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April 23, 2018

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Lesson Notes: Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy

April 21, 2018

Keeping the Lord's Day

Again this week we’re going to start with an Old Testament reference and look at how Jesus instructs us to live it out under the New Covenant.  The most obvious change is the day we celebrate (now Sunday instead of the original Jewish Sabbath on Saturday).

Our parish priest has been known to teach that we were created ON the 6th day, but FOR the rest and worship on the 7th, so how do we honor Him on that day?  The Lord’s Day is meant to be the high point of our week where we not only worship but we bring all our offerings (good deeds, acts of love and sacrifice, etc.) from the prior week with us.  When your priest is lifting up the offerings of bread and wine to God and praying that they will be acceptable, you should also mentally lift up your own offerings from the previous week and imagine them on the altar with everything else being given to God.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.

Shortly after that, as you receive Holy Communion, you will get the graces you need to go out again and start the cycle all over.  Hearing God’s Word, a good homily, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ equip you to do more acts of love that you will bring back to Mass the next Sunday, and so on.  It’s really a pretty amazing set-up!

The activity for this lesson is a game that will help your whole family learn about some ways to cooperate with those available graces by keeping the Lord’s Day holy.  The preparation is simple – just gather a small token for each player and cut all the cards apart and mix them up, face down.  From there, simply take turns drawing a card and following the instructions.  “Spend your time during Communion in prayer thanking Jesus for the gift of the Eucharist,” move forward 6 spaces.  “Don’t look for your lost shoe until just before it is time to leave for Mass,” move backward 3 spaces.

You get the idea.J

Lesson Notes: Adoration and Holiness

April 16, 2018

Adoration &amp; Holiness

This month in class we learned about the physical presence of God with us and this lesson starts with a little Old Testament history on the topic.  Anyone who has seen Indiana Jones knows something about the Ark of the Covenant and the Presence of Almighty God within.  It was a beautiful sacred vessel – pure gold – housed in a special tent and within that in a special room called the Holy of Holies.  Eventually, the Temple was built in Jerusalem, but it was still the same set up where certain people wearing certain vestment and performing certain actions were the only ones permitted within.  If anyone did not meet these specific requirements, they were not worthy to be there and would be struck dead if they tried!

ark

This lesson is a perfect example of the New Covenant fulfilling and completing the Old because when Christ came He changed everything and through the sacraments and especially the Eucharist He makes this place, our bodies, into living temples where He really and truly dwells right now.

The first activity focuses on this reality that your heart can be a tabernacle and that you should do all you can to make it a beautiful dwelling place for God.  One of the things you can do is to focus better on what is happening in the Mass so you can enter in and really meet Jesus there.  The Tabernacle of My Heart activity offers prayers for both before and after Communion (a time when it’s especially easy to get distracted by all the activity), and gives younger kids an image on which to focus and help minimize those distractions.  We recommend you take a little time to let your kids decorate their Jesus pictures as beautifully as possible.  (As much as I frown on glitter, I have to admit this may be a really good time to get it out and make your projects radiantly beautiful!)

The second project illustrates a concept so simple that it’s easy to miss just how profound it really is.  Simply put – if I believe that Christ can live in me, it’s only logical that he can live in you as well. Obvious, right?  The challenge is remembering that this applies to everyone including that annoying sibling, that mean kid at school, that terrible driver who cut you off on the freeway this morning, and even that person who wronged you so grievously that you wonder if you’ll ever be able to truly forgive him.  Like I said, profound.

Most of us will spend our entire lives trying to recognize Christ in everyone around us and we hope to help your kids start that journey with the activity entitled Heartfinder Glasses.

Jesus, Your heart lives in all people I see.  Teach me to love them as if they were Thee!

(And if you happen to get a photo of your little saints wearing their Heartfinder Glasses, send it on over.  I’d love to post a few!)

From one of our out-of-state parishes –

April 9, 2018

today's mail“Our families loved going to Adoration together on Wednesday!  Most of our parents had never gone to Adoration before—so this was a new experience for many.   We are going to do more of this for sure!”

Lesson Notes: Easter Activity Packet

March 27, 2018

We’re posting this early so you have a little time to plan.

Easter Activities

Christmas and Easter are the two times of the year where it’s still mostly acceptable to be “religious,” so go for it!  If your extended family is getting together, consider it a perfect opportunity for your darling children to share what they’re learning about Jesus with Grandma or Uncle Tim, or whoever’s there with you.  The Easter Activity Packet gives you lots of ways to make sure Jesus is invited to your family dinner.  Make a banner for your hostess, create a lamb-shaped batch of dinner rolls, bring Easter eggs decorated with something besides bunnies or share your Alleluia’s as you arrive!

Christ is risen!  Let’s make sure everyone knows it.

Lesson Notes: Holy Week

March 24, 2018

Holy Week

Holy Week is far and away the holiest time of the year and the more your family can enter into these riches, the more blessed you will be!  Each day has a unique character and this lesson basically offers a mini activity packet for each of them.

Younger Saints iconTo begin with, take a look at the big-picture overview.  The My Holy Week Story Wheel is perfect for your little ones and you can refer to it over and over throughout the week.  If your child likes to color, let him decorate the two pages before it gets assembled.  If coloring is not her thing, either have another family member do it, or just assemble it uncolored.  It’ll just take a couple minutes to cut out the two circles and poke the brass fastener in place, but seeing the succession of events will help your little one put everything in its place.

Palm Sunday – On this day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and re-read the Passion story at Mass.  You’ll each get a sacramental to take home (Lesson connection with last week!), and this is a good day to make church plans for the rest of the week.

Holy Thursday – The main focus this day is the Last Supper and the beginnings of the priesthood as we know it. If you go to Mass, you’ll see Father washing people’s feet as Jesus did during the Last Supper, and you’ll see that this Mass ends differently than usual (or, technically, it doesn’t really end at all).  Watch for it!

These events took place as Jesus was celebrating the annual Passover meal with His disciples.  You can learn more about this tradition at dinner time with the directions provided here.  (Church of Saint Paul parishioners, email me if you’d like a printed copy of the booklet.)

You may also want to check into the Chrism Mass being celebrated in your diocese.  It traditionally happens on Holy Thursday at your cathedral, but sometimes that varies a little.  You can read what it’s all about from this 2015 article from the Catholic Spirit archives.

Good Friday – Begin the Jonah Project by reading his story from either your favorite story Bible or from his book in the Old Testament.  (It’s short.  You can do it!)  Then, before you give away all the answers, have a family discussion on why Jonah is a prefigurement of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  Cut out the activity pieces and display them on your prayer table.

You’ll also want to attend the Good Friday service at your church, and check page 5 of your lesson to find out why it’s a “service” instead of a Mass.  It’s solemn and beautiful and an amazing culmination to all the sufferings you’ve offered to Jesus throughout Lent.

Older Saints IconHoly Saturday – There are no Masses during the day on Holy Saturday, but after sundown some very memorable things happen at the Easter Vigil Mass. Thousands will become Catholic and many more adults will receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation for the first time. This liturgy is filled with drama and things we only experience once a year and you’ll come away with the feeling of just how great it is to be Catholic.  (A word of warning though: all of this awesomeness takes time, so don’t expect this Mass to be over in the typical Sunday hour.)

This is how it worked in our family.  For the first few years, when we started going to the Easter Vigil, it was a privilege reserved for kids old enough to stay up late and pay attention during a 2+ hour Mass, typically with one parent while the other stayed home with the little ones.

After a while, the scale was tipped and everyone went (sometimes with our youngest sleeping in the pew half way through). Today, we all still agree that this is our favorite Mass of the entire year, and we’ve been known to wait outside for several hours to get a seat at our favorite basilica. After Mass, no matter how late it is, we often celebrate at whatever local restaurant is open all night with as many friends as we can convince to join us.  Jesus is risen!  This simply MUST be celebrated!

This year, the Minnesota part of our family is excited to go to the Vigil at COSP where we have 20+ candidates and catechumen!

A very (very, very) indirect vocations event

March 20, 2018

Or, “Funnest Vocations Event of the Year!”

Mark your calendars for the 2018 Archdiocesan Priest and Seminarian Basketball Tournament. Come watch the seminarians from the Saint Paul Seminary and Saint John Vianney College Seminary, as well as the priests of the Archdiocese.  Find more information here.

  • Friday, April 6
  • Barbecue at 5 p.m. (free will donation), Basketball games starting at 6:30 p.m.
  • St. Agnes High School, St. Paul

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