Church Calendar O’the Day: The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle (25 Jan)

Please download and share this presentation – PDF

It’s a special day on the calendar for the Paulist Fathers, so I share a beautiful prayer appearing on their Paulist Evangelical Ministries site.

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Prayer and Reflection Resources – Advent 2016

Last year , I posted a list of resources for prayer and reflection during this holy season of Advent. It’s time to share what I’ll be looking at this Advent 2016 (or is it 2017 as it’s the new Church Year now?)

Busted Halo is back with their virtual advent calendar  They are also hosting an “InstaPhoto Challenge” with the invitation to post Advent related photos each day. And I’m a big fan of their “Two Minute” videos:

One of my very favorite sites, Creighton U’s On-line Ministry has an outstanding set of resources for Advent including reflections, prayers, excellent audio retreats and talks and much more.

EWTN, USCCB, Crux, Franciscan Media, Loyola Press, and Word on Fire  all have free and paid resources for Advent.

Fr. Felix Just, S.J., known for amazing lists of hyperlinks, has a wide ranging one for Advent which includes a list of Advent carols.

And stepping outside of the Catholic community, let me share an excellent Advent calendar and resources from the good Episcopal brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. 

And check back here daily as I continue to post the Saint O’the Day as well as an “Advent Journey Journal” which I’m inviting my Sophomores to use each day during our meditation and contemplation time.

Happy Church New Year and may your Advent be blessed and bright!

Saint O’the Day: St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (Oct. 31st) and All Hallow’s Eve Videos

This saint is celebrated by the Church on October 30th. I am featuring him today as the saints for the 31st are less significant than he is.

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And here’s a couple of videos, brought to us by Busted Halo, that I’m showing to my students to introduce All Hallow’s Day and All Saints Day.

And here’s a fun article to share from Word on Fire: “Ten Most Haunted Catholic Sites in America”

 

Tuesday FaithPost – Powerful Stations of the Cross by Busted Halo

Is it Friday already? No, sadly it is not yet. I’m sharing a FaithPost a couple of days early as I want to offer this wonderful resource now, so that you could possibly use it before or during Holy Week.

The good Paulist Fathers who create the awesome, newly redesigned, young-adult site Busted Halo, have put together a quite powerful set of videos following the Stations of the Cross. Each video uses just text and music to tell the story and interpret the meaning of each of the fourteen traditional moments in Christ’s Passion. Here’s the fourth station, which I find particularly moving and insightful:

There’s a lot I like about these videos. But two aspects are particularly meaningful. First, the overarching theme of this version of the Way of the Cross is the Kingdom of God. This central vision of Jesus’ ministry is at the heart of the gospel and thus something which we must emphasize time and again to those to whom we minister.

I also find the simple music accompanying the words on the screen provocative, compelling and deeply moving. The piano melody used with the stations in which Jesus Meets His Mother, Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus and Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem is one I find haunting and well-matched to the emotions of these encounters.

I’m using these videos in our chapel as a prayer service with all five of my classes today. It has worked better with my one sophomore class than my two freshmen ones. I think the greater maturity and developing wisdom in the older students is the main difference.

I’ve created this presentation to use with the videos. It should be pretty self-explanatory – show the slide introducing a station, play the video and then prayerfully read the supporting slide while giving the viewers/participants a few moments to reflect.

A couple of things you may wonder about the presentation: The photos of the crosses were ones that I took while visiting Christ in the Desert Monastery in northern New Mexico a few years ago.  And the colors of the background of the slides is meant to represent the transition and transformation of this time in Lent, to Holy Week and then to Easter.

I hope you find this Busted Halo Stations of the Cross as meaningful and useful as I do. The video below will link you to the playlist of  all the fourteen stations.

May you have a blessed Fifth Tuesday of Lent and a good rest of the week.

Friday FaithPost (Part 1): Two Great Faith-Building Sites

It’s an unusual Friday for me as I’m not teaching my classes. We have a number of priests visiting and students are invited to see them in the chapel to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To facilitate this, Religion teachers are asked to not have class assignments and/or activities which students would miss by participating in the sacrament. So, we’re having a “study hall” in all five of my classes. After three of these, 31% of my students have received Reconciliation.

Rather than get ahead on my grading/planning or simply wasting time web surfing, I’m choosing the middle way of posting here on the blog. I’ve got a few ideas for posts banging around in my head and I’ll use this time to share.

For the first post today, I’d like to share more about two favorite sites which I mentioned in the “lenten resources” post  a few weeks ago.

I don’t recall how exactly I discovered the Creighton Collaborative Ministries site . I found it five years ago or so and I’ve been pleased at how it’s expanded over time. The design isn’t flashy:

Creighton s Online Ministries Home Page

But the resources are fantastic and free (donations are accepted.) One of my favorite aspects is the calendar of Daily Reflections on each day’s liturgical readings:

Creighton U Daily Reflections

The reflections, composed by faculty and staff of the Jesuit Creighton University , are thought-provoking and an important aid for my prayer life. Another aspect of the site that I’ve enjoyed deeply (as long ago as when I had to burn these files to CD rather than just stream them) is the ever-increasing set of topnotch audio retreats:

Creighton Audio Retreats

Far and away, my favorite retreat leader is Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.

I’ve listened to Fr. Larry many times and although I’ll most likely never meet him, I count him among my most important faith teachers.

I’m finding other faith teachers at the web home of the Anglican Society of St. John the Evangelist. Although they are a different branch of the Catholic tree than Roman Catholicism, I find their mission, wisdom, and vision very much compatible with RC religious orders. They are extremely skilled at using the internet for faith development – especially during the holy seasons of Advent and Lent.

Last Advent, they invited people to Tweet photos each day, on an Advent related theme, to @adventword:

SSJE Advent Word

The Tweeted images and related 140 character thoughts were clever, often funny, and inspiring. Currently, during Lent, they are offering the #growrule program with workbooks for adults and children, places to share self-reflections, and daily videos, with compelling questions to increase self-awareness:

SSJE GrowRule

I’ve been showing some of these videos to my students along with a daily Lenten Journal to guide them in reflection. Here’s the journal for reflection on this constructive offering by Br. Curtis:

It’s not too late to join this program with the brothers as “My Relationship with Creation” begins next week.

And before I post this, I need to give a shout out to my favorite, young-adult focused site: Busted Halo.

Blessings and Happy Lenting!

 

 

Advent Prayer Resources and Calendars

It’s the second day of Advent 2016 (yes, it is now The Year of Grace 2016) and here’s some resources that I’m using with my students and in my own personal prayer:

Advent in Two Minutes:

Busted Halo Advent Calendar (pictured above)

USCCB Resources

#adventword – A Global Advent Calendar – This is a cool site leveraging social media to gather images of an Advent “word of the day.”

Sign-up for Bishop Robert Barron’s  daily Advent reflections

And a video from him as well:

Loyola Press has an engaging Arts & Faith set of Advent Resources while the home page for all of their Advent resources is here.

How about iOS and Android Apps to either create or access Advent calendars and other resources? Learn about these here and here.

Finally, for videos and other resources, from a more general Christian perspective, check out Advent Conspiracy

Have a blessed and meaningful Advent season!

 

 

Short, Engaging Videos About History of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls

So it’s Friday, October 30th – the day after the Beggar’s Night celebration in my area. What, in your neck of the woods they don’t trick or treat two days before October 31st? And Friday is the day before Halloween and two days before All Saints Day. Thinking your students will be hyped up on already solicited candy or the anticipation of collecting candy? Desiring a video-based lesson upon which they are more likely to focus than just you talking?

Well, here’s what I’m showing to my Religion 9 and Religion 10 students:

This first video offers a quick and interesting overview of Halloween and the origin of some of the customs.

I’ll show this one next. While it covers some of the same ground as the first one, I like the movie clips that it shows. I wonder if the Great Pumpkin will come this year?

I think students will enjoy the astonishing story of this saint and the engaging animation. It offers a good transition between the first two secular videos and the much more religious fourth one.

This is the longest one of the set at over 12 min (the first three are each about 3 minutes long). The art is beautiful, the narration is pretty good and it offers a solid, scriptural and tradition-based explanation of the three feast days. And it explains the Catholic teaching on Purgatory in an accessible and compassionate manner.

I won’t have time on Friday for this last video from the good people of Busted Halo. I’ll likely show it next week when our school celebrates the Feast of All Saints on Tuesday.

I hope it is a good teaching day for us on the 30th and a blessed celebration this weekend of those whom have gone before us in faith – our extended family in heaven!

Pentecost in Two Minutes

In case you’re like me and you didn’t talk with your classes about Pentecost before this past Sunday, here’s another great Busted Halo video to show tomorrow:

 

It feels somewhat abrupt to me that the Catholic church year moves from Pentecost right back into Ordinary Time. I like how the ELCA (Lutherans) now count the weeks until Advent as Time After Pentecost.  I like the Roman Catholic use of Ordinary Time, but maybe we could also have a few Weeks of Pentecost to reflect for more than one day on the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of The Church.

Marian Video and Mother’s Day Prayers

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and May is traditionally the month for special remembrance of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So, today I played for my students this excellent, brief video from Busted Halo:

 

And we prayed this wonderful prayer posted at the resource-rich Creighton University On-Line Ministries page:

Dear Lord, today I turn to you to give you thanks for my mother. With your own gift of life, she bore me in her womb and gave me life. She tenderly, patiently cared for me and taught me to walk and talk. She read to me and made me laugh. No one delighted in my successes more; no one could comfort me better in my failures. I am so grateful for how she mothered me and mentored me, and even disciplined me.

Please bless her, Lord, and comfort her. Help her loving heart to continue to love and give of herself to others. Strengthen her when she is down and give her hope when she is discouraged.

Most of all, Lord, on this Mother’s Day, give my mother the graces she most needs and desires today. I ask you this, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior forever and ever.

 

Good News Friday – Steven Colbert’s Gift to SC Teachers

OK, so I couldn’t find anything this week to post for Friday FunLink.  I’m going to share one, maybe two, “Good” posts instead.

Yesterday, Steven Colbert, devout Catholic and honorary Pope Suburban I, made many South Carolinian teachers very happy as he funded $800,000 of proposed grants.

To you, good sir, a Tip of the Hat.