HEROES OF THE STORY
SALESIANS PUBLISH VIDEO ON WORK IN SIERRA LEONE; GIRL
ROME - While journalists often get bogged down in the failures and weaknesses of the Catholic Church, there are times when compelling examples of service, mission and faith should get the attention they deserve.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
POPE'S NAME DAY
SAINT GEORGE THE LEGENDARY MARTYR
In Selena, Libya, there was a lake that was inhabited by a fierce and ravenous dragon. To appease this terrifying dragon, the townspeople would feed it sheep, yet after some time the sheep would not do as the dragon became hungry for human flesh. Through a lottery process, children would be chosen as a sacrifice to this dragon until one day the king’s own daughter was selected. George, by providence, rode past the gruesome scene of the trembling princess waiting to be devoured. As the princess unsuccessfully beseeched George to leave her be, the dragon appeared in all of its demonic grandeur. George then made the Sign of the Cross and leaped upon the winged-worm, crying to the princess to give him her sash. George tied the sash around the dragon and it obeyed him with a pet-like submission. Leading the dragon back to the town, George behooved its citizens to convert to Catholicism and he would slay the dragon. Fifteen thousand men converted that day and George fulfilled his promise by way of his famous sword, Ascalon, slitting the fowl throat of the terror.
(Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash)
GETTING SAINT PETER'S SERMON RIGHT
Our first reading for today proposes a very serious challenge to the inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism that is taken for granted in our culture today. The chief of the Apostles says, “He is the stone rejected by you the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Stay with how uncomfortable this is—because in a way, that’s the point.
(Photo by malcolm lightbody on Unsplash)
HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH? THE UNCONSCIOUS COMMERCE OF THE HEART
Freedom has a price, but does love? How much does love cost? Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Joseph, in the book of Genesis, was sold into slavery by his brothers. And Orpheus had to make a bargain with death in order to save his beloved Eurydice.
(Photo by Mathieu Turle on Unsplash)
SEVEN TIPS FOR KEEPING THE "HOLY" IN FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
My second grader is preparing to make his First Holy Communion next month. It is such an honor to be able to help your child get ready to receive Jesus for the first time. I know that Tobias is very excited about the Sacrament, but several times over these last few weeks I have caught him daydreaming aloud about buying a pair of LeBron’s or an Xbox with the money from his First Communion party. Last year, he sat and watched as his older brother opened card after card filled with generous gifts and now he knows his turn is coming.
CULT OF PEDAGOGY
12 WAYS TO UPGRADE YOUR CLASSROOM DESIGN
A couple of years ago, I saw a picture on Facebook that stopped me in my tracks: It was the classroom of Michigan high school English teacher Rebecca Malmquist. It looked like a living room. Like a place you’d go to curl up and read a book, take a nap, or have a really good conversation. And yet it was a classroom.
LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK?
FROM CATHOLIC LINK: It can be difficult to find a book that encourages you, motivates you, and inspires you in your Catholic faith. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Catholic books that were published in 2017. There’s truly something for everyone on this list.
(Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash)
A LINK-A-DAY (OR MORE) FOR LENT
This is a clickable calendar to help with (at least) a link to a resource, prayer, exercise or more, for each day of Lent 2018. You can also subscribe to the calendar so that you do not miss a day.
PEW RESEARCH TRUST
MORE IMPRISONMENT DOES NOT REDUCE STATE DRUG PROBLEMS
As the U.S. confronts a growing epidemic of opioid misuse, policymakers and public health officials need a clear understanding of whether, how, and to what degree imprisonment for drug offenses affects the nature and extent of the nation’s drug problems. To explore this question, The Pew Charitable Trusts examined publicly available 2014 data from federal and state law enforcement, corrections, and health agencies. The analysis found no statistically significant relationship between state drug imprisonment rates and three indicators of state drug problems: self-reported drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug arrests.
BISHOPS LAUNCH NEW MARRIAGE WEBSITE
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is pleased to announce the launch of a new mobile responsive ForYourMarriage.org website on February 7, 2018. Originally launched in 2007, ForYourMarriage.org is an initiative of the USCCB that began as the communications component of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. It continues to play a key role in advancing the USCCB's priority on marriage and family.
CATHOLIC EDUCATION RESOURCES
HELPING TEACHERS FIND MATERIALS
Whether you teach in a Catholic school, work in a parish, or are simply interested in finding material on Catholic topics, this page provides a collection of resources that are put together in a way they can be used "right out of the box." And they are free to use. While the DePorres Pages would appreciate credit for the resources, even that is not necessary.
HOLY CROSS COLLEGE
CATHOLIC COLLEGE DROPS KNIGHT MASCOT, CITES CONNECTION TO RELIGIOUS WARS
A month after announcing it would continue to use the Crusader moniker, the College of the Holy Cross in in Worcester, Massachusetts, now says it will no longer use the image of a knight to represent the school.
(Picture courtesy Taliskerbay - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18507812)
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE IN SCHOOLS
A student threw a chair at a teacher. That’s the story I heard. It was a story meant to illustrate how bad a particular group of kids was, and now I can’t even remember who the teacher was or where the school was located, or even the gender of the teacher or the student. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard two or three different stories about students throwing things at teachers, each one told with the intent of showing just how bad those kids were.
A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO EUCHARISTIC ADORATION
My first experience with Eucharistic Adoration occurred in sixth grade at my Catholic elementary school when my homeroom teacher took my entire class to the church to pray in silence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. If you’re thinking it was difficult for 35 12-year-olds to sit still and pray in silence for an hour, then you’d be right. We squirmed and fidgeted and poked our neighbors to avoid giving our undivided attention to the Lord. Our behavior earned a mild scolding from our soft-spoken teacher, who reminded us of Jesus’ own words in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”
Every day you can listen to homilies from the daily readings. Homilies are recorded each day. The readings are for daily Mass, Sundays and Holy Days. With links to the text of the day's readings, it is easy to keep in spiritual touch.
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Below are the latest homilies, commentaries, and posts.
Today we are reminded of the importance of following Jesus. As we encounter the example of the Magi who followed the star, without knowing exactly where it led, we are reminded that our lives of faith are about following someone. The challenge is that we can choose to follow stars that do not lead to Jesus. We can be tempted by the allure of the popularity of social media, or the tug of consumerism, or the need to be constantly distracted so that we do not ever confront ourselves about areas where we need to convert.
Water and Blood. Baptism and Eucharist. Words in the bible often refer to something other than the obvious. Today is such an example. Water is part of both readings. Whenever we see or read about water, the first thought should be baptism. This is true whether we read about New Testament letters, like today, or stories from the Old Testament. The flood in the book of Genesis points to baptism. The faithful, those who trust in God, are saved.
Love. This word is at the center of the gospel. Without love, little in the gospel makes sense. However, today it is difficult to understand exactly what love is. It has been weakened so much. Love, in popular language, can apply to just about anything. In fact, the way it is used, love can be applied to people or things. But someone once said, we love people, and use things, not the other way around.
I have to confess that I am not a big fan of shrines for saints. The reason is that when I am at a shrine, it always seems like the saint is someone so "plastic" they could not possibly have been a real person. The shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is not like that. Rather, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is presented as an ordinary person, who quest for God was a response to extraordinary grace.
Do you know you are made in God's image? Most of us would answer yes. But do we really believe it? How often do we excuse doing something wrong by saying, "I'm only human?" When we know we are in God's image, we know we are at our best when we are human. It is when we sin that we are less than human.
There are some people who really, really hate religion. It is not just that they disagree with this or that thing, but the very existence of religion makes their blood boil. And it is not just that they do not want any religion mentioned, they do not want anyone else to mention it either. It is about destroying any public reference to religion. Religion is simply something that is meant to be private. Period.
This might not be the time of year you feel like slowing down. It may not be the time of year you can slow down. But today's gospel is an invitation to contemplation. As we consider the role and person of Mary, Mother of God, we are given the model of someone with a contemplative heart. And this contemplative heart allows Mary to overcome some very difficult things.
There is such a contrast to the first reading and the gospel. Ahaz seems to be taking the high road by not wanting to tempt God, but he is not. He does not want a sign from God, because he wants to do something different. Mary does not seek a sign from God, but when God asks, she says yes. Ahaz does not cultivate a relationship with God. Mary orders her entire life around her faith in God. Do you want a sign from God, or not?
Finding the presence of God in your life is important. What helps is to think of past, present, and future. Today's readings provide some help in that regard. As we look back to the Old Testament, we can see how the plan of salvation was revealed by God. Today, we can seek to find how God is active today. And it is also the case that we can find the promises from God of how God is active tomorrow. This is really the season of Advent in a nutshell.
With all of the revelations of sexual misconduct and harassment, today's gospel presents us with the courageous man. The real man. Saint Joseph, who confronted with unbelievable news that Mary was pregnant -- and knowing he was not the father. And despite this, not wanting to shame Mary. Not wanting to take out any sort of revenge on Mary. Because he was righteous, Joseph had a heart open to the presence of God. He was ready, so when God did speak to him in a dream, he knew who God was.
Do you really know who you are? Or do you try to pretend you are someone other than you are? Do you try to convince others, and worse yet, yourself, that you are someone you are not? Probably all of us fall prey to this at some time in our life. Maybe too many times. Worse yet is when we try to convince God we are someone other than the person God has created us to be. At these times, we are really lost.
Our eyesight is really important. Imagine how life would be changed if we could not see. As important as our physical sight is, however, how much more important is our spiritual sight. How much more do we need to open the eyes of our soul to see just how active God is in our lives. The beauty of the bible is that the presence and purpose of God is made clear to us. The Lord's plan is like that of a master builder making a masterpiece.
There are times when I cannot believe I do not trust in God more. I cannot point to a single instance where God was not there for me. When I hear today's readings, it makes me wonder what might happen if I fully trusted God. Think about it. What would happen if all your trust was placed in God. Imagine how much the world could change if we actually saw Christ fully and totally in every person we met.
The words in the readings today are not pretty. O worm Jacob. O maggot Israel. We are reminded in very stark terms that sin is pretty ugly. There can be a tendency today to minimize sin. We can think that we are really not all that bad. We can dismiss how even a little sin in our life can lead to more. But today's readings are not about the ugliness of sin alone. They are also about the beauty of God's forgiveness.