FROM OUR EDITORS—December 9, 2018 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Author: Erika De Urquidi ~ December 3, 2018

365

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí

I am Mexican, so my heart has always had a very special place for Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast we celebrate on December 12. Since I was a young girl, I learned to love her and to ask for her intercession, as I always felt she was very close to me. But Our Lady of Guadalupe is not only the Queen and Patroness of Mexico. In 1999, the Church proclaimed her the Empress of the Americas and the Protectress of Unborn Children. Anyone who comes to her is under her special care.

In 1531, when the Spanish conquistadors occupied the city of Tenochtitlan and Catholic missionaries were trying to bring the natives to the Christian faith, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego. Juan was one of the natives who had already embraced the Christian faith. He was canonized by Saint John Paul II in 2002.

Juan Diego was able to understand that the Mother of Our Savior was standing right before his eyes because Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to him surrounded by the symbols that his ancestors, the Aztecs, knew and revered. When the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, she was standing in front of the sun (one of the Aztec’s deities), which demonstrates her supremacy over it. Over her head and body, she was wearing a veil covered with stars and painted with green and blue, which were the colors of the Aztec gods. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s complexion is dark, and her hair is black, but her hands show something very peculiar: one of them is lighter than the other one, which symbolizes the union between the two cultures. Beneath her hands, we can see a black ribbon belt with a special knot that indicates that she is expecting. For the Aztecs, the crescent moon was the symbol of Quetzalcoatl, one of their most important gods. Mary appeared standing over the moon, which suggests her superiority over him.

The Virgin Mary called Juan Diego “the smallest of her children” and told him: “Do not be afraid, am I not here, your Mother? Aren’t you under my care?” When life’s problems become heavy and unbearable, Our Lady of Guadalupe invites us to find refuge in her arms and to trust her intercession. Throughout my life, I have found comfort in those loving words in every situation.

LET US PRAY: By the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may we find peace and serenity as we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus this coming Christmas Day.

To access a live broadcast of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Basilica in Mexico City and leave a petition or a prayer, click here.

 

Image credit: M.MIGLIORATO/CPP/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—December 2, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 26, 2018

361

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí

Happy New Year! We begin a new Liturgical Year on the 1st Sunday of Advent. You’ll notice that our Advent Gospel Weeklies lessons focus on joyful anticipation, which is the spirituality of the season of Advent. We delay the celebration of Christmas to, well, Christmas.

Our culture may push us to celebrate Christmas before Christmas and skip over the season of Advent altogether. The Church encourages us to slow the pace and take time to focus on preparing our hearts to celebrate the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. During Advent, we also consider how well we are preparing for Christ’s Second Coming.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus warns the disciples to be ready for the Second Coming: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from…the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap” (Luke 21:34–35a). Our hearts and spirits can certainly become drowsy and weary from the mad rush of Christmas preparations, and we can become anxious about the demands of daily life. Our Lord warns us to be ready—not to have all the gifts made or purchased, the house and tree decorated, the baking done, the cards sent out—but to be ready to stand erect and raise our heads to the Son of Man when he comes in glory.

We pray that your weeks of Advent will be ones of joyful anticipation and that you remember the joyful part! We pray that you don’t let the trappings of the “perfect” Christmas become a trap that prevents you from truly celebrating the most perfect gift of all—God’s Son become man—and the promise of redemption and eternal life he brings!

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—November 25, 2018 – Solemnity of Christ the King

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 19, 2018

358

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the last Sunday of the Church Year. Just as we do when a calendar year draws to a close and a new one is about to begin, we reflect on where we’ve been and where we resolve to go in the coming year. The Gospel for this Sunday invites us to reflect on Jesus’ response to Pilate when asked if he is the King of the Jews: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

Jesus says that his purpose is to testify to the truth. If we belong to the truth, we listen to his voice. He makes it sound simple and clear-cut, yet we falter in giving Christ our full attention and are swayed by some of the lies of this world. As catechetical leaders, catechists-teachers, and parents, our role is to point the children in our care to the truth—through both our words and actions.

WE PRAY: May God give us all the ability to block out the lies and focus on his truth as revealed by Jesus Christ. Amen.

How consistently do I seek the truth of Christ over the lies of this world?
How will I listen to the voice of Christ more attentively in the coming year?

Image credit: Michel TRONCY/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—November 18, 2018 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 12, 2018

352

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving was designated as World Day of the Poor by Pope Francis, starting in 2017. This is traditionally the date when a collection is taken up to support the efforts of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development helps with community development projects led by low-income groups to make a difference in their communities. The CCHD works with community groups to find solutions to local problems, to create businesses, and to find ways to improve their lives.

In the United States, one in seven people lives in poverty. With the CCHD collection, parishes support programs that address the causes of poverty and provide a sustainable future for those who are struggling across the country. In addition, 25 percent of funds collected remain in the local diocese to fund local anti-poverty projects.

Catechists, teachers, and parents may find resources at povertyusa.org to help engage the hearts and minds of the young people in their care.

Join us in praying the following prayer for justice:

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Justice

Most merciful mother, you came to tell us of your compassion through Saint Juan Diego, whom you called the littlest and dearest of your sons.
Give your strength and protection to all who live in poverty today, especially the young, elderly, and vulnerable.
Plead for them to the Father, that they might experience the Divine Love tangibly in their daily lives, and that all who work for justice on behalf of the poor might grow in fortitude and humility.
In these ways, manifest your charity and concern in our lives, that the weeping of humanity may be heard, and all our suffering, pain, and misfortune may be filled with divine comfort and healing.
May we always know the peace of being in the cradle of your arms, and bring us safely home to your son, Jesus.
Amen.

Image and prayer credit: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

FROM OUR EDITORS—November 4, 2018 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Erika De Urquidi ~ October 30, 2018

342

Please join us in praying for the victims of the recent shooting at the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh and for all victims of violence.

Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life

Even though it has its roots in pre-Hispanic times, the Day of the Dead received Christian elements after the Spanish Conquest and now is celebrated with Masses and vigils in parishes and dioceses in Latin America and the United States.

The Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 2nd, the day the Catholic Church remembers the souls of all the faithfully departed, who continue to be members of the Church, children of the same Father. This festivity has some Christian symbolism and is characterized by mounting colorful altares at which families place a picture of their deceased loved one (reminding us of the Communion of Saints), his or her favorite food (another sign of communion), a special sweet bread called Pan de Muerto, (pointing to the Eucharist in which we eat the Bread of Life), Cempasúchil or marigolds (symbolizing that God gives life to our souls), and candles (lighting the road so souls can reach the divine light of Heaven). This is an occasion full of color and light, during which families gather to remember those who went before us on the way to Eternal Life.

Father Rogelio Alcántara published an article for the Archdioceses of Mexico in which he says that placing an altar on this day can remind us to “do a work of mercy for our beloved dead: pray to the triune God for their salvation; go to Confession and participate in the Mass to obtain a plenary indulgence on their behalf.”

This celebration is so popular in the Church in countries like Mexico that even the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City places an altar every year to remember our faithfully departed.

 

Image credit: Gozamos (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—October 28, 2018 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ October 29, 2018

338

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus restores sight to a blind man. The blind man was able to see with eyes of faith and believed that Jesus could restore his physical sight.

Whatever our physical ability to see, we are all called to see with the eyes of faith. That involves looking beyond what the world tells us is important and attempting to see events and people as God sees them.

Another natural disaster—Hurricane Michael—has struck the US in the panhandle of Florida. Relief efforts in North Carolina continue following Hurricane Florence. Add to these the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia; a typhoon affecting southern China, the Philippines, Guam, and the Marshall Islands; a tropical storm in Hawaii; wildfires in California; flooding and mudslides in Japan; volcano eruptions in Guatemala and Hawaii; flooding in India and Nigeria,  and we see that many people throughout the world are hurting and in need—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

When we see Jesus Christ in our hurting neighbor—in the next state or across the world, our Christian response is to offer aid. Many parishes held a second collection earlier this month to assist with these needs. If you missed that collection or would like to contribute more, go to Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services. Suggesting a program or school effort to raise funds to help these hurting people would be a great way to raise awareness of the many people in need throughout the world.

Seeing with the eyes of faith gives us perspective. Suddenly, our everyday concerns may seem small and even petty compared to the problems of the people dealing with these catastrophes and other major life challenges. We pray that we all may gain God’s perspective and grow in generosity of heart.

 

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.

FROM OUR EDITORS—October 21, 2018 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ October 9, 2018

334

Every year in late October, Catholics throughout the world unite to celebrate World Mission Sunday. This year’s date is October 21. The theme is “Through Youth to the World: Voices for Mission.” We are invited to recommit ourselves to our common vocation through Baptism to be missionaries—through prayer, participation in the Eucharist, and by generously supporting the efforts of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Sunday’s Gospel ties in well with the message of World Mission Sunday. Jesus tells the Apostles that to be great, they must be serve others. To share in and promote Christ’s mission, we must be servants of his message and of the Kingdom. We are all called to share God’s message of love and hope with others. Through service to young people, parents, catechists, and teachers help shape both our Church’s present and future.

In his message for World Mission Day 2018, Pope Francis writes: “[T]ransmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life. The spread of the faith ‘by attraction’ calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love.”

We pray that the children in your care catch your infectious love, joy, and enthusiasm for the faith and grow in living and sharing it with others. As the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment continues, we pray for all young people throughout our Church and world and the efforts of their parents, catechists, and teachers to form them in a living and vital faith.

Find resources for World Mission Sunday here.

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.

 

Image credit: Pontifical Mission Societies Diocesan Mission Office, Scranton, PA

FROM OUR EDITORS—October 14, 2018 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ October 8, 2018

333

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí. 

Pope Francis is convening the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with focus on the theme “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” It is meeting in Rome, October 3–28, 2018.

In a letter to young people, Pope Francis wrote these encouraging words: “A better world can…be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”

Follow what’s happening at the Synod in your diocesan paper or Catholic news websites, such as La Croix International. Additional information on the Synod can be found on the official website.

Join us in praying for the participants of the Synod, our Church, and all the young people throughout the world who are seeking the face of Christ—whether they know it or not!

Image credit: VaticanMedia-Foto/CPP/CIRIC

DE NUESTROS EDITORES—14 de octubre de 2018 – 28.º Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

Author: Joan McKamey ~ October 7, 2018

333

El Papa Francisco convocó la XV Asamblea General Ordinaria del Sínodo de los Obispos sobre el tema “Los jóvenes, la fe y el discernimiento vocacional”, que se celebrará en Roma, del 3 al 28 de octubre de 2018.

En una carta dirigida a los jóvenes, el Papa Francisco escribió estas palabras llenas de ánimo: “Un mundo mejor se construye también gracias a ustedes, que siempre desean cambiar y ser generosos. No tengan miedo de escuchar al Espíritu que les sugiere opciones audaces, no pierdan tiempo cuando la conciencia les pida arriesgar para seguir al Maestro. También la Iglesia desea ponerse a la escucha de la voz, de la sensibilidad, de la fe de cada uno; así como también de las dudas y las críticas. Hagan sentir a todos el grito de ustedes, déjenlo resonar en las comunidades y háganlo llegar a los pastores”.

Usted puede seguir lo que sucede en el Sínodo en el periódico de su diócesis o en las páginas web de noticias católicas, como aciprensa.com. También puede encontrar información adicional sobre el Sínodo en la página web oficial.

Únase a nosotros en oración por los participantes del Sínodo, por nuestra Iglesia y por todos los jóvenes alrededor del mundo que buscan el rostro de Cristo, ¡aún sin conocerlo!

 

Imagen: VaticanMedia-Foto/CPP/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—October 7, 2018 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ September 25, 2018

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.

327

The Gospel Weeklies program is now underway in most parishes and schools! We pray that everyone is off to a great start!

We want to make sure that new and seasoned catechists and teachers know where to find helpful resources through our weekly GROW newsletter and blog postings. Please note:

  • Archives • Our weekly e-newsletter and GROW blog posts allow us to archive materials for you to search and access in later weeks. Every time you click READ MORE on the GROW e-newsletter, you enter our blog. You can also access it from our PGW home page by clicking GROW Blog on the top menu bar.
  • Lesson Updates • The link to Lesson Updates appears in the left menu of each blog posting. Here you will find information specific to lessons and teaching guides—when new material has been added to the website, corrections or additions to printed material (e.g., the editors forgot to put the answers to a quiz in a Teaching Guide), or even a video showing how to assemble a booklet or craft project. We will list these items by week and lesson level. If you see something we’ve overlooked, email editor@pflaum.com and we will add it here.
  • Planning Ahead • To assist you in planning ahead for lessons, we provide access to two weeks of Gospel reflections and resources with every e-newsletter mailing. Whether you need to plan ahead due to your program schedule, personal style, or you’re required submit in lesson plans for approval, you’ll now be able to these resources well ahead of time.

Image credit: US Army photo by Victoria Choi/CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.com

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