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Like Sheep without a Shepherd | The Bread for July 19 – July 25

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Jesus Teaching by the Seashore
Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

This week, we’re focusing on how to teach our kids to negotiate all the hot-button issues that the Church has taken controversial stands on this summer, from same-sex marriage to action on climate change . . . we’ve got five tools you can give your kids to help them out. Plus, we reflect on people looking for a shepherd; we try kneeling in prayer; we focus on living out the virtue of courage; and we celebrate the lives of six saints, including St. Bridget of Sweden, Mary Magdalene, and the apostle James. It’s all coming up this week in The Bread!


Check out the new edition of Dominic DeSousa’s illustrated prayer book for kids, on sale for a limited time.


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The Week at a Glance

This week is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.

MON July 20 | St. Apollinaris (1st century)

The bishop who couldn’t be driven from his See

TUE July 21 | St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)

Leading Scripture scholar, Capuchin minister general, and peacemaker

WED July 22 | St. Mary Magdalene

Friend of Jesus and apostle to the apostles

THU July 23 | St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373)

Mystic, prophet, founder of monasteries and the Brigittine order, Church reformer, friend of unwed mothers, and advocate of justice and peace

FRI July 24 | Blessed Vasiľ Hopko (1904-1976)

Czech bishop who endured torture, imprisonment, and poisoning while defending the Church under Communist rule

SAT July 25 | St. James

Brother of John, a favored apostle, and the first apostle to be martyred

What To Do This Week


Preview Sunday’s readings with your kids; find the text of the readings at the USCCB and the readings in context at the links below.

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.

Psalm 23:1-6

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Ephesians 2:13-18

For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity. . . .

Mark 6:30-34

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

This week, the prophet Jeremiah delivers an oracle against the “shepherds” of Israel, condemning them for misleading and scattering the flock; in today’s Gospel reading, we hear how Jesus took pity on that “shepherdless flock.” The psalm response picks up the theme nicely with the well-known lines of Psalm 23.

The Word in a nutshell for little kids

Jesus and his friends were so busy teaching and healing people that they didn’t have any time to eat or rest. Sometimes when moms and dads are tired and hungry, they need to get away from the kids for a while so they can eat and rest. But Jesus didn’t do that, at least not right away. He loved the people so much that he stayed and helped them . . . and maybe he and his friends ate later on, after everyone went home.

Breaking open the Word with older kids and teens

  • As you preview the readings, share with your kids which line “speaks” to you most vividly, and invite them to share the same.
  • What implications do the readings have for how you live together as a family?
  • Jeremiah condemns the shepherds of Israel for failing in their responsibilities to the people. What do you think are the qualities of a responsible leader? What can we learn from Jesus’ example?

Raise Bible-literate kids!

  • Paraphrase or act out this week’s Gospel story with younger children.
  • Explore the readings more in depth using the commentary accompanying the New American Bible Revised Edition (links above) and the many resources of The Sunday Website.
  • Get a really good family missal: Magnifikid! (for older kids ages 5 – 10); Give Us This Day (a wealth of daily resources from Liturgical Press); or Magnificat (another rich source for the daily readings, saints, prayers, and more).



3 Reasons to Try Kneeling During Family Prayer

Catholics are kind of famous for being full-body pray-ers. This week, try kneeling during your family prayer . . . and if that’s an unusual prayer posture for you at home, check out the article 3 Reasons to Try Kneeling During Family Prayer, which includes a fun explainer video from That Catholic Show about the different postures Catholics adopt in prayer.



Summer of virtues: Courage

Are you practicing the virtues with us this summer? If so, practice recognizing the virtue of courage this week. Check out the article Practicing the Virtues: Courage for talking points and the Virtue Tickets download for this virtue.



Helping kids talk about Church teaching on tough issues

It’s been quite a summer for Catholic hot-button issues. First we had the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which has raised concern among Catholics because of provisions that impinge on religious freedom. Then we had the Supreme Court ruling institutionalizing same-sex marriage, a move that the Church has vocally opposed. Next came Pope Francis’s encyclical on care for creation, which calls for action on climate change—a position that many Americans, including many Catholics, oppose.

All of which got us thinking about our older kids and teens (ages 10 to 15). Beginning right around second grade, we found ourselves answering their questions about abortion and same-sex marriage—questions introduced by their peers, or by school discussions. The various issues raised this summer will pose new challenges for them when they head back to school in a few weeks.

Negotiating these hot-button social issues is difficult enough for adults, so how can we equip our kids to stand up for their beliefs with their peers (or in the classroom), especially when those beliefs are unpopular?

We don’t have all the answers, of course, but we’ve distilled our best wisdom in the article Five Ways to Help Catholic Kids Talk about Church Teaching on Tough Issues. Take a look, and then let us know your own thoughts in the comments box, or e-mail us at info@gracewatch.org.




Celebrate summer with a bouquet for your home oratory

In the busyness of summertime, your home oratory or prayer table might get a little neglected. Fortunately, summer flowers are abundant this time of year. This week, pick a bouquet with your kids, and place it on your prayer table. Don’t forget to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving!


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Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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