The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
have been working on a fantastic video series that we can use for FREE to help share the
elements of our Catholic Social Teachings.
The videos are brief (3 - 5 minutes each), beautiful and informative.
They have been posted on YouTube, so can be
easily shared via social media or used in classrooms/meetings.
Below, please find direct links to the first few videos,
and look for future videos (and additional resources) to be posted at:
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
More on Rights and Responsibilities
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
More on Call to Family, Community, and Participation
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
More on Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
More on Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Care for God's Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
More on Care for God's Creation
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
More on Solidarity
> The Dignity of Work and the Rights of WorkersThe economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
More on Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Descriptions shared from http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm - (c) USCCB
Have you noticed that we have a big election coming up soon?
(Yes, that was sarcasm as I am not sure how any American can be unaware even if he/she avoids TV, radio, and social media.)
Hopefully, you are also aware that the Diocese of Youngstown* is sponsoring two sessions on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Perhaps you have already even registered for the free event (please do so we can have adequate materials prepared for the afternoon and evening sessions.)
As a young adult, perhaps you have not yet voted, or you never heard that the Catholic Church has suggestions on how we can try to balance our beliefs with our civic duty.
"In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue,
and participation in political life is a moral obligation,"
according to the U.S. Catholic bishops
(Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 13).
First of all, please know that Faithful Citizenship is NOT a sample ballot with boxes checked off for the candidates for whom you should vote. No, these are guidelines for your consideration, deep reflection and prayer. Recall that Jesus often taught in parables which elicited the same needs for thought before a decision could be made. It is not easy.... but it is worth the effort.
If you are unable to participate in one of the September 21st sessions referenced above,
please know that there are online resources to support your journey.
A few pages to note include:
Read and reflect upon the bulletin inserts (if your parish does not use them, you can download your own!)
There are two that summarize the U.S. Bishops' document,
one instructing on how to communicate with your elected officials, and
a couple backgrounders like this one on Civil Dialogue:
You can watch a video to learn more about the Bishops' document:
(also available in Spanish, as are many of the written resources!)
Questions to discuss over coffee (or other beverage of your choice):
Ideas for parish young adult ministries and collaboratives:
Session plans for adult faith formation/small Christian communities:
You can pray for others around the country during the Novena --
listen to the podcasts or read the text:
And this is the website for even more resources to assist you form youth conscience as a faithful citizen:
May God bless your journey.
For the people of the United States,
that we may be united in building a society in which everyone can have
the opportunity to live with dignity and hope, we pray to the Lord.
*September 21st events sponsored by The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown Offices of:
Continuing Education for Priests,
Lay Ministry Formation,
Pro-Life, Marriage and Family,
& Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Hopefully, you are all aware of the two sessions being offered by the diocese* regarding "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" on September 21, 2016, and hopefully you will all do your best to participate in one of the sessions....
However, it seems unlikely that many teens will attend, especially since many cannot yet vote. However, during middle school and high school there should be discussions had and prayers prayed. Teens see and hear the mainstream media and the social media and are concerned for their futures. Why not help them learn ways to infuse their faith with their patriotism and civic duties?
The U.S. Bishop's website features session plans prepared especially for middle school and high school audiences (parish and school settings). There are 4 session plans, and they can be adapted to fit your needs. Each session covers a section of the document, so they can easily be used for inter-generational/family faith/Generations of Faith sessions as well (you can find elementary session plans posted as well!)
Be sure to check them out and bookmark the site.
Perhaps your group is interested in devotionals?
Then be sure to check out the Novena for Faithful Citizenship as well:
(Read or listen to podcasts!)
The Bulletin Inserts are also created for discussion...
if your parish distributes these, then by all means, make use of them with your teens! If your parish does not use them, you can download them. There are two that summarize the Forming Consciences document, one that instructs on communicating with elected officials, that these two that might be of even more interest:
> Conscience Formation:
> Civil Dialogue:
Have fun exploring the many resources,
and be sure to continue praying for our country
and pray for all elected officials and for all voters!
Here is part of a middle school/high school session prayer,
which seems perfect to pray together now:
Let us pray.
Father of all creation,
You made humanity in your image and likeness.
May we see Jesus' face in those who are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, and stranger.
Spirit of justice, help us and all your people to seek respect for the dignity of all people
and work to protect the common good.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
* Sponsored by The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown Offices of:
Continuing Education for Priests,
Lay Ministry Formation,
Pro-Life, Marriage and Family,
& Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Did you happen to see the article from the Catholic News Service a few weeks back about the "Pokémon Go" phenomenon?
You can read it at:
Now that school is back in session, perhaps the traffic will slow down a bit with the Pokémon Go games that took the world by storm in July. However, there are some gamers still working towards "catching them all." So, what is your parish doing about it?
Are any PokeStops or Gyms set up on your parish property?
(You may need to talk to a youth or young adult playing and ask them to check for you.... many of the spots were assigned by the game or by players, so you may not have realized that could be why a bunch of folks are congregating in a section of your property!)
Why not take advantage of the locations by letting visitors know that they are welcome to become part of your faith community.... or that you are willing to answer any questions they may have about the Catholic faith... or that you are willing to pray for any intentions they may have...
Deacon Randy Smith in Massillon has talked with me about his planning to incorporate Pokémon Go at St. Joseph, and I've heard of a few other parishes considering it. I'd love to hear about what you do and how it went, so be sure to comment below to share your insights and ideas!
The Diocese of Green Bay's Office of the New Evangelization created a short guide to assist parishes, for what they have called Pokevangelization. I've linked it below for your convenience.
Ready.... Set.... GO!
Recently, a colleague shared the following Youth Night Outline with me and asked if it could be used at his parish. I told him, yes.... just line up objectives from the The Diocese of Youngstown Curriculum for Catechesis.
Using Scripture with Lectio Divina processing and praying the Apostle's Creed area always good things to do with youth!
With just a quick glance, I thought that the following objectives that could be covered within the session with a few tweaks:
After watching the video, you could also include
Look it over and tell me which other objectives you might include?
What would you do differently to make this session work better for the teens in your ministry setting? (Please use the COMMENT button to add your thoughts and ideas.)
Youth Night Acts of the Apostles
Purpose of the Night
This youth night is designed to give the teens a better knowledge and understanding of the Acts of the Apostles. Our Church is built upon the witness of these very first apostles and we can learn a lot from them. We can obviously learn about the development of church teaching, but more importantly, we can learn how to apply their witness into the witness of our lives.
Bible for each small group
Paper and pencils for each small group
Random items (see below in Preparation)
The environment for this night should depict the importance of witnessing, both by the apostles and saints, but also modern day witnesses. Display pictures around the room of apostles and saints. Also, include some signs with Scripture verses and quotes pertaining to witnessing. Also put up some pictures of witnesses today. These can be well known people, or simply just individuals in our everyday lives. At the front of the room, place an open Bible on a table and large cross with red cloth draped over it symbolizing the blood of the martyrs.
Snacks/fellowship time (20 minutes)
Before diving into the topic, have snacks or even a meal available for the youth as they arrive. Play fun music while youth are coming in. Allow them time to socialize with their friends as well as to meet any new people. Be sure to have yourself as well as any core team mingle among the kids and reach out especially to anyone who may be new. This time would also be a good time for any announcements as well as announcing any birthdays.
Small Group Skits (20 minutes)
Divide the youth into small groups. Gather a bunch of really random items and place the items at the front of the room. Examples of items can include stuffed animals, a role of tape, a golf club, or a coffee filter. Have a representative from each group select three items. Each group will act out the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2:1-4. They will have to incorporate their three items in some way in the skit. Also, each group will act out their skit in a different genre. Genres can include documentary, western, sci-fi, silent film, sitcom, talk show, news broadcast, musical, etc. Write the genres down on separate pieces of paper and have the groups each select one at random. Give the groups about 10 minutes to create their skits and then gather them back to present them.
Introduction of the Topic (5 minutes)
Transition the youth into the main space to begin the night. The youth minister will begin by introducing the topic of the Acts of the Apostles. Explain briefly the importance of the early apostles and their witness in the early church.
Proclamation verse: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Opening Prayer (5 minutes)
Reading (Acts 1:6-9)
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
Heavenly Father, We come before you this day in thanksgiving for the witness of the early Apostles. Lord, come into our hearts during this time that we might be inspired by their witness to live for you in our everyday lives. We ask this in your name. Amen.
(Optional) If you have a musician who can begin the night with a praise and worship song, that could be used as the opening prayer
Explanation Video: “Evidence” (5 minutes)
(This video can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPHe51B7Z00)
Teaching (10-15 minutes)
Choose a speaker to talk to your group about this topic and its importance in our lives. The speaker can be the youth minister, a core member, a parish priest or deacon, a guest speaker, or anyone who you feel may be qualified to speak on the topic. You can use the outline below to provide some thoughts for this talk.
Processing the video:
The importance of being a witness
- When watching this video, how did it make you feel? What was going through your head as this girl was on trial and what were your thoughts on the verdict? Can you relate to the video at all?
- Now obviously, it is not illegal to be Catholic in our country today. However, there are a number of obstacles that we face in our everyday lives that make it difficult to witness to our faith.
The witness of the Apostles
- In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He stood before His apostles and said “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus makes a promise to His Apostles that they will receive the Holy Spirit and will become witnesses to the faith.
- In Acts 2:1-4, we read of the event of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles and inspires them to fearlessly go out and proclaim Christ to the world. The Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse into the mission of the apostles following in the footsteps of Christ.
- We hear a number of miraculous occurrences such as the conversion of 3000 people by the apostles right after Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter healing to crippled man (Acts 3), Philip converting the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), Paul restoring a dead man to life (Acts 20), as well as so many more things. On top of this, we also hear of so many stories of heroic virtue as the apostles stopped at no cost to follow the will of Christ which eventually lead to martyrdom for most.
Our own witness in our lives
- In our own lives, we can learn a lot from the apostles and can apply much of what they said and did in our very own life. It’s hard to be a witness. It’s hard to publicly stand up and follow Christ fully in the midst of everything that goes on. Often times, we can feel like we are on trial, just like in the video.
- However, Christ has commissioned us just as He commissioned His disciples. He speaks those same words to us that we find in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Lord is with us and He freely gives us His Holy Spirit to inspire us to carry out His will. Let us not be afraid to listen to Him and witness to Him in our lives.
Small Groups (15-20 minutes)
Lectio Divina Each person in the group will receive a slip of paper with the Scripture passage below on it and a pencil. The group leader or one of the youths should read the passage aloud. Take about 30 seconds to silently think about it. Have it read again. Take about a minute to silently meditate upon it and encourage the group take notes or underline key words that might stick out. Have it read one final time and then begin to discuss.
Acts 1:6-8 – “When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Small Group Questions
o Was there a word or phrase from this passage that really stood out or jumped out to anyone?
o What is the meaning of this passage?
o What does Jesus mean when He says “you will be my witnesses”?
o How do His followers ultimately respond to that call of being a witness?
o In our lives, we all have the same call to go out and be witnesses in our everyday lives. What does it mean to witness to the faith?
o Jesus calls us to witness to our faith by leaving behind everything we have and spreading the gospel around the world. Some have taken this call quite literally and have become missionaries to foreign countries or other extreme callings. For those of us (the majority of Christians) who do not have this calling, how can we witness to the faith in everyday life?
o How can we be a witness in our school, on our sports teams, within our groups of friends, or within our families?
o Why is witnessing to the faith so important? What benefit is there for us?
o What are some practical ways in which we can witness to our faith today?
Teen Witness (5 minutes)
Gather the whole group back together and invite one of your youth, preferable an older one who is maybe a junior or a senior to share a brief personal witness on how their life has been impacted by the Lord and how they have been called to live out their faith. Meet with them ahead of time to go over their witness. While writing their witness, have them pray with Acts 1:8 to see how their own life can relate to that of the apostles.
Closing prayer (5 minutes)
If possible, transition the group into a separate space to close out the night. The ideal location would be in the church if available. Invite the youth to quietly make their way in and have a seat. The youth minister should take a minute to prayerfully recap the whole night. After the recap, take some time to enter into some silence and allow the youth to voice any intentions they have. Close with reciting the Apostles Creed:.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God,
the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
By the way, did you know that the Curriculum can be found online
(you do not only have to view it in the office of your pastor of Director/Coordinator of Religious Education! You can download a copy or just view it online whenever you wish.)
I am looking forward to gathering with about 150 others on March 10, 2016 to preview a new movie that supposes what Jesus may have been like as a seven year old.
(If you are reading this post prior to this date, you can check for information on joining us at:
After that date, just look for the resources linked towards the end of this post.)
As the Gospel of Matthew chapter two ends, after hearing about the magi visiting baby Jesus, we read that Joseph received a dream that it was safe to return "home" so they set out from Eqypt to Nazareth. Then chapter three begins with John the Baptist preaching in the desert and Jesus approaching as a man.
What happened in between?
Luke adds one story of Jesus at age 12 preaching in the temple. Then, only these words before he appears before John the Baptist:
51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man
Mark and John do not even discuss Jesus as a child.
So, what are we to think about Jesus and a child and a teen?
The Holy Spirit leaves that to us I suppose as the Church focuses on the importance of in incarnation (God becoming man as a boy born in Bethlehem), Jesus' ministry, and the Pascal Mystery.
But as humans, we may just wonder about the in between time....
Anne Rice did when she wrote the book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.
And now the book has been adapted as a movie entitled "The Young Messiah."
They describe it as follows:
Remaining true to the character of Jesus revealed in the Bible, The Young Messiah film is an inspirational story about the childhood of the Savior for the whole family.
When the mystery of Jesus’s divinity begins to unfold in His early years, He turns to His parents for answers. But Mary and Joseph, in an effort to protect their child, are afraid to reveal all they know. How do you explain the ways of the world to its Creator? How do you teach the Teacher? How do you help the Savior who came to save you?
Follow the young Messiah as He and His family take the dangerous journey from Egypt to Nazareth and on to Jerusalem—where His true identity and profound destiny are revealed.
I look forward to seeing what someone envisioned this time of growth, discovery, anguish, joy, family-time, relationships, and faith for Jesus. It will be interesting to see how someone imaged Mary and Joseph as parents.
I pray that the movie deepens an appreciation for the Holy Family and the wonder and awe for each family members acceptance of God's plan for their lives.
If it is done as well as I hear it is, we may be recommending that youth groups and/or families with teens get out to see the movie. There are already discussion guides available for your use at the parish or to share with families for home-catechesis.
Catholic Youth Study Guide/Lesson Plans:
Catholic Study Guide for Families with Youth
Discussion Guide (for adults)
Perhaps more will be added by the promotional company:
Even if you do not see this movie, it can be fun to pull some of the scripture reflections and discussion questions out for use in your youth and family ministry programs.
Lenten blessings to you as you reflect on Jesus in your own life.
May you continue to claim him as messiah (young or old or ageless!)
I was a little frustrated today to fail at finding a good pre-written session to give to one of our pastors addressing the topics of "Fear Not/Trust int he Lord." I know there HAS to a few, but I was unable to find one at the time.... (feel free to email me with ones of which you are aware! firstname.lastname@example.org ). I also failed at finding a good, usable for CCD/ministry video clip of a modern movie (closest I came was to an Evan Almighty (c) 2007, but it wasn't even as appropriate as I would have liked...
So, at least I was able to sit down and type up a few ideas...
I am posting them here just in case I want to access them again,
or in case anyone else would like to borrow the ideas.
Kudos to Carla for finding the activity shared below (On the Edge of an Adventure),
although we cannot cite the resource as it was a loose paper in a folder.
(I'm sure you can relate to that, but now note the title/publisher!)
Feel free to tweak, adapt or change to fit your needs.
(By the way, I did not include a good old fashioned Trust Fall activity or even a Trust Walk since you need space and blind-folds for that, but they could have been included as well!)
Fear Not – Trust in God!
Session ideas from Cindee Case (10.7.15)
Music: If group likes to sing and/or listen to music –
Be Not Afraid (Dufford) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snmwD6d9Xo4
Trust in the Lord (O’Connor) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx7ArO-freU
You Are Mine (Haas) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgm9lkTNQmc&index=3&list=RDx9m77bfUvI4
Shepherd Me Oh God (Haugen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFM4jZasvs
Small Groups for Bible story discussions
ii.Jesus in Garden
iii.Abraham – Genesis 22
iv.Noah - Genesis 6
v.Joshua - Joshua 1: 1 – 11 – God commands him to move the people of Moses – do you think the promises he heard from God made his decision easy?
See “on the Edge of An Adventure” handout – all consider Matthew 14: 22-33
Witness story of 1 or 2 parishioners/ministry leaders share a time when they had to decide to trust in God. (Perhaps when making a decision regarding marriage, big move, child care, health care, etc.)
RITUAL: Have each teen write a fear they have on a slip of paper, then bring forward and place in a basket – in exchange for a scripture verse (if utilize more than one copy of the same verse, mark one of each to signify which one to be read aloud, numbered in order of being read…)
Reading of Scripture verses – select students to read one of the following (or other) Scripture verse:
DO NOT BE AFRAID:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
The Lord is my light and my salvation--
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life--
of whom shall I be afraid?
But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
1 Peter 3:14
TRUST IN GOD:
Blessed are those who trust in the LORD; the LORD will be their trust.
They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit. (Jeremiah 17: 7 – 8)
But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” (Psalm 31: 15)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
when I am afraid,
in you I place my trust.
praise the word of God;
I trust in God, I do not fear. (Psalm 56:3 – 4)
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him, (Psalm 145:18- 20)
But I trust in your mercy.
Grant my heart joy in your salvation,
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13: 6)
Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
[and] I will not be afraid. (Hebrews 13: 6)
End with an adult reading the following:
Matthew 6: 25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?* Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness,* and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
God in peace!
Have you heard that this Sunday (April 27), two new saints will be officially named....two blessed popes (John XXIII and John Paul II) will be elevated to help us remember to be inspired by their faith.
The Vatican has been posting information for our use at:
as have the U.S. Bishops Conference:
Here is a quick video that explains the canonization process (Thanks, Busted Halo for another great video!)
If you want a quick visual guide on the canonization process, CNS created this one:
A few personal thoughts:
Related to this historic moment of the canonization of two popes,
It JUST occurred to me moments ago that I have been SO fortunate to be in the presence of a saint....
I mean, I know that I am often near people filled with God's love so deeply that we can call them a saint, but this is a real-life, almost canonized (will be on Sunday) person. Wow. How cool is that?
I was "with" Blessed John Paul II in Denver 1993, Paris 1997, Rome 1999, Rome 2000, and Toronto 2002. Although I never got to talk with him one-on-one, I was within 5 feet of him twice and impacted by his ministry. Here are just a few memories:
Denver, August 1993 -- World Youth Day events
Papal Welcome on Thursday, August 12 at Mile High Stadium
--- Our group (Diocese of Cleveland) received tickets for this event, so we fed into the crowd funneling into the stadium. As we awaited the Holy Father, we sang songs, talked with teens and young adults from numerous countries, and we got wet -- it was raining!
However, as the helicopters approached the stadium, a rainbow arched in the sky, and the sun peaked out.....by the time Pope John Paul II greeted us, the rain had stopped! What a stunning moment for us all!
Here are the words he shared with us that evening:
Vigil Prayer on Saturday, August 14 at Cherry Creek Park
--- a long pilgrimage walk led us from downtown Denver to this large open area. Many of us Ohioans expected trees at the park, bu it was just an open area. The heat of the sun exhausted us, but the singing and prayer kept us going. Camping out with a half-million people is a unique experience!
Here are the Holy Father's words from the vigil:
Closing Mass on Sunday, August 15 at Cherry Creek Park
--- Despite dealing with altitude sickness/thinner air, lack of sleep, and some lack of adequate nutrition (McDonald's supplied the food stands for the week, and there was a minimal number of options, which caused some people to suffer digestive issues), the community rallied together for a fantastic outdoor Mass.
Here is the homily from that day:
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 1999 in Rome, Italy
--- Did you know that there is a tradition for the Holy Father to meet with faithful near at the Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome at a statue of Mary to pray during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception? I did NOT know this until happenstance placed me there, and lo and behold, a car pulls up right next to where I am standing and I see Pope John Paul II get out to lead the prayer! Wow! There was even a moment when our eyes met, and I truly felt a sense of God's love rush over me. I know, it sounds a bit strange, as I was even surprised by it -- but this man definitely exuded a spiritual presence!
This was a much less formal celebration that the World Youth Day liturgies and events I had attended, so I was struck by the humbleness and "centeredness" of the Holy Father as he took a few minutes to venerate the Holy Mother at the statue.
I have more memories (and many more pictures), but this isn't really about me....although I am still amazed that I was able to be with a saint so many times. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be near Pope John XXIII, since he was so unexpected and ushered in so much change/rejuvination for the ChurchI hope that I can always stay focused on the GOOD done by these holy men so that I can be inspired to faith-filled in my daily life.
May we all be inspired by the witness of faith of both of these holy men!
St. John and St. John Paul, pray for us!
Here is a bonus news story on Popes as Saints:
"We want to show X movie to Y group..."
This is the start of a potentially beautiful experience of learning, community building, reflection, prayer or just fun....
Or it could be a bad choice.
How can you tell the difference?
With the current string of religiously themed movies, this seems like a good time to share a few basic considerations if you are looking to show a movie to children, youth or families:
1. A group leader should ALWAYS preview a movie!
Consider watching it twice, the first time to get an overall sense of the film; then if that seems fine, watch it again to look for any subtle themes, plot twists, backdrops or characters that may raise questions, concerns, or 'red flags.'
You may wish to invite a few other adult to preview the movie with you so that you have additional eyes to notice things and insights to share.
A few questions:
-- what is that main message the film is communicating?
-- what others themes is the film sending?
-- what Gospel themes are connected?
-- what Diocesan Curriculum Objectives are covered? (Hey, even if you are planning it just as a fun activity, it doesn't hurt to slip some catechesis in if you are sponsoring it as a ministry event!)
-- is this movie the best way to teach these themes?
-- can clips of the film be shown (obviously at a later date once they are available) to better get across the point(s) you hope to teach, or does the movie need to be seen in its entirety?
-- what prayers, reflection questions and discussions can support the film theme(s)?
Movies that pervert the faith or are blatantly immoral must be avoided.
2. What is the movie rating? Remember that the Motion Pictures Association of America is one form of rating, and a great starting point.
G = General Audiences (all ages)
PG = Parental Guidance suggested as some aspects may not be suitable for children
PG 13 = Parental Guidance but really most viewers should be 13 and older
R = viewers should be 17 and older or with a parent (often based on amount of violence, profanity, nudity)
NC 17= restricted to only those 17 and older
Therefore, you should NOT plan to high school teens to an R-rated movie, or small children to a PG film.... and I must add that you still might want to preview G-rated movies as some themes might be questionable for religious purposes, although they should be generally "safe" to watch.
3. How have Catholic Leaders rated it?
Catholic leaders look at the movies not only based on the amount of
violence, profanity, and nudity (the 3 criteria used for the MPAA ratings above) but also based on our Christian morals, teachings and scriptures.
A. Catholic News Services --CNS continues to work begun by the U.S. Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting by reviewing movies through the lenses of our Catholic faith.
The rating system they use:
Visit the website to see the ratings given in current and older movies:
B. Franciscans Media movie reviews
(I am not sure if they add original reviews, or just post the CNS reviews from above? But the format for reading might be easier on some screens.)
C. Sr. Rose Pacatte - Daughters of St. Paul community member Sr. Rose has taken the 5 Things the National Director for Catechesis says about media (see image to the right). She reviews and writes for a number of outlets to help Catholics chose movies wisely:
RCL Benziger (publisher) has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" video reviews posted for catechists, educators and parents at:
Articles on movies posted with the National Catholic Reporter (newspaper):
Pathos Faith Channels also has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" for all ages at:
OK, so once you have previewed a movie (perhaps twice or with a team),
decide that it is worthy of pursuing as a parish activity, have checked the
movie ratings and see that reliable Catholic leaders support the film,
please remember that if going as a youth event, you must follow all the guidelines regarding permission forms, Diocesan Child Protection Policy compliant chaperones and drivers....
then get some popcorn and enjoy!
Perhaps you take some time for prayer before you break groups up into cars with Diocesan Child Protection compliant adult drivers with the liability & release forms from the parents and send them off to Kenny Wood, Cedar Point, or other amusement parks....of maybe you take advantage of an hour or three on a bus with ice-breakers, prayer and an instructional video to include some catechesis in the day of fun.... but do you intertwine catechesis or prayer into the amusement park?
It seems natural when someone is usually yelling out, "Oh God" as a roller coaster nears to the top of its largest hill or once a spinny ride has been going for over a minute. How can we encourage teens to see God in their experiences (besides praying for a long long to move quickly or for the rain to hold off a while longer!)? Here are just a few suggestions -- and I welcome others to be added:
1. Prior to your event day, be sure to get a list of the amusement park attractions. You may be able to play on the names of some rides so that they can think about that when they ride, while they wait, or even as they walk by it.
+ Cedar Point's Blue Streak coaster -- are your teens familiar with the old term about someone 'cussing/cursing up a blue streak' in that a lot of foul language is used? What does the Bible say about cursing? What about the catechism? When they see the Blue Streak, can they pray for God to help them keep clean mouths?
A few Bible verses to get you started:
No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 5:1 - 4
So be imitators of God,* as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.
Colossians 3:8- 10
But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain
Colossians 4:5 - 6
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.
You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.
+ Cedar Downs Racing Derby --
Talk about St. Paul's analogy of "Running the Race" in our faith journey (Philipians 3: 12 - 16)
+ There is a LOT that can be done regarding the Waters of Baptism to be reflected upon on any water ride at Kennywood ( Log Jammer, Pittsburg Plunge and Raging Rapids), Cedar Point (Shoot the Rapids, Snake River Falls, Thunder Canyon), anything at Wildwater Kingdom..... or at your parish festival dunking booth ;-)
2. Challenge your group members to seek out the good -- look for people helping others, i.e. picking up something some else dropped.....helping a parent with a small child....holding a door or gate open for the next person.... can they find at least ten different examples before lunch?
During lunch, have them share the examples they witnessed.
After lunch, challenge them, can they then do ten nice things for strangers around the park?
Perhaps reading from Matthew 5; 13 - 16 can help:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
OK, your turn to share some ideas.....
Best wishes for a safe, fun, and spiritually enriching summer!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.