Last What?

The Last Supper.  You know, the picture with Jesus in the middle and all the apostles gathered around, conveniently sitting on the same side of the table so we can see their faces!

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Yesterday, I was delighted to hear an eighth grader talking to the first graders about the Last Supper.  Hanging in the first grade hallway, which they walk by dozens of times a day, is this classic image.  But how often have they noticed it?  (For that matter, how often have I noticed it?  I admit, I had to go look because I didn’t remember seeing it.)

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Mrs. Alishouse had been discussing the image in her classroom.  She asked how many students have this hanging in their homes and which room it is in.  When her Junior High TA stopped by to assist in the afternoon, she assigned him the task to take a few students at a time into the hallway to discuss the picture.  He asked them some basic questions:

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“Who’s in the middle?  Who are the men with Jesus?  Which one is St. Peter?  Who is the youngest apostle?  What are they eating?  What does it become?”

My heart was touched by the beauty of this interchange on so many levels!  First, that a junior high boy is able to share his faith freely.  Second, that first graders and eighth graders get to develop a relationship in our school to feel united as a family.  Third, that our teachers take time like this on a regular basis to provide tangible experiences with our Catholic Faith.  It’s a win-win-win situation!

As we continue through Lent, the image of Jesus at the Last Supper is a good reminder of the self-offering that Jesus provides for us at every moment.  Not only did He die on the cross for us, but He also gave us a means to have His physical Presence with us always in the Eucharist.  It reminds me of the famous prayer composed by St. Thomas Aquinas:

O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
V. You have given them bread from heaven:
R. Containing in itself all sweetness.
O God, who under a wonderful Sacrament has left us a memorial of Thy Passion; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, that we may ever feel within ourselves the fruit of Thy Redemption: Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter tomorrow with a Eucharistic procession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day, may we remember that our time of Lenten penance is just a foreshadowing of the union Jesus wants to have with each of us on a daily basis, until we reach eternity.

May you continue to have a Blessed Lent!

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Three Ash Wednesday Secrets

OK, one secret and two conclusions from reflection.

#1 Secret  – It may not be a secret to you, but Ash Wednesday, though one of the most well attended liturgies of the year, is not a Holy Day of Obligation within the Church.

#2 Conclusion – I need Lent. Though not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Church, our humanity knows thoroughly that we need Lent.  An obligation comes from the heart.  I need reform, I need cycles of penance.  THANK YOU, CHURCH.  No wonder the Church was overflowing at 6:30, 8:15 and noon.  I trust the same will be true later.

#3 Conclusion – Ashes are poignant on a baby.  philsta

I don’t know the mom with a toddler and a newborn who were in the pew just behind me.  When it was time to go up for ashes, as I was beginning to exit the pew, I noticed the two year old from the pew behind me flat on her back in the main aisle, not making much noise, yet, looking at her mom who was picking up the baby.  I asked her mom if I could take her, mom said yes, I started to lean down to pick her up and the little girl’s eyes got extraordinarily wide.  I said, “Maybe I’d do better with the baby.”  She smiled, nodded and gave me the newborn and we went up to get our ashes.  Babies get ashes, too.  I love to see ashes on ALL of us.  The reminder of our mortality is so much move vivid on a BABY.  They are so far from death, yet we are reminded that even they are on the journey through this life to eternity.  So, thanks to that mom for blessing me with the opportunity to present that little tiny one for ashes.  (And also for the baby fix.  She slept so nicely!  And that soft baby fuzz….God knows what He’s doing!)

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Lord, help us all to journey together through life closely connected to you.  Help us to receive well with open hearts the particular graces of Lent.

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“Risky Play” has Benefits

Roller-skating immediately came to mind as I read a professional article on the benefits of “risk taking” in play.  http://www.sterlingwest.net/the-lessons-we-learn-from-risky-play

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Watching the kids step off the mats with their skates on for the first time provides quite the scene.  Some can’t wait to get off the mat with their skates, others like the safety of the predictability of the padded surface.

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We need to be careful providing opportunities for “risky play”.  Every sane parent in the world would remove their child from our school if we delighted in providing risky play opportunities without regard for the children’s safety.

Three places came to mind – Skating, the playground, and the climbing wall.  Mrs. Richter could probably provide a few more examples…  Skating is the one on our minds at present as the activity is in process a few feet from my office.

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There were a couple times during the half hour class when NO ONE was on the floor, but only for a few seconds.  In a couple weeks the story will be considerably different.  It is amazing how quickly they learn.  At present many of the little ones delight inputting on nine pieces of garb.  Count them NINE! (skates, knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet and the required wrist guards.)  They make a great photo!  Needless to say, the older kids wear only the required wrist guards with their skates.  Even the older kids get to wear a helmet if they meet with the floor three times in the first few minutes.

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Do your legs bend like this?  Mine do not!

A parent has volunteered to provide supervision for two evening skates, in addition to the ones listed in the newsletter at 6:00pm on both February 15th and 19th.  Join in the fun for $2 per skater.

God bless the children as they play and continue to grow in coordination, strength, wisdom, age and grace.

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Catholic Schools Week 2018!

I didn’t grow up with a Catholic school.  In my hometown of 450 people, we had a cathedral-sized church and a Catholic school right next to it that used to be staffed by Dominican Sisters.1280px-Cedar_Rapids,_Nebraska_St_Anthony_church_from_W_1

My oldest siblings could tell me stories from the Sisters who taught them and some of them were even named after the Sisters.  But in the 1970s the Sisters were no longer able to keep staffing the school, so it was sold to be used as the public school elementary building.  I’ve pondered since then how my life might have been different if it had never closed:

  • Maybe I would have realized that prayer is having a conversation with a Friend and not just saying rote words.
  • Maybe I would have cherished receiving Holy Communion knowing that it was truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus and not have had to wait until college to come to this realization.
  • Maybe I would have been aware of God’s calling to my religious vocation much earlier than young adulthood…

Of course, God works through all things, but sometimes we take for granted the blessings that we have and the benefits that come to us through Catholic education.  My prayer for each of your children and your families is that these years of growth in a Catholic culture will form a foundation that will last a lifetime – actually, that will last for eternity!

See our Facebook page for pictures of many of the activities of the week, but below are a few selections:

Grandparent Day was a huge success!

Roller skating is a great treat!

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Finally, enjoy this short “commercial” created for CSW 2018 with footage from our Lincoln Catholic Schools: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWGHFqobOSQjPtW95hPbDoA

God bless you and Happy Catholic Schools Week!2018 CSW Logo_Book_Cross

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“Mom, What Would You Have Done Differently?”

A young mom with three kids asked her mom the question above.  I couldn’t wait to hear the answer, as the elder mom is a beautiful soul who was the heart of their home and sacrificed much for her children.  She said, “I would have tried to intentionally enjoy the little moments more with you kids, and I would have said, ‘No.’ to a few more requests.

Enjoying moments with the children is easy here at school, as other adults who understand kid humor are always at hand.  Enjoy them well at home too, thank God for such surprises.  God blesses us with such moments to lighten our hearts in the midst of the challenges.

Elaborating on the second part, “I should have said ‘No’ more because I loved them enough to trust my own instincts and not fall to societal view of letting them go too early and unprepared. It is a tough balance for parents and educators alike to be strong in conviction and discipline and yet human and loving enough to protect them from temptations and forgive them and ourselves for mistakes that we learn from the hard way.”

Parenting isn’t easy, neither is education, but they are good, very good.  There is no task more important than formation of the human soul.  May God bless you in your role and us in ours.  Many things try to distract us from establishing a sound foundation for the young ones, Lord send us the grace to sort it out and see as You see.

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Chicken Challenge

The creativity of kids knows few bounds!  Put a little eggs-elerant (accelerant) on 6th grade minds and “The Chicken Challenge” is born.

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Goal:  Raise funds to feed hungry kids and build community spirit as we do so.

Last year “Pig Out” was the theme and the kids went hog wild with the theme for their mission carnival and fund raiser.  (a shot from last year’s group).

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We can hardly wait to see what egg-celent work they will do this year!

Thanks to Sister Mary Guadalupe and Mrs. McElroy for working with the kids to hatch the ideas.  Channeling their creativity is truly a work of art.  Maintaining your mental composure during the process is a work of virtue.  Result of the whole project: charity and sanctity, with various degrees of enjoyment mixed in.

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The kids ideas are still incubating, but thus far a chicken chase and maybe a chicken chant and the Good Lord knows only what else, but all in the name of charity for the Church!  Please stand by for further details from this chapter of chicken chiefs and their chipper children.

Checking out, and cheering them on!

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He Wailed, “Sometimes I Forget Who I Am!”

In the midst of the sobs, I was shocked for three reasons:

  1. That is a profound statement.
  2. To make it in the midst of a difficult situation is not normal.
  3. He’s just a little guy, there is a lot going on inside here!

Oh, did he make a good point!  I, too, often forget who I am, a daughter of the Father Who infinitely love me.  Don’t tell them this, but the kids here deliver homilies to me frequently, about which they have no clue.  Boy, was this one articulate!

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t need the reminder.  Are you remembering you are a child of the Father who infinitely loves you?  Thanks for the grace, little fellow, as you remember who you are, I’ll remember who I am, too.

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