Examination of Conscience for Teenagers

Many years ago I prepared an examination of conscience for Confirmation Candidates based on the Gospel passage from Matthew where Jesus tells us WE are the Salt of the earth and light of the world.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, the examination was read slowly by 2 catechists leaving enough silence between each section for reflection.

Another time we asked the candidates to reflect on the elements of salt and light. After a short while we asked them to choose one of the metaphors and used the co-responding examination with each group.

 

YOU ARE the salt of the earth and light of the world.

Think about salt, what does it do? It makes a difference

salt piles

It seasons:

When have you failed to make a positive contribution to your worshipping community?

Your family?

Your work or school?

Your friends?

 

It preserves:

When have you failed to keep something fresh?

When have you allowed a relationship to go stale through inattention?

How do you keep your relationship with the Lord fresh?

 

It cleanses and heals:

How does the Gospel help you to live morally?

Where do you need healing, in mind – thoughts, desires, beliefs, ideals?

in body – attitude to food, self image, harmful substances,

in spirit – relationships, faith, prayer, rest.

 

It adds buoyancy:

How often do you allow yourself to come before the Lord and just be?

How does your behaviour keep others afloat?

 

It can increase thirst:

Does your behaviour invite others to ask about Jesus?

 

It is something of value:

Do you believe you are made in the image and likeness of God?

How does this affect your actions?

Where have you not valued yourself?

Or others?

What do you value most?

Does your focus need to change?

When have you allowed an invitation to make a difference slip through your hands?

 

It is a mineral:

Where have you not been respectful of the earth?

Where could you make a change to live as a good steward?

 

Think about light, what does it do? It enables us to see   

  light

It illuminates:

Where do you take the Light of Christ for granted?

When are you aware of needing Light to help you?

 

It cannot be hidden:

What actions would you like to hide from the light?

 

It reveals:

How often do you ignore what Christ reveals to you?

 

It comforts:

Where have you not comforted those in need?

 

It creates a shadow:

Where are you only part of who you are called to be?

Which actions work out of your shadow side?

 

It is radiant:

Where do you not allow the truth to shine through?

What stops you from being truly beautiful?

 

It guides:

When do you cause others to stumble?

What stops you from being a guide?

Weaving the Word: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Yr A

The baptism of the Lord celebrates a third epiphany and the end of the Christmas season. The decorations are down although the crib remains in place til Candlemas.
For me this feast brings with it space of Ordinary Time to breathe and reflect (if only for a short while) on my faith life.
I have always thought that the making of new year resolutions that encourage us to become abstemious or even give up things, an odd custom, when we are still in full party mode celebrating the Incarnation.
It seemed particularly noticeable this year with all the ‘end of a decade’ notifications on social media. I had it seems, been oblivious to this fact, let alone of the need to make extra special resolutions.

Perhaps this Feast provides a better time to grow new habits as it is through the lens of baptism that my life makes sense.

Baptism fills us with new life, not just at the time of the sacrament but everyday. Baptism is not in the past, but is actively working throughout our lives. With this new life we are called continually to a new start, to return to the Lord and live a life that reflects that we are claimed by Christ. Knowing that I belong to God, that I too am called ‘beloved’ puts the reason for new habits in to a correct perspective, one of faith. Any changes I make, need to come from the place of knowing that I am called to be fully human, ‘I have come that you might have life and have it to the full’.

If I resolve to become fit(ter) or to eat more healthily it is not because the advertising that tells me I am not perfect or I will be a happier for these resolutions tell me to be less when in reality I am called to be more, more of whom I am created to be.

If I resolve to look at my carbon footprint it is because I recognise I am connected with all of creation, that with being a Steward I have a responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle.

If I resolve to fight for justice I do so because I believe in the dignity of each and every one of us are created in the image and likeness of God.

Reflection points on the Gospel

This feast marks the end of Christmastide. What word, moment, encounter or revelation from Christmas will continue to nourish you into Ordinary Time? Through our baptism we care called, like Christ, to Servanthood. How do you respond to this invitation? How does being called ‘beloved’ by God impact on your daily life?

For Children
What might Jesus ask you to ‘allow it’ to bring you closer to the Father? Your God parents echo God’s love for you. Remember to pray and thank God for them.

For Families

How do you model Servanthood within your family? Today is Peace Sunday. How can you be agents for justice? You might get ideas here http://paxchristi.org.uk/

Prayer

Lord, for all who have made resolutions, may we be filled with the courage and strength of the Holy Spirit to carry them out with the confidence that God only ever wants what is best for us. Amen

Weaving the Word: Epiphany Yr A

Epiphany! My favourite feast.

Epiphany! Still my favourite Christmastide Feast and if you are interested in why then check out my previous post

Gearing up for Epiphany

Reflection points

Where are you troubled when asked about Jesus Christ?

Where will you search diligently for Jesus this week?

How will you give Him homage this week?

Children

Where do natural signs, stars, or nature remind you of Jesus?

Where have you been overjoyed this Christmastide? Remember to thank God for them.

What gift can you bring to the Lord?

Family

Discuss who your ‘kings’ or ‘magi’ might be today, where are they from, what do they look like, what might they bring?

Place your kings in your Crib. Although it is 12th night you might like to keep your Crib on display until Candlemas (Feb 2nd) and continue to use it as a focus for your family prayer.

Epiphany Tradition of blessing the home

Oh God

You revealed Your Son to all people

by the shinning light of a star.

We pray that You bless this home and all who live hear with Your gracious presence.

May Your love be our inspiration,

Your wisdom our guide,

Your truth our light,

Your truth our benediction.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen

End by marking the outside of your home with chalk to say

20+C+M+B+20

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Weaving the Word 4th Sunday Advent A

A straight to the point post this week as ttere are only 2 days of the 4th week of Advent.

Reflection points

Today we hear of the first of Joseph’s dreams that Matthew weave’s throughout the infancy narrative. How does God speak to you?

When we are tempted to ask for a sign, what sort of sign would you be prepared to receive?
How does it change your celebration of Christmas to know you are saved from your sins?
For Children
In the passage before just before this one we hear of Jesus’ descendants.
What do you know about your family tree?
How would you describe Joseph from today’s Gospel?
What does it mean to you to know that ‘God-is-with-us’?
For Families
Advent is almost ended. How prepared are you to bring Christ to birth in your community?
The lives of Mary and Joseph are turned upside down by accepting the will of God. How does their experience chime with your’s.
Prayer
Emmanuel
God-with-us
God-within-us
Here, now, every moment of our day.
Today, tomorrow and always.
Jesus our Saviour.
Amid the noise and bustle of what Christmas has become
May we anxiously await your voice in moments of silence
Inviting us not to be afraid to bring You to birth once more.
Amen

Weaving the Word: 3rd Sunday Advent Year A

Now that the dust has settled (here in the UK at least) I find myself reflecting on Gaudete Sunday.

This week the church calls us to rejoice and to keep on keeping on.
And yet for many (me included) will be finding it difficult to accept that invitation and to ponder on the point of carrying on.

But as a follower of Christ, a lover of Jesus, a beloved of God, baptised by fire and water full of the Spirit then accept it I must. Indeed I already have.
Despite my moments of despondency I know deep down that my Hope is in the Lord and I can Rejoice in God my Saviour.

The blush of a pink rose rather than deep purple,                                                            my yes to the Gospel,                                                                                                                to the Eucharist,                                                                                                                          to being dismissed                                                                                                                      to building the Kingdom,                                                                                                            to live by Gospel values                                                                                                    leads me to seek a deeper joy and                                                                                   tells of a hope yet to come.

I will rejoice in the small acts of kindness I see                                                                  and take time to thank the Lord for them.
I will rejoice in the many ways to make a difference                                                        and find inspiration to do likewise.
I will rejoice in the love of my friends whose laughter lightens my load                      and I am strengthened to help others carry their’s.
I will rejoice in the warmth and comfort of my family                                                    and I am encouraged to extend that welcome to others.

When I rejoice in all this (and so much more) then I know that there is hope. And if we all remember to be grateful, to find inspiration, to aid others and to extend a welcome then we will show the works of the Lord and bring His hope to the world.

And if that weren’t enough the O Antiphons begin today!

Reflection Points
Where do you hear and see the work of the Lord?
In what ways do your encounters offer you a sense of healing?
What do you notice about the way Jesus answers John’s question?

For Children
John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary went to visit her. He was Jesus’ cousin and in last week’s Gospel he baptised Him in the river Jordan.
Why do you think he told his disciples to ask Jesus if ‘He was the One?’
If you were Jesus’ messenger today what would you tell people about Him?

For Families
What one thing could you all do to make the world a better place?
Who do you identify as prophets in today’s world?
How can you encourage one another to speak truth to power?

Prayer
Lord of our everlasting joy and true hope – 
Strengthen us to do Your work
Give us a heart with a joyful song
that we may rejoice in building Your Kingdom.
Amen

 

Are You the One?

Living the Word for the Feast of Epiphany

How can you prepare to be able to find Jesus?
What gifts will you give Him for His use?
What change does the birth of Emmanuel bring about in you?

For Children
What odd gifts to bring a baby!
Can you find out the significance of each one?
What can you give to Jesus and what can you ask Him to do with it?

For Families

Epiphany is the time when Catholic families bless their homes. It is in the home that we meet and welcome Christ in family and friends, visitors and strangers. It is in the home where we share our faith, where it grows and is lived out.

At the end of the house blessing it is usual to ‘mark’ the home with chalk in the following way: the first letters of the three names of the Magi (though these names are not to be found in Scripture) which are traditionally, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. So C, M, B are inscribed on the door frame. C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

These letters (C.M.B.) are inscribed between the numbers of the year. So this year it will say: 20+C+M+B+18

Prayer: A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,
You revealed your Son to all people
by the shinning light of a star.
We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.
May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,
and your truth our benediction:
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Don’t forget to place your Magi in to your crib which traditionally can stay up until the Feast of the Presentation on the 2nd February.

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Living the Word this Week 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

All these parables! And still more to come.

I wonder what it is I need to know about the Kingdom? What is it about these …is likes that challenge me?
I love the way that they speak to all of us, at work, at home, women, men and children.
Praying with Gospel I read that these particular similes do different things.
Jesus telling us to wait, that only the farmer is to judge invites us to discernment.
Discernment of spirits as Ignatius teaches is to ask ourselves where God is in any particular choice or decision. Through prayer we can learn to detach ourselves from the outcome therefore allowing us to decide in freedom.
This is what the Kingdom is like, choosing God and God’s will for us which we know is always for our best.
Image result for discerning
The mustard seed challenges us to come to a full mature faith that is fully grown.
when I work with parents, they often worry about the faith of their children. Yet it is natural for the next generation to question and more likely than not, to move away from their parents beliefs and values. Not only is that a natural stage of development it also enables our young people to enter into their own relationship with the Lord Who loves them beyond measure, Who calls them Beloved. Not a mediated love of one step removed but on God’s own terms for them. We are God’s children, not God’s grandchildren.
Unfortunately for any of us to really mature in our faith, as laity we have to walk the path on our own, seeking out ways to study, books to read, asking questions and having courageous conversations. The Priority of Adult Formation as set out by the Bishops’ Conference is in name only as very little formation is on offer. Thank the Lord for Faith Friends and Soul Sisters!
This is what the Kingdom is like, living with a mature and adult faith aware of our dependence on the One who loves us, knowing we are saved and greatly loved.
Image result for fully grown faith
The yeast calls us to transform our lives . We can only do this of course when we lean in to the Holy Spirit, by surrendering our will to the Triune God and that takes courage and trust.
This in what the Kingdom is like, living fully transformed by love.
Image result for kingdom is like yeast
For us to answer the call to bring about the Kingdom we must have an idea of what the Kingdom is. I hope that the questions below might help us all to reflect a little and may these parables come alive in us and all those we encounter today.
Living the Word this week…
The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed; a mustard seed; and yeast.
Which one speaks most to you, and how does it help you in your faith?
What does it mean to you when you pray ‘Our Father…Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’?

Children
Have you ever seen a mustard seed and the plant it grows in to? If not see if you can find some pictures.
Why do you think Jesus uses this to try to explain the Kingdom of God?
What does yeast do? How does this help you to know the Kingdom of God?
Family
Planting seeds and making bread are everyday, unexceptional things. Yet Jesus uses them to describe the Kingdom of God.
How do you reflect the Kingdom in the ordinariness of being a family?
Prayer
Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the many varied ways that You use to help us understand Your message. The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed, which calls us not to judge but to discernment.
A mustard seed which calls us to grow to our fullest potential in You.
And yeast which calls us to transform ourselves and all whom we encounter.
May we, each in our own way, answer Your call to build Your Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in Heaven.’
Amen