Links for Learning
Connections for High School Teachers and Students
Links for Learners will support high school curriculum
Finding Links for
Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
- Creative Artspoetry,
Look for connections
for use in programs outside the classroom, 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.
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 Links for Learners.
as Incarnational Activity
In his book, The
Sacraments: How Catholics Pray, Father Thomas Richstatter
presents the sacraments as the liturgy of the Church, the way we
as a Church pray. Liturgy is the public prayer of the Church, with
Jesus as the foundation of all the sacraments. The Church is his
Body, the visible sign of his invisible presence in our world. The
life of the Church, says Richstatter, is the incarnational activity
that reveals Jesus to the world. Sacraments, then, exist in the
context of this public prayer.
We are also familiar
with the life of a Christian believer as incarnational activity.
The Christian lives in such a way that her life reveals something
of God and his love for us. Incarnational activity makes the invisible
visible to us. It reveals something of the invisible God to us.
Sacramentals are other
revelatory signs. Holy water, candles and incense enhance the symbolism
of liturgy and prayer. We know how a picture, a statue, an icon
can remind us of Jesus and his saints.
L'Engle encourages us to think more broadly about incarnational
activity. Writing, dance, painting, sculpture, music are creative
expressions that offer us a glimpse of our invisible God. L'Engle
sees her writing as incarnational, revelatory of God. For her it
is a form of contemplative prayer. "To paint a picture or to write
a story or to compose a song is an incarnational activity," she
How can creative expressions
such as music, dance and art reveal God to us? How can they contribute
to our prayer life, to our public prayer as a Church?
Discuss creative activity
as incarnational activity. Select a favorite book, a treasured poem,
a musical composition or a popular song, a beautiful painting or
work of art. Share with your class or group what qualities of the
divine may show through in the work you chose. If you yourself are
a writer, an artist, a performer, talk about what your creative
expression may reveal of God's love. Parents can engage their children
by talking to them about one of their favorite bedtime stories.
In the classroom students
may have access on the Internet to Webshots.com,
which offers downloadable photos of nature, places of interest and
diverse peoples. Choose a photo that offers you a glimpse of God
and share your feeling about it with your classmates.
For L'Engle, the artist,
the performer who professes faith in Jesus reveals Jesus to the
world when she is most open to serving her talent. "You have to
serve your gift," says L'Engle. "When I'm really writing, I'm listening,
and I'm not in control." L'Engle says further, "Often, when we listen
to the work, it takes us places we have no idea where we're going.
Surprises always follow." Have you had a similar experience when
working on or responding to a creative activity? Have you opened
your heart and "listened" so deeply that you were surprised where
you ended up? Did you share this with anyone? L'Engle told her interviewer,
"I wanted my children to … learn about life and love from me." Who
learns about life and love from each of us? What incarnational activities
in our lives reveal something of Jesus to those around us?
For additional activity,
research the life of an artist, a creative person. Learn more about
the life of Madeleine L'Engle, or choose another person from your
own interests or from A&E's Biography.
Check out other winners of The
Newbery Award for children's writing, or other children's
authors recommended by the American
Library Association. For information on the spirituality of
creative work, see Channeling
the Muse, offered by Grace
Cathedral of San Francisco.
We All Need Heroes
"What would you do
without heroes?" L'Engle asks. "We wouldn't have anything to aim
for." Talk about your heroes. They may be real-life individuals,
or perhaps fictional characters you keep coming back to. What makes
them heroic to you? What qualities stand out above the ordinary,
flawed characteristics we all share?
Here are several possibilities
to help guide your thinking: