Tag Archives: Catholic Church

The Power of Your Blessing

The power of a parent’s blessing to protect and sanctify children was the topic of a portion of Jesse Romero’s talk at the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines last weekend.  Twenty of us CK Sisters were privileged to attend.  As parents, you are charged with an awesome responsibility when God gives you a child.  It follows that He would grant you the corresponding gifts to raise them well.  What sense that makes that He would charge your blessing with efficacy!  The primacy of the supernatural over the natural would point toward the power of a parent’s blessing.

As teachers, we also have a formative responsibility.  Therefore, grace is to be had in blessings.  Our teachers often intercede for their children.  Some also bless them, either physically, or silently.

I asked some sixth graders how they feel about their daily blessing by Sister Mary Guadalupe as they leave the classroom.  I edited a few things in their comments, (mostly taking out “like”) but here’s what they said:  (The pictures do not necessarily correspond with the text under them.)

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I feel like she really cares about us.

She wants us to be safe.

They make me feel good inside especially if I have been flustered.

It makes you feel grateful; grateful for everything.

It makes me feel like you love me.

Happy that I learned a bunch of stuff and that good things happened during the day and that we had a fun time.

It just keeps God with you the rest of the day and throughout the night and it just seems to keep me happier.

She wants us to have a nice day.

I feel holy.

I feel that she does it to make us happy and to give extra graces to go on with our day.

It is hard to put into words….it makes me feel special.

It makes me feel safer and happier at the end of the day.

I think it’s great that she gives us an extra blessing; we always need extra blessings.

It makes me feel like our teachers really like us.

I feel like I am good when I leave.

The blessing at the end of the day means she cares for us.

At the end of the day I like it because then you feel like you’re not just leaving all empty.

I feel like it’s a good way to end the day.

blessings

I encourage you to bless your children.  Trace the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads before they go to bed.  A little holy water can also help, but don’t let the lack of holy water hold you back.  Your love and the physical touch of blessing, reinforces the love you have for them and makes it tangible in yet another way.  A blessing mixes your love with the Father’s love, and pours it over them.  Can you think of anything better?

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Mother Teresa and the Playground?

I doubt that Mother Teresa would build a playground like ours. It is clearly a first world playground. Having said that, there are certainly a number of things about the playground of which she would have wholeheartedly approved.mother teresa

First and foremost, Mother Teresa would approve of loving and taking good care of children.  She would promote a culture which values life and has a deep-seated desire to do good for The Father’s children.  I pray that is the essence of our playground.IMG_3522

Though it’s only Wednesday there have been several things this week in the construction process in which Mother Teresa would have delighted. We had a mat construction crew here which originated out of New York State. They were very hard-working men whose job was more complicated than it originally appeared. The chalk lines reminded me of the process for laying ceramic tile.  The tiles were all a little bigger than the space between the lines to allow for contraction of the tiles in the winter and expansion in the summer.  The men were of Hispanic origin, Arturo was the foreman. He was a delightful man with a heart for people. We checked on his daily progress. It was not uncommon for the perimeter of the playground to be lined with youthful observers who were always welcomed.

Saturday’s “community build” was a blessing.  Kurt Daberkow recommended the day and made remote plans for it from the early meetings.  When I asked him on Sunday evening how it went as we looked at the equipment, his response was adamant: It was a true example of teamwork.  He said the foreman from Miracle really knew what he was doing, and had no issue with keeping 40 capable workers profitably occupied.  The Knights of Columbus teamed up with many of our parents to complete the project by 6 pm.  Thanks for working together well, reminding me of the Kingdom where we will all be working together to praise the Lord!

Mother Teresa, in union with the Church, promotes the dignity of the human person as we are all created by God in His image and likeness. Can you imagine those men’s job?  How hard to be on the road so much, away from home.  From here they go to Chicago, then Indianapolis, then back here Saturday to seal our tiles.  A little kindness seemed in order. On Monday one of our parents brought some sandwiches and about 45 second graders took them lunch. Four carried the card table.  A child or two took each chair.  Five kids transported sandwiches.  Five more carried chips.  Four kids were the beverage cart with bottled water.  Five kids took napkins (OK here we were scraping for jobs). One had the trash bag. Several held the doors along the way.  In the end we were only a couple jobs short of having something for everyone to do.  By the time the last ones got out there the first group had the table and chair set up nicely in the shade and soon everything was set.

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The gentlemen were thrilled with lunch.  We were going to get a picture.  Arturo wanted a picture also to send to his family. It was a good day. IMG_3520

Later another group took him cookies and a drink. We wanted to get everyone we could in the act.  We witnessed to kindness.  Mother Teresa did that every day many times.IMG_3492

During one of the recesses one of the workmen was headed to the trailer to get some supplies when the soccer ball came his way. We didn’t know we had a soccer player among our workers. He enjoyed those few minutes of dribbling the ball around with the kids.  Sister Mary Angela was out there for that scene and she said his smile couldn’t have been broader.FullSizeRender

Mrs. Seigrist took advantage of the opportunity to practice Spanish.  She went out with several groups and prayed with the children and the men.  Sometimes the children needed a script which she had readily provided.  The kids had an opportunity to ask a couple questions.  It was also fun for the children to listen in to a short lively and meaningful conversation between Mrs. Seigrist and the workers.

I think mother Teresa would’ve also enjoyed the blessing of the playground. The gathering was prayerful, invoking the Father’s goodness on the project, along with thanking the many donors for their help. We blessed the playground as the last tiles are being installed so that the blessing could be there before the play began.  “Run the race so as to win….”, the reader proclaimed…..Father Townsend used the asperges to sprinkle us with the blessing that reminded us of the Polish broom. There was no broom but we were thoroughly blessed. When we arrived for the blessing the workmen were busy finishing up. As we began, they, too, made the sign of the cross and a couple of them knelt down joining us in the blessing. The unity of our faith was evident.

After the blessing, as the workers were preparing to leave, Arturo asked if he could pray in the church for a few minutes.  I said, “of course, that’s what the church is there for! ”  I had one last item to retrieve and said I would meet him back there.  A few minutes later I went over to church and saw one man kneeling at the communion rail praying. He had on a bright orange shirt; Arturo’s shirt was black both days. I got the feeling that the chief always wore a black shirt. Wondering if that was him, I went up to the front of the church where I could see and knelt down to pray until he finished. He stayed there quite some time and when he left I met him in the vestibule thanked him again and gave him the information.  With heartfelt gratitude Arturo spoke of what a blessing it was to work at our church and school. The kindness we had given was obviously recognized and received with gratitude. God be praised in the simple giving and receiving among His people!  Yes, Mother Teresa would be pleased.IMG_3525signature with links

 

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Top Three Reasons I’m Glad to be Back

It is a joy for me to be returning to St. Peter School this year!  Having been at several schools in my Religious Life, can I tell you want makes our school unique, “It’s like coming home.”  Here are my top three:

  1. The family atmosphere of the teachers and staff struck me immediately as I returned to the opening meetings. I remember well from my previous years here, the beautiful rapport and the caring for one another.  I saw it again displayed at our open faculty meeting as we shared about summer experiences and prayer intentions came up.  There was a genuine concern and reaching out to those in need.
  2. A second highlight of our school is the beautiful respect shown by the students and reinforced by the teachers. When walking down the hall, a class will stop to let you pass.  Children hold doors for one another and for adults.  The junior high has students who hold the church doors for everyone and another student who has a hymnal ready to hand Father as he walks up the aisle to begin Mass.  Older boys being gentlemen letting girls precede them in the Communion line.  Such signs of respect and other-centeredness are skills/virtues that do not come naturally – especially in our culture!  The teachers and staff work together to promote this atmosphere and to instill this reverence for others in a way that is exceptional.
  3. Leadership is instilled in the children. I’ve had two opportunities to meet with new volunteers to the school.  But instead of me giving a tour, there are trained “tour guides” in each of the classrooms who can be called upon to show the adult the parts of our school and answer questions.  It is beautiful to see such initiative!  Again, this reflects highly of the leadership of the administration, teachers and staff who have taken time to prepare the children for this role so that they can grow in confidence and initiative.

Such a family atmosphere in St. Peter School reflects the beauty of family life and, ultimately, the beauty of the life we will have someday with the Blessed Trinity.  Your children are learning self-discipline, respect and reverence for those around them, and feel a sense of belonging.  Someday, they will be embraced by God’s love for all eternity and be in a relationship of love with all the saints.  It’s a gift to be a part of such an environment and I look forward to the abundance of graces the Lord has in store for all of us this year.

Finally, I look forward to meeting you for the first time, or again if I have taught your children in the past.  Please forgive me for being slow with names, however, as there are a lot more of your names  to remember than there is of mine!  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your children at St. Peter’s!

God bless you!

Sister Mary Angela

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Ashes in Action

We are off to a good start.  We are wearing our Ashes well here.

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So far I’ve kept my Lenten resolutions well and it’s already noon, 1/80th of the way to Easter.  Several reminders of the reason for Lent have been handed to me recently, the reminder that had faded from my mind was solidarity with those entering the Church.  It is important for us to work at being broad minded, it is easy to fall into a “me and Jesus” focus, or a vision that does not go beyond our own walls.  The Church calls us to see beyond ourselves in many ways.  Lord help me focus on You and Your People, one of whom I am.  May we all become more pleasing to You.

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May we receive well the graces of Lent, He surely is not lacking in providing them.

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Sister Mary Michael, CK

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The Gift of Life

Pope Francis with a baby

The Loyola Press catalog adds this caption to the picture:  “You can — you must–try to seek God in every human life.”  – Pope Francis

Who will have that zucchetto on in the next picture.  I can readily picture it on the baby.  Pope Francis probably can, too, and I’ll bet he’d let the little fellow keep it.

January 22 is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and a day that has profoundly impacted our country, our city, our Church, and our lives.  Let us foster a love of life and all that goes with it.  I see a love and support for life in our parish at Christmas in your generosity.  I see the love of life in the care that you have for your children.  I see the love of life as I watch the children roller-skate in the gym (don’t worry, they guarantee the skates won’t hurt the floor).  I see it in Mrs. Richter as she teaches the kids to skate.

We will see a love of life on an amplified level here next week as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week.  May we all live well the life with which we have been blessed and praise God for the grace and gifts that come to us through our Catholic School.  May that grace fall upon open hearts eager to build the Kingdom, may mine be one of them, yours and theirs, too.

In Christ’s Love.

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The Best Gift I Ever Gave

Sentence starters are posted downstairs in the Junior High hallway.  The Junior High students finished the sentences, wrote them neatly on large colorful sentence strips and they were put up for all to see.  Two stick out as being unique and particularly thoughtful and were intriguing.

Gifts given - wo names

First, “The best gift I ever gave was for the people living in poverty.  In the adopt a child program, me and my friends (sic) grouped up and bought all kind so needs like:  towels, jackets, clothes, shoes, etc.”  Something in that child knew that gift was really needed.  Also what a pure gift, to give where there is no hope of return (in this life anyway)!

Secondly, “We are supposed to write about the best gift I’ve ever given.  Well, I haven’t given yet (sic).  I’m giving it to my mom on Christmas Eve.  My brother and I are going to sing, “Breathe of Heaven” as a duet for her during Christmas Eve Mass.  She loves it when we sing and she is going to melt when she hears it.”  That’s a child who knows her mother well.  I cannot think of a better gift for a mom.

Aren’t they good kids!  These two as well as the other sentences make me proud of them.  And thanks Mrs. Caradori for giving such assignments for writing and posting them in the hall. They inspire us all.

With the Love of the Little King,

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The Biggest Surprise at Christmas from the Other Side

Recently someone passed along a short poem about a loved one who had died, and that Christmas in heaven was a good thing, a very good thing.  I couldn’t wait to see the original.  I’ll add it at the end, but it made me think about what it will be like when we see more clearly.  Though I enjoyed the poem, I thought it fell short of what I had hoped for.  When I see from the other side, I’m imagining that I’ll think something like this:

“Are you kidding, “as I gaze upon the magnitude and omnipotence of the Trinity, overwhelmed with his glory, beauty, goodness and love.  “HE did THAT!”  realizing the chasm between the fragile Son Incarnate lying in a feeding trough, as I see the fullness of His majesty , equal to the Eternal Father .  I think the magnitude of the condescension of the Incarnation will strike me with paralyzing amazement  causing me to fall to my knees in delight.  I think the magnitude exceeds the degree my puny little mind can comprehend.  Yet, it seems good to try, lest I yawn in boredom and let my limited human nature keep me from the grace at hand.

Christmas in Heaven (original)

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I can’t tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face?

I’ll ask him to lift your spirit as I tell you of your love
So, then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing
For I am spending Christmas in heaven and I’m walking with the King.
by Wanda Bencke

Blessed Advent to you and Blessed Christmas, also.

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Children Giving

Can 13 year olds change the world?  They certainly can do good which changes things!  This week I heard a testimonial about some faith filled 13-year-olds. It reminded me of some of our own kids. To help prepare for Jesus’ coming, the student council has begun a penny drive for Catholic Relief Services. The children with a little direction from their faculty advisor have put together a simple school wide program.  They have containers in all the classrooms and are encouraging the children to give from the goodness of their heart. The Student Council members went from room to room to tell the children of the program.

In the midst of their presentation they stated that the main reward for giving will be from our Lord for your goodness as well as your own knowledge of having done good to others.  That reflects level D and C motivation, to please the Lord and help us get along well with one another (as opposed to A and B which serve myself only).

Today before school in the courtyard it was good to see many kids clutching their change, some in plastic bags some in bare little hands.  I could see kids showing something to one another, when I went to check it out…..little fists of change.

Missionaries and donations

As two Student Council members were preparing to announce the program to all the children in the school after Mass on Monday, I had an interesting dialogue with one of the girls. We were talking about the good that can be done with a little money in some of the very poor countries.  She told of her sister’s sponsorship of two girls from Guatemala, providing for them on a monthly basis for a number of years.  After several years she was notified that the young women were on their own and no longer in need of the support for education and daily sustenance. This young woman was a little disappointed that they didn’t need her sister’s sponsorship anymore.

When her birthday rolled around she asked her mom if she could sponsor a child of her own. So at the ripe old age of eleven, she adopted the sponsorship of Wadley, a four-year old boy from Haiti, pictured below.  She told of Wadley, who shares her same birthday, with great joy.  She spoke of planning for his birthday and buying things that would be useful to him, little, simple things like pencils, school supplies and stickers. The blessing of giving exuded from this young woman and brings great delight to my heart to see such generosity and joy in living the Gospel as Jesus would have us. Amen Alleluia and thank you for helping me prepare for Jesus coming this Advent

.WadleJoyful Sponsorship

Here’s one more example from beyond our walls, from Matthew Kelly:

Every day I am impressed by the incredible and generous people I meet who are willing to lay down their own lives to re-energize the Church in America. Below is a message from one of the most remarkable people I know who has teamed up with Dynamic Catholic to make history. I am excited to share it with you.-Matthew Kelly
In January 2014, I decided to make history… by helping re-energize the Church in America. At 13 years old some say I am too young, but I knew I could prove them wrong!It started 3 years ago when I would go with my mom to pick my brother up from school. In the car, my mom always played one of Matthew Kelly’s first CDs, and I loved it. A year later, my mom and I started going to daily Mass together, even though it wasn’t always easy to wake up. After Mass I would go to the Adoration Chapel. I think there’s just something amazing about sitting and talking to Jesus about your life.Then, last January, my dad and I went to a Matthew Kelly event. We loved it! I always wanted to help Dynamic Catholic, so when I heard about the Ambassadors Club I signed up to be a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador, committing to a monthly gift of $5.

It sounds strange that a 13-year-old would give away money, but it’s not as hard as you think. I can usually earn $5 per month by serving weddings at my church. From that, I earn enough to make donations.

Some 13-year olds might give money because their parents force them. But in my case, I was the one who really wanted to donate. I like to see exactly what my money goes toward, and I see Dynamic Catholic inspiring many people, old and young, to a deeper love for God. I know that our Church needs some help, and I think that Dynamic Catholic is doing what needs to be done!

 13 year old testimonial!

In Christ’s Love,

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Censorship – wise parents do it regularly.

We were in the midst of the candy tithing a few years back, when in a group someone commented, “What a good program for helping the kids learn to give.”

One of the dads in the group said, “I’ve been tithing my kids candy for years.”  A chuckle went up, but the point was made, “We share things in our family, and as a parent, it is under my supervision that the kids make sure they share with me, too.”

Censorship looks different at home than it does at school.  You determine what comes into your home via print, TV, internet.  You would never welcome a stranger about whom you know nothing to babysit your children.  Likewise you are vigilant about what they take in physically, educationally, psychologically.  As parents, you set the rules for your children and within the domestic church of your home, you are the bishop.  I pray your diocese is cooperative for the most part.

Reading and censorship is the challenge at hand.  Getting some kids to read is a really hard sell, others read every word on the cereal box and any other print material that comes their way.  For kids who will read anything it is easier to guide them well toward that which will most uplift their hearts, minds and souls.  Then comes the challenge for the kids who don’t like to read as much, and are drawn toward some of the early reading series, that while not overtly negative, yet, reflect a lack of respect for which your child would spend a LONG TIME in time out if they reflected to you in reality.  Some kids read the book, and seem to go on unscathed.  Others take it in a bit more and the come down a notch in the respect they display to their parents, working against that which we would have for them.

You, as parents, are the ones who decide the rules for your child.  We, as a Catholic School, are here to support you in your role as parents.  We strive to help your children thrive as good members of your family.

library time

Here kids are enjoying an A to Z Mystery, wholesome good literature by all counts.

Some books are great, others are over the edge and the decision to exclude is easy.  RL Stine has a series that many kids like.  The series of young adult literature which follows the one for elementary children has many inappropriate scenes.  We don’t have carry the books in our library, in part because of the content of the children’s books, but primarily due to where the books lead the children.

I’d like to hear from you as parents about whether you think some of the books we have in our collection are worthy of being there.  On one hand with technology use your kids are up against content much more potentially damaging than words on the written page (we use vigilance here with a filter that keeps me out of half of the content I need to see that is not offensive!).  On the other hand, just because there are other issues we don’t ignore the ones that on our radar.  Whatever we do we will not ban books with a lot of fanfare.  The last thing kids need is for us to highlight inappropriate books to them.  That’s why this is a parent newsletter not one for the children.  We bring many issues before you we would not bring before the children.

We have read most of the books in our library but if there is another book about which you have a concern please let us know.  I’d particularly like to hear from you about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate and/or Junie B. Jones.  Nothing will happen today or tomorrow, but as we look forward and strive to be a support to you in our building of family life, I’d like to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to comment here, or let me know in person what you think.  Thanks, and may God bless us all.

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Toothless

What a small window of life when we lose our baby teeth as they are pushed out by our permanent ones.  How easy to forget about the process, as most of us only go through that stage once, or maybe it should be said once ourselves and once again with eachy child.  This morning in the courtyard, the toothless smiles I encountered spoke to me of the carefree nature of childhood.  We’ve had some heavy issues this week as several families have been dealing with heavy crosses, though their faith has given flesh to the incarnation of hope.

Take a little vacation from the heavy things in life to consider the phase of life that is “Toothless” as a child (there could be another chapter of toothless, but that would be on the other end of life.)

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For many more examples go to:

http://vimeo.com/109730672

God bless us all fully toothed and those who are short a few!

In His Love,

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