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October 06, 2010
Teaching the Witness
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

When things "go bump in the night," it's time to talk more about the heavenly spirits who love to surround our little ones. This month, we offer loads of creative ways to introduce the young and old to our faith heroes.

Share your own creative ideas of teaching about the saints on our Faith Formation Forum.
Saints Among Us
My mother kept a Church calendar on the kitchen cupboard door. Each morning, as I was eating my oatmeal, she would read the saint’s story for that day from the calendar. So I grew up learning details of the lives of the saints, and that knowledge has stayed with me: St. Anthony finds lost things. St. Lucy loves to ask God to cure eyes. St. Christopher gets us home safely, and St. Gregory the Great loves a good Church tune.

This knowledge grounds us in our tradition and story. We can know without a doubt where we have come from and who our heroes are. The added bonus is that we begin to appreciate the standards of holiness that each of us is called to uphold. After all, we are a real part of the communion of saints.

As witches and goblins come out for Halloween, catechists can bring out a few more graced characters from their trick-or-treat bags. This is the month to lead children, RCIA inquirers and even our own families to the fantastic tales of their patrons.

In the spirit of light, create a Jack-o'-lantern that portrays the smiling face of a saint and put a candle inside. As the heavenly pumpkin shines, ask that saint to be a light in your life. The Eve of All Hallows is meant to proclaim the Light, not the dark.
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I'm as Proud as Punch
This month, I am privileged to announce that I have a new book, Celebrating Saints and Seasons. It’s just in time for the parade of saints and all the fall and winter celebrations and rites that will fill our homes, our classrooms and even our personal prayer.

As I’ve traveled the country giving workshops, I’ve met so many of you who have shared your own projects and prayers. Celebrating Saints and Seasons is the place where I have gathered these ideas along with many of my own prayers and rites.

The saints take center stage as we use this almanac of the Church seasons to meet them in delightful and sometimes humorous ways.

I wish I could personally present each of you with Celebrating Saints and Seasons. Yet, in many ways, this book is a gift from my heart.
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Living With the Saints
“To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus…” is how St. Paul began his Letter to the Ephesians. He referred to the faithful as saints in many of his letters. As we turn to the canonized saints of our Church for their prayers and support, we must keep in mind that we too are called to be living saints.

In Elizabeth Johnson’s book Friends of God and Prophets, she offers two models for relating to the saints. Using the patronage model, we request favors from the saints. Though it's always God to whom we pray, we ask the saint to “intercede” for us. Following the companionship model, we approach the saints as our friends, those who have gone ahead of us and are now cheering us on.

We may follow both models in our own lives, preferring one or the other at certain times or with certain saints. Sometimes we may relate to the saints as companions, models and cheerleaders. At other times, we may turn to a saint for help in approaching God.

The audiobook of Jesuit Father James Martin’s award-winning book My Life With the Saints offers listeners insightful and entertaining glimpses into Father Jim’s growth in knowledge of and love for the saints. He ties certain saints to his life story and then offers additional information about each saint’s life. I’ve selected a clip (Windows Media) from the audiobook My Life With the Saints to share with you. It’s from the Introduction which is titled “The Saint of the Sock Drawer.” Want to venture a guess of who that saint is?

Use My Life With the Saints for your own reflection and share it with others in part or as a whole. It would make for great small-group discussion.
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39 New Saints You Should Know
Pope John Paul II canonized or beatified such a staggering number of people—well over 1,500—that many of them remain as obscure after receiving their new titles as they were before. If you've never heard of Bartolo Longo, the former satanic priest, you're not alone. And what about Enrico Rebuschini, who battled depression? Or the happily married Luigi and Maria Beltrame-Quattrocchi?

In lively detail, Brian O'Neel tells the stories of these saints and more, some who are our near-contemporaries and who coped with such horrors as Nazism (Jakob Gapp, Maria Restituta Kafka), slavery (Josephine Bakhita) or the Spanish Civil War (Vincente David Vilar).

39 New Saints You Should Know is filled with amazing stories of ordinary human beings who demonstrate that "holiness" is not another word for "boring," but is a defining characteristic of those who throw themselves wholeheartedly into the adventure of Christian living.
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