New (Church) Year’s Eve, New Blog Directions & Adventures with Moana

I’m enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving weekend and it seems like a good time to pause and write. In many ways, it’s the calm before the storm – midterms begin for us on 14 December and there are too few school days and too much content for me to teach between now and then. And we get an unexpected day off as our football team is playing (for the second year in a row) for the Ohio state title next Friday. Awesome (yet one less teaching day.)

Have you noticed a somewhat different direction for this blog? Yes, the mission and the writers have shifted. The original purpose (see the “About” for details) was to share ideas and insights about technology – especially as it can be used to support the work educators do in their classrooms. This focus, over time, expanded to include internet resources which could make us smile, think, and pray.

After taking a hiatus from writing here over the summer and enjoying time reading many novels and other books, I returned in the fall with a new focus. Every school day since mid-August, I’ve created and posted a presentation about the Saint O’the Day. This is a labor of love as I’ve grown in devotion to the saints and I desire to share what I’m learning about “our extended family in Heaven” with my students and others.

The writers of this blog have shifted too. Initially it was a trio of us creating this site. But time commitments and interests change. Tera, my Religion colleague, is now our Campus Ministry Director and our excellent retreat program (plus the day to day of teaching) takes much of her focus. And Rachel, my colleague who teaches Spanish, has become the publisher of our weekly faculty/staff newsletter (and is doing a great job with it).

So, that leaves me (Rick) – freshman and sophomore Religion teacher, husband of a fellow Religion teacher and school colleague, dad of a teen and near-teen, aficionado of technology, music, wine, walking, and life in general!

And Happy New (Church) Year’s Eve. On this very last day of CY2016, the lectionary reading has Christ assuring St. John and us: “‘Behold, I am coming soon.’ Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.” Furthermore, we pray in the Responsorial Psalm: “Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Yes, 2017 begins for us tomorrow with the changing of the colors and the lighting of the advent wreath. As I wonder about what adventures this coming church year will hold, I’m listening to the main song from the wonderful new film (which I saw on Thanksgiving): Moana. It’s all about hearing one’s calling and discovering strength to courageously pursue it.

I’ll be back to share more during Advent. Until then, may you hear the voice of God, see the light of Christ, and be drawn this church year towards the horizon “where the water meets the sky.”

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Saint O’the Day: Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro (Nov. 23rd)

Please download and share this presentation with others – PDF

As school is out for the next two days, I won’t be posting a Saint O’the Day on Thursday or Friday.

May you and your’s have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Saint O’the Day: St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz (Nov. 17th)

Please download and share this presentation with others – PDF

Along with this presentation I’m showing my students this trailer as the Fr. Gabriel character is loosely based upon the life and actions of today’s saint.

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.

PDF

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”

 

Friday FaithPost: Pray as You Go App/Website/Podcast

Another week rolls by. It’s hard to believe that a fortnight from today is Good Friday. March often drags by, but this year it and Lent are zipping by. The relative lack of winter here in Ohio surely helps!

Last weekend I posted about some podcasts that I like and an outstanding way to listen to them on an Android device (Pocket Cast).  Today, I share a Catholic daily podcast which helps my faith to grow and deepen. It has its own iOS and Android apps too (see below about Android.)

The site is “Pray as You Go” and it’s created by the Jesuits in Britain who also create the equally excellent “Thinking Faith”  and “Sacred Space”

I won’t spend time and space here trying to “sell” you on “Pray as You Go.” I will say that I get much from the short (12 min or less) combination of music, the day’s scripture (read twice in lectio divina style), brief commentary, reflection questions and an invitation for prayer.

I do recommend that you listen to it directly through the website or via a general podcasting app like Pocket Cast. “Pray As You Go” has an expanded presence on Soundcloud which has a pretty good Android app. It appears that there’s content there which isn’t elsewhere, such as this series of talks and poems by the great Gerard Manly Hopkins, S.J.

About the Android “Pray as You Go” app – I’d avoid it for now. It has an issue which doesn’t allow you to stream or download a day’s content until well after it has passed. I thought this might be just an issue on my device, so I emailed them. Turns, out they are aware of this universal problem and are working to fix it in a future release.

Until then, I hope you’ll use one of these many means listed above to pray as you go — to work, on a walk, to the store, wherever!

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!

 

 

Resources for Lent 2016

It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us so quickly this year. Next year, Ash Wednesday will be nearly three weeks later – March 1, 2017! How will you Fast, Pray & Give this year.

Here’s a few resources I’m looking at this year:

USCCB – “Lent 2016: 40 Days of Mercy

Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl – I especially like their weekly, meatless recipes from around the world. Hopefully they will again have videos of Fr. Leo demonstrating each one.

Loyola Press Lenten Resources especially their Online Lenten Retreats & Prayers

Creighton University On-Line Ministries: Praying Lent – I highly recommend this audio retreat presented by the wise Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.

Other Jesuit Lenten resources can be found at Thinking Faith and the audio-focused Pray As You Go – both from the U.K.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Lenten Resources  (includes a link to sign up for his daily Lenten reflection emails.)

As of today (Monday), Busted Halo hasn’t posted their popular Lent calendar yet. They have a few Lenten themed articles as well as this excellent Ash Wednesday in Two Minutes video:

Last year for both Lent and Advent I found the resources offered by the Society of St. John the Evangelist to be faith and thought provoking.  This year’s theme, which encompasses daily videos, emails and a workbook is entitled: Growing a Rule of Life. It begins with this introductory video by one of the wise brothers:

And it even has a component for use with youth.

In light of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking celebration of God’s Creation, “Laudato Si” how about connecting your Lenten fasting to activities which care for creation. A number of faith organizations offer Lenten calendars with suggestions for each day:

Sisters of St. Joseph Carbon Fast

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light

Carbon Fast – Anglican Communion

St. Francis Cabrini Community

More extensive “carbon fast” programs, including daily emails and message boards, are offered by MACUCC and EcoChurch Southwest (U.K.)

Shifting gears to focus on apps, Give Us This Day is offering a free trial of their app featuring the day’s morning & evening prayers as well as the daily mass.

Finally, props to a great blog site – Catholic Apptitude and their listing of apps and related resources for Lent.

 

 

250th Post! Visual Beauty for Your Device

I missed getting a Sun(Fun)day post out yesterday. Turns out that there are only so many hours in the day and yesterday they passed by way too quickly.

So, it’s Monday, sunny here in Ohio, we’re on the 250th post at this blog and it’s a good day for celebrating the miracle that is our eyes!

If you’re like me, you change your device’s wallpaper or background image frequently. I like to enjoy that moment of beauty before I get to whatever app or task I’m seeking.

So, for your viewing pleasure here’s a few of my favorite sites for downloading beautiful images and a recent example of each.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered the Bing Wallpaper Gallery. As a search engine, Microsoft’s Bing takes a lot of flack. But as a source for daily, seasonally themed, blow-your-mind images it’s the best. It also has a highly searchable archive to find any type of image perfectly sized to fit your desktop/homescreen:

Photo Bing

So after I stop at Bing’s site, I go over to my next favorite site for daily images as well as great, daily prayer resources. Hosted my the Jesuits of the Midwest Province, the location of the site is Jesuitprayer.org. Each day they offer a gripping image paired with a quote related to the liturgical reading and related reflection for the day. There’s also an iOS app available. The images aren’t always in the highest definition, so sometimes they are a bit fuzzy on my iPad lock screen. Still, the reflections included are worth pausing on for a moment before unlocking and moving forward.

Photo Jesuit

The last site is one that I just discovered the other day. I’ve known about the Three Minute Retreat site and app for a while. I get their daily email and for the first time I looked closely at the links within it. Not only is there one to Loyola PressLenten Resources, but there’s also a link to where you can download seasonal images which include a quote from the week’s scripture and the month’s calendar. The stunning one on my iPad lock screen today is above while this week’s is here:

Photo Loyola 1

One really good thing about the file (above) from Loyola is that it fits perfectly onto the iPad screen while the Three Minute Retreat one needs to be reduced.

As a bonus, if you’re looking for lock screen images and home screen organization on your Android device, may I recommend what I use – Picturesque and Aviate respectively.