FROM OUR EDITORS—April 29, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ April 23, 2018

226

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

We all want our lives to “bear much fruit.” We like our efforts to be productive. We like to see results!

Sometimes, we may fail to acknowledge God’s part in our accomplishments and claim all the credit for ourselves.

All that we accomplish—all the fruit we bear—is because of God’s life within us. The fruits of our efforts—when we remember to give God appropriate credit and appreciation for our gifts and talents—will be accompanied by the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.

Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” We keep our connection to our life’s source strong through daily prayer and frequent reception of Holy Communion. Thanking God for the gifts, talents, and opportunities we have to do great things will help us stay firmly attached to our life source, make our efforts truly fruitful, and lead us to experience the Fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

 

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Patrice THEBAULT/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—April 22, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ April 16, 2018

230

Happy Easter! And Happy Earth Day!

Easter and Earth Day go hand in hand when we consider this Sunday’s Gospel about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Just as a shepherd is entrusted with the care of his sheep, God entrusts us to care for the earth as good stewards. A month ago, Pope Francis reminded us via Twitter: “To defend the earth and to safeguard water is to protect life” (@Pontifex 3/22/18).

Children of all ages can be encouraged to take to heart their responsibility to care for our earth and its resources. From conserving water and paper in our schools and homes to picking up trash and recycling, young people can be challenged to become more mindful of caring for the earth, our common home. Find out more about Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution here

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: NASA

FROM OUR EDITORS—April 15, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ April 9, 2018

“Do not be afraid of holiness,” Pope Francis tells us in his new apostolic exhortation, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World (Gaudete et exsultate). Find a brief and inspiring video introduction to his message here.

Pope Francis tells us, “A Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness” (19). “That mission has its fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him…. It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and rising anew with him” (20).

Pope Francis continues: “You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world” (23).

Pope Francis writes to each of us, those he calls “the middle class of holiness” (7). We belong to this group if we “reflect God’s presence” (7). He encourages us to live holy lives since “Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church” (9). Pope Francis uses the Beatitudes and Matthew 25 (Works of Mercy) to show us how to be holy. He also warns us to guard ourselves from the powers of evil.

As catechists and parents, your mission of holiness directly affects the children in your care. Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation should give you pause to consider how well your life shines the light of holiness for the children in your life. In a world and culture that pressure us to choose self over God and others, may you constantly and conscientiously choose the path of holiness.

As we endeavor to travel the path of holiness with you, we pray for you—and ask you to pray for us—so that our combined efforts may bear fruit in the lives of all children using the Gospel Weeklies.

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: M.MIGLIORATO/CPP/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—April 1 & 8, 2018 – Easter & 2nd Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ March 27, 2018

212

Happy Easter!

Saint Augustine said: “We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!” I have loved that quotation since I first heard it years ago. It helps me look at our faith as based on the miracle of the Resurrection and all that it promises.

When I was a child, my logic told me that Christmas is more important than Easter. After all, I argued, if Jesus hadn’t been born at Christmas, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate Easter. My mother tried to convince me of Easter’s greater importance, but I was a hard sell.

I am now completely sold on the importance of Easter! (The Incarnation is a close second, of course!) Helping with my parish RCIA process has been a wonderful way to anticipate and celebrate Easter every year. The coming of spring could be viewed as evidence of Creation joining in our Easter celebration.

Saint Augustine also said: “A Christian is an Alleluia from head to toe.” May you find joy throughout the celebration of this Easter season. And may your joy make you “an Alleluia from head to toe.”

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: BABAROGA/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—March 25, 2018 – Palm/Passion Sunday

Author: Joan McKamey ~ March 20, 2018

210

The two Gospels for this day—the only Sunday of the Liturgical Year when two Gospels are proclaimed—begin with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem amid cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” and end with the events of his Passion and Death. We begin by remembering Jesus’ welcome as Messiah and carry blessed branches in procession. A short time later, we are members of the crowd crying, “Crucify him!” I guess it’s a day to reflect on our own fickle human nature—and how quickly life events can shift our spirit from hope to despair.

Even the name for this Sunday reflects this. It’s officially called Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. This day introduces us to the bookends of Holy Week—Jesus’ triumphal entry and his Death just days later. We, unlike those who first experienced these events of Holy Week, know that Christ’s Resurrection soon follows. May this realization help us to better appreciate their despair on Good Friday and their joy and amazement as news of the Resurrection spread among them on Easter.

On which of these two Gospels do you tend to focus? Why?

How can you best convey the spirit and meaning of this day—and all the events of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum—to the children in your home and classroom?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—March 18, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ March 12, 2018

206

Planning ahead? Find resources for March 25th here.

With this Sunday’s lesson, we begin Unit 4 of this year’s Pflaum Gospel Weeklies Faith Formation Program. We also move closer to remembering and celebrating the big events of Jesus’ Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. Together, these events are known as the Paschal Mystery. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus alludes to his upcoming suffering and Death—and the glorification that is to follow. The glory of the Resurrection is dependent on Jesus’ suffering and Death. Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday.

The lesson of the Paschal Mystery is important for all of us—and for the children in our lives as well. As followers of Jesus, our lives must mirror his. We too will suffer. And, like Jesus, we too will find that suffering can lead to new life—a lesson learned, greater sensitivity to others, stronger faith, renewed hope, a strengthened relationship, a new perspective. Jesus shows us that our suffering can have meaning and will lead to Easters in our own lives.

A grain of wheat must die to produce a harvest. Grains from the harvest are crushed to make flour for bread that will nourish others. We too must die to self to serve our Lord and his people.

What experience of suffering has led you to an Easter experience of renewed faith and hope?

Through what current suffering might Christ be inviting you to new life in him?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Axente Vlad/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—March 11, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ March 6, 2018

202

As we prepare for the final Sunday in Unit 3 of the Gospel Weeklies, we note that it’s also Laetare Sunday. Much like Gaudete Sunday in Advent, Laetare Sunday is a day for joy, a day to recognize the midway point in our Lenten journey. Flowers may be used at the altar on this Sunday, and the priest may wear rose (or violet) vestments. It’s a day to rejoice that God sent Jesus into the world as light and truth to save us from the darkness of sin and evil.

In parishes where there are adults or young people preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, the Sunday Gospel may be from the Year A readings instead of the one covered in the Weeklies (Year B). The Year A Gospel is about Jesus healing the man born blind. The theme of Jesus as the light certainly ties in with this Gospel as well. If you are using the Gospel Weeklies with children preparing for Baptism at Easter, find resources here.

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—March 4, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 27, 2018

201

Why is it difficult for many of us to think of Jesus feeling and displaying anger? Do we believe he had human emotions but, in our minds, limit him to the gentle, kind, and loving ones?

Sunday’s Gospel about Jesus cleansing the Temple can challenge us to recognize that Jesus was fully human and shared in all human emotions. In this case, he expresses anger about his Father’s house being turned into a marketplace. His disciples recall the words of Psalm 69: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (10).

How do you share your difficult feelings with God in prayer?
How do you express your own zeal for God’s house in
     Your parish church?
     The Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist?
     The Christ in other people?
     Your own body as a temple of the Holy Spirit?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—February 25, 2018 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 20, 2018

192

“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” These are God the Father’s words about Jesus at the Transfiguration. God speaks in the imperative, making his words a command. Do it! He leaves us no wiggle room. He tells us to listen to Jesus—not only when it’s convenient but also when it feels inconvenient, not only when it’s popular but also when it’s unpopular, not only when we’re wide awake but also when we’re tired, not only when we have time but also when we’re busy… You get the picture. “Listen to him.”

Lent is a good time to make sure that we’re tuning in to the voice of Jesus. In the midst of so much noise and static, we need to focus our attention on the sound of his voice…and listen to him. Really listen. Not like I sometimes “listen” to my husband. Oh, I hear him speaking, but my mind is often focused on something else. I’m not truly listening.

We find the words of Jesus in the Gospels. We hear the words of Jesus in our hearts…IF we open the Bible to read the Gospels and listen to the Word proclaimed at Mass and IF we quiet our minds and bodies in order to hear Jesus speaking to our hearts through prayer.

How well are you listening to God’s beloved Son? What noises do you need to tune out in order to better “tune in” to our Savior’s voice?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: pexels.com [CC0]

 

FROM OUR EDITORS—February 18, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 13, 2018

188

 

Find Lenten activities at the end of this reflection.
Find Lessons for RCIA Scrutinies here
.

This Sunday’s Gospel begins with “The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.” I find this wording striking and worth reflection. The Spirit drove him. This word means to compel, force, or prod. Perhaps Jesus, in his humanity, was much like us and needed to be prodded to do things that would be good for him (and others) but that would involve some sacrifice. Jesus knew the day was coming when he would begin his public ministry, yet he also knew that this would lead to opposition, rejection, and execution. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert for a period of fasting and prayer in preparation for all that was to come.

Whether we look forward to Lent for the opportunity to focus on ways to grow closer to our Lord or feel as if our whole year has been a Lent of sorts, the Holy Spirit and the Church prod us to use these 40 days well. Make your sacrifice this Lent count for something. Choose an action that will help bring you closer to our Lord and the person he calls you to be. Whether that is sacrificing some sleep or screen time for prayer or cutting out an indulgence that will help you be more mindful of those who have less, make it count. (Doing something extra also involves sacrifice.) Keep in mind the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. We pray that you will respond willingly to the Holy Spirit’s prodding and trust that God will lead you through personal sacrifice to the abundance of his Kingdom.

We have quite a few Lenten resources to share. You may use some now as Lent begins and throughout the season:

Seeds: Lent Begins (English and Spanish)
Promise: What Jesus Asks Us to Do in Lent (English and Spanish)
Good News: Let’s Learn About Lent
Good News: What Is Lent All About?
Venture: Get Your Lenten Facts Together
Venture: Grade Yourself This Lent
Visions: What Is Lent All About?
Visions: A Quiz for Champions at the Beginning of Lent
Visions: Analogies for Lent
Catholic Culture: A Prayer Service for Ash Wednesday
Catholic Culture: Lenten Fast and Abstinence
Catholic Culture: Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: P.RAZZO/CIRIC

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