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April 15, 2009
 
Signs of the Season
 
 
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.”

Spring is a celebration of new life. As catechists we must proclaim the hope that is proclaimed through the season of Easter. This issue of Faith Formation Update brings wonderful examples of how these signs of the season teach the mystery of dying and rising.
—Jeanne Hunt
 
     
 
 
A Spring Walk
 
 
One of the most basic dogmas of Catholicism cannot be put into words; rather, it is witnessed and believed. The drama of Holy Week invites us to find support in our catechetical setting for the paschal mystery. Looking all around us, we watch new life as spring unfolds. It is in this setting that we can connect what we believe about the Resurrection with the patterns of the earth. Especially as we teach faith to small children, the amazing sequence of life returning to the winter landscape points the way to understanding God’s call to die and be born again. This is the time to take your class outside and watch new life: baby birds chirping in the nest, daffodils cascading down a hillside, pale green leaves emerging in the bush. All these things announce that life returns and hope reigns. While the Resurrection is difficult to explain to a young child, a walk around the parish grounds can teach more than any lesson plan. Let’s go for a spring walk.
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
‘Extra, Extra! Read All About It’
 
 
This month’s issue of St Anthony Messenger is a real keeper. The focus of this special issue is sacraments. As we think about signs and symbols of the Church, the natural expressions are the sacraments. This issue is required reading for every catechist. Father Tom Richstatter, O.F.M., gives a profound explanation of the initiation rites of the Church that serves as a primer for anyone who will observe the drama of the Easter Vigil or wishes to understand the connection between baptism, Eucharist and confirmation. John Feister writes about the inspiring faith of actor Clarence Gilyard and what the Eucharist brings to his life. This witness is a great springboard for a junior-high or high-school discussion on the Eucharist. The rest of the issue visits the remaining sacraments with top-notch catechesis and insight. This special issue should be a mainstay in our catechist-resource library and a perfect addition to every parish RCIA program.
 
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
Video Resource on Living the Paschal Mystery
 
 
The paschal mystery—the suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus—is central to our life in the Church and to our individual lives as Christians. We are reminded of this every time we celebrate the Eucharist, but especially during the Lent/Easter season of our Church year. 
Light follows darkness. Life follows death. Good conquers evil. These are lessons of the paschal mystery of Christ. We see evidence of this pattern throughout our lives—spring follows winter, day follows night, eternal life follows bodily death, reconciliation follows sin, forgiveness follows wrongdoing—but nowhere is it as remarkable as in the life of Jesus Christ. 
Many of our contemporaries are in a period of darkness right now. The struggling economy adds to the other challenges of their lives. We all need to be reminded of the promise given to us through Christ’s paschal mystery. 
I’ve selected a video clip from the DVD program The Church Celebrates Lent and Easter  to share with you (RealMedia | Windows Media). In it, you’ll see part of one man’s personal paschal-mystery story. Jimmy Heath’s alcoholism led to homelessness. He shares his experience of spiritual death and rebirth. His story illustrates the dying to self we all must undertake as true followers of Christ—and the rebirth that is possible. 
Jimmy has died since his story was recorded, but he lives on in the many lives he touched and, of course, in the arms of our loving God. 
Share this video story with groups or individuals who struggle with dark times. Use it in mystagogy sessions with neophytes. Share it with small groups or in a large-group session on the season of Lent/Easter. Believe in the promise of the paschal mystery!
 
     
Franciscan Radio
 
‘God Help Me’
 
 
If you’re looking for a spring gift for your favorite young adult, consider God, Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer  by Jim Beckman. 
Beckman is the executive director of ImpactCenter  and serves in various leadership roles in national youth ministry. This is a book that teaches young adults the path to intimacy with God through prayer. It is written in a language that makes sense to the millennial generation. 
The steps to learning how to pray are offered in a practical way that assumes nothing and brings encouragement. The chapter on prayer principles could be a sourcebook for even the most seasoned. “Acknowledge, relate, receive and respond,” Beckman says. 
With that simple formula he goes on to illustrate that an ongoing conversation with God takes no special skill, only the desire to start talking. The author then encourages the reader to simply keep at it. Steady practice at prayer is the only way to make the divine connection. 
Continuing the inspiration theme, don’t forget to take a few moments to check out our Web sites:  www.FriarJack.org, www.WebCatholic.org, www.CatholicSAMPler.com, www.SAMPBooks.org and www.ServantBooks.org. You might just find a replacement for those jelly beans that are food for the soul.
 
     
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