SJA Table Talk is a website with fun content to help you prepare for Mass as a family and to encourage faith-based conversations at the dinner table. The goal is to get our families into a rhythm of 2 quality meals per week and 10 minutes of preparation for Mass.
See this week's discussion guide below. Then come back each week. We will be your 'Sous Chef' - finding the best morsels from the internet and Catholic teachings for your family's consumption.
THIS WEEKS TABLE TALK - 4th Sunday of Lent (March 15)
- Letter from Father Gabriel about Lent (read below)
- Lenten Reflections | Sign up for Father Barron's Daily Lenten Reflections>
- Simple Lenten Traditions for Families | 40 great activities from Catholic Icing>
- Lenten Activities for Kids | Many fun Lenten activities for you and your family>
- Join Holy Heroes Lenten Adventures for Kids | Sign up now...
- Lenten Project - SJA Religious Formation | Mary's Meals - read & watch videos to learn more about this mission
- Lenten Soup Suppers at SJA | Lenten Soup Suppers are back! Each Friday at 5:45 in the Parish Center
- Recipe | Pretzels - Did you know pretzels are the official food of Lent? They symbolize praying.
- Recipe | Simple Fish Meal - Enjoy these simple recipes for Fish during Lent.
- The 4th Sunday of Lent (Mar 15) - Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man will be raised up so that those who believe in him will have eternal life
- Prepare for 5th Sunday of Lent (Mar 22) - Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which he will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.
#1 CONVERSATION STARTERS
FEAST DAY |
ART | Video Commentary James Tissot, “Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus,” 1886–1894
From James Tissot’s famous Bible illustration series, the Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus strives to depict with careful attention to period detail the scene from John’s Gospel in which Nicodemus seeks out Jesus at night to learn more from him about his teaching. READ MORE>
Reflect further on the painting and Gospel by watching to the video commentary below:
Letter about Lent from Father Gabriel
This Wednesday, February 18, 2015, the Church will, once again, invite us into the holy time of Lent. Some of us may still be retiring Christmas decorations and finishing the cookies or candies that have lingered through these weeks just in time for this season that had, as its ancient Latin name, Quadregesima Ieiunium – Forty day period of fasting.
The symbolism of the forty day fast is derived from the forty days of fasting that Jesus spent in the desert immediately after his baptism. Distinct from its religious significance however, fasting was not always an ascetical practice that was freely chosen. In earlier cultures fasting was necessary for survival because as winter prolonged itself, the food supply in towns and villages could become dangerously low. We tend to forget that the methods of food production and preparation that allow us to eat freely at any time of the year are relatively recent. Before such methods, people stored the autumn harvest in the hope that it would be sufficient for the perilous months of winter. Often times, food had to be rationed for if some members of the community took more than their share, others could die of starvation. Thus fasting was a means of survival that equalized the citizens blurring the distinctions of ―rich and poor,‖ ―haves and have nots.‖
Today we undertake fasting voluntarily for numerous reasons, e.g., to discipline our senses and regain some measure of self control, to be in solidarity with the poor and hungry throughout the world, to embrace a spirit of penance in preparation for the great Feast of Easter, and for some, a most welcome method of losing those added pounds that resulted from our holiday revelry.
Of course, fasting is only one of the three practices that the church invites us to undertake during Lent, the other two being Almsgiving and Prayer. These disciplines support each other forming a tripod that helps us avoid extremes and achieve a more balanced spiritual approach. In preparing for Lent it is useful to examine each of these tools (Fasting, Almsgiving, Prayer) and decide how they can be used as means to an end that is always a deeper friendship with God.
In Alaska, as people prepare to welcome the inevitable and brutal months of winter they wish each other Bon Hiver -- French for ―Have a Good Winter.‖ It is a hopeful wish that wintertime will not be too challenging or destructive. Implied in this greeting is also the conviction that in the midst of winter’s hardship, there can be tremendous personal growth. I would draw the same parallel with the Liturgical Season of Lent that, like winter, can also be daunting. So as we prepare to welcome Quadregesima Ieiunium this Wednesday when we are signed with ashes – remnants of destroyed palm branches –let us wish each other ―A Good Lent‖ so that when Easter comes we may rise from whatever is ash in our lives to rejoice in the victory that Christ has won for us.
Father Gabriel, O.S.B.
LENTEN PROJECT | Mary's Meals
The SJA Relgious Education students (grades 1-8) have selected Mary's Meals as their Lenten project. Watch this incredibly moving video about the Story of Mary's Meals. Mary’s Meals began by feeding just 200 children in famine-struck Malawi in 2002. Today, the charity provides a life-changing meal to over 822,000 children every school day in 16 different countries around the world. More information can be found on their official website -- www.Child31Film.com
ART | Transfiguration of Christ (2nd Sunday of Lent)
Francesco Zuccarelli invites us into the Transfiguration of Christ in his painting. Present in the scene are the key characters of the Gospel story: Peter, the bearded elder whose symbolic keys rest on the grass in front of him, John the youngest in the middle of the Apostles, and James, arms thrown upward. Christ himself is luminous in the cloud, flanked by Moses to the left and Elijah to the right—symbols of the Law and the prophets. Read Further>
Reflect further on the painting and Gospel by watching to the video commentary below:
# 2 RECIPES | COMMIT TO 2 FAMILY MEALS
Pretzels During Lent | Did you know pretzels are the traditional food of Lent?
See Recipe for Homemade Pretzels > | When early Christians would pray, they would cross their arms and touch each shoulder with the opposite hand. They also fasted very strictly during lent, making their bread with only water, flour, and salt. A monk shaped this in the form of praying arms for children, and the pretzel was born! To read more about the religious history of the pretzel and for the pretzel prayer, check out Catholic Culture’s pretzel page. See also this recipe for Whole Wheat Pretzels>
Recipes | Simple Fish Recipes for Lent
See Recipe> | This recipe, for Lenten Fasting and Abstinence, was submitted by Amelia. She says that it is "a very simple one that we normally do during Lent any days cause growing up in the Philippines we always have Fish or any sea food on Fridays." Thank you Amelia!
#3 GET TO KNOW THE GOSPEL
2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23
The causes for the Israelites' captivity in Babylon are described.
A lament from exile for the loss of Jerusalem
In grace we have been saved, so that we may do the work of the Lord.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man will be raised up so that those who believe in him will have eternal life.
Background on the Gospel Reading
The fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Traditionally, Sundays are named after the first word of the liturgy's opening antiphon. On this Sunday, the antiphon is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 66:10-11). Even as we observe our Lenten sacrifices, we rejoice in anticipation of the joy that will be ours at Easter.
Today's Gospel reading is taken from John's Gospel. It consists of two parts. The first part is the final sentence of Jesus' reply to Nicodemus, the Pharisee who approached Jesus at night. Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as someone who had come from God and seemed to want to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus greeted Nicodemus with the observation that one must be born from above to see the Kingdom of God. The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus that followed was about the meaning of this phrase. Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus at every point, but there was no animosity in the questions he posed to Jesus.
In the part of the conversation with Nicodemus in today's Gospel, Jesus referred to an incident reported in the Old Testament. When the Israelites grumbled against the Lord during their sojourn in the desert, God sent venomous serpents to punish them for their complaints. The Israelites repented and asked Moses to pray for them. The Lord heard Moses' prayer and instructed him to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. All who had been bitten by a serpent and then looked upon the bronze serpent were cured. By recalling this story, Jesus alludes to the salvation that would be accomplished through his death and Resurrection.
The second part of today's Gospel is a theological reflection on Jesus' words to Nicodemus. The Gospel of John is known for this kind of reflection offered within the narrative. The words of the Evangelist are in continuity with the words of the prologue to John's Gospel. In these reflections, John elaborates on a number of themes that are found in his Gospel: light and darkness, belief and unbelief, good and evil, salvation and condemnation.
In John's reflection, we find an observation about human sinfulness. Jesus is the light that has come into the world, but people preferred the darkness. We wish to keep our sins hidden, even from God. Jesus has come into the world to reveal our sins so that they may be forgiven. This is the Good News; it is the reason for our rejoicing in this season of Lent and throughout our lives.
PAINTING - James Tissot, “Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus,” 1886–1894. Reflect further on the painting and Gospel by watching to the video commentary. WATCH NOW>
PREPARING FOR SUNDAY - 5th Sunday of Lent (March 22nd)
Jeremiah tells the people that the Lord will make a new covenant with them, planting the law within their hearts
A prayer for God's mercy and forgiveness
Through his sufferings, Jesus gained salvation for all who obey him.
Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which he will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today's Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. We are reading much further into John's Gospel than we have for the past two weeks. Chapter 12 of John's Gospel is a preparation for the beginning of the passion narrative to follow. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead—an important sign in John's Gospel, which inspired many people to believe in Jesus. This event also marks the turning point in Jesus' conflict with the Jewish authorities. John's Gospel tells us that the Sanhedrin met after this event and made plans to kill Jesus. In the 12th chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus is anointed at Bethany and enters Jerusalem in triumph. We again see evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus to this event; John reports that the crowds also gathered to see Lazarus.
Following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and Resurrection and prepared his disciples to believe in the salvation that his death would accomplish. Using the metaphor of the grain of wheat, Jesus presented the idea that his dying would be beneficial. He also taught that those who would be his disciples must follow his example of sacrifice. This theme will be repeated in John's account of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example of how they must serve one another.
The final section of today's Gospel might be read as John's parallel to the agony in the garden. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not record Jesus' anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. Although comparable words are found in today's reading, Jesus gives a confident response to the question he raises when asking God to save him from his impending death. After announcing his conviction that it is for this purpose that he came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus' prayer. This voice, like the one heard at Jesus' baptism and at Jesus' Transfiguration—events reported in the Synoptic Gospels but not in John's Gospel—affirms that God welcomes the sacrifice that Jesus will make on behalf of others. In John's Gospel, Jesus teaches that this voice was sent for the sake of those who would believe in him.
In today's Gospel, we also hear Jesus speak about the cosmic framework against which we are to understand his passion, death, and Resurrection. Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, the ruler of this world. In this way the world is judged, but the judgment is not condemnation. Instead, through Jesus' dying and rising, salvation is brought to the world.
PAINTING - Vincent van Gogh, “The Sower,” 1888. Reflect further on the painting and Gospel by watching to the video commentary. WATCH NOW>
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