Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

April 13, 2010

Dying and Rising

Here's a short exercise that can help teenagers better understand the practical and joyful experience of the Resurrection that is the result of the work of Christian discipleship. Begin by paraphrasing this short introduction:
Anything worthwhile—be it running a marathon, being a good musician, or achieving good grades—requires commitment and sacrifice. Achieving new goals also means leaving old ways behind. An athlete gives up junk food for a balanced diet. A student interesting in getting better grades gives up hours of social activities for study. What are some things that you have personally given up in your life to help you to be a better follower of Jesus. Take a look at a some of those times.
Share these words from 1 Corinthians 13:11:
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child reason as a child; when I became an adult I put aside childish things.
You too have put aside childish things. You are no longer the person you were in grade school. In a sense, that person has "died" and a new person has "risen." With that in mind, write some of your reflections to the following questions.
Assign the following writing prompts:
  • Think back to grade school Describe the way you used to be, act, and think. (For example, an activity you no longer do, a habit you outgrew, something you are no longer afraid of.)
  • Describe the "new you" that has appeared since you started high school. How is your life different from what it was like before you started high school? How are you different? (For example, what is something different you believe, a new interest you have, a skill you are better at?)
  • As you look at your life now, what part of you do you need to outgrow (allow to die) so that you can mature even further. (For example, an attitude you need to change, a habit you need to develop, a relationship you need to improve.)
Ask the students to share their reflections with a person sitting on either side of them. Allow some time for sharing. Call an end to the sharing by reading from Paul's Letter to the Philippians 3:17-16 (I keep my attention on the finish line.) Produce a large basin of water (preferably holy water). Then say:
When you were baptized, the minister poured water on you three times symbolizing the three days that Jesus spent in the tomb. After the baptism he said: "You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ." To remind us of our call from death to new life, I invite you to come, one at a time to the bowl of holy water and symbolically wash your hands in the bowl as a symbol of washing away your old self and making space for a new life. As you do, say what part of your life you ask Jesus to help you change; for example, "I ask Jesus to help me wash away by bad habit of swearing." I will go first. Anyone may go next.
Allow time for all to participate. Play some reflective music during this time. When everyone has shared, join together praying the Our Father.

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