When our loved ones turn from God
It can be extremely distressing to see our sons, daughters and loved ones make life choices that take them away from God. The secular world often tempts people of all ages to put material possessions, relationships, careers, pleasure, or addictions ahead of a relationship with God. Many pray in anguish for their children or loved ones to re-find their faith. Years may pass without improvement and some may feel that God is not listening or wonder if they are doing something wrong.
What can we do?
Jesus tells us to persevere in prayer and that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. Jesus desires that we are in a “right place” with respect to our relationship with Him. In other words, we need to be aligned with God’s will for us and develop a heart that is forgiving, full of love and at peace. Recognizing the needs of parents and grandparents to learn to pray more effectively, a popular seminar called “How to Pray for Your Sons, Daughters and Loved Ones” has been taught over the past 20 years by Vernon Robertson, a Catholic evangelist.
The impact on lives
Vernon and his wife Maureen went through a very difficult phase of their life when their teenage son became a real prodigal. After an intense period of prayer over many years, they had a surprise call one day from their son who was living and working far away. He apologized for how he had treated them, asked their forgiveness, and told them he had re-found his faith.
Hundreds and hundreds of people have attended this Seminar of Hope over the past 20 years or watched it on EWTN. Feedback from previous participants includes:
- “Absolutely transformational for me and my prayer life…”
- “Vernon is a very powerful speaker. I’ve never attended anything quite like this and it touched me deeply.”
- “I thought it was wonderful … God definitely spoke to me at this seminar.”
- “I now have hope and peace in my heart about my children; I did not have this feeling before.”
- “I felt God telling me: I love you and will take care of you and your loved ones … trust me.”
Upcoming seminar on May 26 and 27, 2017
St. Michael Catholic Community is pleased to sponsor this two-part seminar starting on Friday, May 26 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and concluding on Saturday, May 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To receive a free participant’s manual and reserve a seat, please register in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the parish receptionist at (403) 249-0423 ext. 101. The church is located at 800 - 85th Street SW in Calgary. There is no charge for this seminar and a free will offering will be taken to cover the speaker’s costs. For the lunch break on Saturday, please bring a brown bag lunch or eat out at a nearby restaurant; coffee/tea will be provided.
About the speaker
Vernon Robertson is a Vancouver based Catholic evangelist, father of three and grandfather of eleven. He has led this seminar for 20 years and has spoken on this and related faith topics across Canada and in other countries. Vernon is currently a board member of Renewal Ministries of Canada. Previously, Vernon was National Catholic Advisor to the Alpha Board of Directors of Canada and served on the Vancouver Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. In October 2010, Vernon was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for Church and Pope) Cross by Pope Benedict the XVI. For more information, see www.seminarofhope.org.
About the writer
Mark Richards is a father of four adult children and a member of St. Michael Catholic Community. Mark has personally experienced how God uses this seminar to work in his own life and in the lives of his children. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or at (403) 836-0545.
Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit powerfully uses the Seminar of Hope as a channel of healing and reconciliation for people from all walks of life. - Fr. Jerome Lavigne, St. Peter’s Calgary
When we think of Easter, we think about spring that brings new life, new beginnings, and new growth. For Christians this does not only mean that the days are getting longer, the trees are leafing and all of nature transforms itself into an uplifting colourful panorama. The Easter season also lifts up our hearts and spirits to the wonders of God, who through His death and resurrection, saved us from eternal punishment. Through this act of love for His people, Jesus invites us “to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” [2 Peter 3:18]. What better time than Lent and Easter to renew our commitment to the Lord by using it as a time of spiritual awakening, nurturing and growing.
- What am I currently doing to nurture my spirituality and my faith?
- What are we doing as a family to nurture our spirituality and our faith?
- How can we grow more in our faith?
- How do we recognize God’s love in the awakening of nature?
- How do we recognize God’s love in other people?
- How can we help somebody else to grow closer to God?
Fill in the missing words to complete the sentences:
(the answers may be different for each family member)
- Acknowledging differences means
- Taking responsibility means
- The word growth or growing means
- Growing in faith means
- My love for God’s creation means
- Lent is a time of
- Easter is
- I recognize growth mostly in
- I nurture growth by
Easter! Spring! A time to look toward the season for planting: Have each family member select a plant seed, each different from that of the other family members. Each seed will be planted in its own pot, and whoever planted that particular seed is responsible for its growth. Encourage each family member to become knowledgeable about their planted seed. When the family gets together once a week they will report on what they have learned. The younger children might need some help with their task. At each gathering begin with a prayer thanking God for the gift of life and growth.
As the plants get bigger you will notice that they are all different, yet they are all plants. This is the time to talk about differences. Every plant looks different, yet they are all plants. People look different, yet they are all humans. Like the plants, humans were created by God. God entrusted plants, animals and the entire world into our care. That includes our children, the elderly, the homeless, and all who need that little extra help to live their life in dignity. How do we recognize their needs and what can we do to help?
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my Lambs.” A second time he said to him, &lqduo;Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” [John 21.15-17].
Bishop Henry chose this Bible passage as the guide to pastor the people in the Diocese of Calgary. He does it with compassion, love and care and is determined to be an example to others. He was and is never afraid to face and speak the truth defending Catholic dogma, values, and traditions, just as it is expected of a good leader. There are those who accept that truth, and then there are those who do not and act accordingly. If we look at the life of Jesus on earth we can see the parallels. Having said that, I would like you to reflect on the role of a bishop.
Fill in the missing words to complete the sentences (answers below*):
- The bishop is the head of the ______________
- On his head he wears a ______________
- In his hand he holds a ______________
- His “home” church is usually the ______________
- He is an authentic successor of the ______________
- The bishop of an archdiocese is called ______________ Reflection Questions:
- Who chooses a bishop from among the priests?
- What are the responsibilities of a bishop?
- Name the holy sacraments that are administered by the bishop.
- Which of those sacraments can be administered by the priest with the bishop’s permission?
- What is the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB: www.cccb.ca)?
- Who is the current president of the CCCB? Family Activities:
- Explain the role of a bishop to your children in words they can understand.
- Tell your children how to recognize a bishop. What does he wear when celebrating Mass?
- Encourage your children to draw a picture of a bishop.
- What was the name of the bishop who confirmed you?
- Look at photographs of each confirmed family member, remember, and talk about what made those days special!
LET US GIVE THANKS IN PRAYER
Let us pray in thanksgiving for Bishop Henry
who led us for many years through trying times
when the spirit of the world threatened Christian values.
May the presence of the Holy Spirit
be his source of strength,
and may he continue to be an inspiring example
of defending these values.
May the Lord, our God, protect him
and may he experience peace and happiness
in his retirement.
*Diocese, Mitre, Crozier, Cathedral, Apostles, and Archbishop
The Star of Bethlehem, also known as the Christmas Star, is mentioned in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel tells us that “ in the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “in Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel [Matthew 2:1-6].” When Herod heard this, he called for the wise men – learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared – and sent them to Bethlehem. He asked them to come back after they had found the child, telling him the exact route so that he could also go to visit the child. The wise men went on their way following the star that led them to their destination. When they arrived they fell on their knees worshipping Jesus and offering their gifts. Before leaving for home, they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned to their own country by another route.
- Family Quiz (find the answers in the Bible):
- What was the birth place of Jesus (name town and country)?
- When did the event take place?
- What were the names of the wise men?
- Where did the wise men come from?
- Name the gifts they brought with them.
- Family Activities:
- On a clear night during Advent go outside and find the brightest shining star. See if you can name it.
- Create your own Star of Bethlehem. Then create smaller stars. You can hang them from the ceiling or from the Christmas tree.
- Make a Christmas star mobile.
- Read the Christmas story and meditate on it.
- Talk to your children about the miracle of Christmas and what it means to all of us.
- Sing hymns or songs that mention the Christmas Star.
There have been many attempts to explain the Christmas Star scientifically. The conclusion is that the Star of Bethlehem cannot be naturally explained by science. It was a temporary and supernatural light. After all, the first Christmas was a time of miracles. May our eyes be opened to the extraordinary miracles of this Advent and Christmas season.
November begins with All Saints Day followed by All Souls Day. Both days are being observed on weekdays this year and everybody might not have had the chance to attend Mass. However, there is ample opportunity to visit the resting places of loved ones and partake in a memorial Mass and services during the month. One time might be Remembrance Day on November 11, when we remember those who lost their lives in war, and during other military conflicts, while tending to their duty to defend our freedom.
November is also a time when the days have fewer daylight hours, and the outdoor temperatures start to sink below the freezing mark. We tend to spend more time indoors. What a great opportunity to have a little more quiet time! Maybe we can spend some of that time in reflection and prayer. Talking about prayer, what exactly is prayer? The Bible identifies several different types of prayers. There are prayers of adoration, prayers of confession, prayers of thanksgiving, and prayers of petition — to name a few. Prayer is not some mystical process nor is it some kind of power that makes things happen for us because they are on our “wish list.” True prayer is communication with God by opening our hearts and minds to invite God into conversation.
Practicing our Catholic faith fully means that we incorporate prayer into our daily routine. Individual and family prayer time, long or short, will enrich our lives and our relationships with each other and with God.
Suggested Family Practices:
- Make a point of eating together at least once a day or whenever possible and especially on Sundays and holidays.
- Say grace together at meal times.
- Practise prayer and bedtime rituals.
- Make time for family conversations.
- Display and introduce sacred objects and religious images, especially the Bible, to the children.
- Celebrate holidays together.
- Engage in family devotions and read the Bible.
- Provide age appropriate books and literature for the children.
Prayer Activities for Family Members Thank You, Sorry, Please — Teaspoon Prayers
Perhaps one of the most simple ways of praying is to use the three words: thank you, sorry, please. Talk to your child about what(s) he is thankful for and make a note of it. Then ask what(s) he is sorry about, and then ask about what(s) he would like to ask of God. Help your child to form a prayer. As a reminder, you can give your child a teaspoon that can be kept in a special place. If this is repeated it might just become one of the prayer rituals that your child some day passes on to his or her children. Balloon Prayers — Family Activity
Blow up balloons and hand one to every family member. Ask each person to write one-line “thank you” prayers on the balloons with a felt marker. Gather in a circle and invite each family member to read their prayers. Hang the balloons around the room.