Lesson Plan for Oct. 23 or Oct. 25, 2006

Discuss Morality Chapter 2


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Scriptures Are a Blueprint for Our Lives

WE LEARN FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE

(Ch. 2) When it comes to textbooks, do you want only words, or do diagrams and illustrations help a lot? Does it sometimes help you remember your school subjects if you make up a little song about the subject or a little rhyme or other mnemonic device?

The Book of Kells, which illuminates biblical text with elaborate illustrations, is 1200 years old. This is an example of how ancient people in the church kept passing down the gospel and other inspired writings used in the early days of Christianity. You can see some of the Book of Kells images online (link). Imagine how long it would take to do this for the whole Bible.

As a personal or classroom project, you may want to pick a single verse (or two) from the Bible (one per student). Then, illuminate that passage with artwork, such as on a bookmark or poster. Alternatively, students can put their musical creativity to work and write a song about it. Sure, the words of the Bible are always there, but sometimes, it is easier to remember what the Bible teaches if it's in song or picture form. Sample verses can be taken from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17), the Beatitudes (usually Matthew 5:3-11), or other places, such as

When you are sad — John 14
When you are worried — Matthew 6:19-34
When you need courage — Joshua 1
When people seem unkind — John 15
When you need reassurance — Psalm 145:18

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT A VIRTUOUS LIFE

During the last supper, our Lord said, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so my joy may be in you, and so your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11).

In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do so, will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19).

Finally, John wrote a general epistle, known to us today as 1st John, in the Bible, where it is written, "We can be sure we know [the Lord] if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, 'I know him,' but doesn't keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live his life just as our Lord lived" (1 Jn 2:3-6).

In the Bible, the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes are like instructions of how we should live our lives if we are actually a part of God's kingdom. Several warnings, like those above, can be found for those who choose not to follow God's commandments.

Most important, though, we know that Jesus perfected the commandments God gave us, and he is the sure way to living the life God wanted us to live when he created us in his Image. What Jesus and his apostles taught us is the path to true happiness for each of us.

WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES (THIS WEEK'S READINGS)

The readings this week (Sunday, Oct. 22) reflect upon our calling to a "royal priesthood" in which Christ is our high priest. Our lesson is about vices and virtues. Virtues are defined as habits that bring us closer to God and to others. Specifically, the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) are gifts from God that help us in our relationship with him (see page 19).

Let's take a closer look at these virtures and relate them to this week's readings in church. When we show our faith, we are not likely to disobey God's first commandment (not to worship idols or false gods). We are likely to serve only the one true God. Love is also an important virtue. When we show love for other people, we are not likely to violate any of the commandments that tell us how to act toward others (not kill, not steal, etc.). Finally, when we have hope for goodness in others and in God's infinite goodness, we have something that motivates us to act in ways that show these virtues and, we hope, teach them to others. This "hope" is in our ultimate union with God in heaven.

In this week's gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that our place in heaven is not up to him as our high priest. It is up to God alone. You see, priests "represent" their people before God on the day of judgment, but judgment is God's alone. Jesus said that those who serve others will be highest in God's kingdom, while those who don't will be last. "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant," he said.

The cardinal virtues (prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice) are qualities that help us have good relations with God's other children. They actually give us a plan to serve others, as Jesus told his disciples we had to do. For example, if we act with justice toward others and ensure that their human dignity as a child of God is preserved, that helps us follow the Beatitude of being a peacemaker. I mean, if a homeless person has a decent meal, he's not likely to fight someone else to get money to buy a meal so he doesn't starve to death, right? When you preserve his individual dignity, you are making peace between him and others that the devil might tempt him to steal from. Any time you do something that exercises one of these virtues, you learn a little more about how God is calling you to be with him in heaven.

This brings us full-circle with the gospel message of this week. When we serve others, who are God's children, we practice the virtues Jesus taught us, mostly found in scripture. We become a better friend to God.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER AND REFLECT ON

How can you share God's law of love with other students? With your family?

What bad habits or vices do you see other 7th graders doing? Note: a "vice" is a habit that leads us away from God or away from a path toward holiness and happiness.

What are some examples of the cardinal virtues in your everyday life? How does standing up for your beliefs demonstrate the cardinal virtue of fortitude?

BIBLE PASSAGE TO HELP YOU PONDER

Jesus said: "Don't let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, so have faith in me as well. In my Father's house, there are many rooms. If there weren't, would I have told you I'm going to prepare a place for you? And, if I go to prepare a place for you, I will definitely come back again and take you with me, so that where I am, you also may be. Where I am going, you know the way. ... I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on, you do know him, and you have seen him. ... I have told you these things while I am still with you. But after I'm gone, another Advocate, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in my Name, will teach you everything and remind you of all the things I myself have taught you. So don't let your hearts be worried or afraid." [John 14:1..27, new translation]

Muslim Holy Month Ends on Eid ul-Fitr

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which in their tradition celebrates the revealing of the Qu'ran by God to the prophet Muhammed, will end this year on Oct. 23 (actually at sundown on the day before). During the month, Muslims who are able to fast are forbidden to put anything in their mouth, including water, between sunrise and sunset. Since extreme fasting has to be reserved for Ramadan itself, it's not allowed after Ramadan is over. Muslims have to eat during the day, beginning with the Muslim holy day of Eid ul-Fitr. Before the actual Eid prayer on that day, Muslims usually recite the Takbir:

God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest.
There is no deity but [the One] God.
God is Greatest, God is Greatest,
and to Him goes all praise.

During Ramadan, every Muslim (man, woman, and child) must give alms, usually amounting to about 2 kg of basic food, to the poor. The food (or cash equivalent) is usually collected at a mosque. The mosque distributes it to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer.

The Eid prayer (salah) is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer (dua) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace people near you as well as your relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Children are normally given gifts or money on the feast day. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconciliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid. [Source: Wikipedia]