SharingCatholicFaith.com - Dr. Joseph White, Author and Speaker
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Experiencing Lent at Every Age
Happy Feast Day of St. Therese!
The Art of Accompaniment in Faith Formation
Helping Children Understand the Mystery and Meaning of Jesus' Death and Resurrection
Experiencing Lent at Every Age: A Developmental Guide to Lenten Practices

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Sharing Catholic Faith

General Catechetical

Child Development and Catechesis

I recently did a one-hour interview on "On Call with Wendy Wiese" on the topic of Child Development and Catechesis. For a limited time, you can listen to the archived interview here:

interview

I recently gave an interview for Lisa Mladinich's "Be an Amazing Catechist" blog on Patheos. Clieck here to read it.

The Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, so I thought a little explanation might be in order...
 
Mary, Mother of Jesus is honored above all other saints.This is consistent with her foretelling that all generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48). The reasons Mary is so honored are numerous. First and foremost, as Mother of Christ, she is Mother of God, for Jesus is fully God and fully human -- true God and true man.  As the Mother of Christ, Mary is also our Mother, for we are all part of Christ’s Body, the Church.
 
Catholic Tradition provides us with four Marian Dogmas, or essential beliefs about Mary. In addition to our belief in Mary as Mother of God, we believe in her perpetual virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her bodily Assumption into Heaven after her death.
 
Catholics believe that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ (CCC, 499). Mary’s physical intactness was a sign of her faith, fully intact because of God’s grace. Protestants sometimes attempt to use Scripture to argue against the idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity, claiming that Scripture says Mary had other sons (Matthew 13:55). In actuality, the term used for “brothers” in this verse is an Old Testament expression for close relations. Scripture never classes these “brothers of Jesus” as sons of Mary. In addition, when he was on the Cross, Jesus would not have needed to entrust Mary to John’s care if he had other siblings who could care for her (John 19:25-27).
 
The Immaculate Conception is a term that many misunderstand. Some Catholics mistakenly believe this term refers to the conception of Jesus, but it actually refers to the belief that Mary was conceived free from OriginalSin. Christians have a long history of belief in the sinlessness of Mary. In fact, before the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, no one questioned the idea that Mary was sinless. Here’s why: the early Christians understood Mary as the “new Eve.” While the first woman and man brought sin into the world, aspecial woman (Mary) and the God-man (Jesus) brought salvation. This is predicted in the book of Genesis, when Godsays, “I will put enmity between you and the Woman.” The “Woman” referred to in Genesis is not Eve, but Mary. Secondly, Mary is known as the “Ark of the New Covenant.”
 
In the Old Testament, the “Ark of the Covenant” was a specially designed box made of wood and lined with gold. It carried the Ten Commandments tablets Moses had received from God and also carried the presence of God. For this reason, it had to be made perfectly, with no flaws. In Revelation chapter 12, a “woman” is described, clothed with the sun and with acrown of twelve stars. She is about to give birth to one who will rule all nations. Satan is described as a dragon waiting to hurt the child after he is born. Now, it’s pretty easy to figure out that the child is Jesus, so that makes the “woman” Mary. (Because Scripture describes Mary as having a crown and being in Heaven already, this is one place we get our Catholic understanding of Mary as Queen of Heaven and the idea that she was Assumed, body and soul, into Heaven.) Mary is described in Revelation 12 right after a description of the Ark of the Covenant. It’s obvious that the Holy Spirit wants us to make a connection here. The Ark carried the presence of God under the Old Covenant,and Mary carried the presence of God (Jesus) under the New Covenant. She is the Ark of the New Covenant. But to carry the presence of God, she must be without any flaws.
 
Finally, in Luke, Chapter One, the angel Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace.” (This is where we get the beginning of the “Hail Mary”prayer.) Grace is the share of God’s own life that grants us the ability to dowhat God asks us to do. We have received grace through our Baptism and continue to receive grace through the Sacraments, such as Eucharist and Reconciliation.But none of us is “full of grace.” In Romans 7, when Paul complains about a problem that keeps coming up for him (we don’t hear exactly what the problem is), God answers, “my grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, Paul has enough grace to be a good Christian, but even he does not have the fullness ofgrace. To have “fullness of grace” would mean always doing what God wants. That would be essential for the Mother of the Son of God.
 
Mary didn’t earn the grace granted to her by God. He made her sinless for a special purpose. She was human just like we are. In fact,Jesus was her Savior just like he is ours, and he was the Savior of those who came before him (like Moses and Abraham). God gave Mary the special grace that would come through Jesus in advance. He filled her with that grace so she could be a perfect mother for him. Mary’s role as mother gives her a special place in the lives of all Christians. We can always depend on her motherly care, andknow that she remembers us to her Son, Jesus.
 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
 

Pope Benedict's words to Children Preparing for First Communion in Benin

Pope Benedict's words to Children Preparing for First Communion in Benin (and in Kid-Friendly Language, too!):

God our Father has gathered us around his Son and our brother, Jesus Christ, who is present in the host consecrated during the Mass. This is a great mystery before which we worship and we believe. Jesus, who loves us very much, is truly present in the tabernacles of all the churches around the world, in the tabernacles of the churches in your neighbourhoods and in your parishes. I ask you to visit him often to tell him of your love for him.

Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it. The day of my First Holy Communion was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the same for you, isn’t it? And why is that? It’s not only because of our nice clothes or the gifts we receive, nor even because of the parties! It is above all because, that day, we receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time! When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome him with love and listen closely to him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell him, for example: “Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.” Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure whom you should share generously. Throughout the history of the Church, the love of Jesus has filled countless Christians, and even young people like yourselves, with courage and strength. In this way, Saint Kizito, a Ugandan boy, was put to death because he wanted to live according to the baptism which he had just received. Kizito prayed. He realized that God is not only important, but that he is everything.

What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to him. I can also use the Gospels. That way, I keep within my heart a passage which has touched me and which will guide me throughout the day. To stay with Jesus like this for a little while lets him fill me with his love, light and life! This love, which I receive in prayer, calls me in turn to give it to my parents, to my friends, to everyone with whom I live, even with those who do not like me, and those whom I do not appreciate enough. Dear young people, Jesus loves you. Ask your parents to pray with you! Sometimes you may even have to push them a little. But do not hesitate to do so. God is that important!

May the Virgin Mary, his Mother, teach you to love more and more through prayer, forgiveness and charity. I entrust you to her, together with your families and teachers. Look! I have this rosary in my pocket. [Pulls it out and shows it.] The rosary is like a tool that we can use to pray. It is easy to pray the rosary. Maybe you know how already; if not, ask your parents to help you to learn how. At the end of this meeting, each one of you will receive a rosary. When you hold it in your hands, you can pray for the Pope, for the Church and for every important intention. And now, before I bless you all with great affection, let us pray together a Hail Mary for children throughout the world, especially for those who are sick, who are hungry and in places of war.

Fresno and St. Teresa

Thanks to the many of you who came to the talk yesterday and book signing afterwards in the Diocese of Fresno. We really had a packed house! I appreciated your enthusiasm and your willingness to volunteer for my demonstrations.
 
Yesterday was also the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church and author of one of my favorite prayers:
 
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
 
Here is another passage I love from St. Teresa:
 
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
 
That poem was found on a scrap of paper inside her prayer journal after she died. For this reason, it is sometimes called "St. Teresa's bookmark."
 
May we all grow to have the longing for God that St. Teresa had, and the trust in His presence and care. May God bless you this week and always.

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Welcome

Welcome to the SharingCatholicFaith.com blog. As we begin this new school and catechetical year together, let us ask for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit to guide us so we may share Christ's love with others:
 
Come Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit,
and they shall be created.
And you shall renew the face of the earth.
 
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
May God bless you as you begin your classes and school programs this year.
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