- MUST SEE WEBSITE: Institute of School and Parish Development (Catholic Website of the week)
- At Paralympics, Looking for Goalball Gold and God's Glory (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Illinois: Prayer in Public Schools (Helpful Hints for Life)
-***NEW FEATURE*** CATHOLIC QUESTIONS AND CATHOLIC ANSWERS is a new section of the e-weekly (see below) ***NEW FEATURE***
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. >> Readings
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
Those fans had come to watch Matt and the rest of Team USA go for gold. To leave it all on the court. To play heads-up defense and lights-out offense.
They had come to see Matt play goalball.
--Excuse me, but what the hell is goalball?--
Matt gets that a lot. He really doesn’t mind.
“I tell people it’s kind of like a mix between reverse volleyball and reverse dodgeball. You have a volley back and forth, but instead of hitting over a net, you’re throwing it on the ground. And then instead of getting out of the way of the ball, you’re getting in front of it,” he explained.
Oh, and one more thing. The players are blind. And if not completely blind, they’re blindfolded. They only know where the ball is going by the sound of two bells tinkling in its core, and by the feeling of its cutting path across the court.
If that game sounds placid or easy, think again. The ball is a three pound rubber sphere, and it gets thrown fast — upwards of 50 miles per hour at elite levels. And just 50 feet from where it’s pitched, players dive across court to stop the ball’s path with their bodies. Then they hop up and whip the ball toward the other team’s goal. Each team might have 100 possessions in a 24-minute match.
Goalball is intense.
“When you realize just how hard that ball is and just how fast it’s going...it is an extremely physical sport. It’s a rough game, for sure,” Simpson told The Pillar.
Goalball is also the only sport in the Paralympics which began with disabled people — not as an adapted version of something else, like wheelchair basketball or sitting volleyball, but as its own thing, developed for blind people, and tailored to the experience of living without sight.
“So goalball was actually created right after World War II, by a couple of Austrian doctors who recognized the need to rehabilitate soldiers who had been traumatically blinded in the war,” Simpson explained.
“And how better to get some young, athletic, competitive men back on their feet than sport?”
“Their hope was to not only get these guys back on track through competition, but also to teach a lot of the skills that are really tough to come by for people who are blind — proprioception skills, orientation skills, basic things, even, like, how do you walk in a straight line [without sight]? How do you turn at a right angle?”
“Those things are hard enough for someone who was born blind, but even more difficult for someone who loses their vision.”
“From there it became a part of the Paralympics in ‘76, and has been contested there ever since then.”
When Simpson took the Paralympic court in 2016, it was the culmination of a 15-year journey. He was born with a genetic retinal condition that caused his vision to gradually decline through childhood; he is now completely without sight. He found goalball when he was 10 years old, and his vision was already very limited.
In an essay published last month, Simpson explained what it meant to start playing goalball.
“Finding the sport meant much more than just finding a game to play. I found an outlet where I could win or lose, succeed or fail, and the only thing that didn’t matter in goalball, unlike everywhere else, was how much I could see.”
“It mattered that I was unskilled at the game. It mattered that I was a scrawny kid who couldn’t throw that three-pound goalball hard enough to intimidate anyone, much less actually score a goal. So, I set out to be the best.”
He decided to be one of the best, and Simpson got there. He played for a world championship with Team USA in 2014, trained at the Olympic training center and the national goalball training center. He had his own Uber commercial.
And he was a key part of Team USA’s roster at the 2016 Paralympics.
The team made it all the way to the gold medal game in Rio. But with gold on the line, they suffered a big loss to Lithuania, and walked away silver medalists.
“Lithuania has been really good for a really long time, and they had never won the Paralympics. They won the world championship two or three times, but they finally won their gold. They had the best player in the world for two decades, Genrik Pavliukianec, and he finally won his gold. So it was cool to see that, even as we were at the wrong side of the outcome in that game.”
Simpson had four goals in the gold medal game. But when it was over, he wasn’t sure if he would play with the national team again. He was going to law school. And the Rio Games had been tough on him.
“For me the Rio cycle was really frustrating. I tore my bicep in January of 2016 and broke my finger maybe eight weeks before Rio. So I came in with a lot of injuries beyond my control. And I really didn’t have the game that I wanted to have from a personal perspective, even though I was, of course, overjoyed for the team’s success.”
He meant to hang it up after the Paralympics. But when Team USA’s coach reached out to Simpson and asked him to play, he agreed to come back in 2019 to help the national team qualify for the 2020 Games. And after that, Simpson knew he wanted to play again on the global stage.
And this time, he knew he wanted a gold medal.
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Of course, there were no 2020 Paralympics in 2020. The pandemic meant that, like the Olympics, they would be pushed back to 2021.
For Simpson, that means when he takes the Paralympics court wearing a Team USA jersey this month, a lot of things will be different.
At 31, he’a a team veteran. He’s also a new father. And Simpson and his wife are also new Catholics; they entered the Church together in June 2020.
Simpson says he’s got an entirely new perspective on the game he loves.
“My faith has been deepened so tremendously just by taking part in the daily life of the Church. It’s also been so encouraging to have the structure and practices of Catholicism. Praying the rosary has been so helpful as a foundation and a routine.”
“Another really big thing for me has been learning about the saints and taking encouragement from their example. Seeing their faith lived in their daily lives — whether it be Newman, my patron, or Thomas More, big for me as a lawyer, or St. Sebastian as an athlete,” he added.
“All of this has been so helpful to give me perspective on what I get to do, but also to put it in the bigger picture — the fact that I get to play this game for my country. And whether or not anyone is watching, I’m representing my country and everything I do can be given to God.”
“In discovering the fullness of the Church, I’ve learned, or can understand a little better, what it means to be able to find joy in everything that we do.”
“I think as a Protestant I sometimes struggled to understand how to relate the world as I experienced it to Christ. And as a Catholic — well, Chesterton was a big influence into the Church for me, especially his joy at creation, and his joy at life.”
Simpson recalled a favored passage from G.K. Chesterton’s “The Ethics of Elfland.”
The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is not due to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that the specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say "Do it again", and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon.”
To Simpson, Chesterton offers a reminder that “I can go play goalball for the glory of God.”
“God loves when we love to do what we do. I think I have a much better appreciation for that,” Simpson added.
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Simpson’s newfound Catholic faith, which came slowly through the influence of books and friends, and ultimately in discussions with his now-wife, has also shaped his perspective on his own blindness.
“When the world tells you every day that you are disabled, and that you are lacking something...how does that impact your own perception of your value, and of those other gifts that God has provided?”
“And for me, I think it’s two sides of the same coin: Being able to recognize that I need help, both in a blindness sense and also in a salvific sense, but also recognizing that God has prepared and equipped me, exactly as he saw fit, and that being contrite or kind of backing down because I am disabled is not what God wants for me.”
“There's so many times where it's very easy to think, ‘Well, that person can see, so they probably know something better than I do.’”
“In the realm of driving a car that’s definitely true. But in the realm of life, it’s 100 percent not true, and oftentimes the exact opposite, right? So I think for me that means finding the boldness in Christ and saying [to myself], ‘God has put me here to do X, Y, or Z.’ And being willing to allow that I am capable of those things, in spite of the fact that most of the world would look at me and recognize my deficit.”
Simpson finds reminders of that dignity on the goalball court.
“I wouldn’t have been able to recognize my abilities, and my ability to compete, and to strive, and to seek excellence, were it not for the level playing field provided by goalball. And it’s something that I am uniquely equipped for.”
“I always say that goalball is a sport that’s all about who’s the best at being blind. We kind of practice goalball everyday, you know, just by walking around. Even that I’m really good at, you know, things like walking in a straight line and not getting hit by a bus — that’s kind of practicing for goalball,” he jokes.
Ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 24, Simpson’s practice has been much more focused, and much more intense. He and five teammates have spent a lot time in the weight room, in the film room, and on the court, getting ready to compete for a gold medal.
Still, Simpson told The Pillar he’s tasked as a Christian with another kind of practice.
It’s the practice of virtue, in the face of the misperceptions that come on a daily basis for some people with disabilities.
Simpson jokes about the way his disability is often misunderstood. He’s blind, he says, but his hearing is not impaired.
Still, it happens often: “I meet someone on the street, or in public somewhere, and they start, you know, speaking to me slower and louder.”
“And I think the blessing of that is that it’s really easy to figure [people] out, you kind of have this automatic filter on people. You have an automatic and enhanced BS detector, because you can tell who is respectful and willing to learn and willing to be taught that their preconceptions are not necessarily right.”
“And then you can tell very, very easily who thinks they know what it means to be blind or disabled or whatever. And they're going to treat you as something lesser, no matter what.”
“And so I’ve come to look at that as a blessing, because I don't have to try to become friends with somebody who’s not going to end up being very genuine in the first place.”
“And certainly one of the things that I struggle with the most is patience with that...And, as a faithful Christian, I want to love people in their wrongness, even as I am so blessed and reliant upon the generosity of others. You know, there's not a day goes by that I’m not in a situation where I need the assistance of someone else, and that's just the reality of blindness, but also, of course, of life.”
“We talk about sports, and the Paralympics, as an opportunity to educate. As frustrated as I might get by someone who has just wildly incorrect preconceptions, it's still an opportunity to educate,” Simpson said.
To win gold in Tokyo, Simpson will need to rely on his teammates, and he’ll need also to trust in his own abilities, and the skills he’s worked on for for years. And for kids who experience disabilities, Simpson said, sports can be a way to learn to compete in a world that will include serious challenges.
He mentions that there are nearly 65,000 school-aged children in America who experience blindness or serious vision impairment.
“And, you know, most of them are not being given opportunities even for recreation with their peers, much less competitive sports. And you want to talk about a population that needs to learn hard lessons, that needs to learn, you know, no matter how inclusive a society would want to be, we live in in a world that is created for the sighted — that's not wrong, that's just reality. And we need to learn how to win and how to lose, and how to compete on something of a level playing field. And how to work everyday at being the best.”
Simpson said that for disabled people, “it’s often easy to feel like one deserves less—a lesser family, lesser career, lesser outcome in anything—because you are disabled.”
Partially through sports, he said, the Lord has shown him those perceptions aren’t reality.
“God has continued to open these doors and bless me in amazing ways,” he reflected.
Goalball has been part of that — an “incredible blessing in a way that I really didn’t think possible.”
Simpson hopes his team’s play in Tokyo might inspire other people with disabilities, especially kids with disabilities, to take up sports and believe in their potential.
But his first goal is to come home with a gold medal.
Because of the pandemic, the Paralympic tournament will be unpredictable, he said. The national team has not played in most of the international tournaments it usually plays to warm up for the Paralympic Games, and it’s not clear how much training other teams have been able to do.
Ten teams have qualified for Tokyo. And Simpson told The Pillar that “there’s six teams that could win and it wouldn't be surprising to anyone.”
“But I’m extremely optimistic,” he said, citing the development of younger players and time for the team to coalesce.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” he added, “but we’ll see.”
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.
Here’s the photo below:
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
-Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible? A. Samson, he brought the house down. (destroyed the pillars that dropped the roof on his enemies)
-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 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.
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday, August 22nd, 2021
The First Reading- Joshua 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B
Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: "If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." But the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."
After Moses’ death, Joshua was the one who led the Hebrew people to the Promised Land. He addresses them at Shechem — a city designated as a place of asylum for lawbreakers — specifically murderers. In that place of mercy, Joshua asks the people if they are ready to turn away from their idols and serve only God. As they became this new nation, they had to be wholly committed to their identity in God.
Adults - Spend some time this week reflecting on the everyday miracles that God has worked in your life recently.
Teens -Is there an area of your life where you are keeping God at arm's length?
Kids - What does it mean to love God above all else?
Responsorial- Psalm 34: 2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Many are the troubles of the just one,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him;
he watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
-Study a Eucharistic Miracle this week.
The Second Reading- Ephesians 5:21-32
Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
This passage from Ephesians is pretty well known… wives be subordinate, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church. What is sometimes missed in this, as couples look at each other snickering, is the serious vocation that marriage really is. Wives never act alone — everything they do affects the family, so there needs to be agreement between husbands and wives on decisions that will be made. Husbands are told that they should love their wives so much that they’d be willing to give up their lives for them. When you stop living for just yourself, and become “one body” with another, it’s serious stuff. You really have to be wholly committed to your identity in God to become the “little church” that marriage calls us to.
Do you see marriage as a vocation? How easy is it to live up to Paul’s description of what a husband or wife should be?
The Holy Gospel according to John 6: 60-69
Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
Our Gospel wraps up the Bread of Life Discourse, five weeks in the making! When challenged about what Jesus means by eating His Flesh and drinking his Blood, He doesn’t back down. People leave. He lets them go. God won’t force us to become what He made us for; we have to respond freely. Jesus asks the Apostles if they will go, too. They say, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” By recognizing Jesus for who He is, they were able to be wholly committed to their faith, even when what Jesus said was confusing and seemed a little unbelievable.
Adults - How well do you understand the Real Presence in the Eucharist? How can you grow in your understanding?
Teens -Where do you think you would have stood in today’s Gospel? Would you have been able to accept what Jesus said, or would you have walked away?
Kids - Have you received your First Communion yet?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! – “We have the proofs of Christ's divinity which Peter and the Apostles later got. We have also the faith of two thousand years of the Christians whose belief in the Blessed Eucharist as a sacrifice and sacrament was at the very center of their Christian lives. We have also the noble example of many martyrs who gladly gave their lives in defense of this truth. Our faith may never be put to such an extreme test, but should it be, God grant that we will not be found wanting.” Let us live the fullness of each moment in Jesus! --Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
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.