Here is an infographic on the Corporal Works of Mercy to go along with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Here is an infographic on the Corporal Works of Mercy to go along with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
I made an infographic to explain the Spiritual Works of Mercy to the children in the faith formation classes. Each week I will teach about one work of mercy and then give some ideas as to how to practice it. At the beginning of the next session we will discuss how the spiritual work was implemented and then go on to the next one.
This post is written in response to a question from one of our readers for a fun retreat for catechists. I willingly took up the opportunity to craft a retreat. I hope it is of use to you.
Since we are currently celebrating the Year of Mercy, it seems appropriate that we form our retreat around the theme of mercy.
Theme: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36
Gather: Serve refreshments appropriate to the time of the retreat; have music playing in the background; if your group is large and people do not know each other’s names, provide name tags.
Welcome: The retreat leader should welcome the group and give an overview of the day.
Opening Prayer: Have a prayer space set up with a covered table, crucifix, Bible, flowers, candle, etc. Use items which are meaningful to your group.
Song: Sweep me Away by Kari Jobe
Psalm 136: Have copies of Psalm 136 available for each participant. Separate the group into two groups and pray the Psalm with each group alternately praying two verses. (Click here for handout)
Reflection: How do I see God’s mercy enduring forever?
Prayer: Lord, you are the Father of all mercy. Throughout history you have shown your people how to love and serve you and each other. You gave us the ultimate sign of your mercy in your Son, Jesus. Help us to know your mercy and then to learn to share it with those you ask us to teach. May your mercy flow in us as we grow closer to you this day. We ask for Mary’s intercession as we pray: Hail Mary…
Ice Breakers: These are helpful and important, especially if your group is large or unfamiliar with each other.
Some possible ideas
1. Human Bingo: Make up Bingo cards with one item in each square, people find one person that has that characteristic in the square. Possible squares: married more than 10 years, is wearing boots, speaks a foreign language, loves to cook, has been anointed, has read the entire Bible, goes to daily Mass, has on a medal or crucifix, carries a rosary in their purse or pocket, is on Facebook, etc. The first one to have a signature in each box wins.
2. We’re all connected: one person stands up in front of the group and starts talking about themselves: I’m from New York, my favorite food is steak, I like to sew, etc… As the person is talking, if another person in the group hears something that is also true of them, they get up, link arms and start talking about themselves until another person hears something that is also true of them, gets up, starts talking and so on until everyone has gotten up. When you explain the game remind people to tell unique things about themselves, not your usual I’m a mom, I teach Confirmation class.
3. That’s Me: (I can’t recall if that really is the name of the game) this works with a small group, no more than 12 or so. Each person writes down something very unique about themselves that people cannot tell by being casual friends or acquaintances. I often write that I forgot how to speak English when I was little. Once everyone has written something, they fold the slip of paper and put it in a basket. Pass around the basket, making sure you don’t have your own paper. Each person reads the slip and tries to guess who wrote it.
Break for bathroom/water
Talk: Retreat Leader or other suitable person
Pick a story from the Gospels that focuses on healing and mercy. For me, I’d have to choose between the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the Healing of the Blind Beggar (Luke 18:35-43). Read the Gospel passage chosen and give an explanation of it. After the explanation, it would be appropriate to give a personal testimony of mercy in your own life. Then, either in pairs or small groups, have each participant tell their own story of mercy.
We want to give people the opportunity to see God’s mercy in our everyday lives. When we see mercy in our own lives and reflect on it, it convicts us and hopefully leads us to share it with others.
Group Activity: Mercy is Falling
Play the song Mercy is Falling for the group. Break up into small groups and give each group a large sheet of paper and markers. Instruct the groups to either make a list of or draw what they see when they think of mercy.
When everyone is finished, have them explain to the whole group what they discovered. Post them around the room.
Break for lunch, allow time for fellowship, going outside weather permitting; come back together and open with a song.
Song: Lord I need You by Matt Maher
Lectio Divina: Luke 6:27-36
Here is an explanation of Lectio Divina from the Religion Teacher. I’ve also included an explanation in the handout. I recommend doing this in small groups, no more than five or six people.
Closing Prayer: Before praying, have each participant write their name on a small slip of paper, fold it and put it in a basket.
Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
After the prayer, have each person take a name from the basket to pray for that person.
Closing: Thank everyone for coming, if a priest or deacon is present have him offer a blessing to the group.
If possible, do the closing prayer in a chapel or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This outline is for a retreat without a priest; if you have a priest I’d add opportunities for confession and Mass depending on time constraints.
Copyright 2015, Deanna Bartalini
I gleaned a few things I’d like to tell you about and I will in a minute. First though, the book is a nice, easy read but it asks tough questions and offers ways to learn more about Jesus and grow into a, dare I say, better Christian. Each chapter ends with action items: Point to Ponder, Verse to Live, Question to Consider, and Prayer. If you thought, learned and prayed those four items each day for forty days (which is the number of chapters in the book) I think you would be a different person, hopefully better, at the end of that time. I suppose I could have done that, but I am a book glutton so I can’t just read one chapter a day. Ideally, I’ll go back to those chapters which challenged me the most and read those again.
Onto my list of nuggets from the book!
Chapters 24, The Gap and 28, Spontaneous Prayer , were probably my favorite. The Gap was full of practical tips which Kelly explains fully in successive chapters. Spontaneous Prayer made me think about and ponder Gospel verses in a new way.
If you’d like a copy of the book, go to Dynamic Catholic. They’d make great stocking stuffers
No, this is not a post on fashion for Mass or dressing for faith formation classes. I want to introduce you to a great way to make an impact in your marketing materials for the programs, classes, and events you promote. In this day of almost constant visual and auditory input, the same old thing won’t be noticed.
About a year ago I discovered Canva.com. Canva is an easy to use tool to create beautiful designs and documents. You sign up and have access to layouts and design elements for posters, Facebook posts, Twitter, blogs, postcards, and more. There are both free and for fee elements you can use, all clearly labeled. Since I have been using Canva I have never purchased anything I have used.
Let me show you some of the work I have created.
These are just a few examples. The possibilities are endless and the price is definitely right for ministry which often have to watch the bottom line. The finished product can be downloaded as a standard or for print PDF or as a JPEG or PNG image. Once you create your work, it is yours without copyright restrictions.
There are tutorials to learn how to use Canva, but I found it easy to use without instruction. You can also see other people’s work in the Design Stream or follow friends by putting in their email address or pulling gmail contacts. A blog gives you tips on everything from color to fonts. And of course, you can follow them on Pinterest.
Canva has recently come out with a new product, Canva for Work, which has various pricing plans. I plan to try it during the trial period and then decide if I’ll make the switch.
I cannot encourage you enough to try out this tool for yourself. If you are posting “out there” on the internet for your parish, keep in mind that more and more, posts everywhere benefit from a graphic to catch people’s attention. By creating visually appealing graphics we let those we are trying to reach that not only do we have an awesome message, we know how to present it.
Go try it, play around and create something lovely. Leave a link to where it is in the comment section; I’d love to see what you made! I hope you enjoy Canva as much as I do.
Copyright 2015, Deanna Bartalini
FYI: I may sound like a paid advertisement, but it’s not.
I am a big believer in occupying the hands of little ones as we instruct them. They enjoy doing things themselves and having a finished product to show parents and this way when asked “what did you do today?” they can show something. Of course, the hope is that parents look at it and then discuss it too!
Monica McConkey of Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families emailed me a kit that I choose for review, the “Journey with Jesus” scrapbook which includes the seven sacraments; explanations of sin, the domestic Church, and the Mas as well as definitions from the catechism and prayers. She breaks down the topics very well, asking questions with space for answers and helps lead the children to understanding by making the faith personal and relevant to their lives. The line drawings were done by Monica’s daughter, are well done and appealing. Plus, they are big enough to color if you want.
The logistics of the kit are fairly simple. You order on line at the Arma Dei website and the have the PDF download immediately. Be sure to print on only one side your paper. (my advice, so you can learn from my mistakes) Other supplies needed are scissors and glue, crayons if you’ll be coloring the pictures. If you want to make a cover, you’ll need card stock or construction paper. Instructions are included to make an accordion fold book or you can cut each page, glue it onto construction paper and make a larger book.
What I like about the craft is the flexibility, both of the content and finished product. Depending on your needs, each sacrament could be made separately, the prayer pages to make a prayer book, the Mass pages to make a Mass book or whatever suits you best. If I were to do it with a class, I’d probably make a scrapbook with construction paper, rather than an accordion book.
I am passing this on to the second grade catechist and will have the other catechists take a look on the website and see what they would like for their classes this year. I think this is an excellent product, practical yet engaging and most of all, very accurate in presenting the truths of our faith.
There are many other kits, games and resources on the website, both free and for a fee. Monica is also about to release a new series on Super Saints. Here is a video to learn more. You are sure to find something you can use for you family or class.
Copyright 2015, Deanna Bartalini
This time of year often finds those of us who prepare children for First Holy Communion in our final weeks of preparation. In our program, children receive First Holy Communion on the first Sunday in May. We have a morning retreat for them a few weeks before. It’s a chance to come together and do some activities together, take an up close tour of the church, practice the songs for Mass and practice how to receive.
Here is an outline with the resources we use:
9:00 am Welcome, distribute name tags
9:05: Opening Prayer
3 stations, each 20 minutes long;
9:20 – 9:40; 9:45 – 10:05; 10:10- 10:30
Station #1 The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith by Josephine Nobisso; I use the book, but there is also a Youtube video available. We read the book and then ask questions about it. If you have not read it, do so. It is an amazing story with beautiful illustrations. At a certain point in the story, the children listening will start nodding and gasping as they understand what is happening and the meaning behind all the action.
Station #2 Chalice and Host craft; I found this on The Catholic Toolbox.
Station #3 The Last Supper; I read the Last Supper and then do a short reenactment with unleavened bread and grape juice.
10:35: The Making of Communion Bread; this is an awesome video that not only demonstrates how hosts are made, but explains what the Eucharist means to us. A Passionist nun of Erlanger, Kentucky is our guide for this brief ten minute video.
10:50: Snack and Bathroom break
11:00: Church Tour; I point out our various statues, holy water font, tabernacle, how to genuflect, Mass responses and postures. We also practice hoe to receive Holy Communion. Then our music director teaches us the songs we will use at the Mass. We close in prayer in the Church and then go back to the parish hall for parents to pick up the children at noon.
The term “family Mass” probably conjures up all sorts of memories or ideas for people. I’m sure not all of these memories or ideas are positive ones either. Having been in ministry for as many years as I have, I’ve seen and participated in many Masses in the past that I would never consider appropriate now. But in the 70’s things happened. Fast forward and try to get rid of your thoughts, especially the ones against special Masses, and hear me out. Family Mass can be a good thing. Of course, Mass is always good and Mass should never be celebrated for one group to exclude another,
For many years in the parish where I currently work, families were not welcome. At all. There was one altar server. First penance was not celebrated; the confessions were heard in the hallway during class on a Sunday morning. Our goal in having a Family Mass was to invite families to return to their faith home. Once a month, at our regularly scheduled 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass, we have children serve as lectors and ushers. At homily time, the children are called forward and sit on the steps in front of the altar; listening and responding to a homily just for them. A few of the children bring up the offertory gifts. Our children’s choir sings as usual. What are the benefits to doing this? Families come to Mass together, the children participate in serving the parish, and the parish is seen as caring for families. Another important point to note, no one has complained. I have instituted many programs at many parishes and never once have I received no complaints. Older adults, who are the majority of our parishioners, are thrilled to see the children and especially enjoy their participation. Some even comment that they prefer the homilies given for the children since they understand them better.
A family Mass may not work in your parish, but in ours it has been a positive addition. We hope that continued participation in this Mass will help families see the value and necessity of attending every week.
Deanna Bartalini is the Director of Faith Formation for St. Edward Catholic Church in Palm Beach, FL. She has served in the diocese of Palm Beach since 1985 in both paid and volunteer positions in the areas of religious education, youth ministry and stewardship. Prior to working in full time ministry, Deanna worked in the field of English as a Second Language as a teacher, consultant, teacher trainer, curriculum developer and publishing sales manager. Deanna has been married for over 30 years and has raised two wonderful adults. For most of her life she has been a planner; however, the Holy Spirit usually intervenes, sometimes quite forcefully, and leads her to another path.
Deanna is available to lead retreats and speak at catechist and ministry events. Learn more about her on her website, New Evangelizers, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
No matter what my job title or career choice, I have always considered myself an educator. In all things I strive to reach out and teach by word or deed. The material or topic is almost irrelevant as is the age of the person.
This book of meditations, 99 Way to Teach like the Master by T.J. Burdick lends itself to all of us who teach. And by all of us who teach, I literally mean all of us! Whether you are a preschool teacher or a college professor, just starting out or an old hand, one child at your kitchen table or enough to fill a bus, there is something to be gleaned from reading the scripture and reflections T.J. has put together.
There are five chapters with reflections in them, each beginning with a brief introduction. I don’t think it is necessary to read the book from front to back, you could pick and choose which reflection to read based on the title which you find intriguing, such as “Humility”, “Mercy” “Knowing it All” or “Keeping Healthy”. My favorite reflection is “Understanding God’s Report Card”.
Each reflection begins with a scripture quote, then an explanation as to how the passage relates to a facet of education, and closes with how to apply the teaching in a practical way, either with an action or prayer. The reflection takes just a few minutes to read and then you can think about it as you go through your day, helping to form the minds you are teaching
The book is available as an E-book and paperback. Both are available from En Route Books and Media. The E-book is on sale for $3.99 until February 9, 2015.