Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of May 21, 2012
Congratulations to George Miller
George will receive a copy of Great People of the Bible Student Book and Catechist Guide, a $28.90 value.
Bring Salvation History to Life! Parish leaders have been requesting a Catholic Bible study curriculum for middle school students, created specifically to fit their parish schedules. Saint Mary’s Press is pleased to respond to this need with the Great People of the Bible parish curriculum.
The Great People of the Bible curriculum offers:
- A student book that is found in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a supplemental curriculum resource, and the only Bible curriculum for middle school students with this approval
- Twenty-five, one hour sessions designed to fit a typical parish calendar
- A catechist guide that offers easy-to-follow session outlines for the volunteer catechist
- Flexible options for the Catechist to complete student activities in class or use as family learning assignments in the home
- One student book that covers both the Old and New Testament and that supports the ABC’s of biblical literacy
- Engaging student activities, now with expanded background content, based on the ever popular Student Activity Workbooks for Breakthrough! The Bible for Young Catholics
Great People of the Bible
ISBN: 978-0-88489-690-6, paper, 56 pages
focus on faith
"Today I Resolve"
Finals, graduations, planning for the summer, reviewing new curriculum, finalizing plans for the summer mission trip, simply finding time to enjoy the outdoors, and countless other things compete for our time and attention at this time of year. With this in mind, I would like to share a prayer that I believe can be helpful amid the stress and busyness. It is important to remind ourselves that with all of the long-term planning and big events we undertake, we need to pause and be reminded that each day is a gift and we are called to “do the good” God created us to do. I pray that the end of the school year and the summer go smoothly for you and are full of grace, and, as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Today I Resolve
Today I resolve to do the good you created me to do,
To see the good you created me to see,
To be the good that you created me to be.
(The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, p. 57)
make it happen
“T.G.I.S. (Thank God It’s Summer)!
An End-of-School Celebration"
From Holiday and Seasonal Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens
This celebration is intended simply to bring young teens together to have fun in a community of faith.
90 to 120 minutes, depending on how long people stay at the various stations
This strategy works well with more than eight and no more than thirty-two participants.
Even if your group is small, it will be difficult to do this activity without help. The more adult aids you recruit, the more easily the activities will flow from one to another. Divide the adults into teams to supervise the various activities. High school youth can help direct the activities, but they should always be teamed with an adult.
Because this strategy is messy, it is best held outdoors.
a small wading pool
water toys such as cups, pitchers, spray bottles, little boats, and rubber ducks
a garden hose
a garden sprinkler
a volleyball net
two bed sheets
two laundry baskets
fifteen to twenty filled water balloons
a sandbox or a second wading pool, filled with sand
sand toys such as pails, shovels, diggers, hand rakes, and miniature die-cast
cars and construction equipment
a picnic table or a long table
5-by-7-inch index cards or pieces of white poster board, one for each person
a mixed collection of seashells, rocks, leaves, twigs, flowers, or other natural elements, eight to ten items for each person
other items for making and decorating posters (optional)
a coach’s whistle or a handbell
snacks and refreshments
Preparation. Look over the materials needed checklist. Borrow from parish members items that you do not have.
Notify the participants at least a week before the event. Let them know the details of the event and encourage them to bring or wear clothing that they do not mind getting wet.
On the day of the event, set up the following stations:
- Water play. a small wading pool filled with water and water toys, and a garden hose and sprinkler hooked up to a water supply
- Water balloon volleyball. a volleyball net, and on each side of the net, a bedsheet and a laundry basket containing water balloons
- Sandbox buddies. a sand box or small wading pool filled with sand and sand toys
- Praise posters. a picnic table or long table, with index cards or pieces of poster board, small nature elements, glue, markers, and other poster-making supplies if you have them
1. When the participants arrive, gather them in one place and announce that they will be celebrating the end of school and arrival of summer. Invite one of the young people or an adult leader to read Psalm 100. Conclude with the following prayer:
O God, we come today to praise you in joy-filled fun. Thank you for summer and a break from studies. May we play and pray with joy today because all you have created is very, very good. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
2. Direct the participants to form small groups by counting off by four and joining those who call out the same number. Assign each small group to one of the four activity stations you prepared earlier. Explain that when the groups hear a whistle or bell, they are to move to the next activity. Rotate the groups through the activities every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much time you have, until all the groups have enjoyed all the activities.
Direct the activities at the stations as follows:
- Water play. Invite the young people to wade and splash in the pool, play with the water toys, and run through the hose and sprinkler.
- Water balloon volleyball. Divide the group into two teams. Direct the teams to go to opposite sides of the volleyball net and hold their bedsheet by its corners and sides. Place a water balloon in the middle of one team’s sheet. Explain that the object of the game is to toss the water balloon over the net to the other team, which must catch it in its sheet. When the balloon breaks, the throwing team gets a point and another water balloon to toss. If the receiving team catches the balloon unbroken, the volleying continues until the balloon breaks. Present this clue: The higher the balloon is tossed, the more likely it is to break on impact.
- Sandbox buddies. Instruct the group members to work together to build sand castles and sculptures, or to build roads and play with small cars and trucks.
- Praise posters. Give each person an index card or piece of poster board, glue, markers, and eight to ten seashells, pebbles, leaves, or whatever you have gathered from nature. Tell the young people to arrange the natural materials into a design or pattern and glue them onto the poster board. Invite them to use markers to decorate their collage and to write on it the words, “All creation, praise God!” If you have supplied other decorating materials, encourage the participants to use them creatively.
3. After everyone has circulated through all four stations, stop the play. Gather the young people in a circle and ask them to share their praise posters while you read Psalm 150. Conclude with snacks and refreshments.
- Instead of forming small groups by having the young people count off, use a creative grouper such as those that follow. Other ideas are presented in many youth ministry books, including Community-Building Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens in this series.
- Form groups according to the season of the year in which people were born.
- Arrange for adult leaders to paint the young people’s faces as they arrive. Use four different images for the paintings, and group the young teens according to the image on their faces. You might want to appoint one adult leader to keep track of how many young people receive each painting, to ensure that the groups come out even.
- Give each person a playing card when he or she arrives, being sure that cards of the four suits are distributed evenly among the participants. Group the young people according to suits.
- Cut the front panels of greeting cards or cereal boxes into four puzzle pieces. Distribute the pieces. Then direct the young people to find the other people who have pieces that match.
- Young people love to invite their friends to their fun activities. Tell the participants that they may each ask a friend to attend this event. Arrange for extra adults; if the numbers exceed thirty-two, set up additional or duplicate stations.
- If you have more than thirty-two participants, if you want more stations so that you can expand the event, or if the stations described in the Procedure section will not appeal to your young teens, set up other stations. Here are some ideas:
- an obstacle course
- tricycle races
- a kite-flying area
- an Ultimate Frisbee contest
- an ice-blocking hill (For this activity purchase one 10- or 25-pound block of ice for every two or three people, place the blocks at the top of a grassy hill, and put a folded towel on top of each. Instruct the participants to sit on a block of ice and slide down the hill. You may encourage races, trains, and slaloms to vary the fun. Depending on how hot it is, a single 10-pound block of ice lasts about an hour and a half.)
This strategy can easily become a family event. Recruit a team of volunteers and design the events so that they involve families as team members. For example, the water balloon volleyball teams would be made up of the young people in your group and their parents and siblings.
break open the word
May 27, 2012
John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
Lord Jesus, as we gather today to reflect on the Gospel reading from John in preparation for the celebration of Pentecost Sunday, we ask that you make us especially aware of your Holy Spirit acting in our lives. Just as you and the Father sent the Spirit to bolster the faith of the Apostles, we know that you continue to send us your Spirit each day to strengthen our faith. We thank you for your constant presence in our lives. Amen.
The larger context of this passage is that Jesus told his disciples that he would return to the Father. But that's not the end of the story. Jesus also promised he would send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with the disciples after he, Jesus, returned to the Father. Jesus said that this Advocate would be a Spirit of truth who would guide the disciples and the Church. In addition, Jesus told the disciples that he would speak to his Church through the Holy Spirit.
In this discourse with the disciples, Jesus expressed the advantage of his returning to the Father so that he and the Father could send the Holy Spirit. So even though the disciples would lose Jesus in his earthly form within a short time, they would soon receive him back again in the Spirit. Through the Spirit, God would continue to reveal truth.
Jesus told his disciples he had much more to share with them but that he would overwhelm them if he showed them everything at that time. Instead, Jesus gifted them with the Spirit so that the truth he came to share with them would be shown to them into the foreseeable future.
The role of the Spirit is to unite God's people with God's truth, Jesus Christ's revelation of the divine. With the Spirit taking on this role, Jesus assured his disciples that they would not go forth to preach his message alone, but that the Spirit of God would go with them, giving them guidance and courage. Even though Jesus was leaving, he was intent on sustaining his work through the disciples by sending the Holy Spirit to strengthen them. The disciples were fragile at this point, but Jesus knew they would be empowered with the guidance of the Advocate for the mission of taking his Good News to the ends of the earth.
This time that we live in, this time of the Spirit, is an in-between time. The Spirit points forward, giving inspiration and guidance for what is yet to come.
This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, which traditionally takes place fifty days after Easter. In Greek, the word pente means "fifty." The word Pentecost and the original feast by that name, however, came from the Jewish tradition (see Leviticus 23:15-22). Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles tells of a large crowd of devout Jews from many places that gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The Jewish feast commemorates Moses's reception of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. According to Jewish tradition, the Law was given at Mount Sinai on the fiftieth day after the departure from Egypt, or Passover.
For Christians, the feast of Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the whole Church of Jesus Christ. This outpouring never ceases. We also believe that on this day in history the church was born.
The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.1 The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the "dispensation of the mystery"--the age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, "until he comes."2 In this age of the Church Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church, in a new way appropriate to this new age. He acts through the sacraments in what the common Tradition of the East and the West calls "the sacramental economy"; this is the communication (or "dispensation") of the fruits of Christ's Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church's "sacramental" liturgy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1076)
In other words, the day marks the birth of the Church. Upon its birth, the Spirit ushered in a new era in which Christ lives and acts in and with the Church. For the Church to fulfill the commissioning from Jesus to go forth and preach his Gospel to the ends of the earth, the Church needs to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continually sanctifies the Church so it can be about its missionary work in the world.
The Holy Spirit plays a central role in the sacraments and, in fact, is what makes the sacraments efficacious, or real. Just as the Holy Spirit strengthened the faith of the disciples, we believe that the same Spirit strengthens our faith through the sacraments. In Baptism, for example, we receive the Holy Spirit, and in Confirmation we receive in a special way the seven gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. "The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.3 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations" (Catechism, paragraph 1831).
See also the Catholic Connections article "Pentecost" near Acts, chapter 2, in The Catholic Youth Bible®.
John's insight into the role of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, in the Church is very important. John wants the early Church and the Church today to understand that Jesus is always present through the Spirit. The Spirit will continue to make known the Father's will. This Spirit of God is a Spirit of truth, and the Spirit will guide all who believe in Christ to the truth. Discernment in the Spirit will always lead you and me to a deeper relationship with God.
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, second edition. Copyright © 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica copyright © 1997 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. Cf. Sacrosanctum concilium 6; Lumen gentium 2.
2. 1 Corinthians 11:26.
3. Cf. Isaiah 11:1-2.
Copyright © 2009 by Saint Mary's Press, 702 Terrace Heights, Winona, MN 55987-1318, www.smp.org. All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Thank you.
Saint Jose Isabel Flores Varela
May 25 is the memorial for Saint Jose Isabel Flores Varela, as well as numerous other saints martyred in Mexico in the early 20th century.
Jose Isabel Flores Varela was a parish priest in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco. During the government persecution of the Church, he went into hiding and continued to secretly minister to his parish. He was betrayed and arrested. He was martyred on the morning of June 21, 1927.
For more information on Saint Jose Isabel Flores Varela, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saintjec.htm.