- MUST SEE WEBSITE: Institute of School and Parish Development (Catholic Website of the week)
- Catholic Priest Who "died twice" Gives Thanks to God for Coronavirus Recovery
(Diocesan News and BEYOND)-READ END OF E-WEEKLY
- The Blessings of a Catholic School (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Catholic Schools Week
".they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions." Luke 2:46
This week nearly 2 million children celebrate Catholic Schools Week in some form. Many of us may have attended a Catholic school in our time. Many remember the dear nuns, or a wonderful lay teacher who had big shoes to fill, yet brought 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. To bring one into a real, personal encounter with Jesus Christ and His beloved bride, the Church, on a daily basis is what Catholic Schools seek to do. 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 and celebrate it, 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 them) that which has brought so many blessings to this earth, and so that this blessing will not disappear from the earth.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings can be found at: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB
a) Baptism is necessary for salvation
b) there is a Baptism of blood
c) there is a Baptism of desire
d) all of the above
263. What are the effects of Baptism? (CCC 1262-1274, 1279-1280)
a) keeps one from sinning
b) makes baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity
c) gives them a desire to be perfect
d) makes one equal to Jesus
264. What is the meaning of the Christian name received at Baptism? (CCC 2156-2159, 2167)
a) offers the baptized a model of holiness
b) all Christian names ultimately mean, ‘Jesus’
c) an assurance of intercession before God
d) none of the above
(Answers on back)
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).
A Catholic School Helps To Teach Children How To Pray
Prayer is what connects us to God and is communication with God, so it is central to the life of any human person.
Catholic Schools assist parents and families in the necessary and essential task of teaching children how to pray.
. Children do not only pray at Catholic Schools multiple times throughout the day,
they are taught how to pray, listening to God and responding to His call and direction.
. Teachers and staff not only pray themselves, but witness lives of prayer to students.
. Prayer is not just something done as much as it is something lived.
Catholic Schools move students and families to become persons of living prayer moment to moment, day to day.
"We chose a Catholic school for our children to help them grow in the faith. The children learn in an environment that constantly reinforces Catholic values. Their academic year is busy and challenging yet the focus is always the teaching of Christ. Our attempts at parenting and educating our children center around planting seeds of faith that will carry the growth into adulthood." - St. Joseph School parent, Vancouver
A Catholic Education is a Challenging Education
High standards, strong motivation, effective discipline and an atmosphere of caring combine to foster
excellence and a high quality of student performance is supported by the evidence.
. Catholic school students score an average of 20% higher than state scores on norm-reference and achievement tests.
. Research shows that because of a greater emphasis on homework and study,
Catholic school students develop more effective writing skills.
. Catholic high school students attend post-secondary education at a rate of 97%
and are more likely to complete their program of studies.
. Catholic school students graduate from high school at a rate of 99%.
"A Catholic education is based in the values of respect, shared knowledge and love. These
values support a nurturing structure where students can thrive and grow. Starting from a base
of respect and love, students are given knowledge that will prepare them for high school and a
lifetime of learning. Catholic education has an unmatched tradition of success in bringing out
the best in students around the world." - Roger VanOosten, Our Lady of the Lake, Seattle
Have you considered a Catholic Education for your child?
A Catholic School is a Community
Parents and family are recognized as the primary educators and Catholic Schools join with them to form a living community of shared visions.
. Catholic schools join with the family to help students understand their special place in the family, the Church, and society.
. Catholic schools encourage family input and involvement in the ongoing education of their children.
Research shows that such a partnership results in higher attendance rates and lower dropout rates.
. Catholic schools strive to create a special bond among the students, the home, the school, and the
Church, so that all share the strong sense of community.
. The Catholic community shares the cost of education where tuition is often supplemented by the parish.
"There is something powerful about Catholic school communities that allow us to come
together, to be together, to trust one another in the kind of fellowship that allows us to care for
one another in long and lasting and enduring and committed ways." - Ed Taylor, St. Therese, Seattle
A Catholic Education Fosters Compassion and Service
. All schools include service learning and community service, starting with the Kindergarten.
. In Catholic schools there is a mutual respect which exists among students, faculty, and
administrators which generates an atmosphere of care and concern.
. Catholic schools help students understand that each person is unique and valuable.
. Catholic school students are more likely go on to serve the Church and society as lay and religious leaders.
"When my father passed away 19 years ago, I transferred from a public school to a Catholic
school in eighth grade. The acceptance and support I found there helped me deal with my
grief. I continued on to Catholic high school and college because of my experience. I am
grateful for the many blessings I received from Catholic school."
- St. Frances Cabrini School parent, Tacoma
"Young people of the third millennium must be a source of energy and leadership in our Church and our nation. Therefore, we must provide young people with an academically rigorous and doctrinally sound program of education and faith formation designed to strengthen their union with Christ and his Church. Catholic schools collaborate with parents and guardians in raising and forming their children as families struggle with the changing and challenging cultural and moral contexts in which they find themselves. Catholic schools provide young people with sound Church teaching through a broad-based curriculum, where faith and culture are intertwined in all areas of a school's life. By equipping our young people with a sound education, rooted in the Gospel message, the Person of Jesus Christ, and rich in the cherished traditions and liturgical practices of our faith, we ensure that they have the foundation to live morally and uprightly in our complex modern world. This unique Catholic identity makes our Catholic elementary and secondary schools "schools for the human person" and allows them to fill a critical role in the future life of our Church, our country, and our world."
(US Bishops: Catholic Schools on the Threshold, no. 9)
Why Parents Choose A Catholic School For Their Child
"My kids have all come to school and been really shy. Yet, over the years they opened up and
by the time they're in the upper grades they do really well. . . . my kids have excelled here,
they've done really well, they love their friends, and they've loved everything about school."
- Paul Sauvage, St. Joseph, Seattle
"I chose a Catholic school education for my children because of the gospel values that
permeate the curriculum, the opportunity for daily prayer and reflection, and the reinforcement
of what we as parents teach our children at home. Teamwork!"
- St. Brendan School parent, Bothell
"There are a lot of good schools of all kinds, but at many of them the ethic seems to be: 'What
are you going to do for my precious child?' In Catholic school the ethic is 'What are we -
together - going to do for our precious children?'"
- David Horsey, St. Benedict, Seattle
"A Catholic School is a great place for your children to learn and grow. The community and school families welcome new students and make families feel welcome. Children learn in small class sizes and are able to benefit with one on one attention when needed. The afterschool program helps students with parents that can be there after school to pick them up."
St. Michael School parent, Radom, Illinois
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
WHAT WE DO Institute for School & Parish Development (ISPD) is a national development consulting firm working exclusively with Catholic schools and parishes. We serve Catholic schools, parishes, and dioceses by helping them create and establish effective processes that engage people and invite resources from their community to assist their mission implementation. Thus,
"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
CELEBRATE "SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD" THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
Pope Francis in Sept., 2019, asked directed that the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time also be designated Sunday of Word of God. The Word of God is living and effective and meant to wash over our lives.
Our Lord had the hearts of his disciples on the road to Emmaus burning within them as he explained the Sacred Scriptures. Jesus prayed the Sacred Scriptures as all devout Jews of His time. By drawing closer to the love letters of our Heavenly Father, we will be more fed spiritually, and be more able to feed the true hunger of others.
Check in with your Parish Priest, and see what might be going on. And then with his permission, possibly do some of the following: Pass out good material on the Sunday readings this Sunday. Give a special blessing of lectors at the Sunday Masses. Challenge parishioners to read the entire chapter that each Sunday reading comes from. Look for Diocesan opportunities to share with your local parish.
He arrived at his sister’s with a persistent cough. The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital bed.
“The nursing staff told me that when I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, I had apparently died in the ambulance and been resuscitated by the two paramedics,” he told CNA in an interview.
“Apparently I got into critical care there and decided to give up again. I died in critical care, so they resuscitated me.”
Stack, a cheerful and self-deprecating 70-year-old, was speaking days before the U.K. passed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest figure in Europe.
The English Cardinal Vincent Nichols described the bleak milestone as “a day of great sadness all over the land.”
“So many people, families, communities, remembering those who have died in these terrible months of the pandemic. Each one is mourned. Each one is to be prayed for,” he said.
Stack told CNA that he could easily have been among those 100,000 people.
“I think that statistically, I should have just been a number. I would have been one of those that would have had a funeral and that would be it,” he said.
Looking back at the day he almost left this world, he said that he had no recollection of being taken to hospital, let alone of “dying” twice.
He didn’t know either that he had contracted COVID-19. For a while, he didn’t even know where he was.
“If you go into critical care, there’s no clock anywhere. They don’t do clocks because you’re not supposed to know what time it is and the lights are on all the time. If you’re unconscious and you’re in a controlled medical state, you don’t ask questions,” he said.
“I kept saying the Lord’s Prayer. And I kept thinking about my parents. And I kept seeing lots of green lights and blue lights. I didn’t see the Beatific Vision or Peter standing at a gate saying: ‘What the hell do you want? It’s not your time. Go back. Clear off.’ There was nothing like that.”
Five days after he was admitted to critical care, doctors gave Stack a trial drug. The day after, medics were standing at his bedside when they noticed that he raised his left eyelid as they were discussing him.
As he lay stricken in bed, he didn’t know that a pandemic had overrun the country and the population was now confined to home.
“At first I didn’t realize the seriousness of what was going on, mainly because there were no televisions. There was no press. Being so ill, one didn’t want to read anything. I had no stamina. My energy levels were almost nil,” he said.
“And the next thing was, you’ve got these people dressed in white spacesuits, saying: ‘We’re the COVID team.’ I said: ‘What the hell’s that? Is it the Olympics or something?’”
It took some time for hospital staff to establish that Stack was a Catholic priest. But once they did, a Catholic chaplain visited and gave him the Eucharist and the Sacrament of the Sick. He also received consoling visits from a Baptist chaplain.
A turning point came thanks to an unexpected act of kindness.
“I was slumped in a chair in critical care,” he said, noting with a chuckle that the phrase rhymed. “I was kind of like a zombie. One of the doctors came up to me. She sat in front of me and said: ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’”
“I couldn’t speak because I had a tracheostomy in my neck with the oxygen going in. So I just shrugged my shoulders. She said: ‘Would you like a shave, Michael?’ I nodded my head. So she spent about an hour giving me a shave. I had a beard and my hair was terrible.”
“Then she opened the curtain, took the bowl of water away, and met her other colleagues. She said: ‘I get an extra 10 bonus points: I just shaved a Catholic priest.’”
Stack was on a ventilator for 21 days and in critical care for 36 days. When he was moved to a new ward at the end of April, he began the arduous process of starting to walk again.
“Three jolly physio people turned up dressed in their masks and hoods. They said: ‘Hello, Michael, we’re going to get you to walk.’ I said: ‘How?’”
“With the first push and shove, they got me to put my feet on the ground. They lifted me forward and moved me two steps. That was the beginning of the process of learning to walk again.”
Stack was, of course, used to hospitals, but as a chaplain rather than a patient. He estimates that he has ministered to around 5,000 people who have died on wards. As well as serving at some of the U.K.’s busiest hospitals, he was also national chaplain to the Association of Catholic Nurses in England and Wales.
A few years ago, he published a book about the Church’s healing ministry. “Lord, When Did We See You Sick?” tells 12 stories of grace amid illness drawn from Stack’s ministry. In a foreword, Cardinal Nichols described it as “a moving testimony to the healing power of our prayerful companionship with the sick and dying.”
Stack noted that the title is from a passage in St. Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus says that we will be judged according to how we treated “these least brothers of mine.”
“That’s probably how we’ll get into eternal life: you’ll get the calculator out and see how many times you actually helped somebody,” he mused. “Or you’ll say: ‘I didn’t see any of that. I didn’t see anybody sick.’ Because we’re too busy, too busy working or enjoying ourselves here.”
Stack plans to add another six chapters to the book. And yes, one of them will be about his own unexpected recovery.
After eventually testing negative for the coronavirus, he was allowed to leave the hospital. He returned to his sister’s house, where he continued his rehabilitation program. He progressed from a walking frame to two sticks, then to one stick, and finally was able to walk on his own.
By August 2020, he was well enough to accept an invitation to return to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was able to thank the medical staff who saved his life and visit the critical care unit where he went to the brink of death and back again.
“My sister said, ‘Oh, you’re a bit of a Lazarus, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘No, well, he was dead for four days,’” he recalled.
“It’s thanks to the prayers that so many people have offered for me.”
At the end of that month, Stack went back to Christ the King parish in Coventry, where he had been assisting before his illness. His health was still delicate, but he wanted to thank parishioners for their unceasing prayers.
In a short address, captured on video, he said: “Thank you for your prayers, all of you, which have made a tremendous change to my state of life. I was close to being called twice and, for some reason, the Lord has decided it’s not time yet.”
He told CNA: “I found that very emotional and very, very exhausting because I wasn’t really up to it. I don’t think I was really fit enough to do that. But I thought I’ve got to get up and do something and thank people.”
Standing at the pulpit and with a growing weariness in his voice, he thanked all those who had sent him cards. He said he was especially touched by a portrait a young Mass-goer drew of him looking sprightly under a smiling sun.
“Thank you very much indeed for your message, for your prayer, and for the prayers of everybody. I’m full of gratitude. Thank you,” he said.
And with that, he stepped away to resounding applause to continue his recovery.
Photograph of Fr. Michael Stack used with the kind permission of Con McHugh.
Since Catholicism is imbued with sacramental celebrations, scholars note that Scripture can take a backseat to other aspects of church life. Statistics support this conjecture, with over 50 percent of Catholics saying they seldom or never read the Bible, according to a 2014 Pew survey. That compares to just 18 percent of Evangelical Protestants who rarely crack open the Good Book.
However, the reticence to read Scripture is understandable from the perspective of Bible scholars. Catholics were not widely encouraged to read Scripture until the 20th century, when Pope Pius XII extolled the practice in his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu in 1943. Over two decades later, the Second Vatican Council produced Dei Verbum, which amplified Pius’s message to a wider audience.
Dr. Gina Hens-Piazza, President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, told Crux she feels some Catholics are afraid to read the Bible, worrying they might err in their interpretation.
Despite this, “the Catholic believer has an opportunity, and perhaps even a responsibility, to become a student of Scripture,” she said.
Hens-Piazza, who is a professor of Old Testament studies at Jesuit School of Theology, said the Church should “empower” people and inform them that “they have the capacity to study Scripture.”
Hens-Piazza noted that while many “bright” people attend American parishes, “their understanding of Scripture - if they ever get occasion to study it - probably ended at a very early age.”
Holy Cross Father Adam Booth, a doctoral student studying the New Testament at Duke University, said the desire for more Catholics to read Scripture likely influenced the institution of Sunday of the Word of God.
Booth compared the decision by Pope Francis to establish this Sunday’s event to Pope John Paul II’s institution of the Luminous Mysteries in 2002.
“Sometimes we look at the range of things we commemorate liturgically, and we see what’s missing,” he said.
Booth said the “gaps” that form in how we devote our prayer - such as the earthly life of Jesus in the case of the Luminous Mysteries - are aspects of faith dealt with so often, they are sometimes not celebrated.
While the Bible is present in both the readings and many of the prayers at Mass, Booth said there’s no clear time to reflect on “the gift that God has given us words.”
Sunday of the Word of God falls on the third Sunday in Ordinary Time and will become an annual occasion for the Church. None of the readings or propers of the Mass will change, but Francis hopes congregations throughout the world will celebrate “with a certain solemnity.”
While churches decide how to create that “certain solemnity” on an individual level, Booth and Hens-Piazza both had suggestions on how to celebrate the occasion.
Hens-Piazza said the creation of something called lexical groups could be a resource for parishes to further explore Scripture.
She explained the concept: “Whoever is responsible for homilies the following Sunday would invite a sample of members of the community” to a session during the week, where the readings would be discussed. From there, the homilist could “let the homily grow out of that discussion.”
With lexical groups, what parishioners reflect on in the readings “actually becomes a part of what is the preaching message,” Hens-Piazza said.
She also said parishes could take a moment during this weekend’s Mass to bless and recognize ministers of the Word in the congregation.
Booth told Crux on Tuesday that he had not yet prepared his homily for the weekend, but planned to preach on the idea of how the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, a concept found in Sunday’s readings.
Noting that Catholics do not read the whole Bible through readings at Mass, Booth suggested reading beyond the selected passage for a given Sunday to gain more context of the Scriptures.
“If we’re reading six verses from Matthew 3 this week, why don’t you sit down and read the whole of Mathew 3?” he offered.
Both Booth and Hens-Piazza said that reviewing the Sunday readings ahead of time is a great tactic for families with young children.
“It can give the kids a sense of something to listen for,” said Booth. “They can pick out in advance something that might be meaningful for their family.”
While Sunday of the Word of God might shine a light on a soft spot for American Catholics, Hens-Piazza said she hopes the annual event will spread new ways to encounter the Bible.
“There’s so many things we can do that Catholics have a 15- or 20-minute introduction to three texts,” she said.
VATICAN CITY, January 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his daily Mass, Pope Francis noted how God seeks to have a personal relationship with each of us, emphasizing that he favors those who are humble and small because he is able to dialogue with them.
"There is a relationship between God and us little ones: God, when he must choose people, even his own people, he always chooses the little ones," the Pope said during his Jan. 21 homily.
Addressing those who were present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis centered his homily on the day's first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel in which the prophet anoints David as king upon the Lord's rejection of his older brothers.
Turning his thoughts to our own personal relationship with God, the Pope highlighted how we are God's people, and that "in a people, everyone has his post."
However, the pontiff said that although we belong to the People of God, "the Lord never speaks to the people like this, to the mass, never."
"He always speaks personally, with names. And he personally chooses," the Pope explained, adding that the story of creation shows us this because "it is the same Lord that with his hands made man and gave him a name: 'You are called Adam.'"
"And so begins that story between God and the person. And another thing, there is a relationship between God and us little ones: God, when he must choose people, even his own people, he always chooses the little ones."
Emphasizing how there is always a "dialogue between God and human littleness," the Pope recalled the words of Mary in her Gospel canticle when she said that "the Lord has looked upon my humility."
Returning to the first reading, the pontiff observed that we can see this attitude of the Lord "clearly" when Samuel first thinks that Jesse's eldest son is to be the anointed one because he is "tall" and "big," but instead the Lord tells him "at his appearance or his height," because "I have rejected him because it does not matter what man sees."
Instead, the Lord chooses David, the youngest, who "did not count for his father," the Pope continued, highlighting how the Lord chooses according to his own criteria, and not that of the world.
He chooses "the weak and the meek, to confound the mighty of the earth," the Pope said, recalling that although Jesse said that he was not home, David "was elected."
"All of us with Baptism have been elected by the Lord. We all are elected. He has chosen us one by one," he observed, adding that God "has given us a name and he watches over us" and that "there is a dialogue, because the Lord loves in this way."
"Even David became king, and then he made a mistake...he has made many perhaps, but the Bible tells us of two big ones, two heavy mistakes."
However, after committing these sins, "What did David do?" the pontiff asked, recalling that "He humbled himself. And returned to his littleness and said: 'I am a sinner.' And asked pardon and did penance."
David "kept his smallness, with repentance, with prayer, with tears," the Pope explained, adding that in thinking about this dialogue between "the Lord and our smallness," we can wonder where lays "Christian faithfulness?"
"Christian fidelity, our fidelity, is simply to preserve our littleness, so that it can dialogue with the Lord," he reflected, "preserve our littleness."
"For this reason, humility, gentleness, meekness, are so important in the life of the Christian because it is a custody of smallness that the Lord likes to look at. And it will always be a dialogue between our littleness and the greatness of the Lord."
Bringing his homily to a close, Pope Francis prayed through the intercession of Saint David, and "also through the intercession of the Virgin Mary who sang joyfully to God, because she had guarded her humility," that "the Lord gives us the grace to guard our littleness in front of Him."
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
Some Thoughts :
- I grew a beard thinking it would say "Distinguished Gentleman." Instead, turns out it says, "Senior Discount, Please!"
-I just found out I'm colorblind. The diagnosis came completely out of the purple.
- I bet you I could stop gambling.
-Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.
-668 – The neighbor of the beast.
-It’s bad luck to be superstitious.
Rare Phone Call - My mother, a master of guilt trips, showed me a photo of herself waiting by a phone that never rings. "Mom, I call all the time," I said. "If you had voicemail, you’d know." Soon after, my brother installed it for her.
When I called the next time, I got her message: "If you are a salesperson, press one. If you’re a friend, press two. If you’re my daughter who never calls, press 911 because the shock will probably give me a heart attack."Aged To PerfectionThe average age of people living in our military retirement community is 85. Recently, a neighbor turned 100, and a big birthday party was thrown. Even his son turned up. “How old are you?” a tenant asked. “I’m 81 years old,” he answered. The tenant shook her head. “They sure grow up fast, don’t they?”
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?''
10 Things You Never Hear in Church
1. Hey! It's my turn to sit in the front pew!
2. I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went 25 minutes over time.
3. Personally I find witnessing to the Gospel much more enjoyable than golf.
4. I've decided to give our church the $500 a month I used to send to TV evangelists.
5. I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class.
6. Forget the denominational minimum salary. Let's pay our pastor so he can live like we do.
7. I love it when we sing hymns I've never heard before!
8. Since we're all here, let's start the service early.
9. Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas.
10. Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign!
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday, January 31, 2021
The First Reading - Deuteronomy 8:15-20
Moses spoke to all the people, saying: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”
Deuteronomy is structured in the form of three discourses, the second of which contains the laws proper. The first discourse (1:1-4:43) is an introduction to the book. It stresses what the book, and the entire Bible, is all about. It tells us that God in His providence and mercy is constantly watching over His people, over every single man and woman, as can be seen from the wonders He worked during the 40 years the Jews spent in the wilderness. The second discourse, from which our reading for today comes, encompasses 4:44 through chapter 28. This discourse stresses the Decalogue and that God’s choice of Israel is a pure act of love on His part and that this grace must permeate the lifestyle of His Chosen People; consequently a whole series of liturgical, civil and criminal laws are given to ensure that His promises are carried out.
Adults - How do the teachings of the Church help us from hurting God, ourselves, and each other?
Teens - How can the liturgy guide your personal prayer life?
Kids - How do God’s laws show His care and love for us?
Responsorial- Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
R.If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
We are called to be open to the Lord, and to acknowledge His gifts and blessings. What are you thankful for this week? Consider starting a gratitude journal.
The Second Reading- 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Reflection - Marriage involves spouses in many worldly duties and cares that can make it challenging for them to concentrate themselves perfectly and completely to the Lord’s service. The married are tied by flesh and blood in many relationships (which are good!) that require their attention and can limit a complete and total dedication to God. The husband must try to please the wife, and the wife the husband. Consequently, they are “divided;” impeded from devoting their attention solely to the Lord. The celebate, being freed from the cares and duties of family life, can devote themselves with undivided attention and heart to the Lord. They can be dedicated to God, consecrated, sacred, reserved for God and His service.
-In what ways can you bring the Lord into the cares of your daily life?
The Holy Gospel according to Mark 1:21-28
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Reflection Jesus has just started His public ministry. For the past two weeks we have heard of Him going out and recruiting disciples. New He begins to teach. Jesus’ first miracle in Mark’s gospel is, significantly, an exorcism. In antiquity sickness was ascribed to evil spirits. The exorcism is a sign that in His presence the power of evil is reduced to impotency. God’s rule is at hand. Jesus is, in effect, recognized as the Messiah, anointed with God’s Spirit and possessing power over evil spirits.
Adults - The demon knew who Christ was, but his cry of identification was not one of worship - it was simply of recognition. Peter’s later confession of Jesus’s identity is one of love and worship. How can we make sure our confession of Christ follows Peter’s example?
Teens - Jesus’ divinity is implied here. How?
Kids - Remember to always ask for God’s help in times of trouble.
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - We are creatures with nothing of our own to boast of. We were created by God, and every talent or power we possess was given us by God. God's benevolence could have stopped there and we would have no right to complain. But when we recall the special gifts he gave man, which raise him above all other created things, we see that he could not, because of his own infinitely benevolent nature, leave us to an earthly fate. What thinking man could be content with a short span of life on earth? What real purpose in life could an intelligent being have who knew that nothing awaited him but eternal oblivion in the grave? What fulfillment would man's intellectual faculties find in a few years of what is for the majority of people perpetual struggle for earthly survival? No, God created us to elevate us, after our earthly sojourn, to an eternal existence where all our desires and potentialities would have their true fulfillment. Hence the incarnation, hence the life, death and resurrection of Christ, who was God's Son, as the central turning point of man's history. — Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
Let us live this amazing life in constructive thoughts, words, and deeds, such that it leads to that incredible life that awaits us!
262. Is it possible to be saved without Baptism?d) all of the above
Since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith (Baptism of blood). Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still (under the impulse of grace) sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism (Baptism of desire). The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.
263. What are the effects of Baptism? b) makes the baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity
Baptism takes away original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. It makes the baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace, the grace of justification which incorporates one into Christ and into his Church. It gives one a share in the priesthood of Christ and provides the basis for communion with all Christians. It bestows the theological virtues and the gifts of the HolySpirit. A baptized person belongs forever to Christ. He is marked with the indelible seal of Christ (character).
264. What is the meaning of the Christian name received at Baptism?a) offers the baptized a model of holiness
The name is important because God knows each of us by name, that is, in our uniqueness as persons. In Baptism a Christian receives his or her own name in the Church. It should preferably be the name of a saint who might offer the baptized a model of sanctity and an assurance of his or her intercession before God.