Last Weeks’s Class – Year of Mercy!

Hello 6th Graders,

Last week, we learned about a good number of things. Here’s a quick overview…

We began with lighting our Advent wreath. On the third Sunday of Advent, we light a rose colored candle. The third Sunday is called Gaudate Sunday, which literally means Rejoice Sunday. Why do we rejoice when Advent is supposed to be a time of penitence? Because the season is coming to an end! It’s time to intensify our efforts as the coming of Christ is right around the corner!

We also learned that this new year has been proclaimed as the Year of Mercy by Pope Francis. Normally, these “jubilee” years only take place once every 25 years, but he took us “off schedule”. Hey, why wait 25 years to give and receive more mercy?

Pope Francis began the year by pushing open the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. What is a Holy Door? Anyone who makes a pilgrimage and enters a Holy Door receives a Plenary Indulgence. Do you remember what an indulgence is, why they are important, and how to get one?   Let’s give you a quick reminder.

When we receive Christ Himself in the Eucharist in a state of grace our venial or minor sins are wiped clean. Done. Gone. But to enter into a state of grace, we must to Confession – and confess well. How do we confess our sins well? We think deeply about how we’ve hurt others, ourselves and God, and we go to confession with as much sincerity and sorrow for what we’ve done, confess all that we can remember, and really try and hope to leave behind our desire to repeat that sin again.

So what does a good confession have to do with an indulgence? Confession forgives the sins that we have committed and can restore us back into a state of grace, but it does not guarantee to remove the punishment – or justice – that is due to us. There is still Purgatory to further purify us, should we not leave this world without making some atonement. The example we gave was breaking a window. We might be sorry that we did it, but justice demands that some ‘reparation’ is made to restore the window. An indulgence is an abundant outpouring of God’s grace, and has the power to erase some or all of the justice that we might have coming to us. Equally important, they also give you the spiritual muscle to fight temptation, and increase your desire to show mercy to others. When you receive mercy, you will discover a greater desire to show mercy to others. Without much effort, you will discover that you have become a new and better version of yourself!

A partial indulgence erases some of your time in Purgatory and a plenary indulgence erases all of your time in Purgatory from the time you receive it, all the way back to your birth (but not going forward, so keep being good!)

So how hard is it to receive an indulgence? You only need to complete four simple things.

  1. Some prescribed effort or set of prayers set forth by the Church. Some examples include praying the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, reverently praying the Stations of the Cross, going on a pilgrimage, renewing your baptismal promises during Easter Vigil Mass, going through Holy Doors, and many others.
  2. Go to confession, and confess from the heart – leaving with no desire to repeat the offenses you confessed.
  3. Receive the Eucharist – especially now that you can receive Him in a state of grace!
  4. Pray at least one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope. (I heard that six is traditional)

No matter what cool thing you do for number one, you still need to complete steps 2 through 4.

Speaking of Holy Doors, Pope Francis has done something which I believe has never been done before.   He is permitting all bishops throughout the world to name a Holy Door within their diocese. For us, these are at St. Patrick’s, Holy Redeemer, and the Shoenstatt Founder Shrine, all of which are here in Madison!

Not so bad, right? And again, once you accomplish all that, you will experience a great weight lifted off of you, and you will discover that having received God’s mercy, that you’ll want to share some of the mercy that you received!! I can tell you this from my personal experience. You will want to experience this for yourself! 🙂

So now, how do you give mercy? There are seven (7) Spiritual Acts of Mercy, and seven (7) Corporal – or physical – Acts of Mercy. We only had time to talk about the Corporal Acts of Mercy, and I shared a story to help you remember all of them much easier. Do you remember the story? Well, in any case, here they are.

  • Visit the Sick
  • Feed the Hungry
  • Give Water to the Thirsty
  • Harbor the Harbour-less
  • Cloth the Naked
  • Ransom the Captive
  • Bury and Pray for the Dead

Since we’ve just passed Gaudate Sunday, let’s double up our efforts on doing one of these each day as we prepare our hearts and our world for Jesus!

Mr. B.


Last Week’s Class – Our Lady of Guadalupe

This Sunday we learned about icons. No, not little pictures on a computer, but actual icons of our Lady of Perpetual Help, located at the back of the church, and Our Lady of Guadalupe – both the statute and the replica at the front of the Church.

You may recall that we explained that icons are not painted, but are “written”, and they are often created while the artist/author is fasting. The images and colors used are often very rich in meaning. The example we gave is how Mary is depicted in a maroon dress, which is the color that young virgins wore in Lebanon at the time of Christ, and the deep blue was the color that mothers wore at that time as well.

Do you remember all of the incredible things you learned about Our Lady of Guadalupe? Do you wish you could have shared that with someone else? Here is a video to refresh your memory – and to share with your parents and siblings as well!

Next Week’s Class – Dec 13th

Hello Gang,

In addition to preparing yourself for Confession, which is at 9 a.m. this Saturday, we will also be learning about Mercy.

Pope Francis is declared this year the Year of Mercy, and the Church is making floods of grace available for those who simply want them.

This Sunday, you will be learning about

  • The 7 Corporal Acts of Mercy
  • The 7 Spiritual Acts of Mercy
  • Holy Doors & Indulgences
  • the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • the Divine Mercy Chaplet

To keep you on your toes, we will be splitting into teams to see which ones will have memorized the 14 Acts of Mercy.  We’ll give you tips to remember them, but there’s no harm in learning ahead.

See you all Sunday!

Mr. B

Homework for Dec 13

Homework is simple this week. Sloooowly pray the Act of Contrition twice, or even three times before you go to bed each night this week (whisper it). If you do this, you will be amazed to discover that somehow you memorized it by heart in only a week’s time without even trying to. The Act of Contrition is the prayer that you will say aloud to Father at the very end of Confession.

Also, don’t forget that you have confession this Saturday morning on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It begins at 9 a.m. in Marshall. You will want to know this prayer before going to confession! Just in case you lost your copy, here it is again…


My God,

I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.

In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,

I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.

I firmly intend, with your help,

To do penance, to sin no more,

And to avoid whatever leads me to sin.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us.

In His Name, my God, have mercy.



Oh, now this is cool. Have you ever had a hard time thinking of things for confession? I found a great app that you can download on either your, your parents, or your siblings phone. I think there is a small charge, so be sure to ask them if it is okay first. This is not mandatory, but it is very cool.

Last Week’s Class on The Holy Spirit

We started our last class with a surprise discussion – a talk about Holy Souls.  The month of November is special month to us Catholics as we remember and pray for all souls, especially family members and those who have no one to pray for them.  The Church has many recorded stories of assurances of people who have gone to heaven, and it is a treasure to have such a story in our families.  I had such a story in my family.  I forgot to tell you about it.  If you remind me, perhaps I’ll share it with you.

Speaking about Holy Souls, how do souls become holy?  We spent much of our time talking about the Holy Spirit.  We spoke about how St. Patrick explained the Trinity to the pagan people of Ireland by using a clover.  He would show that one clover consisted of three leaves, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet they were all were one.  Oh, and we talked about how four leaf clovers were good luck because some took it as having a close relationship with Trinity.

So how does the Holy Spirit help us to become holy?  The Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way through the sacrament of Confirmation.  We want you to be very prepared for this great sacrament, so that when the time comes you can be receptive to all the graces it offers.  In class, we used a powerful memory technique from medieval times to help people remember their catechism; namely, story imagery.  Do you remember our story?  Take a few moments to remember to recall all the details, and how we used it to remember the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

How did you do?  Were you good on the story?  How about all of the words?  Just to review, here they are once again.  The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit are…

  • Wisdom
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Fortitude
  • Understanding
  • Counsel
  • Knowledge
  • Piety

We also talked about the abundance – that is, the great generosity – of God’s gift-giving.  When we give a typical gift, it’s just that – the one gift.  When God gives a gift, it bears fruit.  The example we made was the difference between giving someone an ordinary houseplant, versus giving them a pear tree.  The gift of a tree goes well beyond the tree itself, but includes it’s beauty, its shade, the song birds it attracts, each of the flowers it produces, each of the fruit season after season – and if those fruit are used wisely, a vast orchard that will last for generations.  The Fruit of the Holy Spirit are…
















So, now that you’ve memorized the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (and I thought the recall by those who were in class was amazing), think of someone in your family who you believe has this gifts.  Here’s a hint.  Think of someone who takes their Faith seriously.  Take a few moments to do that now…

Now revisit the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Would you say that the person you thought of bears these fruit?  If the Gifts you noticed truly came from the Holy Spirit, you will see many of the Fruits as well!

These are all Gifts and Fruit which you want to receive in their fullness as well.  The more you are prepared to be receptive to these Gifts through an open heart, the greater your ability to allow these Gifts and Fruit to shape your character and your life for the better.  And people will notice this goodness about you.  And when your nieces and nephews are in 6th Grade Religious Education and are asked “Who would you say in your family has received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?”, I pray that they will think of you!