John Paul II

John Paul II and the Rhapsodic Theater

By David Cooley.

The Church recently celebrated the feast day of Pope St. John Paul II on Oct. 22, which is the anniversary of the liturgical inauguration of his papacy in 1978. There is a story about John Paul II from when he was young man that I have always found inspiring.

By the time he was 21 years’ old Karol Wojtyła’s entire immediate family was dead, and his country was occupied by Nazis. He and his people were exiled in their own land. Their home was transformed into something unrecognizable and, during that occupation and later the Communist occupation, the Polish people were forced to deny their values and their beloved culture completely.

Karol Wojtyła’s response to this was two-fold. He secretly (since it was against the law) entered the seminary, answering a burning call from the Lord to become a priest, and he helped establish an underground (secret) group called the Rhapsodic Theater. The focus of this group was a “cultural resistance” against those that occupied his homeland.

Through the celebration of beauty and identity, Karol, and his friends — the Rhapsodists — fought to keep Polish history, faith, and tradition alive. Under dire circumstances, they focused on the things that the occupiers couldn’t take away. If they had been caught, they would have been killed, but they were simply willing to risk everything for what they knew was good, true, and beautiful.

There is so much we can learn from that future pope and his Rhapsodic Theater.

It can be disheartening to be a Catholic in the 21st century. Our faith, and really our culture as a whole, is challenged at every turn. The tenants of our faith, the teachings of the Catholic Church, do not mesh well with today’s secular society. Catholics are essentially strangers in a strange land, sojourners away from their true home.

It is our responsibility to preserve our heritage and pass it on for those who come after us. So, what are a few practical things we can do, as Catholics, to keep our culture alive?

First and foremost — we must pray! We need to develop this habit and we need to form others in the habit as well. Make time to pray together as a family, at least before meals and before bedtime. Designate times for family rosaries and Scripture studies. Pray publicly and invite others to join you. Make Mass and the sacrament of penance a priority in your life.

Second, learn Church history. There are so many good resources out there — books, movies, documentaries. We have so much to be proud of and we need to make sure the next generation of Catholics know that. It is time for us to focus on how blessed we are, and how proud we should be to be Catholic.

Third, learn to view the world through the eyes of faith and teach young people this art form. For example, no matter what students are learning in school — literature, math, science, or history — it can be approached through a Catholic worldview. Even the news of the day can be viewed in the context of Salvation history.

Next, never miss the easy teaching moments, especially on holy days and feast days. Halloween is coming up, and I’ll bet a lot of children are excited about that. But do they know what “All Hallows Eve” means? Make sure they know about All Saints Day and All Souls Day and why we have Halloween in the first place. Don’t let the culture tell them that it is an ancient pagan holiday (they’ll do the same thing with Christmas and Easter if you let them). They are wrong — everything revolves around Christ, and we need to point that out again and again. If these celebrations and traditions were strictly pagan, they would have fallen into the dust pile of oblivion a long time ago.

Finally, take time to explore works by Catholic artists, whether visual arts, theater, music, literature, or movies. Here you will find the highest quality of expressions of mankind’s search for the transcendent. And, just as important, we need Catholics today to use their talents in all these fields to create new works for our contemporary and future generations.

These are just a few quick examples, and there are many more. We must focus more on what is in our control and less on what is out of our control.

We must not become discouraged. If young Karl Wojtyła and his friends were able to subvert a totalitarian regime with little more than righteous defiance and powerful words, think of what we can do in our own time and place today. Albeit on a smaller scale, the Rhapsodic Theater did the same thing that the Catholic monasteries did for Western civilization during the so-called dark ages — namely, keep the light of Christ alive. We are all called to do the same thing no matter in what situation we find ourselves. Even though the world will keep trying to snuff them out, people will always be attracted to goodness, truth, and beauty.

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

cardinal-virtues

Catholic schools are designed to teach virtues and form saints

By David Cooley.

The beginning of a new school year is both exciting and overwhelming. There is so much to do, and when there is so much to do it becomes even more important for us to focus on what really matters.

The mission of the Catholic Church is to form disciples for Jesus Christ and our Catholic schools, more than any other system in place, provide a privileged way for countless young people to encounter the Lord. What a tremendous, awesome responsibility we all have!

Catholic schools don’t exist to form engineers, mathematicians, lawyers, athletes, artists, or even good citizens—although those are some positive outcomes for students. Catholic schools exist for nothing less than to create saints.

And what are saints? Simply put, saints are heroes who live virtuous lives in a challenging world despite all the obstacles.

How can Catholic schools, practically speaking, approach such a huge undertaking as forming saints and changing the world? The answer couldn’t be clearer — by primarily focusing on heroic Christian virtues!

No matter where we are, or whether we are teachers or students, principals or parents, coaches, or guidance counselors, the four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, and the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity must always be on the forefront of our minds.

Perhaps, these days, we hear a lot about faith, hope, and charity, but not so much about prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. These four Christian virtues have the power to change any atmosphere.

Prudence helps us to recognize our limits but also to discover the concrete means of putting our faith into action. Sometimes when we start something new, we take on too much at first and get burned out too quickly. If we get our priorities straight, center on prayer, and put God first in our lives, everything else should fall into place. Prudence is the virtue that will help us slow down and recognize our need for prayer and the sacred.

Temperance is so important today, for example, when it comes to our relationship with technology. The technology that exists today gives us a lot of power and leaves us with numerous distractions. It also provides a temptation to focus more and more on ourselves and to be less attentive to others. Unfortunately, Technology seems to be taking over many lives and leaving people, especially children, feeling empty and sad.

Temperance, while helping us seek excellence in enjoyable things, calls us to a moderation that protects our interior life and opens a way to contemplation. Today’s world tells us that all suffering must be avoided at all costs, but when pleasures and possessions become an end to themselves, they become idols that turn us away from God. We must limit our wants as best we can and teach young people to do the same. We could all spend a little more time (or a lot more time) in Eucharistic adoration.

Fortitude — Christian Bravery — is so important and will, ultimately, bring people back to God. We must not be afraid to preach and live the Gospel every day. Students in Catholic schools must learn to be the salt of the earth and a sign of contradiction for the world — the Lord did not ask us to avoid having enemies, just to love them. We need less “cool kids”, “influencers”, and “bullies”, and more Christian heroes who stand up for what is good, true, and beautiful.

Founded on their faith in God, students must have the courage to confront the contemptuous laughter and ridicule of those that conform to the ways of the world. They should learn through the examples of their parents and teachers to be brave witnesses, filled with joy and love for the Lord. The strength of Catholics comes from the truth of Christ. We have nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.

Finally, when we talk about justice, first and foremost, we must recognize that it is right and just to worship God, to love Him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. Gratitude for our lives, and the blessings in our lives, is the first step in seeking justice. From there we begin to understand what we have been given and what it means to give others—made in the image and likeness of God—their due. We also must come to the realization that not passing on our faith is unjust to others. If we keep the Gospel from those we love, we are doing them a great disservice. We cannot let our own shortcomings and ignorance prevent us from passing on what is ideal.

These are just a few short reflections that barely begin to scratch the surface of the importance of Christian virtues that can serve as a springboard for a blessed school year. Even as the world gets more complicated and confusing, the answers lie in the constant wisdom of the ages.  Students at Catholic schools must be formed to see the world through the eyes of faith. They must be strengthened by the sacraments.

As the world continues to organize itself more and more against God, our Catholic school communities must not be content to just make a little room for Him on the calendar but determine to place Him at the center of everything. That is how others will come to recognize what it is that makes Catholic schools so different, and they will desperately want to be a part of it. Let us be ready to open the doors because we can never have too many saints!

SUMMIT22 — youth and young adults invited to experience the Eucharistic mountain

By David Cooley.

Last year at SUMMIT21 over 200 attendees shared a powerful three-day experience together centered on the Eucharist. This year, teens and young adults, ages 13 to 22, are invited to the state-of-the-art Covington Catholic High School campus, Oct. 7–9, for SUMMIT22.

The weekend retreat (Friday 6:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) is designed to lead young people to Christ through prayer and instruction before the Blessed Sacrament. SUMMIT22 is designed to respond to the call of Pope Francis to prepare young people to live and proclaim the Gospel in a world that desperately needs it.

This past June on Corpus Christi Sunday — the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — the United States bishops launched a national Eucharistic Revival — a three-year initiative to help God’s people understand the extraordinary gift we have been given in the Eucharist. SUMMIT22 is a perfect and profound way for youth and adults to prayerfully begin this grace-filled time centered around the mystery of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

The Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life.” All blessings flow from the Eucharist, and it is a foretaste of heaven – the goal of Christian life. In the Blessed Sacrament Christ is truly Emmanuel — “God with us” — giving us the grace we need to become the saints we are called to be.

Fittingly, a summit is a large gathering of people coming together for a singular purpose, and SUMMIT22 is an assembly of God’s people coming together to pray before the Eucharist and grow in their relationship with Christ. However, a summit is also the highest point of a hill or mountain that one can reach.

In our lives we have “mountain” experiences and “valley” experiences. SUMMIT22 is intended to be a spiritual mountain experience for those who attend. In the Gospel Jesus would often go off to a mountain to separate himself from the crowds and be close to his Father in heaven. SUMMIT22 is an opportunity for young people to separate from everyday life and mundane routines.

There was a time in the Gospel when Jesus did not go to a mountain alone. Jesus brought Peter, James and John to a mountain, where they were given just a glimpse of his glory. Naturally, they wanted to stay there at the summit, but they were called to come down from the mountain and go out to be salt of the earth and light for the world.

Those who attend SUMMIT22 — just as all of those who meet Christ in the Eucharist — are also called to mission. We are called to receive Jesus and then bring him out into world. The Eucharist is both the source of our strength and the summit of our desires.

In years past the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal led this event (formally called YOUTH 2000). This year the diocesan team is excited to welcome the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament from Cleveland, Ohio, to help to discover more of the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As consecrated women, the sisters extend their Eucharistic Mercedarian spirit of adoration and praise to Jesus in the Eucharist, and filial love and devotion to Our Lady of Mercy, Mother of the Redeemer, all over the world.

Attendees of SUMMIT22 can expect a prayerful experience with music, meditations and Eucharistic adoration. There will be dynamic talks and testimonies, as well as a Catholic expert panel that will entertain any and all questions about the Catholic faith. There will be prayer services, the sacrament of confession and holy Mass, including Mass Saturday evening celebrated by Bishop John Iffert. There will be food, fun, fellowship and more.

In a world full of noise drowning out the call to holiness, and in a landscape that is secular, materialistic and hostile toward Christian values, followers of Christ need a place where they can withdraw from the crowds and focus on what really matters in life. SUMMIT22 is that place. It is never too early or too late to learn to let go of things that are passing away in this world, and hold fast to the things that are eternal.

Blessed Virgin Mary – Our Queen Mother

By David Cooley.

Among the many beautiful Marian feast days of the Church — such as Mary the Mother of God, the Annunciation, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception — the feast of Mary’s Queenship, established by Pope Pius XII in 1954, often goes by unnoticed. We celebrated recently celebrated the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 22.

There seems to be a reluctance to apply the title “queen” to the Blessed Virgin. Some seem to think it’s passe, almost a medieval form of praise. On top of that, in America, we are not very familiar or comfortable with kingships and queenships, due to our democratic sensibilities. And the most likely reason for people’s reluctance to claim Mary as our queen is to avoid those misunderstandings among our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters. One of the biggest misconceptions about Catholics is that they worship Mary, as opposed to loving and honoring her. Even among theologians it is argued that the title of “queen” evokes more of a Mariology of privilege rather than a Mariology of service.

However, the nature of Mary’s regality is not only rooted in Scripture (both New and Old Testaments), but also has important theological implications that have been explored throughout Church history.

At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” Christ is king of all creation and Mary is closely associated with her son — her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.

In the Old Testament we have the fascinating figure of the Queen Mother. In ancient times, the mother of an heir to the throne or of a young king had a great influence in the royal court. In the Davidic kingdom, the mother of the king held an official position in which she shared in her son’s reign and served as an advocate for the people and as a counselor for her son. For us we think of a queen as the wife of a king, but the queen mother of Israel was their most powerful, and therefore preferred, advocate. Her specific place of honor and intercession is dramatically illustrated in 1 Kings 2:13-21.

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 involves the sign of a queen mother who will conceive and bear the future Davidic King — Immanuel. The queen-mother figure also seems to appear prototypically in Genesis 3:15, which associates a mother and her royal offspring in the context of God’s kingdom.

Applied to Mary, we recognize that she is closely related to Christ’s kingship and her whole being is involved in the spread of his kingdom. In contrast to many historical queen mothers, Mary did not seek the throne for her son because of any personal ambition. Her ministry was one of service, to the point of sacrificing her motherly rights for our sake.

As Queen Mother, Mary never rules in Christ’s stead; she does not command her son, yet it gives him joy to fulfill her wishes. Her authority in the kingdom is authentic but always dependent on the King. (Cf. John 2:5. “Do whatever He tells you.”) Mary’s queenly function consists in interceding on our behalf. It is anchored in her early role as Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the redeemed.

The feast of Mary’s Queenship is celebrated on the octave day of the feast of the Assumption. The coronation of Mary connects to her Assumption into heaven. While the assumption has been the object of dogmatic definition (1950), the coronation of Mary is a traditional devotion. The coronation points to the Marian title of “queen,” known in Christianity since from the beginning of the fourth century.

Her queenship is an an indication of her excellence based primarily on her role as the Mother of Jesus Christ, “Theotokos,” and as “the all holy one” (“panagia”). As the glorified Jesus remains with us as our king until the end of time (Matt 28:20), so does Mary, who was assumed into heaven and crowned queen of heaven and earth.

The Second Vatican Council, perched on hundreds and hundreds of years of tradition, reaffirmed authoritatively the doctrine of Mary’s queenship: “When her earthly life was over,” she was “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son.” (Lumen Gentium n. 59)

The coronation of Mary was the outcome of Mary’s journey of discipleship. At the end of her earthly life, she was borne to the Kingdom of her beloved Son (cf. Col 1:13) and received for her faithfulness “the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10; cf. 1 Cor 9:25) This outcome has universal significance because the Blessed Virgin, now having attained fullness of freedom and full communion with Christ, is the icon of the advance of the Church and of all of history and creation, as it moves forward toward becoming “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1; cf. Is 65:17), God’s dwelling, in which “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” (Rev 21:4; cf. Is 25:8)

Pope St. John Paul II saw the Assumption of Mary into heaven as the ultimate exaltation of the noble “Daughter of Zion,” and he associated her assumption with her established queenly position. He states that Christ raises his mother to be eternally glorified as “Queen of the Universe.” We recognize Christ as the ultimate Davidic king — the realization of everything Israel and the whole world could hope for, ushering in the kingdom of God — and by his side is the Queen Mother. And, just as the Queen Mother found in the Old Testament (cf. Jer 13:18; 1 Kg 2:19), was granted the office of sitting beside her king son and mediating on behalf of the people, the Virgin Mary, our Holy Queen, speaks on our behalf to her Son, our King. In this heavenly role, she serves as a protector to us all.

Mary’s Queenship, like her Son’s kingship, is one of love and service, not pomp and power (John 18:36; Matt 20:20). The roots of Mary’s Queenship are to be found in the Paschal Mystery of Christ, which is a mystery of self-giving, death and resurrection and ascension — the reaching of glory through humility.

Hail, Holy Queen!

Christmas

The Holy Family: An icon of Catholic life

By Father Conor Kunath.

In the eighth century, the Church was shaken by a controversy that continues to impact her devotional and liturgical life more than a millennium later. This controversy was about the use of images.

The earliest Church had discouraged the veneration of icons because of the Old Testament prohibition against them, but their use and veneration continued to grow. The dispute came to a head in the early part of the eighth century when the Byzantine emperor, Leo III, made the use of icons illegal. This prohibition stirred up occasional, but nonetheless severe, persecutions against those who used them. The controversy raged for more than a century, until an ecumenical council and the Byzantine Empress Theodora brought it to an end in AD 843. As a result, the use of icons and images in the Catholic Church has become an essential part of her devotional life worldwide.

One reason the Church approved the use of images was because of the incarnation: Since Christ, the second person of the Trinity, assumed human flesh, then humanity has the ability to depict God. The human flesh of Christ gives the Church access to a real image of God himself. So then if God has given us an image of himself, it must be acceptable to portray him.

There is an immense beauty in this reasoning, because suddenly Christ’s life becomes even more full of meaning. The human actions that he performs are now charged with theological significance. His attendance at the wedding feast of Cana shows God’s love and design for the institution of marriage. At that same feast Christ miraculously transforms water into wine; this demonstrates that wine, and all of the wonderful gifts that God gives us, are meant to be enjoyed. For these reasons, the life of the Christian is not one of sorrow, but one of immense joy, because the Christian sees, through faith, that all of creation and its beauty is a sort of love letter from God himself. Creation is meant for our enjoyment and pleasure.

Among the most meaningful displays of this theological logic is the Holy Family itself. Think about the situation of the Holy Family. God chooses Mary to be the mother of his only Son, and she gently accepts the offer, but she is already married to a man named Joseph. On account of her pregnancy, he would like to divorce her, but God has Joseph take her into his home.

This is a wonderfully significant series of events. God is, without doubt, the father of the child Jesus. Naturally, because he is God, he could have easily and directly provided for his Son. That is not what he chose to do. Rather, he chose Joseph as the earthly father and protector of Jesus. Choosing Joseph as the earthly father of Jesus shows how crucial the role of the father is in the family, and how critical it is for us, as humans, to have a mother and a father. This choice by God displays the complementarity of the sexes. Mary and Joseph together manifest that original oneness for which God created man and woman, and provide a perfect example of what married life can be.

Even more than just the significance of man and wife, the Holy Family shows the deep meaning of both fertility and virginity. Mary is privileged to be perpetually virginal, but also fertile. God uses her womb as the entry point for his only begotten Son, Jesus, yet she remains a virgin throughout her entire life.

On the one hand, we have Mary as the perfect image of purity, the handmaid of the Lord, who consecrates her physical virginity to God. She is a wonderful example of the glory of virginity.

On the other hand, she is also chosen to be the mother of God. Her virginal womb becomes the dwelling place of the Most High. She, a virgin, is to bear the most consequential pregnancy the world has ever known.

Thus Mary is doubly blessed. Not only does she model for us immaculate virginity and the glory of offering ourselves to God in that way, but she also exemplifies the treasures of motherhood.

Mary also becomes a feminine image of Adam. God took from Adam to make Eve without human procreation, and similarly God used Mary to incarnate Jesus without human procreation. Thus the Holy Family becomes a restored image of the first family recreated through his Son.

The same is likewise true for Joseph. He is given a wife and the role of father, and they are truly his, but his fatherhood is not physical. Joseph is simultaneously a model for both physical and adoptive fathers. Even though Joseph is not the physical father of Jesus, he is no less a father on account of it. He perfectly fulfills his vocation as father and husband.

Additionally, Joseph is a tremendous example for priests, who receive the role of father — husband to the Church and guardian of Christ’s body — but do not enjoy physical fatherhood. Priests’ lives are full of the glories of the familial life, without participating in it physically. They are called to be husbands, fathers and protectors not to their own family, but to holy Mother Church.

Just as the incarnation opened so many theological horizons for the Church, so too does the Holy Family open our minds to the wonders of family life. God greatly blessed the Holy Family in many special ways that make them truly unique in the story of salvation but that does not mean that our own families are not likewise blessed. The Holy Family proves to us that married and familial life is not a burden that some people choose to carry, but rather an immense blessing for those privileged to live it.

God chose a family for His Son to show forth the great blessing that is married life, motherhood, fatherhood and virginity. The image is clear for all to see: God gave us all of these wonderful gifts of married life not as a burden, but as a great joy.

Catholic pro-lifers should relish in the fullest and greatest way possible the mystery and gift that is family life. As the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family this Dec. 26, let us strive to become living icons of family life.

Father Conor Kunath is the promoter for priestly vocations for the Diocese of Covington and chaplain to Notre Dame Academy, Park Hills.

During Year of Family Pope Francis asks faithful to reflect on moving ‘towards a better education of children’

By David Cooley.

The seventh chapter of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia — On Love in the Family” is entitled “Towards a Better Education of Children.” In that segment the Holy Father explores in great detail how adults — especially parents, but also teachers and other role models — influence the moral development of children. Young members of society observe and imitate their older family members, teachers and principals perhaps more than we might like to think. So, whether at home or in a school setting, we must realize that we are all responsible for not only forming young minds but also shaping healthy consciences. We are all parental figures “fostering good habits and a natural inclination to goodness” in our young people (see AL, nn. 263-264).

Parents or guardians are always the primary educators of their children, however, they very often rely on schools and extracurricular activities to ensure the complete basic formation of their children. In school the lessons that are learned at home are validated. “The family is the primary setting for socialization, since it is where we first learn to relate to others, to listen and share, to be patient and show respect, to help one another and live as one. The task of education is to make us sense that the world and society are also our home; it trains us how to live together in this greater home,” writes Pope Francis (AL, n. 276).

Kendra McGuire, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington, faces the multifaceted challenges of working toward a better education of children, both as a mother of six and as an administrator. Her first priority in both of these roles is provide the children in her care with the opportunities to become who they were created to be and to, ultimately, get to heaven. She agrees with Bishop Roger Foys that the primary reason for a Catholic school system is to pass on the faith to the next generation, and that is her approach when partnering with principals and teachers.

“One of the things that our schools have to do is make sure that our faith is not just another subject,” Mrs. McGuire said. “Faith has to permeate through everything we do because in order for people to really be engaged in the faith they have to see how it relates to every aspect of life.”

Mrs. McGuire said that all teachers in a Catholic school, no matter what subject they teach officially, are religion teachers because they are role models, standing in the place of Christ and teaching through their interactions and how they respond to questions and situations.

“Even in a math class or a science class, things will come up that pertain to the faith and the teachers need to be ready with an appropriate Christian response.” And, she said, that it is important for them not to miss the many teachable moments that come up during a school day, because those are the lessons that sometimes children remember most.

From a practical standpoint, Mrs. McGuire knows that schools carry a large load of academic responsibilities and they can only do so much. While schools should be reiterating the good things that children learn in home, parents and caregivers must also echo the Gospel message in the home.

“That’s a big challenge,” she said. “How do you help what the children learn in school to carry over into their home?”

Mrs. McGuire said that everything should start with prayer.

“As parents, we have to continue to make sure that children understand how important our faith is. One big thing that families need to do is pray together,” said Mrs. McGuire. “Start the day with prayer, pray before meals, before bed; this helps children stay centered and recognize that they are called to give their entire day to God. Families need to make Mass a priority and understand that Sunday is a day to focus on God and your family.”

 

 

In her own family, Mrs. McGuire makes sure that they all participate in activities together at the parish, such as Stations of the Cross or other ministries. During Advent they light an Advent wreath at their dinner table.

“Any time we can be together with the larger faith community, we try to do that. And, any time we can bring the faith into the house, we try to do that,” she said.

Her husband, Adam, said that faith is the number one priority in their house and guides all of their activities and decisions.

“We pray as a family before we travel and we try to bring the faith into the difficulties and challenges that the children face in life,” Mr. McGuire said.

Mr. McGuire is a police officer, so they both have demanding careers and often find themselves working on different shifts. They depend on each other as a team.

“We are not always home together, but we trust each other and count on each other to take care of things while we are away,” said Mr. McGuire. “That being said, we try to do as much together as possible. We always try to make time for family. We like to hang out outside, play sports and go boating.”

Even though they both work, Mr. and Mrs. McGuire each coach soccer and encourage their children to get involved in activities as much as possible.

Mr. McGuire said that he is very proud of his wife as the superintendent, and he is impressed with the way she leads the schools in the Diocese of Covington. “I’ve always known she was destined for great things. She is very faith-based and education is very important to her,” he said.

When challenged to consider concrete ways teachers can keep their students interested in the faith, Mrs. McGuire didn’t hesitate.

“There are teachers who have started religious clubs. Many of our schools have clubs — like a chess club or sports club — but some have a rosary club, for example. These are ways we can demonstrate to our students that our faith should be an enjoyable part of their lives,” she said.

“We encouraged our classrooms to have a place dedicated to the faith. They might have a prayer corner with books, statues and pictures; things that draw your attention and keep you focused on Christ.”

Mrs. McGuire said that learning to spend quiet time during Eucharistic adoration or journaling can also be very beneficial to young people.

“Students also have busy lives; we need to give them opportunities to have quiet time in order to listen to God,” she said. “Read Scripture out loud and then take time to reflect on or write about it.”

In his concluding section of “Amoris Laetitia,” entitled “Passing on the Faith,” Pope Francis writes, “Handing on the faith presumes that parents [and teachers] themselves genuinely trust God, seek him and sense their need for him, for only in this way does ‘one generation laud your works to another, and declare your mighty acts’ (Ps 144:4) and ‘fathers make known to children your faithfulness’ (Is 38:19).”

David Cooley is the co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Covington.

SUMMIT21 – Eucharistic Retreat

By David Cooley.

For 15 years young people in the Diocese of Covington have been able to discover or rediscover their zeal for the Catholic faith at an annual three-day retreat centered on the Eucharist. As the diocese enters a new era, this retreat, formerly called YOUTH 2000, is being rebranded and will be known this year as SUMMIT21. While there will be some differences, one thing will certainly remain the same —participants can expect a unique opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a powerful way in the Eucharist.

SUMMIT21 will be held this year Oct. 8–10 at Notre Dame Academy. The diocesan-wide retreat will include daily Mass, the rosary, confession, Eucharistic adoration and dynamic catechesis presented by the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal and diocesan clergy and lay adults. There will also be live music, lay testimonials as well as great food, snacks and social time.

The event runs on Friday, 6:30–10:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. On Saturday participants can ask questions to a select panel of clergy and laity. The panelists come well prepared to explain Church teaching on matters large and small — especially on tough issues of faith and morals — with clarity, charity and wit.

Young people growing up in today’s world have a lot to deal with. If you are someone like me, who grew up without the internet, social media, cell phones, on-demand programing, a 24-hour news cycle and a culture hostile to traditional values, it’s hard for us to imagine.

All of this has certainly taken its toll on all of us, but especially our youth. Studies show that, by all accounts, the mental health of youth in the United States (and globally) is worsening. The modern world, with its secular, materialistic landscape is not offering people much in the way of meaning, direction and purpose. Ours is a world of broken dreams, disorder and division. There is not much out there that one can hold onto consistently. More than anything else there is a great hunger for community, beauty and truth.

It is important for all people to be able to center themselves and stay grounded in what really matters. As Catholics, we know that we can only find peace if our lives are centered on Jesus Christ. We find purpose and meaning only when we make of gift of ourselves in service to the Church and to others.

Why SUMMIT21? A summit is the highest point of a hill or mountain, the highest peak you can reach. Providentially, it is also a gathering, a meeting of important people coming together for a particular cause. This retreat, because it is a gathering of God’s people and centered on the Eucharist, can be defined as both. Add the year — 2021 — and you have the name.

The Church tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life.” This means that, first, our Christian life — the good, the true and the beautiful — flows from the Eucharist. And second, the Eucharist is the summit or high-point to which all of our actions should ultimately be directed. In the Blessed Sacrament Christ is truly Emmanuel — “God with us” — giving us the grace we need to reach that peak we are destined for.

Just as the first disciples were called to come down from the mountain and go out to be salt of the earth and light for the world. Those who meet Christ in the Eucharist — those who attend SUMMIT21 — are also called to mission: to go out, spread the good news and bring healing to those in need. The Eucharist is both the source of our strength and the summit of our desires. Our Christian spirituality is a two-way street. It leads us from the Eucharist as a starting point out into the world of daily life and it eventually takes us back home to the Eucharist after our sojourn in the world.

Regarding the Eucharist, St. Pope Paul VI once wrote, “He is in the midst of us day and night; he dwells in us with the fullness of grace and truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to him to imitate him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God.”

Come discover what SUMMIT21 is all about. Register Here.

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

Changing the world — It’s a family thing

By Brad Torline.

Salvation came into the world through a family.

Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit before she was married. When St. Joseph discovered what had happened, the two of them almost separated — but God intervened, telling St. Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. (Matt 1:18-20)

Why did God do this?

I believe he kept them together because he wanted to enter the world through a family.

In a way, he still wants to enter the world through a family, but this time, through your family.

Every single one of us is called to encounter Christ, to be transformed by him, and to aid him in his work to restore all things. For most of us that will be accomplished in and through our everyday life as a family.

If you are married the primary way God is calling you to cooperate with him in the salvation of the world is through your relationship with your spouse and through your family life.

Many of us are troubled by the state of the world and the culture. Many of us want to do something about the direction our country is headed.

Our good intention — our desire to change the world for the better — often leads us straight into a trap, all-to-often set by the evil one. Worried by large scale problems, we become distracted from or even despair of the “little” role we have been called to play.

We spend all of our time watching the national news, scrolling through social media, arguing online with people we barely know, inventing grandiose plans in our mind for how the world would better if everyone just did this or that.

In the meantime we become distracted from the primary way we could actually be helping the world most — by bettering ourselves and loving those closest to us.

The situation can seem so big, so daunting, so big-scale, that we think playing our small role is useless.

It is not. Priests and religious all across the world are required, as part of their daily prayer, to pray the Magnificat, the beautiful, earth shattering words of Mary: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant … he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.”

God saves the world through “small” people doing “small things” faithfully, every day. For him that’s the name of the game — taking the “ordinary” and doing extraordinary things with it.

So don’t let the devil distract you from the so-called “small” role you have to play. None of us are small. God is using all of us to transform the world in himself.

Rededicate yourself today to living your “ordinary” life, extraordinarily. Pray today. Go to confession this week. Name your sins. Repent of them. Become better.

Cancel that meeting. Go on a date with your spouse, ask them how they are doing, how you can love them better.

Make time for your kids. Talk to them about God. Go to Mass this Sunday as a family.

If you need ideas for small ways to start integrating the faith better into your family life visit CovDio.Org/Family.

Just like Mary and Joseph, if you play your “small” part faithfully, Christ will enter the world through your family and will shake the foundations of everything and make a better future for everyone through your life.

Remember the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Brad Torline is associate director for the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization, Diocese of Covington, Ky.

Bishop Foys encourages families to evangelize by living a holy life inspired and modeled after the Holy Family

(from left) Father Ryan Maher, vicar general and Cathedral rector and Father Daniel Schomaker, vicar general, during the recessional at the Mass for the Year of the Family.

Laura Keener, Editor.

The recognition of the Year of the Family — a year pronounced by Pope Francis for the Church to focus on the family and conjugal love — was initiated in the Diocese of Covington July 10 as Bishop Roger Foys celebrated a special Year of the Family Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. The diocesan Office of Catechesis and Evangelization is spearheading the efforts for the faithful of the diocese to pray, learn and serve as a family, drawing families closer to each other and to Christ.

Bishop Foys began his homily by inviting those present to think about their childhood and the types of memories their childhood brings.

“I always encourage parents to make good memories for and with your children,” Bishop Foys said, “because when our parents are gone, that’s all we have left.”

“I have happy memories and I hope that your children will have happy memories of their childhood and their growing up and that they will learn from you what really and truly matters,” he said.

Bishop Foys encouraged parents, saying that when he was a pastor it was not uncommon for newly engaged couples to come to him seeking to be married in the Church, even though they had not been practicing the faith for some time. Often, these couples would return to the practice of their faith.

“Even if you might not think that you’re making any difference, trust me, you will make a difference,” he said.

Drawing extensively from Pope Francis’ Angelus address on the Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 27, 2020, Bishop Foys highlighted the importance of family and how the Holy Family — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — are both a model and inspiration for family life.

“It is good to reflect on the fact that the Son of God wanted to be in need of the warmth of a family, like all children. Precisely for this reason, because it is Jesus’ family, the family of Nazareth is the model family, in which all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration.” Bishop Foys said quoting Pope Francis.

“Children want to belong, they want to be part of something,” Bishop Foys said.

Quoting Pope Francis again, Bishop Foys said, “In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit: it requires being founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope.”

“Founded on love — there’s the secret,” Bishop Foys said. “Love can endure anything. It can endure any hardship, any struggle, any difficulty, any injury — within the family, love can conquer any of that.”

At the Angelus address Pope Francis said, “Within the family one can experience sincere communion when it is a house of prayer, when affections are serious, profound, pure, when forgiveness prevails over discord, when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will. In this way, the family opens itself up to the joy that God gives to all those who know how to give joyfully.”

Bishop Foys said that it breaks his heart to see families divided; to see families at a loved one’s funeral sitting on separate sides of the church because they are not speaking.

“Forgiveness over discord,” Bishop Foys said. “Home should be the place where a son or daughter can come no matter what. The Lord is the one to whom we can come no matter what. The same should be said of the home where the mother and father reflect God’s love, God’s joy, God’s forgiveness.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that it is true that all families quarrel, “but,” he cautioned, “before the end of the day, make peace. And do you know why? Because a cold war, day after day, is extremely dangerous. It does not help.”

Bishop Foys said that the Holy Father offers three very important phrases that all families should hold dear and say to each other often – excuse me, thank you and sorry.

“Excuse me, so as not be intrusive in the life someone,” Bishop Foys said. “Thank you — so much service that we do for one another within the family — always say thank you. Gratitude is the life blood of the noble soul. How much do we take for granted from our families, especially our parents?”

And the hardest one to say, Bishop Foys said, is “I am sorry.” Bishop Foys depicted a dramatic scene from the popular 1970s movie “Love Story” where, after a bitter quarrel, as the leading actor is about to apologize, his girlfriend places her finger on his lips and says the often quoted phrase, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Give me a break,” Bishop Foys said. “That’s boloney. Love means being able to say, ‘I am sorry,’ and knowing the beloved will be able to say, ‘I forgive you.’ That’s true love. Being able to say I am sorry, to humble oneself enough — to trust the other enough — to say, ‘I am sorry;’ with the knowledge that the love is so deep from the other — that it is from God — that we will be forgiven.”

Bishop Foys acknowledged that the family and family life is being threatened in the world and in our country — but Christians are not to be discouraged, instead they should have hope and to evangelize the world by living a holy, Christian family life.

“Destroy the family and you destroy a civilization,” Bishop Foys said. “Build up a family in faith and in love and in joy and in trust and you have a strong family, a strong community, a strong city, a strong country, a strong world.

“Today we ask God’s blessings on all families, especially those that are having difficulty — those that are struggling — we ask that they turn to the Lord and find their peace, find their solace, find their joy in the Lord. Families are precious to the Lord, or the Lord God would not have sent his Son to be born into a family. Jesus came to save us from our sins and was born in a family so that he, in his humanity, could experience the love of a mother and a father in a family.”

The Office of Catechesis and Evangelization invites families to visit frequently a newly created webpage www.covdio.org/family. There they will find helpful resources to learn, pray and serve during this Year of the Family.

Grandparents proclaim the Gospel and hand down traditions through their love

In anticipation of the first celebration of Grandparents Day, which the Church will celebrate July 26 this year and on the fourth Sunday of July on the liturgical calendar, Pope Francis, in his May 31 message to grandparents said, “It makes no difference how old you are, whether you still work or not, whether you are alone or have a family, whether you became a grandmother or grandfather at a young age or later, whether you are still independent or need assistance. Because there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren. You just need to set out and undertake something new.” (See Pope Francis entire message on page #.)

Up a long and winding gravel driveway, past a still and tranquil pond in southern Campbell County is the home of Jim and Terry Roessler. It’s a welcoming, white country home with a wrap-around porch, an expansive yard with a Mary grotto, all set beneath a canopy of trees. The home exudes peace and love — a concrete expression of the Roessler’s themselves.

The Roessler’s are youthful grandparents and for them proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to their 15 and growing grandchildren, especially passing on the Catholic faith, is essential. Mrs. Roessler notes that she has 18 grandchildren — 15, ages 13 on down, two in heaven and one on the way. For them sharing the faith is experiencing new adventures and is continuing traditions that have been handed down to them. Mrs. Roessler remembers her grandmother wearing a blue ribbon signifying her membership in a Marian group.

“I remember they would go and lead the rosary and attend Mass,” said Mrs. Roessler. She, too, has a devotion to Mary and, her children say, can be regularly found praying the rosary and inviting the family to pray the rosary together.

“I just know they were diligent about praying the rosary, going to Mass, and receiving the sacraments,” said Mr. Roessler about his grandparents.

“Holidays were wonderful,” Mrs. Roessler said about being with her grandparents. “That’s what you did, you had an Easter celebration and you went out and collected Easter eggs and you had a meal together. It’s always about having a meal together and sharing that day. I remember my grandmother always made me and my sister matching Easter outfits.”

Living the faith — living the Gospel of Life — being a witness to Christ’s love with an openness to life, Mr. and Mrs. Roessler said, is the primary role of grandparents. That role, Mrs. Roessler said, has not changed since she was a child, but she believes that role has become more urgent and grandparents have become more focused on that role as the culture becomes more and more secular and values and morals more distorted.

“I feel more of a need to be hands on, to be active in their prayer lives given the culture and passing the faith and the strength to live that faith along to them,” Mrs. Roessler said. “It is just living the faith, but now it’s done with more purpose or more intentionally.”

Like their parents and grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Roessler continue the traditions of holiday celebrations — albeit less the matching outfits — and Sundays are always a celebration.

“Sunday dinners are a big aspect of our lives, we make that a priority no matter what has happened during the week,” said Joanna Roessler, the youngest of the siblings. “We have discussions around the dinner table and the nieces and nephews pick up on that.”

“Grandma and grandpa are living out the faith and they see that — their witness,” said Laura Rousseau, the oldest sibling and mother of five. “Their door has always been open to anyone and everyone who needs help.”

Mrs. Rousseau said that her parents didn’t have a lot when they were growing up, however they were always a friend to others in need — providing groceries and clothing to a neighbor who had even less, opening their home to a neighbor whose house had burned down, welcoming their children’s college friends during the holidays when they couldn’t afford to make the trip home. That attentiveness to others in need continues and is influencing the next generation of Roesslers.

“They are thoughtful and do hard work without being asked and they are always looking to help others especially our family,” said Mrs. Rousseau’s oldest child, Eva, about her grandparents.

Family and faith are paramount for Mr. and Mrs. Roessler and they willingly and joyfully accept the necessary sacrifices to ensure the best for their children and grandchildren. All five of their children have attended a Catholic college — the Franciscan University of Steubenville — and Mrs. Roessler decided to home school the children to ensure their formation in the Catholic faith.

“I guess they could have gone to a secular college, but I hear of so many people that come from good Catholic families that are taught right out of the faith,” she said.

The sacrifice has not gone unappreciated, “My family sacrificed a lot to make sure we went to a good Catholic university. That was a really hard time when we all went to college because financially it took a lot,” said Mrs. Rousseau. “We all married spouses that also believe the faith is important — my mom and dad sacrificed so much for this,” acknowledging the discord she has seen families experience when one or more family member is alienated from the faith.

“Living as an example and my parents just encouraging our lifestyles and their always there to support us in having children and help us to live out the faith, recognizing that all children are a gift from God,” is what Ms. Roessler believes her parents have instilled in her and her siblings and are passing on to the grandchildren. “They are willing to drop whatever they are doing to come and help us and love us where we are needing to be loved,” she said.

“No matter how hard it was they always strived to make sure our family was a unit and together and that the faith was the center of everything that we did,” said Mrs. Rousseau.

Mrs. Roessler teaches CCD at her parish and takes seriously the ministry of teaching students the sacraments. Each year she attends the St. John Bosco conference at Franciscan University so that she can continually learn and grow in the faith. As a couple, the Roessler’s have enjoyed traveling as a way to deepen their faith life — attending World Youth Day in Canada to see St. Pope John Paul II, traveling to Rome and Assisi. Mr. Roessler said that two of their children live out of town — one in Wisconsin and another in Georgia — and they make a point of attending the baptisms and first Communions of their grandchildren, that can also involve some travel.

Mr. Roessler is a man of few words but his support and dedication to his wife, children and grandchildren speaks for him by the way he provides for his family. He said that he nurtures his faith “by going to church and being with family — being with our daughters and son and the grandchildren.”

Mrs. Roessler said that it is her greatest hope that by living the Gospel of life that others will see the joy and gift that children are and choose to open their hearts and homes to the children God would entrust to them — no matter the timing, no matter the ability or disability.

“I wish more people would be open to life and accepting of children they don’t realize how much their missing, how many blessings they are missing,” she said. “I never imagined having five children, certainly not 18 grandchildren, but it’s a joy.”