Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

October 13, 2017

Helping Students Discover the Roots of Faith

Here are two activities you can do with your students to help them to critique their own faith history and better answer the question “Why do I believe in Jesus”?

In Class

Help students reflect on their most strongly held beliefs about Jesus.  Begin by inviting students to make a quick list of every person or source from which they have learned something about Jesus.  Then, setting this first list aside, challenge them to list the twenty most important things they believe about Jesus. At this point, you might even offer them time to compare lists with a classmate and revise as they feel necessary, based on new ideas from their discussions. Once they feel confident about their lists of twenty, have them evaluate which ten of the twenty are the most important. Finally, have them evaluate which three of those ten are the very most important. Direct them to look back at their lists of sources of information that they first brainstormed, and pose the question:  Which of these teachers or sources have contributed to your top three beliefs? Students may find that their most closely held beliefs were those influenced by the largest number of teachers, or conversely, by those teachers whose relationship or example they value most. Discuss student reactions to the exercise as a class.

 

At Home

Have students interview a faith mentor. Invite students to spend time talking with someone who has helped shape their faith—perhaps a parent or other relative, a friend, a teacher, or a Church leader.  Students should ask their mentors who they believe Jesus is and for what reasons they believe in his divine nature.  They should report back about their interviews, using a format of their choosing.  If time allows, students might, for instance, create a poster, a video, a written reflection, a prayer service, or any other creative “product” that shares the wisdom of their faith mentor with others.

 

October 6, 2017

Share the Journey

In coordination with Respect Life month, the United States Catholic bishops are asking Catholics to participate in a week of prayer and action for migrants and refugees from October 7 to 13 sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. Several resources to facilitate participation by students both in Catholic schools and parish programs are available here. Note, especially, the sections titled "In Schools and Religious Education" and "On Campus."

Examine, also, the full Share the Journey website.

 

September 28, 2017

A Mini-Unit on Adoption for High School Students

Adoption: A Choice worth Making is a five-day mini-unit to support any course in a Catholic high school theology curriculum. It is also appropriate for parish youth ministry. The purpose of the mini-course is to acknowledge the value of human life and provide teenagers information on a much underreported option for single women who are pregnant: adoption.

 

This mini-unit provides a synopsis of the adoption process as well as various perspectives from actual birth mothers, adoptive parents, and from teens who were adopted as infants. Written in conjunction with the Holy Family Adoption Agency, an agency dedicated to placing children with Catholic adoptive parents, teenagers will learn about a very positive effort taking place in the United States and in the Church to place children with adoptive parents.

Adoption: A Choice worth Making provides complete lesson outlines, including video links and student handouts. The lessons are designed for five consecutive 50 minute periods or over the course of one day for five consecutive weeks.

To view Adoption: A Choice worth Making click here.

September 18, 2017

Icebreaker Discussion: My Personal Opinion

You can use this discussion format in a number of ways. Here’s one:

  • Pass out a small, blank card to each student.
  • Write on a board several typical values, vices, events that teens are likely to have a strong opinion on either way. See below.

Tell the students that if they really believe strongly in something they should be willing to talk about the value openly and defend their position in the face of some questions and opposition. Tell them to take a close look at the items listed on the board and think about three or four in which they have a strong position on and would be willing to talk about in front of the group.

Tell the students to write their names on the cards. Collect the cards. Then tell them: “I will draw someone’s name from this pack. If your name is picked, you will be “on the spot” and will be asked to explain your position on one of the items you chose. Decide now which item you will talk about if your name is picked.

Pull a name and ask several questions like:

  • What item do you want to talk about?
  • What is your position on ______________?
  • Do your peers agree with your position? Do your parents?
  • Have you felt that way for a long time or is it something you’ve only come to only recently?

Encourage dialogue among the group. Include yourself in the discussion as necessary, but not to an overwhelming degree.

Continue with as many persons as time allows.

Discussion Topics

obeying rules     joining a club      reading the Bible   helping teachers   sex before marriage

telling crude jokes   shoplifting   gossiping about peers   talking about God   bad-mouthing religion

bragging about sexual conquests   getting good grades   cheating on schoolwork   smoking pot

chastity and abstinence   lying to parents   going to church   abortion   putting down unpopular kids

being lazy and uncaring   singing in church   being polite to adults   eating healthy foods

caring for the environment   assisting a neighbor in need   visiting a grandparent

going willingly on a family vacation helping the poor   texting and driving   being patriotic

 

September 1, 2017

Practical Principles and Other Resources for Catechetical Sunday 2017

 

Juliane Stanz and Tom East offer thirteen practical principles to guide accompaniment of youth and young adults as part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops resources for Catechetical Sunday 2017. The full article introduces and expounds on the thirteen principles.

Practical Principles to Guide Accompaniment of Youth and Young Adults

  1. Look broadly at the youth and young adult populations and develop targeted ministries for different segments. Some youth, and young adults are looking to go deeper and become more engaged in formation and service. Other young people need deeper prayer experiences. Some young people are anxious to come to weekly gatherings and join communities; others resist this kind of participation but are longing to have someone to talk to about their faith. We need a differentiated approach that begins with the variety of young people in mind.

  2. Engage families and see parents as part of our ministry. Parents need to be inspired and equipped to take the lead in the spiritual formation of their children. This looks different when children are youth and young adults.  We can help families make this transition.  What can we do to strengthen and support families as they share faith across the generations?  For families that are struggling with faith and active practice in the community, our work with youth can be a spark that evangelizes the whole community.  Families with young adults often face different challenges.  We can support parents as they continue to foster the faith life of emerging adults. 

  3. Look broadly at our community and engage lots of disciples who are willing to spend time with youth and young adults. Notice we didn't say "recruit more ministry leaders." Discipleship is about developing the practices of being a disciple of Jesus which is something we learn in community and in relationship with other disciples. Who are the youth and adults in your community from whom you want young people to "catch" faith?

  4. Focus on spiritual growth and attend to youth and young adults in a comprehensive way. Youth and young adults are more than just a family member or learner. Our ministry responses and faith formation need to address and engage each young person and assist them in taking the next step in their journey. It is especially important to invest time in helping youth and young adults who are evangelized to take the deeper steps toward accountability, witness, and engagement in mission.

  5. Help young people do what disciples do and get good at it! Our ministries could focus less on participation and learning information and more on the skills and practices of being a disciple. When youth and young adults are good at praying on their own, reading the Bible, participating in Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, engaging in service, and witnessing to their faith, they will continue to do these things and seek communities and relationships that support them in being disciples.

  6. Touch their hearts and make it personal. Young people yearn to belong and to relate to people who care about them and value them as individuals. To build this relationship, we need to learn names, know youth and young adults, and provide ministries that move, inspire, and engage. 

  7. Provide multiple contact points. Youth and young adults grow in commitment through a variety of relationships. They benefit from hearing different voices that provide an echo of faith.

  8. Listen and include the youth, young adults, families, and leaders from among the diverse cultures within the community. Dioceses and parishes are learning new ways to come to know and include the needs and gifts of people from various cultures in developing authentic and inclusive ministry responses. The Bishops of the United States are calling ministry leaders to develop intercultural competencies so that we have the capacity to listen, welcome, include, and be formed by people of many cultures.  These resources are an important part of our accompaniment of young people. See http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/intercultural-competencies/

  9. Go where the youth and young adults are, including online. The roots of youth ministry are to go to the corners where youth hang out. Young adult ministry has a similar history. To do this today, we should be proficient in social media, and use technology as a means to draw them towards gathered participation with the faith community.

  10. Engage youth and young adults in ministries that help them belong, believe, and share their gifts. These elements address fundamental human needs that profoundly shape the youth and young adult years. Ministry that addresses these elements develops the commitment and identity that are foundational to formation as growing young disciples.

  11. Don't treat young adults like youth. A starting place for any young adult ministry is to treat them as adults, not post-high school youth. For example, don't list them under parents' names in the church directory. Give them their own listing. Another important point to remember is that most ministry with young adults will be conducted by young adults themselves, in a peer-to-peer manner.[vi]

  12. Empower them to make a difference. Young people welcome and value opportunities that empower them to make a difference in the world. To put individuals in situations where their involvement truly affects another person is at the heart of faith.  Ensure that ample opportunities are given to perform service and ministry that directly impacts the life of another.

  13. Be action oriented. Young people value instant communication, respond quickly to action, and are adept at multitasking. They would rather participate in service than talk about it. If you decide to invite a young person to a parish committee, make sure that your committee is action oriented. Youth and young adults do not respond well to sitting around talking about ministry; they prefer to make a difference now. Long, drawn out meetings without a clear focus are certain to make your committee a youth-and-young-adult-free zone!

August 24, 2017

Updated Religious Education Resources for September

Theology teacher Charles Beach from Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis keeps complies and excellent thorough newsletter of religious education resources that are appropriate and helpful to enhance a high-school theology curriculum. You can view this the September 2017 newsletter here. Go to the bottom of the page for a link to information to subscribing to the newsletter on a monthly basis.

 

 

August 14, 2017

First Week of School Introductions

Here’s a brief introductory activity you might use on the first day or in the first week of school to help you and your students get to know each other better.

Prepare pre-printed name tags that are big enough for the students to add several other words and symbols. Display the name tags on a table when the students come into the room and have them take their name tag but not put them on. Also make sure they have a pencil or pen.

Share the following instructions. Say:

Write or draw the following items on your name tag. There will be five items. (List one at a time. Pause briefly between each item to allow for making.)

  1. Your favorite childhood toy.
  2. The logo of your favorite sport’s team.
  3. Three words to finish this sentence: “My friends think I am….”
  4. The name of an adult you admire and/or love.
  5. The name of a child who loves and/or admires you.

After everyone has finished writing tell the students to pair up with someone they do not know well. When everyone has settled, say:

Now give your name tag to your partner and take turns explaining the symbols and words to each other. Talk about one symbol at a time. Listen carefully because you will be using what you learn about your partner to introduce him or her to the entire group.

Allow about five to ten minutes for this sharing. Then call on the partner pairs to come, one at a time, to the front of the class. Say:

Introduce your partner to the class. Tell one interesting thing you learned about him or her using one of the items on the name tag. For example, say something like: “This is Mary Jones. I just learned that….”

Continue in this format until everyone has been introduced.

 

 

August 4, 2017

Save the Date: Global Campaign in Support of Refugees

 

Pope Francis is being joined by bishops across the U.S. and around the world in launching a global campaign to support our brothers and sisters who have fled their homes seeking a decent and safe life for their families. This historic campaign, “Share the Journey,” will respond to some of the most desperate of God’s children and your leadership and inspiration is needed.

You can help your diocese, parish, school or other organization participate in the “Share the Journey” campaign along with Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA, and the Church’s global charitable network, Caritas Internationalis. Through prayers and acts of compassion and support, you can help shape conversations and actions to answer the Gospel call to love our neighbors.

September 27: The official launch in Rome by Pope Francis

October 7-13Week of Prayer and Action across the U.S.

A website with resources for parishes, schools, universities, national organizations and other groups will go live the week of September 5.

 

July 31, 2017

Disney's Version of the Ave Maria

An interesting piece of information you may wish to share with your students is Walt Disney's inclusion of Schubert's classic Ave Maria in the full-length animated motion picture Fantasia.

The idea of a popular, secular film containing explicitly religious music may seem foreign to their sensibilities today. However, as this article explains, Disney's decision to use the Ave Maria was not without some controversy when it was released in 1940.

 

July 21, 2017

People Who Met and Recognized Jesus

During Jesus’ ministry many would-be friends and enemies did not recognize him or his mission as the Son of God. But several people did. Give the following list to the students and ask them to name some of the people who met and recognized Jesus. Have them write their answers before looking up the Scripture reference to check if they were right

  1. This person said, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (Jn 4:29)
  2. This man said, “Who are you, sir?” After Jesus revealed himself to the man, he found out that he was blinded. (Acts 9:5–9)
  3. They traveled with Jesus for seven miles without knowing who he was, but came to realize who he was when they had dinner with him. (Lk 24:13–31)
  4. He said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16)
  5. This man thought Jesus was the Son of God because Jesus told him, “I saw you under the fig tree.” (Jn 1:48–50)
  6. They recognized Jesus as a king when they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Mt 2:1–11)
  7. Some thought this man was the Messiah but he said, “One mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.” (Lk 3:16)
  8. This person said, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus answered him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (Jn 20:28–29)
  9. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!” (Lk 8:28–30)
  10. Jesus refused to perform miracles for this person. In talking with him, Jesus quoted some passages from the Old Testament including, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Mt 4:1–11)

Journal Assignment

  • If you met Jesus face-to-face, what would you say to him?

July 14, 2017

The Issue of Glutton Free Holy Communion

Recently the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published a Letter to Bishops on the bread and wine for Eucharist. The letter became the stir of the internet as it was promoted as "The Church Bans Glutton-Free Hosts." In fact, the letter was a reiteration of current Church teaching. In any case, this issue may have an impact on liturgies at your school.

This is a good opportunity to review with your students the importance of the matter and form of the sacraments. The host, made of unleavened wheat bread, and the natural grape wine are the "matter" of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

More, in the sacraments, the Church uses elements from creation (such as water, bread, and wine) and human culture (such as washing or anointing) to make God’s grace available to us. The traditional physical element(s) and/or gesture(s) used in each sacrament are called the matter of the sacrament.

The celebration of each sacrament also involves solemnity. The traditional words said for each sacrament are called the form of the sacrament. When you hear these words, you know that the sacrament is taking place. God is truly present, filling you and others with his love and grace.

As far as the current announcement from the Vatican, this article "The Matter Matters: Unpacking the Vatican Guidelines on Bread and Wine for the Eucharist" is an excellent resource.

 

 

July 5, 2017

St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Feast Day July 14

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, was born in 1656 in what is now upstate New York. “Tekakwitha” was her Native American name. It means “she who bumps into things”! Her feast day in the United States is on July 14. Check the events being celebrated at her national shrine in Fonda, New York.

When European settlers arrived in North America in the sixteenth century, they inadvertently brought with them deadly diseases, including small pox. These diseases often spread among Native American populations, killing countless people. Tekakwitha’s parents were among those killed by small pox, when she was just four years old. Tekakwitha also contracted the disease. Although she survived small pox, she was left badly disfigured and with impaired eyesight. Orphaned and sickly, she was taken in by relatives who tended to her care.

In 1667, when Tekakwitha was around eleven years old, Jesuit missionaries arrived in her village. Tekakwitha’s uncle forbade her to have any contact with them. He did not want her to convert to Christianity. Over time, however, as she learned more about Jesus and his message of compassion and love, she was drawn to the Catholic faith. On Easter Sunday, in 1676, when she was twenty years old, Tekakwitha was baptized and received into the Church. It was then that she took the name Kateri, Mohawk for Catherine.

More members of Kateri’s tribe opposed her conversion and treated her with cruelty. Kateri faced this treatment with patience and courage. Eventually, Kateri left her village and went to live among other Christians, where she could freely practice her faith. She lived a life dedicated to prayer and to the care of the sick and aged, and had an intense devotion to the Eucharist.

When Kateri was twenty-four years old, she became ill and soon died. Moments after her death, her body was transformed. The scarred complexion was replaced by beautiful radiance. There were many witnesses to this occurrence.

After her death, Kateri became known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.” Because of her example, many Native Americans were baptized. Kateri was beatified in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

Activities

  • Share this video reflection on her life.
  • Research and name five hardships faced by St. Kateri and how she handled them.
  • Read and report on the events of St. Kateri's canonization.

June 20, 2017

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati: Growing in Holiness

Named “the man of the eight Beatitudes” by Pope John Paul II at his beatification ceremony in Rome in 1990, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was a joy-filled man who lived only to age twenty-four, but who remains a model for bountiful love and service today. Bl. Pier Giorgio’s feast day is on July 4.

St. John Paul II noted that Bl. Pier Giorgio “bears in himself the grace of the Gospel, the Good News, the joy of Salvation offered to us Christians.” His sister said of him: “He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful.”

Pier Giorgio was born on April 6, 1901, to a wealthy and politically connected family in Turin, Italy. He was an average student but a great athlete and mountain climber. His peers adored him and called him “Terror” because of the practical jokes he played. After high school, he studied mineralogy in an engineering program. He participated in Catholic groups like the Apostleship of Prayer and the Company of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Both of these groups were known for helping poor people and for promoting Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotion, and personal chastity.

Pier Giorgio also became active in political groups—like the Young Catholic Workers, Catholic Action, and Milites Mariae—that ministered to poor people, fought fascism, and put into practice the Church’s social teachings. He gave his money to needy people and visited the sick. It was while ministering to the sick that he contracted an acute case of polio that took his life. He died at age twenty-four on July 4, 1925. Bl. Pier Giorgio offers these words of advice on how to grow in holiness:

With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which you have only if you are pure in heart and mind.

 

Assignment:

  • Summarize Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati’s advice for how to grow in holiness. Conclude with a sentence that begins, “My personal plan for growing in holiness involves . . .”
  • Read “10 Reasons to Love Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.” Choose five of the reasons listed and tell how you model them in your own life.

 

June 13, 2017

Summer Activity: Dinner on Wheels

This is an activity that is appropriate for a group of teenagers originating at a parish in a youth ministry setting.

Description

This is a progressive meal in which the teens travel by bikes (or in-line skates) to several different restaurants in your area. Divide the meal into at least four courses. Start out with something healthy like a green salad or fruit salad at a health store or coffee shop. Next, move to bakery for a slice of fresh bread. (Send one person into the bakery to buy the bread and bring it outside. Have the group sit on a curb or nearby bench to eat the bread.) Then, move to a popular pizza place for the main course: pizza! Finally, have dessert at a local frozen yogurt or ice cream shop.

Prayer

Begin each part of the meal with a blessing over the food. Choose different teens to lead the blessing at each stop.

 

Grace Before Meals

Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts

which we are about to receive from your bounty,

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Grace After Meals

We give you thanks, Almighty God,

for these and all your blessings;

you live and reign for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

June 6, 2017

Ave Maria Press Catholic High School Textbooks: Our Mission to Divine Pedagogy

Ave Maria Press is a ministry of the United States Province of Holy Cross and carries on the tradition of the order’s founder, Bl. Basil Moreau, as “educators in the faith.” Our textbooks seek to form the “heart, minds, and hands” of students to know, love, and serve Christ in his Church.

      Inspired by the National Directory for Catechesis, Ave Maria Press uses “God’s own methodology as the paradigm, and with that divine pedagogy as the reference point, chooses diverse methods that are in accord with the Gospel” (NDC 29). Following the pattern of Divine Revelation, our textbooks seek to communicate the Word of God and the beliefs of the Church, leading students “on the journey toward the Father in the footsteps of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (NDC 28).  As they progress through their high school years, we seek to both evangelize and catechize them, to strengthen their faith and encourage an ongoing change of heart to follow Christ more closely. This process of formation involves four key dimensions: knowledge of their Faith, participation in the Church community, especially through her liturgy and the sacraments; the Christian moral life of service to others and the promotion of justice; and growth in prayer and reflection (NDC 28).

      Our textbooks employ two complementary methods: the experiential or inductive method and the kerygmatic or deductive method. Because “human experience is a constitutive element in catechesis” (NDC 28), our method regularly asks students to consider concrete personal experiences: their own and those of people they know, people of faith, saints, and other heroes. Our texts build on this foundation by helping students understand how the principles and truths of the faith give meaning and purpose to their lives. Through the study of Scripture, the Creed, the Church, the liturgy, the sacraments, and Christian morality, they are led progressively to a deeper understanding and practice of their faith.

      Our goal is not only to prepare students for further study of theology in college, should that opportunity be possible for them, but more importantly to form them in the faith that will guide and strengthen them in the next stage of their lives, whatever that may be.

 

For more information on Ave Maria Press Catholic High School Textbooks visit: https://www.avemariapress.com/category/HS10/Catholic-Textbooks/

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.

 

 

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