The Making Disciples Today Blog has reflections to help you grow in your journey of missionary discipleship, reviews on recommended Catholic evangelization resources, and practical insight on how to evangelize in your daily life.
- Written by David Gibson
The household’s older children erupted into endless shrieks of delight when the phone call came from the hospital announcing the birth of their baby sister and our newest grandchild. Two of the children, overwhelmed by excitement, raced out the door to tell the good news to their neighbors.
New babies are such wonders. Like magnets, they attract neighbors and relatives, family friends and many others, who soon arrive to visit. What everyone wants most is to see the new baby.
I always am amazed at the amount of time people, myself included, can spend simply watching a baby’s every twist and turn. Here, after all, is youth in a pure form. A long, winding journey awaits the child, but this present, newborn moment usually is one of immense hope and happiness.
Allow me now to fast-forward eight or nine decades to the scene of an 85th or 95th birthday party for someone born in 2014. The party may be loads of fun and represent a genuine celebration of a life. But will it erupt with delight at the great promise in this person’s life then and there? Maybe not.
To the extent possible, society seemingly suggests, old age should be delayed in favor of youthfulness. Even when an older person’s experience, insights and love are valued greatly, old age itself may be feared. So a sense may lurk in the background at our birthday celebration that the time of death is drawing disturbingly close.
Don’t most of us find it hard to feel happy about death? Isn’t death a dismal outcome for life?
- Written by Burning Hearts Team
Holy Week @home
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.
However, please remember that the holiness of your Holy Week doesn't depend on how many crafts or prayer services you do with your family.
It doesn't depend on having kids who are willing to sit and listen to lengthy Scripture readings or on your ability to focus during long services.
The holiness of your Holy Week doesn't depend on anything you DO at all. It depends completely on your willingness to surrender yourself to Jesus' love.
Time each day this week to open your heart to Jesus' extravagant, overwhelmingly abundant, self-sacrificing love for you. Ask Him to fill you with His love and to fill even the darkest, most discouraged, most shame-filled corners of your heart with the light of His love.
Then, allow that light and love to overflow from you to those around you.
If we each loved the people in our homes and in our loves with more intentionality and extravagance this week - if we just loved them with Jesus' love poured into our own hearts - then, this year's Holy Week will be the holiest ever.
- Written by Kristin Bird
A Simple Ritual for the Home
“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!”
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.
One 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!
- Written by Kristin Bird
Did you know...? According to some historical accounts, if you’ve ever pulled a prank on April Fool’s Day, you have the Catholic Church to thank.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a decree ordering that all Christian nations adopt a standardized calendar. This new "Gregorian calendar" moved the new year from the end of March to the first of January. If you've ever misdated a January check, you can likely empathize with the confusion this caused for some folks in the years that followed. Those who didn't know about the change, didn't want to observe it, or simply forgot about it were mocked as “fools” when they mistakenly celebrated the new year on April 1.
A French tradition that dates back to this era may have been the start of the pranks we traditionally play on this day. Some writers suggest that those who adopted the new calendar began tricking those who didn't by sending them on foolish errands, playing practical jokes on them, or attaching fish to their backs (symbolizing a young, easily caught fish / a gullible person).
However, we can dig deeper into April Fools Day and consider it more than just a day to play pranks. The whole notion of foolishness has a long tradition with deep meaning in the Christian tradition, and reflecting on them can help us grow in our journey of discipleship.