This Week’s Free Thing!
Nope, we’re not passing the collection plate for these. Although you can hit that donate button anytime!
These are not the only free things on the site, just where our weekly Free Thing is that everybody talks about.
We WOULD love it if you gave us your email address so we can notify you each week when the next Free Thing is available (are you really gonna remember to check each week? 83% of our downloaders don’t!).
It isn’t required, though. But, please? Pretty please?
“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.
There’s a fun activity the kids can help setup, and some discussion questions perfect for donuts after Mass or Sunday dinner as you plan your holiday season!
Beth and Kristofer explain what This Week’s Free Thing is all about.
This is the beginning of the new liturgical year, and what better way to celebrate the New Year than with a reflection on the last year, where we honored, explored, and celebrated the life of the most obscure yet obvious saint we know: Saint Joseph.
Saint Joseph is perhaps the most anonymous of all the saints. Everybody knows about him…but do we really know him?
We explore how Saint Joseph leads us to Christ and how Christ honors him and makes Saint Joseph Holy…without this humble Man, Husband, and Dad being immaculately conceived.
A simple yet divine and humble prayer awaits you and your loved ones in our activity, and if you want to dig deeper, there are a few more prayer options.
The humorous or uninformed might call it “Catholic Aerobics,” but we were doing it 2000 years before Jane Fonda put on leg warmers! But why?
As the end of our Liturgical Year is upon us, Catholics are having a big year-end party: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!
We honor and worship Our Lord with our bodies at every Mass, and this end of our Liturgical Year is a great time to understand that, so we can move into the New Year at Advent fully giving of ourselves in Mass to The Lord.
He gives entirely of Himself to us – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in the Eucharist, and this week we reflect on that, on how He is everywhere and in everything good always, and a fun game that can be played all week without taking any extra time at all!
Why do Catholics believe in the resurrection of their bodies? Aside from it being as true as the day is long, so it’s a simple thing to believe in, there is scriptural, natural, and traditional evidence.
This week, we explore resurrection – ours, not Jesus’ – and Purgatory. This is sort of a hint or taste of things to come this month as we delve into Purgatory as the whole month of November is dedicated by The Church to focusing on prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Without Purgatory, there would be a LOT of empty rooms in Our Father’s mansion!
So, start this month’s reflection with this TWMWU that is a lot shorter than the last couple of weeks and opens the door to a better understanding of what we know about and mean by eternal life!
It seems this is the time of year every priest and bishop is asking for your money. Maybe you should read This Week’s Mass Warm-Up first.
In the TWMWU this week: Game of Thrones! Downton Abbey! Podcasts! Video! Bishops! St. John Bosco! Distributism! Subsidiarity!
It’s all in the Mass readings if you know where to look for it! HOO knew!
Seriously. Jesus visits the idea of Stewardship this week, as does Elijah and even the writer of Hebrews and the Psalmist slyly give hints of the First Fruits as a gift to God. We know the HOO (That’s you!) But what, how, where, when, and why Stewardship? Those answers and explorations are in this week’s TWMWU, without an agenda that you might get from some pulpits.
This week there is a deeper conversation than usual, and a rather demanding activity. Do you dare define stewardship by giving to God first?
Hear O Israel the Greatest Commandment in this week’s TWMWU…and hear the commandment we give God without even thinking about it.
We share insights into the Commandments, particularly the Greatest, and show how all of them fall under these two.
And the activity is so short you won’t remember it, but the effects will last through eternity!
This week the Sons of Thunder ask Jesus a peculiar question, while first practically demanding He grant what they ask. Jesus died for us and in this exchange foretells the Apostles’ – and our – opportunity to serve with Him – to die for others.
Are we ready for that? Do we know what that means? How can we help ourselves and our loved ones recognize that and be who we are supposed to be and do what we are supposed to do?
That’s what we explore this week.
All these questions in one of our shortest TWMWUs ever. But still with lots of resources and a simple activity.
With a personal reflection on his own blindness and miraculous healing, Kristofer and Beth explore this week’s readings with a perspective nearly twenty years in the making.
Do we see Jesus healing countless blind people nine times in the Gospels as just causing them to see again? There has to be more to it. The promised Messiah would be known for healing the blind, and Jesus is the only One Who does it. And Who continues to do it.
An activity that will open your eyes awaits, if you dare do it, and resources galore – including a perennial hit from the United States Marine Band!
And as always, a freely downloadable PDF is yours for the taking.
This week Jesus has his famous encounter with the rich young man. And that story is so misunderstood it would take a book – so we only touch on it rather matter-of-factly below. In the context of the idea that all things are possible for God, one would think that if Jesus wanted the young man to follow Him, he would just command it.
But Love is the reason why He does not. In fact, His love for us and our refusal to let Him and to follow Him, is the reason that, while God can do anything, He doesn’t.
Annoying? Perhaps. Which is why in the dig deeper section there’s a fun activity that will annoy any of your kids or other people you want to drive the message home to.
All this and over a dozen free supporting resources, including the free download of the entire lesson, videos, podcasts, articles, and previous similar TWMWUs.
This week Jesus deals with the Pharisees who, once again, are trying to trap him – this time by using Moses against Him. They ask about divorce and Jesus takes this opportunity to answer the real question – What is Marriage?
This is a controversial topic nowadays, but it is one the Church will never waver from because she can’t. Jesus defines marriage quite specifically in this answer to the rather foolish looking Pharisees. Much like many look today when they try to define Holy Matrimony with the laws of the state. There are two meanings to Marriage, and the one the Church teaches is God’s meaning. Let Caesar have what is Caesar’s – man’s law.
We answer to a higher power, and this discussion and activity explain that, and help anyone truly interested (and not just looking for a fight) learn what Marriage is, what Catholics understand it to mean, and why it is Holy Matrimony.
There is a great activity that will prove Marriage is from God, which includes some storytelling, and lots of resources including a podcast episode we did about Marriage and Marriage Preparation.
This week, Jesus sounds like a cowboy out of the Ol’ West, making sure no bandits try to get any of the good stuff. Or is He?
“If you ain’t with us, yer agin’ us” is an old adage made famous by cowboys, presidents, and even ancient Romans. Jesus, in his usual style of humor and relatability, flips it over and uses it to teach us something very important: Whoever is not against us is for us.
The Truth of Jesus and the Good News of the Gospel is not ours to keep, withhold, or deny to or from others who may not have the fullness of it as we do. Many a lesson can be learned from the ignorant, unlearned, and even impious. An atheist might stumble across Truth and share it, too!
In fact, you and I are not fully versed in the Truth, no matter how much we know or how much we share. So, are we agin’ Him, or for Him?
This week’s Mass warm-up gets your thoughts and feelings flowing with things to talk about and think about, as well as our family-friendly podcast episode covering this topic. We end with a couple of prayers to join with Jesus and the whole world in praying for what Jesus is talking about in Sunday’s Mass Readings.
So, git yer boots on and saddle up, pilgrim! There’s some Truth to be rustled up!
What is Humility? That is the BIG QUESTION raised in this coming Sunday’s Mass Readings.
It’s hard to be humble when you are from Texas – but that’s not what God is talking about this week. Even though we are from Texas, we submit to the Highest Power.
Humility is granted to us in Baptism, but we only manifest it when we practice it. And perfect practice makes perfect, in the words of Vince Lombardi.
So how do we do that?
This week we have some fun questions and a calming prayer to download as we take up the fight against the several vices Satan uses against us when we are seeking Humility. And we have a free prayer card and bookmark for you, too! As a special bonus, you can listen to our podcast episode #38 from this past winter all about humility, right from the lesson!
Wow! Here’s where we take up our cross and go deep into suffering – and why and how we should handle it!
This week’s lesson is chock full of ideas prompted by the prophetic writings of Isiah about the Suffering Servant. It’s Jesus talking to the disciples, and that famous moment where he calls Peter, “Satan.”
How do we take up our cross? Why would we want to? Didn’t Jesus do that for us?
We have links galore and resources at your fingertips for this simple subject – simple once you’ve read this and shared it with your family. It just makes sense!
Video, infographic, podcasts, downloadable prayers – everything is in the week’s lesson because Holy Owned and Operated teaches about suffering and taking up our cross all the time.
C’mon – grab some wood! Let’s take up our crosses and change the world! And share some cross-bearing in the comments so we can carry your cross with you in our prayers!
Open up! This week’s readings point to the absolute Truth of Jesus being the Messiah. And this is the only place it happens in Scripture! Well, at least it is the icing on a pretty big cake of that Truth…
Jesus does something this week He does not do anywhere else in the Gospels. You gotta hear it to believe it!
This week we answer the question, “What does “ephphatha mean?” and so much more. In fact, you get to know how to pronounce it, why it is so important to our Catholic faith, and what it means to all of us!
Be opened by thes scripture readings that are so entwined we can’t help but know they are from God!
And learn a bit about Old and New Testament geography while you are at it!
Our activity this week is simple yet profound, and the follow-up activity really places us in the moment we should always be in: Open.
Being Catholic is a good start. Doing Catholic is where the supernatural happens.
This week’s readings call us to be Christ-like, which is the very essence of being a Saint.
This Sunday at Mass we are called to DO more than just HEAR the Word. It seems we can get into a habit of hearing the readings and listening to the nice homily and then go about our business. But when we are at donuts after Mass, are we even talking about the good things that we heard – let alone doing something about it?
The last words we hear at Mass are the deacon or priest telling us, “Hey, Mass is over. Go do something with what you just heard!” Okay, maybe not exactly in those words – but certainly with that meaning!
This week’s activity is a deeper discussion maybe you can have at the donut shop after Mass. And if you want to go deeper, there’s a follow-up activity that defines what a word we use all the time really means, and a couple of Saints who were great Doers of the Word.
When we are Doers of the Word we are authentic Catholics.
Making God the priority in our lives is tough these days. But what are we comparing it to?
When was the last time we needed to organize a nation and fight those who would stand between us and God?
A little perspective is needed, and Joshua and Peter give it to us this coming Sunday.
But the readings are all about that “submission” thing, so we don’t cover it (because your homilist will) except for a brief (but important) definition.
Instead, this week our disccussion is much more personal. Do you dare read? And after that, do you dare bring it up with those who are closest to you?
Our activity – and we invite you to do it while we do it – is as simple as gathering pen and paper together (remember those?!).
And then what will you do with what you wrote down?
God keeps his promises in everything. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a great example of that! The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is this Sunday.
This week we discuss God fulfilling His promises to Adam and Eve all through to the New Covenant – all of His promises kept while we continue to break ours to Him.
But God knows we are weak, and He promises to help us be and do better. And the Assumption of Mary is part of that promise – showing us that a real human being can be and do what they are supposed to be and do!
Mary’s assumption gives us hope, and we present reasons for that hope this week that you can share, along with many Mary resources, including a Hail Mary infographic, just a click away!
Now is a wonderful time, with the resources this week, to share with children and remind ourselves how we do not worship Mary, but honor her as the mother of our Best Friend, as she is constantly pointing us to Jesus and all He does for us – constantly keeping His promise!
The activity is a prayer direct from the Bible, and an ongoing easy discussion for follow-up about Mary wherever you are.
The Bread of Life that came down from heaven is…Jesus!
But you knew that, right?
Or do we? To know something is to be someone who lives in concert with that knowledge. If we know, we are, and we do.
To simply receive the Eucharist because we are told to, or that it’s something we have always been taught, means we are missing the undeniable reality – or perhaps denying it!
This week, we discuss in the Mass readings that reality with our families, dig into it, and watch as Jesus makes the Jews squirm – and perhaps realize we should be squirming too, in our ignorance.
The activity is fun, fruitful, and easy-peasy to do. So easy you can do it on the way to work or school, on the way home, or at lunch! Or all three! And everyone in the family can do it whenever – and wherever – your travels take you Trust us…
“What hath God wrought?”
The famous first words of Samuel Morse, sending the question across the telegraph wires more than 40 miles and ushering in the communications age we are using now to share this lesson across the planet. Those words, suggested to Morse from the young daughter of a friend, quote Numbers 23:23 in the King James Version of the Bible.
This week we explore what God truly has wrought, as we experience the Bread of Life discourses over the next few weeks.
The people following Jesus have just been fed by Him, and He has left so they won’t make Him king. How quickly they forget, challenging Him this week to feed them as God fed Moses’ people, who were stiff-necked, too, after their miraculous escape.
What God has wrought is all around us, and the perfect miracle is available every day at Mass. So what are we looking for?
This week’s activity helps us see what God has wrought. We simply need to open our eyes…
When we do our part, God multiplies it beyond our imagination.
Jesus feeds us from our offerings by taking what is our gift to Him and giving it to others.
This week we explore the multiplying of the loaves and fishes, seeing how it is foretold in the 2 Kings and discussing Paul’s teaching on how to live like Jesus.
Our activity this week is a Lord’s Day Celebration. A perfect way to prepare for Mass, and making mealtime so much more meaningful and drawing the family closer together.
The Lord’s Day Celebration is a great way to add Jesus to your family meal once a week, in preparation for Mass.
This simple celebration brings the family closer to God and each other in a short ritual that gives parents a way to integrate faithful living into a time when all the family is gathered and ready, and provides opportunity for everyone to participate.
Give your family and yourself this gift and watch their and your faith life grow quickly and your relationships get closer.
As a bonus, there’s a quick and easy bread recipe included.
By Order of The King: You need a break!
Everybody knows about shepherds in the Bible – you cannot avoid them!
Why does God use these humble servants as examples, and what about the bad shepherds?
More importantly, why don’t we ever think of ourselves as shepherds of the little flock He has given us?
This week, we get sheepish on you, And give you a great, simple, yet powerful activity to do as The Lord says in his teaching this week: Come away and rest awhile.
Start by taking a three-minute break and reading up on the Mass lesson this week – then drive the flock somewhere. You’ll see…
Are we prepared to be Disciples and Prophets?
This week we discuss Amos and his hesitation, Paul and the Kerygma, and how ready were the Apostles when Jesus sent him out for a little practice?
All of the readings point to preparation for evangelization, and how we should prepare not just for that but for everything in our lives by first relying on Our Lord.
And, or course, He is always preparing us. In the activity, which is a brief prayer, we get that opportunity to really see how He is preparing us.
Which makes the answer to the question a positive, resounding: Yes!
Wisdom is hard to come by. It requires practicing the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.
This week we dive into these virtues as we join Jesus in his ministry, healing the hemorrhaging woman and raising a girl from the dead.
These are touching stories that we can all relate to, and they show us Jesus’ humanity and his divinity, something the Apostles struggled with, and we still have trouble understanding.
We explore these concepts, these virtues, and wisdom, and have a fun family activity to help us remember these things throughout the week.
You are a Prophet!
What? Don’t you wish you could tell the future! But to be a prophet is not about telling the future. Somewhere we all lost that definition of “prophet” and “prophecy”.
If you are a baptized Christian, you are a prophet – believe it or not!
In this week’s lesson, we see Ezekiel and Paul as they sacrifice to share the Truth. And we see Jesus fail to convert others, though He is sharing the Truth. He is sharing himself and some still do not believe!
The activity is a short discussion idea that is perfect for the dinner table. Or the car. And we learn a new word:
In Mass this week, Jesus rebukes a storm, teaching the frightened, suffering Apostles how to rebuke the storms in their lives by being quiet, being still.
This week, the lesson is all about understanding our suffering and how to deal with it. Job, probably the most well-known suffering servant in the Bible after Jesus, gets us started in the readings, and we learn from Paul that better days await us.
Our discussion helps us know everyone suffers, and our activity helps us put our suffering in God’s hands, and see it from His perspective.
The activity gives us an excuse to get outside with each other. Take advantage of it!
What’s in a mustard seed?
Jesus talks a lot about mustard seeds, and this week we get Ezekiel in on the action. Palm trees, cedar trees, mustard trees!
Are we like these seeds? Can God create from us who we truly are supposed to be, and what we are truly supposed to do, as unique, unrepeatable individuals in this specific place and time? Paul encourages us this week to be courageous and aspire to please God – like these great trees!
Even the Alleluia gets in on the seedss: “The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower. All who come to him will live forever!”
Is our faith open enough to let Him bloom in us the great comfort and strength, conviction and growth for others as He build his kingdom?
Break out the baby pictures! The activity this week is fun, and it starts with looking at a mustard seed and seeing the size of the tree it grows into (HINT: That’s it above!)
The source and summit of our Catholic Faith is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. He is actually present – physically – in the Eucharist. Finding God is easy as a Catholic – He comes to Mass every day and leaves inside us.
This week we talk about the Institution Narrative in the Gospel of Mark that we will hear in the Gospel Reading at Mass on Sunday.
We discuss the mystery and reality of Jesus being present at Mass with us and in us, and our activity is a solemn one we should do every Sunday – at least!
Plus, links to several Spiritual Communions and a link to the Code of Canon Law to see if you are able to receive Communion in the Catholic Church.
That’s a lot packed into 459 words and less than three minutes of your time!
What is the Most Holy Trinity?
Well, that is the mystery – the central mystery – of our faith. In this lesson, we discuss the meanings of both, the basic justification for the understanding we have, and how this and other mysteries have been revealed to us, the Church.
And there is a simple activity that perhaps we should all be doing anyway…
FINALLY! The Apostles receive the Holy Spirit in this long and glorious story leading up to the birth of The Church.
Wait…what? Didn’t Jesus give them the Holy Spirit already?
Aha! There’s the rub. There is a big difference between being given something and receiving it.
In this lesson for this coming Sunday’s Mass readings. Beth explores that strange but true fact and shares its connection with our Baptism and our entire life.
The activity is simple and fun, and a little exasperating probably, especially if you like fruit or sweets…
Are we “Consecrated in Truth”? What does that mean, anyway?
Most likely, you are already consecrated in truth, but maybe do not know it. And this week we discuss this intense prayer Jesus asked for us moments before He was arrested and killed.
Are we living a life consecrated in truth to honor His desire and sacrifice for us?
The activity in this lesson gives everybody in the family something to do that is simple and humbling, and puts everybody on the same team with Jesus.
Ascension Thursday is an important and necessary part of Salvation History – without it, The Catholic Church would not exist. Jesus tells us He has to leave – to go to The Father – so the the Advocate can come. And He promises – and delivers – to work with the Apostles and us as we struggle in our exile.
The Lord worked with them. Are we letting Him work with us?
This Week’s Free Thing Bonus lesson has a simple discussion and activity for the dinner table. Make this a Holy Thursday!
Worms in Heaven? WHAT?!?!
How did it feel to have God break up with you, sorta? What did Jews feel, or did they consider, when Jesus opened up Heaven for those who “fear him and act uprightly,” as Peter says in the first reading this week?
This week, we try to understand that feeling so that we can understand the precious gift we have in our relationship with God and His presence in the Eucharist – and how easily we can find ourselves feeling abandoned by God when it is us who are abandoning Him constantly in this world of exile.
Maybe we are the worms…
Oh! And May the Fourth be with you!
This week we learn about the three parts of being a Disciple. These are simple to explain to children, and practice ourselves.
It doesn’t require anything of us that we aren’t already. Being a Disciple is us being and doing who and what we are, and glorifying The Lord by that life which He gave us.
Also this week, we have a podcast episode connected with this week’s readings that is fun and interactive that the whole family can listen to as a refresher on How to Be a Disciple.
How does the man who denied Jesus three times at the hour of Our Lord’s greatest need for a friend have the guts to stand up to the same people who killed his Master?
The Holy Spirit.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles after His resurrection and – WOW! – they could not be stopped! When once they cowered, they now speak to power with convicted Truth, eventually bringing down the mighty and evil Roman Empire.
Why don’t we? Jesus has sent this same Advocate to us.
TWFT is all about us having the same – the exact same – power that Peter uses in this week’s first reading. There is a pretty hefty activity for the family, mostly because it involves honesty and leadership on the parents’ part, and there is even a handy wall poster for bedrooms and the refrigerator – just as a reminder!
All of us are filled with the Holy Spirit. See This Week’s Free Thing to learn what to do with Him!
St. John, the Beloved Disciple, says we are liars if we say we love Jesus but do not act according to His commandments.
How does that work with our sinful nature, our fallen state?
This week we explore a part of the readings your homilist may skip – which gives parents a great opportunity to minister to their children. And..ahem…themselves!
The first reading can be a bit confusing. Are we supposed to sell everything we have and give it to the Church so that the bishops can distribute it evenly among everybody?
That sounds a bit like a failed economic system, so what does St. Luke mean when he writes that people sold their homes and property and gave the money to the apostles, who distributed it according to need?
This Week’s Free Thing is a great, easy primer on early Church socio-economics, with an easy activity to explain it to the kids – and a great way to show how God wants us to share!
Plus, some handy links to Stewardship, and for the curious, there are some resources on that great Catholic Idea, Distributism, which developed in part from the Acts of the Apostles.
Readings, Discussion, Activities for 50 days, Video, and even a Podcast Episode are in This Week’s Free Thing. Must be EASTER!
The Psalmist proclaims: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!” (Psalm 118:24) Are you glad it’s Easter? Are you glad it’s Springtime? Are you glad for your life, health, family and friends? Are you glad we are beginning to see an end to the COVID pandemic?
This Easter season, we have much to rejoice about. But, the singular thing we should rejoice about each and every day is the Salvation that we celebrate on Easter – the Resurrection!
PLUS: Easter Story Cookies – A recipe and story in one! Help your children learn the story as you make special cookies that resemble the empty tomb! Resurrection Rolls – Yummy, easy, fun Easter morning breakfast with a message! And an Easter Coloring Book!
Get hold of this free Easter Mass and Season resource and don’t let go!
Did Jesus actually tell us, in one of His last moments on earth, to be lazy? Woohoo!
Not so fast. Palm Sunday’s Mass Readings are full of lessons, and this is one that is often overlooked, or unexplored, yet it is simple for kids to understand and even simple enough for us adults, too!
The activity is something that will change your life – and make it and each of us who does it better, more perfected. And it’s pretty simple, too!
May your Holy Week be just that, and thank you for letting This Week’s Free Thing help you and your family make it as Holy as possible!
The simple activity of whispering is in This Week’s Free Thing. Are you up to it?
When Jesus died on the Cross, his last words were, as we see them in English, “It is finished.” In the original Greek as they were written down, it is translated as “It is perfected.”
We are in the second part of Lent, now, and the Catholic Church gives us Lent as a time of sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving to help us perfect ourselves, getting ready for the Perfect Christ who died on Good Friday and rose on Easter, showing us what we will do if we are perfect: Do what we are supposed to do – Love.
This week’s activity requires a flashlight. Or your phone’s light. And it may require some hand-holding during the scary parts…
The gifts of faith and salvation are not dependent upon our works – God gives them freely, but if we are truly faithful and desire to receive the gift of salvation, we will do good works, because that is the will of God (James 2:14-26). In order to receive the salvation that Jesus offers us through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, then we are to follow Him and the path that He lights for us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) – He is the Light in the darkness (John 1:5). We are in exile here upon this earth and Jesus offers us a way Home.
The ending video is a perfect sing-along for families.
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!