Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 23, 2017

Holy Spirit in Scripture

Pentecost Sunday is approaching. Create a worksheet with the following Scripture passages. Pass out one worksheet and one Bible to each student. For each passage, have them write a sentence telling what it says about the Holy Spirit. When completed, discuss and check their answers.

 

Passages

  • Genesis 1:1—2
  • Genesis 2:7
  • Exodus 19:16-19
  • Exodus 37:1-14
  • Luke 1:26-35
  • John 14:14-17
  • John 20:21-23

Answers

  • Genesis 1:1–2:   The Hebrew word for “wind” is ruah. From the time of creation, the Spirit’s creative powers were active and present in the world.         
  • Genesis 2:7:   The Spirit also gives life to humans.
  • Exodus 19:16–19:   The Spirit—and God’s power—is revealed in thunder, lightning, and fire.
  • Ezekiel 37:1–14:   In the well-known story of “dry bones,” it is the Spirit who brings life from death.
  • Luke 1:26–35:   Jesus’ conception is brought about by the Holy Spirit who overshadows his mother, Mary.
  • John 14:16–17:   At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his Apostles not to be afraid for he is sending them the Holy Spirit.
  • John 20:21–23:   Just as the Spirit brought life to the first humans in Genesis, Jesus brings new spiritual life on the Apostles by breathing on them.

 

May 15, 2017

Reflection Exercise: I Forgive Me

Here is a short exercise on how to forgive oneself. Use the following information to make a handout. Distribute to the students and have them work individually to complete the items. Tell them you will check to see that they did the work, but that you will not read the note they write to themselves. You may wish to do a general follow-up classroom discussion on the topic. Ask:

  • What do you find difficult about forgiving yourself?
  • Why is it important to forgive yourself?
  • How does forgiving yourself coincide with forgiving others?

 

Handout Items

  1. Place a check by any area where you have been negative or critical of yourself:

 

Relationships with friends ____

Relationships with family____

Academics____

Athletics____

Physical appearance____

Something I did____

Something I did not do____

 

  1. Focus on one of the areas you checked. Write the first five words or phrases that come to mind in relation to that area.

 

  1. Place a plus (+) sign by any of the words or phrases that are positive memories. Place a minus sign (-) by any of the words of phrases that are negative memories.

 

 

  1. Choose any one of the negative memories. Write a note forgiving yourself for this memory. (If you don’t have a negative memory to be forgiven of, write a prayer of thankfulness in this space expressing your appreciation for your positive outlook.)

May 10, 2017

100th Anniversary of Our Lady's Apparitions at Fatima

Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?

"Oh, we will, we will!"

Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.

Lucia relates that as the Lady pronounced these words, she opened her hands, and

we were bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light's reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. By an interior impulse of grace we fell to our knees, repeating in our hearts: "Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I love You in the Blessed Sacrament."

The children remained kneeling in the flood of this wondrous light, until the Lady spoke again, mentioning the war in Europe, of which they had little or no knowledge.

Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.

After that she began to rise slowly in the direction of the east, until she disappeared in the immense distance. The light that encircles Her seemed to make a way amidst the stars, and that is why we sometimes said we had seen the heavens open.

This conversation between the Blessed Virgin Mary and three children--Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco--took place one hundred years ago, May 13, 1917. This Saturday's anniversary of the first of Mary's six apparitions to the children on the thirteenth of each month from May until October 13 are worthy of study and prayer. Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to the Fatima site this weekend and will canonize sister and brother, Jacinta and Francisco, who were ages seven and nine at the time of the apparitions.

Take some time to explore with your students the remarkable history and message of Our Lady of Fatima that is offered in great detail at a website prepared by EWTN.

Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

O Most holy Virgin Mary,

Queen of the most holy Rosary,

you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima

and reveal a glorious message.

We implore you,

inspire in our hearts a fervent love

for the recitation of the Rosary.

By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption

that are recalled therein

may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,

through the merits of Jesus Christ,

our Lord and Redeemer.

Amen. 

May 3, 2017

Current Event: Teenage Protestors Confronted by School Official

You may have seen the video of a teenage brother and sister protesting against abortion on the sidewalk near a Philadelphia area public high school.They were confronted verbally by the school's assistant principal. The incident brings up several questions that can serve as an important classroom discussion.

The full video (18 minutes) includes one scene of inappropriate language. An edited version is shorter (4:56) and the language has been edited out. You might also want to note an online petition being circulated to save the school official's job, as he was suspended after the incident.

If you show the video to your students, here are some questions that may spark a discussion.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a lesson of Christian witness in this video?
  2. What is a lesson of free speech in this video?
  3. What is your feeling about the student protestors and their actions?
  4. What is your feeling about the assistant principal and his actions?
  5. The students described a “holocaust” taking place in the United States today? What did they mean?
  6. How might students at your school react if greeted by this scene on leaving campus?
  7. How might students at a neighboring public school react if greeted by this scene on leaving campus?
  8. What discipline should the school official face for his role in this incident?

 

 

 

April 26, 2017

Pope Francis Gives TED Talk

Pope Francis offers a TED talk on solidarity, hope, and tenderness and how each person ("Tu!") can bring a lit candle to a dark world. The talk is approximately 18 minutes in length.

 

 

April 21, 2017

Your Patron Saint

One way to increase devotion to the saints is by developing a relationship with one particular saint—your patron saint. This exercise will help your students to choose their own patron saint.  Create a document based on the following material.

 

Write your first and middle names here:___________________________________.

Using a Catholic encyclopedia, or a book of saints, or an Internet site such as www.catholic.org/saints or http://saints.sqpn.com, list as many saints as you can find that share one of your names.

Write your birthday and the date of your baptism here:_______________________.

List those saints whose feast day is one of the dates written above.

 

List as many hobbies or regular activities as you can think of that are important to you here:______________________________________________________.

Find out if there are patron saints for those hobbies or activities. List them here.

 

Now read the short biographies of the saints you have listed above until you find a story that inspires you. Write that saint’s name here:____________________.

Begin your research into this saint’s life by finding the following information:

 

Date and place of birth:

 

Lifelong Catholic or convert?:

 

Date and circumstance of death:

 

Best known for:

 

Virtues exhibited by this saint:

 

Temptations or struggles faced by this saint:

 

 

April 10, 2017

Scripture Spiral: After Easter Exercise

Here’s an activity for your students when they return to school after Easter. Make copies of the Scripture Spiral. You can also make copies of the questions below to give to each student or read the questions one at a time as the students work to fill in the answers around the spiral. The last letter of one answer is also the first letter of the next answer.

 

 

Questions

  1. What did the women take to Jesus’ tomb? (Lk 24:1)
  2. In Matthew’s Gospel, what was the angel doing on the stone? (Mt 28:3)
  3. Who did Mary Magdalene think Jesus was? (Jn 20:15)
  4. How did Peter get to the tomb? (Lk 24:12)
  5. In Mark’s original ending, what did the women say to Peter and the disciples about the message given to them by the angel at the empty tomb? (Mt 28:16)
  6. Where did the risen Jesus meet with his disciples? (Mt 28:16)
  7. What natural disaster accompanied the angel’s descent? (Mt 28:2)
  8. What was the village seven miles from Jerusalem where the two disciples were traveling when they met Jesus? (Lk 24:13)
  9. What day of the week was the empty tomb discovered? (Mk 16:2)
  10. How did Peter answer Jesus’ question “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:16)
  11. Jesus breathed on his disciples and promised he would send the Holy ______. (Jn 20:22)
  12. In Luke’s Gospel, who appeared to the women inside the empty tomb? (Lk 24:4)
  13. What did the women’s story of the empty tomb seem like to the Apostles? (Lk 24:11)
  14. What did the risen Jesus want to do when he met with his disciples in Jerusalem? (Lk 24:41)
  15. What was the name of the sea where Jesus revealed himself to seven disciples? (Jn 21:1)

 

After the students have completed the Scripture Spiral tell them to use the circled letters on the spiral to answer the following question: What is the most important feast day in the Church Year?

 

Answers: 1) spices; 2) sitting; 3) gardener; 4) ran; 5) nothing; 6) Galilee; 7) earthquake; 8) Emmaus; 9) Sunday; 10; Yes; 11) Spirit; 12) two men; 13) nonsense; 14) eat; 15) Tiberias; Bonus) Easter.

April 3, 2017

Scholarship Opportunity for Catholic Students Entering College

The Catholic Door online bookstore is offering three scholarships for Catholics entering college in the fall. The awards total $750 dollars. Students are to write a 400 to 600 words essay under the prompt "Why I Love Being Catholic." The deadline is June 29, 2017. More information is available here.

 

 

March 27, 2017

A Reflection on the Threefold Purpose of Catholic Education

In 1972, the United States Bishops released a popular and often-cited pastoral letter on catechesis: To Teach as Jesus Did. One of the main purposes of the letter was to give form to the vision of Catholic education, reeling in many ways at the time in the post Second Vatican Council years. The letter addresses aspects of Catholic education like education for adults, Catholic colleges, religious education in a parish, and youth ministry. One of the sections pointed a vivid and honest assessment of Catholic schools in the United States, already suffering from loss of enrollment and a changing model from which religious sisters, brothers, and priests were primary teachers.

Take some time to read the final paragraph (118) of the section on Catholic education. Share it with your students. Ask them to note the threefold purpose of Christian education as articulated in this paragraph: “to teach doctrine, to build community, and to serve.” Have the students write three or four full paragraphs that:

  1. Define each of the purposes
  2. Share how well their school enacts these purposes
  3. Offers suggestions for how their school may improve in acting on these purposes.

Paragraph 118, To Teach as Jesus Did:

We are well aware of the problems which now face the Catholic school system in the United States. WE also wish our position to be clear. For our part, as bishops, we reaffirm our conviction that Catholic schools which realize realize the threefold purpose of Christian education—to teach doctrine, to build community, and to serve—are the most effective means availed to the Church for the education of children and young people who thus may “grow into adulthood according to the mature measure of Christ” (cf. 2 Eph 4:13). WE call upon all members of the Catholic community to do everything in their power to maintain and strengthen Catholic schools which embrace the threefold purpose of Catholic education.

 

March 20, 2017

Entertaining Angels: A Film on the Life of Dorothy Day

Entertaining Angels, a 1996 film on the life of Dorothy Day, is available online free of charge. The film runs 1:51:31. The film traces Dorothy’s spiritual and religious development as she leaves her career in journalism to live a bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village while advocating for women’s rights and the rights of the poor. The film covers her conversion to Catholicism and her ensuing lifelong dedication to helping the poor.

The following study questions (from Foundations of Catholic Social Teaching, Ave Maria Press, 2015) are a helpful film guide. Distribute the questions prior to watching the film so that the students can be aware of what they will be responsible for answering. Each item can be answered in one or two detailed paragraphs.

Study Questions

1. The movie opens with a quotation from Dorothy Day: “I wanted the abundant life….  I did not have the slightest idea how to find it.” At first, how does Dorothy try to find the abundant life? Is she successful? In the end, do you think she found the “abundant life”? Why or why not?

2. Much of Dorothy’s view toward justice revolves around the notion of seeing Christ in his people: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). How is this Scripture verse exemplified in her words and actions? Share at least two examples.

3. Pick three quotations from the movie (from any of the characters) and explain how they illustrate the meaning of justice.

March 13, 2017

Catholic Colleges in March Madness 2017!

It’s time for our regular feature on Catholic colleges that qualify for the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. (The women’s bracket will be released later this evening and the Catholic colleges in the women’s tournament will be posted tomorrow in the comment’s section below). Here are this year’s men’s qualifiers, ranked by overall seeding in the tournament.

  1. Villanova University (1 East)
  2. Gonzaga University (1 West)
  3. University of Notre Dame (5 West)
  4. Creighton University ( 6 Midwest)
  5. Saint Mary’s College ( 7 West)
  6. University of Dayton (7 South)
  7. Seton Hall University (9 South)
  8. Marquette University (10 East)
  9. Xavier University (11 West)
  10. Providence College (11 East)
  11. Iona College (14 Midwest)

The Catholic colleges represent 16 percent of the original field of 68 teams. Villanova University is the defending National Champion.

Here is some other information related to the Catholic colleges in the tournament, Catholic college history, in the tournament, basketball players from Catholic colleges, and more. Adapt this information to questions, activities, icebreakers to accompany this week’s lessons. Enjoy!

Name the religious order that founded each of the eleven schools in the tournament. (One school was not founded by a religious order. Which one? Who sponsors that college?)

Villanova (Augustinian)

Gonzaga (Jesuit)

Notre Dame (Holy Cross)

Creighton (Jesuit)

Saint Mary’s (Christian Brothers)

Dayton (Marianist)

Seton Hall (Archdiocese of Newark)

Marquette (Jesuit)

Xavier (Jesuit)

Providence (Dominican)

Iona (Christian Brothers)

 

Which Catholic colleges have won NCAA basketball championships?

San Francisco (2)

Villanova (2)

Georgetown

Holy Cross

La Salle

Loyola Chicago

Marquette

 

Which Catholic college has the most appearances in the NCAA tournament?

Notre Dame and Villanova are tied with 36.

Which Catholic college has the most consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament?

Gonzaga has 19 consecutive tournament appearances.

Which Catholic college has the most former players currently playing in the NBA?

Villanova (5: Dante Cunningham, Randy Foye, Darrun Hilliard, Kyle Lowry, Daniel Ochefu)

Match the players on the Top 100 list of all time basketball players with the Catholic college they attended.

Bill Russell (San Francisco)

Elgin Baylor (Seattle)

George Mikan (DePaul)

Bob Cousy (Holy Cross)

Paul Arizin (La Salle)

Dwyane Wade (Marquette)

Patrick Ewing (Georgetown)

John Stockton (Gonzaga)

Steve Nash (Santa Clara)

Allen Iverson (Georgetown)

Dave DeBusschere (Detroit)

Bob Lanier (St. Bonaventure)

Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown)

Lenny Wilkens (Providence)

Adrian Dantley (Notre Dame)

 

Read and share an article about retired NBA player Kobe Bryant and how his Catholic faith pulled him through some darkest times in his life.

How did the song The Bells of Saint Mary’s become associated with St. Mary’s College? What does the association have to do with Bing Crosby? Read about it here.

 

 

March 1, 2017

Prayer Activity: Beauty in Diversity

Share a prayerful discussion that focuses on an appreciation for people of all races, creeds, colors, and beliefs. You need a Bible and a multi-colored soft koosh ball for the activity. Follow the directions below.

  1. Gather the students in a large circle (on the floor or in chairs). Remind the students to maintain a quiet atmosphere of prayer. Read with clarity and care the parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:30-37.
  2. After the reading say:

It would be drab to live in a world where people all looked and sounded alike. It would be drab to live in a world where people were all of the same nationality and culture. We need a variety of colors to brighten the world and our view of the world. A brightly-colored spring day certainly images more life than the plain gray of winter. (Hold up the multi-colored koosh ball.) Just as it is enjoyable to embrace a koosh ball because of its color and texture, so too we need to embrace a variety of colors and kinds of people that God has made.

We are made in God’s image. We do not make God in our image. God created us to be unique among all others God offers wondrous variety.

When the koosh ball is tossed to you, hold it and offer a prayer out loud. You may:

  • offer a prayer of thanks for a person you know who has taught you about loving all people
  • offer a prayer asking God’s help in being more merciful of others
  • offer a prayer for a personal need or the need of someone you know to be more tolerant of all people.
  1. After each prayer, the group should respond, “Loving God, hear us.” Offer your own personal prayer. Then gently toss the ball to the person across from you. Continue in the same format until the end of the prayer time.

 

 

 

February 21, 2017

Calling All High School Theology Teachers!

Looking forward to meeting with high school theology teachers this week at the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress!

Stop by our booth and hear about and view our latest materials!

If you would like to schedule a one-to-one meeting with Michael Amodei, Executive Editor of Adolescent Catechesis, please send an email to mamodei@nd.edu to reserve a time Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

See you in Anaheim!

Take a look at our LA Congress specials!

 

 

February 17, 2017

Guided Meditation: Temptation in the Desert

Lead this guided meditation with your students at the beginning of Lent. It is based on the temptation of Jesus in the desert from Matthew 4:1-11 from Time with Jesus by Thomas F. Catucci. Quiet the students. Choose some instrumental background music as needed. Begin the reading. Pause briefly at every ellipse. Pause a bit longer at each line break. Pause a bit longer than that at each paragraph break.

 

And we pray:

Loving God …

We come to you with open heart as we meditate.

We want to be confident of your love, but sometimes our doubt undermines our total trust.

We pray today that you will deepen our faith so that we may rely on you more completely.

We pray that your kingdom will unfold in our lives.

That your kingdom may become real

And that we too may be real.

 

With your eyes still closed.

Take a slow journey.

Travel to a place where you can be all alone.

Where no one else would venture to intrude.

A place where there are no distractions…nothing fancy…a place where you can think…and be still…

With your eyes closed…see the emptiness around you…like a void.

Feel the loneliness.

Know how vulnerable you are…how unprotected…you are alone with nothing else around you

And now with your eyes closed…look inside yourself and search for some kind of trust.

In your solitude…can you find any kind of trust within you?

Is there someone you trust in?

What kind of trust is it?

Who or what have you placed your trust in?

What will protect you?

 

Be aware suddenly that there is someone else nearby and that are not alone.

You look around…but you see no one…you are sure that someone is near…someone that you can’t see…yet you feel safe.

So just rest and relax a moment and trust your feelings.

 

Feel the presence of the other person.

Feel their goodness and gentleness.

Feel the presence of this person’s incredible understanding and forgiveness.

Feel the gentle softness of this love.

This feeling is like drawing near to God.

Know that God is with you…that Jesus is with you…even though you don’t see him.

Know that God is with you in a special way right now.

And rest in this loving presence of God.

Rest and be at peace.

Peace.

 

And still…even though you can’t see the Lord…know that he is near.

Very near.

Bur in a strange way you are still alone.

 

Quietly reflect by yourself what your real needs are.

Think about what you really desire for yourself…not for anyone else….but something that you really crave and have decided that you want more than anything else.

 

In this quiet and lonely place…with your imagination…build a scene…like a movie…build a scene that represents how or when you are tempted to satisfy your own inner cravings and desires.

Know that the needs of others will become unimportant…because your desires are stronger than theirs.

Know that deep down…you want to have those cravings satisfied.

Imagine what you must do for yourself to satisfy those longings…to get whatever you are aching for…knowing that no one will ever know what you are fully feeling.

Perhaps it is as if you are controlled by your craving.

But what you ache for.

 

And now you can feel the Lord…Jesus puts his gentle hand on your shoulder.

The Lord whispers into your ear.

And he tells you that he understands…he knows…because he is just as human as you.

 

And be at peace.

Is there anything you want to say to Jesus?

Anything you would like to?

 

And now Jesus tells you that he can offer you something better…he can offer you something more important.

Be still and watch the picture that Jesus draws in your imagination…of something better that he can give…something better than what you crave.

If you can depend upon the Lord…if you can trust…

Jesus hands you a gift of hope…hope that will keep you strong.

And healthy.

Hope…it is now yours…part of you…forever.

Is there anything you want to say to Jesus/

Anything you want to do?

 

And suddenly you are alone again…in that place of plainness.

And with your eyes closed…look inside yourself and find a time when you were unsure.

A time when you were fearful that things wouldn’t work out.

That something wouldn’t be right.

And with your eyes closed…paint that scene like in a movie…so that you stand in that situation again.

Frozen in time so you can see it again…and feel it again.

A time when you wanted to be sure that God would make everything perfect, but you had doubts.

You weren’t sure.

The doubts were too strong…you were tempted to give up…to despair.

Feel how strong those fears and doubts can be…pressuring you.

 

But they won’t crush you.

Because again you can feel the hand of Jesus on your shoulder.

A quiet and gently whisper in your ear.

And he asks you to trust…because if you let him…he can do wondrous things.

And he stands in the mist of your scene…to show you…to give you just a brief glimpse of what could happen…how he would let it develop if he were given the chance.

 

Then he whispers in your hear how much he loves you and promises that in the end…he can have something wonderful happen.

If you can trust….if you can let him be God…if you have faith.

 

And then Jesus hands you another gift.

This is a gift of faith to keep you strong.

And to keep you close to God.

Close.

Even in times when you have doubts…or are unsure.

Faith to keep you strong….even when things are beyond your control.

Faith.

Is there anything you would like to say to the Lord?

Anything you would like to do?

Be at peace.

 

Once more…return to that place of plainness where you are alone…with no distractions.

Alone.

And with your eyes closed look inside yourself and find a feeling of weakness.

That sense of being inadequate and not capable.

That feeling you would never want anyone else to see.

And if you could mask…or hide it...you would cover it with power.

Just feel the need for power so that no one can ever see the weakness in you.

Feel how secure you would be with that incredible power.

But what kinds of power would you need?

Power over others? Power to do without the support and approval of others?

Power to get others’ attention?

Power to control?

Feel that power and what you could do with it.

Paint a scene like in a movie where you can watch yourself with all that power.

How does it feel?

 

Once again…you can feel the Lord’s hand on your sho9ulder….that familiar whisper in our ear…the quiet and gentle voice of God that can bring your scene to its later stages.

And the Lord show you how power can ultimately hurt and control others so they are no longer fee and able to love.

And the possible darkness of power.

Power.

 

But Jesus wipes it away and whispers.

Listen to the Lord tell you how the Father glories in your weakness…how admitting your weakness is good and makes you more human.

How you can be more gentle.

How weakness is not threatening to others but invites them to be closer.

And how weakness and love work together to help each other to make our love strong.

To make God strong…and it becomes your strength...love can be your strength.

Loving strength.

And the Lord hands you another gift…a gift of love.

Squeeze that gift of love deeply to yourself so that it becomes part of you.

And you can feel the strength of that divine love from God.

And be at peace.

 

Know that you are filled with the gifts of God.

His gift of hope…his gift of faith…and his incredible gift of love…and feel the divine strength radiating from within you.

Giving you courage and giving you hope.

Is there anything you would like to say to the Lord?

Anything you would like to do?

 

Jesus promises you that he will always be with you…he will never leave you…even if you can’t see him…even if you can’t feel him.

Always with you.

And be at peace.

Peace.

 

Filled with faith, hope, and love from God…slowly return here…still filled with the gifts from God.

When you are ready you may open your eyes and reflect on all that you saw and felt…all that you have just experienced.

And know the gifts God has given to you.

And be at peace.

Peace.

  

February 10, 2017

Seat Warming Activity on Marriage

Last week was National Marriage Week. As a seat warming activity, have your students write answers to the following questions about marriage. The first set of questions is objective questions with the answers to be summarized from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The second set of questions is personal reflections.

Objective Questions

  1. How is God the “author of marriage”? (see CCC 1602-1617)
  2. Why do some people choose virginity for the sake of God’s Kingdom? (see CCC, 1618-1620).
  3. How a Catholic marriage is typically celebrated? (see CCC 1621-1624)
  4. Who can be married in a Catholic wedding? (see CCC 1625-1637)
  5. What are the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony? (see CCC 1638-1642)
  6. How are children to be viewed in marriage? (see CCC 1652-1654)
  7. What is meant by the “domestic church”? (see CCC 1655-1658)

 

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you think God destines a husband and wife for each other?
  2. How are you willing to place your bond with Christ before other bonds?
  3. What was your favorite wedding you ever attended? Why so?
  4. What importance should a couple contemplating marriage put on having a compatible religious life?
  5. What does the statement “authentic married love is caught up in the divine” mean to you?
  6. What is one important lesson you have learned from your parents?
  7. Describe one incident of joy, love, or forgiveness present in your family in the past week.

 

 

February 3, 2017

Reflections on Christian Patriotism

Ask students to say aloud words or phrases that come immediately to them when you say the word “patriotism.” List the words on the board.

Distribute a handout with the following quotations and questions.  Read the first quotation and have the students write their reflections on the questions that follow. Repeat the format for sections 2 and 3.

Finally, ask the students to answer in writing the two “Final Items.” To conclude, ask the students to share their reflections either in small groups or with the whole class.

1.

Quotation:

“The virtue of patriotism means that as citizens we respect and honor our country, but our very love and loyalty make us examine carefully and regularly its role in world affairs asking that it live up to is full potential as an agent of peace with justice for all people” (U.S. Catholic Bishops, The Challenge of Peace, 1983, #327).

  • What does it mean to “respect and honor our country”? to show “love and loyalty”?
  • How do you do these things concretely?
  • What specifically do you think we should be asking our country to do in order to “live up to its full potential as an agent of peace with justice for all people”?
  • Is this constructive criticism a patriotic or unpatriotic act and why?

2.

Quotation:

 “To teach the ways of peace is not to weaken the nation’s will but to be concerned

for the nation’s soul” (U.S. Catholic Bishops, The Challenge of Peace, 1983, #304).

  • What do you think the bishops mean? Why are they concerned for our nation’s soul?
  • Is it unpatriotic to have such concerns? Why or why not?

 

3.

Quotation:

Martin Luther King, Jr., was concerned about our nation’s soul at a similar time in our nation’s history (1956-1968). He helped to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, whose motto was “We have come to redeem the soul of America.” In 1967, he broke his silence about the Vietnam war and boldly proclaimed: “Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation and destroying thousands and thousands of little children in Vietnam. . . . The time has come for a real prophecy, and I’m willing to go that road”(quoted in Road to Redemption).

  • Do you think the soul of our nation is in jeopardy today? Why or why not?

 

Final Items

  • What do you think you are being called to by these statements and questions?
  • After thinking about all of this, briefly define your own understanding of Christian patriotism:

 

January 25, 2017

Catholic Schools Week 2017

 

The annual Catholic Schools Week, sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, begins on Monday January 29 and runs until Saturday, Feburary 4. This year's theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Listed below are some resources that can help facilitate your planning:

Explanatoin of the Theme

Daily Themes

1000 Ideas for Catholic Schools Week from Pinterest

Catholic Schools Week Logos

 

 

 

January 16, 2017

Sharing News about a Religious Vocation

The discernment of a religious vocation for a young man or young woman is accompanied by prayer, questioning, and finally a decision. At some point the person tells his or her family of the choice to further prepare for the priesthood or religious life. In most cases, the person’s close family members have a sense of what he or she is leaning towards. Sometimes the decision catches some family members by surprise.

Arrange for the students to form in groups of six and develop a role play where the person with the vocation has just come home with the news that they have been accepted into the seminary or into a preparation program for a religious community. Here are some suggested characters, though some can be changed.

  • The person with the vocation
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • The person’s 20 year old sister
  • The person’s 15 year old brother
  • Grandma (or Grandpa)
  • Non-Catholic Aunt or Uncle

After the groups have practiced their role plays, have them present them to the entire class.

As follow-up, have the students write a response to this question: “How would your family respond if you told them you were planning a religious vocation?”

January 6, 2017

Dialoguing Principles

Small group and full classroom discussions encourage sharing among your students. Though each lesson and activity uses slightly different dialogue techniques, some general methodological principles apply to all of them. The following principles, adapted from the work of Sr. Kieran Saywer, SSND.

Pre-response

Give everyone a chance to record his or her response in some way before asking any individual to respond orally. The pre-response might be written, drawn, shown with hand signals, or indicated by body positions. Make the pre-response easy by asking a very specific question with a concrete answer, by providing a sentence-starter to be completed, by giving a spread of answers to choose from. This technique gets everyone involved in answering the question, makes it clear that there is a spread of opinion on the answer rather than the one “right” response, and creates the need for an individual to examine a position contrary to other ideas being presented.

Dialogue Starter

 Make it easy to get the dialogue started by designated the first speaker, often in a humorous way; for example, the person with the curliest hair, the person with the next birthday, the person wearing the brightest clothing. Each person (in a small group) will then take a turn sharing. The starter designation usually creates a burst of laughter, thus further relaxing the group.

Pass Option

Tell the students that the sharing must always be done freely. If at any time, a student is asked a question he or she doesn’t know how to answer, nor does not want to answer in public, the student simply says “pass.” If students choose to respond, however, their answers should be as honest as possible. The pass option is, perhaps, the single most powerful technique in creating an atmosphere where open dialogue can happen. Given the choice of either answering honestly or passing, young people almost always want to answer. But the pass is always there as a safe and easy way out when thing get uncomfortable. It is imperative that the pass option be respected by the teacher and by all the students.

Gradual Deepening

Move the dialogue gradually from light, easy topics to more serious ones. The easier sharing teaches the technique and warms the students, thus facilitating deeper sharing.

Listening

Help your group see the important role of the listener in the dialogue process. A person is encouraged to share by sensing that someone is really listening. Everyone in the class or small group shares in the listening role. It is important for all the students to pay direct attention to the speaker, to respond facially to what is said, and to ask follow-up questions. The teacher should be especially present to each speaker; at the same time the teacher will need to be careful not to become the focus toward which all questions, answers, and comments are directed.

 

December 28, 2016

Catholic New Years' Resolutions

As a welcome back to class exercise after Christmas vacation, ask the students to create a list of ten Catholic New Years’ Resolutions. Also have them write brief responses to the following:

  • Which resolution do you think will be most important for you to keep? Explain why.
  • Which resolution do you think will be most difficult to keep? Explain why.

 

Sample Resolutions

  1. Attend Eucharistic Adoration at least once per month.
  2. Keep the car radio off until I pray for fifteen minutes.
  3. Hang out with a classmate I have never socialized with before.
  4. Go to daily Mass at least once per week.
  5. Get more involved at my parish.
  6. Join in a service project with teens from a non-Catholic congregation.
  7. Read a biography of a saint.
  8. Go on a retreat without it being required.
  9. Read a biography of a saint.
  10. Hang out with a family member on a regular basis.

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