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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

August 21, 2019

A Lesson on the Flesh and the Spirit

There is a great religious lesson in the short film (6:36) Giuseppe's Opus, starring Joe Marinelli. Conduct an activity around the film in this order:


1. Say: "I'm going to play a short film for you called Giuseppe's Opus; Giuseppe is the character in the film. The word opus means 'a large scale artistic work.'  When it is over I want you to tell me what you think its main lesson is."

2. Play the film.

3. Allow time for the students to write down some notes.

4. Divide the students in groups of three and tell them to each share what they think is the film's main lesson.

5. After time for discussion, call on representatives from each group to summarize some of the lessons the members shared. You can further summarize what the moderators report by writing a few words on the board, perhaps things like:

  • You have to quench the pangs of the flesh, before you can do the work of the spirit.
  • The work of the spirit is lifelong.
  • The work of the flesh is fleeting; the work of the spirit is everlasting.

6. After the discussion, remind the students of the sign on the wall in the shop: "The Flesh Is Dead. The Spirit Is Alive." Tell them this is a reference to Romans 8:11-13. Call on a student to read the passage aloud. Call on other students to suggest how the theme of the film is connected to the words in this passage.

7. Finally, share some details on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. (Recall that Giuseppe trims a vine back from the statue of St. Francis.) St. Francis gave up his inheritance and stripped away his physical possessions in order to spiritually build up the Church and follow Christ. Conclude by praying the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console; 
To be understood, as to understand; 
To be loved, as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive, 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. 

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