40 Days of Lent
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Holy Saturday: Jesus Descends into Hell
Holy Saturday is part of the Sacred Easter Triduum, but the events of Holy Saturday do not get as much attention as Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is the day that Christ is in the tomb. There is no Mass during the day on Holy Saturday, until the Easter Vigil begins that evening.
The four passion narratives only give one brief detail of Jesus from the events of Good Friday until his resurrection on Easter Sunday, that is Jesus’s burial in the tomb. Very few places in Scripture (1 Peter 3:19, 4:6) give any detail except that Jesus descended into hell as Savior to preach the Good News to the just souls. In the Apostles Creed we pray say that “He descended into Hell.” Hell is translated as Hades, the temporary abode of the dead, describing what Jesus did between his burial and Resurrection. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Jesus descended to the realm of the dead on Holy Saturday to save the righteous souls. Jesus's descent into the realm of the dead was "the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission," during which he "opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him."
Pope Benedict XVI believes that Christ entered the absolute loneliness of humans’ experience of death. He notes that God revealed himself not only in word but also in silence when Christ went down to hell. Benedict XVI believes that divine life was manifested beyond the cross, into the death, silence, and eclipse of God. He suggests interpreting Christ’s cry on the cross as shedding light on the events. He states that Jesus’s cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) is also a prayer sent from hell. Benedict XVI believes that even though the Father seemed to be absent, the Son still holds on to faith. Jesus’s cry is not for his own rescue but his trust in the Father. In the midst of silence and darkness, Christ still had faith in God the Father, and maintained the nearness of God. Benedict XVI identifies Christ’s descent as a share in the human fate of death. He believes that Christ shared in the most dreadful experiences of humanity, namely death, darkness and loneliness, but he triumphed.
Pope John Paul II has said that Jesus’s last event of his salvific mission took place between his death on the cross and his resurrection. Jesus truly experienced the separation of the body and soul, which is the state of death that all humans would undergo. At the separation of his soul from his body, the soul was glorified in God, and his corpse was laid in the tomb. Jesus truly died; it was not an apparent death. John Paul II defines that the state of Jesus’s death was his union with sin and identification with sinners. He believes that when Jesus died, his human soul was glorified in God from the very moment of his death, and Christ extended his glorification to the just men and women he came to save. Christ preached the Good News to the just souls that died before him, bringing them salvation. Praise God!
Have a wonderful and joyous Easter! Submitted by Donna Lance with excerpts of this reflection prepared by Sister Hong Nguyen, a fellow student and classmate at Aquinas Institute of Theology. Also portion of this reflection are taken from www.catholiccompany.com
Friday, April 2, 2021
Good Friday – Lenten Reflection
In the Gospel of Mark, the bystanders do not want Jesus to die. When Jesus calls out to God “Eli, Eli”, they mistakenly think he is calling for Elijah to come to rescue him. So they soak a sponge in vinegar and hope that will keep Jesus alive. They are afraid that he will die before Elijah will arrive, and deprive a miraculous rescue. However, with a loud voice, Jesus breathes his last breath.
Crucifixion was done in different ways, during Jesus’ time. It was no act of mercy. Sometimes ropes were used to tie the victim to the cross, with arms extended or raised. Other times, nails were used to attach the victim to the cross. It was torturous to die slowly, sometimes over a few days while the weight of the unsupported body gradually would cause the breathing muscles to give out. The crucified person would eventually die of asphyxiation or shock. None of the Gospel Passion accounts tell us the exact details of how Jesus was attached to the cross. It is in the Resurrection accounts from Luke and John that we learn that Jesus had nail wounds in his hands, feet and side. Thus we believe that Jesus had five wounds: two hands, two feet and one in the side. It is in Mark’s Gospel that we learn that Jesus’ crucifixion was only 6 hours. This tells us he must have endured a most horrendous scourging. Jesus must have been on the brink of death when he arrived on Golgotha.
Early Christians often retold the story of the crucifixion. This isn’t because they wanted to dwell on the tragic details of Jesus’ death. Instead they wanted to remind themselves that because of the crucifixion, there was the Resurrection. Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, we too can rejoice in the glory of risen life.
God took something so awful, senseless and humiliating as the crucifixion and turned it into a story of hope, transformation and meaningfulness. Then we should have hope that God can work with us in each of our lives, too. Nothing is unforgivable in God’s eyes or too big for God to handle.
Let us remember to thank Jesus for all he has done for us in his passion and death. Let us look at Good Friday not for its sad hours, but rather look at it as a prelude to the story of risen life.
Note: If you would like to pray the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday, perhaps you would like to pray the Stations from the perspective of his mother, Mary. This link will provide you with that (skip over the opening ad).
With prayers for each of you on this very holy day, submitted by Joyce Springer
Thursday, April 1, 2021
So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist…. So, when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” John 13:3-8
Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, is a day full of rich reminders of our faith tradition. Aware of what was to be handed to him Jesus gathered with friends for a meal, broke bread, shared drink, washed their feet, and asked that they keep watch with him; all reminders of his outward love for each of us a love that conquered even death itself.
Our feet carry us from day to day and a simple act of washing the feet of one another is a reminder to slow down, take the load of the day off and wash away the stress, the burdens, the dirt that slow us down. Clean feet are a reminder of a fresh start, a chance to smile and remember the love that can be found in a simple act. I encourage you to wash the feet of your family members. Gather the needed supplies (warm water, basin, towels) remove shoes, pray together and wash one another’s feet.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
HOLY WATER FONTS -- OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
The Church calls for the removal of Holy Water from the fonts in church during the Tridium (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). This is done in preparation for the blessing of water at the Easter Vigil when the fonts are refilled.
Some parishes remove the holy water from the font during the entire season of Lent replacing them with sand, stones or even cacti which are symbolic of the Lenten “desert experience”. Some simply cover the font with a purple cloth while others put ashes or simply leave it empty.
One parish church in the U.S. provided the following reason:
"As was customary in the past there is no Holy Water in the Church receptacles until Easter. May the sand remind us of our Lenten journey in the desert as we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter. As we await the blessing of water at the Easter Vigil, may we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises from our hearts!"
During COVID the fonts at SS Peter and Paul were emptied of the Holy Water in order to keep people safe from spreading the virus. This has taken the assembly away from the ordinary routine and created a thirst for the life-giving waters of baptisms. There has been Holy Water available in the back of SSPP Church, if anyone wanted to fill a bottle to take to their home. The new Holy Water will be blessed on Holy Saturday, and we look forward to the time when we will again have Holy Water in the fonts.
With you in prayer during Holy Week, this reflection was submitted by Joyce Springer
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Today the Diocese of Belleville will celebrate the Chrism Mass. During this annual celebration priests from across the diocese renew their commitment to the Priestly Service, oils will be blessed and chrism consecrated. These oils will be used over the next year for the sick, Catechumens, newly baptized, Confirmandi, Ordination, & the blessing of new Churches and altars.A reception of the Holy Oils for Ss. Peter and Paul Parish will take place during the Feast of the Lord's Supper on Thursday evening.
Bishop Michael McGovern has prepared a short video about the Chrism Mass: https://youtu.be/PB9s_WfwUnk
Monday, March 29, 2021
Why did Jesus fold the linen cloth that covered His Face in the tomb?
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, “I am going away and I will come back to you.” (John 14:27-28)
A Jewish tradition of that time would reveal to us the important message represented by that apparently insignificant gesture
St. John’s Gospel specifies a curious detail in its recounting of the Resurrection.
When Simon Peter arrived after [John], he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Why would John have noted the placement of the burial cloths in light of the astonishing fact of the absence of Jesus’ body? And why would he have thought it important to include this detail in his telling of the events of that first Easter Sunday morning?
In fact, it was an important detail.
According to Father Chrystian Shankar, the rolling up and placement of this cloth hearkened to a Jewish custom of the time. It is related to a common practice used by servants and masters of this era.
A servant, after he had prepared the dining table for his master, would stand to the side, out of sight of the master, but attentive to the progression of the meal. He wouldn’t dare to return to the table until the master had finished his meal.
When the master was finished, he would rise, clean his fingers, mouth, and beard, and leave the “napkin” crumpled in a ball on the table. The wrinkled, discarded napkin indicated “I have finished.”
If, however, for whatever reason, the master left the table with the intention of returning, then he would crease the napkin into folds and leave it beside his dishes. This was a message for the servant that he was not to disturb the table, given that the master had indicated: “I am returning.”
This, then, is perhaps the reason for John’s attention to the detail of Our Lord’s face cloth.
Jesus had told them with his words that the Son of Man would return. That morning, he repeated the promise, with the seemingly inconsequential, but very symbolic, gesture of leaving his face cloth rolled to the side, assuring us that he’d not left for good.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, “I am going away and I will come back to you.” (John 14:27-28)
With you in prayer during this Lenten Season, this reflection is submitted by Dorothy Kohler
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Greetings on this glorious Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and these final few days of our Lenten journey (Lent ends before Evening Prayer on Holy Thursday). Today we recall the entrance of Christ the Lord into Jerusalem to accomplish the Paschal Mystery. On Thursday we begin the Triduum liturgies, hopefully you’ll be able to join us for one or all of those 3 Triduum liturgies this week, let me share with you some insight on what to expect. As we begin with Mass of the Lords Supper on Holy Thursday evening, we begin our Triduum prayer, this is one prayer that begins on Holy Thursday evening, when we begin Mass as usual with the sign of the cross. But that one prayer, which we begin on Holy Thursday evening, continues through the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. We conclude our Liturgy on Holy Thursday evening in silence, with no final blessing, no dismissal, and instead conclude that liturgy with silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and after adoration, we depart church in silence. Then on Good Friday evening, at our Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, we continue our prayer and begin that liturgy in silence, and at the conclusion of that liturgy on Good Friday, after the prayer over the People, we once again depart church in silence without a blessing. And then at the Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday evening, we begin again in silence, without the sign of the cross, in the dark, and then at the end of that Easter Vigil liturgy, we complete the prayer that we began on Holy Thursday evening, and we are dismissed with a blessing and the sign of the cross.
All during Lent we have been preparing ourselves, in a way stripping ourselves, to focus on what we are about to experience this week during these Triduum Liturgies. It began on Ash Wednesday, when we stopped using the Gloria, the Alleluia, and stripped the Sanctuary of some of the more extravagant furnishings. The stripping cuts more deeply this week as we approached the Triduum. You will notice that all of the crosses, statues, pictures will be veiled in purple. Typically, the Holy Water is removed from all the fonts this week; however, due to covid restrictions Holy Water has been missing from the fonts for some time now. After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, even the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the main altar and tabernacle, and the altar is stripped, and the bells are replaced with wooden noise makers. On Good Friday, we fast and abstain, and there isn’t even a Mass on that day. At the beginning of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, we are deprived of light itself! It is as if the Church herself were completely dead with the Lord in His tomb. This liturgical ‘death’ of the Church reveals how Christ emptied Himself of His glory, in order to save us from our sins, by His death on the cross. Holy Saturday is the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, as we remember that Christ lie in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. And then as the Easter Vigil unfolds on Holy Saturday evening, the Church keeps watch, awaiting His return in glory. This is the turning point of the Triduum, we celebrate Christ's passage from death to life, and after the vigil, held in anticipation of Christ’s glorious resurrection, the Easter celebration begins, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days (the Easter Season). Please make every effort to join us in the Triduum liturgies this week, as we complete our Lenten journey for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter that we began on Ash Wednesday.
With you in prayer during this Holy Week, this reflection is submitted by Deacon Tom.
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Palms and Hosanna
When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches
and went out to meet him, and cried out:
“Hosanna! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
Lord, the king of Israel.”
Jesus found an ass and sat upon it, as is written:
Fear no more, O daughter Zion;
see, your king comes, seated upon an ass’s colt.
His disciples did not understand this at first,
but when Jesus had been glorified
they remembered that these things were written about him
and that they had done this for him.
This weekend we recall Jesus’s triumphant journey into Jerusalem. We know that this triumph will soon turn to pain and sadness. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem palm branches lined his pathway to symbolize goodness and victory and Hosanna was shouted to proclaim joy and adoration. At all Masses this weekend Palm branches will be blessed and distributed so that individuals can prepare their homes for the victory of Easter Sunday.
Interested in learning more about where palms come from? Catholic.org provides a great reflection on where the millions of palms that will be distributed across the world come from: https://www.catholic.org/lent/story.php?id=67923.
Looking for family activities to celebrate Palm Sunday and the Triduum, visit https://www.catholicicing.com/ several ideas.
Friday, March 26, 2021
The Living Stations of the Cross
The Youth of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish have created a virtual Stations of the Cross. While we wish we could have gathered in Church for the Living Stations of the Cross, we hope that this experience provides an opportunity for prayer, reflection and contemplation. To access the Virtual Stations of the Cross visit: ttps://youtu.be/MV7rPJPW31U
Thursday, March 25, 2021
“Let it Be Done to Me According to Your Word”
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, Mary’s fiat. Imagine what it must have been like for Mary to hear from the angel that she was going to have a baby. “But how can this be?” she wondered. She knew that it surpassed the laws of nature! Ah! And so it did. But it did not surpass the grace of God. Mary’s response, her fiat, her ‘yes’ to carrying the Word of God in her body and birthing the Word of God in the world, changed everything. Indeed, it changed the world.
We, like Mary, are called to do exactly that—to be Christ-bearers in the ordinary and extraordinary situations of our particular lives. St. Teresa of Avila writes that “Christ has no body now but yours.” Some days it is easy to give birth to Christ and we give a joyful ‘yes!’ Some days it is hard, and we wonder, like Mary, how can it be?! How can I bear Christ to my obnoxious neighbor or co-worker? How can I bear Christ in the world of Social Media? How can I bear Christ to those who disagree with me politically? How can I bear Christ to so many poor and marginalized in our world?
We can bring these situations to prayer, knowing that we, like Mary, are indeed the handmaids of the Lord. We can be open to really hearing God’s voice, God’s call. And then we can act on what we hear. We can let it be done to us, as it was done to Mary, according to God’s word. God’s grace can indeed surpass our natural inclinations. For nothing is impossible for God.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Test of Faith
Amongst all the tension and sadness that our news stations and social media feeds share, I was excited to hear an interview about our faith. This week Cardinal Timothy Dolan was interviewed by St. Louis Reporter, Mike Bush. This interview provided an opportunity to look at the positive that can come out of darkness and trials. It has been a little over a year since COVID-19 began to impact our world, our lives and most importantly our faith. Most can recall where they were when our lives changed, and the world stopped for a period of time. Beliefs were tempted as we tried to understand why we were experiencing so much pain and suffering; Churches were empty, there was a lack of spiritual community, and a dispensation was granted. As Catholics we missed out on the chance to gather for baptisms, weddings, funerals, weekday and Sunday Masses; the chance to pray together and share community.
Out of the depths of COVID came the challenge to work together; to be Christ’s Hands and feet. We had the opportunity to find ways to strengthen relationships, spend time in nature, utilize our resources and build community while at a distance. A chance to remind ourselves what is most important in our lives.
To learn more about this interview and Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s belief that faith will surge following COVID visit: Test of Faith | Cardinal Timothy Dolan's full interview with 5 On Your Side anchor Mike Bush - YouTube
How has your faith been challenged because of the pandemic?
How has your faith grown because of the pandemic?
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty."
Saint Gabriel the Archangel serves as the patron saint of communication because the angel Gabriel is God's top angelic messenger. Throughout history, Gabriel has delivered God's most important messages to humanity. This great archangel helps people communicate with each other well when they pray for Gabriel's help. St. Gabriel assists all people whose jobs involve communication -- from journalists, postal workers, marketing professionals, telecommunications industry workers to clergy, diplomats, and ambassadors.
Unlike most saints, Gabriel was never a human being who lived on Earth but has always been a heavenly angel who was declared a saint in honor of work helping people on Earth. Other archangels who also serve as saints are Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. The patronage work of these four archangels in the earthly dimensions connects to their work in heaven. So, just as Gabriel is heaven's master communicator, Gabriel empowers humans to master communication skills to serve the Lord.
At times, we all need help to be more effective communicators in our relationships, work, and faith life. We can pray to St. Gabriel to help us in our times of need.
When Gabriel empowers people to improve their communication skills, Gabriel's goal is that people grow closer to God in the process. Gabriel urges people to discover and fulfill God's purposes for their lives. Gabriel clears away confusion, empowering people to understand themselves, God, and other people in deeper ways.
According to Sacred Scripture, the archangel Gabriel is the messenger angel who appeared to people in the Old Testament and the New Testament on many different occasions. In some appearances, Gabriel is mentioned by name. On other occasions, Gabriel is thought to be the unnamed angel who appeared and made announcements to Moses, to Saints Joachim and Anne, to the shepherds at Jesus' birth myrrh-bearing women approaching Jesus' tomb, and to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to strengthen him.
It is said that:
- Gabriel taught the Prophet Moses in the wilderness to write the Book of Genesis.
- He revealed the Savior's coming to the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:15-26 and 9:21-27.)
- He revealed to Saints Joachim and Anne the conception of the Virgin Mary.
- He appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist. (Luke 1:10-20)
- In Gabriel's best known and most celebrated appearance, he announced to Mary that she would bear a son, who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, and would be called Son of the Highest and Savior of the World. (Luke 1:26-38)
- Gabriel may have been the unnamed angel, who appeared to St. Joseph in his sleep and instructed Joseph not to divorce Mary quietly. He explained that the power conceived Mary's child of the Holy Spirit and that He would be named Emmanuel, which means God is with us. (Matthew 1:20-24)
- Gabriel may have been the angel who appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem to announce the birth of Jesus. Luke 2:9-14)
- Gabriel may have been the angel mentioned by Luke who appeared to the Lord Jesus himself, in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion, to strengthen him. (Luke 22:43)
- Gabriel may have been the young man that Mark described who was seated in Jesus' tomb and who also appeared to the myrrh-bearing women intending to anoint the body of Jesus. Mark said, "The young man clothed in a white robe told the women. 'Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, he is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'" (Mark 16:5-7)
It is also important to mention that during Mary's time on Earth, Gabriel guarded and assisted her. As we look to serve the Lord gratefully and through effective communication, we ask St. Gabriel to pray for us.
Feast Day: The feast of St. Gabriel was included in the Roman calendar in 1921 for celebration on March 24, the day before the Feast of the Annunciation. In l969, the feast day for St. Gabriel the Archangel was changed to September 29 for a combined celebration with the Archangels Michael and Raphael.
Patron Saint: Saint Gabriel is the patron saint of messengers, communication workers, and postal workers.
With you in prayer during this Lenten season, this reflection was submitted by Suzan Knese
Monday, March 22, 2021
Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful. Keep running, “attracted by the face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters. May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them! And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us”. Pope Francis, Christus Vivit
Fourteen youth from across the Belleville Diocese (2 from Ss. Peter and Paul Parish) serve on the Diocesan Youth Ministry Advisory Council, also known as DYMAC. Together this group helps to collect, discern and create youth faith formation opportunities to be utilized across the diocese. This past weekend members of DYMAC and their youth ministers gathered at Camp Ondessonk to create a Virtual Retreat Experience around Christus Vivit.
Christus Vivit is an apostolic letter written by Pope Francis, entirely to Youth. Christus Vivit challenges youth and the world to search for God in all areas of their lives. In seeing God in all areas of their lives; the church is called to see, judge, and act in a manner that continues to foster and promote youth faith formation through avenues of scripture, reflection, discernment, and prayer. The specific ways the students from our parish find God is through scripture, nature, and Eucharistic Adoration.
Do you have a specific place where you go to find God? Do you feel close to God? How have you experienced God in your life? Have you turned to God for help or strength?
To learn more about Christus Vivit or to read the Apostolic letter visit: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20190325_christus-vivit.html
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Why Cover the Crucifix and Statues during Holy Week?
The final weeks of Lent are a time that has a mournful note to it. The statues, images and crosses in church are usually covered with purple cloths. Veiling from the Fifth Sunday of Lent onward is encouraged. In Germany there was a tradition to veil the altar from view throughout all of Lent. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Some parishes choose to limit this veiling to starting after Mass on Holy Thursday.
Why should we cover the crucifix during a week when we are focused on remembering the importance of the cross and Jesus dying on it? It is a way of focusing on the penitential aspect of this liturgical season. It reminds us in a visual way that our faith in all its glory is made possible only through the work of Christ in his suffering and death on the cross.
Some of the original significance has been lost over the centuries, but many churches still cover the crosses, statues and pictures in the church. Why do we do this? First of all, we use veils to alert us of the special time that we are in. When we walk into church and notice everything is covered, we immediately know that something is different. These last two weeks of Lent are meant to be a time of immediate preparation for the Sacred Triduum and these veils are a forceful reminder to get ready.
Secondly, the veils focus our attention on the words being said at Mass. When we listen to the Passion narrative, our senses are allowed to focus on the striking words from the Gospel and truly enter into the scene.
Thirdly, the Church uses veils to produce a heightened sense of anticipation for Easter Sunday. Therein lies the whole point: the veils are not meant to be there forever.
Families are also encouraged to imitate this practice and veil prominent religious images in their homes. It helps us to participate in the liturgical season within our “domestic” churches.
With you in prayer during this Lenten season, this reflection is submitted by Joyce Springer
Saturday, March 20, 2021
There are still over two weeks left of Lent! Have your kids lost their initial motivation for this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving? Do you need a fresh start and some redirection yourself? The good news is that it’s not too late to use what’s left of this penitential season to grow closer to Christ! The even better news is that you can do this as a family. Here are a few books to help you get the most out of this season!
Take up your Cross: Lenten Bible Stories for Kids by Jared Dees (the creator of the website The Religion Teacher which has practical resources for the classroom) is a wonderful and easy way to incorporate scripture into your Lenten routine. Stories include The Prodigal Son, Noah and the Flood, and Jonah in Ninevah. In addition, they will read stories of Jesus’s passion including his entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, and the many events of his crucifixion. These stories help all of us reflect on ways to take up our own crosses.
First of all, the author, Anthony DeStefano, has many beautiful books that bring to life teachings of the Catholic faith for children and adults alike. The Donkey That No One Could Ride raises that common belief of our unworthiness to be of service to the Lord. Then the donkey meets the Master and discovers his worth. This sweet, rhyming story reminds us all of our call as Catholics to “carry” Jesus to others.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. We all have dreams of greatness and God helps us to achieve that greatness even through suffering . This sweet, touching folktale, The Tale of the Three Trees, shows beautifully and simply how all of dreams should be for the greater glory of God.
This very newly published book, The Wordless Weaver, is told through the eyes of a child who is mute and what’s to express her love for Jesus (Yeshua). She creates a gift that is more meaningful than anything she could have said. This book beautifully expresses how an encounter with Jesus can be life changing.
Another new publication, but of a very old devotion during Lent, Stations of the Cross for Kids, contains beautifully illustrated stations paired with scripture and prayer. The mediations included are written by Regina Doman, a children’s authour who has kept her audience in mind with each one. All of these details allow the reader to follow Christ and his Mother as they make their way through the streets of Jerusalem on the way to Calvary.
With you in prayer during this Lenten season, this reflection was submitted by Beth Lyons
Friday, March 19, 2021
Solemnity of St. Joseph
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Scripture reminds us that St. Joseph was a just man who was completely open to the will of God in his life. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of fathers and travelers.
Saint Joseph is often pictured with lilies, a sign of Joseph's holiness and purity in marriage to Mary.
Pope Francis has declared this year the year of St. Joseph, beginning December 8, 2020 and continuing through December 2021, the year of St. Joseph will be a reminder to Catholics around the world the importance of “ordinary people” who instill hope and patience daily. These “ordinary people” resemble Joseph in their daily acts of kindness. May we choose to be more patient and hopeful this lent and beyond as we celebrate St. Joseph.
To read more about the Year of St. Joseph visit: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-12/pope-francis-proclaims-year-of-st-joseph.html
Looking for fun ways to teach your child(ren) about St. Joseph, visit Catholic Icing: https://www.catholicicing.com/st-joseph-feast-day-celebration-ideas/