Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high
school curriculum in:
Scripturesthe early Church in the Acts
of the Apostles; the Beatitudes; Christianity's Judaic roots
Christian lifestylescommunity life;
friendship in faith
Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom,
Parish sacramental preparation programs and
CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion
groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful
in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home
study, at family activities.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for the key words and terms below as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the
glossary page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Christian communal living
Acts of the Apostles
School of holiness
Christian Community, Then and Now
This month we profile a small band of individuals who migrated
from Europe to the United States to build a Christian communal
life as the Catholic
Community of the Beatitudes. A radical experiment in Christian
living, the community members serve as missionaries to the
spiritually hungry in the Denver area.
Their ongoing journey offers parallel insights to the origins
of Christian community as documented in the Christian Scriptures,
especially the Acts
of the Apostles. In the Acts, the author Luke (the same
Luke who wrote the Gospel that bears his name) tells the story
of a group of believers coming together to live in faith.
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles
and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and
to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders
and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed
were together and had all things in common; they would sell
their property and possessions and divide them among all
according to each one's need.
Denver's Community of the Beatitudes demonstrates how the
Church continues since its origin to flower in communal life.
The Community seeks to promote holiness for all. That's not
to say that they're living saints. Uneasy with their own sinfulness
(the founding couple, for example, aborted their first child),
and restless for spiritual peace (members knew the "quiet
desperation" characteristic of so many American lives), they
listened when the Holy Spirit called them to a new life in
Isn't this sinfulness and restlessness characteristic as
well of the disciples of Jesus in the first days of the Church?
Peter vehemently and publicly denied he ever knew Jesus. All
Jesus' followers deserted him at the time of his death. Even
after the Resurrection, they stayed inside hiding for fear
they too would be killed.
On the evening of that first day of the week, even though
the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they
were for fear of the Jews
Only the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost transformed
the early disciples into fearless preachers. They spread out
through the then-known world to evangelize, that is, to bring
the joy of the Resurrection to anyone who would listen and
believe. According to the New American Bible's Introduction
to Acts, Luke "describes the emergence of Christianity
from its origins in Judaism to its position as a religion
of worldwide status and appeal."
Paul, the Church's first well-known Jewish convert, preached
the Christian faith as the fulfillment of the loving relationship
God first began with the Israelites, as in Acts
So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said, "Fellow
Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and
exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it and for about forty
years he put up with them in the desert.
Paul's sermon continues to explain the Jewish scriptures
through to the coming of Jesus.
God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel
a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming
a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel
And of Jesus' tragic death Paul says,
But God raised him from the dead, and for many days
he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee
to Jerusalem. These are (now) his witnesses before the people.
Witnessing to the joyful news of the Resurrection became
the core message of the Church. Likewise moved by the Spirit
to be witnesses, the members of the Community of the Beatitudes
inspire many in their neighborhood and city. Visitors to the
Community proclaim they have experienced the joy of the Resurrection.
People go out of their way to pray with the community, to
drop in for meals, to slip by in the darkness to ask for help
when there's nowhere else to turn. Several of the current
community members were attracted to the group precisely because
they experienced this inspiration in similar Beatitudes communities.
"You could feel God's presence in the liturgy of the community,"
Witnessing to Jesus will always drive the Church's missionary
efforts throughout the world. (See the Second Vatican Council's
on the Mission Activity of the Church for an extensive
explanation of the Church's mission.) Since the Church's beginnings,
Christian community has evolved into a variety of forms to
serve different missions. Members of the Community of the
Beatitudes follow a lifestyle similar to the work and prayer
regimen of a monastery.
Other Christian communities and renewal groups can take other
- Some, like the Catholic
Worker Movement, organize loosely around a life of service
to the needy and homeless in urban neighborhoods.
- Other groups such as the Little
Sisters of the Poor integrate the more traditional form
of dedicated community life with living and working among
and as the poor.
- The parish community, a form we are most familiar with,
often tries to rejuvenate itself, as several Chicago churches
recently exemplify. (See the August
2001 Links for Learners on bringing young adult Catholics
back into parish communities.)
renewal ministries reach out to those in need of physical
and spiritual healing.
- The Jesuits focus
on education and social ministries throughout the world.
- Parish retreat programs reach teens as they prepare for
further sacramental life in Confirmation; high school programs
build community among friends and classmates.