Friday, March 6, 2015

Teaching Children Virtue

My tasks this day will keep me from my usual Friday mass time, so after the men’s Bible Study this morning I rushed to attend the 8AM mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, in Plymouth Michigan.
Fr. John Riccardo celebrated the mass today, and his short sermon was a new idea for me, so now I record it here so as not to forget.  (You can download many of his sermons and talks from the parish website, as millions of people from around the world have done.)  Today Fr. John spoke about going to the movies as being a family teaching moment.
“After the movie,” Fr. John said, “I suggest that you ask your kids:  What virtues or vices did you see in the movie?”  As an example, he asked the church:  “What virtue or vice was shown in today’s Old Testament reading, where Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers?”  Many answered correctly:  envy.  He then went on to give a clear definition of envy, and examples.
“Then,” he said: “You should ask your children what are the opposite vices or virtues to those seen in the movie, and how can we avoid those vices, or grow those virtues?”  Talking about a movie in this way goes beyond just describing what happened in the movie, but addresses WHY things happened.  Talking about movies can be great teachable moments for your children.
But, of course, in order to teach your children you have to understand what the virtues and vices are yourself, and even how they are in your own life.  The parish offers books, CDs, and a number of talks here, especially during Lent. 
We want to teach you, for you are part of our family.
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I have had many teachable moments myself, of late.  My prayers seem more intense, more open discussions and sharing between God and I.
I was praying the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary the other night, and had reached the Second Glorious Mystery, the Ascension, when I read the following phrase and began to meditate on it:
Going, but staying.  With me always.  With me in this Eucharist.
And then I looked up and pondered the large host on the altar in front of me.
The Eucharist is a great, often unappreciated gift of God, not like some gift toy to play with but a deeply useful gift, like a warm wool coat in a cold climate.  As we face the cold of the world, the Eucharist we receive that day protects us like a woolen coat.  We rarely think about that, but then, that is what a gift given to you in love does.  It is a gift that the Giver knows you need, even if you don’t appreciate it.  It’s a gift a Father would give.  He took His Son into heaven while letting Him stay here, in this Eucharist, for us, because He loves us.
I said the Hail Mary prayer on the bead, and went on to the next bead and meditation:
I am never alone, for You are one with me.
I can never ponder the Ascension without considering the soon-coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  With the graces of the Holy Spirit and with the Eucharist, I realize God has never really left me when He ascended to heaven.  I am never alone.
A love I feel, I need not see to believe
I looked up again, and stared at the host.  I saw it, but I didn’t really see what it was, Who it was, but like my thoughts on the warm coat, I know it is a love I feel.
I smiled and considered:  It looks as if the Lord and I have many thoughts to share and consider on this cold this night, as I pray this rosary prayer.  And so we continued to speak in silence, as good friends do, when no words are necessary.
And the time, a good time, flew by unnoticed.

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