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Valentine's Day Can Prepare Us for Lent

February is a month full of Love! On February 2nd, the Christmas season officially ends with the feast of the presentation.  Right as Christmas ends, we shift our focus to a holiday of love with Valentine’s Day although it falls on a Sunday, we can still commemorate the great saint and martyr of the Church.  Celebrating love on St. Valentine is a tradition that goes back for centuries.  Today, the holiday is a bit more secular as we place attention on our friends and loved ones. 

Valentine’s day is typically full of cards, sweet treats, gifts, candy, chocolate, and special meals.  This year let’s take a minute to reflect on a different heart and a more profound love: The Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The image below is a stained glass window over the St. Joseph altar at Saint Mary Cathedral. As you reflect on the image, contemplate how much love Jesus continues to offer each of us.

Valentine's day comes just in time to get our hearts and minds ready for the season of lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  This Lenten season let us meditate on the love that Christ offers us in the rich passages of the gospel readings.  The Scrutinies help us prepare to enter and accompany Christ as he pours out his love in his passion and death.  Christ offers this passionate love for us on the cross and he then leads us to his triumphant resurrection. 

May this month of February be one of reflection, filled with peace, love, and compassion. 


Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis

Confirmation Information 


Please find attached a letter that was sent to your Pastors earlier this month regarding Confirmations for the second quarter of 2021. The links below are a copy of the temporary protocols for the celebration of Confirmation during the pandemic. These protocols are in effect through the end of June. Please read and if you have any questions, please let us know.
 
Ltr to Pastors re 2021 Confirmations 2nd Qtr 01.27.21
Ltr to Pastors re 2021 Confirmations 2nd Qtr 1.27.21 Spanish
Memo to Pastors re Temporary Liturgical Protocols for Confirmation

MATT FRADD VIRTUAL EVENT 



On Tuesday, February 9 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. St. William in Round Rock will be hosting Matt Fradd for a presentation entitled, "Parenting in the Internet Generation." You can join the event virtually through their parish's Vimeo or WATCH page. 


In this presentation, Matt Fradd offers parents a detailed look at the way pornography harms us and offers practical strategies that parents need to implement if they are to protect their children from the lies of an over-sexualized culture. This event is free and open to all adults.


LENTEN JOURNEY

One of the joys of working in catechesis and formation is the opportunity to accompany learners throughout the liturgical year, introducing them to the person of Jesus Christ through the anticipation of his birth, his incarnation, his actions, miracles and parables, and the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. The season of Lent is especially rich in opportunities for engagement stirring in many a desire to go deeper in their spiritual lives. Realizing that we meet Jesus within a community of faith, as catechists, we can bring families together virtually by setting a spiritual goal and walking the Lenten journey beside them. One example would be to create a Lenten calendar, with input from each family, that includes one giving action, one prayerful action and one giving up action each week. Families share their experiences in words or pictures on an online platform. We are blessed with many resources at our fingertips for Lent activities and reflections. We invite you to visit our webpage for links to great ideas, helpful suggestions, and informative videos such as “The Biblical Roots for Ash Wednesday.” 
 

ASH WEDNESDAY

Ash Wednesday (Feb 17) will look different this year. The Vatican’s note on the “distribution of ashes in time of pandemic” was published on the congregation's website Jan. 12 and directs priests to say “the prayer for blessing the ashes” and then sprinkle “the ashes with holy water, without saying anything.” “Then [the priest] addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’ or ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.’” “The priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask, and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places,” it said. “The priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.”

VIDEO RESOURCES
For an excellent 30min presentation by Dr. Brant Pitre on the Biblical Roots of Ash Wednesday click here

Shorter videos that give an overview of Lent:
Everything you Need to Know Before Lent (children & adults)
Catholic Central Lent (children & adults)
Lente Catolico Cuaresma (niños y adultos)
Joe Paprocki: The Three Lent Practices (children & adults)
Fr. Mike Schmitz: What’s the Purpose of Lent? (teens)
Fr. Mark Toups: “What do You Want this Lent?”  (adults)
Bishop Robert Barron: Entering the Desert of Lent (adults)
Sr. Miriam James “What is Lent?” ( teens & adults)
 
WRITTEN RESOURCES – our catechetical publishers have made extensive resources such as downloads and printable materials available online for free. Some also offer materials for purchase.
Our Sunday Visitor free E-book: The Catholic Guide to Making Lent Matter
Holy Week Resources for Families from Sadlier
Lenten activities for Children from Loyola
Lenten Calendar for families from Loyola
Works of Mercy Tree family craft from Loyola
Lent Resources from RCL Benziger 
Lenten Family and Child Sessions from The Pastoral Center Ministry a school of human virtues and of Christian charity (CCC, 1666).” 

Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation 

 


YEAR OF THE DOMESTIC CHURCH

February THEME:
Prayer at Home

O God, creator of all, you ordered the earth to bring forth life and crowned its goodness by creating the human family.  In history's moment when all was ready, you sent your Son to dwell in time, "practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity." Teach us the sanctity of human love; show us the value of the Domestic Church; and help us to live in peace with all people, that we may share in your life forever. With the intercession of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, we ask this through Christ the Lord. Amen.  

 
Year of Domestic Church Resources
Catholic Spirit Article from Jennifer Kodysz (English)
Catholic Spirit Article from Jennifer Kodysz (Spanish)

PARISH SPOTLIGHT

Simple Faith Podcast from St Catherine

Does your parish have a catechetical initiative you would love to share with others? Each month we will discover how the Holy Spirit is moving through the parishes and inspiring catechetical leaders to share the faith in new ways. This month we take you to St. Catherine of Siena in Southwest Austin where online programs are thriving and formation for families has been the focus. To offer both teaching and thoughts for reflection to adults, the Simple Faith Podcast project was launched. Have a listen here.

 

Love in Our Hearts


“We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”   1 John 4:16


 

February is the month most associated with love because of Valentine’s Day—love for spouse, for children, for family and neighbors. For the past year, the pandemic has given greater meaning to the word love as we are all affected for all our brothers and sisters worldwide who have become ill or have lost their lives.

Some of our own parishioners have been affected and have lost loved ones and they are hurting, and their children are hurting but God’s love and our communities are with them. At this time, when not all our students are physically in our classrooms or their families physically at mass, we must open our hearts to them even more. We must continue to be understanding and compassionate, have a willingness to continue to guide them,  and express the love God has for us all.  

Our DREs & PCLs do what they do not because it is a job but because it is a ministry—a ministry of love for their faith— a love for God.

DRE Virtual Orientation Days are coming! Yes, “days”! Every year we have orientation day in January however this year it was rescheduled to Monday, March 1.  During one of my deanery meetings, an evening or Saturday orientation day was also requested for those who work outside the parish. Therefore, on February 27, we will be offering our first Saturday orientation!

Orientation days are for new, nearly new and anyone who would like a refresher! You will meet the department staff, review sacramental formation, curriculum, policies/guidelines, deaneries, certification, and so much more.

Registration for DRE Orientation is now open and feel free to join us on Monday or Saturday. Please register at:  https://www.austindiocese.org/2021-dre-virtual-orientation-days

Back in Advent we offered a retreat with Fr. Albert Haase with the hope of getting on his calendar again for lent. We are very happy to inform you to please mark your calendar now for Friday, March 12, from 9:30 a.m.-noon for our DRE Virtual Lenten Retreat Day where Fr. Albert will once again be our presenter.

Below you will also find the save the dates for our upcoming Publishers’ Days. We are currently in the process of assigning dates to publishers and as soon as that information is available it will be forwarded.

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator of Catechesis 

 

Save the Date


Lenten Retreat with Fr. Albert Haase:  March 12
Partially based on a chapter in Fr. Albert's latest book, SOUL TRAINING WITH THE PEACE PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS, this talk will focus on forgiveness as a spiritual practice. It will also answer the three questions that Jesus never answered: How do I forgive God? How do I forgive myself? How do I forgive my neighbor?
 
Publishers’ Days:
          February 22
          March 8, 22 and 29
          April 12 and 29
          (one publisher per morning—once assigned we will let you know!)
 
DRE Deanery Representative Meeting:
March 9—more information to follow

 
Register for Class in English
Register for Classes in Spanish
DEANERY MEETINGS

Deaneries are encouraged to gather DREs virtually at regular intervals to share best practices, discuss challenges, create comradery, and collaborate on deanery wide events. Most deaneries meet every other month; some prefer to gather monthly. Deanery representatives are asked to send scheduled dates to their diocesan liaison who can assist with creating the Zoom links if needed. In-person meetings are discouraged during the pandemic.
  • North Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown (Links will be sent the Monday before the meeting date): (All meetings 10-11am)  Feb 11, Mar 11, Apr 15, May 13, 2021. 
  • Killeen/Temple (Link will be sent on the Friday preceding the meeting): All meetings 4:00-5:00pm: Mar 8, May 10, 2021.
  • Waco (Link sent day before meeting) 5:00pm Mar 8
  • Bastrop/Lockhart (Links will be sent Wednesday preceding the meeting): All meetings at 6:30 p.m.: February 12, April 16 
  • Lampasas/Marble Falls (Links will be sent on Monday before the meeting date): Meeting begins at 11:30 a.m.: March 4, 11:30 a.m. 
  • San Marcos (Link will be sent early week prior to meeting) Meeting begins at 10 a.m.: February 25 
Gustavo Rodriguez
Director, Office of Evangelization & Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2542 
Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation
Ph. (512) 949-2469

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator for Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2461

Sue Durango
Administrative Assistant
Ph. (512) 949-2492
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Diocese of Austin - Pastoral Center
6225 Hwy 290 E, Austin, TX 78723
Phone: (512) 949-2400
Fax: (512) 949-2520

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