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In these images, faith and art combine so as to penetrate our heart and summon us to conversion.
– Pope Benedict XVI, after the Way of the Cross in Madrid, WYD 2011


Deposition by Rogier van der Wyden

Be sure to check out a larger version of this painting. The rest of the Holy Father’s address is also really worth reading. Or printing and leaving out on the kitchen table.

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Little babies and the Rosary
Really little babies and praying the Rosary go together really well. I often found myself stuck in a reclining position with a sleeping newborn on me at all hours of the day or night. Instead of being anxious about all the things I wasn’t able to do, I could say the Rosary.

Bigger babies
Throw in a few interesting toys and books onto the bed, maybe a pillow fort, and most babies are able to stay in the same room for the entire Rosary. Most, not all. Saying a decade was as good as it got with some of my babies, before you had to run and rescue them from some adventure or another.

Preschoolers
Preschoolers can start trying to learn the words of the prayers that make up the Rosary. During bedtime prayers, we will sometimes say the Hail Mary or the Our Father and, after what seems like a gazillion years, they end up knowing the prayers by heart. There is also this nifty pamphlet that floats around our house that has tiny pictures of all the mysteries. You never know when you’ll be talking about the Sorrowful Mysteries, little person on your knee.


Nifty Rosary pamphlet

The Family Rosary
When I was in high school, I had some friends whose families said the Rosary together every night. We would be on the phone together when suddenly they would say, “Gotta go!” and then immediately hang up. I came to learn that when their parents called for the family Rosary, there were no delays. You stopped what you were doing and headed to the living room. My family didn’t have a devotion to the Rosary back then and my friends’ commitment to it impressed me.

Using Technology
Did you know that there are all manner of Rosary apps for various smartphones and tablets? When you’re browing through the app store next time with your technological appendage of choice, don’t forget to check out the feature-packed apps that might add a new dimension to your daily Rosary.
Update: Here is a link to a blog post reviewing a few Rosary apps for the iPod Touch and iPad.


A Rosary app on a smart phone

Struggles
I personally struggle with staying on top of my daily prayers, whether it be the Rosary, the Angelus or even the simple Morning Offering. Slowly and slowly, stopping what I am doing to offer God minutes and minutes of my time in prayer is becoming a more regular part of my day, and not something that I feel I should get a parade for.

In just a few days, thousands and thousands of youth from around the world with gather in Madrid, Spain to celebrate World Youth Day 2011, sharing with the whole world (and with each other) their hope of committing themselves to Christ. Our kids are still too little to participate, but my husband and I have amazing memories of attending past World Youth Days, back when we were “youth”. Way, waaay back.


Rome, 2001. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’m cropped off the photo, to the right. My knees were shaking uncontrollably.

On the occasion of this summer’s WYD, the Holy Father prepared a message reflecting on this year’s theme: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). A fellow parishoner forwarded it to me, suggesting that it would be timely to share a bit of it with you.

We too want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to “see” and to “meet” Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.

WYD will take place between the 16th and the 21st of August – a good time to say a small prayer for the youth who will be, as the Holy Father puts it, wanting something great, something new, wanting to discover life itself.

You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the working system of a computer; you must know it as a musician knows his piece; yes, you must be much more profoundly rooted in the faith of the generation of your parents, to be able to resist forcefully and with determination the challenges and temptations of this time. You have need of divine help, if you do not want your faith to dry up as a dewdrop in the sun, if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to be drowned in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence. -Pope Benedict XVI

My kids are still pretty little, and presenting matters of the faith does not take a great deal of courage. I imagine that this will not always be the case. As they get older and life gets more challenging, as situations get less black-and-white and more gray, as they see and experience more of the world, it will take more guts on my part to continue to be a witness to the message of Jesus. Pope Benedict challenges the youth time and time again to keep their standards high. I hope, when the time comes, I will, too.

By the way, the quotation was taken from an article in Zenit, a news agency whose aim it is “to look at the modern world through the messages of the Pope and the Holy see, inform about the happenings of the Church in the world, and the topics, debates and events that are especially interesting to Christians worldwide.” I find it a great resource for following what the Holy Father is up to and saying.

I found a document online that seems too good to skip. Not that it’s an exciting page-turner or anything, but it’s the most comprehensive document I’ve found about what our Church has to offer regarding life and love. The document is particularly for young parents who are wondering how to go about the sexual education of their children. It’s called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family and was prepared by the Pontifical Council for the Family (so, straight from the horse’s mouth).

In the introduction, it says, Boy, are YOU ever in for it. Ok, I’m paraphrasing. They actually say:

Among the many difficulties parents encounter today, despite different social contexts, one certainly stands out: giving children an adequate preparation for adult life, particularly with regard to education in the true meaning of sexuality. There are many reasons for this difficulty and not all of them are new.

No matter how “delicate and arduous” the task will be, they urge us to not be discouraged. We were made for the job:

On the other hand, having given and welcomed life in an atmosphere of love, parents are rich in an educative potential which no one else possesses. In a unique way they know their own children; they know them in their unrepeatable identity and by experience they possess the secrets and the resources of true love.

I’m pretty excited about diving into the rest of it in more detail and sharing the gems with you. We’ll do it in a series of bite-sized installments. Hopefully, we’ll get through it before my oldest goes to the prom.

2009 Archdiocesan Youth Rally, OCY

World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain on August 15-21, 2011. Now, back in the day when I was a youth, I attended World Youth Day in Manila, Philippines and Rome, Italy. In 2002, I took a group of students to World Youth Day right here in Toronto.

I can’t say enough what an incredible experience World Youth Day was to me as a teenager. I would say that it sparked the flame of faith that continues to sustain me now. There just isn’t anything like celebrating the faith thousands (in Manila, millions) of young people from around the world.

I mention this because I came across the registration information for 2011 on the website of the Office of Catholic Youth and it seems that registration is NOW. The definition of “youth” is 18 years of age and over, so if you have (or know) young people in that age range and are interested, I highly recommend reading their FAQ page or contacting them.

Besides organizing trips around the world during these World Youth Days, the Office of Catholic Youth also organizes events locally and has resources for parish youth ministries. Check out their website for more information.

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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