Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning December 13th, 2015

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.” Phil 4.4

December 13th is the Third Sunday of Advent

Prepare for the Word – There are many ways we might count our blessings. We can give thanks for them in our hearts, or we can live our lives as people who have been blessed. Which do you do? As Christmas draws closer, how are you doing at preparing your hearts for Jesus? What do you still need to change in your life?

Reflect on the Word – In the Gospel of Luke, we’re given a hint of what to do with our freedom and the blessings that come with freedom: joyfully share it with others! If John the Baptist gave us a code for living, then Jesus is going to be that very code. We are to live in a manner in which we are responsible for each other, especially the most vulnerable among us. If we have freedom, then we should be helping others get there as well. We are given the freedom to choose whether or not to help others, and when we make the choice to live for other people, we are choosing to live as God wants us to live! In what ways can you help others this week?

Act on the Word – Create a Facebook group page called “Good News!” or “Counting Blessings!” You could invite your friends and family to share their good news on the wall. Perhaps you might share a prayer intention (honouring the tough news) but then share a few blessings that you’ve experienced, too (the good news). Don’t just count your blessings, though; include the blessings you share or will share! You might end up starting a whole new social network trend! You might also read The Giving Tree this week, as a reminder of what can happen when we are willing to give all that we have for others.

Wrapping it Up – How are you marking Advent? In what way does this season help you to open your heart to Christ in a new or deeper way? What is the difference between the baptism of John the Baptist and the Baptism you have received? ” 2015-2016 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, LTP, page 83, 86

Gaudete Sunday – The Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday, from the first words of the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass: Gaudete in Domino semper; “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice./ Indeed, the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5). Like the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), it is a day for rejoicing in the midst of a penitential liturgical time. The organ returns, flowers again grace the altar, and the liturgical colour may shift from violet to rose. Why do we rejoice? Because, as St. Paul says, “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). Even as we continue to await the Lord’s coming, we know that he is already with us: in his word and in his sacraments, and in the Church, which is his body. In a special way, he is with us in his beloved poor. A new Gaudete Sunday custom has developed in Rome in recent years. Each year on the Third Sunday of Advent, the children of Rome bring the Bambinello (the figure of the Christ Child) from their home manger scenes to St. Peter’s Square for a special blessing by the Holy Father. In just a few years, this has become a well-loved tradition, so much so that some Romans call the Third Sunday of Advent Bambinelli Sunday! Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 4 Wear pink or rose clothes to Church this Sunday. Join the celebration! Sing your joy to the Lord.

December 14th is the memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church. “John of the Cross (1542-1591) grew up near Avila in poverty. His father died when he was young, and his widowed mother struggled to support the family. Shortly after his ordination in 1567, he met Teresa of Avila and was drawn into her reform of the Carmelites. The reform set Carmelites brother against brother, and John was even imprisoned but used the time to write the Spiritual Canticle. For this, and for his other great work, Dark Night of the Soul, he is considered one of the greatest poets to write in Spanish.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 151 St. John inspire us to have fortitude and perseverance when we face trials. Write a poem to celebrate your love of God.

December 17-23 ~ The “O” Antiphons

An antiphon is a short passage or verse, usually from Scripture, which is prayed before and after the Psalms and canticles in the Liturgy of the Hours. In the last days of Advent, from December 17 through December 23, the antiphons for the Magnificat at Evening Prayer call upon Christ under the many names used by the prophets in the Old Testament, and ask him to hasten his return. Each of these antiphons begins with “O” (hence their name). The first “O” Antiphon begins, O Sapientia (O Wisdom). Then comes O Adonai (Sacred Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Dawn), O Rex gentium (O King of peoples) and finally O Emmanuel (O God is with us). The favourite Advent carol, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, is actually John M. Neale’s translation of these ancient antiphons. Medieval poets loved intricacies of language, and the first letters of the titles by which Christ is addressed in the “O” antiphons _ Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, and so on – form a reverse acrostic, spelling the Latin words that mean “I will be there tomorrow.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 4 Sing O Come O Come Emmanuel all the way through to celebrate the “O Antiphons.”

Holy Year of Mercy ~ A Time of Grace and Conversion

Calling the Church to Mercy – Pope Francis’ emphasis on mercy continues the call for mercy issued by other recent popes. Pope John XXIII addressed the assembly of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, saying: “Nowadays the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.” In his encyclical, The Mercy of God (Dives in Misericordia), Pope John Paul II described “ a heartfelt appeal by the Church to mercy, which humanity and the modern world need so much” (2). Pope Francis’ exhortation The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) was animated by his focus on mercy, reiterating his oft-spoken reminder, “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy” (3). Awareness of divine mercy, however, isn’t new to God’s people. Examples are found throughout the biblical story of salvation. God intervenes for a number of women who are childless, such as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Yahweh forgives his people’s rebellion as they wander the wilderness of the way to the Promised Land. The prophets and psalms consistently offer the message of divine mercy. The gospel of mercy is reflected in the miracles Jesus performed and parables he taught. The God of the Scriptures is a God of mercy.” Catholic Update, December 2015,

Opening Doors of Mercy ~ Mercy that Forgives – a quote for the week

Weigh the true advantages of forgiveness and resentment to the heart. Then choose. Jack Kornfield


Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report

This year we will look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. This truth has been long in seeing the light of day. We need to work to build reconciliation with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit people because of the wrong directed toward them. It will take a deliberate effort. We are all treaty people. Let us live up to our side of the agreements.

Without some context, a context that many Canadians do not know or understand, the Calls to Action may not make sense. So the first excerpts will be taken from the introduction of the report.

We saw the children and grandchildren of Survivors who, in searching for their own identity and place in the world, found compassion and gained new respect for their relatives who went to the schools, once they heard about and began to understand their experiences. At the Northern National Event in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Maxine Lacorne said,

As a youth, a young lady, I talk with people my age because I have a good understanding. I talk to people who are residential school Survivors because I like to hear their stories, you know, and it gives me more understanding of my parents.… It is an honour to be here, to sit here among you guys, Survivors. Wow. You guys are strong people, you guys survived everything. And we’re still going to be here. They tried to take us away. They tried to take our language away. You guys are still here, we’re still here. I’m still here.51

We heard about children whose small acts of everyday resistance in the face of rampant abuse, neglect, and bullying in the schools were quite simply heroic. At the TRC British Columbia National Event, Elder Barney Williams said that “many of us, through our pain and suffering, managed to hold our heads up … we were brave children.”

We saw old bonds of childhood friendship renewed as people gathered and found each other at trc-sponsored events. Together, they remembered the horrors they had endured even as they recalled with pride long-forgotten accomplishments in various school sports teams, music, or art activities. We heard from resilient, courageous Survivors who, despite their traumatic childhood experiences, went on to become influential leaders in their communities and in all walks of Canadian life, including politics, government, law, education, medicine, the corporate world, and the arts.

We heard from officials representing the federal government that administered the schools. In a Sharing Circle at the Manitoba National Event, the Honourable Chuck Strahl (then minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada) said, Governments like to write … policy, and they like to write legislation, and they like to codify things and so on. And Aboriginal people want to talk about restoration, reconciliation, forgiveness, about healing … about truth. And those things are all things of the heart and of relationship, and not of government policy. Governments do a bad job of that.

Remember we are all treaty people!


New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Living in Solidarity ~ Hope Expectations for Intermediate Classes

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

  • Understand that one’s purpose or call in life comes from God and strive to discern and prepare to live out this call throughout life’s journey; (CGE: 1g)
  • Develop attitudes and values founded on Catholic social teaching and act to promote social responsibility, human solidarity and the common good;
  • Respect the faith traditions, world religions and the life journeys of all people of good will.

Grade Seven LS 2.2: Describe the forms of solidarity which can effectively address socio-economic problems (i.e. Poor among themselves, between rich and poor, among workers, employers and employees, etc.) and explain through example how these forms of solidarity can promote social change (communal conversion of society) and respect for the common good. [CCC nos. 356-384; 1928-1933; 1391-1401] Here is some background on the Catholic Social Teaching on Solidarity. “Solidarity is the Christian virtue of social charity. This virtue helps us see that we are all members of the human family, sharing equal human dignity. Solidarity realizes that we share certain values, goals, standards, and interests. We are all responsible for each other. As individuals, groups, societies, and nations we depend on each other. We can make claims on each other. This is true within the smaller structure of the family but also for the larger structures in the human community. We are all interdependent. Therefore, we should all commit ourselves to work for the common good of all, locally, nationally, and internationally. Solidarity is exemplified when we share both spiritual and material goods with others, especially the poorest in our midst.” Catholic Social Teaching: Learning and Living Justice, page 69-70 When my Sisters went to Guatemala during the seventies there were many poor there. The Sisters organized cooperatives so the poor could borrow money from each other and share their profits as well. In this way the poor could take care of themselves and each other. Those cooperatives are still in operation and many people benefit from them.

Rich and poor can obviously help each other. Rich have resources that the Poor don’t; often Poor want work in order to be able to provide for their families. It is important that the Rich do not take advantage of the situation. Unions were originally created to be intermediaries between Rich (employers) and employees. Unions make sure that working conditions are safe and that employees get fair remuneration for the work they do. There are some companies that have been socially conscious and they promote social change. One example is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Company. Look at their values and how they do business.   Ask your class if they are aware of any examples of solidarity. In a world where greed by employers and taking advantage of situations by employees, it is very challenging to meet and respect the common good.

Grade Eight LS 2.1: Identify and examine scripture passages in the New Testament where Jesus invites “inner conversion” of those who exercise roles of authority (i.e. Pharisees, civil officials, tax collectors, etc.) as an ethical obligation to address the social structures of sin, and apply this principle of a need for inner conversion to examples in our present society that call for our active participation in promoting the common good. [CCC nos. 356-384; 1928-1933; 1391-1401] Have your class read the following passages to identify how Jesus invites “inner conversion”: Matthew 5:20-26; Matt. 5:27-32; Matt. 5:33-37; Matt. 5:38-42; Matt. 5:43-48; Matt 6:1-4; Matt 6:5-6; Matt 6:7-15; Matt 6:16-18; Matt 6:19-21; Matt 6:24; Matt 6:25-34; Matt 7:1-5. Ask your students to identify how Jesus asks those in roles of authority to address the social structures of sin.

Passages Role of authority Addressing social sin
Mt. 5:20-26 Scribes and Pharisees – would have taught the strict adherence of the Law Do not follow the commandment (You must not kill) but go beyond the commandment – live the law of love. Reconciliation is the way.
Mt. 5:27-32 Scribes and Pharisees – same as above Do not follow the commandment (You must not commit adultery) but live with a pure heart and pure intention.
Mt. 5:33-37 Scribes and Pharisees – same as above Do not follow the commandment (You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord) but do not swear at all…be honest.
Mt.5:38-42 Scribes and Pharisees – same as above Do not follow the teaching – Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. Go beyond the teaching , go beyond people’s expectations of justice.
Mt. 5:43-48 Tax collectors – practice this way; Pharisees – same as above Do not follow the teaching – You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. Go beyond the teaching and love your enemies as well
Mt. 6:1-4 Scribes and Pharisees – same as above Do not parade your good deeds – do not be boastful.   Be humble – do not take up any more space than you need.
Mt. 6: 5-6 Scribes and Pharisees – same as above Do not pray in public; pray in private
Mt. 6:7-15 Scribes and Pharisees Do not babble your prayers for show…pray simply; give forgiveness
Mt. 6:16-18 Scribes and Pharisees Do not fast and show everyone as you do…fast in secret
Mt. 6:19-21 Scribes and Pharisees – used to teach that wealth and well being was a gift from God Do not store treasures for yourself on earth, but store treasures in heaven
Mt. 6: 24 Scribes and Pharisees – used to teach that wealth was a gift from God Do not be a slave to money and God. Just worship God, not money
Mt. 6:25-34 Scribes and Pharisees – used to teach that righteousness was about how hard you prayed, fasted and gave alms in public Do not trust in your own power but trust in the providence of God.

God knows what you need and loves you and wants you to be happy and cared for.

Mt. 7:1-5 Scribes and Pharisees Do not judge.

Ask your students to apply this principle of a need for inner conversion to examples in our present society that call for our active participation in promoting the common good especially the teachings that can be applied to social/political/financial life.

Twenty-first Century Education > Resources for the Jubilee of Mercy > A good resource for the Year of Mercy > World Community for Christian Meditation > This is a site for Christian Meditation for teachers and students alike. > an online Advent calendar for Intermediate and Senior students and adults too. > Jared Dees has put together a set of resources and training helps that are nothing short of awesome. He has a free eBook, lesson plans, strategies, activities, and many resources. > 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


115 Saintly FUN Facts ~ Smiles and Surprises for Kids of All Ages By Bernadette McCarver Snyder

“Basil  Here’s a saint who was not afraid to fuss at an emperor! Basil lashed out at his emperor, telling the emperor, telling the emperor he had been cruel to his people and he did not live by proper Christian principles. The emperor was NOT pleased and said, “No one has ever spoken to me like that!” Basil shot right back, “Then apparently you have never met a Catholic bishop before!” Basil was a GREAT bishop who lived in what would seem to you a strange and exotic civilization – the Byzantine Empire. His was the FIRST Christian nation, and many of the great events of the early Church came from there – the first Church councils, the first great teachers of the Church, and some of the first worst problems, too. This was a world where the Church was in great danger of being crushed by its enemies, but brave Basil and other courageous Church leaders defended the Faith and saved the Church! Would YOU have the nerve to speak up to an emperor and tell him he was not living a Christian life? Not many people would have such courage. Not many people could be as brave as the saints of the early Church. You will probably never NEED to speak to an emperor, but you DO NEED to be brave in YOUR world today – to say NO to people who want you to get involved with drugs or alcohol or an immoral lifestyle. Say a prayer today that God will give you courage to lead a good life and to SPEAK Up when it’s important – just like St. Basil did!” p. 26-27


Who says teaching religion can’t be fun? What’s Your Catholic IQ?

Advent Adventures – Take 2 by Pat Carter, csj

  1. This symbol of Jesus’ family tree that is a traditional decoration of Advent; it is known as B. Jesse tree
  2. These verses are sung or said from December 17 through 23, on the seven days before the Vigil of the Nativity and are called the   A. “O” Antiphons
  1. This saint is a special patron of children whose feast day is December 6th, C. St. Nicholas
  1. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a solemnity that honours D. Mary
  1. There is a tradition of eating what colour of food for the feast of Immaculate Conception B. White


Advent Adventures – Take 3 by Pat Carter, csj

  1. This saint is credited with creating the first live nativity scene in Greccio, Italy in 1223.   A. Francis        B. St. Augustine          C. St. Thomas Merton             D. St. Dominic
  1. This is a title used to describe Jesus during these dark Advent days and nights.       A. Bread of Life           B. Light of the World          C. Maris Stella                                    D. Emmanuel
  1. This angel tells Mary of God’s wonderful plan, in the story of Jesus’ birth.     A. Michael             B. Raphael                 C. Gabriel                            D. none of these
  1. Many families enjoy the custom of placing these along their sidewalks or driveways, or along the walk leading to their front door to commemorate the plight of the Holy Family more than 2,000 years ago, when they searched in vain for a room at an inn in Bethlehem.      A. candles                B. luminaries              C. christmas tree lights            D. flashlights
  1. This is Sister Pat’s favourite liturgical season     A. Ordinary time           B. Advent                    C. Christmas                            D. Lent


Taking Jesus to the Movies – a movie blog for believers by Pat Carter, csj

Minions > This movie is available on Shaw PPV. It is silly and can’t help but make you laugh. There are sufficient moments to entertain adults, e.g. Beatles crossing on Abbey Road. I loved the very ending at the absolute end of the movie after the credits. Now I understand the movie Despicable Me more! ♥♥♥/5


Trivia for Those Who Read to the end…Just like the credits at the movies.

“Cats can hear ultrasound.”

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