Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of February 20, 2012!
Congratulations to Raymond Moreno!
Raymond will receive a copy of Catholic Family Connection Bible®, a $26.95 value.
New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)
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
"Let Us Be Concerned for Each Other"
It might be hard to believe, but Ash Wednesday, and the start of the Lenten season, is this Wednesday. I would like to share with you a wonderful Lenten resource to assist you and your community with entering into and experiencing the season. I encourage you to read the 2012 Lenten message from Pope Benedict XVI.
For his Lenten message this year, Pope Benedict XVI chose to focus on the Bible verse Hebrews 10:24, “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.” In his own words, Benedict selected this verse because it “offers a succinct, valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life: concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s message invites us to focus on our call to charity in a special way this Lent. Over the course of this message, he reminds us:
- “Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and holiness.”
- “. . . mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be a part of the life of the Christian community.”
- “The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God.”
These are truths that can benefit us in our ministries and the young people we serve on their faith journey. I invite you to spend time reading and reflecting on this Lenten message from the Holy Father and to consider challenging your youth to do the same. I sincerely wish you a blessed Lenten season and, as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Make It Happen
"Ashes to Reconciliation: A Reconciliation Prayer for Lent"
From Holiday and Seasonal Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens
This prayer can be used during the first week of Lent or any time the sacrament of Reconciliation (also called the sacrament of Penance) is discussed or celebrated.
30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the group
This strategy works best with a group of up to fifteen participants. If your group is larger, recruit adults to help.
- a pillar candle and matches
- 2-by-3-inch pieces of paper, one for each person
- pens or pencils
- a Bible
- empty coffee cans, one for every fifteen people
- a pitcher of water
- tin pie pans, one for every fifteen people
- a tape or CD player, and a recording of reflective music or a Lenten hymn
Preparation. Before the young people arrive, set up a prayer space in the middle of your meeting place. It should include a pillar candle (preferably the parish’s Easter candle) and matches, a Bible, an empty coffee can for every fifteen people in the group, a pitcher of water, a tin pie pan for every fifteen people, and a tape or CD player set to play a recording of reflective music or a Lenten hymn.
1. Gather the young people in a circle around the prayer space. Light a pillar candle. Distribute a small piece of paper and a pen or pencil to each person, but tell the young teens not to write anything until they are instructed to do so. Ask them to close their eyes and listen as you read Matt. 3:1–3.
2. When you finish reading, tell the young people to keep their eyes closed and invite them to consider in what areas of their life they need to repent or reform and what changes they can make. After a few seconds of silence, read the following examen, pausing briefly for each response from the group:
Leader. For the times we have ignored our classmates who feel lonely or left out, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
Leader. For the times we have been rude or disrespectful to our parents, teachers, or other adults who care for us, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
Leader. For the times we have wasted food or taken for granted what we have, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
Leader. For the times we have used other people for our own pleasure or gain by inappropriate behavior or by gossiping or fighting, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
Leader. For the times we have put ourselves down, forgetting that we are created in God’s image and should reflect that image to all we meet, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
Leader. For the times we have not paid attention at Mass or during prayer, we pray . . .
All. O God, forgive us.
After a minute or so of silence, tell the young people to write on their piece of paper one thing they will change.
3. Collect all the papers in one or more coffee cans and burn them. (Put no more than fifteen papers in a single can.) Be sure to have a pitcher of water handy in case the flames get too large. Pour the burned ashes from each coffee can into a tin pie pan and stir them around. Allow about 5 minutes for them to cool. While the ashes are cooling, play some quiet reflective music or a Lenten hymn, and invite the young people to listen in silence and think about the change they will be making. If you think your group will find it difficult to handle 5 minutes of silence without something to help them focus, distribute blank paper and ask the young people to write down other changes they hope to make.
4. When the ashes have cooled, take them to each person and ask, “Are you ready to repent, to leave your sinful ways and to follow the Gospel?” After the young person responds, “Yes,” make the sign of the cross on his or her forehead with ashes.
5. After all the young people have been marked with ashes, gather the group near the candle, and explain that the candle represents the light of Christ, who came into the world to forgive sins. Read Dan. 9:3–4. Then say the following prayer:
Forgive us, O God, for we have sinned against you and your commandments. May we use your guidance to become more faithful followers of the teachings of Jesus. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray for forgiveness. And so we pray together . . . [Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.]
- Invite a priest to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation with the participants before anointing them with ashes.
- Before you read the passage from Matthew’s Gospel, lead the group to list on poster board or newsprint the ways people their age sin. Display this poster for their reference as they think about the area in their life that needs reform.
- Ezek. 18:30–32 (Turn away from sin.)
- Matt. 3:1–4 (Reform your life.)
- Luke 7:44–50 (Your sins are forgiven.)
Break Open the Word
First Sunday of Lent
February 26, 2012
As we focus on this week's Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, let us remember we are in the holy presence of God. As we begin this Lenten season, we pray to you, God, for a conversion of our hearts. Give each of us a heart that is directed toward others, a heart that is like Jesus's heart, a heart that is willing to make sacrifices for others so that they may live better lives. We ask that this Lenten season be a time of prayer, fasting, and caring for others. Amen
Leading up to this week's Gospel, we read that John baptized Jesus and then a voice from heaven said to Jesus, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). This week we read that immediately after Jesus hears the voice from heaven, he is driven into the desert to spend forty days preparing for his public ministry and being tempted by Satan.
Jesus's experiences in the desert bring to mind Israel's forty years in the desert, as recorded in the Book of Exodus. More specifically, Jesus's time in the desert parallels the forty days of fasting that Moses underwent in the wilderness of Sinai (see Deuteronomy 9:9). Moses's fasting led to the revelation of the Ten Commandments. Jesus's fasting led to the beginning of his Galilean ministry and ultimately to our salvation.
In Mark 1:15, Jesus says, "The time is fulfilled." The Greek translation of the Bible uses the word kairos for "time," and it implies that this is an opportune time, a special time, a time of fulfillment. Kairos does not have the same meaning as the Greek word chronos, which means "chronological time." What was so opportune and special about this moment? Jesus tells us: "The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news" (Mark 1:15). Here Jesus is asking for repentance, for a change of heart, for metanoia, literally "a turning and moving toward God."
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a period of forty days during which we prepare for the significant events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, Jesus is crucified. Three days later, on Easter Sunday, he is resurrected. These events are central to our understanding of the redemptive actions of Jesus. Through Jesus's death on the cross, all humanity receives salvation. And Jesus's Resurrection demonstrates that he truly is the Son of God and has conquered death.
To prepare ourselves for this kairos moment, we spend forty days fasting, praying, and giving alms. We do this to properly prepare ourselves to enter more fully into the Paschal mystery that we celebrate and share in the liturgies of Holy Week and the Easter season. (The term Paschal mystery refers to the Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. Jesus restores the relationship between God and human beings through these actions. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we commemorate these events.) Liturgies of Holy Week refer to the unique worship experiences of Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Lord's Last Supper with his disciples; Good Friday, the remembrance of the death of Jesus on the cross; Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil and the remembrance of our history of salvation through the words of the Scriptures, including the blessing of the fire and the lighting of the candle and the blessing of the baptismal water; and Easter Sunday, the feast of feasts and the remembrance of Christ's Resurrection, which we celebrate in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
This Ash Wednesday, listen carefully when the priest marks your forehead with ashes. He may say, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." Does that sound like Mark 1:15? He may also say, "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return." This comes from Genesis 3:19. Both Scripture passages highlight the need for repentance from sins.
The essence of Jesus's ministry is found in Mark 1:15, the proclamation of God's Kingdom. To ready himself to be faithful to this mission, Jesus spends forty days in the desert, opening himself to be tested. Mark uses the word tested in the scriptural sense that God tested just people. Read Wisdom 2:12-20 and 5:1-23 to gain more insight into this idea of God testing just people.
Invite the members to share a short, spontaneous prayer out loud or in the silence of their hearts. Close with the Lord's Prayer (also called the Our Father):
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
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 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.
Saint Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanzra Angelico
February 26 is the memorial for Saint Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz.
Saint Paula was born in Spain in 1799. When she was still young, her father died, and she worked with her mother to help raise her four siblings. From this experience she became aware of the lack of access girls had to a quality education. At the age of thirty, Saint Paula, with a friend, opened a school for girls to provide both a quality education and spiritual direction. After establishing two more schools, Saint Paula then founded the Daughters of Mary (Pious School Sisters) to help staff and manage the schools. Over the course of her life, she personally founded seven schools and inspired and helped with the founding of four other schools.
For more information about Saint Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-paula-of-saint-joseph-of-calasanz/.