- MUST SEE WEBSITE: Institute of School and Parish Development (Catholic Website of the week)
- These Runners Ran More Than 1,000 Miles to See the Pope (Belleville News and BEYOND)
- Illinois: Prayer in Public Schools (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
".they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions." Luke 2:46
This month over 2 million children begin Catholic School. Many of us may have attended a Catholic school in our time. Many remember the dear nuns, or a wonderful lay teacher who gave fully of themselves, bringing his or her uniqueness to the classroom.
"Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." Matthew 13:52
Regardless of who taught us and how we were educated, Catholic Schools have a value that is not found elsewhere because what they teach concerns God and heaven, our true home.
Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:8
Solid Catholic Schools and the education and formation they provide are needed now more than ever. Yet these blessed institutions do not happen by accident. They occur when the Father's blessing touches the honest, hard work of men and women of faith who love the Faith and children.
.do not be too hard on your children so they will become angry. Instruct them in their growing years with Christian teaching. -Ephesians 6:4
As millions of children continue to experience the blessings of Catholic Schools this month, let us give thanks to God for these schools, pray for them to bear fruit, and do all we can to support (as those who have went before us have supported) that which has brought so many blessings to this earth.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time. > > > Readings
Feast of the Baptism (about 18min)
Feast of the Baptism II (about 21 minutes)
Catholic School (from Late Latin catholicus, from Greek katholikos "universal, general"+ from Latin schola,from Greek scholē "discussion, lecture, school")
- an institution under the supervision of the Church whose corporate policy is to train the students in the Gospel message of salvation as taught by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church given to her by Jesus Christ and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit
In the words of the Second Vatican Council, "It is the special function of the Catholic school to develop in the school community an atmosphere animated by a spirit of liberty and charity based on the Gospel. It enables young people, while developing their own personality, to grow at the same time in that new life which has been given them at baptism. Finally it so orients the whole of human culture to the message of salvation that the knowledge which the pupils acquire of the world, of life and of men is illumined by faith. Thus, the Catholic school, taking into consideration as it should the conditions of an age of progress, prepares its pupils to contribute effectively to the welfare of the world of men and to work for the extension of the kingdom of God" (Declaration on Christian Education, 8).
-prayer of Saint Augustine of Hippo
What you need to know about prayer in Public Schools: For Students- Every student has the constitutional right to pray in public schools at any time or place as long as it is not disruptive and does not interfere with classroom instruction.
For Teachers: Students can initiate prayer individually and in groups, in the public schools, however a teacher or administrator generally cannot.
What you need to know about the silent reflection and student prayer act in Illinois:
1-It's just a moment of silence.
2-It includes all religious and non-religious perspectives.
3- It is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
"THE SUPREME COURT has held that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door. The law enacted in Illinois comports with the Constitution, allowing for a daily routine of silent prayer or reflection in the classroom that does not endorse religion, yet accommodates free expression," was stated by Andy Norman of the Mauck & Baker law firm in Chicago, a Christian Legal Society.
In a very special way, parents share in the office of sanctifying "by leading a conjugal life in the Christian spirit and by seeing to the Christian education of their children."
-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2226
Institute of School and Parish Development
ISPD is your Catholic School Enrollment Solution for maintaining and/or increasing the quantity, quality, or diversity of your elementary or secondary Catholic school enrollment. These are the words with which they describe themselves. This site is excellent in that it takes a holistic, yet practical approach to the needs of Catholic Schools and Parishes today, and yet does not veer from the Gospel when it comes to meeting these needs with true charity and love of neighbor.
"The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents."
-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2226
Vatican City, Aug 21, 2016 / 03:29 am (EWTN News) -
Runners completing a non-stop relay of more than 1,000 miles from Cordoba, Spain to Rome ended their journey by attending a papal audience and offering Pope Francis a jersey.
The Cordoba-Rome Challenge 2016 lasted eight days, beginning July 31 in Triumph Plaza in Cordoba, Spain and ending in front of the Colosseum in Rome.
Already at the Vatican, the Los Califas Atheltic Club attended a General Audience in the Paul VI lecture hall. An Argentine couple whom they met there helped them get the jersey to Pope Francis, who greeted them warmly.
On the trip back to Spain, event organizer Antonio Bravo spoke to EWTN News about the excitement of the moment. “There was a raw faith, a motivation in the environment, something in the air that helped the spirit of the challenge. We have felt that the Pope welcomed the spirit of sacrifice, effort and collaboration of the project.”
About 70 people participated in the relay event, including athletes, amateur runners, and managers, ranging in age between 14 and 80 years old.
Bravo explained that the feat was inspired by the “Pax Romana,” also known as “Pax Augusta,” which was the period of peace in the Roman Empire. Thus, runners passed through the ancient route to “sow an ideology of unity, peace, culture, religion and language,” said Bravo.
The Córdoba-Rome Challenge crossed cities including Albacete, Castellón and Girona in Spain; Nimes and Nice in France; and Genoa and Siena in Italy, with extensive eight-hour days for each group, and a total of 23 non-stop relays.
Bravo explained that “while there is a goal that every runner proposed for themselves, there is a lot of teamwork. Here we live the friendship and fellowship and improvement, where everyone adds their kilometers to accomplish a great goal.”
The Los Califas Athletics Club completed its first challenge in 2013, traveling over 600 miles from Cordoba to Santiago de Compostela in four days, with the same method and the same enthusiasm that has led them to complete their second challenge and to propose a third.
- One Catholic Couple's Story
By Mary Rezac; Lincoln, Neb., Aug 18, 2015 / 05:01 am(EWTN News/CNA)
It was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the women and the rest of their FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) team was headed to a retreat center near Gretna, Neb. when a large truck smashed into their car on Highway 6 near the Platte River, several miles east of Lincoln.
While the other women had minor injuries - a broken shoulder, whiplash, cuts and bruises - Ashley was life-flighted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in critical condition.
She had sustained major head trauma, and had significant swelling and bleeding in her brain.
Brad Stevens, Ashley's fiancé of just a few weeks, got the call from Nikki Shasserre, a staff member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Newman Center, who had hosted an engagement party for the couple three weeks prior.
Get to the hospital now, Ashley's in critical condition.
Father Robert Matya, the chaplain for the UNL Newman Center, had been on his way to the same retreat and was able to be with the women at the scene, praying with them and comforting them. He then rushed to the hospital to be with Brad, a former student he'd known for years, and was with him to receive the grim diagnosis.
"I remember very distinctly arriving at the hospital, and Brad and I went in to sit down with the doctor, who told us that he didn't think it was going to be possible that Ashley would survive at that point," Fr. Matya recalled. "He was just trying to be honest with us."
That was around 10 in the morning. By 3 p.m., Ashley was heading to surgery. Father stayed with Brad and Ashley in the ICU that night.
From the very first moment, Father said, the way Brad handled the situation was remarkable.
"What was beautiful about watching Brad in that experience was that he was just unwavering from the first moment on, in terms of being at her side. There was never a question of his dedication to her throughout the whole experience, and that was the case not only on that day of the accident but throughout the entire process of her rehabilitation," he said.
"There was never any question (of Brad's faithfulness)," Fr. Matya added.
Brad's faith in God had been what initially attracted Ashley to him. They were both working at Resident Assistants in the Husker Village dorms, and during the long walks patrolling the halls on duty nights, she would pepper him with all of her questions about Catholicism. A devout Protestant, Ashley was amazed at how well Brad could defend and explain his faith using scripture. She became "like a little sponge," she said, soaking up knowledge about the Catholic Church.
A few years after they became friends, and in the early phases of their dating relationship, Ashley became Catholic after taking classes at the Newman Center and developing strong friendships there.
The day of the accident, dozens of friends from the Newman Center and beyond had arrived at UNMC, offering meals and prayers and whatever support they could. Word spread quickly, and more prayers and support started pouring in from UNL students and the Catholic community around the state - and even the world.
Ashley, who said she does not remember "literally a single day" of the entire month she spent at UNMC, said she has only heard and read of the tremendous outpouring of love that occurred within those first days and weeks.
"I was submerged in prayer," she said. "From holy hours at the Newman Center, across the country, there people I didn't even know were surrounding me with prayer that I'm so thankful for."
"It's amazing seeing God's love through so many instruments you know when you're quite literally helpless."
Slowly, Ashley started making improvements, though for a long time it was uncertain exactly how healed she could be. She had a stroke while at UNMC, and it was uncertain for a while whether she'd ever be able to walk, or hold a job, or take care of future children.
"I can't even imagine Brad, just three weeks after getting engaged, and my parents just sitting by, not knowing if I'm going to make it and if I did, what would be the end result? How much of Ashley would they get back, would he get back?" she said.
Even the tiniest glimpses of hope, however, made Brad "just giddy excited," Ashley said.
"Even if I was just able to squeeze his hand or open my eyes and look at him, or just try to smile, anything gave him glimpses of hope that I was going to make it," she said.
A gratitude journal Brad kept at the time proves his incredible hope. In an entry dated Dec. 13, one day after the accident, Brad responded to the prompts in his journal:
Today I feel: "Great, it was starting out to be a good day, until Nikki Shasserre called and told me the news. After that a mix of scared, sad, mad, happy."
Spiritually I: "Am overwhelmed by the huge support you have received from all over the country. I feel consoled during a moment of great trial."
Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love): "You opened your eye and looked at me!! That was huge. I was so thankful to know I had communicated with you and was able to show my love for you and show you I'm there for you."
It was Brad's faithfulness that kept Ashley going in the hard months of recovery and therapy to come.
After UNMC, Ashley was flown down to Atlanta to continue her treatment - it was closer to her parents, who live in Knoxville, Tenn., and was highly recommended for brain trauma recovery.
Brad kept his job as an aide to a state senator in Nebraska, but flew down to Atlanta every Thursday through Sunday to be with his fiancé.
"That was beautiful to me and exactly what I needed to hear to keep fighting and to keep doing frustrating therapies," Ashley said. For a while, even the basics were extremely difficult. She had to re-learn how to write, eat, walk, do long division - but Brad's visits kept her looking forward to the weekends.
"I remember seeing him every Thursday and just being giddy, when you're going through something so life-altering, being able to cling to normalcy is exactly what you need," she said.
But May 16th, the day they had originally planned for their wedding, was harder than most. Brad flew down to be with Ashley, and they went to a church to pray.
"I'm not a crier, I'm just not, but that day we went to the chapel and I just broke down, and I walked out of the church and he came after me and he said 'What's wrong? I'm still here, we're still going to get married,'" Ashley recalled.
She told Brad about all the doubts she had - doubts, she thinks now, that came from Satan.
"We didn't have our wedding rescheduled, I didn't know when or if I would go back to work, I still wasn't approved to drive, and I just kept thinking: Am I worth it?"
"I remember he took my hands and said, 'Ashley, I still love you, I love you just as much as when I asked you to marry me, I'm going to marry you, and it's not going to be today, but it will be as soon as it makes sense, as soon as you get back and we get in our rhythm, it will be then.'"
And it was. The next week, Ashley found out her release date. She entered a driving program, and was
approved to start working again part-time. As the improvements kept coming, Ashley and Brad started re-looking at wedding dates.
They settled on Dec. 12 - exactly a year after the accident.
"It was Ashley's idea," Brad said. "She wanted to conquer a sad day and remember it with joy, or in her words 'kick the accident in the face.'"
"I think some people question like why would you want to do that, so many hard memories will be evoked on that day, why would you want to have the happiest day of your life kind of conflict with that?" Ashley said. "To me, that was the point."
It was a cold December day in Nebraska again. There had been a blizzard the day before Dec. 12, 2009, the day of Ashley and Brad Stevens' wedding.
"I guess you should expect (a blizzard) in December in Nebraska," Ashley joked. Nonetheless, friends and family from all over the country were able to make it.
"It was just a party," Ashley said. And the FOCUS team - half of whom had been in the car with Ashley - were in the choir loft. They sang and played Bethany Dillan's "Let Your Light Shine Down", which the team had listened to together, per Ashley's request, at a meeting a week before the accident.
The truck driver was there too.
"Seeing the church surrounded by people that had stood by our sides whether its prayers, meals, visits, and just having a party, it was a way of saying I'm still here, that God healed us, healed me, and performed a miracle," Ashley said.
The Stevens have now been married for almost 6 years, with two beautiful little girls. They travel in between Tennessee and Nebraska often, so the girls can get to know both sets of grandparents.
They still have their ups and downs, like any couple, but in large part because of the accident, Ashley never doubts that Brad is in it for the long haul.
"Marriage is hard," Ashley said, "but it's part of the cost, and when you sign the marriage license you know that. The vow, 'in good and in bad, in sickness and in health,' obviously Brad's already lived the in sickness and in health vow out before we even walked down the aisle."
"The best advice we can offer for marriage prep is to take a step back, and evaluate your relationship,"
Brad said. "And (if) there's not much about God, there's not much about how the relationship has challenged you to be better, change habits or to find joy in sacrifice, then there's a disconnect."
There are reminders of the accident - Ashley permanently lost hearing in her right ear, she suffered nerve injuries and lost partial control of her right hand. But at the end of the day goodness prevailed,
Ashley said, which is why she is working on a book telling her story.
"God gives us all different gifts," Ashley said. "And I don't have the gift of musical ability, or anything artistic, at times I don't have the gift of extraversion, but I do have the gift of a cool story. And I have the gumption to share it."
"God gives us all a story for a reason, he doesn't give us a story to keep it to ourselves, he gives us a story to share,
"The point (of the story) is that God always wins," she said. "And that may not look like the win that has always played out in your head, but he's faithful, and he works miracles in our lives, and we can't forget all he's done in our life."
These days, the Stevens are looking forward to settling in Nebraska as their oldest starts school. As for Brad, he's thankful that after everything, they're able to have a normal life.
"Ashley is a rock star and I thank God for her and the family we have together."
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #2229
Husband brings the child home from kindergarten and asks his wife, "He’s been crying the whole way home. Isn’t he sick or something?" "No," replies the wife, "he was just trying to tell you he isn’t our Frankie."
-If you start to think I talk too much, just tell me. We’ll talk about it.
-That moment when you check your time on your phone and have to check again 10 seconds later because you weren't paying attention the first time.
-That awkward moment when your friend says they are not hungry but ends up eating half of your food when you just order for yourself.
TEACHER: Now, Simon , tell me, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.
A boy with a monkey on his shoulder was walking down the road when he passed a policeman who said, "Now, now young lad, I think you had better take that monkey the zoo." The next day, the boy was walking down the road with the monkey on his shoulder again, when he passed the same policeman. The policeman said, "Hey there, I thought I told you to take that monkey to the zoo!" The boy answered, "I did! Today I'm taking him to the cinema."
If College Students Wrote The Bible
The Last Supper would have been eaten the next morning -- cold.
The Ten Commandments would actually be only five -- double-spaced and written in a large font.
A new edition would be published every two years in order to limit reselling.
Forbidden fruit would have been eaten because it wasn't cafeteria food. Paul's letter to the Romans would become Paul's email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reason Cain killed Abel: they were roommates.
Reason why Moses and followers walked in the desert for 40 years: they didn't want to ask directions and look like freshmen.
Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, he would have put it off until the night before to get it done
One Sunday morning, a priest wakes up and decides to go golfing. He calls the retired priest and says that he feels very sick, and won't be able to go to offer the Mass.
Way up in heaven, Saint Peter sees all this and asks God, ''Are you really going to let him get away with this?''
''I'll take care of it,'' says God.
The priest drives about five to six hours away, so he doesn't bump into anyone he knows. The golf course is empty when he gets there. So he takes his first swing, drives the ball 495 yards away and gets a hole in one.
Saint Peter watches in disbelief and asks, '' Why did you let him do that?''
To this God says, ''Who's he going to tell?''
(Saint Thomas is the patron of Catholic Schools)
Saint Thomas Aquinas, you are called by Holy Mother Church, the Angel of the Schools. Your wisdom, gathered through long meditation from the source of all wisdom, the most Holy Trinity, has long been a shining light in the Catholic Church. Ignorance of the things of God is a darkness now enveloping the minds of many of our countrymen. In this darkness, we need an angel like you who will protect, foster, and nourish the schools we have, and guide and strengthen us in establishing and building newer and more adequate schools for the instruction of our children in the ways of Christ. Help and bless the generous sisters, brothers, priests, lay men and women who labor so unselfishly in the classroom to spread the knowledge of Christ. Inspire our Catholic men and women to be most generous in the support of the schools we have. Grant to parents the wise generosity they need in all areas, but especially to give their child back to God when that child wishes to follow a priestly or religious vocation. Help us, Saint Thomas, Angel of the Schools, to understand what you taught, and to follow your example. Amen.