April 7, 2008
During his upcoming visit to the US, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his 81st birthday on April 16. And what might be an appropriate gift for Americans to give a Pope?
The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has come up with a wonderfully creative birthday gift which enables everyone interested to participate. NCEA is collecting pledge forms from students and other interested individuals who commit to doing volunteer service hours between now and May 31. These service hours will be a “gift” to the Pope on his birthday.
So far, over 200,000 people have agreed to donate over a million service hours. Parishes and schools are asked to record the totals and officially forward them to NCEA. Individuals must complete pledge forms by Friday, April 11.
Our society is often characterized as being materialistic. What a wonderful idea to use the occasion of the Pope’s birthday to show the true meaning of giving. The hours given will help many people, including the volunteers and those they serve.
To make a pledge, visit the NCEA Birthday Blessings site. And don’t forget to turn in your pledge form by April 11.
November 21, 2007
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to step back and look at the many blessings in our lives as we give thanks. It is also a wonderful time to think about how we, too, can be a blessing in the lives of others. Fostering this approach of being a blessing for others is a way to help our children connect faith and service. Helping to serve a meal at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving Day, or making handmade cards and delivering them to shut-ins can have a profound effect on children. Discussions beforehand and afterwards can help children reflect on their experience and on how God is involved.
An excellent article with many concrete examples is How to Raise Kids Who Care – Teach Your Children Well, and Chances Are They’ll Make Service A Way of Life. Knowing that there are people who live differently than them can have a huge impact on kids. As the author, Christina Zaker notes in one example, “Even complaints about having to share a bedroom disappeared after one family visited a family shelter and saw how entire families lived in a single bedroom.” Books on how to foster an attitude of giving can also be found in ActiveParishioner.com’s Parenting/Families section.
When I was growing up I remember that every Christmas my Mom would wrap small packages of candy for children who were poor. I would help her and then we would drop them off at our parish for them to distribute. This was many years before the concept of “giving trees” with name tags became popular. As a young child I wasn’t that motivated to help because I couldn’t understand who would want candy as a Christmas gift, when it was readily available at home. I had a hard time grasping what it meant that there were children my age living in poverty. But the example of my parents giving to others in so many ways somehow touched something deep within me. This approach to life is now something that I very much want to pass on to our son.
In this busy holiday season as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas all get bunched up and seem to turn into non-stop motion, let’s pause and reflect on our blessings as we give thanks. Take a moment to talk with your kids about how each member of your family is so blessed. Then reflect together on how all of you as a family can also bring blessings to the lives of others.
From the staff of ActiveParishioner.com, may you and your loved ones have a blessed Thanksgiving!
November 19, 2007
Catholic parents want their children to grow up to be good people. Nurturing this can occur in many ways. One such way is encouraging stewardship among children and especially teenagers. The US bishops recently published a helpful document titled, Stewardship and Teenagers – The Challenge of Being a Disciple.
Addressed to teens, this brief statement provides the theological basis for acts of service by reminding teens that everything we have is a gift from God. Even our own being is a gift from God. We are surrounded by evidence of God’s love for us. When we give to others, we should give from that wealth of love.
Many teenagers today are very interested in service opportunities. But often the connection between faith and service is not made. Using simple language, the bishops’ statement makes this connection clear.
If you are a Catholic parent and are interested in additional resources to help you as you parent your child, visit ActiveParishioner.com’s Parenting Resources.