy. People also are entitled to freedom from imprisonment without trial. They have a right to leave and reenter their country. They have a right to seek protection in another country if they are persecuted in their own. Each of those freedoms is being denied to some of the world’s citizens even as we celebrate the Declaration today. The United Nations will continue working for these basic human rights. They will also work to get the Declaration into the hands of people everywhere. People need to know that they deserve these rights and that the United Nations has pledged to uphold them.” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 149-50

Loving God, inspire us to uphold human rights with the same fervour as your laws. Imagine if you were not allow to speak – because you were afraid that you would be hurt or thrown into jail.

December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. “Today the Church throughout America (North, Central, and South) celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of America. …The story of the origins of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is well known. [stated above] Our Lady of Guadalupe, or La Morenita, as she is sometimes called – “the little dark one”—said to Juan Diego: “Know and understand that I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live. …Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you. Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care?” (Benedictine Daily Prayer, The Liturgical Press, p. 1698)” Companion to the Calendar: a Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, page 150

La Morenita, teach us to be kind to our First Nations, Métis and Inuit brothers and sisters.

Look on the internet to see a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Exploring Paths of Joy – Opening the Scriptures ~ a quote for the week

“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” – Lk 24:27

New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Living a Moral Life ~ Hope Expectations for Intermediate Classes

By the end of grade 8, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:

  • Make moral decisions in light of gospel values and with an informed conscience;
  • Rely on the power of faith, hope, charity and grace when faced with a personal, social or moral challenge;
  • Recognize that “sin, human weakness, conflict and forgiveness are part of the human journey” and that the cross is the ultimate sign of forgiveness which resides at the heart of redemption; (CGE: 1j)
  • Seek guidance from Catholic moral teaching when faced with a moral dilemma;
  • Appreciate God’s gifts of grace, freedom, conscience and reason and accept the responsibility that comes with each.

Grade Seven ML 2.1: Describe and distinguish between the objective source from which moral judgment in our lives originates; the divine and natural law (the indwelling of God’s law in our conscience); and the personal subjective judgment of our conscience (i.e. moral choice to act in a particular situation). Moral law is an objective source. “We participate in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives us mastery over our acts and the ability to govern ourselves with a view to the true and the good.” [CCC 1954] There are different expressions of the moral law, all of them interrelated: eternal law – the source, in God, of all law; natural law; revealed law, comprising the Old Law [the Ten Commandments] and the New Law, or Law of the Gospel…[CCC 1952] This is the Law that is found in Nature – Natural Law; revealed law – the Ten Commandments and the Law of the Gospel [Love God and love your neighbour as yourself].

These laws come directed from God. The personal subjective judgment comes from within us – our conscience. We have a voice within us that helps to guide our actions when we are trying to make a moral choice (a choice between good and bad) in a particular situation. This personal subjective judgment needs to be formed…we are not born with it.

Ask your students to identify laws that they think come from God. Hopefully they will identify the Ten Commandments.

Ask them to list the commandments they can remember. Look up the ones that they can’t remember – Exodus 20: 1-21.

Then read the passage from the gospel where the lawyer asks Jesus about the Law – Luke 10:25-28. These are examples of objective sources of divine law. We all know that to kill someone is wrong. Our personal subjective judgment is formed from learning what divine law is and it must be formed deliberately. Ask your students “When we are a baby/young child – how do are parents teach us what is right and wrong?” Explain that our parents begin the process of teaching us right from wrong and then we must inform our own conscience when we get to the age of reason. The Ten Commandments are like a skeleton upon when muscles and organs of reason must be added.

Grade Eight ML 2.2: Explain the Church’s belief in the objective truth of the Word of God in Sacred Scripture (i.e.

God’s revelation of salvation, faith and morals) and the important source and role that Sacred Scripture has in the examination and formation of conscience for Christian moral decision-making and daily living. [CCC nos. 1776-1789] “Deep within our conscience humans discover a law which we have not laid upon ourselves but which we must obey. Its voice, ever calling us to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in our hearts at the right moment…. For we have in our heart a law inscribed by God…. Our conscience is our most secret core and our sanctuary. There we are alone with God whose voice echoes in our depths.” [CCC 1776] We are invited by the Church to believe in the objective truth of the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. God inspired the words of Sacred Scripture to be written by people to give us God’s revelation of salvation (how Jesus died on the cross for us), God’s revelation of faith and morals. Read this passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church – “1785 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.” What does this mean for us? We use God’s word to help us form our conscience. Sacred Scripture helps us to examine and form our conscience. When we need a source to help us make a moral decision (a decision between right and wrong) we can use the Scripture as an objective source of truth. Ask your students to give you examples of decision that are a choice between right and wrong. You may be surprised by what they think is right and wrong. Ask your class, “what are the choices you make as part of the day that involve your conscience?” Can you come up with hypothetical situations when your conscience comes into play in a day? [Whether or not to steal something that a classmate has that I don’t. Whether or not to make fun of someone. Whether or not to lie. Whether or not to yell at a brother or sister or a classmate.] Hopefully they can come up with hypothetical situations. I would remind the students that it is better not to make wrong choices but if we do – we have a sacrament of reconciliation that can give us a fresh start.

Twenty-first Century Education > Ways We Connect – Inspirational Video – 2.36 minutes > This Little Man’s Wake Up Routine is so cute – 1.05 min – digital Advent calendar for students in Grade 7-12 and it is good for adults too! – has a variety of resources for teachers of religious education – a blog for religion teachers > a Canadian based website for Catholic teachers of Religious Education (my new fav) > best kept secret for religious education teachers of every grade

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

“A Crowd of Clouds – When you look up in the sky and see those clouds floating by, you probably notice that they are all different because they keep changing as they drift past. If you see a cloud you like, you have to look fast before it changes into a different shape. But did you know there are names for certain TYPES of clouds? The fluffy, puffy, cottony clouds are called CUMULUS which means “mass or heap.” The high feathery clouds that kinda look like horse’s tail are called SIRRUS, the Latin name for “lock of hair.” Then there are the layered clouds called STRATUS and the high clouds called ALTO and the dark clouds called NIMBUS. There are some combinations of names too, like Stratocumulus and Altostratus and Stratocumulus…but that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about cloud names. Since these names are so fancy, why don’t you make up some better cloud names? What would YOU call the fluffy ones, the feathery ones, or the dark stormy-looking ones? Maybe some day you’ll be on TV announcing the weather and you can tell everyone what the really GOOD names are for God’s clouds!” p. 108

 Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?


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? Mount of Olives – Matt. 24:3
  2. What sign will appear in the sky? The Son of Man – Matt. 24:30
  3. What kind of tree does Jesus want the disciples to learn from? Fig tree – Matt. 24:32
  4. What will two women be doing when the Son of Man comes? Grinding with a hand mill – Matt. 24:41
  5. When will the Son of Man come? – At an hour when he is not expected – Matt. 24:44

2nd Sunday of Advent (Matthew 3)

  1. What desert is John the Baptist preaching in?
  2. What is John’s food?
  3. What is John doing at the Jordan River?
  4. What will happen to trees that do not produce good fruit?
  5. What will Jesus baptize with?

Movie Blog by Sister Pat

22 Jump Street – If you need a laugh watch this movie. I would not recommend watching it with young children – some scenes are about the things that go on at a Frat house party. It is based on the first movie by the name 21 Jump Street.

It is a movie about friendship’s ups and downs. It is a movie about success and failure in trying to complete a mission.

Don’t stop watching once the credits start rolling because there is added footage of potential future Jump Street films that are hysterical. If you don’t need anything deep, this is your show.

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

“Each of the suits on a deck of cards represents the four major pillars of the economy in the middle ages: heart represented the Church, spades represented the military, clubs represented agriculture, and diamonds represented the merchant class.” Huh!

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