St. Michael Parish: New Beginnings November 25th, 2014, 7:30-9:00 Session 4 Welcome to our fourth session of New Beginnings. Tonight’s lesson will be broken up into three sections with an additional Advent lesson from Deacon Joe: a. A discussion on Jesus: A Pilgrimage… Chapter 2: Yes b. The upcoming Gospels: Mark 13:33–37 and Mark 1:1–8. Breakout groups. c. The last three of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church Welcome to Advent: Opening prayer and an overview of Advent and the new Liturgical year. Presented by Deacon Joe Section 1: Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by James Martin http://catholicmom.com/?s=Jesus+A+Pilgrimage Chapter 2: Yes, pages 26-50. We are told in the scriptures that we do not choose God; God chooses us. Fr. Martin asks why we feel feelings of longing, gratitude or wonder and he concludes, “This is God beginning a conversation.” He is reaching out to us, He is inviting us. How do we feel? Grateful, fearful? “Thinking about the Creator of the Universe entering into the ‘particularity’ of our lives can be terrifying.” Father Martin describes that feeling when he receives a sudden answer to a problem or an insight knowing these things did not originate within him. To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss: 1. If you had a chance to stand where Jesus stood and gaze at the same scenery He saw, how would you feel? 2. How do you know when God is asking you to do something? Do you feel afraid? Excited? Unworthy? All of the above? 3. Is there a “yes” in your life that has transformed you? Section 2: The Word The Weekly Readings: Past and Future Gospel Reading for November 30th: Mark 13:33–37 Be Watchful! Jesus warns his disciples to watch and be prepared. They will not know the exact hour of the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. So they must remain alert for the coming of the fullness of the kingdom. Gospel Reading for December 7th: Mark 1:1–8 Make Straight the Way The beginning of Mark’s Gospel applies the prophecy of Isaiah to John the Baptist, the herald who prepared the way of the Lord. The people flocked to John. They hungered for his message. Section 3: The Sacraments There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. Tonight’s lesson will focus on… Anointing of the Sick Through the sacrament of anointing, Christ strengthens the faithful who are afflicted by illness, providing them with the strongest means of support. Jesus showed great concern for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the sick and commanded his followers to do the same. The celebration of this sacrament is an opportunity for the deepening of the faith of the community who are able to witness the faith and devotion of those being anointed. Marriage The Church has a rich tradition in its teaching on sacramental marriage and covenantal union. The Old Testament authors write of God making a covenant with the chosen people and promising them that they will never be forsaken. The New Testament authors write of Jesus as the new covenant and compare the relationship of Jesus with the Church to the relationship of a husband and wife. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. Holy Orders Is the sacrament by which bishops, priests and deacons are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. The sacred rite by which orders are conferred is called ordination. The apostles were ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper so that others could share in his priesthood. Christian Burial The Church asks spiritual assistance for the departed, honors their bodies, and at the same time brings solace of hope to the living. The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to the Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God's mercy and judgment and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis. We will meet again on the 9th of December. Homework: For the next two years we will be using Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by James Martin as a supplemental resource. For our next meeting on the 9th of December please read Chapter 3: Bethlehem, pages 51-69. A look ahead… When’s the last time I did really stop and listen to Jesus’ words? How have I taken this story—so familiar, like a well-worn pair of jeans—for granted? What makes it new, gets my attention, makes me consider it as the remarkable thing it is? For humility is the gateway to faith. Without it, we rely simply on our own efforts, without recognizing our dependence on God. Without it, we rely simply on our own reason, without opening ourselves up to the possibility of the miraculous. Without it, we cannot fully enter into the world that God has in store for us. He doesn’t meet us empty-handed. Like the gentleman he is, he comes with flowers: grace and blessings galore, though sometimes they’re a bit different than the bouquet we had picked out for ourselves. I look at the life I have, and I smile. Just like the baby in the manger, the unlikely King with a manger for a bed, my life is far different than what I had planned. And, in being different, it’s far better. To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss: 1. When has God met you where you are? Take a few moments and journal about that experience and reflect on how it’s impacting you now. 2. How have you grown in humility? What’s one thing you can do in the coming weeks to reach out and accept God’s help to grow in humility? 3. What’s an obstacle blocking your growth in holiness? Take it to baby Jesus. Ask him to help you to be humble and accept help for that obstacle.