National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

World Youth Day Novena Starts July 4

User's Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

June 29 - July 5, 2008 Issue | Posted 6/24/08 at 2:19 PM


Sunday, July 6, is the 14th Sunday in ordinary time (Year A, Cycle II).


This week marks the final week before World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. Pope Benedict will travel there on July 12.

We pointed out here that, when he visited the United States, Pope Benedict asked in a particular, insistent way for prayers for a New Pentecost in America.

This is also what he has asked of the whole Church in preparation for World Youth Day.

“Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit,” he said, “confidently asking God for the gift of a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium.” If you’d like to pray a novena for World Youth Day, you’ll want to begin on July 4. Find a Holy Spirit novena at (choose “Faith” and then “Devotions”).


July 4 is Independence Day, of course. Our family has a tradition of going to Mass this day. The priest usually does a votive Mass for Independence Day. It is a wonderful day to reaffirm commitment not just to America but also our nation’s founding.

We like to do recitations in our family. Each child takes turns standing on a stool and reciting a poem or important passage. Independence Day is a good day for family members to memorize and present the Pledge of Allegiance, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the first verse of the National Anthem.

If they know these already, find additional material in William Bennett’s 1993 Book of Virtues — which you family should buy or borrow if you don’t have it!

• “America” (page 718)

• “The Americans’ Creed” (page 219)

• “America the Beautiful” (page 772)

• “Concord Hymn” (page 713)

• “The Gettysburg Address” (page 568)

• “Paul Revere’s Ride” (page 708)


It’s hard to find a good movie about America’s founding and patriotism. The Patriot is the most high-budget recent movie about the war of Independence, but it commits the typical Hollywood error of emphasizing a personal story of revenge instead of focusing on the high ideals that motivated our founding. It’s also gratuitously violent.

For small children, Schoolhouse Rock’s series on America, now available on DVD, is excellent.


Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30 offers free homily packs for priests.


Here’s a shortcut to understanding the readings at each Mass.

Old Testament: Crack the code. For the Old Testament reading, remember that the Church brings these to our attention to show God’s long preparation for Christ. Try to find what in the Old Testament refers to our Redeemer.

In this week’s reading from Zechariah, it’s fairly obvious: an explicit prophecy of Christ. “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.”

See the prophecy come true in Mary’s trip to Bethlehem and in Our Lord’s entrance to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.

Psalm: Pray with Christ. The Psalms are a way for us to be in direct solidarity with Christ and the Blessed Mother, who prayed the Psalms as good Jews. It’s easy to forget that the Psalms are a prayer; then they just sound like strange poems.

The key to making the Psalms work is to pray them instead of saying them. Look at the crucifix or the tabernacle, if that helps, and speak their message from your heart, with hope and faith.

Second reading: Find the sound bite. The reading from St. Paul is often difficult to understand, but it can be helpful to listen to the reading looking for a sound bite — a specific brief thought you can remember throughout the week

Today’s is all about living according to the love relationship we have with God instead of our passions alone. Particularly in light of Benedict’s call to pray for a new Pentecost, listen to and remember this: God will “give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Gospel: Note the verbs. The Gospels are a way for us to learn to be like our friend Jesus, because in them we see how he acts and reacts. Look for the action words and apply them to your own life.

Today’s: “I give praise to you, Father,” he says. So should we. “You have revealed [truth] to little ones,” he says. We should seek revelation in simplicity. “Come to me,” he says. “I will give you rest.” “Take my yoke upon you,” he says — in other words work with him — “and learn from me.”

If we actually cooperate with Christ, he says, his yoke is easy and his burden light.

The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (