Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of October 31, 2011!
Congratulations to Jason Stanes!
Jason will receive a copy of The Catholic Family Connections Bible, a $26.95 value.
The Catholic Family Connections Bible helps families connect to:
- Each other- through family faith conversations
- Faith through practices of prayer and devotion
- Community-through participating in Christian service together
The Catholic Family Connections Bible uses the New American Bible text and is woven around the core content of the bestselling Catholic Youth Bible® (loved by nearly two million Catholic young people), which includes:
- Over 700 lively articles help you Pray It! Study It! Live It!®
- Catholic Connection” articles provide a presentation of key Catholic doctrine
- 28 articles address the seven principles of Catholic social teaching
- 75 inspirational illustrations
- Helpful index to life and faith issues
- Easy-to-use glossary of Scripture-related terms
- Sunday Lectionary readings for all three cycles
- "Catholic Connections" index
- "Sacraments Connections" index
The Catholic Family Connections Bible
ISBN: 978-1-59982-088-0, paper, 1968 pages
Focus on Faith
Two Feet of Love in Action
Over the past two weeks, The Servant Leader has provided a wonderful reflection on service and justice in relation to young people. As a follow-up to that reflection, I would like to share a new resource with you from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). You are probably familiar with the two feet of social justice. Basically, it is the concept that social justice involves two steps: the first being charity, or direct social service, and the second being justice, or working for larger social change. An example of charity would be conducting a blanket drive for the homeless. A justice-related response would be advocating for public policies that address the causes of homelessness. Both feet are vital in order to promote justice. One deals with immediate needs and the other addresses the root causes of those needs.
Recently the USCCB released an updated version of the two feet of social justice titled “The Two Feet of Love in Action.” The Two Feet of Love in Action presents the same two categories, social justice and charitable works, but frames them not only as the feet of justice but also as the steps on the “Path of Caritas (Love)” that leads to the Kingdom of God. On the USCCB website, the bishops have posted a chart presenting the two feet of love as well as a guide for leading groups in learning and reflecting on “these two distinct, but complementary, ways of responding in love to the needs of our neighbors.” These are wonderful resources for guiding young people in exploring the true meaning of love and justice, particularly now, as we approach the seasons of Advent and Christmas, in which we are bombarded with messages about material possessions. As always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Make It Happen
Thirty-second Sunday of the Year
From Sharing the Sunday Scriptures with Youth: Cycle A
- Wis. 6:12–16
- Ps. 63:2,3–4,5–6,7–8
- 1 Thess. 4:13–18
- Matt. 25:1–13
A major theme of the Scripture readings is “Be prepared.”
In the first reading, God’s wisdom is described in human terms. Wisdom makes sure she is easily found, but we still need to search for her. She is knowledge of God and knowledge of all the good things God has made. Likewise, when we have wisdom, we have relationship with God. Like wisdom, God is always there for us. God calls us through the Scriptures and nature and other people, but we need to look, listen, and respond.
The psalmist has a strong yearning for God, like someone who has been without water for a long time and is driven by thirst. The psalmist praises and glorifies God, who satisfies all our hungers and thirsts. Even at night the psalmist prays and meditates with God.
In the second reading, we hear how members of the Thessalonian church, eagerly waiting for Jesus to return, are saddened when their members begin to die before the Lord comes. Paul consoles them by telling them that God has raised Christ so they can be confident that God will raise all with him. The dead will rise again when Christ returns, and we will rejoin them in the heavens. Nothing can separate us from Jesus, not even death.
The parable of the ten bridesmaids is like the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells a story of ten women waiting to welcome the groom to the wedding celebration. All took torches, but only five brought extra oil. The groom did not arrive until midnight. While the five foolish bridesmaids went to buy more oil, the five sensible ones greeted the groom with bright torches. When the five foolish ones returned, the door was closed and the master refused to let them in. Jesus ends with the admonition, “‘Keep your eyes open, for you know not the day or the hour.’”
This story is about the expected return of Christ. It is not enough to just wait for his final return. We believe that Jesus can come and be present at any time. We have to be prepared at all times.
Themes for Teens
The following themes from the Scriptures relate to the lives of teens:
- Are you ready?
- Search for wisdom.
- God gives us wisdom.
- Be prepared.
- Jesus gives life after death.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
This activity, keyed to all the readings, encourages the young people to make prayer a nightly or daily activity.
Today’s psalm reminds us of the importance of praying to God, even in the nighttime. If the teens do not already have a habit of praying before going to sleep, encourage them to try writing in their journal at this time. Following are some questions and reflections based on today’s readings:
- All of us search for wisdom on our life’s journey. Where can you search for wisdom?
- Write the name of a loved one who has died. Ask Jesus’ help in healing grief for you and your family.
- Jesus is here. If I had more time, I would have . . .
- What can you do to keep your lamp from going out?
- How can you keep the light of Christ burning in your heart?
The following activity ideas also relate to the Scripture readings. You may want to read the passage(s) indicated as part of the activity.
- After sharing today’s second reading, give the teens an opportunity to remember in prayer some of their loved ones who have died. If your parish does not already have a remembrance book, begin one. Place the book by an oil lamp in front of the altar for Mass next time your class or community gathers for worship. You may also want to include the young people’s intentions in the prayer of the faithful. (1 Thess. 4:13–18)
- Wisdom, who is described in today’s first reading, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ask small groups of the teens to pick one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, courage, right judgment, knowledge, reverence, wonder, and awe, and bring it to life as an actual character in a short skit. (Wis. 6:12–16)
Here are three questions for discussion, based on today’s Gospel reading:
- Ask someone to explain the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” How might we apply it to our faith?
- What do you use oil for? cooking? making a bike run smoother? What might the oil in today’s parable symbolize?
- How do you get ready to take a trip, take a test, go out on a date, host a party, play in a big game, or for Jesus to visit?
Break Open the Word
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 6, 2011
Jesus, give us the spiritual discipline to be ready for you at all times, whether you come at an ordinary moment in the day or at the end of time in glory. Amen.
This Sunday's Gospel focuses on the servants of the bridegroom, who were prepared to welcome him home with his bride. In Jesus's day a marriage was prearranged, which meant that the bridegroom's father and the bride's father made contractual arrangements for the marriage to take place. In many, if not most, cases, children were betrothed to each other. A betrothal was the promise of marriage made some time before the celebration of the wedding. The dowry was also negotiated at this time.
The Gospel story opens just as the betrothal period officially draws to a close. The bridegroom, accompanied by his attendants, goes off to the house of the bride to bring her to his home for the wedding celebration. Final arrangements regarding the marriage contract could be made at this time. In the Gospel story these negotiations, in the view of the bridegroom's attendants, take longer than anticipated. In some translations these attendants are referred to as bridesmaids. These bridesmaids were selected by the bridegroom to serve the bride, to cater to her every wish. Later in the story the bridegroom claims not to know five of these bridesmaids, who emerge as foolish maidens for their lack of foresight. The procession that forms around the bride, escorting her to the bridegroom's house, is filled with music and light. Five of the ten bridesmaids, chosen to serve the bride, anticipate that things might take longer than expected and bring extra oil for their lamps. As a result, they are able to join in the festive procession. The other five, however, run off to buy more oil, and the procession passes them by. When they knock at the door, seeking entry into the wedding celebration, the bridegroom replies, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you" (25:12).
Matthew closes with the words, "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (25:13). Keep in mind that this Gospel was written around AD 85. Though many of the Apostles and their followers had died, some were still alive. The Second Coming of Jesus was expected to occur in their lifetime. Matthew wants his community, even if they don't know the exact hour of Jesus's return, to be ready, to be ready to follow him.
As Catholics we believe Jesus died, rose, and will come again. This Sunday's Gospel emphasizes the importance of being ready for Jesus's return. Spiritual readiness is the personal responsibility of every believer. Jesus, through his earthly ministry, ushered in the Kingdom of God, but it is not yet complete. Therefore we must stand ready to carry on the work whenever the Master calls.
In Jesus "the Kingdom of God is at hand."1 He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory.2 In communion with their Master, the disciples' prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.3 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2612)
Before his Ascension, Jesus revealed to his disciples that the fullness of the messianic kingdom would be realized in the future at a time chosen by God alone. However, Jesus clearly pointed out to his followers that the in-between time in which we live is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the gift he promised. The Holy Spirit has empowered and emboldened disciples in every generation to be credible witnesses in a world that still struggles with evil and injustice.
Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel4 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love, and peace.5 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by "distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church;6 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.7 (Catechism, paragraph 672)
The Reign of God is already present within the Church, which is to serve as transformative agent of change in the world. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be builders of the Kingdom of heaven on earth through our watchfulness in faith.
Many humans are on a lifelong quest for wisdom that calls for a high level of vigilance or spiritual readiness. As Christians we believe that God personifies true Wisdom. In seeking wisdom, therefore, we are seeking God. Through the biblical Book of Wisdom, we come to understand that God's wisdom possesses a radiance, which makes it easy to find. In embracing this wisdom one gains an inner radiance. When you first read this story, you may have been struck by the bridesmaids' unwillingness to share their oil. This precious oil, however, represents that which keeps faith alive for the believer. One person cannot give this to another. Each individual must cultivate faith within his or her own heart. Matthew knows this task to be difficult at times. The cares of everyday life can create tremendous pressures and burdens. But in seeking God's wisdom, we will be gifted with the interior strength of grace, which will let our light of faith shine. Matthew also reminds us that Christ comes amid history, in the ordinariness of our daily lives, and for this reason we must undertake the spiritual work to stand ready.
The scriptural quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition. Copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
The quotations labeled Catechism are from the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in the United States of America. Copyright © 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission.
The Lord's Prayer is from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. Copyright © 1988 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved.
Endnotes Cited in Quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1. Mark 1:15.
2. Cf. Mark 13; Luke 21:34-36.
3. Cf. Luke 22:40,46.
4. Cf. Acts 1:6-7.
5. Cf. Isaiah 11:1-9.
6. Cf. Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 7:26; Ephesians 5:16; 1 Peter 4:17.
7. Cf. Matthew 25:1, 13; Mark 13:33-37; 1 John 2:18; 4:3; 1 Timothy 4:1.
Saint Martin de Porres
November 3 is the memorial for Saint Martin de Porres.
Martin de Porres was born in 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed black slave. At the age of 15, he joined the Dominican friary as a servant. Although the friary had a rule against blacks becoming full members, they dropped the rule when they saw Martin’s great piety. He had a great commitment to the poor and to justice for slaves. He established an orphanage and a children’s hospital for the poor. He is an inspirational example of a true commitment to sharing the love of Christ with others.
For more information on Saint Martin de Porres, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-martin-de-porres/.