Mary, Virgin and Mother; help us to bear radiant witness to generous faith, justice, and love of the poor; that the joy of the gospel may reach the ends of the earth.

Scripture

I am the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word. Luke 1:38

Prayer
Just as Pope Francis looks to Mary as an example of gospel living, so may I, gracious God. May she help me to bear “radiant witness” to my faith, to my practice of justice, and to my love and service for the poor. I want to say to you as Mary did: Be it done to me as you want it done. May I reflect the joy of the gospel in every aspect of my life. Amen.

Practice
I will pray often today: “I am at your service, O God; be it done to me as you will.”

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How can God be good, but allow bad things to happen? Fr. Mike Schmitz tackles one of the toughest questions religious believers must answer.

 

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There are many similarities and differences between the Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz narrows the differences down to one thing that really sets Catholicism apart from other Christian Churches: authoritative teaching.

 

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What is meant by the final purification? Understanding the Catholic notion of purgatory requires knowing the difference between a temporal consequence and an eternal consequence; this difference has nothing to do with damnation and salvation. Some people reject the idea of purgatory because they misunderstand its purpose. In this video, Fr. Mike explains why purgatory is needed and straightens out some of those misunderstandings.

To learn more about purgatory, check out these articles on Ascension’s Great Adventure Blog:

Furnace of Divine Love: The Biblical Roots of Purgatory (http://bit.ly/2pQQv80)
A Fiery Faith for All Souls (http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/souls/)

MORE FROM ASCENSION:

Ascension Press main website: http://ascensionpress.com
Ascension Presents website: http://ascensionpresents.com
The Great Adventure Blog: http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/blog

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Did you know that in addition to the 10 commandments there are an additional 5 “Commandments of the Church”. But there used to be more, or less.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commandments_of_the_Church

Read about the history of the “Commandments of the Church” and write a short post emphasizing your understanding of the current commandments, make mention of any other details in the article you find relevant.

Bonus: see if you can find a source online that specifically lists the holy days of obligation in the Canadian Catholic Church. In Canada, only two holy days of obligation sometimes do not fall on a Sunday. What days are these?

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Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Conscience”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
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Saint Paul wrote that the difference between what we will know in heaven is as great as the difference between what we know now and what we knew when we were children:

When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete – as complete as God’s knowledge of me.

Meanwhile these three remain: faith hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

As a child gradually emerges into adulthood during the period of adolescence, more and more opportunities arise to form – and test – a personally validated self. Deep within our human consciousness, God has implanted a hunger for the truth, for goodness, for love – all of which are at holy war with the unevolved beast in us, the Id. Human dignity lies in conquering that beast and discovering God’s law, written right into the way God made things and people.

All creatures deserve proper treatment simply because of the way our Creator made them. According to Vatican Council II:

By conscience, in a wonderful way, the law is made known which is fulfilled in the love of God and one’s neighbour. Through loyalty to conscience, Christians are joined to other [persons] in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems which arise both in the life of individuals and from social relationships. Hence the more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards or moral conduct. The Church in the Modern World, 16.

What guides you in making important choices, such as the way you deal with your family, friends, and strangers? With animals, food, the environment? Do you treat each consistently or haphazardly: as the mood strikes you or by what you can gain or lose? Are you, honestly, more of an altruist or a utilitarian?

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I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

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I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Questions:

How can one God be three “persons” – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

How can Jesus be both God and human?

What is God’s kingdom like?

Think of one club, team or organization to which you presently belong. What is the purpose of this group? What is one requirement or belief of the group that helps all its members work toward a common goal?

Read Isaiah 49:15-16. What is the prophet attempting to tell us about God?

Read CCC #239. What does the Church say about God in this passage?

Read John 13:3-17. What does this passage tell us about Jesus and therefore about God?

When do you most feel the presence of Jesus in your life?

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“Make big things from small beginnings.”

First Read Titus.

Titus 1
Titus 2
Titus 3

 

The letter from Paul to Titus is very short and was written (around 66 AD) to a Church leader who did not become very famous. And yet a passage from this letter (Titus 2:11-14) is used every year at Christmas midnight Mass. Four little verses that are read at Mass begin with, “Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires” (The Lectionary, p. 106).

The Christmas story itself has other examples of God making big things from small beginnings. Mary is just a young girl – a teenager – and she becomes the mother of God. Bethlehem is a tiny town, not very well known for anything, and it becomes the birthplace of our Messiah.

God is very good at making surprising things happen from humble beginnings. So don’t ever doubt the importance of whatever you do for God. Even if you think it is small, God can make very big things come from it.

Second, take note of specific passages that Paul offers as advice to Titus.

Consider these themes:
1. What makes a worthy church leader? (Titus 1:5-9)
2. What tips are offered for living the Christian life? (Titus 2:1-8)
3. How can people, in general, be good in every way? (Titus 3:1-11)

Finally, write your own letter to a trusted friend. Modernize it. Make it real, convincing, believable for the 21st century.

Consider these themes:
1. What advice could be offered to a teenager looking at their personal future as an adult citizen (or a leader) in Canadian society?
2. What advice could be offered to a teenager struggling with peer pressure and social media or struggling with the temptation of drugs and alcohol?
3. What advice could you offer a teenager who struggles with relating to adults in authority: teachers, parents, police, politicians, TAs, … referees?

Format your letter using the same business letter guidelines you have mastered in ELA 9. Use your own address and the address of a friend in class, (or invent a realistic looking address).

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