Explore Faith Together

Journeying to Easter

Learn how to make simple Lenten pretzels and be reminded of the story of Pretzels.

Pretzel Making

So how’s Lent going? During Lent we take the time to consider how we live the Great Commandment, which calls us to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.  We make choices that increase our efforts to:

  • Give money to the less fortunate (called giving alms) or sharing our time, talents, and other gifts God has blessed us with,
  • Fast or eat less and share in the suffering of Jesus.  We might fast from TV, or Social Media or …
  • Pray – hang out with God more often.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Journeying to Easter.

 

prayer

There are a range of ideas for praying together as a family in the Praying Together section.

40 Days of Preparation

The simple but profound prayer: The Sign of the Cross.

The Sign of the Cross

40 DAYS of PREPARATION

It’s Lent.

  • A time of preparation for the wonderful celebrations of Easter
  • A time of considering our relationships with God and others.
  • A time of reconciliation.
  • A time to remember all that God has given us.

You can download a copy of the take-home sheet 40 days of Preparation 40 Days of preparation

The Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen (English)

Ki te ingoa o te Matua, o te Tamaiti o te Wairua Tapu. Amene.  (Maori)

I le suafa o le Tama, ma le Alo, ma le Agaga Pa’ia. Amene.  (Tongan)

I te igo o te Tamana, te Ataliki, ma te Agaaga Tapu. Amene. (Tokelauan)

I te ingoa o te Metua, o no te Taiti, o no te Vaerua Tapu. Amen (Cook Islands)

Sa ngalan ng Ama, ng Anak at ng Espiritu Santo, Amen. (Filipino)

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Alleluia, Alleluia,

Jesus was not resuscitated.  He died, was buried and rose again forever.  He will not die again.  This short video demonstrates the importance of witnesses in the story of the Resurrection.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated as one feast day.  It is sometimes referred to as the great Sunday.  This is a season of celebration and mission.  We sing Alleluia praising and giving thanks to God for the new life that comes to us in the Resurrection of Jesus.  Our response to the resurrection is to live our Baptism, to be people of mission.  Mission doesn’t necessarily mean going overseas.  We are missionary in our places of work, school and local neighbourhood when we live the Beatitudes.  One practical expression of Mission are the Acts of Mercy. They provide a framework for us to ask How am I a good neighbour? How do I live my Baptism? In this Year of Mercy making the Acts of Mercy a priority will enable us to live fully our baptism.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Alleluia alleluia

 

2Alleluia

Learn more about the great Season of Easter – Remember it lasts for fifty days.

Family Prayer

Family at Prayer

Prayer is very important to our life with Christ.  To our life with Christ praying is as important as breathing is to our physical life.  That is it is very, very important.  St Paul captures this truth when he suggests that we pray always. The rhythm of praying as individuals, as a family as a Church provides a habit so that we do it automatically.

Often we pray using words that others have written and that we know off by heart.  Prayers such as the Our Father, Glory Be, Hail Mary and that is great.  The Church encourages us to pray often and in many different ways. Our prayers have particular forms. Blessings, adoration, petition, repentance, praise…

  • Blessings – we call on God’s power and care for a person/people, place or thing.
  • Adoration – we worship God above all.  We are not asking for anything or saying thank-you, we are sitting in the presence of God and being with God.
  • Petition – we ask God for help, or for something in particular for ourselves
  • Intercession – we ask God for something for somebody else
  • Repentance – we express sorrow for our sins
  • Thanksgiving – we thank God for everything that God has done for us . Our special prayer of thanksgiving is the Eucharist. Eucharist is the Greek word of Thanksgiving.
  • Praise – we acknowledge the wonder of God.

We can pray alone or with others, silently or out loud.  We can sing our prayers, or dance our prayers.

Pray Always

With all the different ways to pray — petition, thanksgiving, devotions, the rosary, the Mass …. How do I know I’m even doing it right? In this video Bishop Don Hying shares his thoughts on the many forms of prayer available to us, and how we can learn to incorporate them in our daily lives.

Meditation and Contemplation

Catholics often use two technical terms when they talk about prayer meditation and contemplation.  It can be hard to know the difference.

Meditation is to think about God.  Using Scripture, religious images, guided imagination or prayer to help our imagination to enable us to encounter God.  To meet with God in an intimate way.

Contemplation means that we rest in silence within God’s presence.  This can be very challenging because it is very easy to become distracted.  It takes practice.  It helps to become mindful of your breathing in and out, breathe deeply.

Something to Do

As a family discover different ways of praying and try them out together.  Perhaps each family member can choose a type, form or particular prayer that the family will join them in.

There are many resources on prayer that will help you to Pray Together.  Check them out.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Family At Prayer

Who is my neighbour?

Welcome the Stranger

In December 2015 Pope Francis invited the Catholic community around the world to participate in a Holy Year of Mercy. During this year we are called to experience God’s mercy in different ways and this includes carrying out our own acts of mercy. By drawing closer to God in prayer and through undertaking acts of mercy, we hope to share God’s transforming love with all our brothers and sisters around the world. We are therefore called to respond to the many people who are fleeing their homes due to conflict, persecution and poverty.

These are the 7 corporal works of mercy; practical actions we can take to help others. They are:

  • comfort the sick
  • feed the hungry
  • shelter the homeless
  • bury the dead
  • give drink to the thirsty
  • visit the imprisoned
  • clothe the naked

Something to Do

What action do you think you as a family or parish community might take to help refugees and others through the corporal acts of mercy?  Explore some of the ideas presented on our diocesan website – Acting Mercifully

The Year of Mercy

We are coming towards the end of the Year of Mercy.  This short video provides the opportunity to remember why Pope Francis considered it important to call a Year of Mercy and what we can do to live it.

 What is the Year of Mercy?

The Year of Mercy is an invitation—an invitation to love, kindness, and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering us the opportunity to encounter the incredible mercy of God. Encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform our lives, our relationships, our work, and our ability to embrace and experience all of life.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Welcome the stranger

The Gift of Marriage

Called to Love and Care

Married couples may be blessed with children.  Children bring much joy and happiness to a family. Each child is an individual and special in their own way. Families share life. They share enjoyment, anxiety, frustration…

Families show their love and gratitude to each other in many different ways.  Families are very different now then they were in the past. Previously every family except a few had two parents.  Today that is not always the case.  For a variety of reasons including divorce and separation some children do not have the same kind of family experience.  Children may spend time with each  of their parents separately.  God loves all families, overwhelmingly.

In families it really important to tell members that they are loved.  The loudest way we can do this is by our actions, by what we say and what we do.  This might mean that we have to think about what we say so that even when its hard to do so.  Even when we feel hurt or that things are unfair we speak with kindness.

Families gather together and celebrate the love they have for one another. It might be through a special shared meal with favorite food.  The Church is another family we belong to.We celebrate the love God shares with us, through our families and our world when we gather together as Church.  Members of the Church love and care for one another and help each other lean and grow.  Church members have a special family bond. The Catholic faith.

The Wedding Covenant

God wishes to have a strong loving relationship with people. In the Old Testament this relationship is described as a wedding covenant.  This prepared the way for the new covenant in Jesus Christ.  In this covenant Jesus unites himself with all people.  Marriage is a sign of this covenant (sacred contract). In the covenant with Israel God promised to care and support the people who in return would be faithful.  In the Sacrament of Matrimony a couple promises to take care of each other and to be faithful. This video explores the Sacrament of Marriage from a theological perspective.

Something to Do

  • Talk as a family about weddings that you have been to. Perhaps there is a DVD of a family members wedding that you can share consider;
    • How was God’s love for the couple shown?
    • How did the couple commit to one another?
  • Plan a Family Affirmation – what are some ways you can affirm each member of the family. Perhaps during a meal everyone can go around the table sharing what they are grateful for about each member of the family.
  • Write a prayer for your family together.  Say it at each meal along with grace, or before you go to bed at night.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Called to love and care

Called to follow Christ

Ways of following Christ

The Church recognizes that God calls people to share in the priesthood of Christ in four particular ways.  The four vocations within the Catholic Church are; the single life, the married life, religious life and ordained priesthood. The lifestyle and demands of each particular vocation is very different but there are some similarities between them. Each vocation is a commitment to love in a certain way. The object of every vocation is God. It is not building a better society, renewing the Church, having a family, fulfilling yourself, helping people or confronting new challenges. All these things may be involved in a vocation but the primary objective is to love God.

Blessed Pope John Paul II said,

“Love makes us seek what is good; love makes us better persons. It is love that prompts men and women to marry and form a family, to have children. It is love that prompts others to embrace the consecrated life or become priests.”

Each vocation challenges us to live our faith more deeply and to follow Christ more closely. Each vocation, if it is lived generously and faithfully, will then involve times of lasting happiness and reward but also suffering and sacrifice. Finally, it is important not to compare the value of different vocations but to appreciate the value of each one and to discover which one is right for you. No vocation is better or worse than the others.  The Church needs people committed to each vocation because they support and compliment each other.

Vocation

The literal meaning of the word vocation is a “call.” It is more than an ordinary call. A vocation is a call from God, and anyone who has felt God’s call knows that the process is anything but simple. While most people think of a vocation as what they are called to do in life, it is important to understand that the first and most important call from God is a call to be – the universal call to holiness. It comes from our Baptism

A vocation is not the same as your job although they might be related. You don’t need to believe in God to choose job and you can change your job frequently if you want to according to what you do and how good you are at it.  A vocation however has a God dimension.  The conversation moves from “what do I want to do?” to “what does God want me to do?” Vocation is about a life choice.

In the below video James Martin sj  shares what the Church more about what it means to be called by God, to respond to our vocation.  He also explains how somebody might go about discerning their vocation.

Something to Do

Write a thank-you letter to your local priest. Thank him for all that he does for you as individuals and a family.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Priesthood

Loved and Forgiven

One of the traditions of Lent is the praying of the Stations of the Cross. They offer an opportunity to pause and remember the story of Jesus’ passion – his journey to the Cross.  Many parishes hold liturgies of the Stations during Lent.  Find out if there is one near you and attend as a Family.

As a Family you can watch and meditate on these Stations prepared with younger people in mind.

During Lent there are many opportunities to attend Reconciliation.  Local Churches hold Rite 2 Reconciliation – where we prepare together in prayer and reflection before making individual confession to a priest who will also give absolution.

Reconciliation is the wonderful sacrament where we sit in a special way with God and talk about our lives, particularly those things that are not going well, the areas where we do not love as we should. The response is amazing God touches us, loves us, forgives us.

Sometimes its hard to go to Reconciliation when its a long time since the last one.  Don’t worry.  You are welcome.  Make it a family habit to go especially in this Year of Mercy.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Loved and forgiven

 

There are lots of resources about Reconciliation available in the Sacramental Programme section of the website.

Becoming Peacemakers

We are called to be peacemakers.  To take responsibility for promoting positive relationships and friendliness amongst people.  This short video presents the key ideas of being a family peacemaker.

A popular religious song some time ago used the refrain and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. This is very true. People often judge people they know as Christians by their behaviour, how they treat one another. And that’s not surprising because we are in fact by our Baptism called to “love one another as I have loved you”.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Sometimes loving people is hard because they hurt us or because we don’t understand them or because…but that’s what we have to do.  This means we have to have empathy.  Studies show that people who show empathy have a good sense of their own value.  One of the tasks of the month might be to build empathy first by affirming each other and reminding each other that we are loved and second consider others and how they might be feeling.  Parenting Science has a series of great pointers regarding building empathy for you to explore.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Becoming peacemakers

 

Learn more about the great Season of Easter – Remember it lasts for fifty days.

Proclaim the Good News

The Our Father – also called The Lord’s Prayer , is a summary of the Good News.  A short reminder of the Gospel.

The Our Father gathers up the essence of the Gospel…
This prayer given by Jesus to his disciples, makes clear the childlike trust
and the deepest desires with which one can turn to God.
General Directory for Catechesis 115

This  video lets us “hear” the Scripture where Jesus answers the request “Jesus teach us to pray”.

Do you know the Our Father in a language other than English? As a family you might choose to learn the Our Father in one of your heritage languages.  Here are a few but you can find others on the web. 

Te Reo Maori

E to Matou matua i te rangi
kia whakatpuna tou ingoa;
kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga,
kia whakaritea tou hiahia
i te whenua, kia pera ano i to te rangi.

Homai ki a matou aianer
he taro ma matou mo tenei ra,
whakakahoretia o matou hara,
me matou e whakakore nei i nga hara
o te hunga e hara ana ki a matou;
kau matour e tukua kia whakawaia,
engari whakarangia matou i te kino

Tagalog

Ama namin, sumasalangit Ka
Sambahin ang ngalan Mo
Mapasaamin ang kaharian Mo
Sundin ang loob Mo
Dito sa lupa, para nang sa langit.
Bigyan Mo kami ngayon ng aming kakanin sa araw araw.
At patawarin Mo kami sa aming mga sala,
Para nang pagpapatawad namin
Sa mga nagkakasala sa amin.
At huwag Mo kaming ipahintulot sa tukso,
At iadya Mo kami sa lahat ng masama.
Sapagkat Iyo ang kaharian, at kapangyarihan,
At ang kadakilaan, magpakailanman.
Amen.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Proclaim the Good News.

Explore more about praying as a family in the Pray Together section of the website.

Hail Mary Full of Grace

Hail Mary Full of Grace

The words of the first part of the Hail Mary come from the Gospel of Luke. It is the words of the angel Gabriel and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” are the words of the angel when he greets Mary at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28). During the visitation, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth welcomes her with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42). The joining of the two salutations as a salutation to Mary the Mother of God appears to have become practice in the mid-eleventh century.  It is thought however to have been used in the Eastern Rite Churches since the sixth century.

We don’t pray to Mary but ask her to pray for us.  We do this is the second part of the “Hail Mary”  “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”  The added petition became part of the formal Church prayer in 1568.

Do you know the Hail Mary in a language other than English? As a family you might choose to learn the Hail Mary in one of your heritage languages.  Here it is in Te Reo but you can find others on the web.

Te Reo Maori

Awe Maria e ki ana koe,
e te keretia,
kia koe e te Ariki,
kia whakapainga koe.
I roto i nga wahine ae whakapainga hoki.
A Hehu te hua o tou kopu.

Hata Maria te Matua wahine o te Atua
inoi koe mo matou mo te hunga
e hara ana aianei a te hoara o toku matenga rawa.
Amene.

This video from Busted Halo reminds us about the role of Mary in the Church and talks about how Islam also respects and honours Mary.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here This thing called grace

Explore more about praying as a family in the Pray Together section of the website.

Outward Sign of An Inward Grace

Outward Sign of An Inward Grace

Many older Catholics grew up knowing off heart that a Sacrament was “an outward sign of an inward grace.” However what does this actually mean?

“Outward sign” is easy. We understand signs! A cake and candles represented a birthday. Fireworks and champagne-  New Year.  We see lots of signs when we hang around Church —the pouring of the water, anointing with oil, drinking from the cup or sharing the bread. These are what experts call the “matter” of the Sacraments. These signs are the “what” of the ritual, the action. In the “matter,” we understood what is received or done in celebrating the Sacrament.

Grace we know is a  gift, a present from God. Grace is the gift of God’s life and presence that make us holy. We do not earn grace; we receive grace through the Sacraments.

This is not to say that we understand exactly how God gives us grace; like so many other aspects of faith, it is part of the great mystery of God’s love for us.  What we do know is that each of the sacraments is a special gift that we celebrate within the community.

 Gifts for Life and Mission

As this short video explains Sacraments are more than something we are given and then set aside.  They gift us with what we need to live the Christian life. To be disciples taking the Good News to the world.

 Gifts for Life and Mission

If you have family videos of one of the Sacraments – wedding, baptism, first Eucharist etc why not watch it together as a family.  Look for all the signs of God’s love in the ceremony.  Talk together about what they mean.  If you are unsure – look them up on the web.

sacramentsThere are three Sacraments of Initiation (belonging) – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

Two Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.

Two Sacraments of Service – Marriage and Holy Orders (Ordination)

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Sacred signs

Explore more about the Sacraments in  7 Gifts of Love section of the website.

Belonging to Christ

Belonging to Christ

Baptism is the first of the Sacraments of initiation.  Through this sacrament we become part of the Church, the People of God. Baptism is the door to all the sacraments.  Confirmation and Eucharist are the other two sacraments of initiation.  In these two sacraments we are strengthened to participate in the Mission of Christ and welcomed to the table to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

In the Eastern churches baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist are celebrated at one time, usually when the child is an infant.  In the Roman Catholic church, each of these sacraments is celebrated separately, except in the case of Adults who come to Baptism through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

As Catholics we believe that baptism marks us forever as Catholics and gives us sanctifying grace, that is God’s life within us. Baptism is a celebration and enactment of God’s love, which has been ours since the moment of conception.  However Baptism is more than just a moment of celebration it is the start of the child growing as a son or daughter of God that is growing in faith.  The child’s family including their godparents and the Church community commit themselves to walk with the child in their journey of faith.

Something to Do

Perhaps as a family you could set aside a specific time this week to have chat together about the importance of faith in the life of your family.  Perhaps you could brainstorm ideas of things you could do together to grow your faith.

 

 The Door of the Church

The Sacrament of Baptism is full of ritual acts and symbols that remind us of God’s love for us and our welcome into the Church community.  Why, exactly, do Catholics have the practice of baptizing infants? What is the purpose of baptism and who can celebrate the sacrament of Baptism? Do the godparents of our child need to be married to each other? These are questions and more are answered in this video from BustedHalo.

Once baptised, the person becomes a member of the Church.  For many of us this happens as infants. Therefore parents, godparents and the faith community need to follow through on the promises they made on the day of baptism to support, encourage and the person in their faith.

Pray this or a similar prayer at a family meal or at another family prayer time this week.

  • Place a clear bowl containing water on a table.
  • Have each member of the family extend their hands over the water and pray together:

Lord,
we are reborn through water
and the Holy Spirit.
May this water remind us
of our Baptism. Amen.

Following the prayer over the water, take turns using the water to sign each family member with a sign of the cross, praying,

(Name), remember your Baptism, when
you were received new life in Christ

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Belonging to Christ

Explore more about Baptism through the website.

Spirit-filled People

Strengthened for Mission

When we are baptized, we accept God’s invitation to faith and discipleship in Jesus Christ. We die and rise in the waters of Baptism. We are freed from sin, original and personal, and receive the promise of eternal life. In Confirmation the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we first received at Baptism, are sealed or strengthened in us so that we may live as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, be followers of Jesus, his Son, and work with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

At baptism we become people of faith.  Faith is both God’s invitation to believe and trust in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and our response to that divine invitation. The story of a Christian’s life gives witness to that divine invitation and our response to it.  At Confirmation we are strengthened so that we might witness well.

Something to Do

As a family discuss a situation in the world that you learn about from the media that goes against what Jesus taught. Describe how using one or several of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit might help people work together to change that situation to be more in harmony with what Jesus taught.

 Flame of Faith

It might be some time since anyone in the family was confirmed or just a little while ago.  No matter how long this video will help you remember why Confirmation is important.  By following the celebration of Confirmation the commentator is able to describe why things are done in a particular way and the theology of the Sacrament.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are freely given to us by God so that we might have the tool kit to be missionary.  To go out and spread the Good News.  Find a fun way as a family to memorise the gifts which are:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, courage, reverence, and wonder.

 

Pray this or a similar prayer at a family meal or at another family prayer time this week.

LEADER: Holy Spirit, gift of the Father
and the Son,
ALL: be with us.
LEADER: Holy Spirit, our advocate,
ALL: be with us.
LEADER: Holy Spirit, our teacher,
ALL: be with us.
LEADER: Come, Holy Spirit,
set our hearts on fire with
the power of  your love.
ALL: Amen.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Spirit filled people

Explore more about Confirmation through the website.

Bread for the Journey

Bread for the Journey

Sunday is the Lord’s Day,  the day on which we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.  We gather for Mass, to give thanks and praise, seek Mercy, to be part of the Body of Christ in a special way . People all over the world gather at God’s Eucharistic table as brothers and sisters. In Holy Communion, Jesus comes to nourish us and to give us strength to follow him, to be disciples.  It is not always easy to be loving and kind.  At times we may be tired or upset – our relationship with Jesus and desire to be like him helps us to forgive others, be tolerant and to love.  Jesus invites us to receive him often in communion because he loves us.

 

Something to Do

Make a particular effort to go to Mass on Sunday as a family.  Before you go brainstorm all the ways that you might prepare for Mass practically and in attitude.  After Mass continue the celebration of thanksgiving by doing something special as a family, Sunday lunch perhaps.  Consider inviting others to join you in particular those who may not have family nearby.

Why Catholics Go to Mass on Sunday

There are so many things happening in family life.  Sport, study, work it all builds up and sometimes we might be tempted to ask “Well does it matter about going to Mass on Sunday ? I pray, I thank God, I am a good person helping my neighbour.  Does it matter?”  The short answer is Yes. Sunday Mass is a time to give thanks to God for all that has happened in our lives and it is a time to call out to God, asking for help in all the things that are about to happen in our lives.  Msg Tony Randazzo explains Why Catholics Go to Mass on Sunday.

 Living the Mass

Going to Mass on Sunday is not the end of our discipleship.  In baptism we were welcomed into the family of Christ and are therefore called to live as his disciples. At Confirmation the Holy Spirit was gifted to us, to strengthen us to grow as disciples.  In the Eucharist, Jesus offers himself for us and nourishes God’s life in us.  United with Jesus, we are able to share God’s love with others.

Consider and discuss how as a family you are living discipleship lives.  These questions could start the conversation:

  • Do we take time each day to praise and thank God for all that God has done for us?  Both individually and as a family.
  • When we receive Holy Communion do we remember to thank Jesus and tell him how much we love him.
  • Do we give witness to Jesus as individuals and as a family by our good words and kind acts.
  • Do we ask Jesus for help when we are troubled or tempted?

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Bread for the journey

Explore more about Eucharist through the website.

The Domestic Church

Building the Domestic Church

Below are some suggestions on how to build your “domestic church” as suggested by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • Pray as a family and read from  the Scriptures daily, certainly before meals, but also first thing in the morning or before bed. Find a time that works for your family. Use formal prayer, and try to include heartfelt unstructured prayer as well.
  • Pray a Family Rosary (each member leads a decade, and everyone shares intentions).
  • Have a crucifix in a prominent place in the home.
  • Make the Sacraments a regular celebration – take the whole family to Confession and Mass!
  • Begin family traditions based on the seasons celebrated in the liturgical calendar.
  • Teach stewardship and charity to your children, through word and example.
  • Demonstrate love for all members of the family and  your neighbours and the world, including creation.
  • Encourage each other by reminding yourself that of the gifts each person has been given  to serve others.
  • Remind  children that they are loved by God even when they make mistakes
  • Talk freely about the presence of God in the joys and sorrows of your life.
  • Participate in the lay ministries and activities of your parish community.

The Domestic Church

In the Catholic tradition, the family holds a special place–especially in the formation of faith. Parents are recognised as the first formators in faith.

According to the Second Vatican Council

The family, is so to speak, the domestic church. Lumen Gentium #11

This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek God’s will for us.

This video invites reflection on being the church in the world and what that might look like within your family.

You might like to use the reflection questions at the end to share and discuss how together you might build your own Domestic Church.

 Something to Do

As a family talk about the suggestions made about being a domestic Church.  How can  you do new things? How can you do the things you do better or more regularly.

Search http://www.domestic-church.com.  to find other ideas on how to build your home as a Domestic Church. 

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here The domestic church

Explore more about being Domestic Church as a family through the website.

God's Healing Touch

God’s Healing Touch

The Sacrament of Anointing acknowledges and celebrates the whole human person, both physical and spiritual. The main emphasis of Anointing is to bring spiritual strength and healing to sick and dying people. The Sacrament of Anointing is a particular moment of God touching a person demonstrating that God’s concern does not leave us in times of suffering, illness, or even death. No matter what is happening to us physically or emotionally it need not be seen as hopeless and meaningless.

The key aspects of the Sacrament of Anointing are that:

  • God heals our spirit and gives us comfort through the love of the Christian community.
  • Jesus’ suffering and death was not the end, and neither are they for us. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope.
  • God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, and care for us when we are sick or suffering or dying people is the most important aspect of the celebration of the sacrament of Anointing.

Something to Do

The Church community is called to be the hands and heart of Christ to the world.  Many people who are elderly or sick are very lonely.  Rest Homes and hospitals care for people but there are some that do not have many families and friends physically close.  Perhaps as a family you could visit a local rest home to visit with people or you could find out from the parish those members that are in hospital, make and write cards to send to them.

Who? How? When? of Anointing

There is a lot of confusion about the Sacrament of Anointing.  Many older people are frightened to receive it because they think it is a sign that they are going to die. In this video from our friends at Busted Halo the misconceptions that exist are ‘busted’ and explained.  A clear clarification regarding this Sacrament of Healing is presented.

Praying for the Sick

We are concerned for those who are sick and suffering.  We cannot take away their pain but we can pray for them.  This prayer is an adaptation from the formal prayers of the Rite of the Anointing of the Sick.  Pray it together as a family.  You might pray it for a particular individual and so use their name, or pray in general for those who are in need of God’s healing touch.

God of  mercy, look with kindness on your servant [name] who is sick.
Send healing to their body and spirit.
Fill them (her/him) with the strength of your Holy Spirit.
Keep them (her/him) firm in faith and hope so that they (he/she) may be at peace.
We ask this through Christ who knows and understands human suffering.
Amen.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here God’s healing touch

Called to Serve

Called to Serve

God calls us to be holy, that is what God want us to work towards every day.  God calls us to be holy in a particular way of living. Listening to God closely so that we hear how God want us to live our lives our holiness is called discerning our vocation.  We are called to use the gifts that we have been given to walk in the footsteps of Christ, to become like him. Different people do this in different ways.  Some people do it through marriage or the single life. others through religious life, secular institutes or the ordained ministry.  These are vocations.  No vocation is better than the other all are centred on Jesus.

A calling is a way of life that a person feels drawn to.  If you are really good at helping people when they are sick and injured and might be called to be a nurse or doctor. If you are really good at planning and building you might be called to be a builder. God calls each of us through our Baptism to follow God is different ways of life.

God isn’t into texting and not everyone hears God actually talking to them. But when we pay attention, we can sense where God is calling us. If we pay attention to our gifts, to those who encourage us, to the things that happen to and around us, we can hear our calling. God made each of us and gave us talents. With these talents we can help to make the world a better place for everybody.  God calls every person to a special way of life that enables us to have the support to use the talents we have in the best way.  This particular way of living not only helps us to our own holiness but enables us to serve, and to make the world a better place.

Our families play a very important role. Our vocation is nurtured in our family – the domestic Church where we learn to love, listen, share and serve.

What’s My Vocation?

When they hear the word Vocation many Catholics think of nuns, brothers and priests. However everyone has a vocation a – call from God to be Holy. In this video Father Mike Schmitz gives some ideas about how we can come to know what God is calling us to do. He shares how a vocation is more than just figuring out whether we’re called to married life or religious life, and it’s about more than just finding out what we like to do. He explains how vocation is linked to our call to be Holy.

Preparing to hear

One of the tasks of growing in the Christian life is listening to God and working out how God is calling us to service. Nurturing our vocation. There are simple ways that we can do this:

  • being alert to the needs of others, particularly those isolated and at the margins
  • learn, celebrate and develop the talents God has given you.
  • practising the habits of truthfulness, honesty and listening to advice
  • acting responsibly, doing what you need to do without being asked or nagged.
  • praying regularly and celebrating the Sacraments.

You can use this pray or make up one of your own asking God to help you listen to what you are called to:

Lord Jesus, help me to know myself.
Help me to know how to use my gifts and talents now and in the future.
Loving Jesus, show me where I can best use my gifts and talents.
Show me how to respond to you with love.
Jesus my friend, give me courage to follow you where you call me.
Keep me in your love and care always.
Amen

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Called to serve

Moving Home

Moving Home

The Gospels tell us that as a child Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph moved to a new land. There reason was fear for thier child. Many people are  forced to leave their home to escape death and violence; others choose to leave their country in search of better opportunities for themselves and for their family. Some fact about our world on the move.

  • In Auckland 1 in 4 people were born overseas.
  • The number of international migrants – persons living in a country other than where they were born – reached 244 million in 2015 for the world as a whole
    • This was a 41 per cent increase compared to 2000.
  • In 2014 almost 60 million people had been displaced by war worldwide.

Migrants and refugees challenge us to consider how we respond to our changing world in the light of the Gospel of Mercy.

Something to Do

The facts about come from two resources that you can explore together as a family

  • United Nations particularly there statistics analysis
  • Caritas who we thank for the information we have used in this theme

From Stranger to Family

This video from Caritas looks at the diverse experiences that new students from other countries have in coming to New Zealand and the way that these students find their feet, and a sense of belonging, over time in their new home and school.

Moving

Even when we move within our own country it can be hard.  We have to leave our friends and the things that are familiar to us.  Consider what you would miss most if you had to shift.  Every New Zealander has a migration story.  Maori tell of their arrival by canoe which they name when they are giving a pepeha which is the way  Maori introduces themselves.  Many other families can tell about how the first members arrived by boat, or plane over the years.  These stories are good to share. Find out about your neighbours.What is there migrant story?

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Moving homee

It's Advent Again

Welcome to the New Year

The liturgical year begins with Advent.  It is a time of the Church’s life that we celebrate the coming of Jesus.  That is why the colour of Advent is violet.  It reminds us of the sky just before dawn.  After a long night we look towards the rising sun.  We do this because we confidently know that the sun will rise.  We know this because it happens every day.

In advent we celebrate that we know that Jesus the Son of God our Saviour will soon come.   We are confident because we have faith.  We are sure of his coming.

The Church teaches us how to wait in eager faith-filled anticipation for Advent.  We are urged to reflect on what Jesus coming to be human means as we make the practical preparation to welcome the Saiour. We prpare for Christmas by recalling the events of God becoming man.  We live with the mystery and blessings of God with us now. We also look to the end of time when the Lord will come again.

During the start of Advent the Sunday readings talk about the last day – the Day of the Lord.  They remind us to our present life as Christians and the promised of what is to come.  Throughout the four Sundays of Advent the Old Testament prophets, who longed for God with us also tell their stories.

As we pray for the Saviour’s arrival among us, we prepare our homes and hearts for the gift of his presence.

Wait in Joyful Hope

Bishop Robert Barron explains why Advent is …Advent.  How we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Jesus – Emmanuel God with us.

The Three Comings of Christ

Advent is a time of joyful preparation.  Our hearts and minds are captured with fasination as we prepare for Christmas.  A danger exists that with all the concentration during Advent on the preparation for Jesus coming at Christmas that we only focus on Christ’s birth and his coming to us in the past.  We constantly need to prepare our heats to welcome Christ who comes to us each and every moment of each and every day.  We need to prepare ourselves at all times to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes again in glory at the end of time.

 

Because Advent is a time of anticipation it is a time that suits periods of stillness and silence.  We the frantic preparation for the big day and the bustle of the season extra effort is needed to find times of quiet.  Whatever is happening we need to wait patiently and quietly in prayer with an awareness of the coming of Jesus right here, right now.

Something to Do

As a family consider how you might prepare well not just for the dinner and presents of Christmas but for the coming of Jesus.  Brainstorm ways that you might show how you are following the call of John the Baptist to “Prepare the Way of the Lord”. Take some time to think quietly about something you might need to change or do more of so that you can better live as children of God.

There are many resources on advent that will help you to Learn Together.  Check them out.

You can download the Family Faith Exploring Together take-home sheet here Jesus is coming