This Week’s Mass Warm-Up!
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These are not the only free things on the site, just where our weekly Free Thing is that everybody talks about.
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Beth and Kristofer explain what This Week’s Free Thing is all about.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus is quite clear about who will go to heaven, so we explore what it means to be poor in spirit, and it has nothing to do with our bank accounts!
God provides through Scripture the exact meaning of what it is to be poor in spirit, and the encouragement we all need to have that attitude as we grow closer to Jesus and learn, from Him, who the Father is.
This week we think about how our families, parishes, communities, and world would be different if we all lived up to our baptismal vocation.
If all of us lived the Gospel and witnessed to Christ crucified, what would change?
Would the divisions among us be healed?
Would we be more understanding of one another?
Would we be able to live a life of virtue more easily?
When we think of servants, we typically picture people who are oppressed or in positions that powerful people take advantage of.
God has a different idea of what a servant is, and He calls us to this way of life and shows us through His only Son, how being a servant is actually one of the most honorable positions one can take.
He uses His servants to bring His light and message of Salvation to all the nations.
Dive deeper into this idea of sharing God’s light and salvation as His servant…
The Feast of the Epiphany of The Lord is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (non-Jews).
Learn more about what this means to us Catholics and other Christians, and what we should do to evangelize the Good News to our neighbors – hint, it doesn’t require words!
It’s as simple as leaving the lights on for them…
Have an epiphany, and be an epiphany! And watch a really cool video with ALL of the verses of “We Three Kings.” We provide the lyrics, too!
Mary had a little lamb…
Though this rhyme refers to St. Mary, this does not mean she is a sheep.
Mary gave birth to the Lamb. This means she is the Mother of God.
As confusing as that is to our non-Catholic brethren, we as Catholics understand it and accept it.
Just as Mary and Joseph accepted this great honor and responsibility.
How do we share in Mary’s motherhood?
This week, we explore her example and how it blesses and encourages us to be Brothers and Sisters of and in Christ.
Jesus came on Christmas Day as the fulfillment of the promises of God, to show His glory to all people, to be the light in the darkness, to redeem us from sin and death.
Do we realize the connections Christmas Day has with the prophesies of the Old Testament?
Or with our own personal journey of faith today?
It is the connection point between both!
How often do we ignore or take for granted the signs that God places in our paths that show God is with us?
In this time of waiting for Christ to come at Christmas, there are signs everywhere! T
he sign of the coming of Christ was foretold hundreds of years before He came, in order for the Chosen People to know how to identify Him.
Are we looking? What do we see?
How often do we truly think about how we are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ?
And how does the promise of the kingdom of heaven bear on our current lives and choices?
The Church calls us to contemplate how He comes to save us this week as we continue our Advent journey up the mountain and along the Way of Christ Jesus.
“Prepare the Way of The Lord” is an urgent call not unfamiliar to us. But how do we do that? What exactly is “the Way”? Is this something we do on our own?
We look into this familiar yet mysterious calling we all receive from John the Baptist in this week’s Mass readings, and we recognize the call in the first reading from Baruch, Psalm 126, and Paul’s letter to the Philippians – so it must be important!
And it is most appropriate to look into this as Advent gears up. The Lord is coming, and amidst the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, this is the time for a gut-check to learn how to prepare the way of The Lord all year, and to kickstart that renewed effort now.
Life is a journey.
That’s nothing new.
But why and how do mountains give us such clarity in what that journey is like?
As we constantly strive for heaven, that summit is clear, but the valleys, hills, and crooked paths and steep cliffs stand between us and the goal.
The One on the mountain is also with us.
This week as we begin a new liturgical year at Advent, we explore these challenging readings and discover something about ourselves:
Heaven is no hill, at least for a climber!
How does our view of superheroes affect our relationship with Christ?
Do we want Jesus to swoop in and “save the day”?
Or do we even ask Him for help when we need it?
Or rather looking to our own self-reliance, or escaping from the problems at hand in some unhealthy way?
Jesus came to save us, but it takes more than just passive reception to receive the Salvation He offers.
Jesus is Coming!
This week the readings are all about that; like blazing headlines!
So, we discuss when he is coming, and how we know it is happening.
The Second Coming is in process as we speak!
That’s no surprise to Catholics when we understand what the end times are, and our role in them.
This day has been anticipated since before Jesus came the first time, and we get to be in on the VIP pre-party!
And hopefully the eternal after-party…
“He is not God of the dead, but of the living!”
Our witness to God’s life in us is what sets us apart, it is what makes us a target, and also a magnet.
The life we live on earth either takes us closer to God or further from Him.
Choices we make now have eternal consequences.
This week, let us learn from the witnesses who went before us – the saints – how to witness to others and live the life God created us to live!
God’s constant love and mercy abounds!
They are present everywhere and every time, every place and every moment.
This week’s readings are all about seeing, recognizing, and experiencing His constant love and mercy.
Our discussion helps us see that, and our activity gives us the opportunity to knowingly, actively participate in it!
Sometimes the simplest is the most effective, and the Jesus Prayer helps us understand that.
This week, we learn about humility and self-righteousness, and that we all have the capacity to grow in the former and eliminate the latter.
Learning how to apply the readings of Mass to our lives – they are the Word of God, after all! – is integral to growing in our quest for perfection, in relationship with the Lord.
This week, we get a terrific example of how to do that, and a simple one we can apply every day!
What is Sacred Scripture? What makes it so special?
This week we get it from the horse’s mouth: Paul, while writing Sacred Scripture which he does not know will be Sacred Scripture, provides Timothy with the reasons and purposes for Sacred Scripture.
At that time Paul could only be referring to Old Testament scripture. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote a lot of the New testament, unknowingly. But can it be denied as Sacred?
The Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church, and has since Pentecost, before Paul came into the picture – so He was guiding and inspiring Paul.
Understanding and applying Sacred Scripture is simple, but is not something to be done alone. The Holy Spirit has led the Catholic Church through 2000 years of first writing the last Sacred Scripture and then understanding it.
This week we explore how to understand Sacred Scripture, what’s so important about it, why we should know it, and how we can know it. It’s pretty simple!
“Thank you, Lord, for a good day.” Our family ends the day with this prayer, without fail.
Some days it is VERY hard to give thanks to God for that, after everything that happened that day:
Death. Sickness. Pain. Broken hearts. Unruly children, and hurt that our children suffer that we cannot do much to salve.
Recognizing God’s infinite Goodness and thanking Him for it is also very hard to remember to do. In our fallen state, we tend to think how wonderful we are when we accomplish or experience something good.
How often do we thank God for this stuff?
Maybe one in ten times, like the lepers in the Gospel. Maybe it takes seven experiences like Naaman in the Jordan.
Shouldn’t we always be thankful, even in our suffering?
This week we read of these and Paul’s suffering, and learn why bad things happen to good people.
And there’s some wisdom in here that deals with that question directly Why does a Good God make bad things happen?
See if you know the answer…
This week we hear a familiar psalm and a familiar analogy from Jesus.
Does that familiarity breed content or contempt?
Does it increase our faith?
We may be so used to the words of healing from Our Lord that we inadvertently block them from being more than words. Jesus has the words of everlasting life, but we often choose to be deaf to them.
Too busy? Too distracted? Too turned on by politics, news, social media, 15-second videos, even being helpful? Too worried and concerning ourselves about things happening in the world that we can do nothing about? Then our heart is hard.
The mustard seed is all the Lord encourages us to have and give, yet He knows we might only attain a faith the size of a crumb of salt of the earth.
And yet do we aspire to give him even that because of the hardness of our hearts?
This week is all about re-setting, refocusing, and recommitting. Let’s stay focused at Mass, and go forth, living the Gospel by our life!
This allows us to welcome Jesus into our hearts, soften them, and rely on him when we cry out for help – and hear His answer and see His help!
This week the message in the Mass readings is all about complacency and selfishness..and what it means to be selfless.
Each of the readings continues the message from last week, that we can’t allow the material world to become our idol.
We have to be purposeful in living our faith, focused on God and His Way.
Who do we serve?
God and Mammon are our two choices.
There is no third choice, no in-between, and no sitting this one out.
We need to know who and what Mammon is so we can be sure not to choose that.
This week, Amos tells us about cheaters, Paul talks about kings, and Jesus tells us about untrustworthy servants.
it can be a little confusing if we do not know how to connect all of these to each other and our lives.
So, we connect them.
Dive in and get help serving the Right Master!
God our loving Father offers us forgiveness and mercy.
We are sinners, we fail, we fall. Then, we seek forgiveness.
In all humility, we repent and beg for the mercy and forgiveness that only God can provide.
It is an unfathomable truth of our faith that we cling to, just as the forgiving Father in the story of the Prodigal Son clings to his son who returns.
He clings to the hope that his son will return.
We cling to the hope that the Father will take us back.
And He does – every time.
He offers that Forgiveness and Mercy when we repent of our sins.
Jesus and Grandma have a lot in common – wisdom.
We can learn how to count the cost of discipleship by applying a sound principle found in Grandma’s kitchen!
Ensuring the gift of the Holy Spirit is understood and used properly, we have instructions from Jesus using real-world examples.
Don’t let the Gift of Wisdom languish – practice using it and grow in it and pass it on to the next generation…just like Grandmas have been doing for millennia.
Humility is a virtue that is highly praised.
How does one keep from becoming “proud” of their humility?
The readings this week give us ample opportunity to reflect on and learn more about this virtue of humility that is so elusive, especially in the current culture of “look at me” – and everybody looking!.
How DO we remain humble when we are constantly bombarded by the message that we need to always be in front, showing off our talents, or bodies?
Thinking of ourselves less while not thinking less of ourselves is a start…
It’s always more fun to eat a meal with others. The Heavenly Feast awaits us, and those we bring. Jesus gathers all nations for the Feast through us, the Church.
We can’t just broadcast to the world the Good News – if that worked, everybody would be Catholic by now!
Inviting someone to dinner is a personal, one-on-one proposition. So how do we reach the person in front of us?
The answer is really simple, and we offer it this week!
It is difficult to follow someone if we cannot see them. Keeping our eyes on the goal makes the race easier to finish.
When we lose sight of our purpose or do not have a clear focus on the goal, we get lost, frustrated, and may even give up.
This week, we are exhorted to keep our eyes on Jesus, so we can accomplish all He has planned for us.
Read more to find out how to focus – or re-focus! – in order to reach the goal that we are all created for:
Faith is the realization of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Our God is invisible, yet, we believe anyway.
He offers hope of eternal life, something intangible in this life, yet, we believe anyway.
Faith in the seen and unseen is part of who we are as followers of God.
Let’s be aware of God’s presence even though we can’t see Him.
Recognizing Him in the visible, seen world around us, we can more fully embrace the unseen, invisible hope that He offers.
Who among us do not have a special, most precious item?
It would devastate us to lose it.
This week, Jesus challenges our perception of what is important.
How can we rise to this challenge and bring others to also better understand the importance of things is less than the importance of our relationship with God?
Prayer and openness to God is a good start!
Read on to find out a little more about what the important thing is from Jesus, and how we can attain it.
Pray for us.
We ask for your prayers and we also pray for you.
This week’s readings explore the origins and meaning behind intercessory prayer.
Following the example of Abraham in seeking to save innocent life, we pray for those who have no one to speak for them.
And when asked how to pray, Jesus reveals the ultimately perfect prayer – The Lord’s Prayer.
How can we pray with all sincerity, “thy will be done”?
Answer: When we take the focus off of ourselves and pay attention to the needs of others.
Jesus patiently explains to Martha that her work, though good, is not the most important thing at the moment.
Abraham and Sarah’s patience is rewarded by the promise of their son, Isaac.
The Lord’s infinite patience leads to justice in all His dealings with us, His very impatient and unjust children.
This week we reflect and work on the virtues of patience and justice in how we relate to one another.
With God’s help our patience can lead to justice, too.
The Voice of the Lord sometimes can be hard to hear.
And at other times, we hear it and ignore it.
At all times, though, His Voice is constant and consistent.
When we heed the voice of the Lord, we can be sure He will lead us to greater love, mercy, and eternal life!
What do we rejoice about?
Our accomplishments and those of others whom we love.
This week, Jesus gives us a different perspective – God’s perspective:
We should be most joy-filled because our names are written in heaven.
The Lord has a place for us, ready and waiting!
Our work for Him here prepares us to live eternally with Him in heaven.
That’s worth laboring for!
Following Christ can be difficult, but with His help, it becomes easy.
We place many things and people – obstacles – between us and the Lord.
This week we explore how we can remove the obstacles we put up so we can become better disciples and follow Christ to heaven.
The Lord feeds us with the Word and His Most Holy Body and Blood.
How is this nourishment meant to affect us?
How often do we REALLY pay attention at Mass to this mystery and miracle?
This week let’s feast…
…in more ways than one!
Trinity Sunday gives us a chance to reflect on how we relate with and pray to God.
How do we address Him?
Do we relate better with the Father, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit?
When we pray, do we focus on one more than another Person of the Trinity?
This week we explore those questions and pray to the Trinity in a more intentional way.
On Pentecost Sunday two thousand years ago, the Apostles received an amazing gift – the Holy Spirit.
Jesus kept His promise and sent the Advocate and amazing works have been done ever since through Him.
How He works in our lives is just as important as how He worked in the lives of the Apostles.
And the gift and work is all connected to the Sacraments.
The wonder of the Ascension of the Lord is sometimes overlooked. This week we dive into that wonderment.
How did the Apostles feel? How do we feel? And how can we talk to God about those feelings?
Is the wonder of the miracle of the Ascension of the Lord lost on us because of the cynicism of the world?
Let’s remember what it’s like to believe like children and recall the wonder of heaven as we profess our faith this Sunday!
Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit as our Advocate. And the first reading helps to illustrate what that means and how it “works”.
Reflecting on the role of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate in our faith and in our Church increases our understanding of the gifts we receive at Baptism and Confirmation.
This points us to the practical ways we are called to advocate for others in response to these gifts.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord proclaims that He makes all things new.
New life in Christ is the promise He makes to us and is fulfilled in the love He bears for us through the Cross and Resurrection.
And He calls us to love one another as He loves us.
New life through love – the basics of the Christian life.
Read on to find out how we can embrace and imitate this love and new life!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is the Good Shepherd. We are his people, the flock He shepherds.
What does it mean to be a sheep?
How can we be better sheep to the best Shepherd?
We reflect on the meaning of the love of God for us in our relationship with Him. This relationship is a gift for us to be active participants.
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
“Do you love me?” Jesus asks. We reply with Peter, “Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus gives us a job to do – feed the sheep. We are addressed in this week’s Gospel as much as Peter is. How do we feed the sheep? What are we to do with this mandate?
Read on and get some insights into how we are shepherds and what we can do to learn how to be a better one!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
If you missed one or more of This Week’s Free Thing! then just click here to find it. Everything from last month all the way back to the beginning in March 2020 is available. And don’t forget to sign up to receive TWFT straight to your inbox so you won’t miss it again!
Community is an essential, basic part of the Catholic faith. Click here to get to our community area of the web site, which we are building and set to fully launch on April 10. Or you can get on our general contact list with the form on the right and we will personally let you know when it is ready. This will be perfect for parents, catechists, and religious educators to engage, learn from each other, ask questions, and realize the wonderful universal nature of our Church!