Catholic Culture Update

Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning December 4th, 2016

Quote to carry in your heart this week

“Prepare the way of the Lord.” Luke 3.4

December 4th is the Second Sunday of Advent. “What would it feel like to stand before John the Baptist admonishing you to confess your sins? It sounds scary, but is there not a longing in us for the healing and wholeness he is offering? John is preparing the way for God’s definitive Word who will come into our midst. His call to repentance is a call to stand before Almighty God, the All-Good, the All-Holy, and to recognize ourselves as sinners. Recall Isaiah seeing God in the Temple and exclaiming, “Woe is me…I am a man of unclean lips…among a people of unclean lips!” (Isa 6.5) Or Peter’s awareness, after Jesus directs him to the abundant catch of fish: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5.8) Seeing ourselves as sinners before God, and confessing during this Advent/Preparation season, is not meant to make us feel bad. Rather, we acknowledge who we are in order to open ourselves to what God wants to do for us. Through gentle mercy and graciousness, God frees us from sin and its consequences, inviting us into the kingdom of heaven announced by John and Jesus. And what is this kingdom of heaven? In today’s readings Isaiah describes a kingdom of peace and justice. Then Paul says it is where we find “encouragement…to live in harmony with one another.” This is the purpose of repentance.” Fr. Mark Miller, CSsR, Sunday Missal 2016-2017, Living with Christ, page 78.

Advent – The second part of Advent serves as a prelude to celebration of the infant birth of Christ Jesus. The focus of the prayers and Scripture during this part of Advent feels much more like Christmas Time. The Scriptures tell the story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary, and her journey with Joseph to Bethlehem unfolds. It is said that Advent signifies the four thousand years of waiting for the Messiah to come and fulfill all the hopes and longings of the people and to bring about the fullness of God’s reign. It looks toward the justice and the redemption God has promised with hopefulness and joyful anticipation. Part of waiting for the Lord’s coming includes being ready. Sin and injustice weaken our readiness. They rob us of joy. Advent seeks to restore this joy by our acts of repentance. The Sunday readings of Advent include stories of John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (See Matthew 3:7-10; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:7-9; John 1:27), for one mightier is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). To more fully prepare for the Messiah, the people acknowledge their sins. Repenting does not need to be an avoided activity. We can easily lose sight of its larger purpose. John the Baptist encouraged repentance for the sake of receiving the Messiah who comes with the Holy Spirit. Advent offers a time to prepare for oncoming joy. Part of that preparation involves a loving and honest acknowledgement of all that is unloving, unfaithful, and unjust in our lives. As we prepare for the Lord of all nations, we examine our own societies and admit the structures of corruption and injustices that pervade them. Advent affords us the reflection time to see our incompleteness and to ask for his forgiveness. We pray that when he comes, he may be merciful.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 3-4

Image result for st nicholasDecember 6th is the memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop. “Little is known about this saint, the “wonderworker,” other than the fact that he lived sometime during the fourth century and was bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor. There is some evidence that he was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecutions and later condemned Arianism, a heresy that denied the Son was co-eternal with the Father. Many stories exist about St. Nicholas, but one most frequently passed down speaks of a poor man who could not feed or clothe his three daughters. Upon hearing of this man’s dire situation, St. Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through his window one evening so the man could tend to his daughter’s needs. Modern folklore about Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas are based in the stories of St. Nicholas and his great love for and generosity toward children. Whatever is known or not known about this great saint, it can be said, to quote an anonymous Greek from the tenth century, “All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence his memory and call upon his protection” (as quoted in Butler’s Lives of the Saints: December, New Full Edition, p. 60).” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 147-148 St. Nicholas inspire us to generously give good things to the children in our schools. Share a treat with someone today in St. Nick’s memory.

Image result December 7th is the memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. “St. Ambrose (c. 340-397) was governor when he went to stop rioting that erupted during the selection of a new bishop of Milan. The crowd cried, “Ambrose for bishop,” and he was chosen, although he was just a catechumen. The Arian heresy – which denied the full divinity of Christ – divided the Church of his time. When Empress Justina demanded that Ambrose give his basilica to the Arians, he and his congregation locked themselves in and sang antiphonally, the first recorded instance. He baptized St. Augustine and was a great friend of Augustine’s mother, St. Monica. Ambrose is nicknamed the “honey-tongued doctor” for his eloquent preaching.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 148 St. Ambrose teach us to be people of reconciliation. Do you have a friend that you could call “Honey-tongued”?

Image result for immaculate conception iconDecember 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 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, Second Edition, page 148-149 Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Do a little dance to celebrate Mary today.

Image result for Our Lady of GuadalupeDecember 9th is the memorial of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. “St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548) was a native Mexican, a farmer, and a labourer. On December 9th, 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 on 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, Second Edition, page 149 St. Juan Diego teach us to be as obedient as you were. Look for miracles today!

Walking Forward Together with Hope ~ a quote for the week

“Hope always finds a way. Don’t give up.”

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 2012 Calls to Action

“In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes the following calls to action.


We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:

  1. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.


New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Praying ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes

By the end of grade 6, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:

  • Seek intimacy with God and celebrate communion with God, others and creation through prayer and worship;
  • Appreciate the gift of the common prayers of the Church and how they teach us to pray;
  • Incorporate Sacred Scripture into their prayer life as a reflective form of prayer that reveals the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Grade Four – PR 2.2: Describe the various forms of prayer used within the Catholic Tradition (blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise) and state how each form used within the Sacraments and the Liturgy serves to deepen our relationship with God. [CCC nos. 2623-2649] Ask your students to describe these forms of prayer to see if they know them.

  • Blessing – expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer. The prayer of blessing is our response to God’s gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.” [CCC 2626]
  • Adoration – is the expression of the greatness of God who made us and the power of our Saviour who sets us free from evil.” [CCC 2628] It is the sentiment of the song “I Can Only Imagine.” You may want to play the song for your class.
  • Petition – is asking for forgiveness, which is a prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.” [CCC 2631] And then we may ask God for assistance in some part of our life that is not going well. “When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition.” [CCC 2633] We pray for ourselves.
  • Intercession – is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. We ask for the help of the Holy Spirit or of someone else in heaven to help us. “[CCC 2634] We pray for others and ask friends in the Communion of Saints to assist us in our prayers.
  • Thanksgiving – is a way to express gratitude for all God has given us. God offers us everything we need and it is important that we acknowledge God’s goodness by saying thank you to God.
  • Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for God’s own sake and gives God glory for being God.” [CCC 2639] It is close to adoration and is expressed as worship of God because God is all love and goodness.


There are many blessings in the Sacraments and in the Liturgy. In Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders the participants receive a special blessing from the presider. Some of the blessings are accompanied by anointing with oil. In the Liturgy/Mass, the final blessing comes at the end when we are invited to “glorify the Lord by our lives.”

We have a moment of adoration in the Liturgy when the Blessed Sacrament in both forms is held up for us to adore during the Consecration.

The prayer of petition occurs most obviously when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We reveal our sorrow for our sins and we are healed by the words of forgiveness offered by the presider. At the beginning of the Eucharist, the Penitential Act helps us to acknowledge our sins and to ask for forgiveness and during the Communion Rite, we pray the Lamb of God and acknowledge that we are not worthy that Jesus should enter under our roof, both prayers of petition.

The prayer of intercession is involved in all the Sacraments that occur during the context of Mass. During the Prayer of the Faithful we pray for many people and situations that need our prayerful assistance.

The whole of Mass, and especially the Eucharistic prayer is a prayer of Thanksgiving. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving in Greek. This prayer, the Eucharist is the summit of our Catholic prayer experience. God becomes incarnate in the Bread and Wine of life and we are able to consume God. We become what we eat. It deepens our relationship with God. 

Grade Five – PR 2.2: Demonstrate an understanding of the unique characteristics of the three major expressions of prayer found in the Tradition of the Church and witnessed in the life of Jesus and Mary (i.e. vocal, meditation, and contemplation). [CCC nos. 2697-2724] When we read the Scriptures we can see Jesus and Mary at prayer in different ways. Ask your students if they can remember moments in Jesus and Mary’s life when they were at prayer. More than likely your students will identify, Jesus in the garden before his death and maybe Mary at the foot of the cross. “Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.” [CCC 2701] “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary.” [CCC 2708] Mary is said to have pondered what was told to her by two prophets in the Temple when she and Joseph brought Jesus. Jesus obviously meditated on creation because his teachings reveal his relationship with the ordinary things of everyday life. The form of silence meditation that we are inviting our students to participate in, is actually a form of contemplation. It is the form of prayer that seeks time with Jesus without words or feelings, just a simple being present. “Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty.” [CCC 2713] We can assume that when the disciples found Jesus at prayer he was communing with the Father in contemplation. We can also assume that when Mary stood faithfully at the foot of the cross, she was in communion with the pain of her Son. Each of these forms of prayer offers us a way to be in a deep relationship with God.

Grade Six – PR 2.2: Identify and demonstrate how in the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word can become a source of meditation and prayer with scripture which assists us in living the Christian life (i.e. moments of silence, lectio divina, homilies, commentaries on scripture). [CCC nos. 2652-2655; 2659-2660] To make this expectation an experience, find out what the Gospel reading will be for the next school mass. Have the students find a biblical commentary online to discover a deeper meaning for the passage. You can do this a few days before the Mass. Commentaries give an explanation of a gospel passage from a biblical scholar. Do lectio divina with the gospel reading. That means, you would have the gospel passage read three times by three different good readers. Ask your class to make a jot note each time the passage is read…what word or phrase stood out for them as they heard the passage. Do this lectio divina the day before the Mass. At Mass have the students make jot notes when the priest is giving his homily. Then come back to class to compare the commentary, the lectio divina and homily notes. Did the whole process increase the understanding of the message for the students?


Twenty-first Century Learning – Kept the advent resources for another week in case some teachers did not see them


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

Hildegard of Bingen –This saint could read, but she never learned to write Latin – which was required for writers in her day. Hildegard was a nun, an abbess, a musician, and an artist. She had ideas about many subjects and wanted to “communicate” them to others. She became known as a writer because she dictated her thoughts to those who wrote them down for her. Hildegard wrote on many subjects – natural history, medicine, plants, animals, reptiles, headaches, insanity, and even blood circulation. And her writings on religious subjects included commentaries on the Bible and the saints, hymns, poems, and even a morality play. She also wrote LOTS of letters – and got lots BACK from popes, kings, archbishops, teachers, abbots, monks, and nuns. It must have been very difficult for a woman with so many ideas in her head to NOT be able to write them down, to always have to wait until she could dictate them to someone else. In spite of that, this non-writer touched many with her writings! Would YOU like to be a writer some day? It’s a wonderful way to share your ideas with the world. So aren’t you lucky that you already know how to write? Of course, even if you don’t WANT to be a writer, you can still be a sharer. It can be fun to share ANYTHING with someone else – except you might like to share a secret – or an idea or a game or maybe even a candy bar. Then do it!” page 72-73


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

Test Your Bible Knowledge

  1. At Sunday Mass, there are _____ readings from the Bible.   A. 0   B. 3   C. 4          D. 5


  1. God wants us to know him and has revealed himself to us.   T or F


  1. We know Jesus is God because he _____.   A. healed people and forgave sins   B. rose from the dead    C. said he was     D. all of these


  1. _____ is a person who speaks for God.   A. prophet B. patriarch C. heretic   D. sorcerer


  1. _____ was the first to see that Jesus had risen from the dead.     A. Peter B. Mary Magdalene C. Sophia D. Moses

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

  1. “I can do all things through _____ who strengthens me.”   A. money     B. my friends C. my own efforts   D. Christ


  1. Yahweh is God’s name in Hebrew. T or F


  1. _____ was thrown into the lion’s den.     A. Tarzan   B. Daniel   C. Elijah   D. Mowgli


  1. _____ books in the Bible are named after holy women.     A. Three B. No C. Ten     D. One thousand


  1. The prayer “Holy, Holy, Holy” that we say at Mass does not come from the Bible. T or F


Taking Jesus to the Movies …A blog by Pat Carter csj

Central Intelligence – This movie is about bullying and high school reunions. Dwayne Johnson is picked on as a “fat boy” in high school. When he is humiliated by classmates during a year-end assembly, Kevin Hart’s character offers him a means of saving a little face. Move from the nineties to present day, Dwayne Johnson is now involved with the Intelligence service and involves his friend “The Jet”. The movie gave me something to think about. Was anyone picked on in my high school? If there were a reunion would I want to attend? Is my success in life determined by what I do and not who I am as a person? I had hoped the movie would be funnier because I really like Kevin Hart. At least I did reflect on the key messages that it offered. I give this movie ♥♥♥/5 hearts


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

“20% of the world’s fresh water is in Canada.” Huh!

One comment

  1. I read to the end, thanks for all of your special emails…

    Peace, Joy and Hope, Steve De Quintal Teacher, St. Mary Catholic Academy, 66 Dufferin Park Ave. Toronto, Ontario M6H-1J6. 416-393-5528 ext. 84293 “that they may have life and have it the full.” “Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.” – Dorothy Day ***You can always email but a call or a visit will get a quicker response*** ________________________________

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