A Message from RE Director, Robby Kiley
Dear Religious Education Families,

Happy New Year to all of you! Did you know that Advent marks the beginning of a new Liturgical Year in our Church? The old Liturgical Year ended with the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King (full name: Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - cool!).

Our new year begins on December 2nd, with the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent. We will celebrate this new year in our newsletter by giving you some tips and tools for celebrating Advent with your family. Included within, you will find: a meditation on Daylight Savings and Advent, a calendar of events for the Advent season, and a list of activities for you to do at home with your family to celebrate the Advent season (revised and updated from last year!). You'll also find a message from Fr. Bill, and a short article from our seminarian, Holden Berg. We also have a deeper look at what goes on with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. We hope there is something inside that will help your celebration of this new Church year!

Happy Advent! At this time of the year, when our culture celebrates the "Holiday Season," we have a unique opportunity to "keep Christ in Christmas." The way to do that is to take the Season of Advent seriously. When you bring your children to Mass on Sunday, you will notice that we priests wear purple vestments as a sign of preparation. We light one of the candles on the Advent Wreath and omit the Gloria. The music does not include Christmas carols, but Advent hymns. We end every Mass with the first verse of the hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."
Please do whatever you can to include Advent as part of your family prayers. Even in the midst of decorating your home, putting up the tree, shopping for gifts, and preparing for feasting, you can still center your prayer on an Advent Wreath in the home. You can introduce a Jesse Tree, calling to mind the human family of the Messiah. You can spend quality time in prayer, understanding that Advent is a time of preparation. Even though we will never know neither the day nor the hour, we are preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord at the end of time. We are preparing to celebrate the coming of the Lord at Christmas, exchanging gifts as a sign of the greatest gift we have ever received in the person of Jesus Christ. We are preparing to recognize his coming in our daily lives, especially in the fabric of family life.
These are the themes that the catechists will emphasize during Advent. To support your efforts at home, please participate in the special Advent Liturgies in church: Lessons and Carols on Tuesday evening, December 4; Taize Prayer on Tuesday evening, December 11; and the Advent Penance Service on Tuesday, December 18. We will offer your children an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Penance Services on Monday, December 10, and Wednesday, December 12. You are more than welcome to join us at those times.
The Season of Advent offers us tremendous spiritual opportunities. Please take advantage of them, for yourselves and for your children.

Fr. Bill Schooler
Do you ever wonder what goes on during Catchesis of the Good Shepherd? 

CGS is a Montessori-based program that encourages the "religious potential" of our children, and allows them to explore their faith. Here is one example from the Atrium (the sacred learning environment where CGS takes place) during which the community explores the prophecies we hear during the Advent season:
In each class in the Atrium, the young child is encouraged to ask, "Who Are You Lord?" During the Season of Advent, we ponder together, "Who Is This Child?" We explore the Messianic Prophecies to help us discover the identity of the Child.

Our students are in a sensitive period for language. They are attracted to human speech (over other sounds) and like to replicate what they hear. One of the favorite prophecies that we share with our community is the Prophecy of the Names of the Messiah. The Prophecy of the Names of the Messiah is found in the book of Isaiah 9:5, and the names that we hear include: Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, and Prince of Peace.

We ask: who can this child be who has so many names?   Our students enjoy copying these names as well as repeating these names aloud. In the Atrium, we will begin to hear our students offer these names in their spontaneous prayer or even proclaim these names in song.

Taking this Lesson Home:
  • During your family prayer time, at meals or before bed, use the names found in this prophecy as you pray.
  • Discuss with your children all the names that they hear for Jesus during this season. What name is your favorite to use in prayer? What name is your favorite to say aloud?
  • Read aloud to your child the following Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 9:1, Isaiah 9:5, Isaiah 7:14,           Micah5:1, Numbers 24:17
Theresa DePung
Director, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Once again the most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner. 

Ah! Ah! Ah! Let's not get ahead of ourselves now; before we can celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, we have a time of preparation: Advent.

Advent is derived from the Latin word adventas which means arrival or appearance. As a child, I thought this meant the arrival of Santa and his sleigh, with more presents than I could imagine. Now as time has gone on, I have come to a realization that Advent is a time in preparation for the arrival of Christ. It is the Incarnation that we are preparing ourselves for during the Advent season.

Because Advent is a time of preparation for the definitive Christian mystery of our faith, I encourage families to not just set up the Christmas decorations, but embrace the theology behind Christmas. I encourage families to have a Jesse tree this Advent season and embrace the journey to Christ just as the Magi from the East did. I hope each of you can come to see, as I did, that Advent is more than waiting for presents on Christmas - it is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ!
I've heard it said that whoever invented the concept of Daylight Savings Time did not have young children. I've appreciated the humor (and agony) of that comment more and more now that I have a young child of my own. But while Daylight Savings Time can be frustrating (or perhaps joyful for those of you who were gifted with an extra hour of sleep sans screaming toddler), it has also been helpful this year for me as I prepare for the season of Advent. We don't spend much of our time thinking about the changing seasons or the lengthening and shortening of daylight that comes with the passage from spring to summer to fall and winter. But Daylight Savings forcibly reminds us of the role darkness and light play in our lives, especially that first Monday as we return from work or errands in deep darkness.

The presence of darkness in our lives becomes much more evident around the time we celebrate Advent every year. This is most appropriate, as Advent is the season that makes the most use of imagery of light and darkness. We hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, the people walking in darkness have seen a great light." And we are reminded of the coming of the Light of the World, Jesus. There are times when all of us can be found "walking in darkness." And perhaps the abrupt transition of Daylight Savings helps put that in focus for us. Advent asks us to seek out these areas of darkness in our lives, and bring the light of Christ into those corners. We light Advent candles and pray with our family. We go to confession and are forgiven our sins. We put up Christmas decorations to drive out the dark and spread the joy with our neighbors.

While darkness is never something we greet with joy (as any child can tell you during those waning days of summer when they wish they had just one more hour to play outside), it can be fruitful. As we notice more darkness in our world around us, we can also take the time to seek out the darkness within. How will you invite Christ into this darkness this year, and share the light with your family, parish, and community?

Robby Kiley, DRE
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The Religious Education website is a one-stop shop for all things RE:

The Religious Education calendar is available on the website through Google Calendars. This calendar is updated in real time to reflect changes in dates, school closings, and more.
December 2
First Sunday of Advent 

December 4, 7 pm
Advent Lessons & Carols

December 6
Feast of St. Nicholas

December 8
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Holy Day of Obligation

Holy Day Masses:
Friday, 12/7, 5:30 pm
Saturday, 12/8, 9 & 11 am

December 9
Second Sunday of Advent

December 11, 7 pm
Parish Taize Prayer

December 12
Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 13
Feast of Saint Lucy

December 16
Gaudate Sunday
Third Sunday of Advent

December 18, 7 pm
Parish Reconciliation Service

December 20
Last Day of CCD/CGS

December 23
Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 24
Christmas Eve

December 25
Christmas-Holy Day of Obligation

January 6
CCD/CGS Classes Resume

Looking for a creative way to celebrate Advent as a family?  Check out the following links and information for ideas for family prayer, devotions, activities, and more!

The Jesse Tree was created to help people link the custom of decorating trees to the events leading up to Jesus' birth and the prophecies about him in the Old Testament as the Jewish people awaited their long-foretold messiah.   

The concept of the Advent wreath actually originated in pre-Christian times when people would gather evergreens and light candles to ward off the darkness of winter and serve as a sign of hope that spring would come.

But don't place Jesus in the manger until December 25!

Consider making this a family tradition, and help involve your younger children in this custom!

Tues., December 4
7:00 pm in the church

Tues., December 18 7:00 pm. 
We will also have Reconciliation for our CCD & CGS students on Monday, December 10, 5:30 pm or Wednesday, December 12 at 4:00 or 6:30 pm. Parents are welcome to join their children for the celebration of Reconciliation during class time!

February 21
(6:00-7:30 p.m.) 
Service with Your Catholic Family

March 3
(11:00 a.m.-noon) 
Lent and the Works of Mercy

May 23
(6:00-7:30 p.m.)
Prayer with Your Catholic Family

Saint Pius X Catholic Church | (574) 277-5760 | rkiley@stpius.net | http://www.stpius.net
52553 Fir Road
Granger, IN 46530