1. lead teens to a new appreciation for
Mary and her response to Gods Word
2. lead to several action steps in teens
Ask class, anonymously, to write a short
paragraph on their impressions of Mary and her role. Collect and hold.
Have students access and print out article.
Ask students to read article and look up some or all of the New Testament
quotes referred to in the article for next class.
Open with reading
Select one Scripture reading from those
highlighted in article, perhaps Luke 1:30-35.
Time line - Set the framework re: history
Your students may find it helpful if you
position Mary on a time line of Old Testament/New Testament/Church history
Who preceded Mary? Moses, leading his
hardhearted people through the desert... Abraham and Sarah, responding
in faith to Gods will... Ruth, who stepped out in faith...
Who was a contemporary of Mary? John the
Baptist, preparing people to listen... Elizabeth, with her own wonderful
story... the apostles, each with a different response in faith... Mary
of Magdala and other disciples who heard the Lord and followed...
The author reminds us of the scarcity
of Gospel reference to Mary. You may want to remind the class that these
were times with little written historical records, in contrast to our
own times, when we have resources and documentation in all available
media: film, TV, radio, paper, computer.
There is a link here to the culture of
Native Americans, with their oral traditions.
Identify with Marys situation
In a contemporary context: The story starts
with a tradesman named Joseph, perhaps an electrician, an auto mechanic,
a plumber, in his early to mid-twenties. He is establishing himself
in his trade, and is preparing to spend his lifetime with a young woman
whom he loves and respects. He is shocked to hear that she, Mary by
name, is pregnant, before they have been together. At probably 14 to
15 years old, she is the same age as a high school freshman or sophomore.
To heighten the difficulty of the situation, there is apparently no
other man as the father. The child is from God, she says.
(You may want to remind the class of the shorter life span of people
who lived 2,000 years ago. They matured earlier, married earlier and
died sooner than we do now.)
Joseph is torn by the situation. What
is he to think? What is the response of the community? By contemporary
standards, this is certainly tabloid material: a young woman with child,
not of man but of God. A message from God assures Joseph. He responds
in faith by remaining with Mary.
Then the young woman goes off to spend
time with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. To further add
to the awe of the story, Elizabeth is an older woman, beyond childbearing
age, probably old enough to be Marys grandmother. The two women,
with their polarized pregnancies, if you will, are a study
in Gods way of choosing what is not mans way to bring his
message to us.
The situation, then, is this: What do
you believe? What would your response be?
Discuss the articles message
Discuss with the class what the author,
Fr. Raymond Brown, is saying about Mary. Focus on her role. She is blessed
and revered by the Church for two reasons:
1. Mary is the one person in all of human
history chosen by God for his Sons entrance into our life... his
physical presence among us... his intervention in our history.
At this moment in time, a mere two thousand
years ago in the earths development and history, God inserted
himself into our lives. Mary was his choice for a mother.
2. Mary responded to this unique, singular
opportunity by saying, Yes, I will do it. She had a choice, and accepted
it. Who among us would have this strong a faith? We honor Mary because
she is another of the rare Old Testament figures who was ready and open
to hear Gods word, to respond to Gods word, no matter what
In this sense, Mary is the first disciple
of Jesus, the first to follow him in faith.
You can mention again, if you choose,
the connection with Mary and several heroes of Old Testament faith,
You may also wish to connect Mary to present
liturgical activity. In this spring season, many teens are being confirmed
after completing their parish programs. These teens are usually 14 to
15 years old, the same age as Mary was when she first accepted her role
Discuss your students responses
This is an opportunity for some lively discussion and input. The class
can divide into smaller groups to talk and record their discussions.
1. What is faith? How would you define
a strong faith? How would you characterize great faith?
Ask the class to brainstorm and gather
ideas. This can be on two levels: faith and courage of conviction in
role models; your own personal faith.
You can ask for examples of role models.
They dont have to be religious. Examples may be Dorothy Day, Gandhi,
Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln,
perhaps someone in their lives.
Ask the groups to report to the class
on the faith characteristics they arrived at in discussion.
2. Then put them back in small groups
to discuss what the obstacles are to a great faith. Brainstorm and list
the obstacles. Again, focus on both role models as well as your own
Again, the groups can report back on their
3. Now discusswho owns
these obstacles? Who can change/remove the obstacles?
Can you lead the class to see that they
themselves own some of the obstacles to their own growth in faith? If
they can see this, you can move them to the next step.
4. Again in small groups, ask the teens
to determine action steps to removing the obstacles to their faith growth.
This obviously isnt something that occurs all at once. It is a
lifetime process. The point is to move the teens to see that, like Mary
believing in God and in Jesus, they too can respond in faith. (Refer
to the authors quote in the last part of the article: The
challenge to accept Gods unfathomable will in faith is ongoing
in the life of the disciple.)
You may read several of the paragraphs
written before class, to offer the teens a view of what they thought
before beginning the discussion. Do they feel that theyve gained
a new perspective, a different understanding?
Or you can distribute the anonymous paragraphs
randomly, and ask each teen to write a response to anothers thoughts
For further discussion:
Discipleship vs. cult: There is so much
in the news about cults and followers of unusual, even bizarre, leaders.
What is the difference between a genuine belief and a cult following?
Examples would be: Charles Manson, the
recent San Diego mass suicides, the Oklahoma bombing and military cults.
Where does faith cross the line to cult?
The cost of discipleship: Refer to Deitrich
Bonhoeffers book, The Cost of Discipleship, about being
imprisoned for opposing Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Can we call ourselves disciples? Of whom?
Jesus? The latest cult or fad hero/rock star/actor? Our friends/peers?
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
Access site to a number of online news publications
The Associated Press
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation
– Washington, D.C.-based organization
Channel One’s online
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.