FROM OUR EDITORS—June 24, 2018 – Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Author: Joan McKamey ~ June 19, 2018

263

“God is gracious” is the meaning of the name John. This feast of the birth of John the Baptist is a good time to reflect on God’s graciousness.

The definition of grace found in What the Church Believes and Teaches handbook for Good News is “A gift from God that makes us holy and helps us to respond to his call to live as his children. The gift, a share in God’s own life, is received in Baptism.”

Two things stand out to me in that definition. Grace is a gift and a share in God’s own life. Wow! Or maybe I should say Amazing! God shares his own life with us as a gift. We can do nothing to deserve or merit it. We must simply receive it with gratitude and respond to God’s call to live as his children.

Reflecting on God’s grace can lead us to appreciate the people and experiences of our lives as encounters with God’s grace. We may begin to see that all is gift and be inspired to pray:

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”

–Saint Ignatius of Loyola

With recognition of the many signs of grace in our lives, we become more generous and grow in our desire to care for those in need. Please consider supporting the efforts of Catholic Relief Services as they respond to the needs of those affected by the volcano in Guatemala.

Image credit: © Bayard, Inc. – Illustration: Jim Burrows

FROM OUR EDITORS—June 17, 2018 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ June 4, 2018

258

As I reflect on Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 4:26–34) and consider that we’re celebrating Father’s Day in the US, I find it natural to connect our Father in Heaven to the farmer or sower of seed in the parable. That makes us the seeds that are planted to grow and bear fruit.

What does God who is love do? He loves. And what fruit are we called to bear? Love. As we are nourished by the Eucharist and involvement in the lives of our families, parishes, and other communities, we grow in love for God and others. May the fruit we bear—LOVE—be abundant!

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

Image credit: Singkham/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—June 10, 2018 – 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 29, 2018

257

Most parish programs and schools have wrapped up or are soon to complete their program year. We pray that it has been a year of blessing and grace for all of you—catechists, Catholic school religion teachers, parish and school staff, parents, and children.

With the coming of summer, you may be involved in Vacation Bible School or a summer-intensive faith formation program. Be sure to read Nicholle Check’s “Summer Program Resources.”

We encourage you to use this summer to catch up on some of the reading you put aside until later. Perhaps you have copies of Catechist or Today’s Catholic Teacher that you haven’t managed to read. (Check out their websites for some great free content.) If you read the Sunday readings as you prepare for your class, continue to do so as preparation for Sunday Mass. We’ll continue to include the link here in GROW. Maybe the summer is a good time to fit in some catechist formation classes offered by your diocese or deanery. Your parish faith formation director should be happy to lend you resources to keep you growing as a catechist as well as a person of faith.

Our team is working hard on the Gospel Weeklies for the 2018–19 school-program year. As we do so, we keep you and your students—past and future—in prayer. We ask you to keep us in your prayers as well.

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—June 3, 2018 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 22, 2018

248

You are what you eat. Many of us have heard that maxim since childhood. From a strictly physical standpoint, we understand that what we eat and drink is pretty important to our health. We can also apply that wisdom to other things we consume. The shows we watch, books we read, video games we play, music we listen to—all of these affect our thinking and view of self, others, and the world. It seems we need to watch our diet of more than just food and drink!

And then there’s the Eucharist, Jesus Christ’s very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We consume this in the form of bread and wine, but its effect is far more than physical nourishment. As Christ’s Body and Blood becomes part of our body and blood, we are spiritually nourished and strengthened. We are called to become what we eatChrist’s Body in the world. May we always recognize both this gift and call!

Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, save us and the whole world. Amen.

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

Image credit: Alain PINOGES/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—May 27, 2018 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 14, 2018

245

“I am with you always, until the end of the age.” –Matthew 28:20

What a comfort those final words of Jesus are! When we are feeling the everyday stress of life, Jesus says, “I am with you always.” When a challenging event raises our stress level beyond what we think we can handle, Jesus says, “I am with you always.” When we struggle to get out of bed, face a difficult day at work, deal with a misunderstanding or hurt, worry about our child or marriage, Jesus says, “I am with you always.”

Christ is present to us through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday, we are reminded that we may seek solace in the Holy Spirit’s presence and gifts. But resting in the Holy Spirit’s presence is only good for a while. Just before Jesus spoke those comforting words, he commissioned the disciples to “[M]ake disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Rest up, find the deep well of peace that the Holy Spirit offers, and continue making disciples. Doing so is our baptismal call.

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include a general lesson on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

 

Image credit: Thoom/Shutterstock.com

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FROM OUR EDITORS—May 20, 2018 – Pentecost

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 13, 2018

241

Pentecost! What a difference that one day, that single event, made in the life of the Church!

Without the Spirit, the apostles would have remained confused and fearful. With the Spirit, they grew in understanding of Jesus’ message and became bold sharers of the Good News.

The Holy Spirit’s power can frighten us or embolden us—or both! Much depends on our attitude and receptiveness to God’s will. We pray that you will invite the Spirit to guide you and enliven your faith—at Pentecost and beyond!

As you take time this summer to recharge, be sure to recharge yourself spiritually. Continue to reflect on the Sunday Gospels. Read a good spiritual book or two—or more! And pray for your students—this past year’s and those you will meet in the fall. And be assured of our prayers for you!

May 13 was the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include general lessons on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions.You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel WeekliesThose who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

 

Image credit: P.RAZZO/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—May 13, 2018 – The Ascension of the Lord/7th Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 6, 2018

236

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” –Mark 16:15

Our pastor’s recent homilies come to mind as I write this. On Good Shepherd Sunday (4/22), he talked of Jesus’ great love and concern for each of us. He spelled out three big things that our faith is about: the Eucharist, care for the poor, and evangelization. As we seek and nurture a personal relationship with Christ, we experience joy in the peace and knowledge that God will care for us. It’s natural to then want to share that joy with others. As we have been invited to meet the Lord, Christ also wants others to encounter him in a personal way—through us.

On Sunday 4/29 (“I am the vine, you are the branches.” –John 15:5), my pastor said that as vines connected to the branch, our life source, who is Jesus Christ, we have a mission to help connect others to Jesus. Through the Eucharist, Christ feeds and nourishes us not only for ourselves but also that we have the strength to go forth and bear fruit. The fruit that God want us to bear is new disciples for him, connecting others to him through their relationship with us. We have this power in us. We have this call from the Lord.

As catechists and religion teachers, you have responded generously to this call to evangelize, to share the Good News of God’s great love with the children in your care. We might think of these children as some of the “poor” for whom we are also called to care. Whether they are “poor” in the way we may typically think, they may lack good and faithful role models of Christian living. They may lack relationships and experiences that tell them they are valued and treasured by God and others. They may lack regular experiences outside of your classroom that teach them Catholic practices, especially the celebration of the Mass.

As our Gospel Weeklies program comes to its completion this Sunday*, we thank all catechists and religion teachers for your faithful efforts in this past program-school year. We encourage you to use the coming summer months to strengthen your personal relationship with Christ through daily prayer and regular participation in Sunday Mass. We will keep you and your students in prayer and suggest that you include both your current students and those you will meet this fall in your daily prayers. Your witness and care help make our team’s efforts more meaningful—and are a vital part of our Church’s efforts to share the Good News who is Jesus Christ.

* May 13 is the last lesson of the 2017–18 year of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. If your classes continue beyond that Sunday, there are free Late Close Lessons at each level that include general lessons on the parables and Creation, as well as one for Pentecost. They are available for Seeds, Promise, Good News, Venture, and Visions. You will note that the first Late Close lesson online is marked as Lesson 2. This is because Lesson 1 is for the Ascension, which was the final lesson in this year’s Gospel Weeklies. Those who have purchased the Activity Books will find three additional Late Close Lessons for each level there as well.

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—May 6, 2018 – 6th Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ May 1, 2018

231

As young children celebrate their First Eucharist this spring and as new adult members of our Church approach the reception of Holy Communion with growing appreciation, we can all draw inspiration and seek a deeper understanding of this great gift of God’s love.

I once heard the suggestion that we’ll each be asked two questions at death: How much did you love? Who did you bring with you? Loving and sharing God’s love are clearly what Jesus commands us to do. Receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion is our highest earthly experience of God’s love and unity with his body, the Church. As we are dismissed from Mass, we are commissioned to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

The liturgical catechesis of the Gospel Weeklies is a strong and dynamic support for sacramental preparation. The flexibility of the program allows users to use their regular resource (Gospel Weeklies) concurrently with sacramental preparation materials.

In addition to the Gospel Weeklies, Pflaum offers the updated sacramental preparation programs Together in Jesus for First Eucharist (English and Bilingual), First Reconciliation (English and Bilingual), and Confirmation with First Eucharist. Pflaum is also pleased to offer the updated and revised Confirmation program, Gifted with the Spirit for junior high and senior high. Find additional support resources here.

How much did you love?
Who did you bring with you?
How seriously do you take to heart the commission to “announce the Gospel of the Lord”?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS—April 22, 2018 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ April 16, 2018

230

Happy Easter! And Happy Earth Day!

Easter and Earth Day go hand in hand when we consider this Sunday’s Gospel about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Just as a shepherd is entrusted with the care of his sheep, God entrusts us to care for the earth as good stewards. A month ago, Pope Francis reminded us via Twitter: “To defend the earth and to safeguard water is to protect life” (@Pontifex 3/22/18).

Children of all ages can be encouraged to take to heart their responsibility to care for our earth and its resources. From conserving water and paper in our schools and homes to picking up trash and recycling, young people can be challenged to become more mindful of caring for the earth, our common home. Find out more about Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution here

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: NASA

FROM OUR EDITORS—April 15, 2018 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

Author: Joan McKamey ~ April 9, 2018

“Do not be afraid of holiness,” Pope Francis tells us in his new apostolic exhortation, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World (Gaudete et exsultate). Find a brief and inspiring video introduction to his message here.

Pope Francis tells us, “A Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness” (19). “That mission has its fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him…. It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and rising anew with him” (20).

Pope Francis continues: “You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world” (23).

Pope Francis writes to each of us, those he calls “the middle class of holiness” (7). We belong to this group if we “reflect God’s presence” (7). He encourages us to live holy lives since “Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church” (9). Pope Francis uses the Beatitudes and Matthew 25 (Works of Mercy) to show us how to be holy. He also warns us to guard ourselves from the powers of evil.

As catechists and parents, your mission of holiness directly affects the children in your care. Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation should give you pause to consider how well your life shines the light of holiness for the children in your life. In a world and culture that pressure us to choose self over God and others, may you constantly and conscientiously choose the path of holiness.

As we endeavor to travel the path of holiness with you, we pray for you—and ask you to pray for us—so that our combined efforts may bear fruit in the lives of all children using the Gospel Weeklies.

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: M.MIGLIORATO/CPP/CIRIC

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