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!)
Hold a post-VBS session each day for your teen volunteers --
Yes, I know this adds on time to your day after a busy morning with the kids,
and could cost some money to offer lunch (or dessert, if lunch is part of VBS) for your teens to stay around for a discussion -- but consider that this can provide some opportunities for the components of community life, prayer/worship, catechesis and evangelization time for the teens, and only take a little extra effort from you (or other youth ministry leaders.)
Suggestions for the gathering --
1. Grace before lunch (or over dessert)
2. Ask highs and lows of the morning
Option A: Scripture sharing
- You can utilize the readings of the day (http://usccb.org/calendar/index.cfm?showLit=1&action=month)
(Do simplified Lectio Divina style of proclaiming the reading, asking each person to share a word or phrase that speaks to them, ask if they are willing to share why that word or phrase, re-read the Scripture),
Option B: go deeper into the VBS theme of the day.....utilize The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth or the Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Spontaneous prayers of petition and thanksgiving
5. Go in peace, until the next morning!
Voila! You just did children’s ministry and youth ministry in about a half a day
If you decide to do this, please let me (Cindee) know how is went and if would do it again!
Of course, you could also do this with ALL your volunteers, which would provide some Adult Faith Formation as well...
I love this idea 'borrowed' from Catholics Mobilizing:
An Advent Jar
What’s an Advent Jar you ask?
Well, it’s just like an advent calendar,
except you use a jar and Popsicle sticks.
This is a creative and fun way to incorporate prayer, scripture,
service and family time into your Advent journey as a family
(or with roommates or even alone).
For this project you will need:
26 Large popsicle sticks (the ones that are like tongue
depressors) – colored ones are best
2” Wide Ribbon
½” wide ribbon
Fine tip Sharpies
Starting with a clean, empty mason jar,
cut the wide ribbon long enough to wrap completely around the jar with a bit extra on the ends to fold over.
Fold over one end of the wide ribbon about an 1/8 of an inch.
Using glue dots or double sided tape, adhere the large ribbon to the jar.
Cut the ½” ribbon long enough to wrap around the jar with enough extra to make a bow.
Place the smaller ribbon so it lays over the wider ribbon and tie it around the jar using a
bow to secure it.
Once the jar and ribbon is done, it is time to make your advent jar popsicle sticks.
Using a fine tip sharpie families (or roommates or even an individual, as I did) should select 26 things
– either from the list below, or they can make their own – that they can do throughout Advent.
Write one thing on each stick and place it in the jar.
Each morning, take 2 seconds before running out the door to grab a stick
and make that your goal for the day. Or if your family (roommates) gathers for dinner
take the stick out before diner and talk over dinner about doing that item
for the day. If you draw one that you can not
do that day, simply place it back and draw another.
1. Say a prayer for someone who is sick or lonely
2. Drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas Lights
3. Go out to the town’s annual tree lighting
4. Go to Church this Sunday as a family
5. Do something nice for some who you may not always like
6. Bake Christmas Cookies and listen to Christmas music
7. Read a favorite Christmas story together as a family
8. Decorate the Christmas tree as a family
9. Baking cookies for Santa – make extra to give to neighbors or those who are
10. Read the Nativity story – Luke 2:1-14
11. Send a letter to a family member that lives far away
12. Set up the Nativity
13. Pray Psalm 25 together as a family
14. Write a note to a family member telling them one thing you are thankful for –
15. Offer to help with a chore that is not normally “yours”
16. Make a Christmas Card for your favorite teacher and give it to them
17. Say a prayer at dinner for all those who are hungry
18. Do a kind act for a neighbor
19. Read the story of St. Nicholas whose Feast Day is celebrated during Advent
20.Make 5 Christmas cards and deliver to a hospital or nursing home
21. Make hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie as a family
22. Pray the joyful mysteries of the Rosary as a family – dedicate your prayers to those who go without
23.Collect change for 5 days – the entire family collects all their extra change each
day – donate what you collected to an organization that helps those who are sick.
24.Pray for those who do not have families during this holiday season
25.Wrap presents for friends and family
26. Write your own ideas.....
(Could also write carious Scripture verses on each stick to help you remember
to include the Bible in your daily life!)
I found green and red craft sticks at Dollar Tree (40 for $1) as well as ribbon and a jar...so this can be done very inexpensively and can be used from year to year!
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! email@example.com ). 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!
(Just a quick reflection on today's readings)
Go out to all the world and tell the Good News --- this is the Responsorial Psalm for Mass today. It goes on to point out:
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever. (Psalm 117)
And it hit me.....
the focus for my work in evangelization needs to be my recalling times when God's kindness and fidelity have been present in my life.... the times when I could SEE or FEEL God's presence with me, as well as the times when I was only aware upon looking-back. (This seems to tie in well with it being the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle -- blessed are those who have not seen, but have believed! John 20:29)
Summer seems like a great time to pull up these memories then work on articulating them....and then work up the courage to share my stories when opportunities arise. This is the Good News that others long to hear: a kind and faithful God available to each and every person. While I can serve as a Lector at Mass (as the photo shows) sharing the Scriptures , I need to work on tying my own story to the stories we read/hear in the Bible of how God revealed Godsself to Moses, Abraham, David, Job, Mary, Peter, Thomas, Paul, and so on...
If I can tell of times I have seen God at work in my life, it encourages others to do the same! Isn't that what evangelization is all about, helping others to see God in their own lives? Then they may wish to learn more about the Scriptures, the person of Jesus, and our faith communities.
Then, we will realized what we heard from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians in today's 1st reading:
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday --
some times called The Church's Birthday,
because as the Holy Spirit touched the Disciples,
and those who could hear them,
They were sent on a mission from God --
and we are called to follow their lead.
Yes, We're on a mission from God!
OK, so the quote from the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers" came to mind. I saw the movie many years ago, and I do not recall most of it -- but I do recall this line. Seems it was repeated throughout the movie (view the video linked from YouTube above to see as a group in Chicago pulled them for use.) In any event, if these Blues Brothers had been Baptized Catholics, they would indeed be sent on a mission from God -- just like we are!
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read: "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God (#1270).
So, as the Baptized, we are to carry on this work of the Apostles. We have learned to do this by watching and learning from the examples of our families -- those in our homes, in our communities, and in our Church.
We share stories of faith, read Scripture, pray together....and then are sent out to share our faith with others -- this is the missionary activity of the People of God.
In the Gospel from Pentecost, Jesus tells the Disciples: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21).
Remember, Jesus didn't say, "Stay in the upper room and only talk amongst yourselves." No -- Jesus and our Creator sent the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts of wisdom,understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe)... and the power to speak so that others can understand! (Back to the Pentecost readings.) What an awesome responsibility we have to go forth and share the Gospel. This is what evangelization is.
Fortunately, we do not have to (nor should we) do it alone.
The Church was born to guide and support us.
The Church helps us with the mission from God.
How does your parish support your mission?
(I hope you respond through worship, sacraments, ministries, resources, community, etc....)
Speaking, of mission, are you familiar with the Mission Statement for the Diocese of Youngstown? It pretty nicely ties in to these ideas:
We are people of God in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown. Blessed with a rich variety of backgrounds and talents, we are a living reflection of the Universal Church.
Through our baptism, we continue Christ’s mission to further the kingdom of God through the human family. We share our living faith by proclaiming the Gospel in word and example. Together we celebrate Christ’s presence in worship and sacraments.
In a spirit of justice, mercy and love, we dedicate ourselves not only to minister to the people in the six counties of northeastern Ohio but also to minister to the world community.
Yes, the Diocese of Youngstown (and it's ministries, like youth and young adult ministries) is on a mission from God! Thank you for being part of this mission! (The Diocese is NOT just the Cathedral, Chancery and diocesan staff....no, it is ALL OF US -- the Baptized that live within these 6 counties in Ohio.) May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen us to go forth as Jesus has sent us on this Mission from God!
Bonus -- Prayer to the Holy Spirit (by Saint Augustine)
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.
Following the 2014 Academy Awards, this lovely video began circulating of the winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar, Lupita Nyong'o Speech on Black Beauty Essence Magazine Black Women In Hollywood Award (See below, or visit this website:)
What a beautiful witness of her own struggle with a sense of beauty, and of self-acceptance. How many other young people do we know have these struggles?
While it took the model Ilek Wek to help Lupita begin to see her own beauty, rather then just feeling the love of God, I am sure that God sent her that inspiration. It took seeing that model for Lupita to see that she was made in God's own image:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them (Genesis 1:27 - 28a)
How do we in our ministries help teens see that they are made in God's image? How can we help them to avoid the "seduction of inadequacy" as Lupita put it -- settling as being 'less than' or less worthy?
We need to give up negative self-talk -- not like giving up for Lent, but giving up for Life.
Miss Nyongo went on to say that "Beauty is not a thing that I can acquire or consume." This, too, is an important lessen we can help our teens to learn.
Once they can see God in themselves, we can help them to see God in other people. Then comes the ability to look into someone's eyes with love. "What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion. Compassion for yourself and for those around you," she says. Compassion is an expression of love. And, since God is love (1 John 4:8), compassion is an expression of God -- what could be more lovely?
"Get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside," Miss Nyongo stated.
I add, and help others to do the same!
The "Missions" speaker at St. Joseph Parish in Austintown this weekend was Fr. Bridling, a priest from the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria. I was amazed by the spirit of joy in his voice as he celebrated the Mass with us, as this man has seen harder times that I will even know.
During the homily, he explained that Muslims settled into northeastern Nigeria in the 1500s and that is the predominant religion in the area. 2% of the population is Catholic. While there has long been tension, the comments made by Pope Benedict in a 2006 speech ignited things with some radical Muslims in the area:
<<In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI provoked outrage in the Muslim world with a speech given at the University of Regensburg in Germany. The lecture, entitled Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections, explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity, and the relationship between violence and faith.
During his address, Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The pontiff then added that violence was "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".
The remarks were interpreted as an attack on Islam and sparked angry protests in Pakistan, India, Turkey and Gaza.>> (From BBC news)
The Muslim radicals bombed the Churches, homes and public places Christians visit. A few Churches were rebuilt, then bombed again in 2009. Now, the diocese has depleted funds, but the people are "steadfast in their faith and are determined to live it," said Fr. Bridling.
While I do recall the news story from Pope Benedict's speech, and knew that it "upset" many Muslims, I guess I just pictured (relatively peaceful) protests in the streets.... I hadn't thought about people DYING -- nor that they continue to die. Fr. Bridling said that the "Boko Haram" anti-Christian radicals still terrorize people and have been kidnapping young Christian girls. How scary it must be to walk to the store, take a walk, or be at Church. But how deep the faith of those Nigerians who have not denounced their Catholic beliefs, yet live it - despite possible death.
These stories are the kinds that our teens hunger for each day. They want to see how the early Christian story relates to today. (Anyone else see the unfortunate parallels with the persecuted Christians in Rome?) Teens need to learn of the realities around the world and think about our connection in this universal (or catholic) Church. What do they feel about this story? What can be done?
I now picture myself trembling in the Upper Room, like the Apostles after the Resurrection but before Pentecost. Would I be hiding out, afraid for my life? Or, am I filled enough with the Holy Spirit to go forth and share the Good News? Do I take the Eucharist truly to heart to become the Body of Christ in the Church to live it in the world, no matter what the cost?
It is easy to wonder here in the relatively peaceful United States of America. Even when I lived in the South with some people who were anti-Catholic, they were at least Christian and not threatening my life. I travel from home to work, the store, restaurants and Church without fear of bombs, fires or kidnapping. How much do I take that for granted? I have much to pray about.
Much to think about.
Here are a few Scriptures for reflection:
Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you. (Deut. 31: 6)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”
Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
[and] I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”
(Hebrews 13: 5b - 6)
Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good?
But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you.
Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered* for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
(1 Peter 3: 13 - 18)
Over one hundred times we read "fear not" or "Be not afraid" in the Scriptures.
I suppose that God and his selected Biblical scribes knew our human tendency to fear.
And our need to be reminded that "for God all things are possible” (Matthew 26),
so why be afraid?
Thank you, Fr. Bridling,
for not only giving me the opportunity to financially and prayerfully support you and your fellow Nigerian Catholics,
but for challenging me to reflect on my faith and to show my appreciation for religious freedoms
by living my Christianity!
One of the biggest questions that seems to follow a "Treasured Gifts from God" or other Child Protection Policy related session is in regards to "Well, then what CAN we do besides seal ourselves off from kids?"
While we adults working with youth MUST be cautious and sincere about providing safe environments for the kids, we can still be pastoral and caring....we just have to think! We also need to help teens understand 'appropriate touch' as well for use not only with adults, but their peers and when they assist with smaller children.
Here is a basic list that we use for guidelines for diocesan youth events:
+ behaviors are generally* considered appropriate at youth events and activities:
- behaviors are generally considered inappropriate at youth events and activities:
* These are generalizations as each individual varies in comfort in regards to 'personal space' and we must do our best to read the signs/behaviors s/he displays.
Remember, the point of our restrictions is to help provide safe environments for youth. But the point of our ministry is to help pass on the faith and help youth know, love and serve our Triune God. That means there are times and reasons were appropriate touch are necessary! God realized that people need to engage our human senses, and this he sent Jesus as a real person -- one who we've heard touched people:
Matthew 8:1-4/ Mark 1:40-42, Luke 5:12-13 --The leper
Matthew 9:20-22 -- The hemmoraging woman
Matthew 20:29-34 -- The blind man
Luke 22:50-51 -- The high priest's servant
Matthew 9:23-26 -- The young dead girl
just to name a few. So, touch can be healing, comforting, and loving.
In our ministry settings, it should never forceful, scary, or intimidating.
Be the gentle hand of God...appropriately!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.