Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of April 9, 2012
Congratulations to Norma DeLaRosa!
Norma will receive a copy of The Catholic Family Connections Bible, a $26.95 value.
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
How do you summon the youth with which you are in ministry into prayer? How do you invite them to share their intentions? How do you encourage them to pray for the intentions of others, both in their community and in the larger world? When I was a coordinator of youth ministry, we would conclude every gathering of young people with prayer that began by having youth verbally or silently offering up intentions, then praying for the larger intentions of the Church, followed by praying an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be. It was a ritual we developed that, if we forgot, the youth eagerly reminded us to conduct. However you do it, one of our greatest responsibilities as ministers with and to youth is to continually invite them into prayer.
Every now and then, I come across something that makes me think, “this would be great to use with young people.” This week I came across something that I believe could be a wonderful resource for helping young people pray for their own and others’ intentions. Catholic Relief Services has developed Virtual Votive on their Web site as a tool to help unite people in prayer. The way it works is that you click on one of the unlit candles and then you can type in your prayer request. The request entered will then be remembered at Mass at St. Stephen’s Chapel at the Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore. You can also click on lit candles and read the prayer requests of others around the world.
I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. Invite your youth to take time to “light” a candle, and as a class or a youth group, click on candles others have lit and join in praying for those intentions. You could also suggest that youth use Virtual Votive as a way to pray with their families. This is only one of countless resources you can utilize to help lead youth in developing a deeper prayer life. I would love to hear what resources you have found most useful in praying with youth. If you e-mail me, at email@example.com, the resources you have utilized, I will share your suggestions in a future Servant Leader. I pray that you have a blessed Easter season, and as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.
Make It Happen
From Prayer Ways Teaching Manual
This activity offers some additional possibilities for including shared prayer in prayer services. Either practice some of the following ideas with your students or offer the list to your students for use in developing their prayer service:
• Light one large pillar candle and turn off all the lights in the prayer space. Pass the candle around the group, asking each person to offer a prayer to Jesus, thanking him for lighting up their life.
• Ask each participant to write a petition on a slip of paper, and collect the petitions in a bag. Pass the bag around the circle. Direct each person in turn to pull out a prayer and read it to the group.
• Gather the participants into a circle. Pass a red rose around the circle and ask each person to say a prayer for someone whose life is endangered—who has not yet been born, who is handicapped, who is elderly and ill, and so forth.
• Before the prayer service, obtain from your local parish office a list of names and addresses of persons in the community who are not able to leave their home or take part in community activities because of age or illness. At the service, distribute the list to the participants. Ask them to pick someone from the list and to send a postcard prayer to that person. Make sure everyone on the list will receive a postcard.
• Give each person a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and invite the participants to offer a prayer asking God to help them find the missing piece in their life.
• Before the prayer service, ask the participants to bring in a snapshot of their family. During shared prayer, invite them to offer a prayer of thanks for their family, and then post their picture on a poster board "Wall of Honor."
• Before a prayer service with one or more graduating seniors present, gather pushpins and a large map. At the service, invite the seniors to come forward and place a pin on the map at the location where they will be going after graduation. After each person places his or her pin, lead the others in offering this prayer: "We pray for your success and happiness in the days and years to come."
Variation: Refer to several of the topics and themes from Handout 9–B, "From Topic to Theme," if your students completed it, or generate some topics and themes on your own. Help the class brainstorm creative ideas for shared prayers on these topics and themes.
Starting in Different Places
This activity invites students to think of creative ways of structuring their prayer service.
Request that your students bring to class a rough outline of the prayer service they have been developing. Join each pair or triad with another group. Instruct the students to help one another come up with a prayer service structure that differs from the standard format suggested on pages 151–152 of their text.
Reassure the working groups that they are free to decide on a different final format for their prayer service—that they do not have to follow the format that emerges from this activity.
Break Open the Word
Second Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2012
Jesus, as we gather this week, we are reminded of the disciples who gathered together on that first Easter night and before whom you suddenly appeared with your greeting of peace. Because we are gathered today in your name, Jesus, we know you will send your peace among us. As we share your word today, may it strengthen our faith in you. We pray this in Jesus's name, the one risen from the dead. Amen.
With words of peace, Jesus greeted the fear-filled group of disciples gathered behind locked doors. "Peace be with you," he said. Jesus's greeting harkens back to two statements he made before his death that are recorded in the Gospel of John. In John 14:27, he told his disciples not to have troubled hearts or to fear. And in John 16:33, Jesus told the disciples they would encounter trouble in the world but they should take courage because he had overcome all obstacles, even death. It is in times of great struggle, and possibly persecution, that Jesus's peace is with us.
Immediately after Jesus spoke these words of comfort, he presented his hands and side as proof that he was the same Jesus who had been crucified and had risen from the dead. The disciples responded to Jesus's words of peace and the presentation of his wounds with rejoicing.
One interesting aside is that no specific mention is made of who was gathered other than the general use of the word disciple. We do know from John 20:24 that Thomas was not with the group that Sunday evening. In addition, John's is the only Gospel that includes the story of Jesus's appearing to the disciples, minus Thomas, and then Thomas's belief upon seeing and touching Jesus's wounds.
When the other disciples shared with Thomas that they had seen the risen Jesus, Thomas said he would not believe they had seen Jesus unless he, Thomas, saw the nail marks in Jesus's hands and placed his hand into the wound in Jesus's side (John 20:25). Thomas was very clear in explaining to the others what was necessary for him to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Even today many people look for this same kind of non-debatable evidence that Jesus or God exists.
A week later, Jesus appeared again and greeted the disciples saying, "Peace be with you." This time Thomas was present. Jesus then provided the doubting disciple, Thomas, with what he needed to grow stronger in faith. We call this grace. We understand grace as the free gift or the undeserved help from God that is given to us so we can participate in the life of God. Each of us first received the gift of grace through the sacrament of Baptism.
John's closing remarks about the blessedness of those who have not seen but do believe (John 20:29) is written to all of us. We are invited to believe not because we have seen the risen Christ in the flesh but because we have come to know Jesus through the gift of faith and grace.
In John 20:23, Jesus empowers his disciples to forgive sins. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church this practice has happened in many ways. Today, with the reforms that came from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), there is a re-emphasis on the importance of the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an opportunity for an individual to confess her or his sins to a priest and receive absolution and the graces of the sacrament. The primary grace is to live more fully as a daughter or son of God, as an act of God's love in the world today. Grace is a promised gift God bestows upon us and through which we are enabled to respond to the invitation to participate in eternal life and in God's divine nature.
Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1997)
Jesus said to his disciples on that first Easter evening that whoever's sins they forgave would be forgiven them (John 20:23). Only God has the power to forgive sin, and in this passage Jesus gives this power to his Apostles to exercise in his name. Today we recognize that the priest, by his ordination, has been given this same power. Through the priest's sacramental absolution, God grants the person seeking forgiveness a pardon and a sense of great peace. Because of the great peace it brings to us, in fact the same peace the risen Christ shared with his disciples on the first Easter, we should take advantage of the many opportunities to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,1 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Catechism, paragraph 1461)
See also the Catholic Connection article "Reconciliation," near John 20:21-23 in The Catholic Youth Bible®.
Just as God provided Thomas with the grace he needed to grow stronger in his faith, we trust that God will provide us with the grace we need to believe. Thomas believed that the person he saw was Jesus of Nazareth now raised from the dead because he saw him. The Gospel writer points out how blessed we will be if we can accept the grace already active in our lives and believe in the resurrected Jesus even if we have not seen him in the flesh. y.
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. John 20:23; 2 Corinthians 5:18.
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.
Blessed Cesar de Bus
April 15 is the memorial for Blessed Cesar de Bus.
As a young man, Cesar de Bus lived a frivolous and wild life. After a dramatic conversion experience, he devoted his life to God and was ordained in 1582. He looked to the example of Saint Charles Borromeo for guidance on how to live his life. He especially embraced Saint Charles Borromeo’s devotion to catechesis. Today, Blessed Cesar de Bus is recognized as one of the patrons for catechists.
For more information about Blessed Cesar de Bus, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/saintc3m.htm.