Links for Learners
by Lynn and Bob
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Links for Learning
Connections for High School Teachers and Students
Links for Learners will support high school curriculum
Finding Links for
Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
prayer; Christian living
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.
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 AmericanCatholic
Francis of Assisi
Blessing as an
If we were print journalists
about to write an article about blessings for our local newspaper,
we'd start by asking ourselves the traditional questions: who, what,
when, where, why?
This month's author
gives us the framework to answer those questions. Our own thoughts
and experiences will fill out the framework.
Who Can Bless?
Anyone. Anyone can
offer a blessing. A blessing has its roots in our own relationship
with God, the source of all good. If blessings are to flow freely
from our hearts, they will do so because we are close to God. Like
a tree or plant waiting for spring, rooted in the good earth and
nourished by rain and sun, ready to bless the world with flowers,
foliage and fragrance, we too will bless the world when we are rooted
What is a
A blessing has the
receiver's good in mind. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes.
He blessed the persecuted, the poor, those without a voice. His
vision for them is a world filled with blessing. We too want those
who receive our blessings to prosper, to flourish, to enjoy relationship
Wishing the best for
someone doesn't always translate easily into benefit. It takes work
and help. Blessing a difficult family situation, for example, won't
automatically result in a peace-filled home. But the blessing will
encourage us to work at better family relations.
When a blended family
comes together, building unity among siblings and stepparents
doesn't just happen, even with the best intentions.
When and where?
Anytime, under any
circumstances. Opportunities for blessing abound. The author suggests
some. We can add to the list of possibilities.
much of God's blessings do the sick, the lonely and the elderly
experience in their daily living? We can be the vehicles for their
increased joy. Many of us have older family members in other parts
of the country, family we don't often see. If they have access
to the Internet and e-mail, a simple e-mail card will brighten
their day. See St. Anthony
Messenger's site for Catholic
e-Greetings. Other commercial sites from familiar card designers
and online bookstores also offer cheerful e-mail cards. More.
With our guidance, our children can learn to read the Scriptures,
find a short prayer of blessing and create a card with scriptural
text to send a distant family member. The Psalms, the Gospels,
Paul's lettersall are rich sources of blessings. Younger children
who miss older siblings off at college can send a warm blessing
to them, perhaps a scriptural prayer on the back of a family photo
or a collage of Bible-inspired pictures and drawings.
Our parishes bless and pray over RCIA participants in the Lenten
liturgies. What else can a parish do to bless its RCIA members
during other seasons?
A video greeting can be a terrific way to cheer someone. Take
some shots of your family, the kids' school projects, your blooming
flower garden, anything from your life that will cheer someone
else. Open or close the video with a group blessing for the recipient.
Gather the family around the kitchen table, light a candle, offer
a prayer of blessing and toast the recipient on camera. Videomaker
magazine offers informative articles and tips on creating dynamic
A family photo album will do just as well. Include a photo of
the children extending their arms in blessing for their remote
and ill grandma, for example.
For shut-ins, a gift of a book of photos would be a blessing.
Edward Steichen's The Family of Man, originally a 1955
photographic exhibit in New York's Museum of Modern Art, is filled
with inspiring photos. Steichen captured life from birth to death
in his pictures.
Why Do We Offer
We bless because God blessed. Genesis
tells us that as soon as God saw the world he had created, he blessed
it. Our author discusses the importance of the "ritual of transfer"
for a blessing. A blessing is a form of sacrament. When we bless,
we make the invisible (God's love) visible to someone. Sacraments
are physical signs, tangible expressions of the love of God.
Blessing others (and
ourselves) can be a form of forgiveness. See Thomas Richstatter's
Catholic Update article on the sacrament
of reconciliation for a further discussion of forgiveness. The
Update series contains numerous articles on the sacramental
life of the Church.
St. Francis of Assisi
was famous for the way he blessed everyoneand everythingaround
him. Check out the St.
Francis Feature for more.
Blessing Is a Choice
Our author calls on
us to bless, not curse. Anger is a swift and easy response to many
situations, such as the way others drive in traffic. Blessing is
a conscious choice.
In his book, The
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey
talks of the personal victory that we achieve when we take
responsibility for our own actions. Anger is simply reaction
to stimulus. The act of blessing inserts a step between stimulus
and reaction, a step based on values and principles. When
we live as though we have a relationship with God, we take
responsibility for anger, insert a pause before the hostile
reaction and bless someone or some situation as our response.
Living in faith is a choice. Living as a Christian, as one
who believes in God, is a choice.
Nourishing our relationship
with God strengthens our ability to make these positive choices.
The simple act of blessing ourselves in the morning, of uttering
a brief prayer before the day starts, reminds us of the values that
drive our lives. It is a reminder of relationship.
prayer of St. Francis is a good example of choosing to pray
in blessing. "Where there is hatred, let me sow love." Love is
the chosen response, not hatred.
parent "bleacher rage"
(and even physical fighting) becomes more common at young people's
sports events, our children need our blessing. They need to hear
us pray over them. Our wish for them is enriched by fun and by
friendly competition. They need to see us parents respect coaches
and referees. Disagreeing with a call is not an occasion for violent
outbreaks, just an emotionally exciting part of the game.
week we pray together as a Church when we gather for liturgy.
We then carry that spirit through all we do for the coming week.
Supplement your efforts with Sabbath
blessings. These spirit-filled essays, written by an Anglican
writer and mother, highlight the ordinary blessings in our lives.
Again, blessing is a choice. Nourishing our ability to bless is
also a choice.
awareness of how other faiths offer blessing will strengthen
our own. Commonly requested Jewish
prayers and blessings reveal another perspective. Jews
and Christians alike place written prayers on Jerusalem's
Wall. You can e-mail a prayer for placement on the wall
if you can't visit in person.
For more information
on moving beyond violence to peace, see the transcript of a radio
interview with Colman McCarthy, the founder of The Center for
Teaching Peace, a Washington, D.C.-based organization.
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.
- Access site to a number of online news publications