Pop-Up Catechesis: All Souls and Overcoming the Fear of Death

In the Chicago area, where I live, there is a great deal of ethnic diversity. One of the most prominent ethnic groups in Chicago is the Mexican-Americans. I’ve always enjoyed experiencing and observing the many traditions of the Mexican-American community. One tradition that I have observed on numerous occasions is the family picnicking at the grave of a deceased loved one. I’m not just talking about visiting the grave; I’m talking about a full picnic […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Don’t Be Afraid of Halloween!

Some years ago, I was trying to make small talk with a little child who lived on my block and wandered over to say “Hi” to me as I was raking fall leaves. I asked him what he was going to be for Halloween, and he responded, “We don’t observe Halloween. It’s of the devil. We’re Christian.” He was clearly parroting something his parents had taught him. This was not the first time I had […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Celebrating the Feast of St. John Paul II

While many of us folks of a certain age think of Pope St. John Paul II as a contemporary, many of our young people probably would consider him as “ancient history.” After all, he passed away in 2005, which means that none of our pre-K through grade 8 children have a living memory of him. Likewise, those college-age young adults who may have vague memories of him from their childhood probably only recall him as […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Teresa of Avila and the Doctors of the Church

When we think of doctors, we tend first to think of medical doctors working in hospitals and medical centers, caring for sick people. However, there are many other kinds of doctors. Someone who has earned a doctorate in his or her field is seen as one who has achieved the most advanced degree in an academic discipline. Such doctors are regarded as authorities in their fields. In the Catholic Church, there are several dozen—36 to be exact—saints […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: The Calming Effect of Praying the Rosary

Many contemplative practices involve the use of a mantra, or the repetitive uttering of a sacred word or group of words (or sometimes a sound) in order to deepen one’s focus, avoid distractions, and create a sense of calm that permits one to enter into an “altered state.” Too often, Catholics are suspicious of such practices, thinking of them as foreign to our tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth! One of the best examples […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: A Walk Through the Mass—The Concluding Blessing and Dismissal

I remember once while waiting for a flight at the airport, a small child was doing some simple gymnastics in the terminal and repeatedly saying, “Mommy, look! Mommy, look!” The child wanted nothing more than for her mom to look upon her with approval. That’s what a blessing is: to look upon (or be looked upon) with approval. We bless our children and all other people when we let our gaze fall upon them with […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: A Walk Through the Mass—Holy Communion

When we eat something, we can use the word “consume,” meaning that we not only take in certain foods, but that we totally absorb them. Indeed, much of what we eat is absorbed into the bloodstream, which is why we say, “You are what you eat.” Ultimately, what we consume, we end up being consumed by! If we consume junk food, too much junk becomes a part of us, and we are consumed by such […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: A Walk Through the Mass—The Lord’s Prayer

We live in a culture that prizes independence. One of the biggest national holidays that we celebrate in the United States is, of course, Independence Day. When it comes to raising our children, we strive to prepare them to be autonomous and independent so that they can lead healthy and productive lives. In the spiritual life, however, there is no such thing as independence. Rather, the key to a healthy and thriving spiritual life is […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: A Walk Through the Mass—The Eucharistic Prayer

These days, it is common to ask if an event will be in-person or virtual. While most people appreciate the convenience of virtual meetings, there is something to be said for in-person experiences. This is especially true the more intimate the relationship is. When children ask their parents to be present at one of their sporting events, a recital, or some other form of competition, they no doubt hope that presence will be real and […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: A Walk Through the Mass—Presentation of the Gifts and Preparation of the Altar

It is customary and considered polite, when asked to come to someone’s home for dinner, to ask, “What can I bring?” Even if our host tells us we don’t have to bring anything, we still usually bring a bottle of wine, a cheese tray, a dessert, flowers, or some other small token of our appreciation for the other person’s generosity. We do this as a way of showing our investment in the occasion. It’s a […]

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