Catholic Culture Update February 26

Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning February 26, 2017

Quote to carry in your heart this week

“For God alone my soul waits in silence.” Psalm 62

February 26th is the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time. “Anxiety can be debilitating. Fear can not only hold our mind hostage, but can manifest itself through all sorts of physical symptoms. In today’s readings – especially in the gospel – God reveals that he wants humanity to be free from the shackles of fear that can keep us from experiencing the fullness of life. In the gospel, just before Jesus implores his listeners not to worry, he states that we cannot serve two masters. Who is Jesus referring to? The one master is God, but who is the other? Evil? Satan? In a way yes, but in another way, Jesus may be referring to a more specific manifestation of evil. Evil can hold our hopes, fears and expectations hostage by crippling us with anxiety. Instead of looking toward God, we can look to fear. We cannot therefore serve God, who is Love, and evil, which brings despair and uncertainty. The other master opposed to God is one of ill-will and misery. In the first reading, God reassures Zion’s people. They have not been abandoned to evil. God’s love is beyond worldly limits and therefore cannot be depleted. In today’s world, the media, financial concerns, success all give reason to worry. Some worrying is normal. However, to let anxiety master us, is to give up hope that God is greater than all worldly obstacles.” Andrew Hume, Sunday Missal 2016-2017, Living with Christ, page 168.

Month of MarchMarch is the month of the vernal equinox, when daytime grows equal to nighttime, and spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere. The lengthening days warm the air and help create the March winds. A few days in March are as cold as deep winter, a few are as warm as springtime, and many of the days are stormy. No wonder March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. The struggle against winter is a strong sign of Lent. Summer and winter seem to battle through this month.”  Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 51

Month of St. Joseph – The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of the Lord. St. Joseph was the favourite saint of St. Teresa of Avila, and of many popes, including Pope St. Pius X and Pope [St.] John XXIII, who wrote: “O glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you. You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experience them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God” (Prayer for Workers). Joseph is the patron saint of fathers, of workers, of [Canada], and the universal Church.”   St. Joseph, pray for us!” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 51-52

Shrove Tuesday See

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 – March 1, 2017 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

Friday March 3 – “World Day of Prayer – Prayers will resound today from the first sunrise to the last sunset as groups of women from many Christian expressions of faith and from more than 170 countries intercede for the needs of the world. Each year the women of a different nation prepare for this day by writing a prayer service for all to use. They also express their concerns, believing that, as their motto states, “Informed prayer leads to prayerful action.” The concerns they voice become the yardsticks for selecting grants that are donated to projects in many lands. Those who share in this experience increase their understanding of other cultures, increase their faith, and develop their gifts. The ecumenical organization [Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada] represents women of [Canada] in this annual work of peace and justice.” Companion to the Calendar – A guide to the Saints, Seasons, and Holidays of the Year, Second Edition, page 5. This year the prayer has been prepared by the Women of the Philippines. The theme is “Am I Being Unfair to You?” For the prayer and many other resources on this theme go to

Walking Forward Together in Hope ~ a quote for the week

One day we will walk with our brothers and sisters from every part of the world in harmony and peace. Pat Carter

Mental Health

Of course, we hope that  students will approach someone in their school community if they need help, but sometimes it is very difficult for some of them to do so. To honour those students there are many resources for youth online to assist them during these difficult times. Some of these websites are helpful particularly with youth who struggle with mental health issues. You may want to post these websites in your classroom. Here are a few that are highly recommended: Kids Help Phone > free, anonymous, and confidential phone and online professional counselling service for youth. Youth can call or post about big or small concerns. Available 24/7, year round. Telephone 1-800-668-6868 or ; Mental Health and High School, A Guide for Students > a Canadian Mental Health Association online initiative, has tools for youth who are having mental health problems. They can use these tools to help them get through high school and go on to work or further studies at college or university. ; Mind Your Mind > is an outline space for youth and emerging adults to get information and resources during tough times. It’s a space for young people to find help for themselves and others. It’s also a space to share what they live and know.

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. We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.

There are many resources available to help us to know about this experience of residential schools. Inform yourself, so you can be an ally.

New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Living in Communion ~ Hope Expectations for Intermediate Classes

  • Strive to integrate faith with all arenas of their life, personal, social, academic, etc. in order to show God’s love and promote God’s reign on earth;
  • Appreciate what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ and accept the responsibility of this gift;
  • Appreciate the role of the Holy Spirit in initiating believers into the communion of saints, forming them for a life of service and promoting in them a holy and virtuous life.

Grade Seven LC 2.2: Using particular saints as examples, outline the process of how a person becomes recognized as a saint (i.e. holy man or woman) by the Church. [CCC nos. 946-975] I would invite your students to research your school patron saint to learn more about the holy man or woman. If your school has the name of Holy Cross or Holy Name of Jesus, I would suggest that your students select a saint that they are connected to, i.e. St. Joseph who is the patron saint of Canada or St. Teresa of Calcutta (who was canonized this September.) Or if their name is John/Jennifer > the student selects their personal patron saint. Generically, a person becomes recognized as a saint by how they live, work, and serve people. They live a prayerful and holy life of virtue. Once someone recognizes his/her goodness, that person gets other people to notice. The potential saint has to die. Step 1 – If the people continue to be inspired by the life of the holy person, then they ask the local bishop to investigate the holy person’s life. If the bishop finds sufficient evidence to support the claim, then he presents the information to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Step 2 – The Congregation reads the information and can reject or support the bishop’s information. If accepted, the Congregation begins its own investigation into the life of the person. The person is referred to as a Servant of God at this stage. Step 3 – The Congregation declares that the person lived a good and holy life while on earth; this is not a declaration that the person is in heaven. The Congregation approves of the person as a potential candidate for sainthood. Step 4 – A miracle performed through the intercession of the person is proof that the person is in fact in heaven. Most of the time the miracle is a healing. The healing must be verified by independent doctors and proved real by scientists. Once that verification is over, it is up to the pope to approve the canonization. The person is now referred to as Blessed. Step 5 – A second miracle is required and it needs to go through the verification process like the first. If approved by the pope is then canonized a Saint.

Grade Eight LC 1.1: Select and use passages from the New Testament to describe the meaning of “Church as community” (e.g. Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:3-13; Matt 5:13-16; Hebrews 10:24-25; John 15:1-2) and state how the communal nature of the Church witnesses to the reign of God in the world through the Holy Spirit. [CCC nos. 702-732]

Passage of Scripture Church as community How communal nature of Church witnesses to reign of God in the world through the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:42-47 Those who believed in Jesus started to live differently by selling their possessions and share the proceeds within the community.   They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to prayer, and to the breaking of bread. By the way the community was living they gave witness to the reign of God. The Holy Spirit helped them to give witness to this new life in Christ and their numbers increased. You will know if someone is living rightly by the fruit that they bear.
Romans 12: 3-13 Paul is instructing the community in Rome about how to live. Each member (person) will be given gifts from God to use for the good of the community. Paul reminds the members to love, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. If the community follows Paul’s guidance, they will bear witness to the Holy Spirit and to God’s kingdom on earth.   The gifts given to members of the community are for the benefit of the community, not personal gain.
Matthew 5:13-16 Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. When we allow God’s Holy Spirit to act through our actions, we give witness to what is possible and help God’s kingdom come.
Hebrews 10:24-25 The community is invited to encourage each member to love and good deeds, to meet together in order to encourage one another. The community gives witness to God’s kingdom by showing love to each member, by performing good deeds, by spending time together and by encouraging one another. It may not be easy to do all this. The Holy Spirit helps us when it is not easy. This is how God’s witnesses give proof to God’s reign.
John 15: 1-2 Jesus is the vine and God is the vinegrower. We are the branches. When we bear fruit, God prunes the branch so it may bear more fruit. When we live, and move and have our being with God, we show others how to live, move and have their being with God. We are helpers (branches) in the kingdom of God in the world.


Twenty-first Century Learning

  • > Supporting communities to Create Places Where All Youth Thrive
  • > Two minute video on Lent and Ash Wednesday
  • > social justice organization that works with many Christian churches to do the work of justice in Canada
  • > Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Become a member of D&P this year for free. It is their 50th anniversary as Canada’s Catholic Justice voice. Add your voice to theirs.
  • > Catholic Women’s League > does much justice work locally and nationally
  • > New Jesuit website on Truth and Reconciliation
  • > A website that explores the science of a meaningful life
  • > World Community for Christian Meditation – Canada part of the site > This is a site for Christian Meditation for teachers and students alike.
  • > 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

“John Bosco ~ Would you expect a saint to be an acrobat, a juggler, a magician? Well, John Bosco was all of those! His main work was to help poor boys – to teach them a trade so they could earn a living and to teach them about God so they could have a happy life. He himself knew what it was like to be poor. When John Bosco entered the seminary to become a priest, he had to rely on charity for his priestly clothes. He got a cloak from the parish priest, a cassock from a parishioner, a pair of shoes from a friend, and his hat from the mayor! When John Bosco first started working with the boys, they were a rowdy lot. John tried to be strict, but they paid little attention – so then he decided to be fun. Each Sunday he would have a combination lesson-play time. He would mix his funny acrobatic stunts and magic tricks in with the lessons, and the boys would laugh and learn at the same time. Finally, John Bosco was able to get enough money to open a HOME for boys PLUS a workshop to teach them to become shoemakers and tailors. His mother, “Mama Margaret,” helped and soon others helped too. Within a few years, his followers had spread all across the world, opening homes to help poor boys get a good start in life. But probably none of John’s followers were as good acrobats, jugglers, and magicians as their saintly leader! Do YOU think that to be a good Catholic, you have to be somber and serious, always praying but never laughing? Well, think again! A Christian should be FILLED with the joy of God – so follow the example of John Bosco and put on a happy face!” pages 84-85

What’s your Catholic IQ? A self-assessment for your fun and enlightenment by David O’Brien from page 40

Test Your Catechism Knowledge

  1. Which book contains an official summary of all Catholic teachings?  A  the Bible B. the Catechism of the Catholic Church  C. the Gospel    D. the Catholic Encyclopedia
  1. The Pope wrote the Catechism. T or F
  1. The word catechesis, in Greek, means __________________________?  A. Sunday school B. to give tests C. to teach   D. to echo
  1. The Catechism is called “universal” because it was written for _______________________.  A. the universal Church B. people who like Star Wars C. people who study planets   D. aliens
  1. The head catechist in a parish is the _______________________.  A. high school principal B. Grade 2 math teacher C. pastor   D. Pope

What’s your Catholic IQ? A self-assessment for your fun and enlightenment by David O’Brien from page 40

Test Your Catechism Knowledge

  1. The current universal catechism is the first catechism ever written. T or F
  1. The _______________________ is the head catechist in the diocese.  A. youth minister B. local pastor C. bishop    D. pope
  1. The Catechism was primarily for children. T or F
  1. St. _______________________ was the Pope when the universal catechism was written.   A. Jesus B. Francis C. John    D. John Paul II
  1. Before the Bible was written, people were taught about Jesus by his _________________________.  A. enemies B. apostles C. angels    D. grandparents

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

The Man Who Knew Infinity – This movie was released in 2015, and had its world gala presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival. Dev Patel plays Ramanujan, an intuitive mathematical genius from Madras, India who did not have a formal education. He gains admittance to Cambridge University in Britain and is tutored by G.H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons). What was inspiring to me was that Ramanujan spent his pre-Cambridge days in the hallway of the Hindu Temple working out mathematical problems. When asked in the last days of his life (in the movie) how he came to have the knowledge that he had, he says that God speaks to him. I give this movie ♥♥♥♥♥/5 hearts.

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

Divine Renovation – From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish by Fr. James Mallon. I have not completed reading this book but it is a fascinating read. It describes what has happened to the church since the Second Vatican Council. James believes that we have forgotten our raison d’être: we are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. This book explores what it would mean if we all took up our baptismal call to evangelize those around us. We have been invited to the New Evangelization beginning with Paul VI and every pope since has renewed the invitation for us all to be part of it.   I give this book ☺☺☺.5/5 smiles.

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

“Did you know that there are 5280 feet in a mile?” Huh!!

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