Accountability and Support

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
– Matthew 18:20

Monthly Focus on Piety

With what spiritual aids have I nourished my vital union with Christ during the past 30 days?
M1.   Morning offering
M2.  Personal Prayer Period
M3.  Mass and Communion
M4.  Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
M5.  Rosary / Devotion to Mary
M6.  Examination of Conscience
M7.  Spiritual Direction

Discussion Questions for December 31, 2017
The Holy Family

First Reading

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 
God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

First Reading Discussion Questions
F1. According to Pope Francis, how can it be a missionary activity for our family to “race” around?

Here too, we can ask: how do we keep our faith as a family? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often “racing” from one place to another, with lots to do.  But did you ever think that this “racing” could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families. … They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith! Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

Holy Mass for the Family Day Year of Faith
Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 27 October 2013

F2. Why do you think Sirach says that good things happen to you when you honor your parents (prayers heard, sins atoned, long life, made happy by children)?    

Second Reading

COL 3:12-21
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another, 
if one has a grievance against another; 
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love, 
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, 
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, 
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, 
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, 
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, 
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, 
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, 
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, 
so they may not become discouraged.

Second Reading Discussion Questions
S1. “Over all these put on love.” What is the only thing God asks of us? What happens to people when they are loved? What would the world be like if everyone really loved others? What kinds of things would disappear off the face of the earth?

S2. Is family a good place to learn to forgive and to be forgiven? To step outside of yourself and accept others? In Colossians, St. Paul gives some ideas about how we can love each other and live in harmony: “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” Is this easy? How are you doing with it in your life?

Gospel

LK 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses, 
They took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord, 
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, 
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, 
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel, 
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple; 
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 
He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel."
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce— 
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna, 
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years, 
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple, 
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time, 
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; 
and the favor of God was upon him.

Gospel Discussion Questions
G1.  Luke mentions the Spirit three times regarding Simeon. Through the Spirit Simeon recognized Jesus as the glory of Israel and the light to the rest of the world. Do you let the same Spirit who lives in you help you recognize Jesus in your daily life? How?

G2.  Before “They returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth” (Luke 2:39), Matthew recounts the story of Joseph fleeing to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to escape the wrath of Herod (Mt 2:14). Did the Holy Family experience what the Christian Syrian refugees are experiencing right now as they leave their country by the thousands, targeted by militant Islamists?

Anne Osdieck

 

**From Saint Louis University & Anne Osdieck

Suggested Strategies for Managing the Clock

  • For those with smaller groups or those who have the luxury of enough allotted time, it is suggested that the group cover each question from the monthly focus through the Gospel discussion questions
  • For those with larger groups or don't have the luxury of operating on God's Time, it is suggested that the group cover the monthly focus question and then feel free to skip around and attempt to answer only a few questions - whether that’s just the gospel, or the second reading and gospel, etc.