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
A week ago I read the Sunday Readings for July 19 that focused on Christ’s peace and this was my summary:
St. Paul says Christ is our peace. He will bring us together. We all have access to the Holy Spirit! We are brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. How can you make peace? Mark tells us how Jesus said we can be ready for being peacemakers and going out into the world. Jesus said, “Come to a deserted place and rest.” Interesting that He said, ‘Come’ not just ‘Go.’ He will go with you. And, you will find rest. So, we can do our best today. And then, rest up for tomorrow. Be sure to find your own retreat time!
What I really love about reading and reflecting on Scripture is that I always see something different if I really look. Contemplating the meaning of Scripture changes from day to day and year to year. Today as I heard the Readings proclaimed, the first reading from Jeremiah stood out like a flashing road sign.
“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter.” Today that jumped out. When I talk to teens about what the Scriptures can mean to them, being a shepherd is a great topic. You may be able to relate, too. Have you ever thought of yourself as a shepherd? Just think about the basic idea of a shepherd: leading and guiding. We are shepherds of our friends. We can lead them well and raise the bar. Or, we can lead them astray. Today, that could mean gossip, bullying, drinking and drugs or just being negative. Are we lifting people’s spirits? Are we bringing hope and peace?
A big shocker to teens is that you can be an ‘accessory to sin’. Most of us relate an ‘accessory’ to a crime. You can go to jail for helping someone commit a crime even if you didn’t do it. Same goes for sin. You are in big trouble with ‘the guy upstairs’ if you lead someone to sin. This is probably what I would have said to a class this week.
That reading was followed by Psalm 23. It contains the explanation of what our Good Shepherd does for us. It’s our example for being a shepherd to those around us as well.
So, regroup. How can you be a better shepherd today and tomorrow? Examine your conscience. Is your barometer working properly? Twelve Step programs tell us to do an inventory. Take stock. What can you change? Take one small step toward a brighter future. Then read the first paragraph again. Retreat and regroup. Rest and then start again tomorrow! – Mrs. D