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By Lynn and Bob Gillen

Links for Learners | September 2001

Finding God in Life's Transitions

Q U I C K S C A N


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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:
Christian lifestyles—prayer; the role of the Spirit
Scripture studies—prayer in both Testaments

Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:

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 Month’s 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.

Transition

Passage

Perspective

Lifestyle

Transformation

Spiritual direction

In-between times

A Teen's Personal Transitions

This month's article offers us a prayerful perspective on handling the difficult transitions we all face at one time or another. What kinds of transitions do you experience as a teen? What have your friends and classmates worked through?

  • Starting at a new school, either as a transfer student or as an incoming freshman
  • Losing the friendship of someone you have enjoyed and shared good times with
  • Taking on new responsibility, such as getting your license to drive a car
  • Experiencing all the physical growth changes of a young person
  • Struggling through difficult classes and subjects
  • Making the right choices about substance abuse, or recovering from wrong choices
  • Preparing for college or finding a full-time job after graduation
  • Deciding where you spend the holidays after your parents divorce
  • Lacking the self-confidence to talk to someone you find attractive
  • Suffering resulting from illness, trauma or accident

In discussion with your class or group, add to this list. What are the individual transitions you need to deal with? After you've put your own list together, talk about how you faced your challenge. What got you through? Did prayer and faith help? If so, how did you pray?

In your discussion you may find inspiration in Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was an unwed teen mother in a strongly traditional society. Later, she watched her only son die a cruel death. Only her strong faith in God allowed her a unique role in Christian history.


The Role of the Holy Spirit

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that when God the Father sends his Word Jesus to us, he always sends his Spirit too. Jesus and the Spirit are inseparable.

Picture yourself in this or a similar situation: Your mom is out of town on a business trip. Your soccer team has just advanced to the championship match. You call your mom and ask her to attend your game, but she cannot return home in time. She promises to be there for you in spirit. During the match, you recall her promise and feel her presence. You give the match your best because she is there with you in your heart.

It's much the same with Jesus. We face a difficult challenge. We pray for Jesus to help us. He doesn't always remove the challenge, or provide the answer we looked for, but he always promises his Spirit. The Spirit is in our hearts as we work through our challenges.



Praying in Faith

Recall in Matthew's Gospel the parable of the mustard seed that Jesus taught us. The mustard seed is a tiny, seemingly insignificant seed, yet it grows into a great shrub. The tiny moments we spend in prayer, the brief conversations with Jesus, will help us grow into strong, faithful persons. Jesus grew impatient with his followers when they wondered why they were unable to cure an epileptic man. He said, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."

Scripture tells us it is the heart that prays. The Catechism says, "The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our own psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death."

How do we develop the ability to pray? Try these resources to help you. Share what you discover about prayer with your friends. E-mail the links that help you to someone else in need of prayer.

  • The Irish Jesuits have a prayer site that offers daily Scripture readings and prayer aids. Some sites also offer you the opportunity to pray at your computer for 10 minutes a day. This site offers Minute Meditations for a quiet spot in your busy day. The Taizé Community also presents a daily meditation for our prayer. Members of this group, a Christian brotherhood that has its origins in World War II France, work among the poor and share whatever resources they earn with the poor.
  • Check out the Christian "Soulsearching" prayer site, an internationally scoped location geared toward students. It features a prayer room where you can e-mail requests for prayer. The site offers help with morning and evening prayer when your own words won't come. Does music help you pray? This site allows you to download several inspirational songs in MP3. You'll also find song clips at the Taizé Community site.
  • Try the 24-7 prayer site, where people around the world pray nonstop in small groups. You can put together your own prayer group and register to join the larger one.
  • We need not pray alone, even when friends and fellow believers aren't nearby. We have the communion of saints, all the believers who have gone on to God before us, to pray with. As Catholics, we ask the saints to pray with us as we talk to God. And saints are anyone in heaven. We can ask a beloved grandparent or a classmate who has died to pray with us as we search for strength.
  • The Awaken to Prayer site offers a wealth of traditional and contemporary prayer methods, supports, links and information.
  • The ultimate prayer of transition may well have been Jesus' words as he faced death on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Even in the despair of death, he trusted in his Father. The death and resurrection of Jesus were a triumph of faith. The Gospel stories recount Jesus' birth, his life and mission among us, his death, and his victory over death—a passage from the Father to live among us and then return to the Father. Because he was victorious, we also will be. Every time we come together as a faith community to celebrate the liturgy, we celebrate this transition, the passage of Jesus back to his Father and our own participation in that passage. The Catechism tells us, "The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life."

You can no doubt find other resources that will help you pray. The point is—you can pray, Jesus will send his Spirit and you will not pray alone.

 

Print Resources

I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Death of a Loved One, Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., Champion Press Ltd., Vancouver, WA, 2000.

 

Research Resources

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 Times
Time magazine
CNN
MSNBC
The Associated Press
The Chicago Tribune
People magazine
The History Channel
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization
ABC News
Channel One’s online resource
The Vatican
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
Documents of Vatican II


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