Have you listened to Handel's Messiah yet this Easter season? If you are like me, your CD is still hoarded away with Christmas things. All this time I have had it wrong, associating Messiah with Christmas. After all, most live performances tend to take place around that time. I recently discovered the original performance was actually April 13, 1742. A look at the libretto reveals three parts that move us from Christ's birth, to death, to resurrection. The ever familiar Hallelujah Chorus comes at the end of the second part. Easter Time is indeed a season to say Hallelujah – Praise the Lord – try filling your homes and classrooms with the music of Messiah as you celebrate the joy of Christ's resurrection.
May at a Glance (PDF)
Activity: Good Shepherd Sunday
A story, a finger play, a prayer, and a craft for Good Shepherd Sunday – pick and choose or do them all! Good Shepherd Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Easter, May 11.
Good Shepherd Sunday (PDF)
Grade 6 & Up
Praying the Stations of Light reminds us that we are an Easter people.
Stations of Light Activity (PDF)
Stations of Light Artwork (PDF)
Lifelong Catechesis Corner
Think about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. When have I been a good shepherd for someone else?
Activities online at the Lifelong Catechesis page.
Saint for May
May 16 – St Philip Neri (PDF)
Catholic Stewardship for Kids
God gave St. Philip the gift of joy; Philip used it to bring people closer to God. Use these ideas to get kids thinking about their God-given talents and how to use them for good. Direct thinking to focus on inherent qualities rather than particular skills.
The New Evangelization: A Time for New Life!
by Mary Lou Rosien
Pope John Paul II called it the 'New Spring.' Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis stress the need for the 'new evangelization,' but what is it and how do we evangelize in the world today?
"The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization."1 The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church." USCCB
The answer is simple and complex at the same time. As St. Francis was fond of saying, "Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words." This means that we evangelize most effectively by loving others, demonstrating faith and living our Christian values.
Someone I know (a convert) once expressed it to me this way, "I saw a Catholic friend's peace in a difficult situation and thought, 'I want that' and I decided to explore the Catholic faith." If we claim to be Christians, but are angry, judgmental or harsh we will not be modeling our faith. In fact, we may push others away with our hypocrisy. Another saying that demonstrates this idea well is, "You may be the only Gospel someone reads."
"Christians who are afraid to build bridges,” Pope Francis says, "and prefer to build walls, are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ.”
We don't have to be perfect, but we must live our faith in our imperfection. Apologize when we are wrong, seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness and love even when we have been wronged. While no one can be happy all the time, we can let our joy in the Lord shine through us even in difficult times.
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus,” Pope Francis tells us, inviting Christians to “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”
The second part of the challenge to evangelize is to step up our game (so to speak). My friend Fr. Mike is a good example of this. He has started a sidewalk evangelization group that hands out rosaries at the public market.
Catholics often fall far behind in our outreach to the community. Consider thinking outside the box:
*Go through the local church neighborhood and collect prayer requests. Have a special Mass to pray for these intentions.
*Have someone help improve the Church's website. Make sure it is user-friendly.
*Develop an app for your church with a spot for prayer requests, Mass times, a community board of needs and availability.
*Start a Bible Study, Christlife program or another similar program at your church. Include a dinner and a witness to draw people in to your church.
*Make a video of short two-minute witnesses to run in the ambulatory. (Another Fr. Mike idea!)
We are only limited in new ways to reach out and spread the Gospel of The Lord, by our own imaginations.
The World Day of Prayer for Vocations falls each year on Good Shepherd Sunday. Pray the prayer below together as a group or make prayer cards for personal use (taken from www.worlddayofprayerforvocations.com)
Children’s Prayer for Vocations
I glorify You, God, in all that I do.
In mind, body, and spirit I give my best to You.
Help me to follow your will no matter the call:
sister, brother, or priest, I promise my all.
If you call me to marriage, I promise to love,
and to teach my own children to seek grace from above.
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Jesus, I trust in you!
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