Glad to See a Sad Kid?

It just doesn’t sound Christian to be glad to see a sad kid.  I must confess, I kind of was.  This is what I saw.  Typically that little fellow comes out of school running 100 mph, gives his dad a hug and off they go.  This day, he trudged out, the weight of the world upon his little shoulders, slumped.  He looked up at his dad.  A tear or two rolled.  Dad bent down, and as they left, dad said to me, “He loves his teacher.”  It was the last day of school.  Yes, I was kind of glad to see more than one sad child leaving.  I must add I saw the same among the teachers.  One of them shared that, though she had no intention of letting any emotion out, it just happened.  One of the more callous boys said, “Oh boy, here she goes again.”  You have to love them!

God be praised for kids who love school and their teachers, and teachers who love their kids.  We are here to teach and learn; that works a lot better when we love, too.

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Eighth Grade Interview Highlight

The adolescent came in with confidence, gently closed the door, sat down, smiled and introduced himself.      Later in the interview came the phrase that warmed my heart, the one that evidenced maturity that goes far beyond his junior high aged soul.

The question posed to the student in the interview was, “Considering the long term and short term in life, what are your goals?”  I was pleased to hear several start with, “Well, heaven, of course,” then go on from there.  Many mentioned God’s will.  The one that grabbed my heart was the boy who, after mentioning striving to do well in high school and college, said, “…and have a strong Catholic family and SERVE THEM WELL.”

I could go on a long time about the science of the adolescent brain and delayed development of the frontal lobe.  The news typically brings us negative news about the evidence of such, of which I will go on NO LONGER.

Here’s a young man, who has witnessed the goodness of Christian giving and longs to be able to spend himself in love of others in the context of family, or who knows, maybe a parish.  Either way, GOD BE PRAISED.  It is good to see such vivid examples of the fruit of grace in their soul.  May He bring to fulfillment the good work He has begun.

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Porn-proofing your Kids – the ESSENTIAL Conversation

 

From an email this morning, (shared here with permission):

“I absolutely loved the meeting last night. Father is spot on and did a good job being direct and to the point.  Everyone needs to hear his message, even those without children.  Is it possible to put the video on the St. Peter’s website after tonight’s replay?  I think so many good Catholic families could benefit from this. Even our CCD families.

Thank you for “forcing” us to attend.  I will be honest, I had no desire to go.  I thought “really, another meeting?”  I am so thankful I went.  Powerful stuff.

God bless!

LeAnn Hofeling”

I don’t like calling meetings any more than you like going to them.  Yet, some things you just have to do.  We requested “required attendance” by a parent of each family with a child in 6th-8th grades.  The bleachers were full.  God be praised.  We will pick up a good number more tonight with the second meeting where we will view a recording of the meeting.

A couple things Father Kilcawley said struck me in a new way:

  • First, a child’s first exposure to pornography is basically never their fault. Kids feel like it is among the most grievous thing they have ever done, but more than likely they have stumbled upon it or been led there by one who will deeply need God’s mercy.  (Do you know what a mill stone is?)  The conversation about that first experience of your child with porn is essential.
  • The kitchen lockbox – The likelihood of a child with a bit of insomnia coming back after the phone later at night is rather high, probably not often but occasionally. The box on the kitchen counter with a timer that unlocks automatically makes so much sense.  Kids are not waiting for someone to remember to unlock the box either.  All can be confident, when the time elapses, the box opens. I will get my device back in the morning, kids can be assured.
  • One parent told me, “Going into the meeting I thought, ‘I use computers all the time every day. Do we really need this software?’  Coming out I thought, ‘YES.’”
  • Another said, “I used to get all my girls’ texts on my phone. After school my phone would blow up each day.  I couldn’t wade through all that, so now I have software that monitors.  I still check occasionally, but the software sure helps.”

In a few days we will have a link to the meeting available also.  While Father’s explanation was much more than the resources given, several people have asked for information on those items.  Resources referenced last night:

  1. Diocesan Website tools for parents (how to talk to them about porn, how to install filters, etc.):  http://www.lincolndiocese.org/internet-protection-pornography/tools-for-parents
  • Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen Jensen (Fr. recommended to introduce around 2nd grade)
  • Wonderfully Made! Babies by Ellen Giangiordano (Fr. recommended to introduce around 4th grade)
  • Plunging Pornography: A Catholic Bathroom Book by D.J. Hueneman  (for teens)
  • Every Parent’s Battle: A Family Guide to Resisting Pornography by Dan Spencer III

Thank you, parents.  They are your kids, yours is the primary responsibility for forming their souls.  I am glad to work with you, as are our teachers.  Working TOGETHER is ESSENTIAL.  We will continue to work at improving our school, as you work so hard to build sound homes.  Sometimes, when I see and hear things that impact our culture so profoundly, I must call a time out for a huddle so we can collaborate and continue on in the game with greater unity.  God be praised.  May the little beneficiaries of our work continue to grow in wisdom, age and grace, and may we do so too in the process.

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First Communion, Last Communion, Only Communion

+J.M.J.

I remember my First Communion dress.  I was five years younger than my next sibling, so we no longer had a hand-me-down dress.  Instead, I borrowed from a neighbor in town whose daughter was a year older than me.  I was especially tall for my age so I recall that my mom had to add two layers of 3-inch wide lace to the bottom to make it long enough!

Every year, First Communion brings back memories.  The second graders’ faces are always beaming as they line up to process in to Mass.  Their hearts are bursting with excitement and nervousness as they prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the very first time.  It’s a beautiful time for all of us adults to renew our own love and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  Our Founder, Bishop Flavin, would often remind us Sisters of a maxim that used to be found in most church sacristies as the priest was vesting for Mass.  It says:

“Offer this Mass as if it were your First Mass, your Last Mass, your Only Mass.”  In the same way, we should

receive Communion as if it were your First Communion, your Last Communion, your Only Communion.

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From the book, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Lucia shares about her First Communion day:

Once the Mass began and the great moment drew near, my heart beat faster and faster, in expectation of the visit of the great God who was about to descend from heaven, to unite Himself to my poor soul.  I had the good fortune to be the first one to receive.  As the priest was coming down the altar steps, I felt as though my heart would leap from my breast.  But he had no sooner placed the Divine Host on my tongue than I felt an unalterable serenity and peace.  I felt myself bathed in such a supernatural atmosphere that the presence of our dear Lord became as clearly perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses.  I then addressed my prayer to Him:  “O Lord, make me a saint.  Keep my heart always pure, for you alone.”  Then it seemed that in the depths of my heart, our dear Lord distinctly spoke these words to me:  “The grace granted to you this day will remain living in your soul, producing fruits of eternal life.”

(Lucia and 1910 children in Portugal dressed for First Communion)

Thank you for celebrating the sacraments with your children!  The importance of consistent celebration of the sacraments as proscribed by the Church is essential for the children’s formation.  You are showing your children that their relationship with God is a priority (far greater than soccer, dance, etc.).  After all, this is THE relationship that matters most in life and will last into eternity!  If you know of friends who don’t take their children to Mass every Sunday maybe you could offer to take their children with you when you go to Mass.  Perhaps seeing their children’s desire will be an instrument of conversion in their own hearts.  After all, the gift of the Real Presence of Jesus is an amazing miracle and privilege.   We can exclaim in a more concrete way than Moses who asked the people of Israel, “What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as our God is to us whenever we call upon Him?”  Indeed, Jesus waits for and longs for us in the Blessed Sacrament.  His delight is to dwell in our hearts whenever we receive Him.  Let us all aim to make every Communion as if it were our First Communion, our Last Communion, our Only Communion.

God bless you!

Sister Mary Angela, C.K.

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Jacob’s Leg and Grace

One of our older boys , Jacob, was involved in a very odd accident when a vehicle in attempting to avoid a car in front of them struck a group of students on the sidewalk as they were leaving after spending some time standing up for life.  I have observed many things since then, among them:

  • Jacob has built the Mystical Body of Christ through his suffering.
  • The remorse of the man in error has been noted by many, even Jacob’s mom.
  • Deb, Jacob’s mom is also witnessing to grace received.  When asked what it was like getting that call, Deb who was out of town at the time, commented that her husband, Wayne, was close by and what a blessing that was.  (She didn’t get stuck on being out of town, I think I would have.)
  • Jacob’s joy in the midst of the cross has been beautiful.  His mood at the hospital has been so good.
  • A few days into the hospital stay Deb arrived for a visit.  Can you imagine a mother’s pain upon arriving and hearing your son in the next room getting the packing removed from the wound?  He doesn’t know you are there, but you can hear him in a whole lot of pain.  Deb didn’t dwell on the trauma of hearing that, but was only concerned about her son.  I couldn’t get past that detail in my own mind, I’m not sure who experienced more pain from that scene, Jacob or Deb.  Deb must understand Our Blessed Mother a bit more after that experience.
  • Staying upbeat when you have three chipped vertebrae and a severe wound, builds not only the Mystical Body, it also sets a great example for those around you.  Thanks, Jacob.
  • The students and staff here have been visiting Jacob, and inquiring about him.  Visiting the sick is a corporal work of mercy.  Keep it up, 8th graders!
  • The children have gladly joined together in prayer for Jacob, and he and his family can feel the benefits.
  • Jacob and his family have been grateful for the prayers and works of mercy.
  • Father Townsend has been to visit a few times and brings back a good report.  That’s our pastor!

I just got off the phone with Deb, Jacob is headed home, and very soon this afternoon it looks like!

Lord, help Jacob continue to heal well, bless him and his family, and bring good from this accident as only You can.   (Deb thanks for permission to print this.)

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Holy Week – the Ultimate Shift!

The biggest Feast of the Church year, the epicenter event of our faith – Easter.  I wondered if it was ever going to get here!  Lent is like that sometimes, okay, always.  The end of Lent approaches.  The time between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil requires a colossal liturgical mood change.  While the change happens overnight, it is important to live in the present moment.  I have to work hard to focus and keep my mind on today and now; don’t think about tomorrow, stay where I am today.  That can be a real challenge, but the more I observe Lent and the day at hand these last days, the more joy-filled and poignant Easter becomes.  I wonder how Our Blessed Mother didn’t implode and then explode between the sorrow of the cross and the joy of the Resurrection.  Maybe she did, that’s why the Spirit left us little news of her those three days and immediately following.  He put her back together, after the explosion if there was one, that is certain.  Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, upon whose writings The Passion of the Christ movie is based, says that Jesus “stayed with her a very long time as her sorrow had been so deep.”

Triduum

Titanic shifts like this one are mirrored in life.  The ultimate one, I think, will be at the point of death, please God.  May it mirror Jesus’ Resurrection, not so much in the passion – if He will in His mercy grant us a bye there – but in the glory of heaven.  May we wake up one day on the other side to see His Glory in ways we cannot imagine!

But hush, it is not time yet to look at His glory; rather be in the now.  Be where your hands are.  Receive the grace of the present moment.  For a few ways to help your kids stay in the days, our Sisters in the primary grades have found a website with a few ideas at http://eyesonheaven.net/good-friday-activities/ .  The Church’s liturgies are obviously a great way to live these days.

Sometimes kids need a little something else to help.  When they were kids, the Dunavan Sisters (Sister Mary Fidelis and Sister Mary Agnes) used to have to go pick up rocks for a while on Good Friday.  If you don’t have a place with rocks, maybe your child could descend into the tomb and clean out or off the floor of their closet.  The Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy are also beautiful devotions.

I’m praying that our hearts may receive well the graces of the sacred time of today.  I need to remember the door of my heart opens only from the inside.  Yours, too?

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Violeta and Our Kids

In the words of her sister, “Violeta has cancer in her blood”.  Only six years old and a beautiful little girl, these events remind me again that He is God and I am not, as it doesn’t make sense to me.  Still we trust in the Lord and do all we can to help.  (See the Litany of Trust from two weeks ago if you need help there.)

We are praying for Violeta.  Several things have converged together as we learned of Violeta’s illness:

  • Cece, who assists in our school, suggested we pray to St. Jacinta. (Cece’s suggestion reminds me of the young girl in the story of Naaman the leper who suggests the army general go to the prophet in Samaria to be healed.  (2 Kings 5: 1-13)  I love it when the little among us have great ideas on which we take action.)
  • Jacinta is one of the three children of Fatima. She along with her brother Francisco will be canonized in a few weeks on May 13, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance in Fatima.
  • Jacinta was a six year old girl who was ill, much like Violeta.
  • Jacinta was Portuguese, Violeta is Hispanic; they even look a bit alike!
  • And the clincher for me, which came after the other realizations……Violeta’s last name is Jacinto!

And so we pray often.  Each day at the closing announcements we pray, “For Violeta, St. Jacinta, Intercede for her,” three times.  The children are also praying in their families and classrooms, as are the faculty and many adults.

Helping is taking the form of prayer and action.  The Student Council members are getting white bracelets with orange lettering, the colors of Leukemia Awareness.  They will say, “Team Violeta” on one side and “St. Jacinta, Intercede for her!” on the other. They are teaming up with the Rosary Makers for a package deal, or will also offer an ala carte option, I would imagine.

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The Rosary Makers have gone mad; mad as in making rosaries like crazy and marketing them for the cause, even faster than they can make them.  Taking orders for specific colors has allowed them to manage the flow.  The girls who channeled the rosary-making efforts in the sixth grade toward helping Violeta are clearly evidencing the feminine genius in their desire to help, as well as organizing the project and carrying it through.  Sister Mary Guadalupe hardly knew what she was starting when a few months ago she offered to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to tie the knots.

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After the children launched the rosary-making for Violeta, and Sister was placing yet another order for rosary rope, we wondered if the twine makers might be willing to join in the work of charity.  Sister sent the following email:

Praised be Christ our King! What high quality twine and beautiful colors you provide for our rosary making!  A few of us, Sisters, have been making rosaries for several years, and your company has become the “go to” place for the best materials.  This year I taught my 6th grade students to make the knotted rope rosaries and many (about 40 out of 61) have become rather proficient making them. Since January, I have placed 2 orders for 10 spools of twine and many of my students have ordered on their own as well. We run out quickly each time. This morning two of my students had an inspiration that they would like to help one of our kindergartners (who was diagnosed with leukemia last week) and her family by selling some of the rosaries that they have made (and will make) as a fundraiser. They also want to make rosaries for children in the missions through the Holy Father’s Missionary Childhood Association. Would you consider assisting with this project by donating some twine or giving us a discounted price, or maybe even free shipping? We would be grateful for any assistance that you would be able to give and are grateful for the resources you provide to spread the kingdom of God through the rosary.  Recently I had to limit the children to taking only one rope to tie at a time, as they have become rosary-making maniacs.  The troubles we have some days are not what one might think!  Thank you and God bless you!

In His Love,

Sister Mary Guadalupe

The response of Twine By Design:

Good Afternoon Sister Mary.  After explaining your needs to our President of Twine By Design, he would like to make a donation of the twine.  Please email us your order instead of going through the website.  It is so wonderful that your students are interested in doing this as a fund raiser to help the other student and their family.  I am so sorry the youngster is ill.  I could not imagine having to go through that at all.

Thank you and God Bless,

Twine By Design Customer Service

 

Then a little later they added:

Hi Sister Mary, I wanted to also maybe make a suggestion, I don’t know which colors you were interested in, but we do have the option of making some or all of them the Leukemia Awareness colors (orange and white).  We were not sure how much you were looking at having donated, but we can mix and match if you want certain colors that are on our website and if you wanted the Leukemia Awareness colors we would be willing to make you some of that as well.  Please let us know exactly what you would like and we will get it together for you.

Thank you again,

Twine By Design Customer Service

What a beautiful response from the company!  That’s http://twinebydesign.blogspot.com/  if you want to support them, a good number of our kids are launching off on making their own rosaries.

Thank you for your prayers for Violeta.  She is doing considerably better and is in the midst of a four-week round of chemotherapy in Omaha at Children’s Hospital.  If you’d like a rosary or to contribute to a fund for Violeta email to office@stpeterslincoln.com. or send a note to school.

For Violeta, St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

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