Catholic Living

Examination of Conscience using the 10 Commandments

This checklist of common sins we commit in our daily lives is challenging but not condemning as it creates new realizations of how we break the Ten Commandments.

The result is more than just a good preparation for Confession; it raises awareness for growing in holiness. Priests have reported to us that they had nowhere else seen as much complete repentance as this Examination of Conscience inspires.

Keywords: Examination of Conscience, Ten Commandments, Repentance, Confession, Reconciliation, Sacrament

Your Own Sainthood

(Based on All Saints Day)

This handout or church bulletin insert for All Saints Day explains Church doctrine about sainthood, the communion of saints, and the unifying significance of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, described in the context of the reader’s own calling to be holy.

Keywords: Reflection, All Saints Day, Saints

Who is Jesus to you?

(30-day private retreat)

This one-page, ready-to-print PDF file is a spiritual exercise. You can find healing and renewal in your friendship with him by meditating on the different names for Jesus or attributes of his nature. Meditate on a different one each day, and dig deep to find out whether or not you really believe it’s true. By becoming aware of what you do and do not believe, you will begin to believe more fully.

Keywords: Reflection, Jesus, Retreat, Meditation

Behold! The Eucharist is the Lamb of God!

In every Mass, we hear the presiding priest say the words of John the Baptist that are quoted in John 1:29-34: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Behold what? This leaflet explains the Holy Eucharist and the True Presence of Jesus that’s in all parts of the Mass. The priest isn’t showing us something that’s visible to our eyes. “Behold” means “Look with the vision of faith and see Jesus! He is here! Accept him! Worship him! Receive him!”

Keywords: Reflection, Eucharist, Jesus, Lamb of God, Mass

Building Faith in Community

Ephesians 2:19-22 tells us that you and I are members of the same kingdom – a “country” whose residents include saints in heaven as well as the family (“household”) of God that still lives on earth. With citizenship comes certain responsibilities. St. Paul says, “You form a building.” The foundation is the apostles and prophets; the cornerstone is Jesus. Which part of the building are you? This evangelization handout for the readings of Feast of St. Thomas will affirm, re-energize, and build up your parish community.

Keywords: Reflection, Community, Faith, St. Thomas

Dealing with the Doubters Around Us

Is there anyone in your life who is a doubter? Someone who doesn’t accept you for how much you’ve grown spiritually? Is there someone who doesn’t believe you about the faith? Have you been falsely accused of doing something you never had any intention of doing? Have you been dismissed as incapable of doing what you have in fact learned to do?

In Luke 4:24-30, Jesus shows us how to handle these people, as explained in this two-page, ready-to-print PDF handout. 

Keywords: Reflection, Doubters, Growth

Did Jesus Struggle Like You?
(A reflection on the Our Father prayer)

Did Jesus struggle? Yes! Jesus practiced holy living one day at a time. Some days were harder than others, but he grew from his experiences, and he learned to overcome his struggles. Even the words he chose for the “Our Father” prayer came out of his own needs and experiences. This two-page handout looks at the Lord’s prayer from his perspective. Let’s imagine what he might have prayed as a young adult!

Keywords: Reflection, Prayer, Our Father, Jesus, Struggle

Finding Jesus in Dirty Feet
(based on Holy Thursday)

Based on John 13:1-15 from the liturgy of Holy Thursday, why did Jesus wash the feet of his disciples? Not because they were too lazy to handle their own hygiene and as their servant he wanted to make life easy for them! Naturally, we want Jesus to make our lives easier. Isn’t that the purpose behind many of our prayers? Well, surprise! We do get what we ask for, but not the way we had imagined. When we imitate Jesus, it’s the way we cope with the difficulties of life that becomes easier.

Keywords: Reflection, Holy Thursday, Foot Washing, Jesus, Holy Week

What did Jesus do for you?
(based on Good Friday)

When we read John 13:1-15, the Gospel passage for Good Friday, we can ask ourselves: Has Jesus done enough for me? Do I have any prayer requests that have either gone unanswered or are not being answered satisfactorily? Do I suppose it’s because he doesn’t care? Have I been hurt and broken-hearted without getting enough healing and hope from him? Has Jesus done too little to make me happy? The key to getting out of this self-imposed prison is to meditate upon what Jesus did for us on the original Good Friday. Since he was willing to do that for us, is he not also willing to do everything else that’s good for us?

Keywords: Reflection, Good Friday, Jesus, Holy Week

Gaining Financial Freedom God’s Way

Bogged down by financial worries? God wants us to be free of all anxieties! Learn how to handle money with the wisdom of God, and put an end to your worries. Consider what “financial freedom” really means.

This 2-page handout includes quotes from Saints, popes and the Word of God on the Christian perspective of finances.

Financial freedom means putting money into the right perspective. It means letting God satisfy our desires, being content with less to receive more, not being enslaved by your possessions, and letting go of whatever keeps us from God.

Keywords: Reflection, Financial Freedom, Money, Finances, Worry, Anxiety

Healing Your Image of God’s Fatherhood

This 2-page handout addresses a problem that most people have in their faith life: Doesn’t it seem like the Father is the hardest Person of the Holy Trinity to have a close relationship with? The Father is the scary one. He’s the one who punishes us. He expects perfection from us. And He’s too far away up there in Heaven to help us with our little daily problems. Right? Wrong!

The Father gives us total love and kindness and mercy. He gave us Jesus so we won’t have to face punishment for our sins. He is completely patient with us regardless of how imperfect we are. And He’s intimately and infinitely concerned about our daily trials. Heal your image of God’s Fatherhood using scripture and The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Keywords: Reflection, God the Father, Trinity

You, too, were wonderfully made! (based on the Birth of John the Baptist)

Reflection on the scriptures that are read at Mass for the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptizer invites readers to experience what it means to be wonderfully made by God. The first reading (Isaiah 49:1-6) shows us that God had a special purpose for John the Baptist since before he was born. The Lord did the same for you! Since the moment of your conception, even before you looked human and had a beating heart and a brain that could think, God created you with a special purpose in mind.

This faith enrichment handout or bulletin insert affirms, re-energizes, and builds up the self esteem of readers. It also promotes respect for life and can be used to teach why abortion is a sin.

Keywords: Reflection, St. John the Baptist, Pro-Life, Abortion

Living the Beatitudes

Two articles — Living the Beatitudes & Growing through the Beatitudes — in one handout! This 4-page (two sheets of paper printed double-sided) reflection on the Beatitudes explains each blessing for everyday life.

In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus first notices the crowd. We can imagine that he feels a great concern for each person. He understands their needs, and he wants to help them. The best teaching he can give them is one that will guide them into a more love-filled life, in which they are closer to God than ever before. He is addressing the needs we still  have today.

Keywords: Reflection, Beatitudes, Jesus

Mercy: The Key to God’s Heart
(with ideas for works of mercy)

We long to feel close to God. We want to be filled with his love, his joy, his peace, and his assurances that he cares about us. At times he seems distant. We wonder what the key might be that unlocks the warmth and generosity of his love and the power of his helpfulness. In reality, we only need to unlock our own hearts, trusting in his mercy.

This 2-page document can be used as a handout or double-sided bulletin insert. The first page is a reflection on Mercy: The Key to God’s Heart and includes quotes by Pope Francis and prayers. The second page uses Matthew 25:31-46 and lists the 7 Corporal and 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy with ideas on how to serve in each type of mercy ministry.

Keywords: Reflection, Works of Mercy

How to Overcome the Pain of Frustration

What do you do with your feelings of frustration? Want to get rid of it? Here are 8 steps for finding true and lasting inner peace no matter what is going on around you and who is causing it. This handout connects our sufferings to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

Keywords: Reflection, Frustration, Peace

Parable of the Frog in Need of Water

A faith-building story for kids of all ages, this parable is about Ferrdie the Frog who needed to find a safe pond but made a disastrous mistake, because he didn’t know what was helpful and what was harmful. Teaches discernment and trust.

Keywords: Reflection, Parable, Frog, Discernment, Trust

Parable of the Lowly Brown Caterpillar

A faith-building, modern-day parable for kids of all ages about a caterpillar who thought it was a worm. The story says we should not let fear prevent us from becoming the “butterflies” we were created by God to become (2 pages).

Keywords: Reflection, Parable, Caterpillar, Fear, Kids

Don’t give up on God’s plan
(Road to Emmaus)

This bulletin insert or faith-building handout applies Luke 24:13-35 to the times when we feel like quitting. There’s an old cliché that claims, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” We should change that to: “It only seems dark, but the dawn has already begun!”

The journey of two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the death and resurrection of Jesus was a trip made too soon. They had followed him around to learn from him. Nevertheless, they still lacked understanding. Like Thomas, they couldn’t believe that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. There’s a big difference, though, between Thomas and these two. Thomas stayed in Jerusalem to wait for proof that Jesus was alive; these two left town. They gave up on Jesus a little too soon. How often do we lose faith when things don’t seem to be working right, when all seems hopeless, or when a good plan turns into disaster?

Keywords: Reflection, Road to Emmaus, God’s Plan, Jesus, Faith

Learning Trust from St. Joseph

Ever wonder whether God is inspiring you or if it’s just your imagination (or just a dream)? How do we know when to trust that inner voice and when to disregard it? We can learn a lot from the faith of Saint Joseph. Gospel readings for the Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary, show us Joseph growing in his ability to trust God.

How difficult it must have been to believe Mary’s story! So, since he didn’t trust her version of the story about her pregnancy, God sent him an angel in a dream. Now Joseph had to trust that his dream was not a product of his own imagination. Wouldn’t it have been more convincing if the angel had appeared to him in person, the way Mary was visited by an angel?

Keywords: Reflection, St. Joseph, Discernment, Trust

The Treasure Within Us
(based on the Feast of St. James the Greater)

We are all earthen vessels – imperfect, shaped too much by the world around us, easily cracked, not very beautiful – but nonetheless holding a heavenly treasure within, as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-15. That treasure is God’s love. It’s a treasure that’s meant to be shared. Although we are chipped and cracked, we are like the chalice that holds the Precious Blood of Jesus during communion at Mass, pouring Christ out to others. That treasure is God himself, and as such it makes us holy even when we sin. Unless we deliberately reject God (a mortal sin), we remain essentially holy because we were made in his image and we have been baptized into his likeness. We don’t always act holy, but we do always have God’s Holy Spirit within us.

This handout for the Feast of St. James the Greater also uses Matthew 20:20-28 to explain this important message.

Keywords: Reflection, St. James the Greater, Holiness

The Creed
(What do you really believe?)

In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus gives that so-familiar commandment to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Our belief in God is proven by how we love, not by the words we utter. Every Sunday in Mass, we recite the Nicene Creed, a summary of our Christian beliefs, but words only prove that we have vocal chords.

This 2-page handout helps people meditate slowly and thoughtfully on the words of the Creed as an examination of how well they live the faith.

Keywords: Reflection, Nicene Creed, Examination

The Labor Pains of Waiting

How hard it is to stay focused on God when our trials take a long time! How can waiting help us stand firm in our faith? This reflection on John 16:20-23, in which Jesus compares our faith to a woman in labor, includes a prayer aid that enables greater trust, patience and friendship with Christ.

Just like a pregnancy, every problem does have an ending, even if it’s not until we go home to heaven. So what should we do in the meantime? How can we emotionally survive the wait and use it to become more spiritually mature and grow closer to God? By creating a sacred space where Jesus comes to listen to us.

Keywords: Reflection, Waiting, Patience, Trust

The “Our Father” Prayer
(Do I really mean what I pray?)

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Praying the Our Father and living it will lead us toward saintliness. The Our Father contains everything: God, ourselves, our neighbors….” Examine how well you live what you pray by meditating on the Our Father Prayer with this leaflet. It makes a great handout to help people meditate slowly and thoughtfully on the Lord’s Prayer as an examination of where they need to grow in how they live the faith.

Keywords: Reflection, Our Father, Prayer, Examination

The Book of Revelation
(Understanding its message of encouragement)

This 8-page handout explains that the Book of Revelation is a loving, personal message from God, with a glossary of the meaning of its symbolism.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the last book of the Bible is so mysterious, so confusing, or so fearsome, is that we focus on its meaning for the world and try to interpret it as a warning about a destructive and inevitable end. We search for clues about the timing of the Anti-Christ and the Second Coming of Jesus, while forgetting that the Word of God always has multiple levels of meaning, and that God always wants to speak to us individually in every scripture.

The theme of the Book of Revelation is “Stand firm in your faith!” A summary of the book would be: Avoid compromises with paganism, don’t cave into adversity and martyrdom, wait patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, God has triumphed over evil through Jesus, and we must let God triumph through each of us as we follow the way of the cross.

Keywords: Reflection, Book of Revelation, Bible

What Is an Indulgence?

This handout makes the seemingly outdated Catholic teaching on plenary and partial indulgences understandable and useful in today’s world. It explains that an indulgence is a lessening of the temporal punishment that results from our sins, after we’ve sought God’s forgiveness. “Temporal punishment” means temporary time spent in the condition of purgatory (purging or purification) and may be accomplished in actual Purgatory after death or here on earth now.

Purification is needed even after receiving forgiveness, because the damage we’ve done still exists. We’re still suffering the consequences of our sins. God, in his mercy, provides us with opportunities to purify ourselves and overcome our worldly attachments; he indulges us with his mercy.

Keywords: Reflection, Indulgences, Purgatory

What Keeps Us from Knowing God’s Will?

This 2-page handout covers the 10 most common mistakes we make that keep us from knowing God’s will: resentment, praying wrongly, idolatry, human reasoning, human desires, disobedience, the opinions of others, taking too little time to listen, doubt, and distrust.

Keywords: Reflection, God’s Will, Discernment

Beth Solis, a group facilitator in Oklahoma, says, "Our members asked us in the beginning if we minded taking things slowly so we could have time to really discuss each paragraph. We always have such great discussion! The PPT has been very helpful and is a nice addition."

study group

Feedback from a study group in Florida

Sylvia says, "This experience deepened my love for the Eucharist in ways I couldn’t imagine when we first started this course."

Karen says, "I never thought that I would read an encyclical. However, using the study guide made this experience so rewarding. It broadened my view about the Eucharist and my Catholic faith that makes me love and appreciate what Jesus did for us ever more deeply."

Tim says, "Being the only convert in the group, I ascertained a better and stronger understanding of the importance of the Eucharist, not only in the Mass but also in my daily life."

Jimmy says, "I learned so much about the Eucharist that was powerful and enlightening. This course helped deepen my faith and my appreciation for the Holy Mass."

Erin says, "It was amazing to get everyone’s perspective on the readings. And it deepened my love in the beautiful gift that the Eucharist is to all humanity for our salvation."

Shirley says, "This course was so enlightening. It was a gift that helped me grow in my faith."

Which PowerPoint Presentations cover what Sacraments?

An overview of all 7 sacraments is in the PPT
"The Nature and Function of the Church".

PLUS: The sacraments are also covered in the following PPTs:

Baptism - The Call to Discipleship
& it's further developed in
1. Confession: Sacrament of Healing
2. The Creed
3. Mission of the Redeemer

Eucharist - Christ's True Presence in the Mass
& it's further developed in
1. Life in Jesus
2. Who's Who in the Catholic Church
3. Confession: Sacrament of Healing
4. The Creed

Confirmation - The Sacrament of Confirmation
& it's further developed in
1. Salvation History
2. The Nicene Creed

Reconciliation - Confession: Sacrament of Healing
& it's further developed in
1. Who's Who in the Catholic Church

Anointing of the Sick is covered primarily in
The Nature and Function of the Church

Holy Orders - Who's Who in the Catholic Church
& it's further developed in
1. Christ's True Presence in the Mass

Marriage is touched on in The Call to Discipleship