Every year in October we are invited to publicly demonstrate our pro-life values. On the first Sunday of the month we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. In some areas in the Diocese, including Calgary, we have the opportunity to participate in the “Life Chain” where people stand on both sides of a busy street holding pro-life signs. Throughout the month we are particularly encouraged to pray for the safety of the unborn and for their mothers. We also pray for those who contemplate assisted suicide and for their doctors that they may have a change of heart and honour life from conception until natural death. At the same time we pray for doctors who do not want to participate in the killing of others, that they may not be forced to take part in such acts; and we pray for those who had or were involved in an abortion, that they may find healing and reconciliation.
Being pro-life means advocating for the protection of all human life. The teaching of pro-life values begins at a very early age. Parents are most influential when it comes to preventing their young children from making harmful and morally wrong choices. Focusing on the value of human life, no child is too young to understand that they are loved. Kisses, hugs, words of encouragement and affirmation are perfect ways to make a child feel loved and special. As the child gets older parents can explain the value of human life by pointing out the differences in people’s appearances and telling them that each person is unique and special. Then there comes a day when a child asks the question, “Where do babies come from?” In today’s society, parents expect this question to be asked by their young children, but when it is actually presented to them they often feel put on the spot and struggle with the appropriate answer. Luckily, there are a number of good books available to children and their parents that can be of helpful assistance.
Here are two books for pre-school to third grade children.
Both are available at many libraries and bookstores:
- Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss: It tells the story of Horton, the kind-hearted elephant who rescues the citizens of Whoville. Horton’s philosophy is “a person’s a person no matter how small.” It is a gentle lead into the humanity and dignity of the unborn.
- Before You Were Born by Jennifer Davis: It is short and easy to understand for children of preschool age to third grade and includes a simple approach to the unborn baby’s development. There are interactive pages that children can peek into and look at.
Some suggested family pro-life activities:
- Look for books similar to the ones mentioned above (for smaller children and for older children and youth).
- Participate in the pro-life awareness and fund raising activities in your area.
- Arrange for a visit to a family member or to a family from your church that has a newborn baby.
- Take the children to visit people in a home for seniors. Contact your parish if you don’t know how to go about it.
- Collect and donate funds to Elizabeth House, the home for the less fortunate young women and their babies supported by the Calgary Diocese.
- Discuss the cycle of life with your older children and teenagers.
- Add your own pro-life activities to the list.
Heavenly Father, the beauty and dignity of human life
was the crowning of your creation.
Help us to realize the sacredness of human life
and to respect it from the moment of conception
until the last moment of life.
Give us courage to speak out in defense of life.
Help us to extend the gentle hand of mercy
and forgiveness to those who do not
reverence this precious gift.
We ask this in Jesus’ Name.
It seems that our schedules become slightly more hectic than usual at this time of the year. There are so many new beginnings, and this might intensify stress levels in the family. A new school year with new teachers is coming up; there are new job challenges; and new activities that may bring about feelings of fear and apprehension. Here’s a suggestion: Place a note inside a lunch box, or tape it on a mirror, that reads I Love You – and don’t forget, so does God; or Don’t forget to smile today and praise God. Such gestures contribute a great deal to making somebody’s day a little brighter.
A little humour helps too. Several years ago somebody gifted me with a car visor clip made out of pewter that portrays an angel with a banner in his hands that reads, Don’t drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly. It always puts a smile on my face when I look at this little angel, even if I don’t feel like smiling. The sentence on the banner has more than one meaning. It reminds me to slow down when I feel like driving faster than I should; and it also reminds me to slow down my usual pace of activity every so often. Sometimes it prompts me to pray. It’s amazing what a little symbol of faith in your car can do for you!
It is important that a family includes fun activities at times like this. Here are some more suggestions:
- Bagged Lunch in the Park: Make use of remaining sunny days to arrange a Sunday afternoon family lunch in the park. Each person can plan and pack a lunch for another member of the family. The younger children will need some assistance with this. Each lunch bag should include a brief Bible passage that will be shared at lunch time. Before eating, everyone will be asked to read their Bible quotation and then share their thoughts. Bring along a ball, baseball gloves, a badminton set, or whatever else you wish to include physical activities after lunch.
- School Book Covering: Spend an evening together covering school books and invite everyone to participate. Everyone plays a role, whether cutting the paper, measuring the books and folding the paper accordingly, and picking up the left over paper to put in the recycling bin or to create more designs for the covers. You may talk about the subject of the books as you put the covers on them. You may conclude the book covering session by asking for God’s blessing praying: Almighty God, source of all knowledge, insight and wisdom, we ask you to bless these books and all of us who use them, that through them we may come to a greater understanding and reverence of this world that You intrusted in us. May these tools of learning open our minds and hearts to understand the wonders of Your creation. This we ask through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Good News Bulletin Board: At your next family gathering add the buying of a “Good News Bulletin Board” on the agenda of things to be discussed. Explain that only good news can be displayed on this bulletin board. Involve the entire family in discussing what they would like to see displayed and how long it should remain there before it goes into the “Good News Archive,” a box or trunk that will house past Good News items. Make sure to notice what is on the board and compliment each other on the good news.
- Fly a Kite: Although you can buy a ready-made kite, it is still lots of fun to make your own. Here is what you will need: a 90 cm wooden dowel and a 120 cm wooden dowel. The longer dowel will be the spine of the kite and the shorter dowel the crosspiece. You will also need: plastic sheeting or recycled garbage bags; strong tape, such as packing or electrical tape; twine; kite string or fishing line. Get your supplies and gather your tools. Sketch your kite sail. Cut out your kite sail. Build your kite structure. Attach your line. Make a tail. Fly your kite!
My wish for you is that you will carry out these and other family fun activities in a relaxed and prayerful atmosphere. And always remember, “Don’t drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!”
This year, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of confederation. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invites every bishop of every diocese or eparchy to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 1. Families are also invited to commemorate this important event. We can do this by engaging the family in an active and communicative way!
To begin this journey with your family you need a Bible (and, if possible, a Children’s Bible) and the colouring page on page 6, and some colouring pencils. Prepare for the activity by reflecting on your relationship with your parents or with your children, so that you can share an example of your special relationship with your loved ones. Read the scripture passage, John 19:25-27.
- Have copies of the colouring page ready (1 per child). Click Here.
- Ask the children to describe something that they really like to do as a family, something that makes them feel special. For example, “each night before bed, Daddy reads to me and then we say our prayers together,” or “when Mommy makes my lunch she puts a special treat in the bag – something that she knows I will really like,” or “Mommy always knows what to say when I am feeling sad,” or “Daddy and I play outdoor hockey together on the weekends.”
- What makes these moments special? Is it because it is one-on-one time just between the parent and child?
- After everybody has had a chance to talk about their special times with mom or dad, read the scripture passage – John 19:25-27. If you don’t have a children’s Bible, you can paraphrase the passage in words that the children understand. It is important to mention that when children get older, they want to care for their parents, just as their parents cared for them when they were younger. Jesus wanted to make sure that his mother would be looked after. He wanted to make sure that his mother and John would take care of each other.
- Jesus also has a special relationship with his mother, and he wants us to care for her, and for her to care for us. That is why we pray through Mary that she will ask God to help us when we need it. We are comforted in the knowledge that Mary loves us and cares for us just as our parents do.
- This year Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As Jesus entrusted the disciple John to his mother Mary, and his mother Mary to John, we, as Catholics, are marking this special occasion by entrusting our country to the care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By doing so, the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will ask God to help us live together in peace and harmony.
Ask the children to colour the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Pray the Hail Mary together:
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
You might remember that some time ago, all parishioners of the Calgary Diocese were invited to participate in a survey on family life. This survey was distributed to all Catholics throughout the universal Church. The completed survey questionnaires were collected by each diocese. In Canada, each diocese forwarded results to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The survey results were then sent to Vatican City in Rome.
The fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, also referred to as the Synod on the Family, took place from October 4 to October 25, 2015. The topics of this gathering were the vocation and mission of the family in the church and in the contemporary world.
The 2015 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family was preceded by the Extraordinary General Assembly in 2014. The result of both assemblies was publicly released by Pope Francis on April 8, 2016 in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, entitled Amoris Laetitia. The document features nine chapters beginning with In the Light of The Word and ending with The Spirituality of Marriage. It deals with the experiences and challenges of families, love in marriage, pastoral perspectives, the education of children and more.
I challenge you to read this document in its entirety. The materials including a study guide can be obtained on the Internet (Google: “Amoris Laetitia” and “Study Guide to Amoris Laetitia”) or through the Life & Family Resource Centre of the Calgary Catholic Diocese. We also offer the document in book form. Phone Gabriele Kalincak at (403) 218-5504 or email email@example.com
Suggested Family or Parish Activities
(best practice to study this document is one chapter at a time – weekly or bi-weekly)
- Attend a study group.
- Initiate a study group.
- Join a ministry that reflects what you have learned from this document.
- Many couples choose the reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians [1 Cor 13:4-7] to be read at their wedding. You can meditate on it in chapter 4.
- Make a list of one or more changes you want to implement after reading each chapter.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Help us to understand the true meaning of the teachings that Amoris Laetitia provides. May we grow in love and understanding of our faith, values and traditions. This we ask through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. LFRC, Carillon
Project Rachel is an ecumenical ministry of healing and reconciliation for people of all ages who are suffering distress from a past abortion experience.
The ministry was launched throughout southern Alberta in November 1998
Project Rachel is a sensitive, private and confidential program. We offer support to anyone, regardless of gender, age, or faith. Not only women who have had the abortion, but also men and family members who experience post-abortion grief are welcome to contact us. Our counsellors recognize abortion as a traumatic experience, and address its psychological and physical symptoms. In addition, they offer the unique opportunity to integrate spirituality into the healing process.
- Teams of trained therapists or clergy are available to see clients on an individual basis. Our counselors are readily available; there are no long waiting times.
- This is a confidential and ecumenical ministry.
For more information, click here
Project Weekend Retreats are available. This is an opportunity to journey with others who are also seeking healing from a past abortion experience - under the guidance of two professional counselors. For more information or to register, contact the Project Rachel office at 403-218-5506 or (Toll Free) 1-877-597-3223 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Song For Rachel
'A Song For Rachel' is held annually as a fun-filled, family fundraising concert that has been established in 1999. A silent auction was added in 2003.
The next Song for Rachel concert will be held on April 27, 2018 at St. Michael's Parish, 800 - 85 St. SW, Calgary. The silent auction will open at 6:00 pm and the concert begins at 7:00 pm. The price is $15.00/person and $35.00/family.
Call now to reserve: 403-218-5505.
- Gabriele Kalincak, Director
- Confidential Phone Line: (403) 218-5506 or (Toll Free) 1-877-597-3223
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectRachel