The Marriage and Family Life Office works to promote healthy, happy, and holy family life. We support parishes in the areas of marriage preparation, marriage enrichment; natural family planning; grief support for all ages; troubled marriage support and more. The office also assists lay Catholic organizations and apostolates in their work related to families and parishes. This is a member office of the Office of the Domestic Church and Discipleship.
Keeping the Lord's Day: Pastoral Letter Small Group Study Guide
In support of His Excellency, Bishop Johnston's, recent pastoral letter, Keeping the Lord’s Day, the Office of Domestic Church & Discipleship has published a 3-lesson guided study for use by families or small groups.
In light of the serious impact that COVID has had on our communities, it is our hope that this study guide will serve as a useful tool to bring together families, parishes, small groups, youth groups, and others wanting to establish or renew a commitment to the importance of Sundays and Holy Mass. Filled with scripture reflections, beautiful sacred art, suggestions for celebrating Sunday, and the full text of Bishop Johnston’s pastoral letter, this booklet offers a concise way to unpack God’s beautiful gift of rest.
Due to the generosity of the Missouri State Council of the Knights of Columbus, we are able to offer these study booklets, available in both English and Spanish, as a gift to you; we would simply need you to cover the cost of shipping to deliver them to your parish. You may also be able to have a parish representative pick them up at the chancery if you have someone attending scheduled meetings in the near future.
- We have a limited quantity of booklets in print, and we want to make sure that every parish is able to get copies, so we ask that you consult with your Religious Education coordinators, Youth Ministers, and small group leaders to determine the number of booklets you would like to receive.
- You may preview the booklet online in English and in Spanish.
- Parishes should email Kristen Marquis email@example.com to place orders, indicating either that you would like them to be shipped (invoice will be included) or the name and scheduled meeting of the parish representative that will pick them up.
Due to current COVID restrictions, we can only allow pick-ups from those attending scheduled meetings at this time.
- Parishioners should contact their parish office to request copies.
As we begin to return to our public celebrations of Mass, I wish to invite all in our diocese to reflect more deeply on the value of Sunday, why God made it and what it means in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
-BISHOP JAMES V. JOHNSTON, JR.
Keeping the Lord’s Day: Pastoral Letter on the Importance of Sunday in the Life of Every Christian Disciple
As we begin to return to our public celebrations of Mass, I wish to invite all in our diocese to reflect more deeply on the value of Sunday, why God made it and what it means in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Read more . . .
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Family Resources: A Response to the COVID 19 Pandemic
During this most challenging time, we join together across our diocese, our country, and the whole world as the mystical body of Christ, and we unite ourselves in prayer.
Please visit our Diocesan website for helpful resources on keeping Sunday holy as a family, including links for live streaming the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and for other prayers and suggestions: KCSJCATHOLIC
For professional advice on how to talk with your children about Coronavirus, as well as other mental health resources, please visit The Center for Healing's COVID 19 resource page: COVID 19 & MENTAL HEALTH
Though some of our regularly scheduled events have been postponed at this time, we hope you will be able to take advantage of many of these online opportunities to grow in faith, strengthen marriages and families, and even build community.
Resources for Healing and Recovery
Blog: Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Megan Marley, media coordinator
Did you know there’s a long-standing tradition of dedicating each month of the year to a particular devotion of our Catholic Faith?
For centuries, the month of May has traditionally been one to honor and celebrate Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ (more on the history of this here). Below are some ways to observe the month of Mary:Ways to honor Mary in May
- Put up an image of Mary in/around your home
- Ask for Mary’s intercession
- Hold your own May crowning of Mary at home
- Pray a Rosary
- Plant a Mary garden
- Read Bible passages about Mary (The first two chapters of Luke are a good place to start!)
- Make a morning offering prayer of your day to Jesus, through Mary
- Learn more about Marian Consecration
- Pray the Angelus
- Follow Mary’s example–imitate her virtues, perform works of mercy
- Read more about her–the writings of St. Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Louis de Montfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe may be good to try!
- Listen to/sing hymns and songs about Mary
- Learn more about four important Marian dogmas of our Faith
Have other ideas for celebrating our Mother this month? Share with us on social media!
Megan Marley, media coordinator
While we can’t gather in our parishes for the Easter Vigil, we can still be united in prayer and in spirit! At the opening of that liturgy, a great big fire is blessed, the Paschal candle is lit from it, and flame from the candle is shared amongst the faithful gathered in the dark church–a tangible, striking visual of the Light of Christ received at baptism.
Beginning at 8 pm this Easter Vigil (when our bishop’s liturgy starts) and throughout the Easter season to Pentecost May 31, use the symbol of light in some way to witness that the Light come to our world has conquered even death itself. Bring out strings of lights, candles or other light sources to creatively ornament your home. And as you turn on the lights each night, perhaps say a little prayer that ‘all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness’ (from the Exsultet of Easter Vigil), both for an end to the pandemic and for the Light of Christ to be brought to all corners of the world.
Megan Marley, media coordinator
At the close of Holy Thursday services, the Blessed Sacrament is processed to the Altar of Repose, awaiting distribution at Good Friday’s Mass of the Presanctified (no hosts are consecrated at the Friday liturgy). The faithful customarily spend time in silent prayer and adoration before the Altar—but a related, more itinerant, practice is also carried out in some places.
In Rome, following Holy Thursday Masses, pilgrims flock from church to church—continuing a centuries-old tradition of venerating at least seven Altars of Repose. The custom is closely tied to visiting seven major Roman basilicas ( St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and St. Sebastian). At each of the seven stops, a brief meditation is made upon the events of the first Holy Thursday following the Last Supper:
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22: 39-46)
- Jesus bound and taken before Annas (John 18: 19-22)
- Jesus taken before the High Priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26: 63-65)
- Jesus taken before Pilate (John 18, 35-37)
- Jesus taken before Herod (Luke 23: 8-9; 11)
- Jesus taken before Pilate again (Matthew 27: 22-26)
- Jesus given the crown of thorns and led to his crucifixion (Matthew 27: 27-31)
The practice also persists outside the Holy City, with pilgrims visiting seven local churches on Holy Thursday as unique way to meditate on the Passion as a local community, and encounter how neighboring parishes prepare for and experience Holy Week.
While physically travelling to seven churches this Holy Thursday may be impossible, below are some virtual tours of churches in Rome, around the world and in the U.S.A. to make a virtual pilgrimage. Additionally, here are some live-streamed perpetual adoration locations.
Virtual tours along the traditional Rome route
Other churches & chapels
- Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.)
- Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)
- Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A.)
- Canterbury Cathedral (U.K.)
- Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine (St. Augustine, FL, U.S.A.)
- Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.)
- Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (France)
- Cathedral of St. Paul (St. Paul, MN, U.S.A.)
- National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (Perryville, MO, U.S.A.)
- Pauline Chapel (Vatican City)
- Redemptoris Mater Chapel (Vatican City)
- Sistine Chapel
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York, NY, U.S.A.)
God’s Word in Everyday Living
Deacon Scott McKellar
In this Sunday’s readings we celebrate Jesus’ Transfiguration. “After six days” Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain, and he is transfigured before them.
It is likely that the “six days” and “high mountain” echoes, for Mathew, the events in Exodus 24:15–16. In this passage “Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain” and “the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.” On the seventh day Moses heard the voice of God speaking. In Matthew the mountain is frequently a place of revelation (cf. 4:8; 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 28:16).
In the previous chapter, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” While popular perceptions were clearly wrong, Peter rightly confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16).
Jesus says that Peter’s confession revealed to him by the heavenly Father (16:17). Now on the mountain the hidden truth about Jesus becomes visible. Jesus is ‘transformed’ (Greek metamorphoō) and “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” In Exodus 34: 29, 30, and 35 Moses face also shone after being in the presence of God.
Jesus is a type of New Moses, but he is greater than Moses. In Jesus case, the shining of his face is not reflected glory but the true presence of God the Son (Hebrews 1:3). Suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and begin to converse with Jesus. Do they represent the law and the prophets? It is also possible to see them as heralds of the Messiah sent to reveal his presence.
All of this sets the stage for the most important event, a bright cloud covers them, and a voice calls out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (17:5) These are the same words that the heavenly voice speaks earlier at Jesus’ baptism by John (3:17), but here the voice adds “listen to him.” These final words echo Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses prophesied in this verse that, in the future, a prophet like Moses would come to the people. Moses demanded that the Israelites “listen carefully” to that messianic figure.
What do these words of the Father spoken from the cloud teach us? As the Fathers of Second Vatican Council remind us;
“God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9)” so that we might “come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4)” (Dei Verbum 2).
The hidden and invisible God has chosen to reveal himself “out of the abundance of His love” and to call us friends (John 15:14-15) . . . so that “He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself” (DV 2).
Jesus is the fullness of revelation, the Word made flesh. In the secret inner life of the Godhead, Jesus is the Son. But through communion with him (Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27) we also become sons and daughters of God and “partakers in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
As St. Paul writes to the Galatians; “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). Again St. Paul reminds us, “you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16).
This is a seismic shift in thinking. No longer do we have merely the artifact alone, the law and the prophets written in a book, but now we have the Word made flesh. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it, “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Jesus transfiguration is a revelation of his true nature and an invitation to share in the intimacy of God’s own family as sons and daughters of God. We enter into communion with him through Baptism and the reception of the Eucharist. But as the Fathers of Second Vatican Council have pointed out, to experience this communion we must offer the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26; see 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) . . . “an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals” (DV 5).
Yet this is not an individualistic faith, a “me and Jesus” alone faith. We are called to be a son or daughter in a family of faith. Our relationship with God is mediated through Jesus as he is reflected in the life of those who have embraced this faith. Just as the light of God’s grace shone in the face of Moses now the light of Jesus shines in the faces of men and women who have made this fundamental commitment to say ‘yes’ to Jesus.
For Christians, fellowship is much more than coffee and doughnuts! It is an invitation to a community which mediates faith is all its fullness. It is a call to action, an invitation to divine intimacy, and a memory of a shared life a as family. The hidden and invisible God now shines forth inviting us with God’s own initiative.
God’s own ‘Yes’ to us precedes his invitation. As St. Paul reminds us, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is the Spirit of God who draws us to the heart of the Father. A St. Paul reminds us the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
The season of Lent is the perfect time to renew our commitment to a deeper relationship with God. Imagine what would happen if each one of us took time for silence and prayer this week. Have we been attentive to the light of Christ reflected in the faces of the saints? Have we accepted our Father’s loving embrace through the lives of our faith community?
Deacon Scott McKellar is Pastoral Associate at St. Therese Parish, North.
God’s Word in Everyday Living
This week’s gospel, Matthew 5:38-48, contains a difficult teaching. It’s the last verse in this reading, Matthew 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How is it possible to be as perfect as God? He is perfection itself to the infinite degree!
When I first came back to the Church, I struggled with this. I figured Jesus was just being metaphorical and didn’t mean it literally. However, was that the case? The Saints and spiritual masters saw it differently. Can we be as perfect as God? That’s what this article will explore.
In my studies at Franciscan University, I got a lot of exposure to the Saints. I read books written by saints as source material. I read about saints. I read books that referenced saints. I was kind of new to Catholicism at that point. I had come back to the Catholic Faith after a 20-year absence so, while I was an adult, I was still a baby-Christian. So often the saints expressed such ardor and love for God. They were single-minded and devoted, especially when speaking about the Eucharist. For my part, I just couldn’t relate. I believed what they were saying was real for them. I just wasn’t feeling it myself.
In my own spiritual life, it just wasn’t happening. I didn’t have these overwhelming feelings of love in the presence of the Eucharist. I didn’t desire to give myself completely to God without reserve. Some saints like Maximilian Kolbe spoke of being a slave to God…completely and wholly at the service of his will. That was a bit much for me. I concluded that saints were special, God’s favorites. Somehow, they just got more, and that’s why they were so ardent. The Saints were at one level and the rest of us were at another. God set the bar at unattainable levels, that only a few could reach.
But then something changed. I read about theologians from centuries past who ran afoul of the Church. Their theological ponderings pushed the boundaries of acceptability. They rationalized the faith, made it more believable and humanly attainable. They reduced the miraculous and unimaginable truth to something more tangible, more real, less “out there.” They lowered the bar. And, when they did, the Church denounced them. That’s when I realized the bar must stay high. It can’t change, no matter how impossible it may seem, because once you lower it a little, you can lower it a lot. What one person deems reasonable, is too high for another. So, so they lower it again. Soon there isn’t a bar at all. Great, right? Now everyone can be holy! Except, in reality no one can be holy. All that potential for growth is left on the table. No one will experience it because they didn’t know it existed.
That’s what the Protestant reformer/revolutionaries did. They removed sacraments, saints, mysticism, ontological transformation of the soul through grace, and the differing levels of holiness. It wasn’t Martin Luther’s experience, so he figured it wasn’t real. He announced those things didn’t exist. Everyone is the same in the spiritual life. No favorites! No one really changes! Egalitarian Christianity. Then, other reformers came along and reduced his teachings even further. A woman once told me she experienced a kind of glass ceiling in her Protestant faith. After a while, there was nothing left to learn, nowhere to grow spiritually. They just talked about the same things. But Catholicism opened a whole new world. There was depth. The example and teachings of saints like Teresa of Avila introduced a growth potential she never even imagined.
Here’s the truth. Christian living is not natural, it’s super-natural. Living Christianity to its fullness is humanly impossible…that’s why we need grace. The Saints, as impossible as their lives may seem, are proof that radical holiness is possible. Don’t wish away the heights of the spiritual life just because you haven’t experienced them…yet.
Strictly speaking, can we be as perfect as God? Obviously not. There’s an infinite distance between us and God. Jesus is setting the bar in this passage, and every Christian must strive to meet it. Is it impossibly high? Maybe, but that’s exactly how it should be. There’s always more, so your work is never done. Honestly, wouldn’t it be boring if there was a limit and you’d already had everything there was?
A clarification is needed here. The perfection we’re called to in this passage isn’t God’s power and wisdom. It refers to love and mercy. How much are you called to give? Well, how much did Jesus give? The answer is everything he had. Following his example, we’re called to love enemies, pray for persecutors, and love without reward. Jesus calls everyone to holiness. It’s an imperative, not a suggestion.
We must understand the role of grace in this. Even imperfect levels of perfection are impossible without God’s help. Christian life is not about willpower or strength of character. It’s about being infused with God’s Spirit to the point of becoming like him. Sharing God’s life has soul-altering properties. We’re continually changed by the working of grace to become more and more like Christ—acting, judging, living, and loving like him. That is the perfection we seek. It’s different for everyone. But through that perfection, in small ways, we begin to change the world. In God’s time, when this is lived by every Christian, it will have a leavening effect on the wider society. Do your part and you’ll see.
Marc Cardaronella is Director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation.
From the USCCB Website…
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, all Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
More information on fast and abstinence can be found below.