Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of July 10, 2012
Congratulations to Kathleen Gorczyca
Kathleen will receive a copy of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, an $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
"Surviving 9th Grade"
Summer is coming to an end, and the start of the new school year is right around the corner. It will soon be time to dust off backpacks, order textbooks, and buy new clothes. It will also be time for us, as ministers and teachers, to guide students who are transitioning from middle school or junior high into high school. A few years ago, Saint Mary’s Press published a book to help students with this transition. 9th Grade Survival Guide, by Chris Wardwell, contains a wealth of information and guidance for assisting students with the move to high school. The book is written in an engaging and often humorous voice that is easily accessible to young people. All of the topics addressed in the book, including hazing, balancing commitments, finding help, understanding teachers, and meeting new people, were identified by students who had just completed their first year of high school as issues to be addressed. The following is a list of “Rules for Success” from the book. I encourage you to share and discuss these with the young people you know who are entering high school.
- Get involved.
- Make new friends, but do not forget your old ones.
- Find a healthy balance in the time you spend with your family, church, school, friends, and extracurricular activities.
- Plan ahead for how you will maintain your boundaries when it comes to the difficult issues (alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on).
- Do not cheat in school or in any other part of your life.
- Know yourself and be confident about who you are.
- Ask for help when things get difficult.
- Learn to say no.
- Learn from your mistakes, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Admit when you are wrong, and seek forgiveness when you mess up.
- Avoid being swayed by popular opinion.
- Make academics your primary focus, but remember that it is not everything.
- Stop gossip in its tracks.
- Stay away from fools (and avoid being one).
Beginning high school can be a scary time; it can also be an opportunity for growth, discovery, and a fresh start. As teachers and ministers, we can help the young people with whom we work move past the fear and into a place of joyful anticipation by empowering them with a few simple tools and answers to the questions they might be hesitant to ask. I pray that you have a wonderful start to the new school year and, as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
make it happen
“Back-to-School Blessing: A Prayer Service for the Beginning of the School Year "
From Holiday and Seasonal Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens
This blessing ceremony celebrates the beginning of school and helps the young people welcome a new school year. It is ideal to use for the first meeting of a group in a new school year.
10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the group
The ideal size for this activity is a group of ten to thirty.
Some of the young people in your group may be starting in a new school this year. As with any change in life, they may experience a wide variety of feelings, such as excitement, nervousness, and fear. Be sure to pay attention to their anxieties and help them to focus on the positive aspects of a new school and school year.
items that represent mind learning, such as school supplies, textbooks, a calculator, a globe, and musical instruments
items that represent body learning, such as sports equipment, dance or gymnastics supplies, and physical education attire
items that represent spirit learning, such as a book of prayers, a religious symbol or icon, a flower, a flyer for a service project, and a journal
a pillar candle and matches
a clear bowl of water
a small branch from an evergreen tree
new pens or pencils, one for each person
Preparation. Before the young people arrive, establish a prayer space with a backpack; items that represent mind-learning, body learning, and spirit learning; a pillar candle; a Bible; a clear bowl of water; a small branch from an evergreen tree; and a new pen or pencil for each person.
1. Gather the young people in the prayer space. Make a comment about the gift of new beginnings as the school year opens. Acknowledge the participants’ anxieties, particularly if some of them are starting classes at a new school. Tell them that together they will begin a new school year with a blessing.
2. Invite the young people to observe in silence the items in the prayer space that can be considered tools for school. Point out that some of the items are for “mind learning”—things like textbooks, a calculator, a globe, and musical instruments. Other items are for “body learning”; sports equipment and dance supplies fall into this category. The last category is “spirit learning”; it includes items like a religious icon and a personal journal.
3. Light a pillar candle. Then read 1 Tim. 4:12–16. Return the Bible to the prayer space and pick up a bowl of water. Dip an evergreen branch in the bowl and sprinkle the items in the prayer space. As you do so, say the following prayer:
O God, we ask your blessing on these symbols of a new year. May they help us to learn, and to enjoy and to share the special talents that you have given to us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
4. Ask the young people to move toward you one by one, with their hands in front of them, palms up. As each person reaches you, dip your thumb in the water and make the sign of the cross on her or his forehead, palms, shoulders, and feet as you say, “[Name of young person], use your mind and body this school year to learn, to serve, and to grow.” Then give the person a pen or pencil before the person returns to her or his place.
5. To conclude the blessing service, make a few comments as follows, in your own words:
Remind the young people that they represent the Christian community in their school, and that they should offer hospitality to others. Encourage them to look for and befriend younger and new students.
Note how important it is for all young people to feel like they are wanted and that they belong to the school community. Challenge the participants to include all fellow students in social gatherings, reach out to people at lunchtime, and pay attention to people who seem to be alone a lot.
Tell them that the beginning of a new school year means a chance to start anew. Challenge them to establish good study habits right from the start, especially if that has been a problem in previous years. Encourage them to work at staying focused so that they can succeed academically and know that they are doing their best.
If you have extra time, allow the young people to express their feelings about beginning a new school year.
Consider putting all the mind, body, and spirit items in the backpack when you set up the prayer space. In step 2 ask the young people to take turns removing one item at a time and explaining what it represents and how it can help a person develop brain learning, body learning, or spirit learning.
break open the word
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 15, 2012
You may use the following short prayer or the prayer on page 6 of the peer leader's guide, or any member of the group may want to pray in his or her own words.
Good and gracious God, send among us your warm spirit of hospitality. Enlighten our souls and minds through your word so that we become a truly welcoming people. Help us to remember that the more we welcome others, the greater is our ability to receive and welcome you into our lives. We pray in Jesus's name. Amen.
At the beginning of the Gospel reading, Jesus sends the Twelve on a mission.
Earlier, in Mark 3:16-19, the author gives us their names: Peter; James, son of Zebedee; John; Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus; Simon; and Judas. They are sent out in pairs for protection, companionship, and witness. Travel at this time in history was dangerous. Robbers lurked at nearly every major intersection, and roads were in poor condition. Jesus tells the Twelve what they should bring along for the journey: they are to take nothing but a walking stick, sandals, and a tunic.
His instructions were clear: no food, no sack, no money. They were to travel light because they needed only the message. The walking stick, or staff, was a sign of their authority, and the sandals offered protection from assailants and the elements. Both items were also vivid reminders of the first Passover, when God instructed the Israelites to eat their meal quickly, while dressed and ready to flee. (See Exodus 12:11.)
As they traveled, the Twelve depended on the hospitality of strangers and ultimately on God. When Jesus sent them forth, he gave them three tasks:
- preach repentance and forgiveness of sins
- drive out unclean sprits
- anoint the sick with oil and heal them
The second task needs explanation. The Jews of Jesus's time believed strongly in the existence of spirits and conceived of them as part of a five-tier hierarchy. On the first tier (the top) was God. Other gods, sons of gods, or archangels occupied the second tier. Angels were on the third tier, humans on the fourth, and creatures lower than humans on the fifth. Unclean spirits-- sometimes thought of as bad angels--were placed on the third tier. Such a hierarchy clarified who had power over whom. Jesus as God had authority over unclean spirits--the Greeks referred to such spirits as demons--and Jesus shared that authority with the Twelve.
Lastly, Jesus told the Apostles that if they were not welcomed and accepted in a particular area, they were to leave and shake the dust off their feet. Jews routinely did this upon departing from a Gentile land.
In the Middle East today, as in ancient times, it is important to show hospitality to strangers. The host is responsible for providing food and lodging to strangers.
The Bible has many examples of such hospitality. Abraham entertains the three strangers at Mamre (see Genesis 18:1-8), Lot protects the same strangers (see Genesis 19:8), Laban eagerly welcomes Abraham's servant (see Genesis 24:28-32), and the widow gives food and drink to Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:10-16). You might be surprised to learn that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the inhabitants were inhospitable to strangers. The tradition of offering hospitality can also be found in the New Testament. Matthew tells us the Son of Man will one day say, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (25:35). Saint Benedict, whose feast we celebrated on July 11, placed great emphasis on being hospitable. In the Rule of Saint Benedict, which was written about AD 531, chapter 53 gives explicit instructions on welcoming a stranger to the monastery. "Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because he will say: 'I was a stranger and you took me in.'"
Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1934)
The sincere practice of hospitality reminds us that everything we have is a gift from God. We are, therefore, obliged to share with others what belongs to God. Hospitality is love in action. At the end of each day, ask yourself this question, When people knocked on the door of my home, school, or heart, did I remember Christ and repeat to myself, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me"? (Matthew 25:35).
Jesus prepares the Twelve for a mission by giving them clear instructions. He tells them how they should travel, what they should pack, and what they should proclaim once they arrive at their destination. As Jesus's disciples, whose mission is to proclaim the Good News throughout the world, these same instructions apply to us.
We don't have to travel alone; we have the support of others, friends, the "YES!" group, and members of the parish community.
We must travel light, which will prevent physical possessions from becoming more important than God.
We turn to God in prayer to clarify our mission in life. We will find that witnessing through our words is just as powerful as witnessing through our deeds.
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.
The words from chapter 53 of the Rule of Saint Benedict are from "The Holy Rule of St. Benedict," 1949 edition, translation by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB, of St. Benedict's Abbey. Electronic text prepared by Br. Boniface Butterworth, OSB.
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 Ignatius of Loyola
July 31 is the memorial for Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius of Loyola was the youngest of eleven children from a noble family in Spain. As a young adult, his goal in life was to achieve fame and fortune. At the age of thirty, he was seriously injured in a battle. During his recovery he had the opportunity to examine his life and read about the saints. Once he realized that God was calling him, he devoted all his energy to discerning God’s will and then doing it. Ignatius developed the Spiritual Exercises, a practical guide for those who want to live a truly Christian life, and shared them with his companions. Ignatius called his community the “Company of Jesus.” Today they are known as the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, one of the largest religious communities in the world.
For more information on Saint Ignatius of Loyola, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-ignatius-of-loyola/.