Author Archive

Thank you to St. Peter’s in Geneva, Illinois!

March 27, 2017

We were so blessed to present Family Formation to a group of parents and catechists in Geneva last week, and are grateful to be an ongoing part of their goal to help everyone in their parish and parish boundaries to have a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus!

Watch more about their beautiful mission here:


(Thanks also to our lovely hosts, Dianne and Stan!)

“The confessional is a place where people let God’s love win.”

March 25, 2017


I’ve blogged this before, but it’s well worth re-reading periodically.

Click over here for Inside the Confessional: What Is it Like for a Priest?   You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a priest views the sacrament of Reconciliation in a different light than some of us weary penitents do.  Here are a few pieces from his list:

I get to regularly come face to face with the overwhelming, life-transforming power of God’s love.

[I get to see]  see the way in which God’s sacrifice on the cross is constantly breaking into people’s lives and melting the hardest hearts.

I see a person who is still trying — a saint in the making.

Does a priest remember your sins?  Is he judging you for failing?  Is he bored or scandalized by what you have to confess?  Read to the end – you’ll be so glad you did!

Then I have a few assignments for you:

  • Read it aloud to your entire family
  • Share it on your favorite social media sites
  • Forward a link to someone who has been expressing doubts about Confession
  • Print the article and mail it to someone you know
  • Take to heart all that Father Mike says here and receive the Sacrament!

Lesson Notes: Examination of Conscience

March 24, 2017

examination conscience

This lesson brings us a fun perspective on something we should all do during Lent – go to confession.  The format is a game show based on the Ten Commandments, so warm up your cheesy game show host voice, parents).  After briefly reviewing the Commandments, you’ll read some little scenarios of people misbehaving and ask your kids to:


When I was the parent of younger kids, I always liked to look at how each of the Commandments was described to make sure I wouldn’t be introducing innocent little kids to concepts they didn’t need to know quite yet.  (I’m looking at you, Commandments #6 and #9.)  And I recommend you do the same.

At the same time, there is definitely a point where your kids will need to wrestle with the meaning of all the commandments, and in this culture, that time will most likely come when they are still Family Formation age.  Read the Soul Search Question Cards ahead of time and decide for yourself.  But please keep in mind that if you are avoiding certain topics simply because they are less comfortable to discuss (even though your child may already be exposed to them), the main message you are sending is that it’s too awkward to talk to you about some things.  And seriously, that is NOT the message you want to give your up-and-coming teens.  (Tangent over.)

The idea of this game is two-fold: to give you all a better working knowledge of the Commandments, and to help you all prepare to go to Confession.  And that’s where the other planning part of this lesson comes in.  Before you do this lesson, check your family calendar against the Sacrament of Reconciliation schedule at your parish and plan the next time you’re all going.  Going sometime within a week of doing this lesson would be ideal.

One more suggestion: If you have younger kids who are old enough to sit in a pew for 20 minutes or so (maybe ages 3-7), I highly recommend you bring them to confession even though they’re not old enough to confess.  Of course, you would not bring them into the confessional with you, but there are great benefits to be gained by having them witness the process and become more comfortable with it even at an early age.

Spotted at another parish …

March 21, 2017

While on our recent road trip to Omaha, we stopped for a visit in LeMars, Iowa and were pleased to spot evidence of their lively Family Formation program.

Also, St. Joseph’s is a breathtaking example of a parish renovation.  If you ever get a chance, be sure to visit!


Thanks, Omaha!

March 20, 2017

We were so blessed to speak to representatives from the Archdiocese of Omaha recently.  We met lots of experienced and potential Family Formation users, got to hear testimonies from DREs and priests who see the fruits of Family Formation in their parishes, and we heard from Archbishop George Lucas, whose pastoral plan for the archdiocese welcomes Family Formation as an integral part of evangelizing the families in his care!


Lesson Notes: Catholic Social Teaching

March 18, 2017

catholic social teaching

This is always a great topic, but especially so during Lent when we are reminded so often to respond to the needs of others.  As you go through this lesson, you may find a new focus for some of your Lenten practices for this year.

The basic starting point for the lesson is the coloring book, Help Me Be Jesus to the World, where you’ll not only find pages to color, but explanations, action points and Scripture quotes on each of the seven principals of Catholic Social Teaching outlined by the bishops.

Practically speaking, doing this entire lesson in one sitting may be too long for your little ones, so take a look at it ahead of time and break it up into two or three sessions, if necessary.

Also, you may be one of those families who have done this a couple times already.  If that’s you, we still suggest you start with the basics, but then go back to the pick sheets and look up a few of things that the Bible has to say about the topic.

And finally, there’s a huge difference between learning a topic theoretically and learning through hard experience.  No matter what the age of your kids, they will probably learn to better empathize with hungry children throughout the world, if they experience a little of it themselves.  Follow the “menu” on page 5 of the lesson to help your kids understand what it truly means to not have enough to eat.  It’s a powerful lesson!


Art for April Prayer Tables

March 15, 2017


This piece is entitled God the Father and was painted by a French artist about 350 years ago.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute! No one knows what God looks like.  How could He possibly be painted?”  And these Bible verses confirm that you’re right:

  • 1 John 4:12— “No one has ever seen God.
  • John 1:18— “No one has ever seen God.
  • 1 Timothy 6:15-16— “… the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see.”
  • Even Moses did not see God face-to-face. Exodus 33:18-20— “Then Moses said, ‘Please let me see your glory!’ The Lord answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, ‘Lord,’ before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.

So how do we have any ideas about what God looks like?  Mostly, by prayerful discernment of Scripture and Tradition, and by that wonderful way great artists have of making something intangible into something visible.  In religious art, an attribute (noun) is a big red-flag-clue to help us identify the subject of the work. It’s most commonly something that is held but can also be something worn, something in the background, a particular color used, or a number of other meaningful hints.

In the case of God the Father, what do we know about Him?  He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and can do anything and be everywhere.  He’s creator, king, and judge.  Jesus reveals Him to be a loving father “who art in heaven.”

So what do artists do with that?  In this month’s piece, God is shown as an old man as a way to describe that He is ancient/timeless and wise, dressed in a regal color to show his sovereignty, and strong to show His unlimited power.  He’s holding the Earth in His hand to highlight His role as creator, and the angels are worshipping Him.  (Although I’m not sure what’s going on with those two who are sharing His cloud.J)  And an angel on the right has incense – an ancient way to honor sacred persons and things.

If that’s not obvious enough, the banner on the right reads Gloria in Excelsis Deo.  (Glory to God in the Highest!)

Pieces like this are a great example of why knowing how to “read” religious art can go a long way in teaching us the truths of the Faith and can lead us to a deeper personal faith.

Image link and credit: Web Gallery of Art

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