Get Ready…Go Out

As we are about to start a new year it’s important that all teachers

recognize some important things about their students

Growth:

they have grown from last year, regardless of what grade they are in and whether or not they have you for the first, second, third time or beyond…they are growing…that means new worries, new concerns, new joys, new experiences

Elevate:

Make sure your students know they are elevated(important) to you, and that you won’t talk down to them, but rather will include them in discussions(age appropriately of course)

Truth:

Whether this is your first or 20th year teaching, go in knowing the truth, know what you believe and how to defend your belief…and know where to find information for when you are unsure when questions arise…and they will arise  and every year is different.

Responsibility:

You hold these lives in your hands, what you do or say today has the potential to affect them forever….

Excite:

Your level of excitement will directly affect the interest level of your students…even if you are talking about a topic that they don’t particularly find interesting they will get more out of it if you present it in such a way that activates their minds.

Activate:

This is the part where we don’t just excite the students about a topic but we encourage them to go further…if you are discussing social issues especially this is a great time to bring in their opinions for what they can do as a class to help….think food drive, penny war, visiting a nursing home…etc…

Deliver:

Deliver your message, in a way that is real, relevant and easily remembered…and then deliver the students back into the world ready to share.

Yes:

Yes…this is the AMEN moment….you can teach the Gospel, you can teach social responsibility, and if you are unsure, with prayer and a little reading you can be ready to equip your students to face all they face, on a daily basis, with more love in their hearts.

so What are you waiting for?..it’s time to GET READY

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Becoming a Parish of INTENTIONAL Disciples

As part of a committee I am on, we are reading the book:

Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples, Sherry A. Weddell, Editor

The Catholic Church, much like other denominations, are facing dropping numbers of active parishioners.

Growing up Methodist, becoming Catholic, and working in other denominations as a musician  I can say the loss of focus is across the board.

While some denominations, for example have offered classes for lay leaders for years, the idea of intentionally forming disciples within a parish is foreign to many.  Even the parishes with active lay leaders, often lack the knowledge/ability to create disciples among their congregation.

Regardless of what variation of Christian you are

Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples 

would be a good place to start.

specifically the chapter that talks about the differences between a

“Maintenance-Driven Parish” vs a  “Mission Driven Parish”

think about it

is your church focused on doing things the way they’ve always been done, and led by the people that have always done the leading and deciding

or

is your church focused on bringing people to a closer relationship with God/Jesus , and a desire within them to share that love others.

Does your church seek out the congregation members who are on the sideline,

or do they stay in their comfortable cliques

In the chapter “A Parish Moves Ahead”  it was perhaps perfectly stated :

Many in the parish gave countless hours and a portion of their resources in support of hte parish and its activities.  These faithful, longtime parishioners had a vested interest in the parish, and the success of any paradigm shift rested in part upon their ability to embrace and participate in future changes.

so I ask…how do we as a parish create this “vested interest” in new generations of disciples?

it is not going to be done by the exclusionary attitudes of many congregations…”this is how it has always been done and it is the only way”…. for example

NO, in order to form intentional disciples we must embrace the full body of Christ, those within our walls and those outside our walls.

We must open our arms to discussions, within the our very buildings and committees

The questions must revolve around

Do we want to only keep doing what we’ve been doing?

or

Do we want to move forward as intentional followers/disciples of Christ, opening our hearts and minds to the world in need around us?

I’m sure moving forward as a mission parish is a difficult job, a real shift in what the focus is…but there are parishes that do this

some of the smaller parishes I’ve worked for do this much better than the larger churches….providing outreach in ways that would shame the large church, more concerned with logistics than just digging in and moving forward.

so

it’s time to be shepherds with the smell of sheep that’s what Pope Francis says.

time to move away from your cliques and get among the people

a chart about mission vs maintenance church

Look it’s simple we are sent to share the good news and make new disciples

you can’t do that sitting in your pew only acknowledging the friends you already have.

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Take a moment for prayer in these back to school days

As the summer comes to a close

and

as children are getting ready to head back to school, and Sunday school/Religious Ed Programs

and

as teachers are getting ready to head back to teaching

Let us remember them in prayer

and in a similar form lets pray for ourselves our children head back to school

Listen to A Parents Prayer, by Cary McVay

Amen

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Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

It is not often I write about the books I read.  Though I have written about many

It is even less often that I feel the importance of sharing my review with my other blogs

This book review will find a place on all the pages.

————————————————

This book is one of those rare Gems, like…a shell found intact on the sea shore, that it must be shared.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift by the Sea”

Is a perfect analogy  for life.   Really most of it pertains to all humans, but being a woman, her focus is on how We(women) live so much for other’s (people and things) that we forget to take time for ourselves and what is really important.

The amazing thing about this book is it still stands firm today.

She died in 2001

This book was first published in 1955.

1955 a time when looking back we think of black and white tv shows, where the mothers were happy to push their vacuums and wash their dishes.

LIndbergh, though really living a life of privilege touched by great tragedy(the kidnapping and death of her first son)

is so very insightful to the plagues of modern society.

She cleverly weaves her thoughts while comparing stages of her life to the different types of seashells you find at the shore.

Written with no pretense, and easy to follow, if only everyone had someone so wise in their lives.

I wish I could share all I love about this book

but I will try to pare it down to one quote from each chapter that stood out to me in an attempt to get you to want to go on and read more.

From Chapter 2, Channelled Whelk

…My Shell is not like this, …Surely it had shape once.  It has a shape still in my mind   What is the Shape of my life?

…For to be a woman …the pattern of our lives is essentially circular.  We must be open to all points of the compass….How difficult for us then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.

….we who should choose simplicity, choose complication…

…One is free like the hermit crab to change ones shell…

From Chapter 3, Moon Shell

…We feel so frightened today of being alone, that we never let it happen….

…When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place.  We must re-learn to be alone….

…If one is out of touch with oneself then one cannot touch others…

…If it is a woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too…

…By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. …

…The world does not understand , in either man or woman, the need to be alone…

…Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands…

…What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive…

From Chapter 4, Double-Sunrise

……It was a gift, freely offered, freely taken, in mutual trust….

…Somehow, we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy…

…that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form…

From Chapter 5, Oyster Bed

…That is what marriage is, isn’t it–continuity of a relationship? Of course, but not necessarily continuity in one single form or stage…

…It is made of loyalties, and inter-dependencies, and shared experiences…

…We push the clock back and try to prolong the morning…..In our breathless attempts we often miss the flowering that waits for afternoon…

From Chapter 6, Argonauta,

…The light shed by any good relationship illuminates all relationships…

…good communication is stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after…

…When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment..   It is an impossibility…

…Perhaps this is the most important thing….each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid…

From Chapter 7, A Few Shells:

…For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well…

…Then communication becomes communion and one is nourished as one never is by words…

These were not my only highlighted passages in the book but the few that I thought would make you want to read the book.

Use this book as your few minutes away for renewal  and then..share it with someone else…

Peace

May you find your own sea shore.

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The Earth Belongs to God

Psalm 24:1New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;

As summer is winding down, and thoughts return to teaching a new batch of kids in religious ed  I find myself looking at the random verse that came to me on:

Your Daily Psalm

How fitting, I don’t think I’ve used this passage before when teaching creation.

But this year I just might.

Typically the lesson on God’s creation focuses on Genesis and the well remembered 7 days of creation

followed by talks of what we can do to care for God’s Creation.

Even our Pope, Pope Francis is very much in the promotion of caring for God’s creation

“I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated,” he said.

When we pull from various bible verses and church leaders

We can see that caring for God’s Creation (people, land, animals, and all things God created) should be first and foremost on our minds

Is what we do compatible with the idea of caring for God’s creation

and from Hebrews we read:

Hebrews 4:13New International Version (NIV)

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

For Further reading check into the United States Council of Catholic Bishops for their environment/ecology resource

you can find that here:

Caring for God’s Creation

St Francis also has a prayer for all creatures

read the canticle

I bring up St. Francis because for the last few years now he has been our “class” Saint.

and ties in very well to caring for all of God’s creation.

Peace

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The Bible, Reading, Connections, Moving Forward

As I reflect back on my children learning to read I remember them first learning letters, then words then sentences.  My oldest started reading at 3 we know this because he went on a Ferris wheel and said “don’t rock the seat” over and over and when asked why he pointed to the sign in front of him .

He read the sign.

My other children also read early, but with one difference.  They seemed more able to make connections to what they read.

For multiple reasons(maybe we pushed too hard with the first but making connections was never easy for him.

You may ask, “What does this have to do with the Bible?”

Well as we mature in our faith we read differently…yes…it’s true

we can pick up the bible and read the words, the prayers, psalms  and stories it contains but at an elementary level…that is all we are doing is reading…and perhaps memorizing some of what we read.

At some point though, it becomes clear that just reading the words is not enough.

I am not suggesting that we need to fully understand what we read; but it is important to make connections to what we are reading.

The next question is how do we do that? How do we start to realize the relevant connections of ancient scripture to our own lives?

and once we do that : How do we make those connections start happening for the classes we teach, whether first graders or senior citizens how do we help other’s make connections to the stories of Jesus, the stories told by Jesus, and the other stories in the bible.

Here are my suggestions:

1.  Research

this does not mean hours upon hours of digging into academia, rather get a good bible with a concordance, one that perhaps even gives you some history of the book you are reading from right at the beginning of each book

or

do a search online

It is so super easy to type in a passage you want to share and find much true information, stick to the first few headings when you search and you should be ok

for example I just searched

“Pauls Letter to the Ephesians”

and the first thing that came up was a link to a page on the United States Council of Catholic Bishops Website giving an introduction to Ephesians

you can find it here

another great resource is Bible Gateway they talk of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians here

I like bible gateway especially for bible study because you can look up a verse in many different translations of the bible and it opens up for discussion the different ways people may understand that verse.

2.  Make connections for yourself

read, read and reread, basically do a lectio divina on the passage you are going to discuss

think about what stands out to you in that passage

think about why it stands out to you

what is it saying about you, your faith, etc.

3. Share your connections and encourage others to share what they get out of the passage

regardless of the age of your class be prepared to offer mini suggestions to get them thinking about how they may act on what they have heard or read in that scripture passage

maybe it speaks to their internal faith

maybe it speaks to their interactions with others

4.  Discuss what to do next

Reading is one thing

Making connections is one thing

Acting on what you read is quite another

perhaps acting is

going out and sharing their bible reading experience with someone else

perhaps it is volunteering somewhere

perhaps it is just praying for more insight on what to do next.

Yes the Bible was meant to be read

but without making connections to what was read

and then acting on those connections

and how they impact our life

the Bible may just as well be any other book that we read and set aside.

We must act

we must continue to read

to make connections

to spread the Good news.

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Stand By Me, praise God even in the storm.

  

No…not that “Stand by me.”

perhaps this one:

or

for meditation perhaps this one:

It is so easy to thank God when life is going good. as we want

It is easy to thank God when our family is healthy and we want for nothing.

But how you pray and thank God when your are  tested, when you are facing the “storms of life”…..that is what shows your faith…

Be thankful in all things

Rejoice everyday you have life within you

and whatever storm you are facing, He will calm it,

I found this beautiful prayer by daniellawhyteprayer

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Did Jesus Know he was God?

I am currently taking a course through Edx on Jesus in the Scriptures.  It is offered by Notre Dame(a catholic university) and is free to take as are all ed x courses.

A peer of mine posted two questions here is the second:

My second question is in relation to Jesus divinity. I believe that Jesus is God and man, but I wonder if Jesus knew he was God from the very beginning of his life, or was the realization of him being God something that he came to know from God? Or was the realization of who he is confirmed at His Baptism?

and this is my answer:

I think of Jesus as a young boy going to the temple and his parents worried because they can’t find him…

and he says

Luke 2:41-52New International Version (NIV)

The Boy Jesus at the Temple 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

now to expand on that thought for this site

Yes, I believe Jesus knew from a very young age that he was God’s son.  Did he know the full implication of that at a young age?

We don’t know for sure.  It grew on him, he became aware of his calling as God’s son.

Remember he was fully human….fully divine.

Want to dig deeper? Check out this blog:

Catholic Stand

or this article from EWTN

from the catechism of the catholic church

472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,101 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.102 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.103

473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.104 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”105 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.106 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.107

Finally a thought that Jesus no doubt had daily

TGIF

(by the way I did not come up with this but found it on google images looking for something else)

If we put God first in our thoughts, and prayers, today and everyday….then…we live as Jesus lived, do as Jesus did  and we help open the Gospel to those around us.

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Press On

As Religious Education teachers, As Catechists, As Sunday School Teachers, whatever title you give yourself….We are human

We are children of God

and we struggle at times, even those who can quote scripture, at times have doubts

We are not immune to the struggles of

economy, family, society.

We seek our true purpose

We wonder what our worth is

and yes

We have moments of weakness

even if our students seldom see them

but somehow we need to let go of what is consuming us

and ready ourselves to teach the Gospel to our students(regardless of age)

and in that way..we press on

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Meditation with Music

slow your breathing

relax your shoulders, untense your muscles

listen, in quiet, just listen

listen to the music, listen to the lyrics

reflect on what it says to you, what of it tugs your heartstrings.

Amen

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