- MUST SEE WEBSITE: Institute of School and Parish Development (Catholic Website of the week)
- A Priest and Marytr for the Faith: Father Ragheed Ganni (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Illinois: Prayer in Public Schools (Helpful Hints for Life)
-CATHOLIC QUESTIONS AND CATHOLIC ANSWERS is BACK (see below)
BEST PARISH PRACTICE is also BACK! (see below
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 nearly 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. The readings can be found at:
a) blessing and adoration
b) petition and intercession
c) thanksgiving and praise
d) all of the above
551. What is “blessing”? (CCC 2626-2627; 2645 )
a) a control over something
b) man’s response to God’s gifts
c) a multiplication of items
d) none of the above
552. How can adoration be defined? (CCC 2628)
Human Beings acknowledging that they belong to God.
a) True b) False
553. What are the different forms of the prayer of petition? (CCC 2629-2633; 2646)
a) those made to oneself
b) the prayer must include the acknowledgment of the angels
c) the worship of God
d) the first thing to ask for is the coming of the Kingdom
554. In what does the prayer of intercession consist? (CCC 2634-2636; 2647)
It must extend even to one’s enemies.
a) True b) False
555. When is thanksgiving given to God? (CCC 2637-2638; 2648 )
b) above all in celebrating the Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass)
c) every event in life is a reason
d) all of the above
556. What is the prayer of praise? (CCC 2639-2643; 2649)
That which recognizes the creature is more important that the Creator.
a) True b) False
- 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
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
Bring People, Process, and Ministry to build the Kingdom of God. 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
ASK YOUR PRIEST TO HAVE A HOLY HOUR OR PERMISSION TO HAVE A HOLY HOUR
There are many things to pray for, especially all affected by the pandemic. People need ways to grow closer to God, His Church, and one another. One of the best ways to spiritually do this is a Holy Hour in church in front of the tabernacle or Jesus facing us in the monstrance. 'We look at Him, and He looks at us.'
You are face to face with Jesus. You come to Jesus in His House. You are in His Real Presence, Body, Blood, soul, and Divinity. Jesus said, "I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father." -Matthew 18:19 "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?" -Jesus says (Matthew 26:40)
Ask your Parish Priest to have the Holy Hour for and with you. Or ask a Deacon or Lay person to lead with permission of your Parish Priest. It can be before or after the Daily Mass. It can be of an evening or the best time for many of you to gather. You can be in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Priests praying with their people to Jesus is what we need now more than ever. You can offer Sacred Scripture, etc. More at: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/pea/holyhour.html
Father Ganni, considered one of the most influential martyrs of the Catholic Church in Iraq, was killed by fanatical terrorists on June 3, 2007, after celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul.
“Simplicity of spirit and zeal for the faith.” These words were used to describe Father Ganni by the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bishop Bashar Warda, when he met him in 1997 in Ireland. Archbishop Warda continued: “When Father Ragheed was asked to volunteer to serve the pilgrims who came to pray and seek advice at the Shrine of Love Derg, he accepted the invitation and brought happiness and joy to all of our hearts.”
Archbishop Warda stressed that the martyred Father Ragheed was very close to the youth. He always accompanied them and conducted activities that motivated them and helped them strengthen their spirituality and ecclesiastical knowledge. He added: “I have always admired his leadership and his closeness to them. He was a father, a brother, and an educator for all of them.”
The Life of Father Ragheed Ganni
Father Ragheed was born in Mosul in 1972, where he completed his university studies, graduating with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He had loved the Church since childhood and learned its liturgical rites and melodies. He decided to devote his life to the Church in the sacred priesthood. . Bishop Georgios Jarmo sent him to Rome in 1996 to begin his priestly formation journey. He studied at the Irish Institute and continued his studies in theology at the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
He had a strong desire to return to Mosul and serve the believers and members of his Church who were in tribulation due to the persecution of extremist Islamic groups since 2003. His wish was granted; he returned to Mosul and committed himself to serving its people, in addition to teaching at the Babylon College of Philosophy and Theology, in 2004.
During this period, the city of Mosul suffered from campaigns of intimidation, kidnapping, and killing of Christians, in addition to bombing many churches and monasteries. Many people were forced to seek refuge and escape to other cities and villages in northern Iraq, and many families were forced to migrate to other countries, fearing for their lives and their faith.
These challenges were not an obstacle to Father Ragheed, who continued all pastoral activities, celebrated Masses in the various churches in his diocese, and provided moral and spiritual support to his church children even in the most challenging times.
Father Ragheed constantly said: “The terrorists want to end our lives, but the Eucharist gives us life. When I hold the cup of the Eucharist in my hands, I say: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I feel His power overwhelm me. I hold the cup in my hand, but He is the one who holds me and us all, defying the terrorists and making us united in His boundless love.”
He emphasized more than once in his conversation with those close to him that he would continue to spread the message that obligated him to be a missionary in the name of Christ, saying: “The terrorists think that they are killing us physically or scaring us spiritually with their brutal methods. Many Christian families have fled because of the abuses committed against them, but the paradox is that we have come to realize, through the violence of terrorists, that the dead and risen Christ gives us life. This gives us hope and helps us survive every day.”
The threats directed at Father Ragheed continued because of the various activities he led with the youth in the Church. His ministry angered the terrorist groups in Mosul, and death threats began to emerge.
On the third Sunday of June 2007, the terrorists arrested him after he celebrated the Divine Liturgy with three deacons: Basman Yusef Daoud, Waheed Hanna Isho, and Ghassan Essam Bidawid. At that time, the terrorists asked him: “Did we not ask you not to open the church for prayer?” He replied, “How can I close the House of God in the face of worshipers?”
These were the last words uttered by Father Ragheed Ganni, days before he became a martyr for Christ and his Church.
The Last Prayer of Father Ganni
Father Ragheed Ganni realized that the Islamic terrorists would not let him live, given his disobedience to their orders and his continued celebration of the liturgy in Mosul, so he wrote his last prayer on October 12, 2006:
"Lord, I don't think they will look at my prayer
Although it was a pessimistic prayer, everyone knew me as an optimist.
And perhaps, for a moment, they forgot. They wondered why I was so optimistic,
They have seen me smiling, braver and stronger in the most difficult situations.
But, when they remember the times of trouble I lived,
and the hardships I've been through,
The ones that showed how weak I am and how capable you are
You revealed how fragile I am and how strong you are,
They will know that I, my hope, have always spoken of you
Because I knew you, and you were the reason for my optimism
Even when I knew my death was near,
But let me be with you now,
May I please put it before you,
You know better than I what time we are living.
I am a human being and know how weak a person is.
I want you to be my strength so that I will not allow anyone to insult me in the priesthood that I hold.
Help me not to weaken and surrender myself in fear for my life
Because I want to die for you, to live with you and with you.
Now I am ready to meet you; help me not to lose time for trial
Because I told you that I knew man, but I also said that I knew you
Oh, my strength, my power, my hope."
After defeating pagan warriors in a fight for his crown, Pope Sylvester II granted the “Sacred Crown” to King Stephen of Hungary. On Christmas Day in the year 1000, the future patron saint became the King of Hungary.
King Stephen then dedicated his country to Christian principles. According to St. John Paul II, the king did not consider his crown an honor, “but a service.”
Pope St. John Paul II’s words describing this epic moment in history:“At the dawn of the millennium, the figure of King St. Stephen stands out.
“He founded the State on the firm rock of Christian values, and for this reason wanted to receive the royal crown from the hands of my Predecessor, Pope Sylvester II. Thus the Hungarian nation was founded in deep unity with the Chair of Peter and bound by close ties to other European countries, which shared the same Christian culture.
“This culture was the vital sap flowing through the fibres of the developing plant, which assured its growth and vigor, and prepared the extraordinary flourishing that was to come.”
St. Stephen held a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He built many churches in her honor.
On the day of his death in 1038, King St. Stephen dedicated his country to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Solemnity of the Assumption. He requested that the state and Church leaders “protect and spread the Catholic faith.”
He dedicated one of his final prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary:“To thee, O Queen of heaven, and to thy guardianship, I commend the holy Church, all the bishops and the clergy, the whole kingdom, its rulers and inhabitants; but before all, I commend my soul to thy care.”
Ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See Eduard Habsburg brought attention to the Aug. 20th celebration in a post accompanied by a photo of Our Lady with St. Stephen.
St. Stephen’s Day falls every year on Aug. 20. Hungary considers this day a public holiday, or the “birthday” of Hungary, “celebrating the foundation of the Hungarian state more than 1000 years ago.” It is comparable to July 4 in the United States.
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." As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.
-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2229
-What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no lived in Eden? A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.
-Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible? A. Moses, he broke all 10 Commandments at once. (when he smashed the tablets at the wickedness of God’s people)
A Spanish magician says he will disappear on the count of 3. He says "uno, dos..." poof. He disappeared without a tres.
Two men meet on opposite sides of a river. One shouts to the other "I need you to help me get to the other side!" The other guy replies, "You are on the other side!"
For our daughters 6th birthday we bought her a fish. We couldn’t help laughing when on the way she announced “the fish’s name is Sparingly.” “How do you know?” I asked. “Look” she responded “it says “feed sparingly 3 times daily.”
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 email@example.com.
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.
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday, August 21st, 2022
The First Reading- Isaiah 66:18-21
Thus says the LORD: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.
This is a famous and extremely important passage that essentially ends the Book of Isaiah, which was and is by far the most influential of all the books of the prophets, both in Judaism and in Christianity. The Fathers called Isaiah the “Fifth Gospel”, and it is the only Old Testament book (besides the Psalms) which seriously rivals any of the Gospels for “air time” in the Lectionary: it’s read in Masses for Sundays and Feast Days more often than Mark and just shy of Matthew. This conclusion of Isaiah may be understood as a vision of the missionary expansion of the Church. First, the “nations” (Gentiles) are gathered to God—this takes place already in the apostolic period, especially through the ministry of St. Paul, whose travels follow this outline. Then, members of these ingathered Gentiles are themselves sent out to further Gentile nations to preach God’s glory. This would correspond to the Church’s missionary efforts after the apostolic era, even down to the present day.
Adults - Do you know how the Old and New Testament fit together? Consider joining a Scripture study that explains salvation history.
Teens - We are still called to be missionaries today - but that doesn’t mean we have to travel far from home. Take some time and consider the mission fields all around you - work, school, home - how can you bring Jesus there?
Kids - How do you tell people about Jesus?
Responsorial- Psalm 117:1,2
R.Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
-This, the shortest Psalm, is basically just a command for “all nations” to praise the LORD. Pray extra prayers of praise this week!
The Second Reading- Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13
Brothers and sisters, You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.
At this time in the Church year, the Second Reading is moving semi-continuously through the end of Hebrews (chs. 11-13). Hebrews appears to have been addressed to Jewish Christians who were under pressure to return to Judaism, perhaps even under physical persecution from relatives and officials. The author of Hebrews helps his readers understand theologically the difficulty they are experiencing. It is not a sign of God’s hatred, nor of a curse. Rather, it is a sign of God’s love, who acts as a Father toward his children. Christians should not become discouraged in the face of hardship and opposition, but should be assured that God only permits difficult things for the perfection of faith. In the Gospel, Jesus is going to teach that the way of salvation involves struggle: one must “strive” to enter the “narrow gate”, and not all will be “strong” enough. This suggests there will be persecution and opposition along the path to salvation, and this Second Reading helps us to understand that such painful experiences are not contrary to the love of God the Father.
What part of living the faith is a challenge for you? Pray for understanding and assistance in that area.
The Holy Gospel according to Luke 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from. And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."
We have long past the midpoint of the liturgical year and we are now marching more quickly with Jesus along the path of his final journey in the Travel Narrative (Luke 10-19). This journey of Jesus will culminate in his death, and the readings for the past several Sundays have been somber in tone. This Sunday is no exception.
The questioner asks, “Will only a few be saved?” Jesus—as is typical of him—does not give a direct answer. Instead, he responds with a command: “Strive to enter the narrow gate!” In essence, Jesus is telling the questioner: “Do not worry about abstract questions like the exact number or percentage of people who will end up being saved. Such knowledge will not be revealed to you, and in any event would do you no good, one way or the other. Your concern should be for your own salvation, because the path of salvation is not easy.”
The first meaning of Jesus' message was to his own contemporaries, that they should take seriously the opportunity he is offering them to repent and follow him now. Casual acquaintance with Jesus during his earthly ministry will do nothing for their eternal salvation. Nonetheless, there is a secondary spiritual sense to Jesus’ words that apply especially to those of us who attend Church and believe we know Jesus. Our relationship with him must be far more than a casual one.
Adults - How is it possible to lose salvation? God gives us free will, which includes the ability to turn our backs on Him. What prayers/practices help you keep Jesus at the center of your life?
Teens - How does focusing on your own salvation help bring others to Jesus?
Kids - Try to pray an extra five minutes a day this week.
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! –“God As descent from Abraham was not a claim for special consideration on the part of the Jews, neither will any other circumstances of nationality, birth or earthly privilege help us on the day of judgment Each one will stand or fall by his own mode of life during his term on earth. Nothing and nobody else can change the just judgment of God when that moment arrives for each one of us. The thought of our moment of judgment is a staggering one even for the holiest of us. Things and actions that do not trouble us much now, will appear in a different light then. The prayers we omitted or said carelessly, the Masses we missed on flimsy excuses the little bit of continual injustice to a workman or customer, or the dishonesty practiced by a worker against his employer, the sins of impurity of which we thought rather lightly, the bad language so freely used and the scandal we spread so flippantly, the money wasted on drink or gambling when our children needed nourishment and clothing — these, and many other such faults of which we excuse ourselves so easily now, will not be a source of joy or consolation for us on that dread day, if we arrive at God's justice-seat still burdened with them. We are dealing with God's mercy while alive. He will forgive any sin and any number of sins if we truly repent, and resolve to correct these faults. To do this is the only one guarantee that even God himself can give us of a successful judgment Every man who lives in God's grace will die in God's grace and be numbered among the saved. The man who lives habitually in sin, and refuses to amend his life, will die in his sinful state, and thus exclude himself from eternal salvation. I have a free will. I can choose to pass that final examination or to fail it. The whole of my eternity, the unending life after death, depends on my choice now. If I choose to follow Christ and live according to his laws during the few years I have on this earth, I shall pass and shall be among the saved. If I ignore Christ and his laws now, he will not know me on the day of judgment I shall be among the lost. God forbid that I should choose the latter course. — Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle C, Fr. Kevin O' Sullivan, O.F.M.
CATHOLIC QUESTIONS AND CATHOLIC ANSWERS
550. What are the essential forms of Christian prayer? d) all of the above
They are blessing and adoration, the prayer of petition and intercession, thanksgiving and praise. The Eucharist contains and expresses all the forms of prayer.
551. What is “blessing”? d) none of the above
The prayer of blessing is man’s response to God’s gifts: we bless the Almighty who first blesses us and fills us with his gifts.
552. How can adoration be defined? a) True
Adoration is the humble acknowledgement by human beings that they are creatures of the thrice-holy Creator.
553. What are the different forms of the prayer of petition? d) the first thing to ask for is the coming of the Kingdom
It can be a petition for pardon or also a humble and trusting petition for all our needs either spiritual or material. The first thing to ask for, however, is the coming of the Kingdom.
554. In what does the prayer of intercession consist? a) True
Intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It conforms us and unites us to the prayer of Jesus who intercedes with the Father for all, especially sinners. Intercession must extend even to one’s enemies.
555. When is thanksgiving given to God? d) all of the above
The Church gives thanks to God unceasingly, above all in celebrating the Eucharist in which Christ allows her to participate in his own thanksgiving to the Father. For the Christian every event becomes a reason for giving thanks.
556. What is the prayer of praise? b) False
Praise is that form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It is a completely disinterested prayer: it sings God’s praise for his own sake and gives him glory simply because he is.