Explaining Ash Wednesday to Children

February 2, 2017 Darcy Osby 1

Ash Wednesday is popular with children because ashes are such a tangible symbol. People of all ages love when the spiritual is made physical, when they can touch and feel something real. The Church gives us sacramentals such as blessed ashes, palms, rosaries, and candles to help us open up to God’s grace. Explaining the meaning behind the ashes is important for children to understand why they are walking around with dirt on their foreheads. […]

Candlemas: Celebrating Light!

January 27, 2017 Joe Paprocki 0

February 2—the Feast of the Presentation—is also traditionally known as “Candlemas,” the day on which the candles we use at home are blessed. This tradition is inspired by a line from the Gospel for the Feast of the Presentation in which Simeon, a devout man whom Joseph and Mary encounter at the Temple, explains that Jesus will be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” (Luke 2:32) This feast falls at a time of the […]

Lenten Actions Cards

January 25, 2017 Joe Paprocki 2

Encourage families to take practical steps toward practicing the traditional Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Print out our Lenten Actions Cards and give sets to the families you serve. Instruct parents to cut out the cards, fold them in half, and place them in a jar or small box. Place the jar or other container in a central location in the home, perhaps on the dining room table or the counter next to […]

If You’re Not Already Thinking About Lent, Why Are You Waiting?

January 9, 2017 Joe Paprocki 1

Anyone in ministry knows that you have to live with one foot in the present and one in the future, since planning and preparation are so key to our success. While the liturgical season of Christmas is just now ending, planning for the Lenten season should already be in full swing by now. Ash Wednesday is just over seven weeks away (March 1, 2017). Having said that, however, it is not too late if you are […]

Epiphany: God Does All the Work

January 6, 2017 Joe Paprocki 0

This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany—that day when Jesus Christ was revealed to the world as represented by the Magi. In the Eastern Tradition, the epiphany or theophany (revelation) to the Magi is seen as one of four “manifestations” of Jesus to the world: the Nativity, the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus, and the Wedding Feast at Cana. In all four of these manifestations, Jesus’ identity and mission are revealed to a […]

Leading Others to Epiphany

December 29, 2016 Joe Paprocki 3

Soon we will celebrate the wonderful Feast of the Epiphany, when Jesus is revealed to all the nations as the Son of God. This feast contains so many messages and images that are apropos for catechists. Here are a few. The Magi do not travel alone. Although they are from different locations, the Magi come together to seek the king. We catechists recognize the wisdom in this. We do not travel alone. We are part of a […]

Five Christmas Activities for Your Class

December 28, 2016 Special Contributor 0

Although many of us take a break from classes during Christmastime, if you’re looking for some activities to celebrate Christmas and Epiphany, here are a few ideas. These are courtesy the Finding God Activity Finder. Hope for the World Young people will reflect on the human condition and how Jesus’ birth brought hope to the world. Shepherds with Candy-Cane Crooks Children will be able to identify the shepherds as the first people to welcome Jesus. […]

The Vocabulary of Christmas

December 27, 2016 Denise Gorss 2

In one of my first years of teaching, one of the parish priests visited my fourth-grade classroom in December. He asked how many of the children’s families had displayed a crèche as part of their holiday decorations. None of the children said yes, which disappointed the priest, who left to visit another class. As soon as he left, one of the children asked me, “What’s a crèche?” I asked if others had the same question […]

Christmas and Catholic Identity

December 22, 2016 Joe Paprocki 0

The celebration of Christmas is unabashedly Catholic. I describe Catholic identity as being characterized by five traits: a sense of sacramentality a commitment to community a deep respect for the dignity of human life, leading to a commitment to social justice a reverence for tradition a disposition to faith and hope and not despair These five characteristics are integral to the Christmas story, and Christmas can help us to strengthen our Catholic identity. I offer […]

The Reason for the Season: Teaching a Spirituality of Christmastide

December 15, 2016 Joyce Donahue 0

It can be difficult to see Christ in the way most families celebrate Christmas. Weeks of seeing Santa everywhere, festive decorations, and parties are followed by just a single day of feasting and opening presents. Christmas seems to end as soon as it started. Christmas trees and Christmas music disappear as people rush to post-holiday sales. Even though God became one of us and shared completely in our humanity, we often act as if that […]

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