EDGE (Grades 6-8)

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Grades 6-8

EDGE is a Catholic middle school youth discipleship program. We create a safe place for youth to find real and solid Catholic community, to get answers to their questions about faith, and most importantly, to experience Jesus in a profound and personal way.

Wednesday EDGE Nights frequently involve a range of activities, including...

·      Dynamic talks

·      Discipleship groups

·      Expressive praise and worship

·      Adoration and Confession

·      And much more!

6th-8th graders, we invite you to join us at EDGE on Wednesday from 4:30 PM-6:00 PM or 6:30 PM-8:00 PM! Don't forget to register for EDGE! You can contact Addy Diaz with any questions at 952.261.0566 or adiaz@st-therese.org.  We can't wait to see you!


Save the Date!

Youth Discipleship Ministry at the Church of St. Therese is committed to providing middle school youth the opportunity to meet the person of Jesus and be transformed by grace through several retreat offerings:

·      Extreme Faith Camp (Summer 2019)

Middle School Summer Camp: High ropes course, canoeing and more! We will come together with over 100 other youth ready to dive deeper in their relationship with Jesus!


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Press the PAstor

Homilies, Prayer, and Saints

How do you write your homilies?

I get asked this fairly regularly.  First, I typically read the Mass readings for the coming weekend a week in advance.  I often read them in the little chapel in my rectory and begin thinking about them. 

 I pay attention to which of the three readings touches my heart.  After choosing a reading, I begin reflecting how it applies to real life.  What is the overall message I want to convey?  In homiletics, we call this the “pearl.”  The pearl is what you want people to think about or to do.  Parishioners listening to a good homily should be able to say driving home, “That homily was about [x].  Father wants us to do [x].” 

 Next, I try to think of an introduction or a story that helps make the homily more interesting or easier to understand.  This is not always easy.  One of my pet peeves is a story in a homily that doesn’t have anything to do with the homily.  Additionally, as a previous teacher, I learned that you must have an interesting opening to catch people’s attention.  There are fewer things more boring than hearing, “Today’s gospel teaches us…(yawn!).”

 Of course, I typically bring things to prayer.  Sometimes I may ask, “Lord, what do you want me to say?”  This is not just sentimental piety.  Instead, it is more of a plea – “Lord, help me say something!”  After all, the good Lord knows what people need to hear far more than I do!  It is funny how I receive a little image, a story, or some real world example to help.

 Next, I sometimes do a little research.  I tend to listen to Bishop Robert Barron’s homily for the week to receive ideas from him.  Or I read a good Bible commentary to get insights or the context of a biblical passage to make the homily more interesting.

 Then there is the stage of actually sitting down and writing.  Sometimes this goes smoothly, while other times it is nothing short of a nightmare trying to put things together.  I can often tell how a homily will be as I write it. 

After writing it out, I read over it a few times to get a feel for how it flows.  Many times I have to do a lot of editing as I think, “Oh, I don’t like that at all or that doesn’t fit.”  Another pet peeve of mine is homilies that are all over the place without a point – like a puppy’s tail wagging everywhere.  The editing phase helps tighten things up.

In short, putting together a homily is a great labor of love.  In the end, sometimes I hit a home run, while other times I strike out.  Only the good Lord knows how parishioners receive what I put together.

How many hours do you spend in prayer every week?

This is another good question!  I typically have a routine to begin my day.  We have daily Mass many days at 7:00 am.  When I have my act together (which isn’t too often), I pray for about 20 minutes before Mass.  After Mass, I typically spend about an hour before the Blessed Sacrament.            

In saying this, do not freak out or think I am a saint.I am required to pray what’s called the Liturgy of the Hours or the Church’s prayer that consists of Psalms and other scriptural readings.I also pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.Then I pray two decades of the Rosary while reading a little Sacred Scripture. Finally, I offer my intentions for the parish, those who asked me to pray for them, and thank God for His many gifts. It took many years to work up to this structure and yet, I often still feel like a goof trying to pray.

How long should we pray every day?

It depends.  For middle and high school students, I suggest 15 minutes.  Begin with the daily Mass readings (www.usccb.org), reading over them nice and slow.  What word or phrase strikes you?  What questions do you have?  What do you want to say to Jesus?  What does He want to say to you?  Scripture gives you something to chew or meditate on. 

 After the readings, think of a number of people who need your prayers.  Speak to God about them.  If you like the rosary, you could pray a decade or two, asking Mary to pray for you.  Finally, take a little time to thank God for His gifts and present Him your needs (i.e., help with a test or paper).  

Do you have a favorite Saint other than St. Therese? Why do you like them?

I do!  I very much like St. John Bosco (1815-1888) because he took care of young boys who lost their parents or were on the streets.  He also taught them the faith in fun ways.  I also like St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) because of his tremendous sense of humor.  He is the patron saint of mirth. 

Priests, Bread, & Fortnite...

How long does it take to become a priest?

It depends. If a young man joins the seminary as an undergraduate (called minor seminary), it typically is 8 years. If a man has an undergraduate degree and then decides to join seminary (called major seminary), it typically is 6 years (2 years of philosophy and 4 years of theology). Regardless, it is a lot of formation and study!

Is all bread holy?

This is a good question! Some believe that Johnny bread from St. John’s is holy. This is debatable. However, I presume you mean the bread at Mass. Prior to the consecration at Mass (i.e., This is my body - This is the chalice of my blood), the bread is normal bread. After the consecration, the bread is holy. In fact, it is no longer bread at all, but rather becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.

What do you think of violent video games (Fortnite, Rainbow 6, PUB 6)?

Video games have certainly evolved over the years. I remember Super Mario Brothers as a youth. My general take is that violent video games, while potentially entertaining, are not helpful in growing in our love for God and neighbor. As one grows in the spiritual life, he or she typically desires to move away from violence (like video games) and into actions that foster peace, joy, love, and greater fulfillment.

Priestly Garments, Other Religions, and Homosexuality

Why do you wear white robes?

This question makes me smile as I once asked students what my top vestment (called a chasuble) was called.  One little guy raised his hand and said, “Glory robe?”  The chasuble symbolizes charity.  When the priest puts on the chasuble before Mass, he prays, “O Lord, you said ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light, grant that I may so bear it that I may gain thy holy favor.’” 

There are four primary colors: White, Green, Red, and Violet.  White symbolizes purity and joy and is worn during Christmas and Easter seasons.  Green symbolizes hope and is worn during ordinary time.  Red symbolizes total self-gift (shedding of blood) and fire and is worn for feast days of martyrs and Pentecost.  Violet symbolizes penance and is worn during Advent and Lent.

What reasons did other religions break off from the Catholic Church?

This is a complicated question.  Certainly, most people are familiar with Martin Luther’s dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the Church in the early 16th century.  Some Church leaders, unfortunately, had poor theological training and lived lives contrary to the faith they professed. 

Additionally, some leaders were selling indulgences (i.e., forgiveness of the temporary punishment for sin), which really upset Luther.  Consequently, Luther wrote 95 theses against the Church and nailed it to the door at the Church of Wittenberg in 1517.  Eventually, he broke from the Church. 

Inspired by Luther, others like Ulrich Zwingli John Calvin and broke away as well.  Eventually, their congregations experienced splintering themselves.  Today, Protestant denominations rank in the thousands. 

In response, God moved the Church’s leaders to call a council (the Council of Trent) to clarify its teaching.  Additionally, He raised up saints to help bring about its much-needed renewal.  Thankfully, the Lord gives saints to renew the Church in every age until He comes again. J    

Why isn’t homosexuality allowed? 

This is a good question, but certainly challenging.  It’s helpful to make the distinctions between person, inclination, and action.  Our faith informs us that we are to love people unconditionally as children of God.  This includes our brothers and sisters who experience same sex attraction.  We remember that they are made in God’s image and likeness and Jesus’ heart burns with love for them! 

Because we are fallen, we have some inclinations not in accord with God’s will.  For example, some struggle with inclinations toward anger, others with alcohol, some with pornography, and others with same sex attraction.  Such fallen inclinations, in themselves, are not sinful but must related to Jesus and the cross that they may be healed.   

Homosexual activity, for its part, is contrary to God’s will as Sacred Scripture and the Church teaches.  As a gift from God, our sexuality is meant to foster communion and generate new life by God’s creative power.  Only when sexual activity includes both the unitive (communion) and procreative (openness to life) purposes does it truly image God who is life-giving love. 

Pastorally, it’s helpful to remember the Catholic Catechism’s approach on this sensitive issue when it says that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” (CCC 2358)  With prayer and God’s help, while we maintain that homosexual activity is contrary to God’s will, we can at the same time love and support those wrestling with same sex attraction with Christ’s love.