Catholic Culture Update: January 8

Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning January 8, 2017

Quote to carry in your heart this week

“Arise, shine, for your light has come.” Isaiah 60.1

epiphanyJanuary 8th is the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. “It is very clear that the Jewish people are the chosen people of God. Yet in the [Jewish and Christian scriptures] there are indications that the message of the God of all creation is to be offered to all nations. The early Christians, after Jesus’s death, held that The Way of Jesus was intended for Jewish Christians but not for Gentiles, even though Jesus was open to them in his lifetime. Paul’s conversion turned all that upside down. “In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind.” Paul had a tough time convincing some of the apostles that Jesus and his message were to be shared with Gentiles. Eventually, Peter recognized Paul’s approach and missionary efforts to the Gentiles. Paul went out to “all nations” and the word of God spread. He took the light of Christ to everyone he met and wherever he went. The feast of the Epiphany, the feast of “opening” our doors to others, speaks of our day. Mary opened the door of her house to the Wise Men from the East. Pope Francis opens his arms to all. The promise of a Messiah for all is fulfilled. This Epiphany, let us advance the fulfillment of the promise by inviting and welcoming all who want to praise Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Friar Ed Debono, OFM Conv, Sunday Missal 2016-2017, Living with Christ, page 122.

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, tradition has 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, following 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. In the Office of Morning prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) for this solemnity, an antiphon brings the three “epiphanies” together in a wonderful way: “Today the Bridegroom claims his bride, the Church, since Christ has washed her sins away in Jordan’s waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed the water into wine, alleluia” (volume I, p. 564). Many wonderful traditions are associated with Epiphany. It is a day for the blessings of homes: one ancient tradition calls for the letters 20 + C + M + B +17 [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 show 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 is 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, Second Edition, pages 7-8


Feast of the Baptism of the Lord ~ Christmas Time always ends with a feast in honour of the baptism of the Lord. This feast is celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany, except when Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) falls on a Sunday; then, the Baptism of the Lord is transferred to a Monday. When Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized, John the Baptist exclaimed: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” (Matt. 3:14). We might want to ask the same question. Why does Jesus come to be baptized? He is sinless; why does he need to receive John’s baptism of repentance? Jesus answers, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). In other words, Jesus is baptized because this is God’s plan for him – and for us. Jesus is baptized because we need Baptism. He open the way for us, sanctifying the water, to wash away our sins. An antiphon at Evening prayer uses vivid imagery to express what happened when Jesus was baptized: “In the Jordan river our Saviour crushed the serpent’s head and wrested us free from his grasp.” Jesus’ baptism marks a change. After his baptism, he begins to proclaim the kingdom of God, to gather disciples, to teach, to heal and to work miracles. He begins his active ministry, leaving behind the “hidden years” of his quiet life with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. It is the same for all Christians who follow Jesus into the waters of Baptism. Baptism is not an ending, but a beginning. As we receive forgiveness for our sins, we also receive a calling, to live as faithful disciples, and so build up the kingdom. This feast is usually celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, however, if Epiphany is celebrated on January 7 or 8 (Sunday), the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 8

317003244_d2b70f7c6cJanuary 12 is the memorial of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Virgin. “The first Canadian woman to be canonized, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, was born in France on April 17, 1620. When she was nineteen, her mother died, and Marguerite took on the responsibility of caring for her brothers and sisters. A year later, during a procession in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, she felt inspired to consecrate herself to the service of God. She tried joining the Carmelites and the Poor Clares, but both communities refused her entrance. Once Marguerite learned about the French settlement at Ville Marie in Canada – later known as Montreal – she realized that her vocation was to missionary work. The founder and governor of the settlement, Paul Chomody de Maisonneuve, persuaded her to dedicate herself to the education of French and Indian children. She started a school but soon realized she would need help and returned to France to recruit other young women. These became the founders of the Congregation de Notre-Dame. Originally, Marguerite intended her community uncloistered and take simple vows, an innovation at the time that enabled the sisters to pursue an active apostolate rather than remain in a cloister. Soon French Canadian and Native American women joined the group. The Congregation of Notre Dame received approval from the Vatican in 1698, and by the late 19th century, the sisters had spread through Canada and into the United States. Marguerite Bourgeoys is considered the co-foundress of Montreal, where she died on January 12th, 1700 after offering her life for the cure of a younger sister. She was canonized by [St.] Pope John Paul II in 1982.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 35

3769January 13 is the memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. “St. Hilary (c. 315-367) was born to pagan parents in Poitiers, France. He was from an upper-class family and received a better education than most of his contemporaries, even studying Greek, which was rare at the time. At first, he embraced the philosophy of Neo-Platonism, but after studying the Old and New Testaments, he decided to become a Christian, along with his wife and daughter. At this early time in the history of the Church, married men could be ordained, and in 353, the people of Poitiers elected him bishop. Hilary found himself in the midst of the Arian heresy, which taught that the Son was not fully divine, and he fought for the correct understanding and expression of the divinity of Christ. He was known as the “hammer against Arianism” and the “Athanasius of the West,” after the bishop of Alexandria who fought the heresy in the East. In an attempt to halt the persecution of Orthodox Christians by Arians, Hilary wrote to the emperor ConstantiusII. Constantius exiled him to Phrygia in modern-day Turkey, where he spent four years, managing to run his diocese from a distance. While in exile, Hilary composed De synolis and De fide Orientalium, his most important contributions to theology. The Christian world was so divided by Arianism that Hilary was exiled twice. His great contribution was the successful expression in the Latin language of theology about the nature of Christ, or Christology, that had been developed by Greek theologians.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 35

Walking Forward Together with Others ~ a quote for the week

Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.” Maori proverb

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.


  1. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

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 2.3: Develop and present using different forms of prayer and some of the common prayers and devotions of the Church, liturgical celebrations that reveal the Mystery of Christ as it unfolds in the seasons of the liturgical year (e.g. Mary – rosary, Sacred Heart, etc.) [CCC nos. 2617-2619; 2673-2679]

It is important to teach our students in Junior classes that Jesus hears our prayer. In the scriptures we see Jesus answer people’s prayers during his ministry. “Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a haemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.” [CCC 2616] Different forms of prayer: intercession (praying for others); petition (praying for ourselves); gratitude (praying a heartfelt thank you); sorrow (to acknowledge wrongs done); and adoration/worship (acknowledging that God is great and good.)

Some common prayers – students ought to know the Lord Prayer already (in English and French), Hail Mary, Glory Be. They could learn the simple prayer above called the Jesus Prayer. They can also learn the prayer GIG ATT, ATT GIG. Teacher says God is good, students respond All the Time. Then the Teacher says All the Time, students respond God is Good. If prayed with faith, it can be a prayer of adoration. When we return to class on Monday the Church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Read the passage from Mark’s gospel > Mk 1. 9-11 Jesus is baptized just like us. This feast day official ends the Christmas season so we enter the first week of Ordinary time. I will continue with this expectation in three weeks during the fourth Week in Ordinary Time.

Celebrating ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes

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

  • Cherish and participate in the sacramental life of the Church as the gift of God’s presence in our lives to nourish, restore, guide and form us as children of God;
  • Honour and respect the sacred bread and wine of the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ;
  • Seek to understand the multi-fold meaning of the biblical narratives, symbols and ritual actions associated with the five seasons of the Liturgical year.

Grade Five – CL 1.3: Identify in Scripture, examples of illness in human life and the transformation, forgiveness, and healing that Christ reveals through his ministry and connect these examples to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. [CCC nos. 1449-1513] I would ask your students to think about the stories in the Gospels that they can remember about Jesus healing someone or forgiving someone during his earthly ministry. Invite the students to look in the gospels – set up three groups and assign each group a gospel (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Ask them to find out how many stories they can about healing and forgiving by Jesus. [There are many.] They ask the students to say “how do they think these actions of Jesus affected the lives of those healed or forgiven?”   These stories connect to two sacraments that today the Church offers us. It is the way that Jesus continues to forgive and heal people. Some students will have celebrated their first reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This is an underused sacrament of healing. Many people walk around burdened by many problems that they carry around with them every day. By going to receive the sacrament, freedom from these burdens can be achieved and peace can replace the problems. By acknowledging our sins, we are freed from guilt, embarrassment, shame, etc. When we admit to ourselves that we are not perfect, we grow in wholeness and holiness. Speak to your students about what is required for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in intended to offer us. 1. Acknowledgement of wrongs done. 2. A sense of contrition – sorrow for wrongs done and a desire to not repeat the wrong. 3. Humility to speak about the wrongs before a priest (God’s representative/presence).

  1. Openness to receive forgiveness from God (absolution). And finally 5. Willingness to do the penance given by the priest to demonstrate the sincerity of contrition. God does not benefit from our need for reconciliation. WE DO! Unfortunately people have stopped receiving this merciful medicine for our spiritual benefit. There is another sacrament of healing offered to us when we need a healing due to illness: the anointing of the sick. Many Catholics do not even know of this sacrament. It is usually offered to people who are very sick, continually sick or going to have surgery. The sick person identifies him/herself to the priest. Sometimes priests will anoint the sick person during a mass time or will go to the person’s home/hospital room to anoint the person. Special prayers are prayed and blessed oil is used to sign the cross on the sick person’s hands.   When someone is ill for a long time “[it] can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him/her discern in his/her life what is not essential so that he/she can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to God.” [CCC 1501] This sacrament is also underused because many people are not aware of its healing properties. I would be happy to come into your class to assist you to do this expectation.

Living in Communion ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes

  • Recognize Jesus as a companion and friend who travels with them on the journey of their lives;
  • Appreciate what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ and accept the responsibility of this gift;
  • Participate as an active member in the prayer life of the Communion of Saints to help those saints among us and those who have gone before us and who are in need of our prayers;
  • Recognize and believe in Mary as the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church.

Grade Six – LC 2.3: Explain how Mary as both the first disciple and the Mother of the Church, supports us in our growth in holiness and virtue (John 19:27 – Behold, your mother). [CCC nos. 963-975; 2673-2682] Mary as Jesus’ mother would have been his first disciple (follower) because she would have known his sincerity and that he was God’s son. We claim her as Mother of the Church because she was Jesus’ mother. Mary lived a simple, humble, good and holy life so it makes sense that we can find support in her to help us as we grow in holiness and virtue. Ask the class to describe the qualities of a good mother/grandmother. Ask the class – Do you think Mary has all these good qualities? Do you think Mary had other qualities that good mothers/grandmothers might not have? [being without sin] Ask your students, Do you notice how people live? Does how they live inspire you to live likewise? Can you name someone who inspires you? It would be good to have a conversation with your students about virtue and holiness – who do they know who lives the virtues? Who do they know that they would give an award for the virtue of faith? The virtue of courage? The virtue of wisdom? The virtue of hope? The virtue of wholeness – this month’s virtue. Have a conversation about who/what is it about how a person lives that inspires them, how much money/possessions, fame (popularity), skill level (music/athletic/artistic). It may surprise you that they do not notice when someone does something noteworthy in virtue. Maybe you can inspire them to want to be holy and virtuous.

Twenty-first Century Learning

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

Isidore of Seville – Did you ever use an encyclopedia to “look up” some fact or some historical person? Well, who do you think puts together an encyclopedia? One person who did is St. Isidore! Isidore was known as the most learned man of his time, AND in addition to building schools, writing MANY scholarly books, living a SAINTLY life, and serving as BISHOP of Seville, he put together an encyclopedia. Isidore’s encyclopedia included all the knowledge of his day and was used for hundreds of years as a school textbook. BUT Isidore’s DAY was the sixth century – over fourteen hundred years ago – so his encyclopedia was very different from the ones found in today’s schools. Isidore’s book could not have included information about telephones, television, airplanes, space travel, electric lights, microwave ovens, or many of the everyday things YOU take for granted. Wouldn’t this saint have been surprised if he could have seen a twenty-first century encyclopedia? How often do you USE an encyclopedia to get information or maybe “fun facts”? You should try it more often! In fact, why don’t you sit down with an encyclopedia today and look up some subjects that might be especially interesting to you. As you thumb through the pages, you might even come upon the name of Isidore of Seville!” page 76-77

What do YOU Know? A Catholic Identity Game for the Whole Community by Peggy O’Neill Fisher

  1. What is a manger? A. a scene depicting Jesus’ birth B. a barn for animals     C. a feed box for animals D. none of these
  1. What did the multitude of angels sing at Jesus’ birth?     A. Go Tell It On the Mountain    B. Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth C. Happy Birthday to You   D. We wish You a Merry Christmas
  1. Who were the first to visit the baby Jesus?   A. The shepherds B. The three wise men   C. The innkeeper and his wife D. The animals
  1. What is a Christmas crèche?   A.   A representation of Christ’s nativity usually with statues or figurines B.   Barn animals    C.   A stable   D. All of the above
  1. When does the Christmas season end?   A. on boxing day B. when the tree dries up     C. celebration of Baptism of the Lord D. Epiphany

What do YOU Know? A Catholic Identity Game for the Whole Community by Peggy O’Neill Fisher

  1. Which gospel tells of the magi?   A. Matthew   B. Mark   C. Luke  D. John
  1. What did the wise men observe and follow? A. GPS B. map C. star D. constellations
  1. What news troubled Herod?   A. The wise men were coming unannounced for a visit to the palace.    B. There was a newborn king of the Jews.   C. There was a census in Bethlehem.    D. The wise men had no host gift for him.
  1. How did the wise ones learn not to return to Herod?   A. premonition B. in a dream C. a sign in the stars D. in a crystal ball
  1. Which Shakespearean play is placed in the time setting of the Epiphany?   A. Romeo and Juliet B. Richard III   C. Midsummer Night’s Dream D. Twelfth Night

BONUS question

  1. What does the word Epiphany mean?   A. showing forth B. manifestation C. revelation D. all of these

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

Jason Bourne – This movie stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons. It continues the story of the intelligence community trying to apprehend Jason. This story integrates real life events including the Snowden hack and political unrest in Greece. This story is about a tortured mind, erased memories, a new platform to give unique online experiences, privacy versus freedom and ‘Big Brother’ watching us. Sometimes I wonder if the popularity of these movies is that ordinary folks learn just what intelligence agencies are capable of doing. Is it a fiction or science fiction movie?   I give this movie ♥♥♥/5 hearts .

A NEW YEAR addition to CCU – A Blog for Eclectic Readers – by Pat Carter csj

Still Life – This is the first time Louise Penney introduces Inspector Gamache, the fictional Quebecois detective who lives in Montreal. This main character is an honest man who works with integrity and a well-developed conscience. I’ve read two later novels in this series, so I decided to go back to the beginning of the series to learn how things progress to where they are in A Great Reckoning (her latest release). We are also introduced to Three Pines as a small community in the middle of “nowhere.” This village, where a murder has taken place, has a group of very provocative characters and families. Themes explored: visual art; bow hunting; homophobia; family secrets. I give this book ☺☺☺☺/5 smiles.

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

“The classical music composer Chopin was Polish.” Huh

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