This week we are exploring the theme of “radical responses” to the call of God; also, we have three video suggestions, including a crash course on Aquinas (in honor of the feast) and a stunning portrayal of the Gospel of Mark.
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COMING UP THIS WEEK
Saturday, January 24
Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Sunday, January 25
Collection for the Church in Latin America
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, “
when the people of Nineveh believed God. . . .
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Monday, January 26
Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops
St. Timothy, born in Galatia in Asia Minor, was baptized and later ordained to the priesthood by St. Paul. After his conversion, St. Paul made him the Bishop of Ephesus. About 30 years later, Timothy was beaten by pagans and stoned to death for refusing to worship pagan gods. He was about 80 years old.
St. Titus was a convert from paganism and St. Paul’s faithful fellow missionary. He accompanied the apostle on several of his missionary journeys and was entrusted with important missions. Finally he came with St. Paul to the island of Crete, where he was appointed bishop. He lived a long life and died a natural death at the age of 94.
Wednesday, January 28
Memorial of St.Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church
Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 – March 7, 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar and theologian whose synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity earned him the title of Doctor of the Church. The ideas he put forth in his Summa Theologica greatly influenced the development of Western thought and philosophy, and he is widely considered the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. Still, many of his propositions were condemned by the Bishop of Paris following his death, and it took years for his reputation to recover. Aquinas himself refused to finish his great work after a mystical encounter with Christ; the experience led him to declare that “all that I have written seems like straw to me.”
Saturday, January 31
Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest
Inspired by a series of dreams that he believed to be expressions of God’s will, John Bosco (1815-1888) dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth. He developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, and opened a school for boys who had nowhere to go. He founded an order dedicated to this work, the Society of St. Francis de Sales, popularly known as the Salesians of Don Bosco. He later founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to serve and help poor girls. John Bosco died in 1888 and was canonized in 1934.
Here are seven ways to welcome Christ into your family life this week.
1. Read and reflect on Sunday’s reading [ages 3+]
The readings for this Sunday give us two pictures of radical responses to God’s call to repentance. First we have the people of Nineveh responding wholeheartedly to Jonah’s call to repentance; later, in the Gospel, we have Jesus exhorting his listeners to a similar call to repentance; then, we see him call Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow him, and they respond by immediately leaving their work to do just that.
Act out or paraphrase the Gospel: Jesus walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, calling people to repentance, and calling the disciples to follow him. Let your children supply some of the speaking parts. Then explore the Gospel with these questions:
- What were Andrew and Simon and james and John doing when Jesus walked by? (Fishing and mending their nets.)
- What did they do when Jesus called them to follow him?
- What do you think they will do next with Jesus?
Wrap up your reflection with a game of follow-the-leader, to underline the theme of following Jesus and imitating him.
Older children and teens
Reflect on the Scriptures with these questions:
- The people of Nineveh were Assyrians, enemies of the Israelites who had gone to war against Israel more than once. Yet how did they respond to God’s call for repentance?
- What is the common theme that connects the first reading with the reading from the Gospel? (Repentance and responding to God’s call.)
- In the Gospel reading, we hear the very first words that Jesus speaks in Mark’s gospel. What is the gospel (or “good news”) that Jesus proclaims? (“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”)
- What do you think Jesus means when he says that “the kingdom of God is at hand”? Is this kingdom of God something visible? Something that he is bringing, or something already present that he is announcing?
- What does today’s Gospel imply about how we are to respond to the proclamation of the good news?
Bonus: Teens might want to check out Father Robert Barron’s homily on this Sunday’s readings for some excellent insight into the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
2. Pump up your family’s experience of Mass [ages 3+]
If you dread taking your kids to Sunday Mass for one reason or another—or if you struggle to get them to Mass at all—we’ve got the article for you: Doing Mass with Kids: 25+ Strategies for a Better Experience. Aside from the advice you will find there, you’ll also find links to additional resources, including an article on the same topic from the USCCB. With all that advice, you’re sure to find something to help your family get more out of Sunday Mass.
3. Watch the Gospel of Mark come alive [ages 7+]
With the beginning of the new liturgical year, we enter the Sunday readings for Year B with its focus on the Gospel of Mark. You may have noticed that the last few Sundays have been from the beginning of the Gospel of Mark.
If you want to give your older kids and teens a totally new perspective on the Gospel of Mark, try listening to it recited out loud by accomplished performer Max Mclean. It might not sound like fascinating YouTube viewing, but give it five minutes, and odds are you will want to finish watching the whole program, which runs about an hour and a half. After watching the performance, you won’t hear the Gospel in the same way again.
4. Celebrate Thomas Aquinas’s feast day with a little Summa [ages 12+]
Wednesday marks the feast day of Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the most celebrated theologian in the history of the Church. His great work, the Summa Theologica, is still widely read and relevant in modern Christian theology. You can introduce your teens to this great thinker with Fr. Robert Barron’s 10-minute video, “Thomas Aquinas and the Argument from Motion,” a crash course in one of Aquinas’s most famous proofs for the existence of God.
5. Check in on your New Year’s resolutions [ages 5+]
Did you make spiritual New Year’s resolutions as a family? That was one of our suggestions for the first week of January (see The Bread for Dec 29 – Jan 3). We had suggested that your family spend a month focusing on spiritual virtues that you want to increase over the next year: patience, kindness, charity, courage, truthfulness, temperance, obedience, modesty, respect, understanding, silence, and so on. If you did that, check in with your family at the end of the month on how it went; if you didn’t, you don’t need a new year to practice a new virtue!
6. Try sharing ‘Highs and Lows’ during a family meal [ages 5+]
At the end of the day (perhaps over dinner), have each person share their “highs” and “lows” for the day: What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst? As each person shares his or her highs and lows, have another person offer a prayer for whatever that person mentioned. This is a fun and simple way to introduce your kids to the practice of the daily Examen. You can find more about doing Highs and Lows at the Peanut Butter and Grace website.
7. Support efforts to protect kids from media violence [ages 3+]
“Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts,” according to the most recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General on the topic of media violence and children. That statement is backed up by hundreds of independent studies and reports spanning decades, according to The Future of Children, a collaborative project of Princeton University and the Brookings Institute. (You can find a roundup of the research at their website.)
What can parents do? Well, they can start by getting educated—and by supporting efforts to educate other parents. One way to do that is to watch the five-minute video Know Better, Do Better by parent educator and former Minnesota Teacher of the Year Katy Smith. The basic message of the video: Media, especially violent and anti-social media, has a bigger impact on kids than adults because kids’ developing brains are especially sensitive to what they see and hear. And most kids see too much violent and anti-social media at too young an age.
Smith hopes to have the video delivered to parents’ cell phones when they register for parent education classes. You can support her efforts by watching the video, then sharing it on social media. To learn more, visit her website: http://www.katysmithmn.com.
WHAT THE CHURCH IS SAYING…
Families can be a blessing for the world
When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.
—Pope Francis, speaking on the family during his recent pastoral visit to the Philippines
Supreme Court decision a win for religious liberty
The decision in Holt v. Hobbs is a great victory for religious freedom, because it underscores that each and every person enjoys this basic human right. You don’t lose it if you subscribe to a minority faith, or even if you enter prison — in fact, you never lose it. That is because, as the Second Vatican Council taught 50 years ago in Dignitatis Humanae, “the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person.”
—Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, commenting on a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of a Muslim inmate in an Arkansas state prison who sought to wear a half-inch beard in accordance with his faith
The gift of life
Every life is a gift. #MarchForLife.
—Pope Francis on Twitter, in recognition of the annual March for Life marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade; the march drew hundreds of thousands of participants
War must not be waged in the name of God.
—Pope Francis, appealing for peace in Niger during his weekly General Audience
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