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November 7, 2012     

Cultivating Gratitude

As we near the end of our Church year, we look back in gratitude at much good. We look ahead to celebrating Thanksgiving, beginning a new Church year, starting the Advent/Christmas season, and turning to Luke’s Gospel as our scriptural guide. Let’s look back with gratitude and ahead with anticipation—and preparation—for many good things.

Uncommon Gratitude
by Joan McKamey

Sometimes I need to be stopped in my tracks and get my head on straight. The greeting of a dear friar in the office one morning did just that for me. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “I am blessed.” He said this is a common response of the people he encounters in the inner-city neighborhood where our offices are located and where he makes his home. While the neighborhood folks may not be blessed in material ways, their spirits are grateful. Their response reminds me that I need to see my life in terms of blessings too.

We’re approaching that time of year when we encounter a lot of “Gimmees”: Give me this. Give me that. Some children are literally overcome by their “need” for certain items on their Christmas wishlists. As adults, we tolerate this childish behavior and strive for better in ourselves.

The series of reflections offered by Joan Chittister, OSB, and Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, in the audiobook Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is helps us see the importance of gratitude. They invite us to see beyond the immediate to a broader and deeper reality. The discovery of a perpetual Alleluia will help us discover what we are, become who we are, and grow with gratitude into the unknown. And who doesn’t need this kind of awakening—at this time of year or at any other? Listen to a sample here (Windows).

Listen for your own enrichment and formation. Share this with the pastoral staff. Make it available to small Christian communities and in the parish lending library. Listen and share!

Vision Quest
by Joan McKamey

There are many things in our line of sight: the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, the Year of Faith, Advent, a new Church year—plus Thanksgiving and Christmas. How do you pick which one gets your attention? If you’re like me, you’re already pulled in many directions on a good day in a quieter time of the year. Here are a few ideas that might simplify and focus your efforts:

Introducing the Gospel of Luke
If you work with liturgical ministers, Bible study groups, or RCIA, consider using The Vision of the Gospels: The Gospel of Luke. This 28-minute video segment by Father Michael Himes gives viewers a good introduction to the Gospel we’ll be hearing as we move through this coming liturgical year. The DVD package includes a segment on each of the four Gospels. View a sample selection here (Windows).

Starting a New Church Year
The Church Celebrates the Liturgical Year and Sunday, a video program from the Catholic Update Video series, provides an overview of the Church’s liturgical year and an explanation of Sunday’s importance within it. The program is presented in four segments: story, witness, teaching, and music video reflection. This is an excellent introduction for liturgical minister training, RCIA, and adult faith enrichment.

Celebrating Vatican II
Want to orient  your parishioners to the work and vision of Vatican II? Check out The Vision of Vatican II for Today. In this five-part video series, Father Michael Himes looks at the theological background of the Council, some of the revolutionary teachings of the Council, and how the wisdom and insights of the Council guide us today. Segment titles include:
  • The Roots of Vatican II
  • The People Are the Church
  • The Church Human and Divine
  • The Church Before and After Vatican II
  • The Sacrament of Everyday Life
Share this with the pastoral staff, catechists and Catholic school teachers, the parish council and faith formation commission, and in an adult faith formation offering on the topic. The more we know about the work and vision of the Council, the better able we’ll be to embrace it and live it out in our time and place.

Planning for Advent
And how about Advent? Father Michael Himes will lead your parishioners on An Advent and Christmas Journey, relating his message to the Scripture readings of Advent. View a sample selection here (Windows). This DVD series contains five programs (21-29 minutes each):
  • Hope in the Darkness
  • The Second Coming and the Kingdom of God
  • Threatened by Grace
  • Prophets: John, Mary, Joseph
  • Christmas: The Eternal Giving of God
This is an excellent series for adult faith formation, small-group discussions, and homily preparation.

Holiday Catechesis
by Angela Glassmeyer

There are two items I’d like to tell you about that are wonderful opportunities for catechesis for the upcoming holidays.

The first is a special edition of Catholic Update titled Thanksgiving: It’s What We Do All Year.

Here’s an excerpt:
“What does the Thanksgiving holiday have to do with our Catholic faith? ‘Nothing at all,’ some might say. It is a secular holiday with roots in the traditions of the very anti-Catholic Puritans. But it is a day that combines gratitude, food, and family—and you can’t get much more Catholic than that.”

These are great to give away during the month of November, especially the Sunday before Thanksgiving (and certainly for those who attend Mass on Thanksgiving Day). You can order them with this link: Thanksgiving: It’s What We Do All Year.

The second item is A Catholic Family Advent: Prayers and Activities. This is a great family resource for this and every Advent to come. I’m encouraging our parish to purchase a copy for every family in the school and PSR program. Since our budget is tight (as I’m sure many of yours are), I’m trying to find a sponsor to cover the cost of the books. The inside back cover is blank and would make a great place to attach a label or sticker that names the sponsor (and could potentially be a coupon for their business). Especially in this Year of Faith, this is a great way to encourage families to prepare the way of the Lord together. Take a sneak peak at the book here and “Click to look inside.”

Contact our customer service representatives for information on bulk discounts for parishes: (800) 488-0488.

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is your bridge to a community of readers who share your passion for catechesis. For our part, we offer monthly encouragement, ideas, and resources to assist you in your catechetical ministry. We are honored to serve you in this e-newsletter and hope you find it useful. God bless you in your important ministry of sharing the Good News!

Angela Glassmeyer and Joan McKamey (Find out more about us by clicking here.)

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