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January 14, 2009
 
Living the Generous Life
 
 
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.”

As we reassess our own budgets and the nation faces recession, it is time to take a look at what the Catholic Church teaches in regard to good stewardship, frugality and the simple life. As usual, her wisdom is astonishing and most necessary in today’s tough economic times.
—Jeanne Hunt
 
     
 
 
Cutting Back With Love
 
 
The grocery bills are higher, the mortgage looms each month and unexpected repairs on the car seem to hit our budget like a hurricane…all this and more proclaims gloom and doom for the Catholic family. Yet, everything we know about our faith teaches a contrary message: We are not “of the world,” we are not to “worry about what we are to eat” and if we have two cloaks we are to give one to someone who needs it. In these times of recession, Catholics have the pearl of great price—the consolation and encouragement of our faith that offers an alternative lifestyle that creates serenity and peace. We know that invisible things without a price tag can offer more happiness then a successful 401K. What is necessary is the choice to enhance family life based not on what we can buy, but how we can promote time together, prayer and just stewardship of the resources that we have been given. January is a time to reassess our status as disciples who can boast that we do not need a bag, money or a walking stick for our journey..
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
Surviving Recession
 
 
“This isn’t so bad,” says the morning-show commentator. “Having less money to spend brings us back to enjoying each other and finding value in time spent together.” This insight is announced like it is a brand new concept. Catholic teaching has long taught that we must not put our trust in the things that money can buy. However, we must now begin to live the virtue of poverty with renewed passion.

Lent is right around the corner. In the classroom and in our homes we can prepare for a Lent that explores simplicity and gospel values as our priceless treasure.

Father Norman Langenbrunner offers us a jump start for surviving lean times with Daily Reflections for Lent 2009. This inexpensive, pocket-size book is deceiving, for it speaks volumes to the lenten call to seek first the kingdom—a kingdom that is right in front of our noses if we care to look. “Lent is the Church’s invitation to move forward,” Father Norm writes in his Introduction. Each daily meditation he offers is based on the scriptures and can serve as a springboard to a classroom discussion or a family supper conversation. At the end of each day’s reflection is a simple action that gives us a chance to live out the teaching in some easy way. Students and family members alike will see that making sense out of God’s word can be a treasure worth pursuing in the desert days ahead. What a resource this little book can be for catechists and all parish members who face an economic challenge this Lent!
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
Audio Resource About Living With Less
 
 
Whew! You made it through the Christmas holiday and all its extra expenses—from a higher electric bill because of your outdoor Christmas lights to postage for cards and packages, from gifts to additional groceries for guests and holiday meals. Many of us are feeling the pinch of these tight economic times. To those who have lost their jobs or homes, the downturn in the economy is much more troubling and painful.

Many of us have been so caught up in the consumer mindset of our culture that we are faced with rethinking and rearranging our priorities. Franciscan Father Richard Rohr and Paula D’Arcy claim that this type of reprioritizing is a task of the second half of life. Their audio presentation, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,, echoes Jesus’ teaching that “[A]ll who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lk 14:11) and the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). I’m also reminded of St. Francis of Assisi’s suggestion that we should take a lesson from water: It always seeks the lowest place.

What will this look like in our lives? It goes much deeper than living with less materially. This is a spiritual mindset that puts in proper order not only all that we own, but also our relationships and sense of self in the world. I’ve selected an audio clip from A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life to share with you (RealMedia | Windows Media). In it, Father Richard reminds us that the gospel is not a winner’s script. Share these very timely insights with other “losers” in your parish. Gain new perspective on the material losses that are causing so much anxiety.
 
     
Franciscan Radio
 
Clearing the Spiritual, Emotional Clutter
 
 
As we put away the holiday decorations, we notice all the clutter and dust that has accumulated around the house. We yearn for clean surfaces, organized closets and less clutter. It isn’t just the physical objects that clutter our souls in January, but there seems to be a fair share of spiritual and mental clutter as well.

An area that can accumulate some emotional clutter is that of family rules and discipline. The holidays seem to be a time of relenting on important guidelines like bedtimes and whining. Now, parents everywhere are blowing the whistle for a time out and heads up as we reorganize family patterns. Raymond Guarendi, Ph.D., a popular clinical psychologist, offers a wonderful resource for all families, Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime, The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids . This new audio book is a perfect listening companion for mom’s or dad’s ride to work.

Guarendi is an expert at offering very practical answers to questions on family discipline. His ideas are straightforward and laced with a healthy sense of humor. With his audio book, you can plug into this popular speaker whenever you need a good word of encouragement and direction.

A reminder: A complete list of suggested resources for Lent can be found in our online catalog. Take a look at what we have to offer.
 
     
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