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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

October 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 StAnthony@franciscanmedia.org.

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—Christian life-styles; Christian service; parish life
    • Social Studies—social and economic needs of society
    • Geography—locations of events impacting society
    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.

Assisi

Reconciliation

Materialism

Pilgrimage

Jubilee Year

Spirituality of place

 

Ministry of hospitality

Reconstruction

     

Disasters are commonplace

After reading this month's article, we could, without reflection, conclude that Assisi is just one story among many about a town destroyed and rebuilt following a natural disaster. The press and the media are certainly full of stories about disasters: Hurricane Floyd which recently pounded the southeastern part of the United States, Hurricane Mitch and other Caribbean storms, wildfires in Florida and California, tornadoes in the Midwest, the recent floods in North Dakota, earthquakes in Turkey and Greece. Destruction at the hands of nature is no stranger to most communities.

But Assisi stands out more as an effort to revitalize the spirit of a Christian saint dedicated to the poor.

The instinct to rebuild

Rebuilding in the aftermath of disaster is likewise not unusual. History tells us of the Reconstruction of the South following the American Civil War, the rebirth of the city of San Francisco after the great earthquake and fire of 1906, the Marshall Plan to revive Europe after World War II, the rebuilding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings in 1945.

More recently, we know of efforts to reunite North and South Vietnam, the rebuilding of Los Angeles after the earthquake of 1994, the creation of a memorial park after the bombing in Oklahoma City, and the reopening of Columbine High School after the deadly shooting rampage. Following the tragedy at Columbine, some suggested closing the school. But many Littleton residents, including the teen students themselves, refused. The school is now open again. The tragedy will long be remembered, but the school will continue as testimony to an enduring spirit.

Whether the reasons are personal, unique to a small group, economic or community-driven, rebuilding after loss is our normal reaction. Your own local community has no doubt suffered some kind of loss or tragedy, a special place damaged or destroyed with force by nature or by violence. Identify and discuss several examples of how your community responded to devastation. How did you rebuild? Who were the leaders directing the rebirth? Why was rebuilding so important to you?

The sacred place

Rebuilding the town of Assisi, then, after the devastating earthquakes of 1997 is clearly one example of humanity's normal reaction to a disaster. And, as the article points out, certainly some of the motivation has been economic. The tourist trade, the flow of pilgrims through its inns and restaurants, keeps the town alive financially. But underlying Assisi's rebirth is a deeper meaning.

Assisi is a sacred place for many. Pilgrims come there just as they do to Rome or Jerusalem or Lourdes, not simply for a vacation trip to a new place, but in search of meaning. They come with a strong sense of faith. Assisi offers them the spirit of Francis. Assisi is a place of "reconciliation, prayer and mutual respect," as Pope John Paul II says.

In discussion, try to identify how people have worked to keep someone's spirit alive in a place. For example, the countries of the world are filled with memorials built to keep alive the memory of loved ones lost in accidents or battles. The war memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii pays tribute to soldiers lost in war. So do the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the battlefield memorials at Gettysburg and other Civil War sites and the Vietnam Wall.

Even a sandy beach on Long Island, New York, becomes a memorial place every year as relatives gather to honor those lost in the explosion of Flight 800.

For some, professional athletes have been a personal inspiration. To remember them, we have a place such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. For others, music is a moving force. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrates musicians who gave us a spirit of joy in song.

Francis' spirit was one of concern for the poor, rooted in a personal renunciation of wealth. It was in Assisi that Francis, a soldier and a man of wealth, publicly threw off all that he possessed to serve the poor. Since then, numerous women and men have taken his spirit, his example, to heart and done the same. The Franciscan Order follows his spirit closely.

The recent history of the Catholic Church offers strong examples of faith-based service to God's poor, in the spirit of Francis. Archbishop Oscar Romero died of an assassin's bullet in El Salvador working for the poor. Mother Teresa walked the city streets in India to gather up the sick and the dying, offering them care and a place to die with dignity and peace.

Among the unsung heroes today are often those teachers who dedicate their lives to educating young people in very difficult situations and at very low rates of pay. Whether motivated by a Christian faith, a belief in youth, or in the importance of education, these people give years of selfless service to others.

What about the people in your own life and community? Who lives a life of service to the poor or to those in need? Talk about this in your group, moving the conversation towards identifying the spirit in these people. You may then want to talk about how you can emulate that spirit in your own life. Following the spirit of Francis, the spirit of Jesus and the example of others in your life, you can find simple ways to serve those around you who need strength and support. Instead of buying a CD, the pair of shoes you don't really need or more junk food, how about saving a few dollars and making a donation to a local charity?

The Spirit in us

The spirit of Francis is but one example of the Spirit of Jesus alive in our world. Jesus left his Spirit as a source of strength for us. Talk about the instances when we ourselves are the ones in need. We all suffer from time to time as a result of personal tragedy: separation, divorce, death of a loved one, a financial crisis, catastrophic illness, emotional stress and strain, the pain of a lost friend, failure in studies, the loss of a job. We don't often have the opportunity to locate or visit a sacred place where we can regain peace. But we can touch Jesus' Spirit.

When we support each other in caring conversation or in purposeful discussion groups, we find Jesus' Spirit in the community. When we spend a few moments in silent prayer, we find Jesus' Spirit in our hearts. When as fellow believers we celebrate a simple meal of bread and wine in the Eucharist, we feed on Jesus' Spirit. Remembering the victory of Jesus over his personal devastation of rejection and death, we memorialize his continuing Spirit. This is our personal way of rebuilding our own frail and shaken foundations. The town of Assisi rebuilds to open itself to pilgrims in search of hope. We rebuild ourselves so that we can be a source of hope to the pilgrims who pass through our lives every day.

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

CNN

MSNBC

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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