Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of November 7, 2011!
Congratulations to Anna Dickan!
Anna will receive a copy of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, a a $18.95 value.
Help youth understand the meaning of Christian prayer. Introduce them to traditional and devotional prayers of the Church, as well as to contemporary styles and methods. Assist youth in developing the habit of daily prayer. This all-in-one resource for prayer forms was specially written for teens, in the PRAY IT! STUDY IT! LIVE IT!® model, like The Catholic Youth Bible® and The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth. It is the most expansive prayer book for teens. But The Catholic Youth Prayer Book does more than teach about prayer. It helps teens become prayerful people.
The Catholic Youth Prayer Book
ISBN: 978-0-88489-559-6, paper, 232 pages
focus on faith
Blessing for Those Participating in the National Catholic Youth Conference
As I mentioned last week in the Servant Leader, 20,000 Catholic teens and adults will be gathering in Indianapolis this week for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). NCYC is an exciting and faith-giving event that occurs every two years. The dates of NCYC this year are November 17 to November 19, and the theme of the gathering is “Called to Glory.” Participants will hear exciting speakers, celebrate moving liturgies, play energizing games, and be entertained by talented musicians. Participants will also be affirmed in their faith by the witness of their peers and adults.
I would like to invite you to support those attending NCYC through your prayers. We call all to join in prayer for their safe journey, their spiritual growth, and a renewal of their commitment to their faith. Below is a prayer of blessing from the “Order for the Blessing of Pilgrims on their Departure.” Please join us in offering this prayer for all those attending NCYC, and as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
“Prayer of Blessing”
you always show mercy toward those who love you
and you are never far away for those who seek you.
Remain with your servants on this holy pilgrimage
and guide their way in accord with your will.
Shelter them with your protection by day,
give them the light of your grace by night,
and, as their companion on the journey,
bring them to their destination in safety.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
(From The Book of Blessings [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1989], p. 213. Copyright © 1987 by the ICEL.)
make it happen
From Community Building Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens
This strategy challenges the young adolescents to work as a team to mimic common items and machines, using only their bodies. This is a good exercise to bring down group barriers because everyone on the team has to be involved in some way.
About 20 minutes
This strategy works with any size group, but the sculptures must be created in teams no larger than six people.
- index cards or small pieces of paper, at least one for each team
- a pen or a pencil
Preparation. Write one of each of the following items on an index card or a piece of paper. You will need at least one item for every six people in your group.
If you have more than sixty participants, think of additional similar items, and create cards or papers for them as well.
- dump truck
- washing machine
- telephone booth
- sewing machine
- hot air balloon
- garbage disposal
- school bus
- grandfather clock
1. Divide the participants into small groups of no more than six people. Tell them that their group will be given a card or a piece of paper with an item written on it. They are not to show that item to any other group. Their task is to prepare and present a human sculpture pantomime of their item. The group can use only group members’ bodies and sound effects to form the sculpture. Props are not allowed. Everyone in the group must be involved in some way in the sculpture.
2. Give each group one of the cards or pieces or paper. Announce that everyone has 10 minutes to prepare their sculpture. If possible send each group to a different room to prepare.
3. After 10 minutes call the groups back together. Have them take turns presenting their human sculpture to the other groups. After each performance encourage the rest of the young teens to guess what item was being depicted.
If time allows let each group prepare and present a second sculpture.
4. Lead a discussion on the following questions:
Who in the group came up with at least one creative idea for the sculpture?
How did it feel to be planning something like this together?
How did it feel when you presented the sculpture together?
How is doing this human sculpture like being part of a family, a church, an athletic team, or a performing group?
5. Close the activity by commenting on the young people’s creativity, imagination, and problem-solving abilities.
Challenge the groups to come up with their own idea for a pantomime. Set certain criteria, such as it must be a machine, it must be used in a house or a school, it must be something one uses on vacation, and so forth. You may want to allow a little more time for preparation because they have to come up with an item before they figure out how to pantomime it.
- Rom. 12:1–8 (We each have different gifts.)
- 1 Cor. 12:12–13 (We are members of one body.)
- Gal. 3:28 (We are equal in our Baptism.)
break open the word
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
November 20, 2011
Jesus, at this time in history, so many people lack the basics. With the help of your grace, make me ever mindful of people's needs, especially those affected by natural disasters and poverty. Give me the courage to respond in meaningful and constructive ways to ease their suffering. Amen.
On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church directs our attention to the Last Judgment. The author helps us to grasp this future reality by using images from the world in which he lived. Separating sheep from goats is one of those images. At the end of each day shepherds, who had been grazing their sheep and goats together, would separate them. The sheep were left outside in the open air, and the goats, which were more sensitive to the cold, were brought inside.
The shepherd in this story is Jesus, the Son of Man who Christians believe will return at the Final Judgment to judge all humankind. "And he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (25:32). The sheep find themselves on Jesus's right side, a place of honor, and the goats on his left. In antiquity the left side often had negative connotations. In this instance it is a place of dishonor or shame. The king, or judge, in the story says to those at his right side, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (25:34). The reason these "sheep" were found worthy of such a great reward is immediately clear: "I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me" (25:36). These sheep, these blessed ones who have been singled out for honor, are bewildered, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? . . . A stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? . . . Sick or in prison and visited you" (25:37-39)? The king (judge) responds, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (25:40). Those who were saved, that is, rewarded with eternal life, lived the Gospel. They loved others in the same way they loved God.
The focus of the story then shifts to the "goats," to those who cannot escape the shame of neglecting others. Their fate is opposite that of the sheep; they are sent to hell, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire" (25:41). The reason these goats met with the worst of punishments is also clear, "I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me" (25:42-43). They too are bewildered, or confused, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" (25:44). The king (judge) gives them this answer, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" (25:45). This judgment scene is simple but dramatic. The fates of those who love and serve and those who do not are crystal clear. The Gospel's message for the last three weeks has been one of consistent warning: all of us--all people--must prepare for the return of the Son of Man. To enter the Kingdom of heaven we must love and serve others in the same way we love and serve God. In this Sunday's Gospel time has run out. The rules, which were known by everyone all along, were followed by some and ignored by others. Nonetheless, all will be held accountable for their actions.
When Jesus comes at the end of the world, he will sit on the judgment seat to judge humankind. In his presence the truth will be known and revealed. The good that individuals did or failed to do throughout their earthly life will be made known. Their fate will hinge on how well they served their neighbors, especially the disadvantaged.
"The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'"1 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1932).
These good deeds that Christians perform in service to their neighbors are known as charity, or works of mercy. More specifically, the spiritual works of mercy assist others in their spiritual development, and the corporal works of mercy assist others in their physical sustenance, that is, maintaining their physical well-being. Out of charity, Christians give what they can to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, who are usually those whom society selfishly ignores. These acts of charity are infinite. Each of us can find a uniquely effective way of being charitable.
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.2 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.3 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:4
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food must do likewise.5 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.6 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?7 (Catechism, paragraph 2447)
Our commitment to the poor is part of our profession of faith in Jesus Christ. When we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, we encounter those whom he loves the most: the poor, the disadvantaged. We will never know Jesus if we cannot recognize him in the poor of our world.
The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:
You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother, . . . . You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. . . . God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.8 (Catechism, paragraph 1397)
The hope of every Catholic who gathers for the Eucharist is that Jesus will come to us in his body and blood on the altar. It is the Eucharist that provides spiritual nourishment as well as an antidote to death. The Eucharist makes it possible to live forever in Jesus, to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
The Church knows that the Lord comes even now in his Eucharist and that he is there in our midst. However, his presence is veiled. Therefore we celebrate the Eucharist "awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ,"9 asking "to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our Lord."10 (Catechism, paragraph 1404)
The Final Judgment is just that, final judgment. We better get it right. There's no excuse; the rules are clear and simple. Those who do good deeds in their lives will be rewarded by being invited into the Kingdom of heaven, but those who fail to do good will be condemned. These good deeds are far from mysterious: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and giving drink to the thirsty. According to Matthew, all humanity will be judged; acts of kindness performed for the poor and suffering will be the focal point of the Final Judgment. These acts of kindness become the prerequisites for entry into the Kingdom of heaven. Those who will be rewarded with eternal life are those who will have responded to those in need. Faith propels us to work for justice. We are wise to pay attention to those who are most in need, "the least of these who are members of my family" (25:40).
On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, Matthew spells out what is expected of those who call themselves disciples of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes again in glory, as Christ the King, instances of each of us showing Godlike compassion to others will come to light. We are obliged, therefore, to perform acts of kindness whenever possible.
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 taken from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. Copyright © 1988 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved.
Endnotes Cited in Quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1. Matthew 25:40.
2. Cf. Isaiah 58:6-7; Hebrews 13:3.
3. Cf. Matthew 25:31-46.
4. Cf. Tobit 4:5-11; Sirach 17:22; Matthew 6:2-4.
5. Luke 3:11.
6. Luke 11:41.
7. James 2:15-16; cf. 1 John 3:17.
8. St. John Chrysostom, Hom. In 1 Corinthians 27:4: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Graeca 61 (Paris: 1857-1866), 229-230; cf. Matthew 25:40.
9. Roman Missal 126, embolism after the Our Father; expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi; cf. Titus 2:13.
10. Eucharistic Prayer III 116: prayer for the dead
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
November 18 is the feast day for Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne joined the Visitation nuns in 1788 at the age of 19. During the French Revolution, her convent was closed, but she continued to live out her vows as a laywoman. In 1805 she was able to make her final vows into the Society of the Sacred Heart. At the age of 49, she traveled to the Louisiana Territory to help establish the presence of the Society of the Sacred Heart in America. She was responsible for the founding of the first free school west of the Mississippi River. At the age of 71, she set out to evangelize the Potawatomi tribe. She was known to the tribe as “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.”
For more information on Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saintr20.htm.