Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning February 7, 2016


Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“Before the angels, I sing your praise O Lord.” Ps. 138

February 7th is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Prepare for the Word – Use these questions to prepare yourself to hear the readings before attend Mass.

As you come to church, think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. What fills you with awe? What is your response to this awe-inspiring thing?

Reflect on the Word – With whom do you share your faith? What do you leave behind in order to grow as a person of faith?

Act on the Word – This week, think about the meaning you find in your life as a result of your faith. What positive difference does your relationship with Jesus Christ make in your life? Are challenging situations more bearable? Do you find joy in serving others? Is there someone with whom you share your faith as a friend? What situation in your town or the world tugs at your heart, recognizing the need for God’s mercy, forgiveness, justice, or peace? Do you find strength in being a person whose faith directs your life? Each evening, reflect on your day. Be conscious of the interactions, decisions, or situations that made a positive impact by your faith, for yourself or others.

Wrapping it Up – Peter and the others were overwhelmed by the incredible catch of fish. What “incredible catch of fish” have you experienced – an answered prayer, the reconciliation of a friendship, a resolution to a difficult situation, passing a difficult test? Notice in the Gospel that people were pressing in on Jesus in order to hear the Word of God. What Word of God (in the Bible, the Tradition of the Church, in prayer, learning through others) so you need to hear at this time?” 2015-2016 The Living Word – Sunday Gospel Reflections and Activities for Teens, LTP, page 127, 130

Lent – When people hear “Catholics” and “Lent” spoken in the same sentence, the imagination flashes images of a fish fry in the church basement, meatless Fridays with mac’n’cheese, or Stations of the Cross. Many Catholics recall giving up something they crave such as pop, and those of an older generation recall making their pre-Easter obligation to confess their sins. Lent engages the faithful in rich spiritual renewal unlike any other liturgical time. Catholics exhibit a special devotion to this liturgical time that uniquely distinguishes Roman Catholicism. While Lent entails many things, three central themes emerge. Lent prepares us for Easter and our renewal of our baptismal promises by deepening our identity with Christ through penitential practices. For the adults preparing for Baptism at Easter, Lent affords them rituals to enter into the mystery of Christ Jesus. This period of liturgical time admits human sin and frailty more clearly than others, yet it emphasizes the strength, growth, and holiness that God offers in the midst of strife. Lent’s promise of redemption reveals Catholicism’s optimism. It demonstrates how the sinful are the very recipients of God’s redeeming grace. Because of God’s grace, freely offered as a gift, we have reason to be joyful. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Thursday. Traditional hymns and common thought claim that Lent lasts for forty days. However, counting the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday amounts to forty-four. How did it grow by four days? The Council of Nicaea (325) officially recognized Lent as a period of forty days. It prepared the unbaptized for the more glorious fifty days of Easter. St. Athanatius, a fourth-century bishop, described a forty-day fast in the vein of Moses, David and Daniel. He makes no reference to Jesus’ forty days in the desert, an image for Lent that is common today. Originally, Lent began six Sundays prior to Easter Sunday and concluded as it does today on Holy Thursday. In 1091, Pope Urban II argued for a universal rite of ashes to precede the Lenten fast. Through the years, the distribution of ashes became customary on the Wednesday before the First Sunday of Lent. This practice remains today. Hence, four extra days snuck into Lent’s calendar. The actual dates change every year because Easter’s date depends upon the lunar and solar calendars. Lent begins sometime in February or March and concludes in late March or most usually April. Lent is a time of collaborating with God to create something new and divine. Entering into this period of liturgical time with outward rituals of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, combined with the inner work of prayer, believers will be renewed and arrive at Easter eager to welcome the new life of the Resurrection.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 10

The Days of Lent – Ash Wednesday – February 10, 2016 is Ash Wednesday this year. “Ash Wednesday is one of the most-loved days on the entire liturgical calendar. Coming together to hear the Lord’s call to repentance, and to receive the blessed ashes, is part of what makes us Catholic. The Collect for Ash Wednesday is one of the most startling prayers we hear all year. This prayer uses imagery of warfare in describing Lent: “Grant O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting / this campaign of Christian service, / so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, / we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.” This is a different kind of warfare: it is a battle that takes place within us. Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving, our “self-restraint,” are the only weapons we have in our fight against evil. But with God’s grace to help us, these weapons are enough. The use of ashes as a sign of repentance goes back thousands of years, and is referenced frequently in the Old Testament. In the early Church, penitents –baptized persons who had committed grave sins – would come to the bishop at the beginning of Lent, and be marked with ashes as a sign of their repentance. After a period of rigorous penance, they would be welcomed back to the sacraments at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. As time passed, the ashes began to be given to all the faithful at the beginning of Lent. The ashes are a reminder of where we come from – ashes to ashes, dust to dust – but they are also a call to repentance. Traditionally, the ashes are made from the burning of palms from last year’s observance of Palm Sunday: in that sense, they are also reminders that we are destined for glory with Christ.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 10-11

February 11th is the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. “It was on this day in 1858 that the 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl in Lourdes, saw a “lady” in a grotto near the river Gave, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Over the next several months, Bernadette encountered the “lady” many times. During one of these apparitions, the lady directed Bernadette to drink from the fountain. But there was no fountain there – only a river. At the lady’s command, Bernadette began to dig in the ground near the grotto, and a spring of water began to flow. Immediately, numerous miraculous healings took place, of those who bathed in or drank the water of the spring. Only later did the Lady reveal to Bernadette who she was: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Today, Lourdes is one of the most popular pilgrimage places in the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the little town, to drink of the water, and to feel close to the Virgin and to her Son, Jesus Christ, healer of body and soul. Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 47-48 St. Bernadette, help us to listen to the voice of Mary like you did. Every time you take a drink of water from a fountain today, think about St. Bernadette!

February 11th is also the World Day of the Sick. “Since 1992, the World Day of the Sick has been celebrated each year on the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. St. John Paul II had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he instituted this world day of prayer. Today we pray for all who are sick and suffering, that they may see in their suffering a share in the Cross of Christ. We pray also for caregivers, for nurses and doctors, that they may be unfailingly gentle and compassionate. We pray, too, for researchers and scientists who seek to eradicate disease. And we pray for the poor of the world, who do not have access to adequate health care.” Companion to the Calendar: A guide to the saints, seasons, and holidays of the year, page 48 When you meet someone sick today, bless them saying, “May God bless you today.”

Holy Year of Mercy ~ A Time of Grace and Conversion

Roots of Mercy – Our ancestors in the faith looked for words that would capture the generosity, compassion, and benevolence of God. Two of the most often-used words in the Old Testament are racham and hesed, Both can be translated into English as “mercy,” but the connotation of each isn’t apparent in translation.

  • RACHAM: This Hebrew verb means “to fondle, be compassionate, show mercy.” The nouns (racham or rechem) deriving from that root can mean “womb.” All three words suggest tenderness aroused by encountering one who is weak, hurting, in need of help. When the Israelites entered into covenant with Yahweh, they recognized that divine intervention came to them through Yahweh’s initiative and without any merit on their part. God treated them as a mother treats her baby – moved by love and affection for one who is helpless.
  • HESED: This Hebrew noun means “mercy, kindness, or pity.” It derives from the Hebrew verb chasad, “to bow,” which may be related to chanan, “to stoop in kindness.” Scholar, archeologist, rabbi Nelson Glueck (1900 – 1971) argued that hesed, though commonly rendered in English as “mercy,” connotes fidelity and loyalty. He saw it as the quality that binds two parties in a covenant. Though some scholars dispute his contention, none can doubt that Psalm 136 celebrates the lasting fidelity of Yahweh’s mercy: “Praise the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever” (1).
  • ELEOS: When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, editors used the Greek eleos for both racham and hesed. Eleos is the word used for “mercy” in the New Testament. Many Catholics are familiar with the refrain, “Kyrie, eleison” – “Lord, have mercy.” The Greek eleos was translated into Latin as misericordia, which literally means “miserable heart” or “having a heart for those in misery.” Mercy means being sensitive to and responding to the brokenness in others. This excursion into language helps us discover the depth of meaning inside the concept of divine mercy. God’s mercy is the love-motivated response to those in need – the poor, the broken, the repentant, those souls on the margins of society and Church.

Dig Deeper > When have you experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness? How willing are you to show mercy to others? How can you become an agent of God’s mercy during this jubilee year?” Catholic Update, December 2015, page 3





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

Nothing graces the Christian soul so much as mercy; mercy as shown chiefly towards the poor, that thou mayst treat them as sharers in common with thee in the produce of nature, which brings forth the fruit of the earth for use of all.” — St. Ambrose

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.


Most of the nineteenth-century Jesuit and Oblate missionaries to Canada were French-speaking Catholics from France or Belgium. They did not share the Protestants’ commitment to the British Empire or an Anglo-Saxon identity. Nevertheless, they did see themselves as the vanguard of the spread of la civilisation chrétienne. Although they might define Christianity and civilization in ways that were different from the Protestants’ definitions and were less likely to encourage Aboriginal people to give up hunting and trapping for farming, their work still had significant social and cultural impact. Many of the Protestant missionaries came from a lower middle-class background.

They believed that success could be achieved through education and general self-improvement. Discipline, reflection, self-control, and abstinence from alcohol were among the virtues to be cultivated, both in and of themselves and for the benefits they would bring.75 The missionary then sought to instill a new character in Aboriginal people and provide them with the education they would need to adopt the Christian faith and the Euro-Canadian work ethic, and join Western society. In practice, this indoctrination was to prove both complex and contradictory.

The missionary could conceive of no civilization other than European, but he was also well aware of the fact that colonialists themselves often posed a direct threat to Aboriginal people. As a result, the missionaries, following on the Jesuit model, often sought to protect Aboriginal people from European culture, creating separate, isolated communities modelled on the Jesuit reducciones of South America. In nineteenth-century British Columbia, the Oblates established what came to be known as the “Durieu System” (named after the system’s developer, Bishop Paul Durieu) of model Aboriginal villages. The residents of the villages were to be kept separate from what were seen as the corrupting influences of both white people and other Aboriginal people who continued to practise their traditional culture. Under the supervision of the missionary, appointed chiefs, sub-chiefs, and police officers enforced a legal and moral code developed by the Oblates. Those who sang traditional songs, visited traditional healers, or violated the strict sexual code were subject to punishment. One missionary recorded, after one sitting of the village court, that “the whip functioned for two days.”

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 3.1: Explain the important relationship of the Church to the Jewish People (i.e. Old Testament Covenant, Commandments, Prophets, Psalms, liturgical prayers, symbols, etc.) [CCC nos. 839-840; 1077-1083]

Jesus was a Jewish man. He grew up as a Jewish man who lived the Covenant of the Jewish people. The Covenant is a sacred promise that God and the Jewish people made to each other [God would be their God and they would be God’s chosen people.] God made this covenant with Abraham who was the father of the faith of the Jewish people and our father in faith. The Commandments were given by God to Moses and through Moses to the Jewish people. The commandments can also be called the Mosaic Law. Jesus lived the Ten Commandments and we are called to do the same. The Prophets were God’s voice to the people when something was not right. The words of the Prophets are now part of the Sacred Scriptures (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah etc.) which we are invited to pray with throughout the liturgical cycle, especially during Advent and Lent. God sends prophets among us. Do we listen for the voice of the prophets that God sends? The Psalms were a significant part of how Jewish people prayed. At liturgical celebrations the psalms are prayed every day. The Psalms are actual prayers that Jesus would have prayed. When we pray them we use the same prayers that Jesus used. Many of the liturgical prayers are part of the Sacred Scriptures. They are part of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. There are many symbols that come from that same heritage, i.e., the Lamb of God is connect to the Passover lamb used to free the Jewish people from the sin of slavery. Our Lamb of God saves us from all sin and redeems us. I do not know how much of what I have presented above. I would start by asking the class “What religion did Jesus follow?” Use the Matthew’s gospel to show that Jesus descended from Abraham (chpt. 1), Use Luke’s gospel to show that Jesus followed the Jewish tradition of presenting the firstborn male to the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. (Luke 2: 22-38) In Matthew’s gospel there are many references to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Scriptures (this refers to the fulfillment of the prophecies.)

Grade Eight LS 2.2: Summarize the key principles of Catholic social justice and link them to the primary Christian values of love, promotion of life, reconciliation, inclusion, compassion, fidelity, liberation, community and hope. [CCC nos. 356-384; 1928-1933; 1391-1401] There are three key principles of Catholic social justice, and these are: respect for the human person; equality and differences among people; and human solidarity. [CCC 1928-1948] Social justice comes as a direct relationship to the commandment to love one another as I have loved you. We are called to love everyone as Jesus invited us to do. (John 13:34) We are called to promote life, which is God’s gift to us and to all of creation. In the Ten Commandments God tells us “You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17) This refers to promoting human life. The spirit of the Law would imply that all life must be protected. God created everything and found it to be good. (Gen. 1) Why then would we not promote all of the living beings that God created.   Jesus comes to earth to reconcile all things to himself. It was his reason for coming to earth. Reconciliation is crucial for our Catholic lives. We have a sacrament to provide a way to be reconciled. Inclusion comes from the commandment of love. If we look to Jesus’ life and circles of relationships we see inclusion as his manner of living. He includes in his circle of relationships those people who were normally outcast by most others who considered themselves religious. The phrase WWJD seems to fit well here. Many of Jesus’ parables are about compassion. The compassionate response to people’s suffering is what Jesus points to for us to do. Compassion means to act with love. The best example is that of the Good Samaritan who is not bound by the law and the prophets, but who acts out of a sense of right for the dignity of the wounded person. Fidelity is a value that Jesus shows us in his crucifixion. He is willing to be faithful to the point of death. What greater love can be shown? Liberation is at the core of the dignity of the human person. No one ought to be held captive or restricted. It is a human right to have liberty. The dignity of the human person requires that community is formed to support and encourage life. Given when situations are not perfect as God intended, hope is a theological virtue that gives us reason to believe that things can be changed. Have your students look up the Catechism references for the three key principles of Catholic social justice in groups. Have them distinguish the three key principles. Then invite them to link the primary Christian values listed above to one of the key principles.


Twenty-first Century Education > Donor Heart Recipient Wakes Up from Surgery – Inspiration video – this fifteen year old boy wakes up after a life-saving surgery and says this. 42 seconds > Urban Rescue sings Open Hands > Music Video 3.22 min. > 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

Bernadette  –This saint NEVER DID make good grades in school! But she DID change the mind of a bishop – AND the world! Bernadette was a poor girl who just couldn’t seem to learn her lessons – even when someone tried to “tutor” her, one-on-one. Her father was a miller, but the family had very little money and lived in a small place almost as damp as a cave. This was not healthy for Bernadette, who had asthma and was often very sick. One day, Bernadette was gathering firewood on a riverbank and suddenly saw a bright light and a beautiful lady. It was Mary, the Blessed Mother. Bernadette felt so happy, but she was also very frightened. She ran home and told her mother and her friends what she had seen, but no one believed her. Bernadette went back to the riverbank, and the “beautiful lady” came to visit her again and again. The Blessed Mother told Bernadette to dig in the ground, and a trickle of water came out and then a SPRING of fresh, gurgling water. Some of the people in the town heard what was happening, and a mother whose baby was dying bathed her baby in the spring and the baby got well! Soon crowds of people began to gather to watch Bernadette pray the rosary and then talk to the “beautiful lady” only SHE could see. The parish priest didn’t believe her. The bishop didn’t believe her. And the police were MAD at her for causing crowds to gather. But the Blessed Mother gave a special message to Bernadette to take to the bishop. Then HE believed Bernadette, and soon EVERYONE believed her. The Blessed Mother also asked for a church to be built on the spot where she had appeared, and today a beautiful basilica is there – and MANY MIRACLES have occurred when people came to pray. After the “officials” finally believed Bernadette and they began to build the church, she left her home to become a nun and to spend the rest of her life working and praying in the convent. Since then, MILLIONS of people have come to see the town of Lourdes, France, where a little girl who made bad grades at school was visited by the Blessed Mother. This shrine has become one of the most popular in the whole world. It is nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains and is known as the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. Did YOU ever make bad grades in school? It takes hard work to make good grades, but SOME people can work hard and STILL not make the grade! It’s harder for them to learn – just as it was hard for Bernadette. But Bernadette DID learn the most IMPORTANT lesson – how to pray and how to love God with all her heart. It doesn’t take a genius to do that! Have YOU learned that lesson?” p. 35-36

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

All Things Bishop by Pat Carter csj

  1. To become a bishop a man must have all these qualifications except          A. Ordained priest     B.praying person        C. married person      D. collaborator


  1. To be installed as a bishop there needs to be A. other bishops


  1. If a bishop is installed in one diocese, he is simply transferred to another diocese. T or F      He must be installed in the next diocese as well.


  1. There are three sectors in the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie which include     A. English speaking people      B. French speaking people        C. Ojibwa speaking people        D. All of the above


  1. Every bishop has a church called a Cathedral.     T or F


40 Days of Lent by David O’Brien from February 2016 CATECHIST magazine


  1. The season of Lent begins on ______________________.


  1. Ash Wednesday is a holy day of obligation. T or F


  1. Lent is a _____________________ day retreat for the entire Church marked by fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and reflection on the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.


  1. “At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by ______________________.” (Mark 1:12-13)


  1. Catholics are encouraged to receive the sacrament of ___________________ during Lent.



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

India’s Daughter > This movie is a documentary about the rapes and murders of women in India. It was socially acceptable for men to rape and murder women if the women were found in suspicious circumstances as deemed by the men. One such rape and murder came under global scrutiny when a 23 year old medical student was raped and murdered on a bus after she attended a movie with a male friend who was not a family member. Jyoti Singh’s rape and murder caused Indian women and men to rise up in protest of India’s violent misogyny. This movie was produced in 2015 and can be viewed on Netflix. I give this movie ♥♥♥♥♥/5


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

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down — hence the expression “to get fired.”

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