In his third and most recent encyclical, Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate), Pope Benedict XVI teaches about charity. He laments how easily charity can be misunderstood and "emptied of meaning" in our contemporary world. The Holy Father states that "charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth."
The Pope continues to teach about several issues that impact all of us. He discusses our modern problems of economic inequalities, a lack of respect for the dignity of human life, the persistent problem of hunger, the environment, and access to energy resources, not to mention the global economic recession. He calls Christians to play an important role in contributing to international development and assistance to those in need by practicing charity in truth as a gift from God.
The Catholic Church has many teachings she holds to be true that can help demonstrate how Pope Benedict XVI's teaching can be put into action. This issue of To Teach explores many of the truths in Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate) and offers practical suggestions for converting them into action in our schools, classrooms, and homes in concrete and practical ways.
In light of the Pope's call to be good stewards of the environment, at staff meetings, discuss ways your school can be more environmentally-friendly. Use Renewing the Earth as a guide for your discussions.
The Pope teaches about God's love as the source of all charity. Use his first encyclical, God Is Love (Deus Caritas Est) to explain to students how God is the source of all love, including love for one's neighbor.
The Pope emphasizes the need to respect life. Present the Church's teachings on contemporary issues by reading The Dignity of a Person (Dignitas Personae) to show how respect for human life intersects with issues like stem cell research and treatment of infertility.
Pope Benedict XVI writes at length about the consequences of the global economy on poor and underdeveloped countries. Devote one class session to reading A Decade After Economic Justice for All together in class, and lead a discussion brainstorming ideas for distributing food and clothing to the poor in your community based on the principles discussed in class.
The Pope calls for a reform of the United Nations. Social studies and civics teachers can assign a special project to students for proposing reformed United Nations models based on the Pope's teaching in Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate). Have students present their completed models to the class.
The Pope says that "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine." Assign each student a section from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church for study. Have each student prepare a five-minute presentation on their subject and how it expresses charity for the rest of the class.
Introduce students to the practice of faith-sharing. Use some class time one day a week for a thematic session of prayer, Scripture, reflection, and discussion with Sharing the Tradition, Shaping the Future.
Take time to consider: 1) How well are we practicing charity toward others in
our family and local community? 2) What changes might we make in how we
spend time and money to engage regularly in charity and action for justice?
In Catholic teaching work is a way to support one’s family, express one’s dignity, and promote the common
good. Take time to consider: Does my work allow me to use the gifts God has given me for the good of
others? How can I apply the values of my Catholic faith and promote justice and charity in the work place?
The Pope calls all Christians to be good stewards of God's creation and take care of the environment. Make a list of ways your family can protect the environment at home, work, and school. Then say the Stewardship Prayer in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers together as a family.
41. In what way is God the Truth?
42. In what way does God reveal that he is love?
54. How did God create the universe?
358. What is th root of human dignity?
373. What does the dignity of the human person imply for the moral conscience?
388. What is charity?
403. What is the principle of subsidiarity?
414. How is human solidarity manifested?
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the foundations of Catholic faith. So, focus your attention on two or three questions this month. Choose questions on topics that are of great interest, that you struggle with and want to understand better, or that you find arise in your classroom repeatedly.
Review the questions and answers.
Consider how to use them in the coming year as part of your lesson plan.
Develop learning activities that will encourage you and your students to learn the teaching by heart (memorization)
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