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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

December 1999

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

1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

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


    • Religion—the meaning of Jesus' Incarnation; Scripture—the letters of Paul; the Sacraments; Christian history
    • Social Studies—the history of humankind
    • Science—ecology
    1. 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 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.


St. Paul's Letters







Sacrament as sign

Primacy and predestination (of Christ)


The Real New Year Celebration

What are we really celebrating on the New Year's Eve that opens into the third millennium? Is it just a bash bigger than the usual New Year's Eve party? Just an occasion when we can later brag about where we were and what we did when the new millennium began?

This month's author urges us to view the millennial holiday from a Christian perspective. For Christians, the start of the new millennium is a special moment in our history. We believe that Jesus is the center of our world, the core of our reality. While most of the world celebrates a new year and a new beginning on December 31, 1999, we will have already begun on Christmas Eve. Our millennial joy comes from remembering the birth of Jesus, the moment when God inserted Himself into our humanity in an unforeseen and unimaginable way. He became one of us. He touched us in an incredibly personal way.

Starting on Christmas Eve is part of a preparation plan Pope John Paul II set in place several years ago when he established a Jubilee Year—from Christmas Eve 1999 to the feast of the Epiphany in 2001—for the Church to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Jesus' birth.

Pope John Paul bases the Jubilee Year on a theology that puts Jesus at the center of all human history. Jesus is the center of our lives. Our author points us to the New Testament letters of St. Paul, where we learn much of the theology of the Incarnation. For Paul, Jesus is the center of all, the focal point, the image of God's invisible love. He is the center of all history, the goal of creation. When Paul matured in his faith and came to understand the inner reality of Jesus, he wrote in Ephesians 1:4, "God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love." (For a thorough bibliography on Paul's letters, see Spring Hill College's Web site. And see John Paul's encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, for a deeper theological explanation.)

Paul was an enemy of the early Church, an active persecutor of the first Christians. When he experienced his conversion, Paul's initial response was one of relief and gratitude, says our author. Jesus saved him from disaster. Jesus showed him a new life. But later, when Paul had an opportunity for prolonged reflection (his imprisonment), he came to understand the tremendous depths of meaning in Jesus' becoming man.

The goal of all creation, all history is Jesus. And each of us was a loving thought in God's heart before the world even came to be. God would have sent Jesus to us regardless of our condition. What an incredible thought! Before the Father created the world, He chose you and me. He knew each of us by name. Amy Grant says it well in her song, "His Father's Eyes." In our eyes we each reflect the Father, our loving God.

The Personal Reality of Jesus

Like St. Paul, many of us no doubt have had experiences of relief and gratitude in being saved from some difficult situation. Only later have we understood the real meaning of what happened to us. We may have wrestled with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, maybe became entangled with the wrong crowd, struggled with studies, were involved in a bad marriage or faced financial problems until a counselor, a friend, a teacher reached out to us and got us back on the track. Perhaps during a time of confusion or inner turmoil, a priest's sermon, a spouse's concern, a sister's conference talk, a peer's retreat presentation or a friend's loyal support touched us. We were probably thankful initially for the help and guidance. Months or even years later, with the perspective of time or with a chance to think quietly, we realized the great gift of love we received from that person.

See the November 1999 issue of the business magazine Inc. for an article entitled "Redemption." Four homeless, down-and-out men struggled through Alcoholics Anonymous, then formed a group called Hermitage Artists. They create American tramp-art, an art form initiated by the hoboes who rode the railroads. The group's name is inspired by Thomas Merton. In fact, they live by the spirit of the Trappist rule that Merton lived under. They believe that if they work at their art together, they'll become a brotherhood because they depend on one another.

In the late 1950's Hugh O'Brian, the actor who once portrayed Wyatt Earp on television, visited Africa, where he met the famous doctor Albert Schweitzer. He was so deeply touched by the encounter that he returned to the United States and founded the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership program. Some 40 years later HOBY still teaches young people to think for themselves. The program identifies and develops leadership potential beginning with the sophomore year in high school.

Share with one another an experience that reflects what Paul went through. Yours may not have been a sudden conversion followed by salvation and then profound understanding. Simply talk about how Jesus has touched your life. In what ways has he made you never again the same?

Celebrating the Millennium

The author offers us five practical ways to celebrate the Jubilee Year. We're accustomed to celebrating one night—New Year's Eve—and then struggling with new resolutions for the next 12 months. The Jubilee Year gives us an opportunity to truly celebrate all year long. Your group can talk about making the author's suggestions even more personal to your own lives. Discuss how you can bring a spirit of joy to your actions throughout the year.

* Treat the earth with reverence. God our Father created this world out of love for us. We too must touch this creation with love. Saint Francis had a great love of the earth, and is considered to be the patron saint of animals and ecology. We can also learn much from the Native Americans who treasure the earth and its resources. The Indian Center Museum in Wichita, Kansas, is one example of the efforts to preserve the heritage of the Native American tribes. How can you embrace their love for the earth?

* Appreciate how our sacraments celebrate the goodness of creation. The sacraments are a sign of God's presence. The fruits of creation—water, oil, bread and wine—show us something of the fullness of God. Enjoy the sacraments during the Jubilee Year. The Eucharist is not an obligation. It is rather a communal celebration. Talk about how you can bring a spirit of joy to the table as you worship together every week.

* Embrace your humanity. We are each made in the image of God's Son and must treat one another with nothing less than dignity and respect. The Sierra Group, based in Pennsylvania, is a leader in assistive technology, helping people with disabilities overcome obstacles in the business and education sectors. How can we find ways to enhance another's dignity?

* Center your lives on Jesus. The Angelus prayer is a tradition in the Church. Prayed at six a.m., noon, and 6 p.m., it serves as a reminder that Jesus is our focus. Are there other prayers you favor that you can share with your group or friends to help them pray?

* Look to Mary, Jesus' Mother. Mary, too, is a sign of God's plan. Her complete giving of self in faith to God prepared her to be Jesus' "first home in this world." Talk about making a home for Jesus in your life and experience. This can be as simple as a passing word of encouragement to someone, or as organized as the effort to relieve the Third World of some of its crushing debt. You can further explore Mary's core role in God's plan by reading Thomas Merton's article, "Understanding Catholic Devotion to Mary."

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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