The Bread will be coming to you in an abbreviated format for the rest of the summer so that we can focus on the great resources we hope to roll out this fall.
The release of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, coincides nicely with this week’s Sunday Scriptures, which emphasize the Lord’s power over even the most powerful forces of nature. This week, we have some great resources for talking about the encyclical with your kids, then responding in prayer and action. Plus: The best Father’s Day gift ever, and a trio of fun videos for Father’s Day.
Just released: The Glorious Mysteries & The Luminous Mysteries
As part of our launch celebration, get all four books for $50! Sale ends June 30.Get the books
Get family faith formation ideas for the coming week delivered to your inbox every Thursday.
The Week at a Glance
Young children: Act out, paraphrase, or read a kids’ version of one of Sunday’s readings. This week’s Gospel lends itself particularly well to storytelling. Ask your young children to describe a scary storm. Ask how the disciples must have felt in the boat. Make a paper boat to float in the bathtub, swimming pool, or pond as you talk about God’s authority over all creation.
Older kids: Have your kids read the Sunday Scriptures Saturday evening. Then explore the Scriptures with these activities:
- Ask: What line or image from these readings stood out for you? Why? Ask, too, how they might respond to the question of Jesus: “Why are you terrified? Have you not yet faith?”
- Ask: Did you notice a common theme or connection between the readings? The first reading, the psalm, and the Gospel all focus on God’s power over the sea. Note that for ancient people, the sea was the ultimate symbol of chaos (see the reference to the waters at the very beginning of the Book of Genesis). It was also the realm of unknown and mysterious monsters. To say that God is Lord even of the sea is to say that nothing is outside of God’s authority.
- Study: Read the Scriptures in their original context and check out scholarly notes in the New American Bible Revised Edition. The links at the top of this article will take you to the Scripture text in the NABRE.
- Advanced Bible study: Explore the readings in greater depth at The Sunday Website.
- Ask: How do these readings call us to live as a family? What would our family life look like if we were fearless in the face of the “storms” of our life? What does it look like for us to trust in Jesus during hard times?
A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation
Here is the prayer offered by Pope Francis at the end of his encyclical document Laudate Si’:
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Prayer of the imagination
St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, taught that the imagination can be a powerful aid to prayer.
- Have your kids close their eyes. Spend at least thirty seconds in quiet silence, entering the presence of the Lord.
- Next, paraphrase the story of Jesus calming the storm (from Sunday’s Gospel reading). Ask your kids to imagine themselves in the boat. Where are they sitting? What can they see? What do they smell and hear? What are the others in the boat doing? Ask them to wake Jesus themselves…how do they do it? What does Jesus say?
- Conclude with thirty seconds of silence, then offer a prayer for the grace to trust in God during difficult times.
Make a Care of Creation Action Plan
In his encyclical, the Pope calls on all Catholics to take urgent action to care for creation in the face of the environmental crisis. How will your family respond?
- You can begin by sitting down together to discuss the Church’s call. Set aside fifteen minutes this weekend for talking about what your family can do.
- Read the encyclical or a good summary of the encyclical. (See suggested summaries in the Talk section, below.)
- Get familiar with the basics of the Church’s teaching on the environment, as summarized by the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
- Head over to Catholic Climate Covenant for a wealth of ways to take action. Choose a handful that your family can realistically pursue.
- The pope has called on the rich to sacrifice more, and to turn away from a “throw-away culture.” What does that mean for your family?
- Write up your family’s action items and post them prominently for the remainder of the summer.
Take the St. Francis Pledge
We Pledge to:
- PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
- LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
- ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
- ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to
- ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
Read a good summary of Laudato si’
If you set aside time for weekly family faith formation, spend some time this week talking about the substance of the pope’s encyclical. If you have younger children, read the encyclical (or a summary) yourself so that you can model a faithful Catholic attitude toward creation as your children grow up.
- Read the encyclical at the Vatican website
- The Vatican press office offers an official “summary” of the document (the summary runs several pages, as opposed to the 200 pages of the encyclical),
- FOCUS offers a more readable summary, as well as sharable social media quotes.
- You can find a really short summary of the top five points at Time.com, or find a longer story at Crux.
Talk about different types of Church teaching
The release of the encyclical Laudato Si’ offers a good opportunity to talk to your kids about the character of the Church’s teaching. You can find an excellent article on the differences between the various kinds of papal documents at Catholic Straight Answers. Here are five points to touch on with your older kids and teens:
- A document for the whole Church. The word encyclical comes from the Greek word for “circulating,” a reference to the origin of encyclical letters as a document circulated to all the bishops of the world. Encyclicals are addressed to the whole Church, and often to other people of good will throughout the world.
- Different levels of teaching. Not everything that the pope and bishops say is equally important or authoritative. Comments made during a sermon or general audience differ from formal writings such as pastoral letters, apostolic letters, apostolic constitutions, and encyclical letters.
- Encyclicals require respect and religious assent. An encyclical letter is a formal teaching of the pope on matters of faith and morals, and therefore requires respect and religious assent (Catechism #892).
- Is an encyclical infallible? When the Church intentionally proposes a statement of faith (doctrine) as being divinely revealed and the teaching of Christ, the Holy Spirit protects it from error; such definitive teaching is said to be infallible. While an encyclical may be based on the infallible, fundamental teaching of the Church, it usually isn’t the means by which the Church defines the core belief of the Church. Moreover, the guarantee of infallibility only applies to matters of faith and morals.
- Can we disagree with the teaching in an encyclical? While the teaching contained in an encyclical may not be infallible, the pastors of the Church receive the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit whenever they exercise their teaching office. Catholics may in good conscience disagree with some of the contents of an encyclical letter; however, all people are obliged to inform and develop their conscience, which for Catholics means studying and praying about the teaching of the Church with respect and humble openness.
The best thing you can give him for Father’s Day
Wondering what to get your husband for Father’s Day? Take a moment to find out Why Dads Matter (a great research-based article from Fathers for Good, a resource-packed website from the Knights of Columbus). Then, make a list of your husband’s strengths and unique abilities as a dad . . . all the ways he contributes to the formation of your kids. You can give him the list as a Father’s Day present, along with a promise to encourage and affirm him in those areas, especially when it comes to passing on the faith.
Celebrate Father’s Day with a trio of funny videos
So, for Father’s Day, we got you two goofy videos, and one touching one to possibly share with Dad . . . or at least to get you in the mood to do something special for Dad.
None of these have any redeeming value whatsoever. The first one, called “Get in the Game,” features a Dad who takes the time to fight pirates, ninjas, Vikings, and giant lawyers with his son. The second one is a few years old, but we still love “The Parent Rap,” which is very catchy and well-done. And the third one is just all warm and mushy . . . and a good reminder of why we celebrate Father’s Day. Enjoy!