Posted tagged ‘Cycle B/C’

Lesson Notes: Triduum and Easter

April 11, 2017

Triduum - CopyIt would be hard to overstate the beauty and mystery and significance of Holy Week!  Each day is so rich in meaning and so unique in character!  This lesson highlights each of the days, Thursday through Sunday, and gives a mini lesson on each.  (And be sure to skip to the back to see the activities!)

Because of this, I’d like to suggest you shake up your regular lesson schedule a bit and instead of doing this one in a single sitting, consider going through each of the four parts on the evening before (or the morning of) each particular day.  It’ll be a small opportunity to celebrate even if you can’t get your family to all the liturgies.

Having said that, I also want to give my annual plea that you go to as many Holy Week liturgies as possible.  They are all amazing!

Lesson Notes: Church ‘R’ Us

May 20, 2016

church r us

In a general sense, the goal of this lesson is to teach each of us about our place in the Universal Church and that can be a big, anonymous topic (certainly hard for your 1st grader to grasp), so we want to bring it down to a personal level.

  1. To do that, the lesson starts with the smallest unit, the individual. You’ll find a little paper doll for each of your family members.  Cut them out, and draw yourself on the outside.  While it may look like you, the secret is inside.  Flip it open to see Jesus who has been present there since your Baptism!  At this level of “church,” the lesson to be learned is that he is always, always, always standing outside the door to your heart waiting for you to let Him in, in deeper ways.
  2. The next level is the family, where the Faith is transmitted in a unique way.  It’s through family life that we get lessons about love, virtues, sharing, forgiveness, encouraging, being a good citizen, and lots more.  Your kids will be interested to hear you remind them that Jesus also grew up in a family and learned these same things.
  3. The third layer of “church” is our local parish where some unique things happen.  It’s here where we typically receive the Sacraments.  We receive good teaching in all sorts of ways and meet other families who are also following Jesus.  We can join our efforts to do greater things for Him there than we could do alone.
  4. Our next layer happens at our diocese.  It’s here that parishes are gathered and organized under the care of a shepherd, chosen specifically for us.  Our bishop is one of the successors of the Apostles (lesson tie-in!) and has been sent by God to guide and lead us.
  5. Finally, the Universal Church covers all of this with a blanket of protection, guidance, assurance, sound teaching, and lots more.  It is here that we are part of this huge, wonderful thing, and are invited to enter in as individual by Jesus standing outside the door knocking and waiting to be let in, in deeper ways.

I do have a practical tip on this lesson as well.  First of all, your youngest students will likely not be able to cut and assemble the manipulatives, but don’t let that be an excuse to skip this part.  It is this youngest group who will benefit most by the lessons the various pieces teach.  If your kids are little, simply assemble the pieces ahead of time and let them play with them as you teach.

Lesson Notes: A Trip to the Cathedral

May 17, 2016

Have you visited your cathedral yet?


This lesson is the perfect follow-up to May’s Classroom Lesson on the popes and we hope doing it helps you continue to increase your family’s connection to the Universal Church.

In this case, the activity is the lesson and we hope that will lead you to an even more meaningful lesson!  A Trip to the Cathedral is the story of a family that is going to Mass at their cathedral for the first time and how the parents prepare their kids for the experience.  There are lots of good reasons for our story family to visit:

  • That connection to the Universal Church mentioned above
  • Your cathedral is probably a beautiful building, lovingly built by craftsmen with pride in their skills, pleased for the opportunity to offer glory to God.*  (At least I know that’s the case with our cathedral.)
  • Your cathedral is full of symbolism which teaches meaningful truths of the Faith.  It can be a delightful treasure hunt to find and interpret it all!

Of course, all of this holds true for your family as well so we hope that part of this lesson will be a family field trip to visit your cathedral!  (If not immediately, please make time for it this summer!)

If you’re in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, our Visit Our Cathedral handout may be a helpful aid in planning your trip.  Either way though, your cathedral certainly has a website with lots of useful information on Mass times, tours, history, etc.  Do a little homework before your trip and make the experience even more effective.


*Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord.  Prosper the work of our hands.  (Psalm 90:17)

Lesson Notes: The Holy Spirit

April 23, 2016

Holy Spirit

The third Person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit and every time we get some little glimpse of Jesus, whether it’s a host turning into the Real Body of Jesus at Mass or an interaction that prompts you to mention Jesus to someone, the Holy Spirit is at work.  The concept is a little harder to grasp because we don’t see Him, but we can see the results of His work and  Scripture and Tradition offer lots of symbols that help us bring the picture more clearly into focus.  Fire, water, oil,  a dove … the list goes on and all are ways to help us build our relationship with the third person of the Holy Trinity.

There are two activities with this lesson:

  • The first one is the Pauline Family Holy Spirit Songbook which takes simple melodies you’re sure to know and “baptizes” them for the holy purpose of teaching you all some of the truths of the Faith!  If you have younger students, make this part of the lesson your priority! You’ll learn a little catechism of the Holy Spirit in very simple, memorable songs.
  • origami doveThe second activity is a visual reminder of the effects of the Holy Spirit using origami doves.  There are multiple directions for your family’s focus (Baptism, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Fruits of the Holy Spirit), so think a bit about which you’d like to highlight ahead of time.  You may also find it helpful to test out the origami project so you’re familiar with it before trying to help your kids make their own.

Lesson Notes: Jesus Christ, the Son

April 16, 2016


We spend a lot of time here talking about how to teach the Faith, giving you materials to do it, actually doing it, encouraging you to actually do it … and the goal of every single one of those encounters can be summed up in a single word, Jesus!  He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Lamb of God, and the Savior of us all!  Given all that, it’s only fitting that we spend at least a little concentrated time learning about Him!

One of our favorite quotes on the topic comes from Saint John Paul II:

The definitive aim of catechesis [teaching the Catholic Faith] is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.

CT 5

One of things that makes Jesus so relatable is that He was incarnate – He was born, lived on earth, etc. and all of that can be plotted on a timeline just like your life can.  The first activity is kind of a scrapbook view of the life of Jesus to help your family take a look at those big events that we should all know.

SovereigntyFinally, test your knowledge about the life of Christ with a family game of Sovereignty!   Each board has 30 questions about Jesus and you can play at two different levels for beginners or experts.  You can play competitively for the point value listed on each question, or just have everyone shout out the answers they know.

Either way, it’ll take a little advance preparation to get the game boards ready, so parents, so your homework.

Art for May Prayer Tables

April 14, 2016

Peter art

I love these old-school line drawings often found in pre-Vatican II prayer books, hymnals, etc.  They’re simple and beautiful and are typically filled with teaching points!  This one is no exception and will be a great choice for our May topic of Apostolic Succession.

The main center panel is a depiction of two major encounters Jesus had with Peter:

  • One is the conversation from John 21:15-17 (and on to verse 19, if you want) where Jesus tells him to “Feed my lambs” and “Tend my sheep.”
  • The other is from Matthew 16:15-19 where Jesus gives Peter the symbolic keys to the kingdom.

If you want to keep your prayer table simple, cut off the side panels and just use the center section for your prayer table art.  It really is the perfect accompaniment to the classroom lesson and there’s no end to the conversation it could jump-start along the lines of “Why Peter?” and “Who are the sheep?” and “What do the keys mean?”

If you did want to go deeper though, the side panels are filled with Old Testament references foretelling the Papacy.

  • The first quote on the left is from Isaiah 22, where God is talking about a man who serves as prime minister to the king: “I will give him the key of David’s house to bear upon his shoulders; none may shut when he opens, none open when he shuts”. The prime minister of the Kingdom of Israel had the same power of the king, and had the authority of “keys” to bind and loose, to act in the name of the king. When Christ gave Peter the power to bind and loose, he was clearly calling to mind the imagery of the king-prime minister relationship.
  • The quote on the right is from Ezechiel 34: “They shall have a single shepherd to tend all of them now; who should tend them but my servant David? He shall be their shepherd, and I, the Lord, will be their God, now that he rules them on earth; such is my divine promise to them.” The Church reads this as David being a forerunner for Peter, as the ruler of God’s people on earth while God reigns in heaven.
  • The other images relate to other types for the papacy.
    • In the upper left, Leviticus 21 discusses the Jewish High Priest “whose brow has been anointed with the holy oil, and his hands consecrated for the priestly office, who wears the sacred vestments . . .”
    • In the upper right, Peter is compared with King Cyrus, the Babylonian king who helped to rebuild the Temple at the end of the Babylonian captivity.
    • In the lower right, Peter is again compared with the high priest.  God is rebuking the priests of Israel, and talking of replacing them with more faithful priests. This quote from Ch 2 says, “Afterwards, I will find myself a priest that shall be a faithful interpreter of my mind and will; I will endow him, too, with a faithful posterity, to enjoy the favour of the king I have anointed.” Peter is deemed to be that “faithful priest” in the Church’s spiritual interpretation of that text.
    • In the lower left, the quote is taken from III Esdras, a non-canonical Old Testament book.

You can find the original version here.  (I just spiffed it up a bit in MS Publisher.)

And thanks to John for coming to my rescue on the Latin. (You’re the best!)

Lesson Notes: God, the Father

April 9, 2016

God the Father

It’s hard to imagine a topic bigger than the Holy Trinity so in addition to covering it in class we’re going to break it down this month into Home Lessons about God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Creed we say, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible,” and this sets up our tendency to associate God the Father with the act of creation.  The best starting point is to have your children look around, at their bodies, at nature; literally everything we experience is here because God made it directly or indirectly*.

So why did God create all that goodness?  The Church teaches that He made it to communicate His glory to us.  And Thomas Aquinas taught that “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand.”  God is love and love is always fruitful in some way.  It shares, multiplies, spills over, it cannot be contained!  Our only logical reaction in the face of all that love is gratitude, praise, and to love Him in return!

The main activity for this lesson is the Holy God, We Praise Thy Name! Activity Booklet which starts with the favorite hymn of the same name and then guides your family through a number of joyful Psalms.  On each page we get to consider and respond to God’s greatness!  This would also be a fantastic time to use the Lectio Divina method of prayer that we learned about earlier this year.  There’s a quick refresher here and here.


*Sidenote: It’s fun to play Can You Think of Some Thing God Did Not Create? The answer is “no,” but challenge your kids to try to come up with something.

  • Some things were directly created by Him: anything in nature, for example.
  • Some things were indirectly created by Him: anything invented by human ingenuity falls into this category.  Sure, God did not make your car, but He did create the raw materials (steel, rubber, petroleum) and He created the brains that invented the concepts and the parts, and the hands that turned the wrenches, etc.
  • Some “things” such as sin and illness were not part of God’s original plan and are also not part of heaven.  (Start reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church here at paragraph 385, and on through the end of the section, if you’re interested.)


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