From the Mouths of Babes
By Marilena Berardinelli
One of the great gifts of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the lives of its catechists is the reminder that the great teacher is not the catechist, but God and that the catechist listens to God alongside the child. As such, the catechist and child learn about and experience God together. The children in our atriums have revealed to my fellow catechists and I much about the love of God, Jesus and most certainly the Holy Spirit. Today I share with you three moments from our time with the children, in the hopes that the children’s openness to and perceiving of the Holy Spirit may inspire in you the same awe and wonder it did in them and us.
1—After presenting the Annunciation to the children preparing for First Communion, the catechist invited the children to ponder Jesus’ divine nature, by wondering together how it was that this unmarried young girl had come to be pregnant. An eight- year old autistic child shouted, “epiclesis”. At first instinct the catechist was tempted to correct the child, but with pause realized that the child was not mistaken. Epiclesis is the gesture in the Mass that communicates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine, transforming them into the body and blood of Jesus. This young child (who we often, mistakenly, thought wasn’t even listening) was able to reconcile the coming of the Holy Spirit to Mary some 2000 years ago as the same Spirit he had experienced at Mass in the breaking of the bread.
2—A four-year old child was working with a material recounting the story of Jesus’ birth. When the catechist looked over, the child had placed in the manger not the baby Jesus, but had gone to the Annunciation material on the nearby shelf and taken the flame (symbol the Holy Spirit) and placed it in the manger. A passing observer may have pointed to the baby Jesus that lay to the wayside, but the catechist saw in the child’s meditation what even she had often failed to recognize.
3—The parish’s ministry with JK/SK students concludes with the CGS presentation of Pentecost. Following this presentation, the catechist asked the children who they recognized in the action of the wind and fire. A child raised his hand and confidently replied, “God”. The classroom teacher (interrupting) corrected him with a quick “no”. When the catechist pointed out that the child’s response was indeed true, that God was present among the apostles that day and in that moment we call God “Holy Spirit”, the teacher stood in silent amazement and the child smiled a great (and holy) smile!
Happy Pentecost to all the children in our parish and to all our parishioners who desire “to change and be like children so that they too will enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 18.2)
- Acts 2.1-11
- Psalm 104
- 1 Corinthians 12.3b-7, 12-13
- John 20.19-23
World Communications Day
By Michael Pirri
Every year on the Sunday prior to Pentecost, the Church celebrates the achievements of the communications media. World Communications Day (WCD) was established by Pope Paul VI to encourage us to reflect on the unique opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication afford the Church to communicate the Gospel message. In this year’s address, Pope Francis reminds us that we are all interwoven, and that globalization is meant to bring us all closer together, not separate us. Social Media is at the root of a whole host of mental health issues: feelings of anxiety, alienation, inadequacy, and loneliness are becoming more and more prevalent. But how can this be, given that we are so much more connected than previous generations? “Clearly, it is not enough to multiply connections in order to increase mutual understanding. How, then, can we find our true communitarian identity, aware of the responsibility we have towards one another in the online network as well?” (53rd WCD Message) St. Paul remarks in his letter to the Ephesians that we hear today “…the Church, which is his body…” The image of the Church as the Body of Christ is mentioned by Paul numerous times in the New Testament. This is an important metaphor which evokes striking imagery of interconnectedness. “Being members one of another is the profound motivation with which the Apostle invites us to put away falsehood and speak the truth: the duty to guard the truth springs from the need not to belie the mutual relationship of communion.” (53rd WCD Message) Crucial to this interconnectedness, is communication. Even in cases of extreme reclusivity, we do not truly live alone. We exist in relation to others, but also in relationship with others. The same is true for our relationship with God. No matter how distant a life we are living from Him, we are never truly devoid of a relationship with Him. “God is not Solitude, but Communion; he is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates; indeed, it communicates itself in order to encounter the other.” (Dei Verbum, 2) The challenge for most of us in this day and age is to continue the work of forming meaningful relationships; investing in one another, we hope to forge a community where we affirm our own humanity. “By virtue of our being created in the image and likeness of God who is communion and communication-of-Self, we carry forever in our hearts the longing for living in communion, for belonging to a community. “Nothing, in fact, is as specific to our nature as entering into a relationship one with another, having need of one another,” says Saint Basil.” (53rd WCD Message)
- Acts 1.1-11
- Psalm 47
- Ephesians 1.17-23
- Luke 24.46-53
It’s Time to Say Goodbye By Fr. Norm Tanck It is difficult to say goodbye, especially to someone you love. For the last few weeks, the Gospel readings at Mass have been from Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John. Jesus’ goodbye isn’t a quick, “so long, its been good to know you”. It takes all of Chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17 (116 verses). It is really a beautiful, intimate insight into Jesus’ love for his Father, his deep love for his disciples. You can sense the human vulnerability of one who has to say goodbye to those he loves, and yet there is a sense of strength and purpose because the pain of separation will be replaced with the joy of being reunited in a deeper and lasting bond. He tells them it is time for him to leave them now, but promises to send the Spirit, to comfort them. He talks about the unity and peace that can only come from love and being obedient to the will of the Father. Jesus speaks of his hopes and dreams for his disciples, his friends and for the whole world, “That all would be one” and all would be at peace, He prays for them and for us. Next Sunday we will be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension when we will commemorate the Lord Jesus’ return to the Father in heaven and the Great Commission given to the Apostles to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News that the reign of God as begun. But we can already feel the anxiety of separation and loss in today’s Gospel, along with a promise of accompaniment and hope. But to address that “separation anxiety” Jesus tells his disciples and us, ”Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe”. Whenever we feel the pain of separation and loss, whenever we fear for the future, these words can be a solace and hope for us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”. Sunday’s Readings: Acts 15.1-2, 22-29 Psalm 67 Revelation 21.10-14, 22-23 John 14.23-29