I can't help but roll my eyes at the ever growing list of retailers who market the "twelve days of Christmas" as a countdown to December 25th. Surely you know the type. They are the same ones casting off the decorations and music as soon as Christmas passes. Untarnished by commercialism, the Feast of Epiphany and the real Twelve Days of Christmas leading up to it allow us to celebrate Jesus' birth in fresh ways. Here is a time for feasting and joy. God's long-promised king has been born! This TCK is full of ideas for keeping the season alive in your homes, classrooms, and parishes. As always, may Christ bless your homes — 20+C+B+M+14
January at a Glance (PDF)
Twelve Days of Christmas
Activity: Epiphany Board Game
This large scale "board game" will get kids moving and learning about the Three Kings' journey!
Epiphany Board Game (PDF)
Grade 6 & Up
Activity: Holy Water Bottles
Personal holy water bottles are just right for older students. The project is complex enough to hold their interest and the runway of ideas for what to do with holy water will keep them generating a stream of possible uses.
Epiphany Holy Water (PDF)
Lifelong Catechesis Corner
Solemnity of the Epiphany
The Three Kings followed a star to find Jesus. What signs do I use to look for Jesus? How do I know I am on the right path?
Activities online at the Lifelong Catechesis page.
Catholic Stewardship for Kids
Brighten the days of January for the ill and home-bound of your parish with these student-created postcards.
Postcard Evangelizing (PDF)
Saint for January
January 21 – St. Agnes
St. Agnes was a thirteen-year-old martyr who died around 258. As her feast day comes in the
winter, some people used to refer to snowflakes as “St. Agnes flowers.” Cut out paper snowflakes
on this day and hang them in windows.
Activity: St. Agnes Flowers
Make frosty painted snowflakes. Mix 1 cup powdered
white tempera paint and 2 tablespoons wallpaper paste.
Add approximately 1/2 cup liquid laundry starch and mix
until the paint is stiff as frosting. Use a stubby paintbrush or
a craft stick to apply the paint to paper, cardboard or glass.
Cooperating with God's Grace
by Mary Lou Rosien
As we begin a new calendar year, it is a good time to re-evaluate where we are in our walk with Christ. Scripture tells us that "Faith without works is dead." Do we remember this in our day-to-day lives? All Christians are called to live out the great commission, found at the end of Matthew 28:18-20 –
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So often, Catholic Christians (myself included) fall into a pattern of thinking that if we give a little to charity and go to Mass regularly, we are living out this commission. This year, we should challenge this thinking and see how we can deepen our own spiritual journey and the journeys of those around us. In order to do this, we need to cooperate with God's grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it this way:
CCC 1993 "Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight."42
Furthermore, sacred Scripture looks at the idea of God's grace and our need to cooperate with it in this way:
"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
So what is cooperation with God's grace and how do we carry it out? A friend explained it to me this way... You have a stream flowing and moving along, but it empties into a stagnant pond. The water from the pond will not bring forth much life, in fact, if the stream stopped flowing the pond would just evaporate. So it is with God's grace. It flows into us, but if we do not flow out onto others our faith will dry up.
We need to be life-giving, responding to God's grace in all things. Here are some practical ways to do that:
- Receive the sacraments often. We need to fill ourselves with the avenues of grace found in the sacraments so that we can be a living examples of grace to others.
- Read Scripture. We cannot live the Word if we do not know the Word.
- Look for opportunities to respond to grace. That little voice that says, "Hold that door open, drop off dinner for that family, or give a little to that homeless man," are examples of God whispering into our hearts. He only has our hands and hearts to work through and if we do not train ourselves to listen He cannot work through us.
- Deny ourselves simple pleasures in reparation for the sins of the world, or for whatever the Lord would like to do with that sacrifice. Much as we focus ourselves during Lent, we can add a small sacrifice to our daily lives. It is a very good spiritual exercise to deny ourselves for the greater good.
- Study examples of the saints. We can find a particular saint whose struggles one can identify with or read the Saint of the Day to inspire change in our lives.
- Practice evangelization. Pass on books that have helped you in your spiritual journey. Talk with others about Jesus being our Savior, or use social media to promote positive messages about faith.
As we celebrate New Year’s Day, let’s take some time to think about all of the blessings of the
past year. What blessings from God did we receive and what challenges did we face? Lord, we are
grateful for the many good things this past year brought us. Thank you for the gifts of health,
family and friends. Be with us as we begin this new year of 2014. As we grow
closer to you, help us to learn from the difficult days and be thankful for the good days. In Jesus’
name we pray. Amen.
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