Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning March 1st, 2015

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.” Psalm 116


March 1st, 2015 is the Second Sunday of Lent.

Prepare for hearing the Word of God with these questions:  Have you ever seen anything so beautiful or so amazing that it made you feel a strong sense of God’s presence?  This Sunday’s Gospel tells the story of the Transfiguration.  Look up some artistic representations of the Transfiguration on the internet or in a book prior to Mass.  How do these images help you to understand this story better?


Reflecting on God’s Word: When your faith is tested, do you turn to Jesus for strength?  Do you ever give up when things are difficult?  Do you listen to your parents and others adults when they talk to you about being a better follower of Jesus?  Do you set a good example for your peers and younger children?

Act on the Word:  In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus took his disciples to a mountaintop – a beautiful, natural place away from their town and other people – to have a deep experience of God.  Take time this week to go to a beautiful spot by yourself or with a few family members or friends to spend some time with God in prayer.  Depending on what part of the country you live in, you might take a walk in the woods, visit a beautiful garden, go to the beach, climb a mountain, or walk in a canyon.  How does getting away from the distractions of everyday life to spend some time with nature help you to feel close to God? 


Wrapping It Up:  What do you think it means to be obedient to God?  How is your obedience to God motivated by your thankfulness for God’s love and action in your life?  2014-2015 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, page 145, 148


“Month of March – March is the month of the vernal equinox, when daytime grows equal to nighttime, and spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere.  The lengthening days warm the air and help create the March winds.  A few days in March are as cold as deep winter, a few are as warm as springtime, and many of the days are stormy.  No wonder March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.  The struggle against winter is a strong sign of Lent.  Summer and winter seem to battle through this month.”  Companion to the Calendar:  A Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 51


Month of St. Joseph – The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of the Lord.  St. Joseph was the favourite saint of St. Teresa of Avila, and of many popes, including Pope St. Pius X and St. John XXIII, who wrote: “O glorious Joseph!  Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons [and daughters], especially entrusted to you.   You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother.  Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God” (Prayer for Workers).  Joseph is the patron saint of fathers, of workers, and of the universal Church.  St. Joseph, pray for us!”  Companion to the Calendar:  A Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 51-52


March 4th is the memorial of St. Casimir.  “St. Casimir (1458-1484) was a prince of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.  Born in the royal palace in Krakow, he was heir-apparent to the throne.  When the king went to Lithuania, Casimir was left in charge of Poland from 1481-1483, and it is said that he ruled with great justice and prudence.  Casimir was known for his piety and devotion.  Weakened by fasting, he developed a lung disease that was probably tuberculosis and died.  St. Casimir is buried in the cathedral of Vilnius, in Lithuania.” Companion page 53 

St. Casimir, inspire us in our Lenten praying, fasting and almsgiving. Say a prayer for Poland and Lithuania today.


March 4-12 is the time for the Miraculous Novena of Grace.  “The Novena of Grace is observed from March 4-12, concluding on the day of the canonization of St. Francis Xavier.  It originated in Naples in 1633 with the Jesuit Father Marcello Mastrilli, who was miraculously cured of a serious injury after seeing a vision of St. Francis Xavier.  The devotion has spread far and wide and now is a popular Lenten practice.  In some places, a novena of Masses is celebrated as a “preached retreat.”  Companion to the Calendar:  A Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 53


World Day of Prayer – First Friday in March. “Prayers will resound today from the first sunrise to the last sunset as groups of women from many Christian expressions of faith and from more than 170 countries intercede for the needs of the world.  Each year the women of a different nation prepare for this day by writing a prayer service for all to use.  They also express their concerns, believing that, as their motto states, “Informed prayer leads to prayerful action.”  The concerns they voice become the yardsticks for selecting grants that are donated to projects in many lands.  Those who share in this experience increase their understanding of other cultures, increase their faith, and develop their gifts.  The ecumenical organization [Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) represents women of Canada] in this annual work of peace and justice.” Companion to the Calendar:  A Guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 52


Exploring Paths of Joy a quote for the week

Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier.  Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile.  Joy shows from the eyes.  It appears when we speak and walk.  It cannot be closed inside us.  It reacts outside.  Joy is very infectious.”  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 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 3.1:  Identify scripture passages (Old Testament and the New Testament) which explain the virtues (i.e. Isaiah, Wisdom Literature, Psalms, Parables, Beatitudes) and apply several of the passages from Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom to situations youth encounter. [CCC 1803-1845]  “A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.  It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of him/herself….The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.”  [CCC 1803]  I will give you an example for each of the types of passages in the brackets.  You can do this as group work, one group per passage.  You may want to give the groups the type of virtue that the passage is about.  Invite them to read the passage and apply the passage to the situations that they experience as youth.  Invite your students to read Psalm 116.  It speaks about the virtues of love, faith, reverence, discipleship.  Ask your students to identify lines in the psalm that speak about these virtues.  This psalm is about being healed of an illness; it could also be interpreted as God’s saving power from any source of struggle that young people might encounter.  Invite your students to apply the message of the psalm to some struggle with which young people deal.  Have your students read and study the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  It speaks about the virtue of wisdom.  Have your students apply it to situations in their lives.  This is a part of Wisdom literature.  Have your students study Isaiah 42: 1-9.  This passage speaks about justice.  Ask them to explain to whom does this servant refer. [Jesus – this is a prophecy]  Can this passage be applied to the situations of young people?  Ask your students to read Matthew 25:31-46.  It is about the judgment of the nations.  It is about the virtues for the month of March – Kindness, Discipleship and Solidarity.  Again ask the students to apply it to their lives.  Matthew 5:1-11 is the Beatitudes.  This passage is a bit more challenging to understand and how it applies to youth.  If you have a group of deep thinkers, they might be able to apply it to their lives.  Micah 6:8 is a favourite passage of young people and the quote on the back of our Walk for Justice t-shirts.  It speaks directly to justice.  


Grade Eight – ML 2.4:  Link the need for commitment, turning away from sin, growth in virtue and faith to the process of forming and exercising a healthy (upright) conscience for moral decision-making.  [CCC 1776-1789]  

In order to live a morally sound life one needs to have a commitment.  When we make choices for good and these choices become habitual, we call that a virtue.  It is possible to continuously make choices for bad and these choices can become habit as well, we call that a vice.  So a commitment is needed to turn away from choices for the bad (sin), and to grow in virtue and faith.  There is a quote that may help us see a connection: “Plant an act, reap a habit (virtue or vice); plant a habit, reap a character; plant a character, reap a destiny.  Whatever you plant, you will harvest that substance.  If you plant poorly formed decisions and harvest immoral behaviour then you conscience will be used to making choices for the bad.  If you continuously make good choices, then your conscience is formed in a healthy (upright) manner and your life will be a good one.  I would have the students draw the outline of a tree with a root system under the surface of the soil.

Draw a line in half through the middle of the tree and the root system.  Invite the students to place on one side of the middle line, poorly formed conscience for moral decision-making; on the other side the title – healthy (upright) conscience for moral decision-making.  On the poorly formed side – in the root system part of the tree put the words (rudeness, swearing, lying, cheating, hitting others, etc.) and in the root system part of the other half of the tree put the words (patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, peacefulness, joyfulness, self-control).  If the tree grows by taking in the actions on either side of the tree – what actions can we expect to see as the fruit of this tree?  [Fruit of rudeness = uncontrolled anger or spite; fruit of swearing = tantrums, rants; fruit of lying = fraud, theft; fruit of cheating etc…]  We cannot accent enough that forming a healthy conscience takes work and commitment.  Sometimes we say things like “It was only a little white lie.”  But lying can become a way to dodge responsibility when we are caught in a situation.  


Twenty-first Century Education > Lenten calendar for Intermediate and Senior students > Maybe it’s time to try something different.  Don’t just give something up for Lent.  Do something.  Sign up for the BEST LENT EVER email program with Matthew Kelly, America’s best-selling Catholic author.  It’s simple and free.  The only cost is your commitment to live better each day of Lent. Lenten resources for Religious Education > Great website resources to use if you have a student who has lost a loved one. > in the Religious Education curriculum document there are references to the CCC – Catechism of the Catholic Church.  This is a link to that document. > 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 WORLDBy Bernadette McCarver Snyder

Wanna Go to the Gobi?  Did you know that one of the largest deserts in the world is called the Gobi and its Chinese name is Sha-mo, which means “sand desert” –but there’s not much sand IN this desert.  It has fierce winds that have stripped away a lot of its sand so most of it is now bare rock!  You usually think of a desert being hot and dry all the time and the Gobi IS very hot but in the winter it gets very cold.  It gets SO cold that the two-humped Bactrian camels who live there grow thick fur to keep them warm!  Everyone knows that a camel can live a long time without water, but did you know a rat can live even longer without water than a camel can?  How long do you think YOU could live without water or anything to drink?  The next time you get a nice cool drink of water, tell God thanks for water – and thanks for all the smart people who invented the thermos and other kinds of cans and bottles and other containers so you can take water with you wherever you go – even if you go to the Gobi! ” page 119.


Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?


What’s Your Catholic IQ?  A Self-Assessment for Your Fun and Enlightenment by David O’Brien

1. Blessed palms from Palm Sunday are burned and the ashes are used for Ash Wednesday.  True or False


2. According to the U.S. Bishops guidelines, fasting during Lent includes ____________________.

C.  eating only one full meal that day

3. Jesus never prayed during his life.  True or False


4. Adults becoming Catholic receive their final preparation for baptism during the season of ___________________.

B.  Lent


5. “But this kind (of demon) does not come out except by _____________________ and fasting.”

(Matthew 17:21 or Mark 9:29)

C.  prayer

What’s Your Catholic IQ?  A Self-Assessment for Your Fun and Enlightenment by David O’Brien

1. Lent begins with _______________________.
A. Ash WednesdayB.  Easter SundayC.  MassD.  a novena


2. The day that Jesus died is called _________________________.
A. Ash WednesdayB.  Easter SundayC.  Holy ThursdayD.  Good Friday


3. Almsgiving invites Catholics to _____________________.
A. go to confessionB.  give money to the poorC.  pray moreD.  fast 


4. After his baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus spent ___________ days praying and fasting in the desert.
A. 3B.  40C.  50D.  12


5. Like holy water, the ashes used on Ash Wednesday are known as a ______________________.
A. Catholic thingB.  smudge on your foreheadC.  sacramentalD.  relic

Movie Blog by Sister Pat

Birdman This movie is available on PPV and probably at the video store.  This movie is somewhat esoteric and fanciful. It mixes together imagery that is animated, realistic, and surreal.  I think that Michael Keaton really acted well, as well as Ed Norton.  I would not watch this movie with children; it could disturb them.  I am not sure I enjoyed it but I did not hate it One doesn’t understand the whole movie until it is watch


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

A skunk’s smell can be detected by a human a mile away. Huh!

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