Links for Learning
1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers
This months Links for Learners will support high school
- ReligionChristian life-styles; Christian service; parish
- Social Studiessocial and economic needs of society
- Geographylocations of events impacting society
- Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs such as:
Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young
adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA
Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion
around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities
or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms 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.
Spirituality of place
|Ministry of hospitality
Disasters are commonplace
After reading this month's article, we could, without reflection,
conclude that Assisi is just one story among many about a town destroyed
and rebuilt following a natural disaster. The press and the media
are certainly full of stories about disasters: Hurricane Floyd which
recently pounded the southeastern part of the United States, Hurricane
Mitch and other Caribbean storms, wildfires in Florida and California,
tornadoes in the Midwest, the recent floods in North Dakota, earthquakes
in Turkey and Greece. Destruction at the hands of nature is no stranger
to most communities.
But Assisi stands out more as an effort to revitalize the spirit
of a Christian saint dedicated to the poor.
The instinct to rebuild
Rebuilding in the aftermath of disaster is likewise not unusual.
History tells us of the Reconstruction of the South following the
American Civil War, the rebirth of the city of San
Francisco after the great earthquake and fire of 1906, the Marshall
Plan to revive Europe after World War II, the rebuilding of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings in 1945.
More recently, we know of efforts
to reunite North and South Vietnam, the rebuilding of
Los Angeles after the earthquake of 1994, the creation of
a memorial park after the bombing in Oklahoma City, and the
reopening of Columbine
High School after the deadly shooting rampage. Following
the tragedy at Columbine,
some suggested closing the school. But many Littleton residents,
including the teen students themselves, refused. The school
is now open again. The tragedy will long be remembered, but
the school will continue as testimony
to an enduring spirit.
Whether the reasons are personal, unique to a small group, economic
or community-driven, rebuilding after loss is our normal reaction.
Your own local community has no doubt suffered some kind of loss
or tragedy, a special place damaged or destroyed with force by nature
or by violence. Identify and discuss several examples of how your
community responded to devastation. How did you rebuild? Who were
the leaders directing the rebirth? Why was rebuilding so important
The sacred place
Rebuilding the town of Assisi, then, after the devastating earthquakes
of 1997 is clearly one example of humanity's normal reaction to
a disaster. And, as the article points out, certainly some of the
motivation has been economic. The tourist trade, the flow of pilgrims
through its inns and restaurants, keeps the town alive financially.
But underlying Assisi's
rebirth is a deeper meaning.
is a sacred place for many. Pilgrims come there just as they do
to Rome or Jerusalem or Lourdes, not simply for a vacation trip
to a new place, but in search of meaning. They come with a strong
sense of faith. Assisi offers them the spirit
of Francis. Assisi is a place of "reconciliation, prayer
and mutual respect," as Pope John Paul II says.
In discussion, try to identify how people have worked to keep someone's
spirit alive in a place. For example, the countries of the world
are filled with memorials built to keep alive the memory of loved
ones lost in accidents or battles. The war memorial at Pearl
Harbor in Hawaii pays tribute to soldiers lost in war. So do
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the battlefield memorials at Gettysburg
and other Civil War sites and the Vietnam
Even a sandy beach on Long Island, New York, becomes a memorial
place every year as relatives gather to honor those lost in the
explosion of Flight 800.
For some, professional athletes have been a personal inspiration.
To remember them, we have a place such as the Baseball Hall of Fame
in Cooperstown, New York.
For others, music is a moving force. The Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrates
musicians who gave us a spirit of joy in song.
Francis' spirit was one of concern for the poor, rooted in a personal
renunciation of wealth. It was in Assisi that Francis, a soldier
and a man of wealth, publicly threw off all that he possessed to
serve the poor. Since then, numerous women and men have taken his
spirit, his example, to heart and done the same. The Franciscan
Order follows his spirit closely.
The recent history of the Catholic Church offers strong examples
of faith-based service to God's poor, in the spirit of Francis.
Oscar Romero died of an assassin's bullet in El Salvador working
for the poor. Mother Teresa walked
the city streets in India to gather up the sick and the dying, offering
them care and a place to die with dignity and peace.
Among the unsung heroes today are often those teachers who dedicate
their lives to educating young people in very difficult situations
and at very low rates of pay. Whether motivated by a Christian faith,
a belief in youth, or in the importance of education, these people
give years of selfless service to others.
What about the people in your own life and community? Who lives
a life of service to the poor or to those in need? Talk about this
in your group, moving the conversation towards identifying the spirit
in these people. You may then want to talk about how you can emulate
that spirit in your own life. Following the spirit
of Francis, the spirit of Jesus and the example of others in
your life, you can find simple ways to serve those around you who
need strength and support. Instead of buying a CD, the pair of shoes
you don't really need or more junk food, how about saving a few
dollars and making a donation to a local charity?
The Spirit in us
The spirit of Francis is but one example of the Spirit of Jesus
alive in our world. Jesus left his Spirit as a source of strength
for us. Talk about the instances when we ourselves are the ones
in need. We all suffer from time to time as a result of personal
tragedy: separation, divorce, death of a loved one, a financial
crisis, catastrophic illness, emotional stress and strain, the pain
of a lost friend, failure in studies, the loss of a job. We don't
often have the opportunity to locate or visit a sacred place where
we can regain peace. But we can touch Jesus' Spirit.
When we support each other in caring conversation or in purposeful
discussion groups, we find Jesus' Spirit in the community. When
we spend a few moments in silent prayer, we find Jesus' Spirit in
our hearts. When as fellow believers we celebrate a simple meal
of bread and wine in the Eucharist, we feed on Jesus' Spirit. Remembering
the victory of Jesus over his personal devastation of rejection
and death, we memorialize his continuing Spirit. This is our personal
way of rebuilding our own frail and shaken foundations. The town
of Assisi rebuilds to open itself to pilgrims in search of hope.
We rebuild ourselves so that we can be a source of hope to the pilgrims
who pass through our lives every day.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference.
Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading
articles contained within the site’s archives.
The New York Times
The Los Angeles
- Access site to a number of online news publications
The Associated Press
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation
– Washington, D.C.-based organization