Find below a selection of special messages. It is updated from time to time. The most entries offer wisdom, inspiration and reflection as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all in this together.
Catholic Parental Responsibilities
Building Catholic Character: 5 Things Parents Can Do
A Five Part Series
By Thomas Lickona
Part I — Build a Loving Relationship
Kids will care about our values when they know we care about them. Emotionally intimate time is especially important for helping our children feel loved and for maximizing our influence on the kind of person they are becoming.
The late Christian Barnard, originator of the heart transplant, remembers the times with his father: “Whenever we were ill, my father got up late at night to doctor us. I suffered from festering toenails that pained so much I would cry in bed. My father used to draw out the fester with a poultice made of milk and bread crumbs or Sunlight soap and sugar. And when I had a cold, he would rub my chest with Vicks and cover it with a red flannel cloth. Sunday afternoons we walked together to the top of the hill by the dam. Once there, we would sit on a rock and look down at the town below us. Then I would tell my problems to my father, and he would speak of his to me. Emotionally intimate time is especially important for helping our children feel loved and for maximizing our influence on the kind of person they are becoming.”
Love as communication
The quality of our love often comes down to the quality of our communication. To create quality dinner discussion, for example, try having a topic: “What was the best part of your day?” “What is a way you helped another person?” “Who has a problem the rest of the family might be able to help with?”
Love as sacrifice
Says one mother: “The most important thing parents can do for their children is to love each other and stay together.” In a major shift from a generation ago, both secular and religious marriage counselors are now urging married couples having problems to do everything possible to work out their difficulties and save their marriage. Catholic parents can strengthen their marriages by drawing constantly on the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage through good times and bad. Research shows that the more a husband and wife each practice their faith, the better their relationship, and the more their children thrive.
Part II — Use the Power of Good Example
The example we set — especially when it is coupled with a loving relationship — is one of the most important ways we affect the character of our kids. Our example includes not only how we treat our children but how we treat each other as spouses and how we treat and talk about others (relatives, friends, neighbors, and teachers). We increase the power of our own example when we expose our children to other positive role models.
The Giraffe Heroes Project has developed a bank of more than 1,000 stories of everyday heroes of all ages who have shown compassion and courage by sticking out their necks for others.
William Kilpatrick’s Books That Build Character offers hundreds of fictional stories whose admirable characters will live in a young person’s heart and imagination.
The website Teach with Movies catalogs hundreds of good films that offer positive role models and strong character themes.
And we should be sure to tap the rich resource provided by the lives of the saints (see Mary Reed Newland’s book, The Saints and Our Children). “The saints had their eyes on God,” says one Catholic mother. “They make very real what it means to follow Christ.”
Use Part III — Teach Directly
If we want our example to have maximum impact, our kids need to know the values and beliefs that lie behind it. We need to practice what we preach, but we also need to preach what we practice.
We should directly teach everyday manners: “Say please and thank you,” “Don’t interrupt,” “Look at a person who’s speaking to you.”
We should make a list of the Catholic truths we want to teach our children. Says a Catholic mother, “I want my children to know how tremendously important the Sacraments are — how they give us the strength to get through life.”
We should directly teach the fundamentals of our faith, starting with the three purposes of our lives (salvation, stewardship, and sanctity). We should make a list of the Catholic truths we want to teach our children. Says a Catholic mother, “I want my children to know how tremendously important the Sacraments are — how they give us the strength to get through life.” Says a father: “I want my kids to understand that there is such a thing as truth, and that when the Pope teaches on faith and morals, he speaks with the voice of Christ.”
Here are other Catholic truths we want to be sure to transmit:
- Life is sacred, from conception until natural death.
- We have a special duty to help Christ’s “least ones” — the poor, homeless, disabled, sick, oppressed, and unborn.
- When we join our sufferings with the Cross of Christ, we become more like Jesus and participate in his work of saving souls.
- The Mass is an important part of our faith, through which Jesus continues to redeem the world.
- A relationship with the Blessed Mother is a sure path to a relationship with her Son.
Part IV — Exercise Authority Wisely
As parents, we must have a strong sense of our moral authority and then exercise it wisely in three ways:
First, we must take strong stands that are consistent with our Catholic values.
For example, what do we prohibit? Violent video games? ; TV shows and movies that contain sex, violence, or foul language? All forms of pornography?; Music with profane, lewd, or denigrating lyrics?; Immodest dress?; Parties where there’s drinking?; Prom overnights?
Second, we must discipline wisely.
Even small things — a mean remark to a sibling, for example — should be taken seriously. The most effective discipline gets kids to take responsibility: “What do you think is a fair consequence for what you did?” ; “What can you do to make up for it?” Getting kids in the habit of going to Confession — examining their conscience; telling God they’re sorry for their sins; experiencing Christ’s forgiveness; and resolving to do better (we, of course, must model this) These are all a vital part of helping them take responsibility for their actions.
Third, we must practice vigilant supervision.
The research report Building a Better Teenager (www.childtrends.org) finds that “hands-on” parents — those who know where there kids are, who they’re with, what they’re doing, including their use of media (do you know what’s on their My Space page?) — have teens with the lowest rates of sexual activity and drug and alcohol abuse. As one writer puts it, in today’s moral environment “we need to watch our children like a hawk.”
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again…
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound….
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting…
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are…
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness…
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love…
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th 2020
Catholic Faith, Life, & Creed │ Catholic Social Teachings │ 2.0 Part II
Practicing Small Acts of Kindness
by James P. Campbell, D.Min.
Frederic Ozanam (1813–1853) was a Catholic layman in France. In 1832 an epidemic of cholera swept
through Paris, killing up to 1,200 people each day. As Frederic walked through the poorer suburbs on his way to the university where he was a student, he was deeply moved at the hopeless state of families who had lost fathers and mothers. He and his six friends decided to see what they could do. They began by giving a widow the remainder of their winter wood supply.
Frederic and his friends continued their work, and soon they were helping the less-fortunate people of Paris in many ways. Some people scoffed and asked, “How can seven men make a difference?” But they did. Eventually they formed an association and called it the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The society they began has today some 107,000 members in the United States and 1,000,000 worldwide in 130 countries, providing aid in the form of medical supplies, food for the poor, counseling and education programs, and other services.
As Christians, we are called to care for one another and for the world God created through small acts that are part of our daily lifestyle. We don’t have to look very far to find where we’re needed; if we pay attention, the opportunities are usually right under our noses, in our own families, schools, parishes, and neighborhoods. As Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things—only small things with great love.”
Excerpt from 52 Simple Ways to Talk with Your Kids about Faith by Jim Campbell
In bread-dough faith, the dough kneads the baker as much as the baker kneads the dough.
Catholic Faith, Life, & Creed │ Catholic Social Teachings │ 2.0 Part I
How we live and act as a Catholic Christian is defined by theological principles.
- Principles lead to action.
- Principled people know what they believe and are willing to stand by it.
- The US Bishops document, “Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions” defines the principles upon which
Catholic social teaching is based—principles that include family, religious, social, political, technological, recreational and cultural issues.
Overview of Catholic Social Teaching
- Catholic social teaching—reflects Church’s social mission and are rooted in biblical values.
- All are called to work to eliminate the effect of poverty
- Jesus calls us to this mission.
- All are called to bring the healing hand of Christ to those in need
The Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family Life, Community, and Participation in both Family and Community
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable (The needs of the poor and vulnerable come first and deserve our preferential response)
- Dignity of Work & The Rights of Workers
- Solidarity (We are one human family and must work for peace and justice for every person)
- Care for God’s Creation
The greatest dogma of the Christian faith is the mystery of the Holy Trinity. (Mystery, in this connection, means a supernatural fact revealed by God which in itself transcends the natural power of human reasoning.) During the first thousand years of Christianity there was no special feast celebrated in honor of this mystery, but, as Pope Alexander II (1073) declared, every day of the liturgical year was devoted to the honor and adoration of the Sacred Trinity.
However, to counteract the Arian heresy, which denied the fullness of divinity to the Son, a special Mass text in honor of the Holy Trinity was introduced and incorporated in the Roman liturgical books. This Mass was not assigned for a definite day but could be used on certain Sundays according to the private devotion of each priest. (Such Mass texts which are not prescribed but open to choice on certain days are now known as “votive Masses.”) From the ninth century on, various bishops of the Frankish kingdoms promoted in their own dioceses a special feast of the Holy Trinity, usually on the Sunday after Pentecost. They used a Mass text that Abbot Alcuin (804) is said to have composed.
Thus the custom of observing a special feast in honor of the Trinity became increasingly popular in the northern countries of Europe. Several synods prescribed it for their respective territories in France, Germany, England, and The Netherlands. In the thirteenth century the orders of the Benedictines and Cistercians adopted the annual celebration of the feast. It was kept on different Sundays in different places, until in 1334 Pope John XXII accepted the festival into the official calendar of the Western Church and ordered that henceforth it should be held everywhere on the Sunday after Pentecost.
A new Mass text was written and published. It is interesting to note that the beautiful Preface of the Trinity as read today is the same one that appeared in the first text of the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory the Great.5 Most of the other prayers are of later origin. The Divine Office in its present form was arranged under Pope Saint Pius V (1572). It is one of the most sublime offices of the breviary.
The Feast of the Holy Trinity now belongs among the great annual festivals of Christianity. Although it is not observed with additional liturgical services outside the Mass, its celebration quickly took root in the hearts and minds of the faithful, and in all countries of Europe popular traditions are closely associated with this feast.
Prayer for Migrants
MERCIFUL AND LOVING FATHER, We beseech you, open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality and refuge to migrants who are lonely, afraid, and far from their homes. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst, to invite them into our communities as a demonstration of Christ’s love for us. We pray that when we encounter the other, we see in her the face of your Son, when we meet a stranger, that we take his hand in welcome. Help us to live in solidarity with one another, to seek justice for those who are persecuted and comfort for those who are suffering. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. — United States Council of Catholic Bishops prayer card
Prayer for the New Year
My brothers and sisters, every year is a beautiful gift from God!
God’s gift is this time of our lives. We have this precious time to love and to do good; to make peace; to build his Kingdom, the city of love and truth and justice. This year, let us truly be a people who make time for God – with our hearts open to our Father’s love for us; with our hands always open and ready to serve our brothers and sisters in love. Let us make the most of our time, to really live as children of God.
So let us ask Mary, our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Peace, to intercede for us that we will use our time wisely in this New Year – to grow in our spiritual life and in our practice of our faith; so that we can be good children of God and share God’s peace and joy with others.
I pray that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, may grant each one of you and your families – and everyone in our city and in the whole world – a real and lasting peace and a truly happy New Year.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! —Pope Benedict, World Day of Peace 2011
An Advent Prayer – Henri Nouwen