Catholic Social Teaching, which calls us to work for justice and peace as Jesus did, includes care for God's creation as one of its seven themes. Responding to this call means becoming stewards of creation, respecting and protecting the environment for future generations. I invite you to download this Sadlier poster, which provides a variety of activities and prayers for teaching children about what it means to become a steward of creation.
For years I have been getting up early to accompany Ron to his races. When our children were small, this entailed bundling them into the car and driving off, sometimes before dawn, to make it to the start of a marathon, 10K, or other running event. Once there I mingled with other mothers who were trying to keep their children entertained until their dads crossed the finish line.
Over the years, the crowd of bystanders began to change. I started noticing more fathers in the crowd, taking care of restless children while waiting for the moms to cross the line. Just recently, I accompanied Ron to the Garden of the Gods 10K race, set amid the stunning rock formations of southern Colorado. Our children are grown and on their own, so I had time to sit in the car and journal while Ron warmed up in the early morning sun. Just ahead of us, I watched a father change his toddler’s diapers in the back of their mini-van. Then he donned a miniature backpack, stuffed with a pink blankie, and trundled his two sleep-eyed children up the hill to the starting line.
The image of this father and others who care for, protect, and love their children is a profound way to think about God as our Father. When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus draws upon the Aramaic word “Abba”, a warm and intimate way to address God. It is a far cry from the Greco-Roman gods who were distanced from the daily doings of humans. Instead, God is one who looks after us with affection and tenderness.
I can’t help but think that Jesus was drawing upon his own upbringing and the immersion into the Scriptures that Joseph must have taught him. While it is often said that the God of the Old Testament is mean and cranky, the texts themselves – those that Jesus grew up with – speak differently. Take, for example, Psalm 103: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy (vs. 8). What better way to understand such love and compassion than through the picture of a caring dad, taking his children by the hand and guiding them gently into the morning light?
photo © iStockphoto
Summer is the perfect season for exploring God's gifts of creation and dedicating ourselves to becoming stewards of the earth. We invite you to bring your parish together for A Summer Scripture Event! With this 60-90 minute Gather In My Name event, participants will:
Yesterday I set up an “anti-gravity” chair on our deck. It reminds me of patio furniture from my childhood that my parents referred to as “bar-wise chairs.” I have no idea what that meant, but I do recall the hours spent relaxing on them, as well as the times my siblings and I converted them into forts and other imaginative spaces. Roughly in the shape of a cockeyed “W”, the chairs rocked back and forth and were ideal for daydreaming. One of my fondest summer memories is lounging on one of them as the stars came out.
I don’t know if children have this kind of lazing-around time any more. Once school’s out, there seems to be an array of activities to engage them, or else they spend a copious amount of time staring at one type of screen or another. Playing on a funny-shaped chair would seem an old-fashioned, if not bizarre, way of spending the summer.
A few years ago, I first heard the term “nature deficit disorder.” It describes a loss of connection with the natural world. The price of such disconnection is deadly – a rise in obesity and all of the maladies that accompany it. In addition to these physical side-effects, losing touch with nature plays havoc with our souls. God’s world is so full of wonder and beauty that we are truly missing out if we stay indoors all of the time.
Such a disorder doesn’t just affect kids, to be sure. How many of us get mired in activity that robs us of “lazing” time. With the school year coming to an end, my round of travels has ceased for the next couple of months. Will I take the summertime as a gift or will I fill each minute of the day with more to-do’s? In his book, Sabbath, Wayne Mueller notes the importance of integrating rest into the rhythm of our lives. “The Sabbath rocks us and holds us until we can remember who we are.” This is the sensation of being, what he calls, “delightfully inactive.” One of the best places to do so is in the midst of nature.
With that in mind, I hope to be spending a lot of time in my anti-gravity chair this summer. I have work to do, but it doesn’t have to consume me. Perhaps it will help me reclaim the connection with God’s creation that is so vital to body and soul.
photo © iStockphoto
Summertime. The season evokes images of backyard barbeques, cold glasses of lemonade, vacations by the sea, and lazing in a hammock. Birdsong and blossoming gardens, gentle breezes and warm evenings. Psalms are appropriate for all seasons of the year, but some lend themselves more easily to summertime sensibilities. Psalms that express delight in the wonders of God’s creation and sing praises for God’s generosity and kindness seem particularly apropos during the season of summer.
Download a free Psalms for Summer poster to use with your class! Sadlier posters provide a variety of activities and prayers for teaching about the beliefs and practices of our Catholic faith. Beautiful art and engaging content make these a keepsake.
If there is one single parable that comes to mind as we prepare to celebrate Fathers Day, it is probably the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-22). The image of a father waiting for the return of his wayward child with such patience and longing is one of the most poignant scenes in the Bible. His response to the prodigal’s irresponsible behavior catches us off guard with its magnanimity and parental perception. He shows the same benevolence towards the elder son, whose petulance sets up even greater barriers to reconciliation. At a time when we are quick to draw attention to “deadbeat dads”, this ancient story invites us to consider fatherhood as a reflection of God’s magnanimous heart.
We are not all blessed with nurturing parents, but we do have a God whose love knows no bounds, who stands ready to forgive us for our misbehavior, and who awaits our return home with longing and tenderness. As we honor fathers of this and past generations, may we also give thanks to our Father in heaven for his sheltering presence.
With the Gather In My Name Come to the Lord's Table– The Eucharist event, participants will be able to deepen their participation in the Eucharist by embracing the invitation to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord" as full members as Christ's Body, the Church. They will be able to appreciate the nourishment of the Eucharist and the mission for which we are nourished. Download the Come to the Lord's Table– The Eucharist event handouts and access event details.
The weekly celebration of the Eucharist on Saturday evening or Sunday morning defines who we are as Catholics-- in out parishes, in our households of faith, in our neighborhoods, and in our world. Plan to spend time this week reflecting on the readings and preparing to celebrate the Eucharist. Gather in My Name offers "Question of the Week"- a free resource to incorporate the Sunday Eucharist into your religion classes, family discussions, or community activities.
Gather In My Name also provides questions on the readings for each Sunday and holy day liturgy. Activities for young people are included. Some materials for younger children can be printed out.
Question of the Week: How does the Eucharist nourish you? What "loaves and fishes" do you have that nourish others?
Reading 1: Genesis 14:18-20
Reading 2: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Theme: Loaves and Fishes
Gospel: Luke 9:11b-17
“Graduations are five minutes of ‘yeah’ and three hours of ‘ho-hum’.” My friend, Cindy’s less-than-enthusiastic description of commencement ceremonies makes a certain amount of sense. There is the great moment of anticipation as we await our graduate’s entrance in the opening procession. Then we sit through the litany of speeches, commendations, and presentations that follow, perking up when our graduate once again comes into view for the awarding of a diploma or special award. When each of my two children graduated from high school and then college, these were the moments I nearly hyper-ventilated as pride, relief, and joy overtook me.
Convocation addresses are a mixed bag. Some inspire, others bore, and a few simply confound. I experienced the latter at a ceremony in which the commencement address was given by a prominent local journalist who had recently lost his job. He used the occasion to lament the decline in newspaper readership, and then to issue a dire warning to the confused graduates about their dubious chances at landing employment. It was a downer, but it did catch everyone’s attention, which is more than can be said about most speeches.
Granted, it’s hard to know what kind of novel spin to place on a commencement address. Most speakers try to inspire and encourage as they exhort new graduates to live their dreams and aspire to greatness. While these are good messages, perhaps it’s also important to remind the newly-graduated to maintain hope in the face of discouragement or disappointment and, above all, to keep believing in the goodness of life. Even then, it’s not likely the speeches will linger long in the minds of those fingering their new degrees. As I recall my own college graduation, I had a far different view of my life than what actually transpired. My education opened doors, to be sure, but it didn’t guarantee anything when it came to the challenges I was to face, both professionally and personally. The latter required faith in Someone greater and more far-sighted than me. It made graduation a true commencement into a future filled with a few ho-hums and a lot of “yeahs”!
photo © iStockphoto
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