It’s that time of year…
Happy new year! We just celebrated some awesome days in the Church: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), New Year’s Day/Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Listen to Fr. DiTomo’s homily for the Feast of the Epiphany by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/zuu9tro. Become a follower on Sound Cloud!
It’s officially Ordinary Time, but there is nothing ordinary about it! This is the time of regular watering of our faith as we journey toward Lent and the Resurrection.
Our Faith Formation students have been asked to decide on their faith projects, keep coming to classes, complete their lessons, serve at the Family Mass and Dinner, challenged to pray every day during Advent and now look for the ‘sign’ or ‘Epiphany’ in their lives like the star that the Magi followed to find Jesus. Opening the Word has been about the gifts we bring to Jesus and offer the Church community as well as the ‘ordinary’ gifts we bring to the altar during Mass. I used my Morning Prayer to discuss what my ‘offerings’ are every day regardless of the season. I had a gift bag with ‘signs and sayings’ as props.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and especially those of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
Donna’s Morning Prayer
(adapted from the Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer)
We talked about what we can offer Jesus as a gift even if we don’t have gold (king), frankincense (God) or myrrh (man). We offer our big and little prayers, works, joys and even our sufferings and tears to Jesus. Just like the bread and wine we bring to the altar during Mass, Jesus takes them and transforms them into something good, better, beautiful and extraordinary. We ask the Holy Spirit to transform US. I ask that you remind your children that we come bearing gifts following the Light of the World who came to save us. We find him in the Mass!
We talked about the difference between the baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. How we may have gone swimming and tried to see how long we could hold our breath. The people who came to John the Baptist to be baptized were only baptized with water. They went under and came back up breathing in new life. They made confessions of their sins and shortcomings and committed to do better and be better.
John the Baptist warned them that someone was coming ‘greater than I’. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. There was a sign of the dove who descended upon Jesus and the words of God, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And this is echoed during the Transfiguration when God adds, “Listen to Him.”
During the past season and through these Feasts and Solemnities, we ‘see’ there were many signs: Angels, dreams, stars, and then the dove. How does God appear or reveal (epiphany) Himself in our lives? It’s a great discussion and can change the way you see others and the world.
Every week during Opening the Word in Church at the beginning of class they are asked to practice the 4-step prayer. (Say hi, talk about your day, ask for help and say thank you!) Ask them if they remember it! Prayer is a conversation. A student asked why we would tell Jesus about our day or week if he already knows. I said that we often talk to our friends about something that we were both at. Our friends already know what we did and what happened but we talk about it anyway. Reminisce about the meaningful parts, laugh at the silly parts and tear up at the sad ones. Jesus wants us to talk with him and help us carry our burdens. That’s what friends are for. That’s what a Savior is for. Jesus said he would make our burdens light!
Many blessings in the new year, Donna
There are so many stories in the Bible about storms. Jesus and the Apostles faced many storms when they were out in their boats, and Noah and his family faced a storm that resulted in the flooding of the world. When we compare these storms with the storms that we face in our lives, it becomes obvious that the way we can overcome all our storms is by following God’s directions and using the tools He gives us. Going back to Noah, when the flood was coming, God instructed Noah to build an ark. This ark was the tool that God gave Noah so that when the floods came, Noah, his family, and all the animals were protected from the great flood. We may not have an ark to weather our storms, but we definitely have other tools for the problems we face in our own lives.
For example, we have the “rock of St. Peter.” It was on this rock that Christ said we should build our faith so that when the storms that come from doubt or people who try to crush our faith, our faith will still be standing strong. We are told in
Ephesians 6:10-18 to “put on the full armor of God.” This whole set includes “the sword of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and many other parts that are given to us by God.
What does this have to do with weathering storms? Well, God would only give us the very best tools for the problems we face so this armor has all we need to weather any storm that others may throw at us. There is no doubt that God remembered to waterproof this armor. – Sarah F.
Fear is something everyone has experienced in their life. Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. So basically fear is an idea that something or someone will hurt someone or something you love. I have quite a few fears one of them being harm done to my family. I always worry that something bad will happen to one of my family members; whether it be physically or emotionally – it worries me. Most of the time, this happens when I am about to go to sleep because I have nothing else to think about. So when I pray right before bed, it helps because I know that God is present and will watch over them while I am sleeping. A specific verse that gives me comfort at night is Psalm 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This is totally true for me because God is definitely there for me and he comforts me. – Isabel
I was scared when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and we couldn’t see him for a very long time and no one would tell me and my sisters why. Then one day, we were able to go hang out with him and he wouldn’t tell us anything only that he was very, very ill. He kept telling us he would be fine despite the fact that we weren’t able to see him on our normal schedule for months.
He did recover fully and was fine for years until he was diagnosed a second time. Only this time, we were able to see him like normal when he wasn’t in pain or feeling tired or weak. We would have to leave his house early or just wouldn’t be able to go there. But God would remind me everything would be fine just like in John 14:27 when God said, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you. Note as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
If you Google the word ‘phobia’ there are at least 14 pages of websites that will spell out exactly what we humans fear most (number one is public speaking and number two is death!). In a lot of movies when the hero admits to being afraid, the wise character tells them that it’s human to feel that way. No one likes being afraid, and the feeling that you can’t rationally explain what you’re so terrified of is part of it. Sometimes, when we simply get if off our chest, it makes us see how silly we’re being. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. Most of the time, we continue to be irrational. When I was younger, I was always afraid of someone pulling me underneath something. I know I’m completely insane for thinking that, but I had a hard time keeping my feet on the floor. I used to check under my chair five times a day to make sure a monster wasn’t lying in wait. The knowledge that monsters didn’t exist didn’t help at all. I was sure that something was going to get me.
I’m no longer afraid that Dracula will kidnap me while I’m taking a math test, thank goodness, but my fears have evolved into things that resemble adult-like worries: grades, college applications, and my life plans. All these things have the power to wake me up at night and keep my mind going. Someone suggested that I read one chapter from the Bible every night before I go to sleep. I took up with Proverbs first and then went on to Psalms. Psalms, if you didn’t realize this, have a really soothing effect (some of them, anyway). I couldn’t count how many times they tell me not to worry and trust in God. Everyone knows the famous Psalm 23 ‘the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’, but some of the lesser known verses include Chapter 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted/ and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Every time I think I’m afraid I’ll live out my days as a hobo or a crazy cat lady with nine million cats (I told you I’m irrational), I just turn to that Psalm and relax a little. Then I’ll turn to Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.
I know that God takes care of everyone and is willing to help me. He knows I’m terrified of not getting into a good college, but by simply telling Him this, I realize He has a plan for me. If His plan involves rescuing fifty million cats, then I guess Purina is going to love me. God won’t let anything happen to us without a reason. He’s always there to protect us, and when we’re scared, we just have to remember that God is there for us. He’ll always give us the extra courage we need. We only need to ask. – Sarah
Remember God made you its true.
In his image so great,
So step up to the plate!
Brighton the world,
Let your joy be unfurled!
Make a difference today
and do it God’s Way!
Then what beauty they see
Grace flows through you and me!