Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of November 21, 2011!
Congratulations to Denise Voithofer!
Denise will receive a copy of The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition, a $19.95 value.
The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition is an understandable and down-to-earth guide to all things Catholic. This book is an eye-opener and a page-turner, whether you are brushing up on specific Catholic terms and concepts or learning them for the first time.
The Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has found this catechetical text, copyright 2008, to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Now Available! Online correlation to the U.S. Bishops' High School curriculum framework Click here!
The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition
ISBN: 978-0-88489-987-7, paper, 480 pages
Focus on Faith
Reflecting on the Mass and Sunday Gospel Reading
Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to be in Philadelphia speaking to a group of Catholic high school religion teachers. As a part of the gathering, I got to hear about a resource titled “Do This in Memory of Me,” developed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for families, schools, and parishes. I was so impressed with this resource, I asked if I could share it with readers of the Servant Leader. This monthly document provides a brief reflection on the Mass followed by a discussion question addressing the topic. Additionally, the monthly resource identifies the Sunday Gospel readings for the month and a question for reflecting on the reading. As we prepare for the implementation of the revised Roman Missal at the start of Advent, this is a wonderful opportunity to invite our youth and families into regular reflection on the Mass and the Sunday Gospels. I want to say thank you to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for allowing me to share this resource with you, and if your school, community, or diocese has something you think the readers of the Servant Leader could benefit from, please let me know. I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Make It Happen
Piecing Together the Puzzle
From Gather Faithfully: Inviting Teens into Liturgical Ministries
- To bring understanding concerning how the individual pieces of the liturgy connect to the whole
- To have the participants understand that they are vital members of the Body of Christ
- a candle
- matches or a lighter
- a photograph of the school or church and a photo of students or parish youth, enlarged to poster size, then cut into “jigsaw puzzle” pieces
- two pieces of poster board, large enough to hold the completed photographs
- bibles, one for each participant
- A copy of resource 1, “Quotes from the Acts of the Apostles 3:1–10,” cut apart with each quote on a separate slip of paper
Gather the participants around a candle. Select a leader and a reader from among the participants and give one participant the matches or lighter. Ask the reader to prepare to proclaim Ephesians 4:1–6.
Leader: We have arrived physically. Now let’s take a moment to arrive in our hearts and spirits as well. (Allow for a few moments of silence.)
Leader: As a reminder that we all received the light of faith at our Baptism, we will light the candle and begin. (At this point, the participant with the matches or lighter may light the candle.)
Leader: Let’s begin together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Reading: Ephesians 4:1–6
Leader: LORD our God, and Father of all, it is you who calls us together and gives us purpose. It is you who brings together our gifts and our hearts.
Unite us as a community of believers, that through our ministries, the people of God may experience your touch when we gather to worship. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus our LORD. Amen.
1. Divide the participants into ten groups. Ten groups is the optimal number for this session; if this is too large of a number for your group, please create smaller groups. After the participants are in their groups, prompt them with the following to help facilitate a conversation:
Please go around and introduce yourselves. After the introductions, share with each other the answers to these questions about teams:
- What is your all-time favorite team? This could be a sports team, music group, or any other ensemble.
- When have you most felt like you were part of a successful team?
After allowing time for the participants to talk, distribute the bibles and invite them to turn to the Acts of the Apostles 3:1–10. Invite a young person to read the passage.
2. After the passage has been read, distribute one quote from the resource to each of the groups. Allow the groups enough time to respond to their question or statement.
3. Invite a person from each group to read their question or statement to the larger group and to share some of the responses provided.
4. After each group has offered their thoughts, draw out the following points:
- The Scripture passage from the Acts of the Apostles serves as a reminder that we are called to be ministers at times we don’t expect.
- These unexpected times to be God’s witnesses originate from our participation in the Eucharistic liturgy.
- In liturgy, we bring our life experiences to our prayer and leave that prayer ready to be a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ at every moment of the day.
5. After offering these reflections on the Scripture, distribute all but four of the pieces to the puzzles among the young people. Place the two pieces of poster board in the middle of the room and instruct the young people to put together the puzzles.
6. After all but the four pieces are in place, offer the following words to the young people:
- The Eucharistic liturgy is a harmonized work of God’s people that becomes a gift to God.
- In this coordinated harmonized work, every ministry and every person is important. (At this point, place the remaining pieces into the puzzles.)
- The ministries we are about to be trained in are absolutely necessary for the liturgy to be a complete celebration.
- In liturgical ministry, we are going to prepare our individual ministry toward the goal of building up our entire school or parish community.
- As we go forward into these ministries, we should be changed into people who are ready to minister outside of the Eucharistic liturgy as well—ready to be a witness to the Gospel at any place or at any time.
7. To conclude the session, gather the participants in a circle and read Acts of the Apostles 3:1–10 once again. Offer this closing prayer:
Our savior and our healer, we do not have much. But you take what we have and make it into something far greater than we can imagine. As we have answered your call to be liturgical ministers, may we grow spiritually and grow closer to you. May we see ourselves as members of your body and see that we all have gifts to share. Bless us, our ministries, and the community we will serve. We ask this through Christ the LORD. Amen.
Break Open the Word
First Sunday of Advent
November 270, 2011
Jesus, at your Ascension you entrusted to us, your disciples, the responsibility of spreading the Good News of your Gospel. As pilgrims on a faith journey, help us to be watchful and ready for your return. Give us the strength and self-discipline to be faithful disciples who spread your Word throughout the world. Amen.
As the first Sunday in Advent ushers in a new liturgical year, the Gospel passage from Mark, chapter 13, warns us to "keep alert" (13:33). The entire chapter can be described as apocalyptic, which is a literary form that speaks about the end time with the promise of a new creation. The purpose of apocalyptic literature is to offer hope in time of persecution. Mark calls on the Christian community to persevere in their faith even in the darkest times of persecution. According to Mark, we have to be alert missionaries as we live out our faith. Unless we are aware, we will squander the opportunity to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with which we have been entrusted. Most of chapter 13 speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus, the theme of the season of Advent. During this season we see ourselves as the pilgrim church on earth awaiting the return of Jesus in his full glory. Just as Jews continue to wait for the Messiah, we Christians wait with anticipation for the Second Coming of Jesus.
Mark shows himself to be a man of few words: "Beware, keep alert" (13:33). He says to each of us, referring to Jesus's return, "you do not know when the time will come" (13:33). In verse 32 Mark tells us that the exact moment of the Second Coming will remain a mystery, "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (13:32). His message is clear: "Don't bother to figure it out, just go about your business." You may be wondering, "What is our business?" We are to be active and aware missionaries of the Word of God. "It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch" (13:34). Each of us, like the slaves mentioned in that passage, has a specific task to carry out. We have to leave the rest to God. A word of caution is added, "Keep awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn" (13:35). The Christian community of Mark's day expected the return of Jesus to happen in their lifetime. Mark puts the attention on the present, not on the future. If we live our faith at all times instead of worrying about "when," we will be ready, ready to welcome Jesus in his Second Coming. If we heed Mark's words, "Keep awake" (13:37), we will indeed be ready and able to recognize Jesus. So we pray, Maranatha--Come, Lord Jesus.
The first Sunday of Advent initiates a new liturgical year. This has been the norm in the Catholic Church since the tenth century. Advent is a season of expectation. For a period of four weeks we prepare for the Lord's coming. The first part focuses on the Second Coming of Jesus, and the last part focuses on the actual event of Jesus being born. Jesus's birth, God becoming human, we call the mystery of the Incarnation. The mood of the season is one of hopeful anticipation, and it brings to light God's longtime promise of sending a Savior (Messiah) to deliver humankind from sin.
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.1 By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease."2 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 524)
Each time we pray the Our Father, we are focused on the final coming of Jesus, which will complete the Kingdom of God. We understand that we live in the time of the Spirit that was ushered in with Pentecost. This understanding of the Second Coming of Jesus should make us more committed to living as disciples of Jesus the Christ in our present world.
In the Lord's Prayer, "thy kingdom come" refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ's return.3 But, far from distracting the Church from her mission in this present world, this desire commits her to it all the more strongly. Since Pentecost, the coming of that Reign is the work of the Spirit of the Lord who "complete[s] his work on earth and brings us the fullness of grace."4 (Catechism, paragraph 2818)
As Christians we understand the Kingdom of God is a time of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. During this interim, in which we live our faith, an ongoing battle takes place between the Spirit and the flesh. Paul often speaks of this reality. The task of the faithful disciple is to identify what gives growth to the Kingdom of God and what does not. Sometimes what the dominant culture desires is in direct opposition to the ongoing work of building the Kingdom.
By a discernment according to the Spirit, Christians have to distinguish between the growth of the Reign of God and the progress of the culture and society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man's vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, his duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace.5 (Catechism, paragraph 2820)
It is through prayer that a disciple comes to know the will of the Father. In doing the Father's will, a disciple is united in the mission of Jesus Christ in this world and the next. "By prayer we can discern 'what is the will of God' and obtain the endurance to do it.6 Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing 'the will of my Father in heaven'"7 (Catechism, paragraph 2826).
Mark three times sounds the alarm, telling us to stay awake, be alert, be aware. In so doing he highlights the urgency of being prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus. Each disciple has a part to play in spreading the Gospel, which will bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. When Jesus comes again in glory, we will have to account for how good of a job we did. The time of waiting should be compared to anticipating the return of a loved one. The very thought of meeting the Lord generates a peace and joy within the faithful disciple. Nothing can compare to or surpass a face-to-face encounter with the long-awaited Jesus.
Faithful disciples, that is, those who spread the Gospel, do not fear death. For them, there is no fear of the next phase of experiencing God. Throughout their lives they prepare for union with Jesus, though they do not know when it will occur.
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. Cf. Revelation 22:17.
2. John 3:30.
3. Cf. Titus 2:13.
4. Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer IV, 118.
5. Cf. Gaudium et spes 22; 32; 39; 45; Evangelii nuntiandi 31.
6. Matthew 7:21.
7. John 9:31; cf. 1 John 5:14.
Saint John Berchmans
November 26 is the feast day for Saint John Berchmans.
Saint John Berchmans was born in Brabant, Belgium, in 1599. He had a great devotion to his role as an altar server. At the age of 17, he decided to become a Jesuit and entered the novitiate. Before he was able to be ordained, he died at the age of 23 due to unknown causes. Not recognized for founding a religious order or extraordinary acts of holiness, Saint John Berchmans is revered for his fidelity, kindness, and the example he provides by showing that holiness can be found in the ordinary.
For more information on Saint John Berchmans, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-john-berchmans/.