Faith and Family is a weekly column by Lani Bogart, in which she provides practical ways to connect the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel, to the lives of families. Lani oversees all things catechetical at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-leads the Committee to Serve Wives and Widows of Deacons for the Diocese of Phoenix.

Live a Life that Shines

01-26-2020Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

We hear so very often that God loves us, that he sent his Son to die for us, that there is nothing we can do to earn his love and that we are called to love others with the same love he gives to us.

Is it possible to hear this truth week after week and year after year without allowing God’s merciful love to penetrate our hearts? Is it possible to “know” God loves us and yet refuse to put Christ at the center of our lives?

What one thing can you do this week to help you live a life that shines?

It doesn’t do any good to say, “I’ll pray more,” unless you have a real plan in place. Where will I pray? When? For how long? Will I pray alone or with others? What if I forget? How will I get back on track?

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Ordinary Everyday Kindness

01-15-2020Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Our Church is back to Ordinary Time after the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The priest wears his green vestment, decorations are gone from the sanctuary, and the Gospel reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins, and those of the whole world.

As we live the rhythms of our daily lives, let us make the extra effort to find ways to show ordinary everyday kindness to others, especially when we don’t feel like it. Our world is desperately in need of God’s love. Your family can make time to put God’s love in action. Choose one way to love “outside the box” this week. Here are a few ideas for ways you can surprise someone with kindness:

  1. Bake cookies for elderly neighbors
  2. Make dinner for a family in need
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New Year's Resolutions

01-12-2020Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Did you make a resolution for the New Year?

Chances are if you wrote it down and are making the effort to keep your promise, you see good results from keeping your promise.

But, if you have already forgotten what you resolved to do, or you never really settled on a resolution to begin with, you are not alone. Most people can relate.

Whether you are good at resolutions or you fail at them, these excerpts from Pope Francis’ Christmas homily offer encouragement.

“Take courage, do not lose confidence, do not lose hope, do not think that to love is a waste of time! . . .Love has conquered fear, new hope has arrived, God’s kindly light has overcome the darkness of human arrogance.

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How can you bring more of Christ’s word into your family life?

12-29-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Merry Christmas!

May your family delight in the wonder of this most foundational of Catholic celebrations – God come to earth in the baby Jesus!

This week, with the encouragement and aide of the Knights of Columbus we consecrate our families to the Holy Family promising to honor the sacredness of family life.

What graces will our consecration bring to our families, our community and our world?

As families, let us resolve to live more fully St. Paul’s admonition to us in today’s readings:

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Final Week of Advent

12-22-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

On this final week of advent we relight the two purple candles for hope and peace, the pink candle for joy, and the third purple candle for love.

We have finally arrived at what Christmas is all about. It’s about God’s amazing love for each one of us. Love, and love alone explains why God brought his divine nature to earth and united it perfectly with our human nature in the body of the tiny baby Jesus.

We still need him today! There is no other who can teach us how to love without borders, to give without demanding that others earn our charity, to be peacemakers even in the middle of war zones.

What act of pure love can you do for someone who doesn’t expect it?

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Third Week of Advent

12-15-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

On this third week of advent we relight the two purple candles for hope and peace and we add the pink candle for joy!

How many places can you find joy in our Mass readings today.

In ten days, we will celebrate Jesus’ birth. Are we ready to welcome him with all the joy he deserves?

What fills your heart with joy as you and your family prepare for Christmas? How can you bring joy to someone who may feel sad this holiday?

  1. More conversation starters for your family: What is your favorite place in our home?
  2. What is your greatest strength? Why?
  3. What makes you feel loved?
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Second Week of Advent

12-08-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

For this second week of Advent we light again the first purple candle for hope, and we light second purple candle – this one for peace.

How our world needs the Peace of Christ! While we are waiting for Christmas and for our Lord’s second coming, let us resolve once more to be peacemakers. But how?

We cannot give what we do not have, so a good place to begin in bringing peace into the world is to confess our sins and receive the peace of Christ into our own troubled hearts. When our hearts are filled with God’s love and mercy, we can call others to the peace, harmony, and justice that Jesus came to bring into the world.

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Advent is here!

12-01-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Advent is here! Let us prepare!

The empty manger: Make a simple manger to help young children participate in preparing their hearts for the gift of Jesus at Christmas. Every time someone in the family does something kind, they are preparing to welcome Baby Jesus. Each kind act or little sacrifice earns a piece of straw to put in the manger. Then, on Christmas morning, “Baby Jesus” is placed in the manger. Encourage your children to make Jesus’ bed as “comfortable” as possible by doing lots of good things! Remind them what a gift Jesus is to us.

Here are five more conversation starters for families gathered around the table, or traveling in the car together:

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Advent

11-24-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent!

Please bring your family to pray with us the novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. This beautiful devotion to the Patron Saint of the Americas can help prepare our hearts in a very special way for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

This week five more conversation starters for families gathered around the table, or traveling in the car together:

  1. What is your dream job?
  2. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
  3. What is the thing you worry about most?
  4. What are you most thankful for?
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“God stories”

11-17-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

One family I know brings faith into their family life by telling “God stories” at family meals. Each member of the family has an opportunity to tell one way they experienced God at work during the day.

This practice has helped my friends and their children keep the eyes of their hearts open to see where God is at work in everyday life.

Here are 5 more ideas for conversations at family mealtimes:

  1. Mom and Dad share a story about the kids when they were babies or toddlers.
  2. What do you want to be when you grow up (This answer changes often with kids.)
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The First Sunday of Advent

11-10-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

What’s special about December 1st this year?

Maybe you already know! It’s the first Sunday of Advent! The liturgical calendar (the Church’s way of counting days) is centered around the Life of Jesus. Advent means “coming.” During the Advent season the Mass readings tell us what to expect when the Savior of the world is born. 

Your family can make the Church’s Advent celebration come to life by bringing Catholic traditions into our home. This year our R.E. families will make Advent wreathes to help us prepare to celebrate Christmas the way the Church does.

Your family is also encouraged to participate in the festive and traditional Posadas, which remind all to welcome the gift of Jesus into our homes this Christmas.

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Bring Christ to Your Children

11-03-2019Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Here’s some practical help for parents looking for a way to bring Christ to your children every day.

“Begin to give a short blessing to your children every day. The timing can be determined by what works best for your family, such as the beginning of the day or at the end of their day, as they go to school or get ready for bed. Here are some simple suggestions for these daily blessings: THE SIGN OF THE CROSS Say a simple ‘God bless you’ while tracing the Sign of the Cross on their forehead.

THE NUMBERS 6 BLESSING

Place your hand upon their head as you say: ‘May the LORD bless you and keep you! May the LORD let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! May the LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!’ (Numbers 6:24-26)

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