FROM OUR EDITORS—July 22, 2018 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 15, 2018

277

Even these “lazy days” of summer can be busy and draining. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus acknowledges our human need for rest and models both compassion and self-sacrifice.

While on a family vacation last week, I got a glimpse of the daily life of my younger sister. As they tended to the needs of their four young sons, she and her husband were constantly vigilant of the younger two near the water as they are not yet swimmers. When other adults made plans to go out on a boat or a brewery tour, they initially held back due to the need to keep an eye on their boys.

I, on the other hand, am an empty-nester. I adore my young nephews and cherish my time with them since they live 600 miles away. Whenever I could, I gave my sister and brother-in-law a break so they could enjoy some vacation time and a few all-too-brief periods of rest from their constant vigilance. While I consider myself busy, my sister is definitely more constantly so.

In Sunday’s Gospel, the needs of the crowd were so great that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. (I’m not quite that busy either.) When they got into a boat to escape the crowds and take a rest break, the people followed them. Instead of turning the crowd away in favor of much needed rest, Jesus modeled both compassion and personal sacrifice when he taught the people who sought him out.

We pray that you are finding periods of rest and refreshment this summer. When the needs of others prevent you from resting when you’d like, think of Jesus who was in the same boat. He will help you find the compassion, sacrificial love, and, eventually, the rest you need.

Image credit: Submitted photo of Joan’s nephews Mark (age 2) and Henry (age 5)

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FROM OUR EDITORS—July 15, 2018 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 3, 2018

273

If you tend to overpack and are preparing for a trip, seek some counsel from Jesus’ instruction to the Apostles as he sent them out two by two. They were to take only a walking stick, a tunic, and a pair of sandals. No money, no food, no second tunic. Above all that, they took their trust in God’s care for them.

Yes, we may argue, but life was so much simpler back then. Perhaps. And, we might continue, we don’t always know ahead of time what we’ll need, so it’s better to pack more “just in case.” That’s valid.

The message we can take from Jesus’ packing instructions is to carry our faith and trust in God wherever we go. That means making sure a change in location and routine doesn’t cause us to forget our mealtime and bedtime prayers or take a pass on going to Sunday Mass. And maybe there’s someone along the way or at our destination who really needs our witness of kindness that’s grounded in our Christian faith. Be sure that doesn’t get left home in favor of one more pair of shoes “just in case.”

Image credit: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 8, 2018 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ July 2, 2018

119

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) defined an expert as “an ordinary fellow from another town.” Will Rogers claimed an expert is “a man 50 miles from home with a briefcase.” These two men, both born in the 19th century, quipped about a human phenomenon that’s been around since at least the time of Jesus.

Sunday’s Gospel finds Jesus teaching in his hometown synagogue to people who can’t believe this local boy is capable of such wisdom and of performing mighty deeds. In Jesus’ statement, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4), he alludes to the Hebrew prophets whom the people of their times had also rejected.

How many times have you not expected much from the everyday people in your life—your family members, friends, coworkers—and looked beyond them to find better guidance and wisdom? Might you be overlooking the prophets in your midst? Might you also be called to serve as a prophet for those you encounter in your home, neighborhood, parish, and workplace? We need to be careful not to sell ourselves—and those who share our daily lives—short.

 

Image credit: Renata Sedmakova/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—July 1, 2018 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ June 11, 2018

266

Life can be trying. And some days are more of a struggle than others. It’s in difficult times that we can really learn the value of our faith—in God and in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Some people lose faith in times of trial, perhaps because they’ve expected that if they live as a follower of Christ, he will make the way smooth for them. Then, when the road gets bumpy or there’s an unexpected detour, they throw up their hands and give up on God.

Others—I hope you’re among them!—lean into their faith and draw on God’s strength and comfort in troubled times. Jesus told his followers that there would be suffering and opposition, and he promised, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus accepted horrendous suffering for our sake, and he will not abandon us in our times of trial.

It is through Christ’s Paschal Mystery—the suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus—that we are saved! And it is to this Paschal Mystery that we can turn when we are brought low by life’s challenges. Easter Sunday follows Good Friday, light follows darkness, hope follows despair, and joy follows sadness—if we but believe! Jesus says to us, as he says to the synagogue official in Sunday’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mark 5:36).

Image credit: Virginia CASTRO/CIRIC

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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

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