Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

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


Lesson Notes: Sacramentals & Indulgences

March 17, 2018


Indulgences are one of those topics that have been and still are misunderstood, but the simple explanation is that when Jesus founded the Church, he gave the Apostles (and their successors) the ability to bind and loose sin (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 18:18).  This power given to the Church allows her to dispense graces in all sorts of ways and one of the ways she chooses to do it is through indulgences.

It’s critical to remember that all indulgences have conditions – things you must do to receive the graces.  To get a full indulgence, you must perform the action (go on the pilgrimage, complete the novena, etc.), you must go to confession within a few days of the required action, you must receive the Eucharist, preferably on the same day as the action, and you must pray for the Pope’s intentions.  When you look at any indulgence from that angle first, it’s plain to see that you are going to receive graces and grow in holiness simply by completing those virtuous actions.  The indulgence can be looked at as a value-added boost from the Church’s “bank” of dispensable graces.

In my mind, this analogy of a bank is helpful.  Everyone who uses a particular bank is part of a particular community.  We all deposit money and withdraw it periodically.  When I withdraw money, it’s almost certainly not the exact same dollars that I’ve deposited, but I get money nonetheless.

bankIn a similar way, I’m part of a community of Christians (the Body of Christ) and I’m making hopefully frequent deposits through my prayers, works, joys and sufferings offered to Jesus each day.  I think of an indulgence as a withdrawal from this cosmic bank where someone else in the community can make a withdrawal – get the graces they need when they need them.

You may also find this analogy of a child who steals a candy bar to be helpful  (Read the complete article here.):

The Good parent and child

Holy Mother Church and child

the parent forgives the child for stealing and allows the child back into his good graces

the Church forgives the guilt through the Sacrament of Confession, thereby eliminating the eternal consequences by the grace of Christ, and restoring the penitent from being a “dead member” of the Church to a “living member” of the Church

the child desires to pay back the store (“make satisfaction” for his debt)

the faithful desires to make satisfaction for his debt to God which he incurred through sin

the child turns to his parent for help in making satisfaction for his debt to the store. The child doesn’t have the money to pay back the store, but to the parent, the cost of the candy bar is nothing

Holy Mother Church was given the power of the Keys and, therefore, the authority to make ways for the penitent to make satisfaction for his debts to God by tapping into the treasury of merits of Christ and the Saints

the good parent says that if the child is truly contrite and truly desires to make satisfaction for the debt, he can earn enough to pay for some of the candy bar if he does X, or enough to pay for all of the candy bar if he does Y

Holy Mother Church sets out certain prayers and works to be offered under certain conditions which will either pay for some of the debt owed to God (partial indulgence) or all of the debt owed to God (plenary indulgence)

the child does X or Y

the faithful performs the prescribed actions, under the prescribed conditions, to gain an indulgence

the good parent follows through on his promise, helping the child pay for his crime by opening his wallet and giving the child some or all of the money to pay back the store.

the Church mitigates punishmentincurred (temporal penalties) by opening the treasury of merit and applying those merits to the faithful.

Now, suppose there are two children. One child steals the candy bar and then dies. The other child — his brother, say — wants to help pay his dead brother’s debt, so he pays back the store in the name of his dead brother.  In this way, the Catholic can offer the benefits of the indulgence to the souls in Purgatory.  Indulgences can only be applied to oneself or to a soul in Purgatory, not to another living person.

We like how he thinks :-)

February 26, 2018

Happens around a table

Welcome to Monsignor Thomas Richter as he prepares for his assignment as rector of our wonderful Saint Paul Seminary!

Read more about him in this week’s Catholic Spirit.


Hey, wait a minute!

February 16, 2018


I just counted the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter and now I’m wondering where that 40-days-of-Lent thing came from!



The answer lies in what we teach about Sundays.  Learn more here.


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