Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Students and Their Teachers
This months Links for Learners will support high school
Religion - Christian life-styles; evangelization; lives
of service; vocation and career
World history - political and social influence of prominent
Catholics; role of the Church in world events
Vocation - responding to what God wants us to do, even
when it is difficult or not what we want to do
Understanding 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.
Pastor of the universal Church
World Youth Day
Presence of God
"fast track" to canonization
This month we look at two giants of faith whose lives overlapped
during the later part of the 20th century: Blessed Mother Teresa
and Pope John Paul II. Even most non-Catholics are familiar with
these two Catholic personalities, whose influence has stretched
around the world. Their lives differed greatly: the pope is a religious
and world leader who has spent much
of his papacy traveling around the world, while Mother Teresa
spent her life amid the poverty
and squalor of Calcutta. But despite the differences, both are
examples of true disciples of Jesus Christ. The world celebrates
their faith and devotion in October 2003, as Pope John Paul marks
the 25th anniversary of his papacy and beatifies
Mother Teresa in the same week.
Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa grew up in households
that were dedicated to God, and both felt a call to a religious
vocation as young adults. Karol Wojtyla, as John Paul II was known
before he became pope, entered an underground seminary at the age
of 22 while Poland was under Nazi occupation. He was ordained four
years later and spent much of his early priesthood doing youth ministry.
Mother Teresa said later in life that, although the Church had
been a central part of her youth, she never considered becoming
a nun until she was 18. At that age she joined the Loreto Sisters
of Dublin and moved twice, first to Ireland and then to India.
Even after they answered their call to religious life, the pope
and Mother Teresa continued to seek out what God wanted them to
do. As a young man, Karol Wojtyla had little interest in politics,
preferring the theater and other artistic pursuits. Yet as a bishop
and then a cardinal in Communist Poland, his defense of the family
and the worker brought him into conflict with the Communist authorities.
His political skill grew so great that he was later widely
credited with helping to bring about the fall of Communism.
Mother Teresa's vocation
also continued to evolve. As a teacher in a school for wealthy
girls in Calcutta, she grew concerned about the destitute and dying
living on the streets of the city. She grew to believe that helping
them was her "second vocation." It was not easy to change
the direction of her vocation: she had to be released from the Sisters
of Loreto, and the Church at the time discouraged people from starting
new religious orders. But despite the obstacles, she persevered
and founded the Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to serving the
poorest of the poor.
What is God calling you to do? How do you listen for that call?
Are you open to changing your path according to what you think God
wants you to do?
Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II both knew suffering throughout
their lives. They each lost important people in their lives at a
young age. The pope's
mother died when he was just eight years old, and by the time
he was 22 both his father and his beloved older brother were also
Teresa's father died when she was seven, and her mother opened
a cloth business to support her three children. These early losses
had a profound effect on the pope and Mother Teresa.
In later years, both suffered from physical ailments that also
influenced their spirituality. Mother Teresa suffered from heart
problems for two decades and finally died of a heart attack in 1997.
During his tenure, Pope
John Paul II has been transformed from a robust man who enjoys
skiing and hiking to a frail, trembling old man who cannot walk
in public and often has trouble speaking. Yet both continued their
work despite the obstacles of old age and sickness.
What suffering have you encountered in your life? How has it affected
your relationship with God?
Even with his busy schedule, Pope John Paul II has always made
time for regular prayer. Mother Teresa was the same way: she credited
prayer with giving her the strength to accomplish all that she did.
Especially in their early years, the pope and Mother Teresa also
embraced their faith even when it was risky or difficult to do so.
Karol Wojtyla was forced to study at an underground seminary during
the Nazi occupation of Poland. It was not easy to be a Catholic
then, but he followed his faith without fear of the consequences.
In following her vocation, Mother Teresa moved far from her family,
into two cultures that were unfamiliar. When she moved to India,
she was a member of a minority religion. But her belief in her calling
was so great it enabled her to look past these difficulties and
do what God wanted her to do.
Do you make time to pray, even when you are busy? If not, what is
standing in the way? Have you ever been called to defend your faith
when it might be embarrassing or difficult to do so? How did you
Throughout their lives, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II both
reached out to groups they thought especially needed to hear the
Gospel. Early in his priesthood, the pope concentrated on young
people and youth ministry, because he felt a real connection to
them. Even in his old age he continues to enjoy being around young
people at World Youth Days and other events, and they respond to
him. In his travels he has also made it a priority to visit developing
countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where few popes have ever
Mother Teresa felt a call to help the poor even when she was a
young girl. While living in Calcutta, she saw an opportunity to
help people that no one else cared about. She saw Jesus in the faces
of the dying, the lepers, the orphans, the AIDS patients and others
she reached out to, and in helping them she was living out the call
of the Gospel.
Do you see Jesus in the people you encounter every day? Who do you
reach out to with a kind word or a helping hand?
To learn more about Pope John Paul II, check out the Vatican
Web site, a biographical
site from the Daughters of St. Paul, and a site
dedicated to his 25th anniversary.
To learn more about Blessed Mother Teresa, see the official
site of her cause for canonization, the Nobel
Prize site (Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979),
and a Life
magazine photo essay about her.
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.
New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
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