Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:
Christian lifestylesreflective prayer; liturgy; the role of the Church in today's world;
Mary's prayer; teens as light to the world
Basic Terms in This Months 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 Link for Learners.
Mother Remembers a Lost Child
To better appreciate the Rosary's significance in the Church, let's explore a hypothetical
situation. Imagine yourself as a mother who has just lost a young son or daughter,
someone of high school or college age. The death could be the result of a tragic
auto accident, a gang-related shooting, a long illness, perhaps even a suicide.
As you mourn your loss, you might gather up family photos, videos, toys, books and
CDs that remind you of your lost child. Weighted down with sorrow, you start looking
through all that you've gathered. The pictures and mementos may start to sort themselves
out based on what kinds of feelings they elicit from you.
Some items and pictures will elicit deep sorrow, strongly reminding you of
the pain and anguish endured by your son before he died: a newspaper picture of the
car crash, a hospital ID bracelet, shattered sunglasses.
Other items could easily bring a joyful smile to your face: your first sonogram,
baby's first pictures in the hospital nursery, the video of her first steps, the
book you read every night at bedtime, pictures of a school performance.
Still other mementos will inspire your faith, reminding you that your child
is now with God, bringing hope in a future glorious resurrection: the music program
from the funeral service, cards and letters from friends, a favorite reading from
And finally, another group of treasured items may remind you of your child's
wonderful spirit, the light he or she brought to others: a video of him with
his cousins, cards written by her friends, messages in her high school yearbook,
photos of him and his friends working on a parish service project.
In the time right after your child's death, you'd certainly spend some personal
time alone with your thoughts, prayers and memories, while also sharing those memories
with your spouse and closest friends. Later, you would widen the circle by sharing
remembrances with othersfriends and acquaintances, fellow parishioners, people
with whom you work.
And maybe after a time, those shared remembrances will almost take on a life of
their own. When the family gathers for holidays, when you see friends at Sunday Mass,
the memories serve to bring people together. A family once estranged may come to
reunite as they discuss your memories of your son. Classmates and friends may bond
in close friendship as they too share memories of a lost friend. And after some time,
wonderful and touching stories of the deceased young person's spirit may reach people
previously untouched by love or weighed down with burdens.
A mother's efforts at remembering will help keep alive the memory, the spirit of
the lost child. This is exactly how MADD began.
A mother, Candy Lightner, lost a child to a drunk driver. Her efforts to prevent
that from happening again led to what is now a 20-year-old organization dedicated
to preventing driving under the influence. The MADD Web site features memorials to
those who have died at the hands of drunk drivers, memorials that in turn may help
others impacted by this kind of tragedy.
Remembrance of Her Son Jesus
Mary was just such a mother. She watched her son live, grow, suffer and die. She
saw the pain and suffering on his face in his last hours. And she knew joy after
Jesus' glorious resurrection. Later, she remained with the disciples and the early
Church community. She must have spent hours remembering the mystery of
her son's life, what he had said and done in his short lifetime. She pondered the
role she played in bringing Jesus into this world. And she must have talked to the
disciples about her feelings and her memories.
All of these memories worked their way into the ongoing life and tradition of the
Church, so much so that hundreds of years later the church "formalized" those
remembrances in the form of the Rosary, a meditative prayer reflecting on Jesus'
life. The Rosary centers on the mysteries
of Jesus' life, the significant and profound happenings that marked his years
Mary pondered the joyful aspects of her son's life: the annunciation by
the angel; the visitation with her cousin, Elizabeth; the nativity; the presentation
in the temple and later the finding in the temple. These were the mysteries, the
wonderful events that carried Mary from the angel's first announcement about Jesus'
birth through to his young years.
Mary also knew the sorrow of her son's life: the agony in the garden; his
scourging with a whip; the crown of thorns forced on him by his tormentors; his carrying
the cross and his death on that cross. These memories hurt deeply.
Mary experienced the glorious elements of Jesus' life and her own life: his
resurrection; his ascension back
to his Father; the descent of the Spirit on the early Church; Mary's own assumption
into heaven and her coronation as Queen of Heaven.
And finally, Mary deeply understood the light her son Jesus brought to the
world: his baptism in the river Jordan; the way he cared for the bride and groom
at the Cana wedding feast; his proclaiming of the new kingdom; his transfiguration and
the first Eucharist.
Church's Remembrance of Mary and Jesus
These latter events listed above that memorialize Jesus as light to the world have
recently been added to the Church's tradition of Rosary prayer, as this month's article
explains. Pope John Paul II holds the Rosary in high regard as prayer, as a means
of remembrance of Jesus, so much so that he has added to the mysteries to be contemplated
as we pray. Pope John calls these the Luminous Mysteries. In them we contemplate
Jesus as the light of the world. And we continue to pray about Mary's wonderful role
in bringing Jesus' light to us.
During the last Vatican Council, held in the mid 1960s, the bishops of the church
issued a document called Lumen
Gentium, or Light of the Nations. The document describes the role
of the Church as a light in today's world. The opening sentence states clearly, "Christ
is the Light of the nations." Later, in chapter 8 of this document, Mary's
role in the Church is explained. The Catechism
of the Catholic Church likewise discusses the mysteries of Christ's life
(see chapter 2, article 3, paragraph 3) and Mary's role (chapter 3, article 9, paragraph
6) in the entire plan of salvation.
Our Pope John Paul II has himself been a light to the world. For years he has traveled
to various countries to show his love for all of the church. In the summer of 2002
Pope John Paul visited Canada for the celebration of World
Youth Day. In his address to the teens and young adults gathered in Toronto,
he hailed Christian youth as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Through
prayer and reflection, through praying the Rosary together, through remembering the
mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary, we too find the strength and courage to
be a light to the world.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference. Be
aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained
within the site’s archives.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
Documents of Vatican
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
PathfinderAccess site to a number
of online news publications
The History Channel
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization
Channel One online resource for the school channel