Happy Birthday to the Catholic Church!

And a very special Happy Birthday to you, who are the body of the Church!

We’re all familiar with our own birthdays. We celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. But did you know you have a second birthday?

Because you are part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. And it’s yours as well. Like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration.

Pentecost

The word Pentecost is Greek and it means “50th day.” Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers. It’s also the beginning of their Earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is also a Jewish holiday, which the Jews use to celebrate the end of Passover. Jews celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai on this day. But we, as Catholics celebrate the birth of our Church.

What Happened On The Day of Pentecost?

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o’clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesized in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized and about three thousand people were baptized that day.

The Birth of the Catholic Church!

These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind, and the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The color of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day. Parishioners are also invited to wear red on this day. Red decorations as well as celebrations are appropriate, similar to any other birthday. Special prayers are often said just for Pentecost.

Bringing up our children in the Catholic Faith with all the secular influences of our society is a challenge. Our children/youth have a myriad of negative role models sending them the message that sin is “cool” or normal. They are being regularly challenged by the media, as well as people from other faith backgrounds. Without a firm foundation, they are being tossed by “every wind of doctrine” or philosophy (Eph. 4: 14-15).

So how can we help our children grow strong in our faith?

  1. Foster a relationship with Christ and His Church. A solid foundation will help to withstand the attacks on our faith by creating a relationship with Christ, the Rock. The more we know Christ, His Teachings and the truths of our Faith, the more we can stay strong. In Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can stand against the worldly influences and the secular world view. The Church’s Mission is to evangelize and bring all closer to Christ and His ways. The Sacraments give us the Grace to follow Christ faithfully.
  2. Prayer is the key to our children staying Catholic. Regular daily prayer will absolutely make a difference in their lives. Praying with and for our children is essential.
  3. Make religious education a priority in our lives. Giving them the tools to stay on the straight and narrow will help them make good decisions even in the midst of temptations and challenges. Our lives can be so consumed by many other things like social networking, sports, and other extra-curricular activities that religious education fits in to our lives “just barely” or not at all.
  4. Positive peer pressure: Good friendships with those matching our values is extremely important in faith development. For the younger ones, it is easier to foster healthy friendships. When they get older it is also important, but different. It is not enough to just send them to Faith Formation classes or Catholic School, but also to send them to Catholic Retreats/Conferences, DYMO Camp, Youth Group, etc. These help increase the chance of them staying Catholic
  5. The Domestic Church: Studies have shown that parental influence is more important than any other influence in the life of the youth even over peers and teachers. Your house is a mini church and you are the priest(s). It is essential to continue to grow in your faith development to better assist the youth under your care.

We need to do all we can in our power to pass our faith on to our precious youth, our future Church.

 

~Cheryl Sokolowski, Faith Formation Director

 

From the Catechism: The Virtue of Hope

Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5

One of the three theological virtues along with faith and charity, hope enables us to “desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC1817).

Hope responds to our innate desire for happiness. God has placed this desire in the heart of every person. Hope “inspires men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness…” (CCC 1818).

Hope lifts our gaze toward heaven. “The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the ‘hope that does not disappoint.'” Hope is the anchor of the soul and “a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation…It affords us joy even under trial… Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire” (CCC 1820).

Hope leads to perseverance. “In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace fo God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ” (CCC 1821).

 

 

 

Understanding Holy Week in 4 Minutes!

Understanding Holy Week in just 4 minutes? It’s a great start! Holy Week is quickly approaching, the most sacred week in our Church’s year. Do you know why it’s so holy and sacred? Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite drink, sit back and take 4 minutes to watch this enlightening video. Enter into Holy Week with a whole new understanding of why this week is “Holy”!

Don’t Stop Understanding Holy Week!

This video took just 4 minutes. Obviously, there’s so much more to know and understand about Holy Week. 4 minutes simply can’t do it justice. Why not take some time to visit a Catholic website to learn more (simply Google “Catholic Information Websites” to find excellent sources)? Or when the pandemic is over and the stay at home order is lifted, take some time to visit a Catholic store such as The Angelus (located on Diamond across the street from St. Isidore Church in Grand Rapids). Another great source is Michigan Church Supply located on the first floor at Cathedral Square downtown on the corner of Wealthy and Division Streets in Grand Rapids. Not sure what you’re looking for? Someone is always there to help and make suggestions for you.

No matter our age, there is so much to continually learn about the Catholic Faith. Don’t ever stop learning as it takes more than a life-time to know all there is to know about our beliefs!

What is Holy Thursday and why do Catholics celebrate this day with a special Mass? Watch this short, 3 minute video from Catholic Online for a thorough explanation:

By Chris Stefanick of Real Life Catholic

Why I’m Not Leaving the Church and 3 Things We Can Do to Fix It:

Now more than ever people need to know there is something more to life.

Now more than ever people need to know – really know – that the answer is the Good News Jesus offers.

And that is why now, more than ever, people need us to get back to basics: Pray. Serve the poor. Preach the Gospel.

Will you join me? http://reallifecatholic.com/stay-connected/

Aletia: Saturday, September 8, 2018 – Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

According to tradition, Mary’s parents were barren until God answered their prayers.

Little is known authoritatively about the Virgin Mary’s early childhood and family. However, an ancient text from the year 145, called The Protoevangelium of Jamesprovides a narrative that many saints have turned to when wanting to learn more about the Virgin Mary.

According to the unknown author, a man named Joachim was saddened at not being able to conceive a child with his wife, Anne. It’s recorded, “Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.”

Similarly, Anne “mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness.” Then Anne “saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as You blessed the womb of Sarah, and gave her a son Isaac.”

The Angel Appears

In the midst of her prayers an angel appeared and said, “the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth; and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.” At the same time an angel appeared to Joachim, saying, “Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down hence; for, behold, your wife Anne shall conceive.”

The two conceived a child shortly thereafter and then according to the story “her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anne brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? And she said: A girl. And said Anne: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anne was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.”

The account echoes many of the stories in the Old Testament, where couples were barren until they cried out to God. Angels are often the bearers of good news to them, proclaiming that they will bear a child. Yet in this case, instead of a boy, the announcement is a girl who “shall be spoken of in all of the world.”

The Catholic Church’s Beliefs

While the story is not known to be a factual account, the Church does refer to the parents of the Virgin Mary as Joachim and Anne.

Whatever happened, it would have been fitting for her birth to be miraculous, as the Church teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin in the womb of her mother. The Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is celebrated annually on December 8, nine months before the Feast of the Birth of Mary on September 8.

 

St. Anthony of Padua
Patron Saint of Lost Things
(1195-1231)
Feast Day: June 13

If St. Anthony specializes in anything, it is in finding lost objects. In America there’s even a little rhyme about it:  “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please look all around. There’s something that’s missing and cannot be found.” It’s not great poetry, but it makes its point.

The life of St. Anthony is brimming with miracles, and one of these stories explains how St. Anthony became the heavenly finder of lost objects. A novice in St. Anthony’s community decided to run off without telling his superiors. Before he left, he stole a valuable copy of the Psalms that belonged to Anthony.

Distressed at the loss of such a beautiful book, Anthony prayed to recover it. Meanwhile, as the thief was making his getaway, he saw a terrible apparition blocking his path. “Return the book to Anthony!” the vision commanded. Frightened out of his wits, the young man ran all the way back to the monastery to restore the book to its rightful owner.

Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal. How he wound up in Italy is a long story. Here’s the short version:

Anthony had entered the Augustinian order in Lisbon. The bodies of five Franciscan missionaries who had been martyred in Morocco arrived in Portugal. Filled with admiration for the holy men, Anthony decided to switch orders from the Augustinians to the Franciscans and join the mission in Morocco. This he did.

However, on a trip home, a storm at sea blew Anthony’s ship off course. instead of landing in Portugal, Anthony came ashore in Sicily.

His timing was good: the Franciscans were gathering in Assisi for a general meeting, or chapter, and St. Francis himself would be there, It was at the chapter that Anthony decided to remain in italy.

On one occasion, Anthony made it his mission to bring back to the Catholic faith a man belonging to the Cathars, a sect that hated the Church and especially hated the doctrine of Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

Nothing Anthony said made any impression on the man, Then on a holy day, Anthony carried the  Blessed Sacrament in procession through the streets. People knelt as the Sacred Heart passed by. When Anthony encountered the Cathar, the obstinate man remained standing, but his mule went down on its knees. The miracle of the mule convinced the Cathar, and he returned to the Church.

After Anthony died, so many miracles occurred through his intercession that Pope Gregory IX declared him a saint just one year after his death. Almost 800 years later, Anthony still holds the record for the fastest canonization.

Ask, and you shall receive! The Dynamic Catholic Institute is extremely excited to share with you The Turning Point, their very first Bible study experience! But this isn’t your typical Bible study. It’s a unique look at the Gospel of John that will help you encounter Jesus in a new and personal way—and it’s easy to bring to your parish or start in your small group. Check it out, and let Dynamic Catholic know what you think: https://goo.gl/WaJUnX

 

Why Be Catholic and Not Just Christian?

Let Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents share the answers to the question, “Why Be Catholic and Not Just Christian?” in this video!