The month of April is dedicated to The Holy Spirit. The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.
After our solemn commemoration of the last days and death of Our Lord we will spend the month of April celebrating. As Spring breaks forth even nature will join us as buds and blooms begin to surface and we spend this month basking in the joy of the Resurrection. We continue throughout the entire month our cry, “Christ is risen, Christ is truly risen.”
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Amen. (St. Augustine)
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Fear of the Lord
Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Charity. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Generosity. Gentleness. Faithulness. Modesty. Self-Control. Chastity.
- For further information please click here : https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/months/04_1.cfm
The Holy Father’s Intentions for the Month of April 2021: Fundamental Rights.
The first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us that humanity was created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26-27). This phrase still echoes with fundamental importance for our world today, because the image of God in us is our source of human dignity. While we would hope that thousands of years after these verses were written for us, the human family might have established a greater mutual respect for what it means to be free and responsible creatures, still today many people have their most fundamental rights denied them.
These fundamental rights – to life, to food and water, to shelter, to education, to religious freedom, among others – flow from being made in God’s image and cannot be denied to any member of our human family.
As we pray for those who take risks to help others secure their fundamental rights, let us too be willing to add our energy and voice to assure respect for God’s image in each of our brothers and sisters (Fr. Andrij Hlabse SJ).
- For further information just click here: http://popesprayerusa.net/2021/03/29/april-reflection-fundamental-rights/
April 11th Divine Mercy Sunday
- Click here for a link to a PowerPoint presentation (24 slides) on the life of St. Faustina and the call of Jesus to each one of us to trust in Him and His mercy.
April 16th St. Bernadette Soubirous
Saint Bernadette Soubirous’ Story
Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.
There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette’s initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of “the Lady” brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There, the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.
According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.
Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation, Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.
During her life, Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later, she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame of Nevers. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.
Bernadette Soubirous was canonized in 1933.
- For further information please click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bernadette-soubirous
- For the film on St Bernadette, I find the old ones are the best and this is no exception: The Song of Bernadette can be found free on youtube here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6zAoq8tRfI
April 22nd World Earth Day
The theme of Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth™.
Earth Day has been marked on 22 April every year since its inception in 1970. This year, organisers are calling for three days of climate action, from 20 to 22 April, but expect the entire week running up to Earth Day – sometimes called Earth Week – to be a time when environmental issues take centre stage.
From April 20-22, join the world’s leaders for Earth Day 2021. “Together, we can prevent the coming disasters of climate change and environmental destruction. Together, we can Restore Our Earth™”.
- For further information just click here: https://www.earthday.org/
Check out this inspirational music video from The Mahers: Lullaby for the World.
A 12-YEAR-OLD Irish girl is using her talents as a singer to draw attention to the need to protect the environment with a touching song directed at US President Joe Biden. Ruby Maher and her siblings Robyn and Stacey, along with their father Dave preform ‘Lullaby For The World’ as a response to Joe Biden’s call for the young generation to engage with Earth Day and help stop the climate crisis and the destruction of the environment. Ruby describes it as a “gift to President Biden to demonstrate how we as the young generation want to help bring Earth Day to the world’s attention”.
April 25th Good Shepherd Sunday
This weekend is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, popularly called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” since the Gospel Reading at Mass highlights the pastoral aspect of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11-15).
Today is the feast of St. Mark which is superseded by the Sunday Liturgy.
St. Mark’s Story
Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. When Saint Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother.
Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul’s refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas’s insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.
The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus’s rejection by humanity while being God’s triumphant envoy. Probably written for gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark’s Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a “scandal”: a crucified Messiah.
Like another Gospel writer Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).
Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.
A winged lion is Mark’s symbol. The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to the evangelists.
- For further information please click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mark
- Also a short video about St Mark (2.46 mins) can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Hek-xU96So
April 29th Saint Catherine of Siena
Saint Catherine of Siena’s Story
The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.
She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful, and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.
She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer, and austerity. Gradually, a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.
Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope.
In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Pope Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her “children” and was canonized in 1461.
Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Pope Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church
in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue. Consider Catherine’s advice. If you can’t start by being brave about everything, identify one thing. Resolve to spread the light.
- For further information please click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit-blog/sisterhood-of-saints-catherine-of-siena
April 30th Saint Pius V
Pope Pius V was from a poor Italian family and had entered the Dominican order at age 14. A teacher, a master of novices, a bishop, and finally a cardinal, he was a strict and honest man, as well as a zealous reformer. He wept when he was told in 1566 that he had been elected pope. The 18-year-long Council of Trent had ended 3 years before, and he, as Holy Father, had the task of implementing it.
- For further information please click here: https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-pius-v/
Life is for living. Do it boldly with these 10 verbs.
With so much advice out there in the world—Franciscan Media bring us ten lovely verbs to live by!
“Life is about living, right? COVID-19, its restrictions, and how it all changed our world has certainly taught us that. But to live and to be fully alive requires action. And that means adding more verbs to our vocabulary”.
- Seek. Never stop being curious. Every day offers discovery. Shake off the lethargy and explore the world around you. God can be found everywhere you look.
- Laugh. Life is serious, but living it is supposed to be fun. If the last year has taught us nothing, it’s that we need laughter, joy, and levity to lift our battered spirits. Don’t feel about wanting to feel better.
- Ask. No one knows everything—thank goodness! Questions are not only OK; they’re the key to learning and growing. Be curious. Ask questions. Never stop moving forward.
- Forgive. It’s often hard to do, but it’s worth the effort. In Ephesians 4:32 it reads: “And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
- Try. It wasn’t very popular in a galaxy far, far away, but it’s popular with us. If we didn’t try new things, we’d all still be in onesies and kid shoes. God loves our efforts!
- Help. It’s easy to feel that there’s too much to do, that there are too many problems to solve. But even the least confident among us can usually agree there’s some way we can help—somebody, something, somewhere.
- Create. Making something from scratch—whether it’s a meal or a piece of art or an essay—is essential to a fulfilling life. It’s a participation in God’s work of creation. It keeps us from getting stuck in a rut of living someone else’s story.
- Reflect. Take time on a regular basis to stop whatever you’re busy doing and look at the big picture. Think, pray, write in a journal, talk to a friend. Find one of a hundred ways that works for you.
- Thank. Gratitude, love, and humility all are intertwined. God, our friends, our family, our co-workers—there is always someone deserving of a “thank you.”
- Listen. Before we can love someone, we have to know that person. To know someone, we have to listen. And sometimes the best listening we do comes through prayer.
For further information please click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit-blog/10-verbs-to-live-by
April and the Arts
(Complements of Brendan O’Regan of Faitharts.ie)
One approach for RE classes next week is to cover aspects of the Resurrection – e.g. by looking at the Gospel accounts and combining this with versions from film. I always find the final scenes of Jesus of Nazareth to be useful. The relevant extract: https://youtu.be/YPQPJTc8eqE?t=91 (9.19 mins long)
Also the Road to Emmaus scene from BBC’s The Passion: https://youtu.be/dmmTWQn95xQ
These clips and more, along with relevant music can be found on the Faitharts Easter Page.
Reflective and calming song – My Soul Finds Rest in You – Marie Dunne
For the season ‘Because He Lives’ – Harry Connick Jnr from his new album ‘Alone with my Faith’ https://youtu.be/8TZZhtOPD2Y
Interesting song ‘Reconciled’ from Andy Flanagan
Oh Mercy – Matt Maher and Audrey Assad
Christ the Lord is Risen Today – Ashley Cleveland
Night’s Bright Darkness – Conversion story of poet Sally Read
Interdiocesan Music Project
Please check out this Inter-Diocesan Music Project which was co-ordinated by the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore and involved young people from 7 Dioceses in Ireland to
commemorate Easter 2021 to help raise money for Mary’s Meals. You can view the wonderful video here https://youtu.be/jAopVZUJGpE
If you’d like to help out with this project, please visit Mary’s Meals at https://www.bit.ly/EasterMusicProject
Participants from St Peters Secondary School and Loreto Wexford took part. Congratulations to the girls and teachers in these schools!!
Songs used: “Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)” by Brian Doerksen and Brenton Brown, “At the Cross” by Hillsong and “Yours is the Kingdom” by Hillsong. To see the entire Stations of the Cross displayed in this video:
Box of Hope – Disconnect to Re-connect
The Box of Hope which contains 5 lesson plans entitled ‘Disconnect to Re-Connect’ has been delivered to each of the RE Co-Ordinators in 15 schools throughout the Diocese.
The Box contains all the resources required to run the five lesson plans.
The emphasis of the programme is to provide a space once a week for 5 weeks to journey through a personal and spiritual development programme, enabling them to reconnect with their own value systems, their own wellbeing, their feelings and indeed their source of hope, their faith.
If you wish to find out more please contact me (contact details at end of this email).
DUBLIN DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGE TO KNOCK – ONLINE ADULT & FAMILY PILGRIMAGE
The Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock will take place on Saturday April 24th with a programme of online workshops from Our Lady of Victories Church, Ballymun Road via webcam commencing at 11.50am. The workshops themes will include Challenge for Families, the Holy Spirit and St Joseph & the apparition. From 2.30pm, we will switch to the Knock Shrine webcam for the rosary, the Pilgrimage Mass at 3pm and opportunity for quiet time in the Apparition Chapel. More details to follow next week.
Last month, Pope Francis elevated Knock to an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion, placing it at the same level as Lourdes and Fatima. We look forward to welcoming you on our virtual pilgrimage which we hope will be a moment of inspiration and encouragement for our Archdiocese at such challenging year for so many people. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The NCCA have published some samples of CBA1 on www.curriculumonline.ie. The direct link to the RE CBA1 samples is here: https://www.curriculumonline.ie/Junior-cycle/Junior-Cycle-Subjects/Religious-Education/Examples-of-Student-Work/Examples-of-Classroom-Based-Assessment/
They are hosting a webinar called ‘REsearch, REport, REflect: what can we learn from the CBA process? next Wednesday 21st April at 7pm.
During this live webinar event they will view and discuss these new CBA samples and we will hear from teachers who have completed CBA1 as they share what insights have been gained for next year (CBA2 and when we do CBA1 again). They will also answer your questions. If interested you can register below to join them live on the night. This is a live event and will not be recorded.
Christian Celebrity (article complements of Assoc. of Catholic Teachers Newsletter)
Stormzy is a well-known British rapper, singer and songwriter. He is a prominent hip-hop and grime artist, with his debut album, “Gang Signs and Prayer” becoming the first grime album to reach No. 1 on the UK Album Chart. His album also won British Album of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards. Stormzy also achieved his first UK No.1 single in 2019 and was widely praised for his headline appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in the same year.
Stormzy is also a committed Christian. He has spoken publicly about his faith on several occasions and even led thousands of fans in a praise and worship session at Glastonbury, performing his own Christian song, “Blinded By Your Grace”.
– Click here to read about how Stormzy has integrated a mainstream music career with a life of Christian faith.