Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning January 3rd, 2016


James Tissot – The Magi Journeying – Brooklyn Museum

Quote to carry in your heart for the week.


“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” Psalm 72

January 3rdth is the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Prepare for the Word – What darkness exists in the world or your life that needs to be touched by the light of Christ? In what ways do you seek the Lord, in your participation at Mass, in your daily life, through your actions, attitudes, and relationships? How do your family members or friends seek the Lord? What might you learn from them as you grow in faith? How might your seeking touch others?

Reflect on the Word – As you leave Mass today and begin the coming week, reflect on the example of the Magi. In what ways will your participation in Mass change you? Does your seeking the Lord shape your life, calling from you commitment of time, your gifts, and your attention?

Act on the Word – The Magi told Herod they had “seen his star at its rising.” How have you seen Christ in the past few weeks? What does this awareness of Christ’s presence call you to be or to do in our world? Pay particular attention to the many ways Christ is manifested in the coming week. Also consider how you may be called to manifest Christ’s love to others. Talk with someone else about this, and make a plan to show the love of God to one person or group in a special way this week.

Wrapping it Up – Do you treasure gifts such as talents or skills in the same way as things such as membership on a team or your material possessions? Sometimes the sharing of our gifts calls us to risk the unfamiliar. Like the Magi on the journey to Jesus, we may be called out of ourselves, using our talents for the sake of another. In what way might sharing your gifts lead you to an unfamiliar experience?” 2015-2016 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, LTP, page 105, 108


Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – The Gospel according to Matthew speaks of wise men, Magi from the East, who saw a star and came in search of the infant Christ, and then returned home. Through the years, traditions had added many other details to the story, giving the names of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar to the wise men, and explaining the significance of their gifts: precious gold, given to a king; frankincense, offered to God; and bitter myrrh, for one doomed to die. The Magi have so captivated the Christian imagination that in some countries, including Spain, the Solemnity of the Epiphany is referred to as Los Tres Reyes, the Three Kings! But Epiphany is not just about the Magi. The word epiphany is Greek for “manifestation” or “showing forth,” and this solemnity is about Christ revealing his glory to the nations. That is of course what happened when the Magi, foreigners from the East, followed the star: they recognized Christ as God, and worshipped him. In past centuries (and to this day in the Orthodox Church and Byzantine Catholic Church) other mysteries were remembered on this day in addition to the visit of the Magi: especially Jesus’ baptism, and his first miracle at Cana, both moments in which his glory appeared for all to see. …Many wonderful traditions are associated with Epiphany. It is a day for the blessing of homes: one ancient tradition calls for the letters 20 + C + M + B + XX [the numerals of the current year], to be written above the door with blessed chalk (the letters C, M, and B stand for the names of the Magi). In some countries, Epiphany is another day for gift-giving, and children will leave a shoe out the night before, in hopes that the Magi, who of course brought precious gifts for Christ, will leave a gift for them as well. Another favourite tradition throughout most of Europe is the Kings’ Cake, a special cake in which a coin (or a bean) is hidden. The cake is cut and eaten, and the person who finds the hidden coin in the “king” or “queen.” Epiphany traditionally takes place on January 6, twelve days after Christmas, though in many countries where January 6 is not a public holiday, the solemnity is now observed on the Sunday after January 1.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 7-8 Jesus, on this holy day, help us to see your presence in our lives and like the three wise ones may we honour you. Every time you think of Jesus today bow your head.


Month of January – The first month of the year gets its name from the Roman god Janus, whose name means “gate.” Janus has two faces. One looks behind, the other ahead. January is a month in which we look back in time and look ahead. January is also the month of Epiphany. That can be the merriest day of the merry Christmas Time. In most churches in North American, Epiphany is kept on the first Lord’s Day of the year. A Greek name for Epiphany is ta phota, which means “lights.” It was Advent during most of December, when the days got as short as they can get. But now the light is growing. That’s something hopeful to keep in mind. Even in the dead of winter, spring is on its way. These winter days of growing light take us to Lent. They are Carnival days. Carnival is the customary time of year for plays and puppet shows and circuses and all the human arts that can help drive the cold winter away. This is a time of hospitality. To people in need, wintertime hospitality can be a gift of life and light.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 27-28


Month of the Holy Name – “Throughout the month of January, we give special honour to the name of Jesus. St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). We hold the name of Jesus in special reverence. The very name of Jesus is a prayer.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 28 May we honour your holy name this month. Every time you hear the holy name of Jesus, bow your head.


January 7th is the memorial of St. André Bessette, Religious. “St. André Bessette (1845-1937), known as Frère André, was born to an impoverished working-class French-Canadian family. His father worked at various trades, trying to make enough to support his family. Eventually he found work as a lumberjack but was tragically killed by a falling tree, leaving behind a widow and ten children. Three years later, André was orphaned at the age of twelve when his mother died of tuberculosis. He was taken in by his aunt and uncle. He tried his hand at several trades, but his poor health and lack of education made it difficult for him to hold a job, so he emigrated to the United States and spent time working in a textile mill in New England. André was always exceptionally pious, and he eventually returned to Canada and entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross at Montreal. He was made doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Côte-des-Nieges, Quebec. He held this position for forty years and developed a great following once his reputation for wisdom and holiness spread. In 1904 he began building a small chapel on Mount Royal, which later developed into St. Joseph’s Oratory. Thousands of miraculous healings were attributed to him during his lifetime, but he always gave credit to St. Joseph, to whom he had a great devotion. When he died in 1937, aged ninety-one, a million people paid their respects. André Bessette was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17th, 2010.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 33

Brother André help us to practise humility. Every time you open a door today, think of this holy Saint!


Holy Year of Mercy ~ A Time of Grace and Conversion

As we receive, so must we give –In the document The Face of Mercy (Misericordiae Vultus), Pope Francis formally announced the Holy Year of Mercy. He proclaimed the multiple dimensions of the concept, writing that “we need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy…the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.” He fleshes out its meaning: mercy is the “ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us,…the bridge that connects God and humanity, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness” (2). Jesus both demonstrated mercy and demanded it of his followers. Pope Francis points to the miracles Jesus worked, the relationships he formed, the parables he taught. His mercy prompted his to feed the hungry crowds; restore a son to his grieving mother; and speak of the lost sheep, the lost coins, and the welcome shown the prodigal son. In the parable of the servant who refused to imitate the master who forgave him a debt, Jesus made it clear that mercy is the criterion for all his followers: “Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33). Pope Francis develops the obligation: “[W]e are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown us. Pardoning offenses becomes the clearest expression of merciful love, and for us Christians it is an imperative from which we cannot excuse ourselves. At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence, and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully…. Above all, let us listen to the words of Jesus who made mercy an ideal of life and a criterion for the credibility of our faith: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Matthew 5:7): the beatitude to which we should particularly aspire in this Holy Year” (MV 9).” Catholic Update, December 2015,


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

When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others, rather than just for ourselves, then our society will truly become a place of celebration. –Jean Vanier

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.


The outcome was usually disastrous for Indigenous people, while the chief beneficiaries of empire were the colonists and their descendants. Many of the colonies they settled grew to be among the most prosperous societies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century world. Settler colonies often went on to gain political independence. In the case of Canada and the United States of America, these newly created nations spread across North America. As they expanded, they continued to incorporate Indigenous peoples and their lands into empires. Colonialism remains an ongoing process, shaping both the structure and the quality of the relationship between the settlers and Indigenous peoples.


At their height, the European empires laid claim to most of the earth’s surface and controlled the seas. Numerous arguments were advanced to justify such extravagant interventions into the lands and lives of other peoples. These were largely elaborations on two basic concepts: 1) the Christian god had given the Christian nations the right to colonize the lands they ‘discovered’ as long as they converted the Indigenous populations; and 2) the Europeans were bringing the benefits of civilization (a concept that was intertwined with Christianity) to the ‘heathen.’ In short, it was contended that people were being colonized for their own benefit, either in this world or the next.

Remember we are all treaty people!


New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Living in Solidarity ~ Hope Expectations for Primary Classes

By the end of grade 3, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:

  • Appreciate all of creation as gift and actively fulfill their responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation;
  • Acknowledge all life as sacred.

Grade Two LS 2.3: Identify ways we can express to God that we respect the gift of our “human dignity” and show respect toward others (i.e. family and school communities) through our prayers and actions. [CCC nos. 356-384; 1928-1933; 1391-1401] I would begin by explaining to the students that we have received a gift from God called “human dignity.” “Human dignity is the value or worth of the human that is unique and distinctive. Classical Christian thought asserted that the human person was the highest of all created beings because the person was created in the image of God. Of all the material creatures, the human person alone possessed a spiritual nature that was free, intellectual and capable of free and knowledgeable moral action.” Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, page 487   Once the students understood the gift of human dignity I would ask them how can we express to God the gift of our “human dignity.”

Allow the students to really think about this…to ponder it. This is a critical concept for so much our Catholic Christian morality and Catholic Social Teaching. If we really understood this concept, there would be no difficulty with bullying and disrespect. [my ideas for how we can express to God that we respect our gift of human dignity: we would not do anything that would harm our bodies (because they are created in God’s image); we would be grateful for all the abilities we have;

If we have special talents (musical, artistic, physical, spiritual, number sense etc.) we would be grateful to God and we would use them and develop them.] If we acknowledge our dignity as being made in the image of God, then we must acknowledge the dignity of every human being. We ought to show respect toward every other person. Ask the students how is it possible to show respect toward others through our prayers and actions. [We are kind, we share, we care for everyone, even if they do not share or care, we still do so because they are made in the image of God] This lesson could have a profound effect on your classroom community if the students learn this lesson’s concept.

Grade Three LS 2.3: Describe ways that all human beings are equal (i.e. personal human dignity) and also are created with differences (i.e. male and female, race, ethnicity, etc.) and identify ways that we can demonstrate our appreciation and respect for this diversity (e.g., inclusion of all, sharing what we have with the less fortunate, caring for the sick and elderly, asking questions about a person’s unique characteristics with respect, respecting ideas and beliefs that are different from our own). This idea of equality is becoming very important to Grade three students because if someone seems to get a better deal in the classroom you will hear “That’s not fair.” But it is not what we get but who we are that determines equality. If you can make this distinction clear, you will have taught a life lesson to your students. I would ask the class to describe ways that all human beings are equal. Listen carefully to their answers…you may want to write on the board or chart paper what they give as reasons. Ask the students if they understand that the reason that all human beings are equal is because they have human dignity, that is, they are made in God’s image. (see note from Catholic Encyclopedia in Grade 2 lesson above if necessary) Ask students if all men are equal to all men and women are equal to all women; all white people are equal to all other white people; all black people are equal to all other black people; all Canadians are equal to all Canadians etc.? Is that how it works? NO – all human beings are equal no matter what. We are created with differences. Ask your class to identify ways that we can demonstrate our appreciation and respect for these differences. There are some examples in the expectation above. We still need to work on seeing all of our brothers and sisters as equal. We often do not see those who look different from us as equal.


Twenty-first Century Education > The First Noel – Beautiful rendition of the song – A Cappella by Pentatonix – 4.10 min Play it to remind your students that we are still in the Christmas season. > Matthew West > The Heart of Christmas > Music Video  4.21 min Last Christmas, Matthew West released a touching video, One Last Christmas inspired by the true story of the Locke Family and their quest to make one final Christmas wish for their son come true. This year, Matthew delivers yet again another heart-warming and beautiful song, The Heart of Christmas as the title song from the GMC movie The Heart of Christmas based on this incredible story of the Locke family and the community that gave this little boy one last Christmas. This is truly a Christmas must-see!! Using a blog as a catechetical tool is suggested by Joe Paprocki as a way to meet our students where they are at. Check it out. > What Jeanne Robertson says about Leftbrain and Luggage …LOL > 10.57 min. If you need a laugh after the holidays. This is not for class viewing. > World Community for Christian Meditation > This is a site for Christian Meditation for teachers and students alike. > 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

Bathildis  This saint had a real Cinderella story! She was a slave who became a queen and the mother of three kings! Bathildis was born in Britain but was sold as a slave to the mayor of the court of the king of France. She was evidently very capable and charming and made quite an impression at court because the king married her! She went from being a servant to being a queen! She and her husband had three sons. When her husband died, Bathildis reigned as the ruler of the kingdom. She was a wise and just ruler, did many good things for her people, and ransomed many who were slaves like she had been. She was queen for seven years until her oldest son became old enough to be crowned king. Later, her two other sons also wore the crown. After her sons were enthroned, Bathildis left the palace and its royal trappings to go to a humble convent. There she became a nun and asked to be given the lowliest jobs. She went from slave to queen to servant of God. Do you like to read Cinderella stories, rages-to-riches tales of people who go from poor to rich, low to high? Why don’t you write your OWN Cinderella story today? Think about where you are and what you are doing NOW – and what you would LIKE to do or be SOME DAY? Would you like to be rich or famous or athletic or well educated or have a big family or drive a big car or take a trip around the world or travel through space? Or would you like to discover a cure for the common cold, a new planet, a new ice-cream flavour? Or would you like to make the world better by being a good person, a good friend, a good Christian?” p. 28-29

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

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. St. Francis


  1. This is a title used to describe Jesus during these dark Advent days and nights. B. Light of the World


  1. This angel tells Mary of God’s wonderful plan, in the story of Jesus’ birth. C. Gabriel


  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. luminaries


  1. This is Sister Pat’s favourite liturgical season.   B. Advent


Christmas by Pat Carter, csj

1.How was December 25th chosen as the date to celebrate Jesus’ birthday?

A.It was the date Jesus was born.

B. It was selected to replace the pagan winter festival dedicated to the sun.

C. It was St. Augustine’s birthday and he wanted Jesus’ birth celebrated the same day.

D. There is no knowledge of why the date was chosen.

2. Our current English term of Christmas can be traced back to

A. 1 C.E. 100 C.E.                  C. 1123 C.E.                D. 1568 C.E.


3. The original name of the feast in one of the Old English spellings appears as Cristes maesse, which by 1568 clearly meant

A. Mass of Christ        B. Christian mass        C. Chris’ mass              D. none of these


4. By this century the annual feast of Christmas was almost universally celebrated on the twenty-fifth of December

A. First           B. Second                  C. Third                      D. Sixth


5. The date of December 25th is marked for Christmas in the Philocalian Calendar, which represents Roman practice in the year

A. 330 C. E.                 B. 332 C.E.                 C. 334 C.E.                 D. 336 C.E.




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

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.   I give this movie ♥♥♥♥/5 hearts.

This movie brought back lots of memories of times as a child that I watched the original series. I don’t remember seeing an episode that explained the beginning of the group. I also don’t remember the humorous nature of the program (I may have been too young to get it.) I really enjoyed the movie. I thought the characters were suited to their roles. I enjoyed the humour. I would not mind seeing it again. This movie is suitable for teens and adults. I can’t remember any part that was particularly sexy or bad language; I don’t think children would enjoy the movie.


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

Children grow faster in the springtime.”

One comment

  1. Thank you again and again for your very special emails!

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