MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY 3 April 2016

Last Sunday, some of our students and staff were involved in the celebration of the feast of Divine Mercy. In the context of his jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis pulled out all the stops this year, leading a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square Saturday night and then celebrating Mass Sunday morning. “How many expressions there are of God’s mercy!” Francis said on Saturday.

“This mercy comes to us as closeness and tenderness, and because of this, comes also as compassion and solidarity, as consolation and forgiveness,” he said during a vigil that included personal testimonies and readings of Gospel passages.

Although the Divine Mercy devotion, introduced by a Polish nun named St. Faustina Kowalska in the early 20th century in response to a series of mystical experiences, has become one of the most popular and widespread new spiritual practices in the Church, many people don’t really know how it works.

Kowalska was born in Poland in 1905. She was the third of 10 children, and first expressed her desire to join a convent when she was 14. Her desire became a reality in 1925, when she entered the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.

She later reported that she soon began to have visions of Jesus, Mary and several saints. It was during one of these visions that she was “instructed” to commission a painting of Jesus based on Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light coming out from his heart and the signature line, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Those apparitions are compiled in the 600-pages long “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,” which has since become a best-seller in multiple languages.

This feast is devoted to works of mercy and forgiveness, but as it was registered in Faustina’s diary, Jesus allegedly said that a person who goes to Confession and receives Communion on this day can obtain the total forgiveness of all sins and remission of all punishment. Francis, dubbed the “Pope of Mercy” long before he instituted a Holy Year dedicated to it, has spoken about the Divine Mercy devotion several times.

For instance, on his way back from Brazil, back in 2013, he said: “This time is a kairos of mercy. John Paul II had this intuition first, when he began with Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy … he had something, he intuited that it was a necessity of this time.” In the New Testament, the term kairos conjures up a special moment in history when a particular aspect of God’s plan for salvation is unfolding.

The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy

How to Recite the Chaplet

The Chaplet of Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. The Chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the Diary of Saint Faustina and followed by a closing prayer.

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  1. Make the Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  1. Optional Opening Prayers

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. 

(Repeat three times) 
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

  1. Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

  1. Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

  1. The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

  1. The Eternal Father

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

  1. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  1. Repeat for the remaining decades

Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.

  1. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  1. Optional Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

 

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CONTAGIOUS EMOTIONS AND RESPONDING TO STRESS

(An article by Dr Lori, Desautels, www.edutopia.org , 3 April 2016)

In this last, busy fortnight of Term 1, many of our students have found their assessments and personal relationships very stressful. Some poor decisions have followed that have only served to complicate things. I found this blog very useful on understanding the neuroscience behind our emotions and how we tend to respond. Being self-aware and training ourselves to deal with stress is a great thing to accomplish. I offer this blog by Dr Desautels as interesting reading with some wonderful strategies that can assist us.

“Neuroscience research suggests that emotions are contagious. Our brains are social organs, and we are wired for relationships. When we encounter or experience intense emotions from another individual, we feel those feelings as if they were our own. Mirror neurons in our brains are responsible for empathy, happiness, and the contagious anger, sadness, or anxiety that we feel when another person is experiencing these same feelings.

In the film Inside Out, 11-year-old Riley and her parents are sitting together at dinner in their new San Francisco home. As the three discuss the youth hockey team that Riley’s mother has discovered, Riley’s anger builds quickly because Joy has left headquarters (the frontal lobes in her brain), and Fear and Anger are on duty instead. As Riley’s anger grows, her father’s anger begins to match hers, and the dinner conversation ends in an explosive outburst of emotional contagion. This amusing dramatisation of a very real family dynamic demonstrates how our brains can react and quickly jump into a conflict without our conscious awareness or conscious choice.

Students and educators need to understand how quickly this negative interaction can occur. Conflicts escalate unconsciously when our amygdala, the emotional control centres in the limbic system, are triggered and we instantaneously react. When two people are experiencing an active stress response, no one is thinking clearly as the frontal lobes are shut down, and behaviours and words can become painful and hurtful. In the end, we rarely feel better, because the amygdala’s language is feelings, not words. When we feel negative emotion, words are not heard or understood. This is why co-regulation is so important before we begin to problem-solve or explain consequences for poor choices. Co-regulation or calming the stress response system is needed to prime the brain for broadened thinking, planning, and understanding. Research reports that movement and breathing are two significant ways to calm the stress response system. We’ll discuss these below as we delve into a few calming strategies for healthy brain functioning.

Calming the Stress Response

Focused attention practices and movement are the two neurological strategies for calming an angry and anxiety-ridden brain. When we are in this fight-flight-freeze response, we do not hear words or explanations because the neural pathway from the prefrontal cortex back to the amygdala is much like a dirt road — it’s underdeveloped, and messages in words are not heard or understood.

  1. Get Some Distance

Give students — and yourself — a few minutes to step away from a conflict and de-escalate the limbic reaction. You can accomplish this with deep breaths, some physical space, a few push-ups, jumping rope, a walk, or listening to instrumental music while focusing on your breath.

  1. Validate the Feelings

Once the negative emotions have calmed down and the brain has regulated, validation is critical for helping students know that they are heard and understood. Examples of validating statements include:

  • That must have made you feel really angry.
  • What a frustrating situation to be in!
  • It must make you feel angry to have someone do that.
  • Wow, how hard that must be.
  • That stinks!
  • That’s messed up!
  • How frustrating!
  • Yeah, I can see how that might make you feel really sad.
  • Boy, you must be angry.
  • What a horrible feeling.
  • What a tough spot.
  1. Questions and Choices

Once the student feels heard and felt, we can gain a better understanding of his or her feelings. We then have an opportunity to implement questions and choices. Both questioning and choice assist in up-shifting an oxygenated glucose blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, where we are better problem solvers, to think clearly about choices and consequences. Here are some sample questions:

  • How can I help?
  • What do you need?
  • What can we do together to make this better?
  • What is a plan we can create together?
  • Is there anything you need from me now or later that would help you reach your goals?

Reasonable Consequences

The brain loves to make sense out of experiences, information, and relationships that fit together. This is why we need to implement consequences that attend to the hurt or pain that one person has caused another. Consequences for poor decisions and the choices aligned with them will make sense and feel relevant and meaningful to students who are ready to process this information, responding from their frontal lobes in a calm brain state. This is the place in which they’ll experience and feel the connection between choices and consequences. Here are some examples of those connections:

  • For a student who has interrupted whole-class learning, have her create an extra assignment for the class on a specific topic or standard.
  • For a student who used unkind words to another classmate, have these two partner to create a special assignment, job, or favour for another class or office staff, starting a “pay it forward” chain for a week of school.
  • For a student who showed disrespectful behaviour toward an adult, have her write a letter of apology explaining what was beneath the hurt feelings that caused the behaviour, accompanied by a plan of action to make amends for the hurt feelings that he or she caused.

There are many YouTube videos presenting kindness, empathy, and the tough struggles of others that students will enjoy and learn from. This activity helps us reach beyond our own stubborn egos and negative emotions to serve another. The following links take you to sources of short videos that will help your students create positive emotions and diminish anger:

COMMUNITY NEWS

We keep the following families in our prayers who are having some tough times at present:

  • Ashley (11) and Alana (8) Kucinic who recently lost their grandfather;
  • Zakayla Kefalianos (10) who also lost her grandfather;
  • Sabrina Lopez (12) whose grandfather passed away;
  • Danielle Cavanagh (12) who also lost her grandfather;
  • Bridgette Lal (12) whose grandfather passed away; and 
  • Angelica Sanchez Garcia (7) for the loss of her grandmother in Mexico.

Grant, O Lord of life,That we may savour every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future. Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands. And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope. Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us “now and at the hour of our death.” Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our bother, the Lord of life and glory. Amen!

 

Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
 
 
Vicki Lavorato
Principal