Mountain View, Calif., Jun 9, 2013 (CNA) -
A Christian game developer has released an interactive storybook application to help make the message of the Gospel more accessible for kids.
“For children, we really want them to be exposed to the life of Jesus in a way that they can enjoy and connect with,” Brent Dusing, Lightside Games founder and CEO, told CNA on June 6.
The app, “Journey of Jesus: His First Miracle,” hit the iTunes store June 5 and features chapters of Jesus' public ministry from the Bible that engages children and helps relay the story them.
Admittedly, Dusing said, there are other secular and Christian storybook applications on the market, but what sets this one apart is its quality and “interactivity.”
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to build a great product and to teach kids about Jesus,” he said. “Not only to make it fun and interactive, but tell the story in a way that they would actually understand.”
In the first chapter, readers travel through the story of Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding of Cana when he turns water into wine. Leading up to that event, readers are exposed to the message of trusting in God by witnessing John baptizing Jesus and seeing how Jesus helped Peter pull in a big catch of fish.
“This chapter is about willing to trust Jesus,” Dusing said, “even when what he tells you to do doesn’t make sense to you.”
Dusing said he was inspired to make an application for the iPad because of how much his own children use his as if it were their own – something he knows is not unique to just his family.
When parents let their kids play with their iPads or other interactive device it’s to “give them something to do.” This app, he says, also allows parents to “give our kids something that they can benefit from.”
Frequently, he said, Christian educational materials are marketed as “multivitamins.” In other words, it’s good for the kids but may not necessarily “taste good.”
This application, on the other hand, is more like “chocolate cake with vitamins in it,” Dusing said. “The kids will enjoy it a lot more and it’s really good.”
Throughout the app two characters, a little boy and girl, “hide” in different parts of the page and help summarize the story.
Children can chose from two different options when viewing the application: “read to me” or “read it myself.”
“We basically try to put the story is terms children can connect with and understand, even at a very young age they can learn and walk away with something,” Dusing explained.
The app is rated for ages four and up, but Dusing said even his two year-old daughter enjoys “reading” it over and over again.
More chapters – “at least 10”– will be released once a month in the iTunes store. Lightside Games, based in Mountain View, Calif., has recently created a Facebook game based on the History Channel mini-series, “The Bible.” Before that, the company released a Facebook game on the life of Moses and another on the life of Jesus.
Denver, Colo., Jun 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On June 9 the Catholic Church commemorates the sixth-century Irish monk and missionary Saint Columba of Iona, also known as St. Columcille.
One of Ireland's three patron saints (together with Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid), he is also sometimes called the “Apostle of the Picts” for his evangelization of Scotland.
He should not be confused with St. Columbanus (or Columban), a different Irish monk and missionary who lived slightly later and ended up in Italy.
Columba was born during 521, descended from royalty through his father. He was taught and mentored by the priest who baptized him, and later attended a monastic school founded by Saint Finnian of Moville. His own life as a monk began at the school, where he was also ordained a deacon.
The deacon went on to spend time in a different monastery and school run by another Finnian, Saint Finnian of Clonard. Columba became a priest during this period, and along with eleven others from this same institution, he would become known as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland.”
Columba also studied with Saint Mobhi of Glasnevin, before a disease epidemic forced him to return to his ancestral homeland of Ulster during 544. He spent the next 15 years traveling, preaching, and founding monasteries.
It is not clear why, in 563, Columba left Ireland. By some accounts he was simply going to preach the word of God. Others claim that he had become involved in a battle between warring tribes, before repenting and taking on foreign missionary work as a penance.
On the island of Iona, located on Scotland’s northwest coast, Columba and his group of companions built simple monastic quarters and a church for themselves. The priest-monk’s first missionary work was in the region of Dalriada, whose Celtic Christian inhabitants were lacking solid religious instruction.
His next effort was to convert the Picts of northern Scotland, a task that would take up most of the rest of his life. He began by gaining entrance to the castle of King Brude, where the locked gates are said to have miraculously opened when the sign of the Cross was made. The king welcomed the missionaries, believed the Gospel, and was baptized.
Columba’s evangelization of northern Scotland continued over the next three decades. He and his companions met with some resistance from the native pagan Druids, but on the whole they found remarkable success in spreading the Catholic faith and building up a network of churches and monasteries.
The island monastery at Iona remained his home base, and it drew pilgrims looking to benefit from the priest-monk’s wisdom and his prayers. He remained in touch with the Irish Church, making many trips back until he became too weak to travel. Even in old age, Columba maintained an intense routine of prayer, fasting, and study.
After giving a final blessing to his monastery on June 8, 597, he died sometime in the early hours of the following day.
Vatican City, Jun 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Sunday emphasized the mercy of God, declaring that God always forgives those who show him the “inner wounds” of their sins.
“If we show our inner wounds, our sins, he always forgives us,” Pope Francis told thousands of pilgrims at Saint Peter’s Square.
“Let us never forget this, he is pure mercy, let us go to Jesus!” he exclaimed during his Angelus noon prayer June 9.
Pope Francis emphasized that we should not be afraid to approach Jesus because he has a “merciful heart.”
The Church traditionally dedicates the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which reveals his infinite mercy towards people.
The Pope said that the Feast of the Sacred Heart, celebrated June 7, “sets the tone” for the whole month.
“The heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy, but it is not an imaginary symbol, it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which salvation for all humanity gushed forth,” said the Pope.
“But the mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment: indeed it is a force that gives life, that raises man up!” he exclaimed on the cloudy day at the Vatican.
He stated that there are several references to the heart of Jesus in the Gospels.
He cited Matthew 11, where Jesus says “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
Pope Francis also cited “the key story” of the death of Jesus according to Saint John.
“This evangelist testifies to what he saw on Calvary, that a soldier, when Jesus was already dead, pierced his side with a spear, and from the wound flowed blood and water,” he said.
“Saint John recognized in that, apparently random sign, the fulfillment of prophecies,” he added. “From the heart of Jesus, the lamb slain on the cross, flow forgiveness and life for all men.”
The Pope cited Sunday’s gospel reading, taken from Luke 7, as another example of the mercy of Jesus.
The reading tells how Jesus, with his disciples, arrived in the village of Nain in Galilee at the very moment in which a funeral is taking place.
“A boy is buried, the only son of a widow, Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes itself on the weeping mother,” Pope Francis said.
Saint Luke wrote, “seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her.”
“This compassion is the love of God for man, it is mercy, the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish,” said the Pope.
He believes that the biblical term “compassion” links the way God loves us to the way a mother loves her children, to the point of experiencing their pain when they suffer.
“What is the fruit of this love?” he asked. “It is life!”
The Pope told how Jesus said to the widow of Nain “do not weep” and then called the dead boy awaking him as if he had been asleep.
“The mercy of God gives life to man, it raises him from the dead,” said the pontiff.
“The Lord is always watching us with mercy, always awaits us with mercy,” he added.