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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

January 2000

The following Links for Learners resource is offered to those who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in an educational setting or for further study at home. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for further study each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain this resource. Up until December 1998 it was called a teacher's guide or classroom resource. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

Click here for a complete listing of Links for Learners

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

    • Religion—Christian life-styles; Scriptures; moral theology; forgiveness
    • Social Studies—rebuilding of communities and cultures in Bosnia and Serbia; the roots of war
    • Psychology—self-healing through mercy and forgiveness
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 or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s 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.

Interethnic strife











Adoration (of Blessed Sacrament)


Post-war Rebuilding

This month's article describes non-denominational efforts to provide supplies and labor for rebuilding homes torn apart by recent battles in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Christians and non-Christians alike donate building materials and give up vacation time to work shoulder to shoulder with Bosnian families as they put their lives back together.

The long-festering interethnic civil strife between Bosnians and Croatians, on the one hand, and Serbians on the other resulted in the destruction of homes and country sides as well as personal devastation and ethnic cleansing reminiscent of the Holocaust of World War II. Much has been written on the fighting in the Balkans. For a printed history, see Kosovo: A Short History, Noel Malcolm, New York University Press, New York, 1998.

Rebuilding Bosnian homes and lives is a daunting task that will take many years. The efforts of the volunteers in St. David's Relief Organization exemplify Christian outreach to those in need. In fact, the Franciscan Order, with strong roots in nearby Medjugorje, represented a critical contingent within the relief efforts. Medjugorje, in southern Bosnia, is the site where, since 1981, Mary is said to appear daily. Franciscans in Bosnia contains information on the Franciscan presence in the region.

Bosnians reject suggestions that they leave their homelands and immigrate to more peaceful areas. As the article says, "the land and the Church are their lives." Despite the tragedies that have driven pain deep into their hearts, the Bosnian people still live in hope. In discussing their situation, you may want to compare it to situations and events that pushed other peoples to turn away from their homes and immigrate to other lands. The Potato Famine in Ireland, for example, was a turning point for thousands of Irish, whose hope directed them to leave Ireland for America. What motivated them to immigrate?

The Healing Only Forgiveness Can Bring

While the generous efforts of countless volunteers certainly witness to the generosity of Jesus himself, there can be no question that they are mostly the efforts of outsiders who have not experienced the deep emotional and physical wounds of hatred and war. A deep, abiding peace, a restoration of community ties, will only occur through forgiveness among the warring ethnic groups in Bosnia.

But how do you forgive the person who destroyed your home, assaulted and killed your family and drove you away from your roots? How do you forgive the Irish Republican Army when they abduct and murder a mother of 10 because she cradled a dying British soldier in her arms? How do you forgive the parent who left you and went off to live a new life?

Developmental psychologist Robert D. Enright, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, has devoted the last 10+ years to the study of forgiveness. His work led him to establish the International Forgiveness Institute. Colleagues considered him almost crazy because he gave up years of research and grant work to take on the subject of forgiveness, a topic no one in psychology had taken seriously before.

Now, however, Enright can write that "people who are deeply and unjustly hurt by others can heal emotionally by forgiving their offender."

In a first of its kind national conference on forgiveness, held in 1995, psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons stated that as a society our anger is completely out of control. Road rage, student killings, family feuds, hate radio, sports fights among players and fans alike—all are symptoms of a deep-seated anger in our culture.

Psychiatrists and psychologists are more and more in agreement that forgiving releases the power that an offender otherwise has over us. We limit ourselves emotionally, physically, developmentally when we refuse to forgive.

Enright admits that forgiveness is extremely difficult. It's a process, not a single step, and can easily take years to accomplish. He outlines five steps in the healing process:

  • Face up to the anger within us.
  • Recognize the source of our hurt.
  • Choose to forgive.
  • Find a new way to think about the individual who hurt us.
  • Try on the shoes of our offender.

The International Forgiveness Institute publishes a quarterly newsletter called "The World of Forgiveness," which you may find helpful for ongoing discussion on this topic.

See The National Catholic Reporter, May 30, 1997, for an article on Enright and his work with forgiveness.

From a spiritual perspective, Christian forgiveness is, of course, rooted in Jesus. Forgiving is how God chooses to deal with us. Jesus, in action and in parable, preached forgiveness as the new way of life for a believer. The older son in the parable of the prodigal son could not forgive his younger brother. The crowd ready to stone to death the woman caught in adultery could find no way to forgive until Jesus reminded them of their own sinfulness.

Can we forgive? Talk about the anger, the unjust wrongs, the pain you have received at the hands of another. If you were the parent of a student wounded or killed at Columbine High School, could you forgive the shooters? One mother reflected on those very questions in "Columbine's Selfless Heroes." The author of this month's article refers to a "self-killing forgiveness" as the solution to the bitterness in Bosnia. Why is forgiveness self-killing? Can we achieve this extraordinary level of love without first feeling the loving forgiveness of Jesus himself?

Enright believes that people forgive people. Institutions, nations, groups don't forgive unless individuals first forgive. Where can we start to forgive? What situations can we begin to heal with efforts at forgiveness? For adults and parents, where can we demonstrate loving forgiveness to our children?

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



Pathfinder - Access site to a number of online news publications

The Associated Press

The Chicago Tribune

People magazine

The History Channel

The Miami Herald

The Close Up FoundationWashington, D.C.-based organization

ABC News

Channel One’s online resource

The Vatican

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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