Burning Hearts Disciples Blog

The Burning Hearts Disciples Blog is a place where you will find faith-based reflections on current events, reviews on the newest Catholic resources, and is the heart of the Burning Hearts community. 

Inspiring, Equipping, and Supporting Disciples

Do I HAVE to go to Mass?

on Monday, 06 July 2015. Fr. Larry Rice Posted in Sacraments, Family Faith

Sunday Obligation

Do I HAVE to go to Mass?

It happens every year at this time. I’ll be at a wedding on a Saturday, and someone will ask, “Father, does this count for Sunday?” Or someone will say, “Father, I missed Mass last week because we were driving in from Detroit—is that a sin?” Or in the winter, an elderly person will say, “Father, I need to go to confession because I missed Mass last week, because of the snow storm.”

Our Sunday Mass obligation is something we Catholics take very seriously. In some ways, it sets us apart from other Christian denominations, where weekly church attendance is seen as the ideal, rather than as part of our minimal obligation to the faith.

Send Them Off With Prayer

on Monday, 06 July 2015. Posted in Praying with Children, Family Faith, Prayer

Have a child heading off for camp or a mission trip?  Preparing for a road trip? Sending a college student back to school?  This prayer is a great way to keep Christ at the center of any journey you may be taking!

Litany of the Way: Prayer for the Journey

As Jesus sought the quiet of the desert,
teach us to pray.

As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,
teach us to love.

As Jesus promised paradise to the thief on the cross,
teach us to hope.

As Jesus called Peter to walk to him across the water,
teach us to believe.

As the child Jesus sat among the elders in the temple,
teach us to seek answers.

As Jesus in the garden opened his mind and heart to God’s will,
teach us to listen.

As Jesus reflected on the Law and the prophets,
teach us to learn.

As Jesus used parables to reveal the mysteries of
the Kingdom, teach us to teach.

Amen.


Prayer taken from the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, copyright © 2007, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Marriage and the Sanctity of Life

on Monday, 29 June 2015. Posted in Sacraments, Family Faith

Marriage and the Sanctity of Life

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother / and be joined to his wife, / and the two shall become one flesh. / This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

St. Paul could not have been more correct. This Christian teaching—that marriage and the relationship between Christ and the Church, shed light on each other—remains “a great mystery.” What can it mean?

At the very least, it must mean that marriage is a far weightier matter than bridal magazines and television shows indicate. It also means that God himself made marriage, and had it in mind when he made two “opposite” sexes who are able to become “one flesh.” Finally, from the reference to Christ and his Church, we get the distinct impression that marriage—like the relationship between God and the People of God—might involve great sacrifice for the other, total fidelity, and not a few ups and downs.

Praying When You're Too Busy To Pray

on Friday, 26 June 2015. Brittany Miller Posted in How Do You Pray?, Family Faith, Prayer, Resource Reviews

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason EvertOur church bookclub recently finished the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert. Part biography and part explanation of five things Mr. Evert deemed most important to this amazing pope and saint, the book was a page-turning and inspiring read.

It must be impossible to read about this great saint without desiring to amend some aspect of one’s own life in imitation of his holiness. Among the amazing aspects of Saint John Paul the Great’s life was his devotion to near constant prayer.

My own prayer life had been inconsistent and of little depth in recent months, so I decided that now would be the perfect time to make some changes.

 

Fatherhood and the Sacredness of Human Life

on Wednesday, 10 June 2015. Posted in For Parents, Family Faith

Fatherhood and the Sacredness of Human Life

by Kimberly Baker

The upcoming celebration of Father’s Day is a fitting time to examine the irony that in our current culture, fatherhood is rarely mentioned. When mentioned at all, fathers are mocked or portrayed negatively. Some movies and stories downplay the role of the father in a child’s life, yet simultaneously portray the child as suffering from the father’s inability to live up to that role.

In reality, the nobility and significance of fatherhood remain a powerful witness in the lives of those who have had the opportunity to grow up with a present and caring father. And there are, of course, profound stories and testimonies to counter the culture’s defeatist attitude towards fatherhood.

Alongside a mother’s unique and nurturing role, the father also has a vital part to play in safeguarding the sacredness of new human life and in forming the younger generation. The father’s special role in protecting and defending both mother and child helps ensure the stability and healthy development of the whole family.

Pope John Paul II wrote of the importance of fatherhood in his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio:

“A man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family . . . by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church” (no. 25).

The dedication and commitment of husbands and fathers to their families needs to be affirmed and supported if we are to build a culture of life.

June is also the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How fitting is Christ’s example of sacrificial love when we recall how he gave his life for his bride, the Church. The extent to which he pours out his heart for humanity shows the ultimate model of a man of compassion and quiet strength. We can see concrete examples of this in the Gospel, in the way he treated the Samaritan woman with dignity and in the way he welcomed the little children who wanted to meet him.

When a baby is growing in the womb, the first vital organ that develops is the heart, which starts beating by about 21 days. What does this say about the human person? It is almost as if God honors the capacity to love by giving the heart supremacy even in the physical development of the human being. While not physically connected to newly developing life in the same way as the mother, the father need not be excluded from this beautiful mystery. During this month of June, may all hearts look to the Sacred Heart as a source of inspiration, and may all husbands and fathers be renewed in their calling to build up the culture of life, starting in their own families.

When Dad Is a Fan

on Wednesday, 10 June 2015. Posted in For Parents, Family Faith

When Dad Is a Fan

by Bernadette Bonanno

I can always tell when my husband is on the phone with his dad. He stops whatever he is doing, walks outside and starts smiling in anticipation of his dad’s latest joke. My father-in-law just survived his third heart attack but continues to enjoy life and see the humor in it all. What a blessing to have a father who, after riding the waves of life with his children, emerges with a smile. Fathers do that. They bring levity to the weight of daily living.

A Strong Foundation

It’s widely held that children formulate the image of their heavenly father based on their relationship with their earthly fathers. So, in 1989 when our oldest was about six and Bart Simpson made his TV series debut, I banned the show from our house. Recently, our oldest son asked, “Mom, why didn’t you want us to watch Bart Simpson?”

Homer, Bart’s dad, was always messing up and treated as an incompetent buffoon. I answered my son, “You have a wonderful dad. You and your three brothers are probably going to be fathers someday, so how would planting those seeds benefit four impressionable minds?”

Fathers are unique in their parenting styles but similar in the fact that they are like foundations of homes; they hold up, hold together and keep the family safe from whatever life throws at them. Interestingly, like a foundation, the powerful role they play is sometimes hidden from view.

 

Did You Know? Displaying Flags in Catholic Churches

on Wednesday, 10 June 2015. Posted in Ordinary Time

Did You Know?  Displaying Flags in Catholic Churches

Surprisingly to many, there are no regulations of any kind governing the display of flags in Roman Catholic churches. Neither the Code of Canon Law nor the liturgical books of the Roman rite comment on this practice. As a result, the question of whether and how to display the American flag in a Catholic church is left up to the judgment of the diocesan bishop, who in turn often delegates this to the discretion of the pastor.

The origin of the display of the American flag in many parishes in the United States appears have its origins in the offering of prayers for those who served during the Second World War (1941-1945). At that time, many bishops and pastors provided a book of remembrance near the American flag, requesting prayers for loved ones—especially those serving their country in the armed forces—as a way of keeping before the attention of the faithful the needs of military families. This practice has since been confirmed in many places during the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraqi conflicts.

The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has in the past encouraged pastors not to place the flag within the sanctuary itself, in order to reserve that space for the altar, the ambo, the presidential chair, and the tabernacle. Instead, the suggestion has been made that the American flag be placed outside the sanctuary, or in the vestibule of the church together with a book of prayer requests. It remains, however, for the diocesan bishop to determine regulations in this matter.


Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.

Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

Resource Review: The "R" Father

on Monday, 08 June 2015. Maureen Anderson Posted in Resource Reviews

The "R" Father: 14 Ways to Respond to the Lord's Prayer by Mark Hart

The "R" Father: 14 Ways to Respond to the Lord's Prayer

 

Many would say the most important prayer we can say is the "Our Father" Why? Because Jesus himself taught us this prayer!  And yet, it is so easy to fall into the rote repetition of the words of this classic prayer without really engaging our hearts with it.

More than a series of petitions, the Lord's Prayer is a way for us to connect deeply with the heart of our heavenly Father.  In The "R" Father, popular Catholic author Mark Hart reflects on each of the words and phrases of the Our Father, he emphasizes the intimate relationship that God desires to have with us.

By breaking down this prayer into bite size pieces, Hart makes the depth and richness of this prayer come a live in a new way.  Despite having been a cradle Catholic who has said more "Our Fathers" than I could ever count, I had no idea of the deep meaning underlying each phrase.

Dandelions for Mary

on Monday, 01 June 2015. Brittany Miller Posted in Family Faith, Resource Reviews

Review of Take it To the Queen: A Tale of Hope

Dandelions for Mary

Spring in Kansas brings beautiful pink and white blossoms, bright green leaves, new blades of grass, and every young child’s flower of choice: the dandelion. There is usually no shortage of bright yellow blooms and white balls of fluff adorning our slightly neglected yard. Thus, to my daughter’s great delight, she can pick flowers whenever she chooses. Often, she brings the flowers over to me, and joyfully bestows her gift of a dandelion bouquet upon an all too grateful mother. They may be weeds, but when given with total love by a bright-eyed three-year-old, they seem more beautiful than the most gorgeous of roses.

When May arrived, I decided that we would spend a little time honoring and learning about Mary. We planted flowers in a small Mary garden and I purchased a new book. Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope by Josephine Nobisso is an allegorical account of Mary’s role in salvation and as our mother.  I wondered if the story might be a little advanced for my daughter, but she was captivated. At the end, without any prompting from me, she even asked if the story had a picture of baby Jesus. She must have grasped at least little pieces of the allegory.

The Madonna in Art

on Monday, 11 May 2015. Posted in Burning Hearts Disciples

by Rev. Larry Rice, CSP

One of the most common themes in Western art is that of the Madonna and Child—a serene painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding the child Jesus in her arms. But this image, so familiar that it has appeared on US Postal Service Christmas stamps nearly every year since 1966, was not always a staple of Christian art.

For most of the first three centuries of Christianity, the Blessed Virgin was usually depicted as part of a group of apostles, or as part of a Nativity scene; she was almost never alone or a central figure.  But in the fifth century, the Council of Ephesus addressed the Nestorian heresy, which claimed that, when Christ died on the Cross, it was only his human nature that experienced suffering and death. By extension, the Nestorians claimed that Mary was the mother only of Christ’s human nature and not
the Mother of God. The Council of Ephesus reinforced the Church’s long-held belief that Mary was the Mother of God and worthy of the Greek title “Theotokos.” Shortly thereafter, the Empress Eudocia sent a painting of the Madonna and Child home from the Holy Land and had it placed in the Church of Constantinople. This is the first historical mention of the Madonna and Child as an artistic subject. That painting was taken to Venice in 1202, to the Cathedral of St. Mark.

In subsequent centuries, the Madonna and Child has become one of the most popular themes in Western art. This popularity reflects the Church’s veneration of Mary for her role in our salvation and also for her place as an exemplar of the virtues of purity, humility, and faithful acceptance of God’s grace.

madonna image


Fr. Rice is the vocations director for the Paulist Fathers.
Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Reprinted with permission.

Fully Alive

on Tuesday, 28 April 2015. Posted in Burning Hearts Disciples

Theology of the Body Series

Fully Alive

Missed the first course? Can't make all 6 weeks?  That's okay - we'd still love for you to join us! 

Audio/video recordings and slideshow handouts will be available to those who miss a week, but want to catch up on what they've missed.*  If you want to join us after the first session, simply send a note to the presenter Kristin Bird, and she will send you the material to get caught up.


*Note:  Learners attending for Ongoing Formation credit through the Diocese who miss a week will be required to listen to audio recordings and present a one page typed response to the content covered on the week they missed in order to receive full credit for the course. 


Be inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings on the meaning of life & the purpose of love!

 


Saturdays 9-11am

April 25, May 2, May 9,
May 16, May 23 and May 30

Location:
Most Blessed Sacrament
Oshkosh, WI

St. Peter Church - Aquinas Hall

(enter via doors on Pearl Ave)

 



In this 6-part series, learn more about the legacy left behind by St. John Paul II. This introduction to his Theology of the Body will explore these questions (and more):

  • What does Scripture reveal to us about who God is? About who we are?
  • Why do I have to go to Church? Why can’t I just pray by myself?
  • How is God’s Divine Design revealed in sacred art and architecture?
  • What exactly is God’s Plan for sexuality? What does the Church really teach about sex?

A Diocese of Green Bay Ongoing Catechetical Formation Course.

To register, contact Diocese of Green Bay Department of Education:
http://bit.ly/FullyAlive2015
920-272-8309
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

TOBflyerOshkosh

Why Do We Celebrate Easter for 50 Days?

on Monday, 13 April 2015. Posted in Easter, Seasons

Why Do We Celebrate Easter for 50 Days?

Most people think of Easter as a single day. It’s never had the commercial appeal of Christmas, and because it always falls on Sunday, most people don’t get an additional day off from work. But for Catholics, Easter isn’t just a day, it’s a whole season. The Easter season stretches all the way to the feast of Pentecost. Lent, which sometimes feels like it’s stretching on forever, is actually forty days long. Easter, on the other hand, is all of fifty days long. About these fifty days theologian Nathan Mitchell writes:

‘The great fifty days of Pentecost are not an unwelcome, unrealistic obligation to “party on,” even if we don’t feel like it, but an invitation to explore more deeply “the weather of the heart,” to awaken our memory of God’s presence and power in our lives, to look more closely at all the rich and varied textures of creation.’

One way the church pursues this goal of seeing God present in the world is through the reading of the Acts of the Apostles. At Masses all through the Easter season, our usual practice of reading from the Old Testament is replaced be reading from the Acts of the Apostles. These readings tell the story of the church’s earliest days, and the beginnings of our faith’s spreading throughout the ancient world. These stories of heroism, controversies, persecutions and miracles all testify to the continued presence of the Risen Christ in the world, through the lives of his disciples, and the actions of the Holy Spirit.

All of this should be an encouragement and a sign of hope for us today. Despite war, violence, personal struggles, and an under-performing economy, God has not abandoned us, nor left us to our own devices. The risen savior is still with us. These 50 days of Easter ask us to reflect on his presence, and—even in the face of danger or fear—to live with joy.


by Rev. Lawrence Rice, CSP.  Originally published on ForYourMarriage.org. Copyright 2015 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Used with permission.

Did You Know...About Sacred Chrism?

on Wednesday, 25 March 2015. Posted in Lent

Did You Know...About Sacred Chrism?

Chrism is blessed at the end of Lent by the diocesan bishop, at a special liturgy called the Chrism Mass.

by Rev. Larry Rice, CSP

The Catholic Church uses lots of physical materials in the administration of its sacraments: water,
wine, bread, and oils are typical examples. We have three kinds of sacramental oils: the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and sacred Chrism. This last is a kind of multi-purpose oil used for many kinds of sacraments and blessings.

Like all our sacred oils, Chrism is made from olive oil, although other vegetable oils can be used if olive oil is unavailable. And like the other two, Chrism is blessed at the end of Lent by the diocesan bishop, at a special liturgy called the Chrism Mass. Unlike other sacramental oils, Chrism is scented, usually with essential oil of balsam, giving it a woody, pine-like fragrance.

Sacred Chrism is used primarily for baptisms and ordinations. At Baptism, after the Baptism in water, the one being initiated into the Church is anointed with Chrism, along with a prayer that recollects Christ being anointed priest, prophet, and king. During a priesthood ordination, the hands of the ordinand (the candidate for ordination) are anointed with Chrism, while the bishop prays,

“The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.”

While this is happening, the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus is usually sung.

In addition to these sacramental uses, sacred Chrism is also used to consecrate a new altar and to bless church bells at their installation.

For centuries, this fragrant blessed oil has been a symbol of God’s overflowing grace and
generosity. It’s a multi-sensory reminder of the goodness of creation and of people and objects that are set apart from that creation to serve a sacred purpose.


Father Rice is Vocations Director for the Paulist Fathers.
Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. Used with permission.

Five Holy Week Suggestions for Famillies

on Monday, 23 March 2015. Posted in Family Faith, Lent

Holy Week @home

Five Holy Week Suggestions for Famillies

During Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his earthly life, beginning with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. For nearly 40 days, the Christian faithful have practiced the disciplines of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Now the Church invites us to an even deeper spirit of prayer as we follow Christ on his journey to the Cross.

Traditions - especially those children can see, hear, feel, smell and taste -- provide vivid and lasting impressions for all members of the family. Take advantage of all the 'smells and bells' of Holy Week to help everyone in your family celebrate the holiest time of year.

Here are five suggestions for families to use this week as an opportunity to grow in holiness as individuals and as a family.

  1. What do you do with the palm branches you bring home from Palm Sunday Mass? Consider a simple ceremony to place them in your home. See our Palm Sunday post for a suggested ritual.

  2. During the week, pray the seven Penitential Psalms together (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143). These are especially appropriate during Lent. Prayerfully reciting these psalms helps us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow, and ask for God’s forgiveness.

  3. Celebrate the Sacrament of Penance if you haven’t already done so during Lent (www.foryourmarriage.org/why-do-catholics-go-to-confession/). Many parishes have extra hours and/or communal penance services during Holy Week.

  4. Attend a service together on Holy Thursday and/or Good Friday. On Thursday, the Church recall the Last Supper and Jesus’ gift of his Body and Blood. On Friday, parishes hold services to celebrate the Passion of the Lord; many have Stations of the Cross as well.

    What about little ones?  Can they sit through these sometimes long services?  This liturgy director offers some practical insights and suggestions: Children and the Triduum.

  5. On Holy Saturday, pray for those who will be received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. Pray, too, for a deepening of your own faith and the grace to endure the suffering and celebrate the joys of married life.

Additional Suggested Resources:

  • Your Guide to Holy Week (PDF)  Download this great guide offering brief explanations of the history, traditions, and symbols of Holy Week along with 12 practical suggestions for making Holy Week meaningful.

  • Ways to Teach Your Kids About Holy Week  Here are some things you can do so that even the little ones in your family can join in celebrating one of the holiest and happiest times in the Church year.

  • 15 Ways to Observe Holy Week  Ideas for busy families with children of all ages.

  • Stations of the Cross  The Stations of the Cross are a great prayer to do as a family.  This guide will help you find the right tool to participate even if you've never done them before!

Adapted from an article originally published on the For Your Marriage website.
Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Used with permission.

What to Do With Palm Branches

on Monday, 23 March 2015. Posted in Praying with Children, Family Faith, Lent

A Simple Ritual for the Home

What to Do With Palm Branches

“On this day the Church celebrates Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery” (Roman Missal).

“Entrance” is the key to understanding the liturgy of Passion (Palm) Sunday. We enter into Jerusalem with Christ. We enter into our holiest week. We enter into our final preparation for the Easter feast.

Ordinarily when we go to Sunday Mass we enter the church one by one, as we arrive. On Palm Sunday, we enter the church together -- a grand entrance.

Usually, the community gathers in another location (outside the church, for example, or in the school hall). One of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem is proclaimed.

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
“Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8-10).

And then we “enter into” the Gospel. We go with Christ into Jerusalem. We process into the church.

Procession with Palms

This is one of our most joyful and triumphant processions of the entire year. As we gather on this Sunday we receive a branch of palm or olive (or other green plant).

What do you do with the palm branches you bring home from Palm Sunday Mass?

The branches are blessed by the priest before the procession and often kept as blessed objects in peoples’ homes. Please don't throw them (or any scrap pieces) into the trash. The proper way to dispose of blessed items is to bury them, burn them, or return them your church so they can burn them and use them next Ash Wednesday.

Palm Crosses

palm crossOne of my fondest memories of Palm Sunday as a child is the quick palm cross my mom would whip each of our palms into as soon as we sat down at church.  The palm crosses were a sign of how quickly our love and adoration for Jesus can turn to rejection of him through sin.   Our shouts of "Hosannah!" turn to shouts of "Crucify him!" during that Mass almost as fast as my palm turned from a branch into a cross.

There was another, more practical benefit to her talent as well.  Palm branches that wave during the procession quickly turn into swords, lightsabers, sky writing pens, lassos, and objects of torture in the hands of young children.  The compact crosses my mom whipped out during the First Reading were not nearly as easy to poke my siblings with!

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