HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! On this day we give thanks to God for the gift of fatherhood. Fathers formed in the Anglican faith are called to lead and model their family life to fully live out the truth and the mercy of Christ in a balanced and loving way. They nurture their spiritual life having a deep sustaining devotion to know Jesus Christ.They call their family to prayer, to the reading and study of holy scripture, to embrace and live the sacramental life of the ancient faith, and to study and to study more this faith that is ours in Christ Jesus. Father’s must lead their family in acts of mercy to serve those in need. A father’s wealth is in loving and practicing the Christian faith that is ancient but ever new and to build lasting and strong bonds of brotherhood with other fathers in his parish, helping one another to build up one’s faith and morals. For those men that seek this way of life, be not afraid, God is with you! AMEN
The Christian calendar tells the story of God and His people by dividing the year into two major segments, each lasting approximately six months. The first part tells the story of Jesus – beginning in Advent with the anticipation of His birth and stretching all the way to Pentecost with the sending of the Holy Spirit.
Following in this great tradition, we too are re-telling the story of Jesus. As we enter into this great drama of God’s redemption, may we hear it again, fresh and new, and find ourselves to be more than hearers – that we might discover ourselves to be participants, because Jesus’ story has become our own.
Video from Christ Church Anglican
Parents of Level II Atrium students,
By now, your student has probably brought home a wall hanging depicting the five Kingdom Parables they have studied. In our synopses and discussions of these parables, we discovered the qualities of beauty, growth, and transformation in God’s Kingdom. Ask them to tell you about the parables–I think they’ll be happy to share what they’ve pondered on in the atrium!
Following the liturgical calendar, we’ll be, of course, examining the Pascal narratives this month. The children listened carefully to the story of the Wolf and the Hireling on Sunday, and they had lots of opinions about the behavior of the hired hand. They drew conclusions beautifully about the Good Shepherd giving his life for the sheep; they talked about the wolf and the differences between Satan and evil. We were all saddened to discuss that we, as humans, have evil within us, and we talked about how to make that evil as small as we can.
They’ll revisit the Cenacle and hear about the Last Supper, and they’ll look at a map of Jerusalem and identify important places pertinent to Holy Week. The week after Easter Sunday, we’ll read the scriptures telling of the empty tomb, and remind ourselves that Easter is not just one Sunday, but seven!
On the first Sunday of Lent, Feb 14th at St. John’s we will pray the “Great Litany.” For 472 years Anglicans have prayed with deep faith this litany during penitential times and in times of discernment, distress, war and disaster. The Great Litany (BCP: 148-53) was written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and first published in 1544. It was the first “liturgical service” made available in the English language and has been included in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer since 1549. The Great Litany is a time-honored text in the Anglican liturgical patrimony.
This Litany is composed of 42 petitions. It begins with the invocation of the blessed and glorious Trinity, one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The petitioner asks the Lord, that in spite of one’s sins, in mercy apply the saving mysteries of His Incarnation, Nativity, and submission to the Law, Baptism, Fasting, Temptation, Agony, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Coming of the Holy Ghost to heal the mortal soul and mind.
God applies each of these saving actions to deliver us from evil and wickedness, from the lies of the devil and from everlasting damnation. They deliver us from blindness of heart, pride, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, and malice; from all inordinate and sinful affections, and the deceit found in the world. Christ may now find in us our “lamps lit” (Lk 12:35) so in the hour of our death and in the day of our judgment we may attain God’s heavenly Kingdom as our eternal home.
We pray for the Church through-out the world, for her ministry and for Christians who suffer for their faith and conscience, for Christians who have wandered away from the faith that they may return, for all civil authorities, peace, and for all in need.
The petitioner’s primary identity is that of a penitent. He seeks earnest forgiveness and amendment of life. He prays for his enemies. He prays for justice and for his triumph over every evil, and for eternal life and peace, and with all the saints he prays for the repose of the dead in Christ.
Anglicans understand the power of prayer. Prayer brings us in line with the way of truth; it can give us a heart to love and a desire to live after God’s commandments. Prayer can inspire, purify, preserve, protect and comfort. It can strengthen the weak-hearted, raise up the fallen, and beat down Satan who always lurks at the Christian’s door.
With all these prayers and intentions in mind the Great Litany concludes with the Agnus Dei, the Kyrie eleison, the Lord’s Prayer and a concluding collect asking that we may obtain what we have prayed for.
Have you ever stopped to consider what an amazing responsibility the Great Commission is? Jesus is asking us to teach “all that He has taught.” How do we do this with children?
Children need to be formed in the richness of the faith even at the youngest age. The fact that they have been baptized they have the grace receptors they need to respond to and listen to God.
Jesus’ parting words to His apostles became His “Great Commission” to the Church.
All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. (Mat 28:18-20)
So Christianity’s center is Christ. His every action, His every thought, word and deed become sacramental graces for the Church to live into and usher the whole world into.
As Christian’s it’s important how we understand the nature of childhood. This becomes the foundation to build our catechesis upon. The Christian view of the human person is vastly different in many ways from modern day anthropology. Most approaches to teaching children see them as being “empty,” like an empty container and the task of the teacher is to “fill them up with knowledge.”
Of course we bring to children the wealth of the Church’s treasury of knowledge and truth. This is a given. In age appropriate stages they can dive into all of this. But the Church should not see children as being “empty.” St. Paul tells us that the baptized are “earthen vessels” full of grace. This means the soul is where the “transcendent power of God” is discovered. (2 Cor 4:7) Children have sanctifying grace, they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Their life of grace is “confirmed” and empowered later in the sacrament of Confirmation.
Listen to Holy Scripture:
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1Co 3:16)
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His own Spirit.” (1Jo 4:13)
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” (Joh 16:13)
This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is foundational for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The Holy Spirit teaches by guiding and opens the soul of the child to God’s presence. The catechist listens to this dialogue between child and God and invites the child to discover the movements and love of God for them.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly! (Col 3:16)
What we do in catechesis is strengthen the child’s soul much like a muscle is straightened. (Eph 3:16 and Heb 4:12)
The presentation of a biblical story and addressing the sacred items of worship and liturgical actions are but examples of how the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd draws the child deeper into their faith.
Sofia Cavalletti uses the image of a pebble entering into water. We see from this illustration of simple beginnings stir the Word move within us. Consider the pebble. When the pebble enters the water it sends ripples across the water’s surface while entering it’s depths. First small ripples, but they increase in size and influence as the pebble penetrates the water. Jesus’ presence begins with the simple gesture of water and prayer. In time Jesus sounds out through our whole being. He penetrates our soul through the Holy Spirit in deeper and deeper relationship.
In the atrium Jesus is acknowledged and encountered. The atrium has dedicated catechists who themselves are renewing always their faith in God. Children need continuity in the atrium and need to be present. Remember God is searching for us! God always takes the first steps, and draws near to the child in the atrium.
Over time the two parts of the Holy Eucharist are assembled in the child’s life. First, the child learns how to listen with God at the “table of the Word” which is the Holy Bible. As they engage the biblical stories there is forming within them a theology of faith. For example they learn how God is the Good Shepherd and they are one of His sheep. This prepares them to listen with God at the “table of the Eucharist.” This “table” is the Altar in the sanctuary. They learn to listen here through the sacred items and prayers and movements of the mass how God feeds His sheep.
From both parts of the Holy Eucharist children hunger to receive Jesus who loves them, and will come and make His home with them. (Joh 14:23)
The Great Commission calls us to catechize in ways that invite our children become God’s very “habitat” where He dwells “richly.”