Summer is in full swing this month — BBQs, picnics, fireworks, the list goes on and on. It is easy to get distracted from faith life with all the hubbub, but let's use another familiar part of summer to get closer to God: the garden. God planted a garden for the first humans to live in. He created a perfect symphony of water, air, and sunlight interacting to sustain life; he is our master gardener. Think of the image of the garden as you hear Sunday Gospel readings this month about reaping what you sow. TCK is happy to share some activities for helping kids grow with God this July!
July at a Glance (PDF)
Activity: Pocket Gardens
Young children will be delighted to see new growth occurring in their "pocket gardens".
Pocket Garden (PDF)
Grade 6 & Up
Fast growing herbs provide a bounty of possibilities. Here are just a few ideas for making use of God's gift.
Heavenly, Holy Herbs
Lifelong Catechesis Corner
Which of Jesus' parables has a message for me?
Activities online at the Lifelong Catechesis page (15th, 16th and 17th Sundays in Ordinary Time).
Saint for July
June 23 – St. Phocas the Gardener (PDF)
Catholic Stewardship for Kids
Summer Stewardship Project — fold a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper into thirds to make three-wide columns and make headings for plan • action • results. Work with students to come up with age appropriate stewardship projects that they can manage in their communities over the summer break. This could be a one-time thing like a beach clean-up or an ongoing thing like finding an organization to volunteer with. Invite families to be involved and encourage students to share their outcomes at the end of the summer.
Do You Have the Courage for a Miracle?
by Mary Lou Rosien
I was pondering the Scripture reading of the woman who has the encounter with Jesus at the well. (John 4) Jesus confronts her about her lifestyle and then tells her that He is the Living Water, the Messiah. The last line in that reading, may be the most telling, "Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him."(28-30) How much courage did it take for her to bring the Good News to those people who had judged and scorned this woman?
Consider the paralytic man: He begged on the streets for a long time. He is healed by faith, takes up his mat and walks away. What happened then? Did he have to reconcile with his family? Did he have to find work for the first time in years? Was he afraid? Could he have been martyred for telling others he had been healed by Christ?
The woman who had a bleeding issue for years would have been shunned as unclean by society. She was probably separated from her family, abandoned by her friends. It took courage for her to push through the crowd and to touch the Lord, but did it require even more courage to reenter society?
We often desire a miracle in our lives, but do we have the courage to receive the miracle? Even in Scripture we see that when ten were healed only one came back to thank Christ. Do we want a miracle and then forget the miracle-giver when we receive it? Are we afraid?
Conversion is, itself, a miracle! It is a heart-changing, life-changing event. It often requires great courage. One of my friends tells the story of her conversion this way.
When I recognized that the Catholic Church was the Church that Christ established, I knew I had to become Catholic. But I loved the faith I had grown up in, and I fell into a depression recognizing that in order to fully follow Christ, I would have to leave my childhood faith.
When our lives are changed in a profound way, by faith in Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church, we must prepare ourselves for the difficulties that may arise. When St. Paul (previously Saul) was changed by the Lord, he was then told by God to seek out a Christian who would instruct him. It must have taken great courage and trust for Paul to humble himself and go to those he had persecuted for his instruction in the faith!
To prepare for the courage we will need for the miracles in our lives, we must remember the 4 S's:
Sacraments: Regular reception of the Sacraments will strengthen us with God's grace.
Spirit: The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of Courage, Long-Suffering and Fortitude. Pray for these gifts in abundance.
Scripture: Read Sacred Scripture passages on courage.
1 Chronicles 28:20
David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to 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.
Saints: Studying examples of the Saints great courage in times of adversity can inspire us.
Consider St. Joan of Arc, St. Peter, or the many other Martyrs of the Church!
Be strong, have courage, and expect miracles! God bless.
The Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer, sometimes called the Prayer of the Heart, is of Eastern origin and dates back to about the fifth century. Used for centuries in the Eastern Church, it was only about the middle of the twentieth century that the prayer gained popularity in the Western Church. The prayer is simple, yet full of meaning:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."