Purgatory

This past week, we saw a great video on Purgatory.  It has been said that there are many misunderstandings about Purgatory, but if you made it to class, saw the video, and have learned very little about Purgatory, you’ve started your knowledge of it on a good foot.

The video began with a discussion of Near Death Experiences, or NDEs.  Advances in medicine has served to bring back many people back from death, with details of their experiences.  I shared an experience of a friend of mine who had past away, twice.  The sobering, first-person clarity that NDEs offer to us is a great aid to taking the reality of the life after this one very seriously.

The video was filmed only a few short years ago, and featured Cardinal Francis George, Fr. James Kubicki, and a very humble priest in Arizona who has received many visits from souls asking for prayers.  He shared his very real experiences of suffering souls, and the visits of souls who benefited from his Masses as they passed to Heaven.  All you can say after watching it is wow!

Perhaps the biggest take-aways regarding Purgatory is the hope that it offers us, and the most urgent, urgent need to pray for souls in Purgatory.  It is a place where souls have received the Mercy of God with the absolute certainty of going to Heaven, and it is a place where we are called to participate in that Mercy through prayer and sacrifices for these poor souls reach Heaven as quickly as possible.  Masses, Rosaries, and Stations of the Cross have been reported to be the most effective and encouraged.

All Souls Day is coming up on Wednesday, November 2nd. It is the day after All Saints Day, which is a Holy Day of Obligation on Tuesday, November 1st.  Hey, did you every wonder where Halloween came from?  The word actually came from Hallow’s (or “Holy People’s”) Eve.  It is day that used to turn our attention to those family members who have died.  The Hispanic community refers to it as The Day of the Dead, and they visit cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones.

Did you know that you can help release a soul from Purgatory with an indulgence that can be transferred to them?  The special condition for this indulgence is that you visit a cemetery each day from Nov 1-Nov 8.  Read about the other necessary conditions for the indulgence here.

I’m so sorry for those who missed this great class!  But please ask your parents to connect with me by email and I will gladly share my video with you.  It makes for a great Sunday evening watch, perhaps with family members as mature as you or older.

Mr. Behan

The Life After This One

Homework:  Read links provided.

We went over some cool and scary stuff last Sunday.  No, we’re not preparing for Halloween.  In class, we focused on perhaps the most important things you might ever reflect on in your life, and that is, the life after this one.

File:Chiara Badano in 1987.jpg

We began by reading about Chiara Badano.  Chiara was a contemporary of your parents and I.  That is to say, she is about from our same generation.  Take a look at her picture.  She looks like she could have been one of your classmates in Marshall or Waterloo!   Nice girl.  Poor student.  Suffered horribly, yet cheerfully.  She died at the age of 18.  She was remarkably average, and yet, is on her way to becoming declared a saint!

Even if you attended class, I invite you to read more about her.  Why?  Because the life that was lived will is worth reflecting on.  It will help you on deciding what kind of a life you wish to live.

Wikipedia

Life Teen

Do you know of someone who has died?  Where might they be?  Heaven?  Hell?  Purgatory?  In most cases, we can never really know for certain.  The surest exceptions we have is in the case of miracles.  A miracle is an event that takes place on earth where both science and the Church says 100% could not have taken place by a natural means.  This tells us with certainty that God intervened in a very special way.  A young man was dying from a horrible disease, and his parents prayed for Chiara to intercede, or ask Jesus to save him.  His recovery was immediate and miraculous.  The Church uses the proof of highly scrutinized (or scientifically studied) miracles as a proof that the person who was asked to intercede is in heaven.  A saint (small “s“) is someone who is in Heaven.  A formally recognized Saint is someone who the Church has scrutinized and can declare to be in Heaven with absolute confidence.  We are confident that perfectly average Blessed Chiara is in Heaven.  With only one more miracle, she will be declared a Saint!j  Not a bad accomplishment for an 18 year old!

Fun Stuff

There is a difference between our life and our existence.  We worry much too much about our life, and not so much about our existence after this life.  To illustrate the difference, we unraveled a very long ball of pure, white yarn.  Then we cut 2 inches off the end.  These 2 inches represent 100 years.  Chiara’s life was cut much shorter.  Snip!  But her existence continues, and it continues in beauty and the greatest possible joy!

I shared a story about a man I met after he died.  He was a postal worker and a father of 13 children.  I shared his life after death experience with the class the best I could.  You guys are pretty squirrelly.  I hope you got something from it!

Even at 83 years old, Bob was a very big guy.  He was taller than me, and that was even with old-age shrinkage!  With the pressure that was on him, and from what I personally knew of him (as we shared about life with each other), he probably had a good number of cranky-dad moments.  We’re not perfect.  But instead of having a replay of his life, he experienced a sense of profound peace and love.  He then heard a man’s voice.  “Would you like to come to Heaven now, Robert?”  “YES!!” he replied.  But he heard his wife crying, and he had to come back.

Not all people who experience life-after-death share these stories – even with family.  Some are concerned about being ridiculed about their very personal experience.  Others may not remember what happened for months or years, and it suddenly all comes back clearly.  Others have VERY BAD experiences and do not wish to share them.  Not all life-after-death stories are good!!!

There are a good number of saints who were actually given visions of Hell.  Ninety-nine years ago, three little children (9 years old and younger) in Fatima, Portugal, saw our Blessed Mother and were given a vision of Hell. I encourage you to watch the following video on Fatima.

Another saint, St. John (Don) Bosco, also had a vision of Hell.  His experiences was very vivid and very scary.  He was ordered by his superior to write them down.  We began reading his experience in class but could not be finished.  You are most welcome to read this account.  If you are brave, you might consider reading this after your night prayers.  Let me know how you did!

http://www.todayscatholicworld.com/bosco_hell.htm

See you next week!  We have another very cool class planned for next Sunday!

Mr. Behan

Some ‘Start-Now’ Homework!

Hello Class!

This Sunday, we actually talked about the brain.  Why the brain in a religious ed class? To make a long story short, we know that everyone learns differently and that it is our goal to have you learn all you can in an easier, enjoyable way that will help you to remember things in less time.  Have you ever had an annoying kid in the back of the class who never seemed to pay attention, barely took notes or studied, and got great grades with little effort?  We want you to be that kid! (minus the annoying part, of course).  Not only do we want you to really like learning about your faith and keep it in your long-term memory it, but you also want you to have more success at school, with less effort, and more time to do the other things you enjoy.

So essentially, we want you to be able to memorize, without memorizing.  Before our next class, we’re going to have you discover which learning strategies work the best for you! 

The Memorare Challenge

To discover what we hope to about your best learning style, we actually need something to memorize.  What better way to do this then by learning the prayer to the Blessed Mother called the Memorare.

But like I said during class, we DO NOT want you to overdo it, or cram words into your head (short-term memory) for just the day.  Not only are we going to slowly and gently learn a new prayer over time, but we will use this opportunity to help you discover the easiest way for you to make things ‘stick’ with less effort.  YOU ARE NOT TO SPEND MORE THAN 10 MINUTES EACH DAY ON THIS!  If you do more than that, you’re not discovering what is easiest – and that’s part of our goal here.

So here’s how I’d like you to roll…

Days 1-2  Perhaps your a repetition learner.  Recite the Hail Holy Queen aloud twice, line by line.

Days 3-4 – Perhaps you’re a imagery learner.  Doodle each line of the Hail Holy Queen while saying it aloud, twice each day.

Days 5-6 – Perhaps you are a muscle-memory learner.  Handwrite the prayer twice each day, but mouth the words while you are writing.

Day 7 – Take it easy for this day.  Just whisper the prayer as you go to bed.

Days 8-9 – Perhaps you’re an auditory learner.   Can you put the words to music?  Is there a decent song with a good tune that work with the words?  Try to sing the entire prayer twice, either aloud, or your head.  Do this twice each day.

Days 10-11 – Perhaps you’re a visual learner.  If you have access to the Internet, watch the following video twice each day, while whispering it to yourself.  Be certain you are moving your lips.

For those of you who were not at class, here is the Memorare.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

The next time we meet, we will talk about your experience, but we will pray the Memorare as well.

Game on!

Some ‘Start-Now’ Homework!

Hello Class,

In addition to learning about Confirmation, we talked about the test we recently took, how much we have to catch up on, and that it is my goal to have you learn all you can in an easier, enjoyable way that will help you to remember things in less time.  Have you ever had an annoying kid in the back of the class who never seemed to pay attention, barely studied, and got great grades?  We want you to be that kid! (minus the annoying part, of course).  Not only do I want you to really like learning about your faith and remember it, but you also want you to have more success at school, with less effort, and more time to do the other things you enjoy.

Last week, some of you discovered that you are probably visual learners, and many of you seem to favor listening and learning.  Many people also find mouthing words help them with memorization, while others learn faster by drawing, music, handwriting, and different forms of repetition.  Before our next class, we’re going to have you discover which strategies work the best for you! 

The Hail Holy Queen Challenge

As you know, our goal is that each of you will be able to know and recite the Hail Holy Queen by our next class.  We’re going to do our best.  But like I had told you during class, we don’t want you to overdo it, or cram words into your head for just the day.  Not only are we going to slowly and gently learn a new prayer over time, but we will use this opportunity to help you discover the easiest way for you to make things ‘stick’ with less effort.  YOU ARE NOT TO SPEND MORE THAN 10 MINUTES EACH DAY ON THIS!  If you do more than that, you’re not discovering what is easiest – and that’s part of our goal here.

So here’s how I’d like you to roll…

Days 1-2  Perhaps your a repetition learner.  Recite the Hail Holy Queen aloud twice, line by line the way you would sing “One the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”  Do this twice each day.  Oh, and here’s a video to get you motivated.  Watch the whole thing!

And at night, simply whisper the prayer aloud to yourself at night just before you go to bed.  Read it.  Do it only once.  In fact, include a reading of the Hail Holy Queen just before you go to bed for the next couple of weeks.

Days 3-4 – Perhaps you’re a imagery learner.  Doodle each line of the Hail Holy Queen while saying it aloud, twice each day.

Days 5-6 – Perhaps you are a muscle-memory learner.  Handwrite the prayer twice each day, but mouth the words while you are writing.

Day 7 – Take it easy for this day.  Just whisper the prayer as you go to bed.

Days 8-9 – Perhaps you’re an auditory learner.   Can you put the words to music?  Is there a decent song with a good tune that work with the words?  Try to sing the entire prayer twice, either aloud, or your head.  Do this twice each day.

Days 10-11 – Perhaps you’re a visual learner.  If you have access to the Internet, watch the following video twice each day, while whispering it to yourself.  Be certain you are moving your lips.

For the rest of the time until class – Pick whichever one or two methods you thought was most effective.  Not necessarily what you liked the most, but what you thought was most effective.  You will learn to like what gives you better grades, greater success, and more time to do what you enjoy most.  Do those two exercises only once each day until we meet again.

The next time we meet, we will talk about your experience, but we will pray the Hail Holy Queen as well.

Game on!

Last Class – With Movies!

Hey Gang,

This past Sunday we learned more about the Sacrament of Confirmation.  We reviewed about the use of the holy oil called chrism.  We learned more about how oil was used to show people were marked for a special purpose by God to be priests, prophets and kings, and how we echo that call through service and sacrifice (like priests), tell the truth even when it is not popular (like the prophets), and to be the protector of those who are given to us (like good kings).

We also learned that when you get confirmed that you will take the name of a saint.  Often times, when a person changes their name, it marks a new stage in their life.  St. Paul’s name used to be Saul.  Abraham used to be named Abram.  Young brides take the name of their husbands.  Pope Francis name used to be Jorge.  I encourage you to begin learning about the saints and finding one who you feel a real connection with.

What else did we talk about?  We talked about that when we are Confirmed, we accept the responsibility for making our faith our own, and how we offer our lives for the faith.  We talked about the martyrs, and read from our book about the children in China who kept their faith under torture.  I told you about a couple of martyrs from Mexico when being Catholic was made illegal by the government.  These included a priest named Fr. Miguel Pro who used disguises to avoid capture to continue and to continue giving the Sacraments to the people.  We spoke about Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio,  an 14 year old boy who kept his faith while the skin was carved off of his feet, who died saying “Vive Cristo Rey!” or Long Live Christ the King!  We talked about the Christian refugees in Syria, and the very real suffering they endure daily because they would not deny Jesus.  When we look at people like this, we begin to understand that we must take our faith very seriously and that is very much worth every effort to learn about our faith, and who Jesus is to us.

But there is another way that a Confirmed Catholic gives up his or her life.  Our existence – that is, our time on earth – is actually our life as well, right?  When you volunteer, when go to Mass, when you pray for someone, when you help someone younger, weaker, or sicker than you, when you obey your parents, you are offering up your life – your existence – for your faith.  Our faith is how we follow Jesus.  You are offering up a portion of your life in following Jesus.  Perhaps you haven’t thought of it in that way…

They say that love can’t be measured.  I say, love can be measured in sacrifice.  For certain, your parents love you more than that cute boy or cute girl in school.  You know this because you know they make sacrifices for you.  When you see Jesus on the Cross, you can also be certain that He loves you, unconditionally, and that He holds absolutely nothing back.  When we witness sacrifice, and grow to recognize and appreciate it over time, we just want to learn more.