November - Jesus Christ
The video above, by Bishop Barron, walks us through a recap of who Jesus is, the incarnate I AM, fully human and fully divine. Bishop Barron echoes St. Catherine's teachings on Jesus, discussed in the November Family Faith Sessions. During these sessions, we also used the Dominican practice of Contemplative Prayer to collect our thoughts, quiet our breath and place ourselves in the presence of the Lord.
Jesus the Living Bridge
St. Catherine used several images to describe Jesus, but her image of Jesus as the Living Bridge is the most well-known. In his own person, Jesus became the bridge stretching from heaven to earth. He took our humanity and merged it with his divinity so that we can ascend, through him, to heaven, and the Divine is fully present on earth. Contemplative Prayer Practice #1: Place your feet flat on the floor, with your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Sit with this word - BRIDGE. Allow an image to come to mind, without forcing or expectation. Look around your bridge. What type of structure do you see? What is on either end of the bridge? What does the water under the bridge look like? The Bridge you picture can help you see your relationship to Jesus.
Jesus and his Teachings are One
In The Dialogue of St. Catherine, St. Catherine records all that she has learned of the way of God. She writes that "though the Living Bridge has been taken from our sight, there remains the bridgeway of his teaching. So now, just as much as before, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life - the way that is the bridge leading to the very heights of Heaven." The Living Bridge and the Teachings are one. Contemplative Prayer Practice #2: Close your eyes again. Gently focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out. In and out. Go back to your bridge. What barriers or boulders are on the bridge, keeping you from moving on? What teachings of Jesus do you find hard, and struggle with?
Bridges to Peace and Understanding
St. Catherine repeatedly taught that Jesus is the God of Mercy. Not only does he want us to come to him with all our hopes, trials, joys and sorrows, but he also wants us to bring to him the needs of others. He wants us to be mediators and intercessors, just as he is. He is the Word of God, we are his small words. He is the Living Bridge, we can be small bridges to peace and understanding in areas in our own lives. Jesus' prayers and offering of himself reconciles us to God, just as our prayers and offerings can help reconcile ourselves to God and others. Contemplative Prayer Practice #3: Close your eyes and focus on your breathing again. In your own life, where are you called to be a bridge? What situation or person needs the presence of God? How can the Holy Spirit guide you to bring peace and clarity, through your own prayers and offerings?
Would You Like to Go Deeper?
The practice of Contemplative prayer gets easier with practice. Spend a few minutes with Jesus, the Living Bridge, the Word of God. HERE are some books to help you.
At the November Sessions
St. Cat's Glowbugs Centers:
Movement Center: In this center, families walked - literally- in the footsteps of St. Catherine. Starting at the statue of Jesus, the Sacred Heart, they followed a prayer path to the Altar of the Dead and other points around the narthex. At each stop, families learned about what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. The center ended at the Baptismal font, where our journey into the life of discipleship and the family of God begins.
Story Center: At Center 2, families gathered to "Find Jesus!" as they worked through 3 big pages of a children's book that's in a "Where's Waldo?" type format. Each page taught about different aspects of Jesus Christ. Page 1 focused on Jesus' miracles, Page 2 taught about Jesus' healings, and Page 3 recalled Jesus' teachings.
Scripture Center: Center 3 gave the families time together to explore Scripture and find and reflect on the 7 "I AM" statements of Jesus. He said "I AM" the Good Shepherd, the Gate, the Vine, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Way, Truth and Life and the Resurrection. Which revelation of Jesus is most meaningful to you?
Living Liturgically: In this center, families focus on a liturgical event taking place during the month. For the first 5 sessions, families focused on the Kingship of Christ, in preparation for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe on Nov. 26. What kind of King is Jesus? Jesus did not come to BE served but TO serve. Children created a crown and placed stickers on it that represented Jesus' kingship. Stickers included a cross, a lamb, a BIble, a heart, a star, and more. At the 6th session, children created Advent bookmarks instead of crowns, in anticipation of the 1st Sunday of Advent. Each child made 2 bookmarks, one to keep and one to give away.
St. Cat's SPARKS (4th and 5th graders)
The 4th and 5th graders talked about being living images of Jesus. After praying together Psalm 139 they were invited to think what that says about the way they are to treat others and themselves, to think about the importance of their actions. What do they tell others about who God is? They were told, "God created you and all people in God’s image and likeness. When you care for others, you reflect God’s image." As a closing activity, the students made wristbands with a quote, image or phrase to remind them to be the image and likeness of Jesus for others.
St. Cat's IGNITE (Middle School)
Our middle school students studied the Wisdom tradition in scripture, specifically Jesus as the Wisdom of God. The Bible teaches that true wisdom comes from trusting God and obeying God’s law. Jesus is the wisdom of God, sought in every age by those who are wise. In the Bible, Solomon’s wisdom arose from what he himself admitted that he didn’t know. His prayer confesses that his greatest wish is to be given a gift of understanding, so that he might share it with God’s People. Students were then invited to work in groups to explore the Book of Wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and to find some passages that spoke to them of the Wisdom of God.