Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of February 13, 2012!
Congratulations to Aurora Hicks!
Aurora will receive a copy of Great People of the Bible®, a $28.90 value.
Great people fo the Bible®
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
Last week a coworker and I took a 2½-hour drive to a high school where we would be visiting with teachers and students. Over the course of the 5 total hours of driving and the 7 hours we spent at the school, I was reminded of something that is vital to our ministry with young people. I was reminded of the power of presence.
This coworker and I collaborate on projects on a regular basis, and our paths cross several times every day. Even though that is the case, the meaningful conversations we were able to share over the course of the drive were truly enlightening. The radio was not on, cell phones were not constantly ringing, and not a single e-mail was read or written. We simply talked. On numerous occasions the phrases “tell me more about that” and “what do you think” were said, and sincerely meant. No big problems were solved, no deep personal revelations shared; it was simply a sustained conversation where both people were truly present.
In between the drives, we spent the day at a high school, and I was again reminded of the power of presence. We witnessed teachers truly committed to the ministry—and obviously extremely busy—taking time to sit with us to help us do our ministry better. Not a single person at this school gave the slightest hint that we were imposing. Instead, they welcomed us with warm hospitality and truly made us feel that at the moment they were with us, that was the most important thing they could be doing.
In the rush of completing jobs, teaching classes, organizing permission slips, and the countless other tasks we face on a daily basis, are we aware of the moments that call for us to simply be present? A few weeks ago, Bev DeGeorge shared in the Servant Leader her experience of Br. Michael Collins and his unique ability to make whomever he was talking with feel like the most important person to him at that moment. That is the gift of presence. There are a few people in my life who excel at this gift. Several years ago I bumped into one of those people at an airport. He was heading one way and I the other, but when we stopped to say hello, he gave me the gift of truly being focused on me. It was such a powerful experience that the 5-minute conversation we shared has stuck with me for years.
As we approach the season of Lent, I invite you to focus on the role of presence in your ministry. Where are the moments, however brief, that you are being called not to focus on a task but instead to focus on a person? Being truly and completely present to your coworkers, family, and youth is one of the greatest gifts you can share and one of the simplest ways you can give the love of Christ. I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Make It Happen
"Dear Friends" Advice Column
From Faith Works for Senior High
Explore with the group what could go wrong if a friend gives another friend bad advice. Expect an answer something like this: “If he follows her advice and it was bad advice, he may become angry with her and blame her for telling him to do the wrong thing, forgetting that he asked her for advice and that he was the one who chose to follow the advice.”
Then ask the group what could go wrong if someone tells a friend what to do, even if the advice is good advice. Expect an answer like this: “If the person follows the advice and it was good advice, she may become dependent on the advice of others and may always put the burden on them to solve her problems.”
Summarize by saying, “In other words, it is not usually a good idea to tell others what they should do when they come to you with a problem.” Then announce to the group members that they will now have a chance to write their own answers to letters from an advice column. Someone will probably inquire, “If we can’t give advice by telling them what they should do, what will we write?” The response to that question is on e4, “ ‘Dear Friends’ Letters,” located atthe end of the chapter, but it is also included here for your easy reference:
1. Listen to the person and restate what you are hearing. For example, “It sounds like you are really frustrated with . . ."
2. Ask the person some good questions, such as “How do you feel about . . . ?” or “What do you want for . . . ?”
3. Help the individual see options. For example, “I can think of three things you could try. . . .”
4. Let the person decide. Ask, “What do you think you want to do?”
5. Support the person. Say something like “I’ll be thinking of you. . . . Let me know what you decide.”
6. Do not let the individual trick you into telling him or her what to do, even if he or she begs you to! Just walk the person through the problem, and be with him or her when it’s all over.
7. If you catch yourself saying, “If I were you, I would probably . . . ,” you can still recover by adding, “but you and I are different, and you have to decide for yourself what is best for you.”
Arrange the young people in small groups of two or three and give each group one “Dear Friends” letter from handout 1–B. Go over the guidelines briefly. Do not spend too much time on them. It is easier for the participants to learn the guidelines by using them in their letter than by discussing them ahead of time. Then instruct each small group to do the following: read their letter, look for friend and foe habits, and write their response. One person in each group could be designated to write down the group’s response. sounds like you are really frustrated with . . .” When the small groups have finished writing their letters, invite them to take turns reporting to the large group by reading their “Dear Friends” letter from the handout, telling what friend or foe habits they observed in the letter, and reading the response they wrote to the letter. Each person in the small group should take part in the reporting. Allow the participants to ask questions and make comments on one another’s reports.
Break Open the Word
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 19, 2012
Jesus, you are a healer of both body and soul. We come to you in our brokenness, opening ourselves to your loving grace, which is the true source of physical and spiritual healing. May we continue to have the faith of those who brought the paralyzed man to you. May we also trust completely in your compassionate heart. Amen.
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus returns to Capernaum. This becomes the base for his public ministry. Once again, according to Mark, many people surround the house where Jesus is staying in order to hear him preach. The crowd is so thick that four friends of a paralytic, or paralyzed man, go to extraordinary lengths to get their friend close to Jesus. "Then some people came, bringing to [Jesus] a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof" (2:3-4). The man's friends have such great faith that they will not let any barrier keep them from presenting the man to Jesus for healing. Cutting a hole in the roof, large enough for a man on a stretcher to pass through, took a great amount of effort. The roof consisted of a mixture of mud and grass--a thick, cement-like substance. It was a messy process to create that hole, but those below did not make a fuss. Mark points out that Jesus was deeply impressed by the faith of the paralyzed man's friends and wasted no time in healing him.
Jesus heals the man by saying, "Son, your sins are forgiven" (2:5). Jesus's words reflect the then widespread belief in the devastating consequences of sinfulness. It was believed that physical ailments and disabilities were caused by sin. What Jesus said to the man took away the social stigma surrounding his debilitation. Even though the religious leaders were silent, Jesus could hear their thoughts. "Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (2:7). Jesus is quick to respond, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and take your mat and walk?'" (2:9). The scribes would have been far more comfortable with witnessing physical healing; they were familiar with instances of God working through the prophets to heal people in the community. Only God, however, could forgive sins, and for a human being to claim this power as his or her own was considered blasphemy. In the next statement Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah, the Son of Man: "'So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'--[Jesus] said to the paralytic--'I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home'" (2:10-11). Jesus not only healed the man but restored him to his rightful place in the community and among his family. This man once again could be a fully active member of both groups. There were no impediments to his full human interaction and participation in the community. As before, Mark tells us that the healing was immediate and complete, "And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them" (2:12). Everyone was amazed by the authority with which Jesus healed, "We have never seen anything like this!" (2:12).
In this Sunday's Gospel we have the genesis of two powerful sacraments in our Catholic Tradition, the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. These two sacraments are the continuation of Jesus's ministry on earth, which offered physical and spiritual healing to those who believed. Both of these sacraments are for us to receive whenever we are in need of healing.
The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health,1 has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1421)
Both sacraments are administered by a priest, who as in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), makes present to us believers the divine power of Jesus the healer and reconciler par excellence.
Only God forgives sins.2 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, "The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven."3 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.4 (Catechism, paragraph 1441)
Jesus draws the scrutiny of the scribes because of his work on behalf of those in need. In this powerful drama Mark demonstrates that Jesus is not afraid to set aside rules and conventions to make people whole. He not only teaches and heals but forgives sins. More of Jesus's true identity is being revealed, but in the minds of some, only God can forgive sins. They cannot accept this important aspect of his ministry. Rather than allow the scribes to go away with questions in their hearts, Jesus brings everything out in the open. The challenge that he poses is an interesting one. Is it easier to believe in physical healing or in spiritual healing through the forgiveness of sins? Mark invites us to praise God for God's presence among us as one who heals and forgives sins, even if some choose not to believe. Have we experienced deep spiritual healing through the forgiveness of sins?
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. Cf. Mark 2:1-12.
2. Cf. Mark 2:7.
3. Mark 2:5, 10; Luke 7:48.
4. Cf. John 20:21-23.
Blessed Fra Angelico
February 18 is the memorial for Blessed Fra Angelico
Born in 1387 Fra Angelico was a gifted Dominican artist. His given birth name was Guido di Pietro, and he took the name Fra Giovanna when he joined the Dominican order. After his death, the title Fra Angelico came into use as a way to honor the holiness of both his life and his work. His works can be found on display throughout Italy. In addition, his works can be found in museums around the world, including the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
For more information about Blessed Fra Angelico, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/blessed-fra-angelico/.