Primary Resource

The Understanding Faith primary resource is designed for years K to 6, covering a wide range of curriculum across Australia.

Explore the Understanding Faith primary resource content pages below.

Click each section to open or close.
Click on the “Stage” to view the units.
Click on the “Unit” to view the parts.
Click on the “Part” to view the main focus points.

Kindergarten
Unit 1 Introducing the Bible
  Part 1: What is the Bible?
 
  • The Bible is a book, which tells stories about God and the people of God.
  • The Bible was written by many people, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  • The Bible has two main parts: The Old Testament and The New Testament.
  • The Old Testament tells the story of the people of Israel, and lays the foundation for the promised saviour, Jesus.
  • The New Testament accounts for Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the early Church.
  Part 2: Importance of the Bible
 
  • The Bible has important messages.
  • The Bible helps us to grow into the people God wants us to be.
  • The Bible tells us what we need to do to be the people of God.
  • The Bible contains commandments that Christians are required to follow.
  Part 3: The Old Testament
 
  • The Old Testament is the first part of the Bible.
  • The Old Testament tells about God’s promise to save His people.
  • Moses in an important character in the Old Testament.
  • God chose Moses as a leader. He led God’s people out of slavery and gave the people rules to live by.
  • David is an important character in the Old Testament.
  • David was a great king. He always kept God in his heart.
  • Jonah was a prophet who did not want to do as God asked him, but Jonah learnt to obey God.
  • The story of Jonah reveals that God is a loving and compassionate God.
  Part 4: The New Testament
 
  • The New Testament was written after Jesus was born.
  • The New Testament is about how God kept His promise of salvation.
  • There are different parts to the New Testament.
  • The gospels tell the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.
  • The gospels tell us more about Jesus.
  • Jesus began his public ministry after he was baptised in the River Jordan.
  • The message of the Parable of the Lost Sheep is that we are important to God, and that God welcomes us back when we stray from Him through sin.
  • The story of Jesus blessing the children teaches us that everyone is important to and loved by God.
Unit 2 Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary
  Part 1: Who is Jesus?
 
  • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • God chose Mary to be Jesus’ mother. God sent an angel to tell her the good news.
  • Joseph married Mary and was Jesus’ foster father.
  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was presented in the Temple when he was a baby. Simeon and Anna declared that Jesus was a special child of God.
  • When Jesus was twelve, Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple, where he impressed the Jewish doctors of the Law with his knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.
  Part 2: Jesus Loves Us
 
  • Jesus used the metaphor of the good shepherd to describe the love God has for God’s people.
  • Jesus teaches us to patient, kind, gentle, trustworthy, forgiving and welcoming.
  • Jesus treated all the people he met during his ministry as friends.
  Part 3: Jesus Teaches Us to Love
 
  • Jesus performed healing miracles as a sign of God’s love for God’s people.
  • Jesus also shows us how much he loves us.
  • Jesus, who blessed the little children, continues to give us blessings today.
  • The family and the Church family are God’s gifts to us.
  • Jesus showed us how to make the world a better place by promoting peace, justice, love, care, kindness and respect.
Unit 3 God’s Great Family
  Part 1: Abraham and Sarah
 
  • Every person belongs to a family.
  • Families are very important in our lives.
  • Our parents look after us. It is our job to do the things they ask to do.
  • When we obey our parents we are obeying God.
  • God’s family began with Abraham and Sarah.
  • Abraham and Sarah loved and obeyed God.
  • Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac.
  Part 2: Jacob and Esau
 
  • Isaac married Rebecca. They had twin boys named Jacob and Esau.
  • Jacob and Esau often fought with each other. Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright. Esau wanted to kill Jacob, so Jacob moved to live in another land.
  • Eventually Jacob and Esau are reconciled.
  Part 3: Joseph
 
  • Jacob married Rachel. Jacob had twelve sons.
  • Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son. Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son.
  • Joseph’s brothers did not like him so they sold him to be a slave.
  • Joseph was sent to Egypt where he became very powerful.
  • He forgave his brothers and they all moved to Egypt to live with Joseph.
  • This is how God’s family came to live in Egypt.
  Part 4: The Holy Family
 
  • The story of God’s family continues with the birth of Jesus.
  • Jesus’ family is known as the Holy Family.
  • The holy family is made up of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
  • After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple.
  • King Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so Mary and Joseph fled to live in Egypt.
  • When it was safe, Mary and Joseph moved back to Nazareth.
  • Mary and Joseph lost Jesus when he was twelve years old. They found him in the Temple.
  • Jesus always loved and obeyed his parents.
  • The Holy Family shows us how to be a good family.
Unit 4 Talking to God
  Part 1: What is Prayer?
 
  • There are many people in our lives who are special.
  • We build relationships in our lives by talking to people.
  • God is our friend.
  • We build our relationship with God by talking to Him.
  • We can talk to God through prayer.
  • Jesus taught us to pray.
  • Jesus taught us the Our Father.
  Part 2: How do we Pray?
 
  • Jesus went to special places to pray.
  • Jesus liked to be alone when he prayed, but he also prayed with his friends.
  • Everybody needs a special place to pray. We call these special places prayer spaces.
  • We often have a prayer space in our classroom.
  • We put special objects in our prayer space.
  • We use our prayer spaces every day.
  • We should prepare ourselves before we pray.
  • We start and end our prayers with the Sign of the Cross.
  • There are three main parts to our prayers:
    1. Praising God
    2. Asking for what we need
    3. Saying sorry
  • God listens to us when we pray.
  • In the story of ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ we learn that God listens to our prayers.
 Part 3: Prayers We Say
 
  • We say many different prayers to God.
  • Sometimes we say some of the same prayers over and over.
  • The Our Father is a prayer that Jesus taught us.
  • The Our Father is the perfect prayer to God.
  • The Hail Mary is a prayer to Mary.
  • The Hail Mary asks Mary to pray to God for us.
  • The Glory Be is a prayer that says what we believe.
  • It is important to say thank you to God for what he gives us. Saying Grace Before and After Meals is a way to thank God.
Unit 5 Baptism
  Part 1: What is Baptism?
 
  • When we are baptised, we become part of God’s family.
  • When we are baptised, we are welcomed into God’s family with love and kindness.
  • When we are baptised, people celebrate.
  • In baptism, our parents and Godparents make a promise to help us to live the way Jesus showed us.
  • Jesus told us that it is important to be baptised.
  • Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.
  • Jesus showed us that through baptism we received the Holy Spirit and we become God’s children.
  Part 2: Rituals of Baptism
 
  • There are many different rituals in our lives.
  • Baptism consists of a series of rituals.
  • There are eight important rituals in a baptism:
    1. Gathering
    2. Sign of the Cross
    3. Liturgy of the Word
    4. Baptismal Promises
    5. Baptism with water
    6. Anointing with oil
    7. Clothing in a white garment
    8. Lighting the candle
  Part 3: Symbols of Baptism
 
  • Symbols give something meaning.
  • Baptismal symbols highlight important aspects of baptism.
  • The four key symbols of Baptism include:
    1. Water
    2. Oil
    3. White garment
    4. Candle
Unit 6 Ashes to Easter
  Part 1: Lent
 
  • Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.
  • On Ash Wednesday Catholics receive ashes on their foreheads.
  • The day before Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, the word ‘Shrove’ meaning ‘to be sorry’.
  • Lent is a time for spiritual growth and change as Christians make a special effort to the kind of people God wants them to be.
  • St Paul was converted by Jesus and changed from a persecutor of Christians to a missionary.
  Part 2: Holy Week
 
  • Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week before Easter.
  • Palm Sunday marks Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
  • Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and celebrated the Last Supper on Holy Thursday.
  • At the Last Supper Jesus gave us his body and blood.
  • Jesus was arrested on Holy Thursday.
  • Jesus died for us on Good Friday.
  • The liturgical colour for Palm Sunday and Good Fridays is red.
  • After he died, Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.
  Part 3: Easter
 
  • Jesus was raised from the dead after being buried for three days.
  • The empty tomb was discovered by women who relayed the information to the disciples.
  • Jesus appeared to the disciples over a period of forty days.
  • The Liturgical colour for Easter is white.
  • Through the resurrection Jesus has given us the promise of eternal life.
Unit 7 Part of God’s Family
  Part 1: The Church is Our Family
 
  • We all belong to a family. Our families are important.
  • Many of us also belong to other groups as well.
  • Jesus belonged to his family, the Holy Family.
  • Jesus belonged to his family, his friends and his followers.
  • The apostles and the followers of Jesus belonged to Jesus’ wider family.
  • After Jesus died, he wanted people to keep building the group that he started. This group became known as the Church.
  • The Church is a group of people who gather together as followers of Jesus.
  • As a part of the Church, we show love for God and others. We care for others.
  • The Church family shares Jesus’ message.
  • Our school is part of the Church community.
  • Our school community teaches us to care for others.
  Part 2: Church
 
  • The Church gathers together in church to worship.
  • Objects inside a Catholic church include:
    • An altar
    • A sanctuary
    • A lectern
    • A tabernacle
    • The presider’s chair
    • A baptismal font
    • A Paschal Candle
  • It is important to be reverent when we are inside a church.
  • During Mass, we use certain gestures to show reverence. These include:
    • Genuflecting
    • Staying calm and quiet
    • Bowing
    • Kneeling
  Part 3: Mass
 
  • People go to the church to celebrate the Eucharist.
  • The celebration of the Eucharist is also called Mass.
  • Catholics go to Mass on a Sunday because this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • There are four main parts to the mass:
    1. The Introductory Rites
    2. Listening to God’s Word
    3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist
    4. The dismissal
  • Jesus is present in the Word of God.
  • During the Mass, the people join in with singing and prayers.
  • Different objects are used in different parts of the Mass. Each object has a special meaning.
  • Different words are recited in different parts of the Mass.
  • In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest says and does what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper.
  • Jesus is present in the Eucharist.
  • At the end of the Mass, the priest asks us to go and proclaim Jesus in word and action.
Unit 8 The Season of Joy
  Part 1: Advent – Getting Ready for Jesus
 
  • Most people have to wait for something.
  • Waiting for something we really want can be very hard.
  • It is important to wait with patience.
  • God’s People waited for Jesus.
  • God told His people that He would send Jesus to save them.
  • John the Baptist prepared people for the coming of Jesus.
  • Advent is the time for us to get ready for Jesus.
  • We use the Advent wreath to get ready for Jesus.
  • The Advent wreath focuses on themes that help us to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
  Part 2: It’s Christmas
 
  • The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that God wanted her to be the mother of God’s son. This event is called the Annunciation. Mary said ‘yes’ to God because she trusted Him.
  • Angels are God’s special messengers.
  • Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born.
  • Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem.
  • Jesus’ birth can be shown through the Nativity.
  • Jesus is God’s gift to us.
Unit 9 The World Around Us
  Part 1: God Created the World for Us
 
  • We live in a beautiful world.
  • God created our world just for us.
  • God made the sky, land and oceans.
  • There is no other place like our world.
  • God made the world for us because He loves us.
  • We show God how much we love our world by taking good care of it.
  • We say thank you to God for all that He has given us.
  Part 2: God Created Us
 
  • God created all human beings.
  • The Bible tells us that God knows all about us.
  • All people are special to God.
  • Every person is unique.
  • It is important to value and respect our differences as well as our similarities.
  • We use our senses to make sense of our world.
  • Every person has special talents.
  Part 3: In the Very Beginning
 
  • The story of how God created the universe is told in the Book of Genesis.
  • The story of creation shows us that God loves us and wants to look after us.
  • Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
  • The people who came after Adam and Eve continued to disobey God.
  • The story of Noah tells how God chose to save Noah, his family and the animals from a great flood.
  • The story of Noah shows us that God wants to look after our world.
  • The story of Noah tells us about God’s promise to look after our world and everything in it.
  • We must continue to obey God.
  Part 4: God Created Us to Look after Our World
 
  • God also created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.
  • Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden.
  • God instructed Adam and Eve to take care of the world and everything in it.
  • Adam and Eve disobeyed God, so he put them out of the Garden of Eden.
  • God wants us to care for all of creation.
  • By caring for creation, we are showing God that our world is important to us.
  • Sometimes people don’t care for creation very well.
  • Every person is responsible for taking care of our world.
  • We must say thank you to God for giving us this world.
Stage 1
Unit 10 The Old Testament – God’s Family Album
  Part 1: The Bible
 
  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God which contains stories about God and God’s people.
  • We hear the Word of God during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
  • The Bible is a collection of 73 books (46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament).
  • The Old Testament presents God’s unfolding plan of salvation.
  • The Paschal Mystery is a key theme of the New Testament.
  Part 2: A Visit to the Land of the Bible
 
  • An appreciation of the nature of and life in the holy land in ancient times gives us an insight into the characters we encounter in the Old Testament.
  • There are many important people in the Old Testament.
  Part 3: Stories from the Old Testament
 
  • Many stories in the Old Testament are narratives with an important message.
  • The story of Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babylon deal with the consequences of sin.
  • The story of Joseph and Ruth reveals that God protects and cares for those who love and obey God.
  • The story of Jonah presents God as a God who shows mercy on people who repent and turn away from their sinful ways.
  Part 4: Meeting God in the Old Testament
 
  • The creation story in the Old Testament reveals God’s loving presence from the very beginning.
  • God’s mighty power and deeds are revealed in the Exodus story which recounts how God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them to the Promised Land.
  • The story of the Valley of Bones presents God as a life-giving God.
  Part 5: Symbols of God and Themes in the Old Testament
 
  • Symbols are used in the Old Testament to reveal some aspect of the mystery of God, who cannot ever be completely understood.
  • The key theme of the Old Testament is the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation following the first sin of Adam and Eve.
Unit 11 Meeting Jesus
  Part 1: Who is Jesus?
 
  • Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
  • Jesus is a historical person, who lived in Israel around 2000 years ago.
  • Jesus won salvation for humankind through his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to human beings to guide them.
  Part 2: Jesus Grows Up
 
  • The story of Jesus Christ is accounted for in the New Testament, and in particular, the four gospels.
  • Little is told of the early life of Jesus. Key events in his early life include the birth of Christ, growing up and being educated in Nazareth, celebrating the Bar-Mitzvah in the Temple of Jerusalem, and the baptism of Christ at the beginning of his ministry in Israel.
  Part 3: Jesus Loves Everyone
 
  • God sent His own son, Jesus Christ, as a sign of God’s unconditional love for humanity.
  • The sharing of meals formed an integral part of Jesus’ ministry of proclaiming the Good News.
  Part 4: Jesus Told Stories
 
  • Jesus told parables about love, forgiveness and kindness.
  Part 5: Jesus Taught Us to Love God and One Another
 
  • The Great Commandment is at the heart of the teachings of Christ.
  • A significant body of Christ’s teachings are concerned with the application of the Great Commandment in daily life.
  Part 6: Jesus did Mighty Works
 
  • Jesus performed numerous miracles.
Unit 12 Our Church
  Part 1: Gathered Together
 
  • Our family is a gift from God through who we experience the love of God.
  • Jesus has both a divine and a human family.
  • We become members of God’s family through the Sacrament of Baptism.
  Part 2: The Early Church
 
  • The Church is a gathering of people who belong to Christ and assemble in a church to worship God.
  • Christ commissioned the apostle to continue the mission of spreading to Good News to all the world.
  • As the early Christian communities began to live and worship together leaders emerged to guide them.
  • During the Christian persecutions believers gathered to worship in secret in one another’s homes and in the catacombs.
  • Christians initially gathered in the Temple and in synagogues to worship. Houses of worship and churches began to emerge as Christianity started to break away from Judaism.
  Part 3: The Church Family
 
  • We are welcomed into the family of God, the Church, through the Sacrament of Baptism.
  • Church communities gather in smaller groups called parishes for worship.
  • The Catholic school is part of the parish community.
  • Mary is the mother of Jesus and the mother of the Church.
  Part 4: Celebrating as God’s Family
 
  • The parish community gathers to celebrate the sacraments and to worship God.
  • There are many sacred objects within a Catholic church.
  • Catholics use sacred signs when celebrating the sacraments and worshipping God.
  Part 5: Organisation of God’s Family
 
  • All members of the Church are called to further the mission of the Church, either as members of the clergy or as laypeople.
  • The parish priest, often assisted by assistant priests, is responsible for leading the parish community in worship, and caring and teaching parishioners. Priests are required to nurture their spiritual life daily.
  • Parishes are grouped together into a diocese under the leadership of a bishop, who is the principal teacher of the people he leads.
  • The three levels of ordination comprise the diaconate, the priesthood and the episcopate.
  • The bishop of Rome (the pope) represents Christ and is the principal leader of the universal Church.
Unit 13 Responding to God Through Prayer
  Part 1: What is Prayer?
 
  • People pray for a variety of reasons.
  • The Church recognises five forms of prayer:
    1. Blessing
    2. Petition
    3. Intercession
    4. Thanksgiving
    5. Praise.
  Part 2: Jesus Taught us How to Pray
 
  • Prayer involves talking, listening and responding to God.
  • Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Jesus taught us to:
    1. Pray to the Father.
    2. Pray to him.
    3. Pray every day.
    4. Pray with others.
    5. Pray alone.
    6. Pray before meals.
  • Prayer is a gift from God.
  Part 3: Traditional Prayers
 
  • The Church has a strong tradition of prayer, and many traditional prayers have been passed on from generation to generation.
  • Praying is accompanied by sacred actions, such as the Sign of the Cross, genuflecting, kneeling and joining hands.
  Part 4: Expressions of Prayer
 
  • Vocal prayer, meditation and contemplation are common ways of praying.
  • Vocal prayer can take place in different places.
  • A sacred space is often set aside for prayer, and a variety of objects can be used to create a sacred space.
Unit 14 Sacrament of Baptism
  Part 1: Belonging to God’s Family
 
  • A sacrament is a sign Christ has given to the Church as a sign of his love for humanity.
  • The sacrament of baptism is the first of the seven sacraments.
  • A sacrament of initiation, the sacrament of baptism welcomes us into the family of the Church. Through this sacrament we become adopted children of God; we belong to the family of God.
  • The sacrament of baptism can be celebrated at any age, but can only be received once.
  Part 2: Baptism in the Scriptures
 
  • John the Baptist urged the people of the time to repent, turn away from sin and be baptised.
  • John the Baptist baptised with water, but Christ baptises with water and the Holy Spirit.
  • John baptised Jesus in the River Jordan.
  • Jesus commissioned his apostles to go throughout the world and baptise people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
  • Today the sacrament of baptism is administered through the Church.
  Part 3: Sacred Objects and Signs
 
  • The rituals involved in baptism in the early Church have largely been preserved in the sacrament of baptism as it is celebrated today.
  • The sacred objects used in baptism (baptismal font, water, Paschal Candle, baptismal candle, white garment, oil of catechumens, oil of chrism, and the imposition of hands) symbolise the invisible reality of the effect of the sacrament.
  Part 4: Celebrating Baptism
 
  • The sacrament of baptism can be celebrated at anytime and anywhere, but usually the sacrament is celebrated in the church on Sundays and during the Easter Vigil Mass.
  • The rite of baptism follows a set order comprising a greeting, the liturgy of the Word, anointing with the oil of catechumens, baptism with water, anointing with the oil of chrism, the putting on of a white garment and the lighting of the baptismal candle.
Unit 15 Journey to New Life
  Part 1: Lent
 
  • During Lent we are invited to reflect on and deepen our relationship with God.
  • Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which is marked by the distribution of ashes, and concludes with the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.
  • Lent is a liturgical season which lasts for forty days.
  • During Lent we prepared for the Lord’s resurrection through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
  Part 2: Holy Week
 
  • The events of Holy Week, which commence on Palm Sunday, recount the last week of Jesus’ life, and are the last week of Lent.
  • On Palm Sunday the Catholic Church celebrates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.
  • During the days leading up to Holy Thursday Jesus cleanses the Temple and argues with the Jewish religious authorities, actions which result in their decision to have Jesus killed.
  • On Holy Thursday the Catholic Church celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, and recounts the washing of the disciples’ feet, the prayer and arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • On God Friday the Catholic Church commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus, and the placement of his body in a tomb.
  • On Holy Saturday Christians reflect on the events of Good Friday.
  Part 3: Jesus is Risen
 
  • Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning, an event that was relayed by two angels to a group of women who went to the tomb.
  • According to the Gospel of Luke Jesus appeared to the women and instructed them to tell the apostles to meet him in Galilee.
  • Jesus appeared to his close followers over a period of forty days, during which he instructed them in their mission.
  • Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after the resurrection.
  • Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit came to Mary and the apostles on Pentecost Sunday.
Unit 16 Journey Towards Jesus: Advent and Christmas
  Part 1: The Saviour is Coming
 
  • The prophets announced God’s plan of salvation and prepared the Israelites for the promised saviour through repentance and forgiveness.
  • Isaiah and Daniel announced the coming of the kingdom of God.
  • Lent is a forty-day period of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • John the Baptist was the last of the prophets; he prepared the Israelites for the coming of Jesus by preaching repentance and by water baptism.
  Part 2: Mary Prepared and Waited for Jesus
 
  • At the Annunciation the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to pregnant through the Holy Spirit, and give birth to the Son of God. Mary humbly obeyed God.
  • After Joseph married Mary, she visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist.
  Part 3: We Prepare and Wait for the Coming of Jesus
 
  • Advent is a period of waiting and preparing for the birth of Jesus at Christmas and his return at the end of time.
  • The Church uses a variety of signs to highlight the significance of Christmas.
  • The candles on the Advent wreath focus on specific themes during each week of Advent.
  • The nativity scene on the Advent calendar helps us to understand the meaning of Christmas.
  Part 4: The Christmas Story
 
  • Jesus was born in a stable inside an inn in Bethlehem.
  • An angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the field; they visited the infant and found that everything was just as the angel had told them.
  • The infant Jesus was visited by three wise men, who brought gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, symbolising Jesus’ kingship, priesthood and sacrificial death, respectively.
  • Jesus is God’s gift to all people.
  • Christmas is a time of giving.
Unit 17 Creator God
  Part 1: Story of Creation
 
  • There are two creation stories in the Book of Genesis. They are essentially the same in that they posit that God created the world out of love and that God made human beings to love and to be loved.
  Part 2: I am Unique and Special
 
  • God has created us in God’s image and likeness.
  • God has given every person personal qualities, known as the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps Christians to nurture these qualities in their lives.
  Part 3: Caring for God’s Creation
 
  • God has given the earth and all its resources to human beings and bestowed upon them the role of stewardship.
  • Humankind can act as stewards by recycling, reducing waste and reusing things.
Unit 18 Discovering Jesus in the New Testament
  Part 1: Organisation of the New Testament
 
  • The New Testament, consisting of 27 books, is sacred because it is the Word of God.
  • The New Testament describes how the promise of salvation revealed in the Old Testament, is fulfilling through the person of Jesus.
  • The New Testament is organised into four parts:
    1. Gospels
    2. Acts
    3. Letters
    4. Revelation
  Part 2: The Land and People of the New Testament
 
  • The setting of the New Testament is Israel, where Jesus conducted his ministry of healing and teaching.
  • The New Testament describes many of the characters Jesus encountered during his ministry and the events leading to his death.
  • The lifestyle of people in Jesus’ time was very simple.
  Part 3: Narrative Structure of the Gospels
 
  • Each gospel is structured as a grand narrative, describing how God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled through the incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
  Part 4: Narrative Forms in the Gospels
 
  • In the gospels, sections of the narrative have different forms:
    1. Recounts
    2. Parables
    3. Miracle Stories.
  • The parables in the gospels usually consist of three parts:
    1. Jesus starts with something people know or think little about.
    2. Then he brings in something people know well.
    3. Finally, Jesus compares the two things.
Unit 19 Following Jesus
  Part 1: Sent by God
 
  • God is an all-knowing God, who gave us the gifts of curiosity, thinking and memorising with which to learn.
  • The Old Testament presents God’s plan of salvation, as foretold by the prophets.
  • The New Testament accounts for the fulfilment of God plan of salvation through Jesus.
  • Jesus is fully divine and fully human. Because Jesus had a human nature he grew in knowledge and wisdom.
  Part 2: Life in Israel
 
  • Jesus was a Jew who grew up in Nazareth, and witnessed the contrast between wealth and poverty.
  • Jesus travelled to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Passover festival.
  • The religious life of the Jews centred around reading and worship in the synagogue.
  • Women were regarded as less important than men.
  • There were numerous outcasts in Israel, many of whom lived in poverty.
  • The priests, Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees were insincere and regarded themselves as superior to everyone else.
  Part 3: People who Followed Jesus
 
  • Jesus called twelve men to follow him as his close disciples (apostles), and he chose another 72 men to discipleship.
  • The people who followed Jesus included simple ordinary people, women, outcasts and some Jewish religious leaders.
  • Jesus reached out to the Samaritans.
  Part 4: Teachings and Actions of Jesus
 
  • Jesus’ mission was to inaugurate the kingdom of God and to fulfil God’s plan of salvation.
  • Jesus performed many miracles as a sign that the kingdom of God was at hand.
  • Jesus taught his followers about the kingdom of God.
  • Through his teachings, Jesus invited the people of his time to welcome the kingdom of God into their lives.
Unit 20 Thinking about God and Life
  Part 1: Who is God?
 
  • Although God is a mystery there are many signs of the presence of God.
  • God is our creator; God created the universe, the world and everything in the world.
  Part 2: What is God Like?
 
  • The people of the Old Testament used a variety of metaphors to describe what God is like.
  • Jesus presents God as a loving, caring and forgiving Father.
  • Jesus showed by his actions and the parables he told that God loves everyone.
  Part 3: Created in God’s Image
 
  • Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God.
  • God created us out of love that we might have life in all its fullness in the here and now and to experience God’s love.
  • By his death and resurrection, Jesus showed us that death is not the end; it is the beginning of a new life with God in heaven.
  • God has sent to Holy Spirit to help us to attain happiness by living good and holy lives.
  • God has given us guardian angels to protect us and to grow closer to God through prayer.
  Part 4: Created to Love
 
  • God know us by name and has given each person unique gifts which reflect the goodness of God
  • God expects us to use our gifts in ways that are loving, and to forgive those who hurt us.
  • God expects us to use our gifts to care for God’s creation.
Unit 21 Prayer: Our Community Response to God
  Part 1: Nourished by God
 
  • Initially the early Christians gathered on Sundays to share food and to celebrate the Eucharist, but the sharing of meals gradually disappeared, leaving the Eucharist as it is celebrated today.
  • During Mass we are nourished by the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word and the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
  Part 2: Celebrating Mass
 
  • In Mass Jesus is present in the people gathered, in the person of the priest, in the scriptures and in the Eucharist.
  • During Mass we gather together, we listen to the Word of God, we receive Jesus in the form of bread and wine and we are dismissed.
  • The Mass comprises four parts: the Introductory rites, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Concluding Rite.
  Part 3: Celebrating Mass in Church
 
  • Mass can be celebrated anywhere, but is most commonly celebrated in a church, in particular the parish church.
  • Many different objects are used in the celebration of Mass, These objects are sacred because they are require in order to properly celebrate the Mass.
  Part 4: Called to Love and Serve
 
  • Jesus fed 5000 families. This mirrors what happens in the Eucharist; we are nourished so that we can go out and share Christ’s love with everyone we meet.
  • By virtue of our baptism we respond to Christ’s call to love and serve.
  • We respond to Christ’s call to love and serve by performing acts of kindness, becoming involved in our parish community and by sharing our gifts and talents for the good of others.
Unit 22 Sacrament of Reconciliation
  Part 1: Making Choices
 
  • All choices have consequences.
  • Jesus and the martyrs made loving choices.
  • God has given us the freedom to make loving and unloving choices. Loving choices result in good consequences whereas unloving choices result in negative consequences.
  Part 2: Forgiven by God
 
  • The story of Adam and Eve illustrates the consequences of human sinfulness.
  • Sinfulness leads to unloving choices, which in turn damages our relationship with God and with those who we hurt.
  • The Parable of the Lost Son shows us that God is always willing to forgive us when we are sorry for our sins and willing to make amends.
  • The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant shows us that God requires us to forgive those who hurt us if God is to forgive us.
  Part 3: Healing Damaged Relationships
 
  • Nelson Mandela and Saint Mother Teresa are great role models of forgiveness.
  • We mend relationships damaged by sin when we forgive those who have hurt us.
  • Repentance and making amends are two essential steps to forgiveness.
  Part 4: Sacrament of Reconciliation
 
  • We celebrate God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation comprises four elements: contrition, confession, satisfaction and absolution.
  • There are three rites of reconciliation.
  • Important symbols and actions in reconciliation comprise keys, the stole, a raised hand, and the Sign of the Cross.
  • In the Sacrament of Reconciliation the Holy Spirit works in the priest to absolve us of our sins.
Unit 23 Ash Wednesday to Pentacost: The Easter Story
  Part 1: Lent – A Time for Goodness and Generosity
 
  • After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus became remorseful and he changed his way of life, becoming a follower of Jesus.
  • There are several accounts of events that lasted for forty days or years in the Bible, and these were usually period of preparation.
  • Lent is a forty-day period of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Lent presents us with the opportunity to follow the example of Zacchaeus by showing remorse, asking for forgiveness and turning back to God.
  • Lent begins with Ash Wednesday when Christians receive ashes on their forehead as a sign of remorse.
  • Lent is a time during which we perform acts of kindness, practise generosity and make a special effort to grow closer to Jesus.
  Part 2: Days Leading up to Jesus’ Trial and Death
 
  • At the beginning of Passover week Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king, riding on a donkey.
  • Jesus cleared the Temple, which had been turned into a sales yard, and challenged the religious authorities.
  • At the Last Supper Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an example of discipleship, and instituted the Eucharist.
  • Jesus’ washing of feet is re-enacted at the Holy Thursday Mass, and the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated.
  • Jesus was betrayed by Judas and was arrested after praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  Part 3: Suffering and Death of Jesus
 
  • After his arrest Jesus was subjected to six trials during which he suffered and was sentenced to death by Pilate.
  • Jesus was crucified with two thieves on a hill known as Golgotha.
  • The passion and death of Jesus is recalled at the Church Service on Good Friday, and Christian venerate the cross at this service.
  • Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb, and the entrance was guarded by soldiers.
  Part 4: He is Alive
 
  • After three days in the tomb, God raised Jesus to life.
  • Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
  • Through the resurrection Jesus has restored our friendship with God and opened the door to heaven for us.
  • Catholics celebrate the resurrection at the Easter Vigil Mass and at all the Masses on Easter Sunday.
  • The Service of Light and the Liturgy of Baptism are two rites that are specific to the Easter Vigil Mass.
  Part 5: Come Holy Spirit
 
  • After the resurrection Jesus appeared to the two disciples walking to Emmaus and to the apostles, and he opened their eyes to the Scriptures.
  • Jesus commissioned the apostles to baptise all nations, after which he ascended into heaven.
  • Mary and the apostles received the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost, which is regarded as the day on which the Church was born.
Unit 24 We Prepare and Wait: The Christmas Story
  Part 1: A Light will Shine in the Darkness
 
  • The season of Advent, which marks the beginning of the Church’s year, starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends at midnight on Christmas Eve.
  • The Israelites waited in hope for the promised saviour who, according to Isaiah, would bring peace and justice through the inauguration of a new kingdom.
  • Isaiah taught the Israelites about the nature of the kingdom of God.
  • During Advent Christians wait and prepare for the birth of Jesus at the first Christmas and look forward to Jesus’ return at the end of time.
  Part 2: Jesse Tree
 
  • The Jesse Tree is a story about human sinfulness and redemption through the realisation of God’s saving plan in Jesus.
  Part 3: The Gospels Prepare us for the Coming of Jesus
 
  • The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah to announce that Elizabeth would become pregnant with John the Baptist, who was to come before Jesus to prepare the way of the Lord.
  • John the Baptist prepared the people of God for the coming of Jesus by preaching a message of repentance and baptising them in the Jordan River.
  • As we approach Christmas we are told to be alert because we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return.
  • After Mary became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit an angel appeared to Joseph directing him to marry Mary. Joseph obeyed God and thus became the foster father of Jesus.
  Part 4: Mary Mother of God
 
  • At the Annunciation Mary agreed in faith to become the mother of God only Son, Jesus.
  • Mary is a role model for all people because she shows us how we should respond to God.
  • Mary trusted in and prayed to God, and she helped people in need.
  • We honour Mary as the Mother of God and pray for her intercession.
  Part 5: Birth and Early Life of Jesus
 
  • Jesus was born in a stable inside an inn in Bethlehem, and although he was a King he was visited only by poor shepherds.
  • The infant Jesus was visited by three wise men from the east, who returned home by a different route after their visit, because an angel had warned them not to return to Herod, who wanted to kill the child.
  • The infant Jesus escaped death by Herod’s soldiers because, after being warned by an angel in a dream, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt, where they stayed until Herod died.
  • As we approach Christmas we appreciate the Jesus is God’s gift to us by helping the poor and needing,s praying for refugees and giving gifts to our friends and family.
Unit 25 Building Relationships
  Part 1: Living as Friends
 
  • Jesus loves all people and he calls us into relationship with him.
  • Jesus has shown us how to build strong and healthy relationships with one another through the example of his own life.
  • Jesus is the perfect model of honesty, patience, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, loyalty and empathy.
  Part 2: Caring for Each Other
 
  • The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that all people are our neighbour.
  • Jesus taught us how to treat our neighbour by giving us the Golden Rule. Following the Golden Rule is a practical way of building healthy and strong relationships.
  • We put the Golden Rule into practice by sharing, helping out, and being truthful.
  • The Church continues to do the work of love that Jesus began, and we sharing in that mission by performing acts of service.
  Part 3: Respecting One Another
 
  • The Ten Commandments are foundational rules upon which all proper relationships are built, but there are other rules, such as family and class rules, which help to promote strong and healthy relationships.
  • Family and class rules help us to show respect for ourselves and others.
  • When we show respect for our parents and teachers we show that that we love them and value what they do for us.
  • If we are to respect the children around us we need to accept and value our differences. Behaviours, such as teasing and bullying are inappropriate because they violate this principle.
  • There are many ways of showing respect for other children and for ourselves.
  Part 4: Peacemakers
 
  • Jesus taught his friends to promote peace and he has shown us that the promotion of peace is an important building block of good relationships.
  • Jesus has taught us that we can promote peace in our relationships by letting go of anger and resentment, choosing not to seek revenge, and choosing not to judge people.
Stage 2
Unit 26 The Old Testament
  Part 1: Christian Scriptures
 
  • The Bible is the Word of God. God inspired certain persons to write down His Word to us.
  • Both Jews and Christians claim the Bible as their sacred writings or scriptures. The Bible contains many books. For Jews, the Bible is a collection of the Old Testament books and is called Hebrew Scriptures. For Christians, the Bible is a collection of both Old and New Testament books and is called Christian Scriptures.
  • The books of the Old Testament are set in the time before the birth of Jesus and contain writings that prepare us for the coming of Jesus Christ.
  • The books of the New Testament are set in the time of Jesus. They recount the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the beginning of the early Church and the issues facing the Christian communities as the Church developed.
  Part 2: Called to Share in God’s Love
 
  • The book of Genesis recounts creation. Adam and Eve, representing humankind, are called to share in God’s love, but reject God. As a result of this original sin, humankind is sinful, and the consequence of sin is death.
  • God’s plan of salvation begins with God’s Self-revelation to the Patriarchs (Noah, Abraham and Jacob). As God makes known God’s saving plan, God calls the Patriarchs into relationship with God. Genesis thus presents God as a God who enters into human history to create a Chosen People through whom salvation will come.
  Part 3: God – Keeper of Promises
 
  • Over time the people of Egypt gradually forgot who Joseph was and what he did. They became jealous of the Israelites. The king was afraid that the Israelites would take over Egypt, and he forced them into slavery.
  • God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush and commissioned him to free the Israelites from slavery.
  • The Pharaoh was stubborn and refused the free the Israelites. God inflicted ten plagues on the Egyptians, the last being the death of all the first-born males. This plague prompted the Pharaoh to release the Israelites.
  • On the night of the Passover Moses gathered all the people together, and they marched to freedom with God’s guidance. Eventually they came to the Red Sea. God parted the waters of the Red Sea, and Moses led the Israelites through the waters to freedom.
  Part 4: God – Maker of Laws
 
  • God made a covenant with the Israelites at Mt Sinai. God promised the Israelites that they would be God’s people and God would be their God. God also promised to return to them the land God gave to Abraham.
  • In return the Israelites agreed to obey the laws of God, the most famous of which are known as the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. The many commandments given to the Israelites are recounted in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
  • The Israelites were unfaithful to God and failed to obey the commandments. God made them wander in the desert for forty years by which time a new generation of Israelites was born, who was faithful to God.
  Part 5: The God who Cares
 
  • God’s promise to the Israelites is fulfilled when, under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites conquer Jericho.
  • God provides kings to rule the Israelites. At first the kings ensured that the people were faithful to God’s commandments, and God protected them against attacks from foreign nations. For example, God empowered David to defeat the Philistines by killing Goliath.
  • King Solomon built a temple (the Temple of Solomon). It became a central point of worship of God. However, Solomon gradually turned away from God and began to worship other gods. By the time Solomon died many of the Israelites were unfaithful to God, and they were punished. The kingdom was split into two, the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel.
  Part 6: Learning to Please God
 
  • The Wisdom Books of the Old Testament are full of practical ways of pleasing God. God wants us to be happy. When we please God we become happy. The wisdom books have many wise sayings and good advice about pleasing God and being happy.
  Part 7: Preparing for the Coming of Jesus
 
  • God raised prophets to do three things:
    1. To warn God’s people against selfishness and sin. Often God punished the people, because they didn’t listen to the prophets’ warnings.
    2. To turn God’s people back to Him when they rejected God’s love. If the people did not love God, they could not receive the saviour. And so, it was important to bring them back to God.
    3. To prepare God’s people for the coming of the saviour.
  • In the books of the prophets we learn the details of God’s plan, and we are told that the Messiah is God himself. We learn that the Messiah will come to bring about the kingdom of God, and that he will die for the forgiveness of sin.
  • The Old Testament lays the foundation for the New Testament. The New Testament takes off where the Old Testament ends.
Unit 27 Jesus our Friend, Teacher and Saviour
  Part 1: Who is Jesus?
 
  • Jesus is fully God and fully human.
  • Jesus is the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
  • Jesus is the son of Mary who was chosen by God to be the mother of His Son.
  • There are many examples in the gospels which tell us that Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary.
  Part 2: Jesus Our Friend
 
  • Jesus is the friend of children, and he uses children as an example in many of his teachings.
  • Our relationship with Jesus grows when we obey his commandments to love God and to love one another.
  • There were several different social groups in Judea at the time of Jesus. Jesus reached out to women and children, the poor, the sick, outcasts and sinners.
  Part 3: Jesus the Miracle Worker
 
  • Jesus performed miracles as a sign that the kingdom of God was at hand.
  • The miracles that Jesus performed can be broadly classified into two groups: nature miracles and healing miracles. Although Jesus did not perform miracles to prove he was the Son of God, in time the miracles helped his followers to understand that he is the Son of God.
  • While Jesus primarily performed miracles for the poor and outcast, many miracles involved children.
  Part 4: Jesus Our Teacher
 
  • Jesus came to teach us about the kingdom of God. His mission was to proclaim the kingdom of God.
  • Jesus used parables and stories to teach about God’s kingdom.
  • The parables challenged listeners to re-think the way they lived and to act with a new way of thinking.
  • Jesus called his twelve disciples to assist with the proclamation of the kingdom of God and to continue his teachings and work of salvation.
  Part 5: Jesus Our Saviour
 
  • Jesus is our saviour. He came to save us from sin and evil and bring us to God. He suffered and died to save us.
  • There are many stories in the gospels that tell us Jesus is our Saviour.
  • In the Hebrew language the name Jesus means ‘God saves’.
Unit 28 Early History of the Catholic Church in Australia
  Part 1: Christianity Arrives in Australia
 
  • British society was characterised by strong sectarian divisions around the time of the first settlement in Australia. These divisions were brought into the early settlement in Australia.
  • Australia proved to be a harsh environment for the early settlers. Life for the convicts was especially burdensome, with lack of food and basic resources.
  Part 2: Beginnings
 
  • In the early years of the colony, Catholics did not enjoy religious freedom and Catholic priests were prohibited from carrying out their priestly ministry.
  • The Catholic Church was formally accepted by the Australian authorities in 1820 with the arrival of Fathers John Therry and Philip Conolly.
  • John Bede Polding became Australia’s first Catholic archbishop. Arriving in 1835, Polding made a significant contribution to the establishment and growth of the Church in Australia. Polding was a champion of pastoral care and justice. He succeeded in gaining for the Catholic Church the privileges that the Anglican Church enjoyed.
  • The Church Act 1836 provided some financial support for Catholic schools. It was, however, limited and left the Church with significant challenges in the area of education and welfare.
  Part 3: Religious Orders in Australia
 
  • The withdrawal of funding for Church schools presented a significant challenge for the Catholic Church in its attempt to address the educational and social needs of the time.
  • The bishops responded by inviting and establishing religious orders in Australia. The legacy of the hard work and commitment of religious can be seen today in the large network of Catholic schools and welfare organisations.
  Part 4: People Living the Gospel
 
  • In nineteenth century Australia there were many dedicated Catholics who worked alongside members of the religious orders. Many clerics and lay people were among those who made significant contributions to the promotion of justice and the provision of welfare for the poor and needy.
  Part 5: The Catholic Church Becomes Organised
 
  • The Catholic Church is divided into a number of geographical regions, called dioceses, each under the leadership of a bishop. Each diocese is in turn subdivided into parish communities which recognise the parish priest as their pastor, teacher and liturgical leader.
  • The Catholic Church began as a single diocese under the direction of Archbishop John Bede Polding. Over time the diocese of Australia was subdivided into separate dioceses.
  • The Church became organised into parishes in the 1820s after the Catholic Church had been officially recognised. Priests initially organised parishes around the worshipping Catholic community. With the emergence of church buildings the parishes became organised around these churches.
  Part 6: The Catholic Church and the First Australians
 
  • White settlement in Australia resulted in the gradual displacement of the indigenous people from the family, land and culture.
  • The Church’s intentions for the indigenous people were good, but, the Church failed in its attempts to help them. Efforts were made here and there, but there was no overall approach to the problems faced by the first Australians.
Unit 29 Prayer: The World’s Greatest Wifi
  Part 1: What is Prayer?
 
  • Prayer is communication with God. It involves talking, listening and responding to God.
  • Prayer is necessary if we are to nurture our relationship with God.
  • There are different kinds of prayer; prayers of:
    • Praise and adoration.
    • Thanksgiving.
    • Forgiveness.
    • Petition.
    • Intercession.
  Part 2: People of Prayer
 
  • There are many people in the Old Testament who had a close relationship with God through prayer.
  • The Gospel of Luke presents Jesus as a person who prayed to God the Father often, and before significant events in his life.
  • Jesus teaches that we should pray to God with sincerity, persistence, faith and trust, and that our prayers should be short and to the point.
  • Jesus taught us the greatest prayer of all – the Lord’s Prayer.
  Part 3: Ways of Praying
 
  • Formal prayer follows a set plan, which is dictated by the prayer recited. The Church has given us many formal prayers, but we can also create our own formal prayers.
  • Spontaneous prayer does not follow a set plan dictated by the recitation of a prayer. It is an informal conversation with God.
  • Given to us by the Aboriginal people, the Dadirri is a tool which Christians can use in spontaneous prayer.
  • Prayer is always personal, irrespective of whether one prays individually or publicly.
  Part 4: Who do we Pray to?
 
  • We pray first and foremost to God in the person of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit or the Holy Trinity.
  • We pray to Mary, the angels and the saints so that they might intercede for us before God.
  • The Litany of the Saints is recited or chanted on important occasions in the Church.
  • When we pray the rosary we meditate on events in the life of Jesus and Mary.
Unit 30 Sacrament of the Eucharist
  Part 1: The Seven Sacraments
 

A sacrament is a sign of Jesus’ love, given to us through the Church. There are seven sacraments which are grouped into three categories:

  • Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
  • Sacraments of Healing – Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick.
  • Sacraments of Service – Matrimony, Holy Orders.

In the early Church the three Sacraments of Initiation were administered in one ceremony. Today these sacraments are separated in time and celebrated in three separate ceremonies.

  Part 2: Eucharist – The Source and Summit of the Christian Life
 

The Church describes the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life. The Eucharist is a celebration of Jesus’ love for us. It has three dimensions:

  • It is a meal.
  • It is a sacrifice.
  • It is a memorial.
  Part 3: Growing Closer to Jesus through the Eucharist
 

Jesus is present in the Eucharist. In Holy Communion we receive Jesus. The outward or visible sign is bread and wine, but it is Jesus who we receive, and we call this the real presence. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are nourished spiritually. The Eucharist brings the worshipping community together into the Body of Christ.

  Part 4: The Sacrament of the Eucharist
 

Jesus is present in the worshipping community during the celebration of Mass. Jesus is present in the:

  • People who have gathered to worship.
  • Scriptures. The readings at Mass are the Word of God.
  • Priest, who represents Jesus and presides over the Mass.
  • Gifts of bread and wine which become His Body and Blood.

In Mass:

  • We gather together as a Church community.
  • We pray through words and actions.
  • We listen and respond to the Word of God.
  • We share our faith together.
  • We remember what Jesus taught and did.
  • We recall and re-enact Jesus’ death on the cross.
  • We recall Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
  • We receive Jesus in the sacred bread and wine.
  • We give thanks to Jesus.
  • We are nourished by Jesus’ body and blood.
  • We try to live our lives like Jesus.

The rituals of the Mass are arranged into four parts:

  1. The Introductory Rite.
  2. The Liturgy of the Word.
  3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  4. The Concluding Rite.
  Part 5: Introductory Rite
 

In the Introductory Rite of the Mass the people of God gather together as a worshipping community. They:

  • Express their faith and unity through words and actions.
  • Remember and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  • Praise and acclaim God’s glory and holiness.
  • Give thanks for God’s goodness and love.
  Part 6: Liturgy of the Word
 

The Liturgy of the Word is the first main part of the Mass. It follows the Introductory Rite. It includes two readings (First and Second Readings) and a Gospel reading followed by a Homily. In the Liturgy of the Word members of the worshipping community listen and respond to the Word of God proclaimed in the:

  • Readings from Scripture, the Word of God.
  • Homily.
  • Responsorial Psalm.
  • Gospel Acclamation.
  • Creed.
  • Prayers of the Faithful.
  Part 7: Liturgy of the Eucharist
 

We celebrate the Paschal Mystery in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Eucharist recalls the passion and death of Jesus, and his resurrection and ascension. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist members of the worshipping community:

  • Pray through words and actions.
  • Share their faith together.
  • Remember what Jesus taught and did.
  • Recall and celebrate the Paschal Mystery.
  • Receive Jesus in the sacred bread and wine.
  • Give thanks to Jesus.

Are nourished by the body and blood of Jesus.

  Part 8: The Concluding Rite
 

The Eucharistic Celebration ends with The Concluding Rite of the Mass. In this Rite, we are dismissed and sent forth to proclaim and bring God’s love and life to all the world and to those with whom we live and work. In the Concluding Rite the priest acknowledges that Jesus has given us life in the Eucharist and sends us out to bring this life to others. The Introductory Rite consists of:

  • Announcements.
  • A final blessing.
  • The dismissal.
Unit 31 Preparing For and Celebrating Easter
  Part 1: Lent – Preparing for Easter
 
  • Lent is the season of the Church year leading to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the night before Easter. It lasts for 40 days (not counting Sundays) reminding us of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert preparing for the work he had come to do.
  • At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth and coming as Saviour of the world. At Easter we celebrate Jesus’ great act of saving the world from sin and death by his passion, death and resurrection.
  • During Lent we prepare for Easter the way Jesus prepared in the desert for his saving mission. Jesus prayed and fasted and gave up earthly pleasures and power to be led and strengthened by the Spirit of God. Jesus prepared for his passion and death in order to save us from sin and death and win for us forgiveness and life with God forever.
  • On Easter Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ great act of love for us and victory over sin and death. By His death and resurrection we have been set free and can claim heaven as our homeland.
  • The forty day period of preparation in Lent parallels stories in the Old Testament pointing to and preparing for the Easter mystery of salvation in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
  Part 2: Living Lent
 
  • During Lent Christians prepare for Easter by praying, fasting and doing good works. These practices act as signs of repentance and atonement for sin and our willingness to forgive those who have hurt us.
  Part 3: Colours and Symbols of Lent
 
  • Liturgical colours express the mood and theme of a specific celebration or season of the Church year.
  • The liturgical colour of Lent is purple, although red is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
  • The purple colour of Lent is the colour of mourning and sadness and calls to mind our sinfulness and our need for forgive.
  • Ashes, the cross and the colour purple are dominant symbols of Lent.
  • Ashes is a symbol of humility, purification and sorrow; when marked with ashes in the form of a cross on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, they express our acknowledgement that we are sinners and in need of purification and cleansing.
  • The cross is the primary symbol of Christianity and the central symbol used in our Christian liturgies. During Lent the cross leads the Procession of Palms. It is the focus point of the Stations of the Cross and is venerated on Good Friday. On Ash Wednesday we are marked with ashes in the form of the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection gave new meaning to the cross. It becomes for Christians a symbol of victory over death and salvation from sin.
  • Purple or violet is the prescribed colour of Lent. It expresses moods of mourning and sadness, repentance and penance.
  • Numerous symbols can be used during Lent to remind us of our sinfulness, our need to repent, seek forgiveness and atone for our sins.(Catechism of the Catholic Church #1146)
  Part 4: Holy Week Celebrations
 
  • Holy Week is the most important week in the Church’s year. It begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Saturday evening, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and is the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent. On that day, Jesus rode as a royal king into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.
  • The Easter Triduum is the liturgical name for the three days ending Lent and leading into Easter: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The Easter Triduum marks the most significant events of Holy Week.
  • Holy Thursday celebrates the event of the Lord’s Last Supper. Jesus showed the apostles the meaning of the commandment to love one another by washing their feet and he revealed the depth of his love for humankind by giving us his own body and blood.
  • On Good Friday Christians remember the suffering and death endured by Jesus in order that sins be forgiven. Usually Christians commemorate this event by attending the Stations of the Cross and the Good Friday ceremonies at Church.
  • The Saturday of the Easter Triduum is a day of quiet reflection and prayerful anticipation, for the resurrection.
  Part 5: He is Risen
 
  • At the Easter Vigil Mass and on Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
  • After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on a number of occasions.
  • Before Jesus ascended into heaven he commissioned his disciples to preach the Good News throughout the world.
  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples to give them strength and guidance.
Unit 32 Preparing For and Celebrating Christmas
  Part 1: Advent Themes
 
  • Advent is the season in the Church’s liturgical calendar during which Christians wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ.
  • During Advent Christians prepare spiritually for the coming of Jesus Christ through repentance and personal renewal.
  • During the four weeks of Advent Christians focus on the themes of hope, love, joy and peace.
  Part 2: Advent Practices
 
  • The main liturgical colour of Advent is purple and symbolises repentance. It also symbolises royalty. The other two colours are rose (the third week of Advent) and white (Christmas Eve and the Christmas season).
  • The four candles on the Advent wreath are called the Prophecy Candle, the Bethlehem Candle, the Shepherds’ Candle and the Angels’ Candle, respectively, and each has its own symbolism.
  • When we light a candle on the Advent wreath and pray, we are reminded that we are preparing for Jesus.
  Part 3: The Jesse Tree
 
  • The genealogy of Jesus (as outlined in the Gospel of Luke) begins with Adam and Eve and ends with Jesus, the Son of God, and is actually a condensed outline of salvation history.
  • The genealogy of Jesus is symbolised in the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree recalls the fall of humanity due to sinfulness, God’s gradual self-revelation and the unfolding and fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.
  Part 4: Jesus is Born
 
  • The birth narrative is recounted in the Gospel of Luke and includes the immediate events leading up to the birth of Jesus and the visitation of the shepherds. The story of the three wise men is found in Matthew’s gospel.
  • The New Testament nativity account of Jesus is based on the stories in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
  • The Incarnation is the fulfilment of God’s saving plan.
  Part 5: The Season of Christmas
 
  • There are several important feasts during the Christmas Season; the most important one being the Nativity of the Lord which is celebrated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  Part 6: Symbols of Christmas
 
  • There are several common Christmas symbols. These are significant because they remind Christians of the true meaning and importance of Christmas.
Unit 33 Living God’s Values
  Part 1: Christian Values
 
  • Christian values are derived from the belief that God loves humanity and expects us to love one another. The way we act towards one another and the choices we make are derived from the Christian values we hold.
  • Values are the ideas, principles, moral beliefs and standards by which we live.
  • Christian values are the ideals, principles, moral beliefs and standards by which the followers of Jesus Christ act and live.
  Part 2: The Ten Commandments
 
  • Moses received the Ten Commandments on behalf of the Israelites on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments formed the basis of a covenant or agreement between the Israelites and their God, and indicated the type of relationship that Israel should have with God.
  • The Ten Commandments are the foundation upon which Christian morals and values are based.
  Part 3: Jesus’ Commandment of Love
 
  • Jesus came to complete the Law of the Old Testament. He gave humanity a new commandment, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’
  • Loving as Jesus loves is what makes the commandment to love others ‘a new commandment’ (see CCC#1823 and CCC#1825 on page 3 of Teacher Overview).
  • The Beatitudes are the attitudes Christians need to nurture the values that help them to put Jesus’ commandment of love into action.
  Part 4: Love in Action
 
  • Jesus gave us an example of what it means to love one another by washing his disciples’ feet.
  • Jesus showed his love for people through his ministry of teaching and healing.
  • Today the Church continues what Jesus began.
  • There are any ways in which we can share the love of Jesus with others.
  Part 5: Right and Wrong
 
  • Christian morality is based on the teachings of Jesus, and they govern how one is to action the commandment to love one another.
  • Jesus taught his followers moral lessons through parables.
  Part 6: Making the Right Choices
 
  • As human beings we possess the freedom to choose between what is right and what is wrong.
  • There are consequences to our actions; good choices lead to positive, beneficial consequences while bad choices lead to negative, harmful consequences.
  • Our conscience guides us in our decision making.
  • As Christians we have a duty to inform our conscience by knowing the Ten Commandments, reading the gospels and keeping informed and abreast of the teachings of the Church.
Unit 34 The New Testament
  Part 1: Structure of the New Testament
 
  • There are four parts to the New Testament: the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the letters and the Book of Revelation.
  • The books about Jesus and the early Church are about the new covenant, sealed with the blood of Jesus. This is the reason the collection is called the New Testament.
  • The New Testament contains 27 books, organised in four sections. The first section has the four gospels. The next section has a book called the Acts of the Apostles. The third section has 21 letters written to the early Church communities, and the last section contains the Book of Revelation.
  • The gospels are concerned with the life of Jesus, while the Acts of the Apostles deals with the beginning of the Church. The epistles address issues and problems in the early Church, and the Book of Revelation encourages Christians to remain faithful to Jesus until his return at the end of time.
  Part 2: Jesus – God and Man
 
  • The gospels present Jesus as fully God and fully human.
  • The divinity of Jesus is made evident through his ministry.
  Part 3: The Early Life of Jesus
 
  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem under humble circumstances and grew up in Nazareth.
  • The birth of the Jesus was announced byangels to the shepherds as Saviour. Three wise men travelled from afar to pay homage to him as King.
  • As a boy of twelve Jesus revealed his great wisdom as he interacted with the priests and teachers in the Temple of Jerusalem.
  • John the Baptist announced the coming of the Messiah and preached a baptism of water for the forgiveness of sin.
  • Jesus gathered twelve apostles around him to assist him in carrying out the work of God.
  Part 4: Jesus the Teacher
 
  • Jesus used the analogy of the good shepherd to proclaim God’s love for God’s people.
  • Jesus commanded his followers to love God and one another, and he explained the Great Commandment through parables.
  • Jesus expects us to love others as He loves us. Loving others includes loving everyone, even those we don’t like and those who have hurt us.
  Part 5: Jesus the Miracle Worker
 
  • Jesus worked many miracles during his ministry as a sign of God’s love for God’s people.
  Part 6: Jesus Completes the Father’s Work
 
  • Jesus accomplished God’s work of salvation through His death, resurrection and ascension.
  • Jesus gave us his body and blood at the Last supper, and Catholics receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist.
  • Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection and he commissioned them to spread the Good News to all nations.
  Part 7: Friends of Jesus
 
  • The Annunciation recounts how Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God. She was a devoted mother and follower of Jesus.
  • After receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles began the work of building up the Church which Jesus founded.
  • St Paul was initially a fierce opponent of Christianity, but after his conversion he set about spreading the Good News of Salvation to the gentiles in many nations.
  • St Peter was the first pope. He performed miracles in the name of Jesus and was responsible for opening Christianity to gentiles.
Unit 35 Jesus – Face of God
  Part 1: Fullness of God’s Revelation
 
  • From the very beginning human beings turned away from God through sinfulness, but over time God revealed Himself to good people in the Old Testament.
  • Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of God. Through the Incarnation God took on human form in the person of Jesus. Thus Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
  • God revealed Himself in the person of Jesus so as to take away the consequences of human sin and to restore the relationship with God that Adam and Eve broke.
  • Humanity has been forgiven because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Out of divine love (agape), Jesus willingly gave up his life for the sake of humanity.
  Part 2: God’s Saving Plan Accomplished through Jesus
 
  • Luke presents Jesus as the second Moses; he has organised his gospel so that the ministry of Jesus follows the same pattern as the story of God’s saving plan described in the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers and Joshua.
  • This structure centres around the three major journeys Jesus made:
    1. His ministry in Galilee of proclaiming the kingdom of God and providing signs that the kingdom of God is at hand.
    2. His journey to Jerusalem, during which he teaches his followers about the kingdom of God.
    3. His final journey from the temple to his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
  • The human and divine nature of Jesus is revealed throughout these journeys.
  Part 3: The Kingdom of God is Proclaimed
 
  • The first ministerial journey described in the Gospel of Luke took place in Galilee, where Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, taught his followers about that kingdom, and gave signs that the kingdom of God was at hand.
  Part 4: Teachings about the Kingdom of God
 
  • Jesus taught his followers that nothing is more important than following him.
  • Jesus taught his followers about Christian discipleship.
  Part 5: The Paschal Mystery
 
  • The Paschal Mystery recounts how God’s saving plan is accomplished through Jesus.
  • When Jesus died on the cross he took upon himself the sins of the world and became the bearer of all sin. The consequence of sin is death. Jesus died because he carried all our sins.
  • When Jesus rose from the dead, he overcame death, and the sins he carried on our behalf were washed away.
  Part 6: The Face of Jesus
 
  • The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth, which bears the image of a man who has been crucified. Although the Church has not confirmed that the image is that of Christ, tradition holds that the body of Christ was wrapped in the Shroud of Turin.
  • Before people learnt how to read and write art was used as a way of teaching people about Jesus. Art was used to recount the stories in the gospels.
Unit 36 Mary and The Saints
  Part 1: Communion of Saints
 
  • In the Apostles’ Creed, we profess our belief in the communion of saints which is made up of all the baptised, living and dead. The communion of saints make up God’s holy people.
  • The communion of saints exists at three levels.
    1. Believers who gather together to celebrate God’s love through Jesus.
    2. People in purgatory whose souls are being purified, as they are preparing for heaven.
    3. People who have died and are in heaven with God. The Church has officially declared some of these people to be saints.
  • Canonised saints are people who lived extraordinarily holy lives.
  • The ceremony of declaring someone a saint by the Church is called canonisation. The process leading to canonisation cannot begin until the person is dead, and it which takes at least five years.
  Part 2: The Saints – Extraordinary People
 
  • Saint Joan of Arc, Saint John Bosco, Saint John Paul II, Saint Mary MacKillop, Saint Patrick and Saint Mother Teresa are examples of the thousands of saints who lived extraordinarily holy lives as they cared for the people of God.
  Part 3: Mary Mother of God
 
  • Daughter of Saints Anne and Joachim, Mary was born without original sin, and she did not commit any sin during her life.
  • The Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary to tell her that God had chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus. Mary said ‘yes’ to God and became the mother of Jesus.
  • The theme of the Magnificat is that the kingdom of God is for people who are humble and hungry for Jesus, while those who are selfish and unkind will be turned away.
  • When Mary died she was taken into heaven body and soul. She is the Mother of the Church and our spiritual mother.
  Part 4: Mary Woman of Faith
 
  • Mary’s unfaltering faith and trust in God are evident in the gospels and serve as an example to which Christians aspire.
  Part 5: Devotions to Mary
 
  • Mary is the greatest of all saints and we honour her as the Mother of God.
  • Mary has been a role model for Christians for hundreds of years, and there are many devotions to Mary which focus on her life and example. The Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen and the rosary are examples of common Marian devotions.
  • Holy people have witnessed apparitions of Mary, and they have inspired further devotion to the rosary.
Unit 37 Celebrating the Paschal Mystery through Liturgy
  Part 1: The Liturgical Cycle – A Celebration of the Paschal Mystery
 
  • The Paschal Mystery is the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
  • The Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery in the Church’s liturgical cycle.
  • Liturgy is the Church’s official public and communal form of worship and celebration.
  • The liturgical cycle recalls and celebrates the Paschal Mystery over a yearly cycle.
    The liturgical readings follow a three year cycle: Cycle A, B and/or C.
  Part 2: Liturgical Colours
 
  • There are several colours used in the Liturgy.
  • Liturgical colours are used to remind us of different parts of the Paschal Mystery, signifying special times in the liturgical calendar. Liturgical colours help us to focus on the event and meaning of each part of the Paschal Mystery.
  Part 3: Holy Days Celebrating God and the Paschal Mystery
 
  • All the holy days linked to Jesus are part of the Paschal Mystery and are celebrated during the Church’s liturgical year.
  • The Church has added other important feasts to its calendar. There are feasts linked to Mary, Joseph and the saints.
  Part 4: Holy Days Celebrating Mary, Joseph and the Saints
 
  • The Church has added other important feasts to its calendar. There are feasts linked to Mary, Joseph and the saints.
  Part 5: The Mass
 
  • In the Mass Catholic Christians celebrate the Paschal Mystery. The rites, prayers and ceremonies used in celebrating the Mass help us to focus on specific aspects of the Paschal Mystery.
Unit 38 Sacrament of Confirmation
  Part 1: Initiation Stories
 
  • Entry into a new group or stage of life involves an initiation process.
  • The progression from one state or stage in life to another is marked by initiation ceremonies called rites of passage.
  • There are many stories of how initiation is celebrated within various groups and cultures.
  • The Scriptures describe how God initiated people to carry out God’s work.
  • Jesus gave the seven sacraments to the Church as a means of receiving God’s gift of love to those who receive and celebrate them.
  Part 2: Sacraments of Initiation
 
  • Jesus gave seven sacraments to the Church. Three of which are called Sacraments of Initiation. They are Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. When we celebrate them we are welcomed and initiated into theChristian family, the Church.
  • The symbols used in Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist remind us of the hidden reality of God’s saving love made visible through these sacraments.
  Part 3: History of the Sacraments of Initiation
 
  • The New Testament reveals that the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation can be traced to the beginning of Christianity.
  • In the early Church the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation were celebrated together at the same time and ceremony. Over time the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation were celebrated as two separate ceremonies.
  • The reason for this was the growing practice of infant baptism.
  • As Christian communities spread, grew and developed, there were too many individual baptisms for the bishop to attend them all. So the bishop delegated his parish priests to administer Baptism but reserved to himself the conferral of Confirmation.
  • Today the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are more commonly celebrated separately in two ceremonies at different times. However, in some Eastern Rites of the Church infants and children are baptised and confirmed immediately after at the same time and celebration.
  • In the rite of Christian initiation of Adults (RCIA), the sacraments of initiation are celebrated together and if possible during the Easter Vigil ceremonies.
  Part 4: Symbols of Confirmation
 
  • Our world is full of symbols revealing invisible realities. Many symbols, such as fire, wind, and oil have shared meanings across the world.
  • The Scriptures contain symbols such as fire, wind, water, oil, hands, the dove, the staff and shepherds. These symbols reveal some aspect of God and God’s relationship to people.
  • The symbols used in the Sacrament of Confirmation have their origin in the Scriptures. They reveal the hidden reality of the effect of the Sacrament.
  Part 5: Confirmation Rituals
 
  • The rite of Confirmation follows a set sequence of rituals, comprising:
    • Presentation of candidates
    • The delivery of a homily
    • Renewal of baptismal promises
    • Lying on of hands (the key ritual by which the Holy Spirit is conferred)
    • Anointing with Chrism
    • Sign of Peace
  • Irrespective of whether the Confirmation program is parish or school based, it involves a period of instruction.
  Part 6: Gifts of the Holy Spirit
 
  • The Holy Spirit binds and unites Christians as one.
  • In the Sacrament of Confirmation, candidates are given the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which, if activated and nurtured, effect a personal transformation. They are the invisible reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
  • The saints were filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and nurtured these gifts throughout their lives. The candidates’ Confirmation names remind them to nurture these gifts, just as did the saints whose name they have chosen.
  Part 7: Fruits of the Holy Spirit
 
  • When people love Jesus the gifts of the Holy Spirit begin to transform their lives. They bring forth and are guided by the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Unit 39 Encountering Jesus Through Lent and Easter
  Part 1: Importance of Lent
 
  • Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent, a period lasting forty days, during which Christians turn away from sin and turn their lives to God.
  • On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes on our foreheads to remind us of the purpose of Lent.
  • During Lent, Christians to what Jesus did in the desert prior to beginning his ministry. We follow the example of Jesus.
  Part 2: Colours, Actions and Symbols of Lent
 
  • Lent is the Church season lasting forty days leading up to the resurrection of Christ. The primary liturgical colour for Lent is purple, but red is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
  • During Lent Christians focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a sign of repentance and to atone for sin.
  • Christians are required to approach prayer, fasting and almsgiving with sincerity.
  • Fasting and almsgiving can take different forms.
  • The symbols of Lent remind us that Jesus has saved us and won forgiveness for our sins.
  Part 3: Forgiveness
 
  • During Lent we forgive those who have hurt us, and we ask Jesus to forgive us for the sins we have committed.
  • The Parable of the Lost Son reminds us that God is always willing to take us back because He loves us, provided we are remorseful.
  • During Lent we celebrate the sacrament of God’s loving forgiveness by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  Part 4: Holy Week
 
  • Holy week commences on Palm Sunday and concludes with the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass.
  • In the Palm Sunday Mass we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the passion and death of Jesus.
  • On Holy Thursday we focus on the meaning of the washing of the feet and we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist.
  • On Good Friday Catholics usually attend two services – the Stations of the Cross and the Good Friday Service. The Good Friday service comprises three parts:
    1. Liturgy of the Word.
    2. Veneration of the Cross.
    3. Communion Service.
  • Easter Saturday is a day of waiting for the resurrection of Christ, and consists of different customs throughout the world.
  Part 5: Jesus Lives
 
  • The Easter season begins with the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass during which we celebrate the events of salvation history which culminate with the resurrection of Christ.
  • In some cultures the resurrection of Christ is celebrated by holding a procession.
  • There are a variety of Easter symbols, which remind us of the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ.
  Part 6: The Apostles Continue What Jesus Began
 
  • After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples on many occasions.
  • Jesus commissioned Peter to be the first leader of his Church.
  • Prior to the ascension, Jesus commissioned the disciple to preach the Good news to the whole world.
  • The Church was born on the first Pentecost, when the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Unit 40 Come, Lord Jesus
  Part 1: Preparing for the Coming of Jesus
 
  • Advent is a season in the Church’s liturgical year during which Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus in the Incarnation and at the Parousia.
  • During Advent Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus through prayer and reflection. One of the traditional ways Christians do this is through the use of the Advent wreath, which acts as a prayer focus for each week of Advent.
  Part 2: Our Covenant Journey to Jesus
 
  • God made covenants with Noah, Abraham and the Israelites (through Moses).
  • The prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold that God would make a new covenant with all people. Jesus is the fulfilment of that covenant.
  • During Advent Christians prepare spiritually so that Jesus can renew the new covenant God has written in their hearts at baptism.
  Part 3: Infancy Narrative
 
  • By giving birth to Jesus Mary became the one through whom the new covenant was made possible.
  • Luke describes the events connected with the birth of Jesus in much more detail than Matthew, while Matthew focuses his story on the three wise men.
  Part 4: Jesus – Gift from God
 
  • God promised that He would send His son to us to be our saviour. Jesus is the fulfilment of that promise, the promise of salvation. Through the gift of Jesus, we our sins have been forgiven, and we have been given the promise of eternal life with God in heaven.
  • At Christmas we are reminded that God has given us the great gift of His only son, and we focus on how we can promote the kingdom of God by responding to God’s gift of Jesus.
Unit 41 God’s Marvellous Creation
  Part 1: Wonder and Awe of Creation
 
  • There is beauty in the world all around us. When we take the time to see the beauty around us, we wonder at the magnificence of Creation.
  • In Australia and around the world there is a great variety of flora and fauna, all of which are beautiful.
  • Human beings are part of God’s creation. When we wonder at creation, we can understand that humans are the most amazing of all of God’s creations.
  • The ability to wonder is a gift from God. God gave us this gift so that we can appreciate how amazing our world is.
  Part 2: Seeing God in Creation
 
  • Genesis presents God as the creator of the universe and all that is within it.
  • Creation is good because it comes from God and reflects God’s love. God is revealed through creation.
  • Jesus showed his love for creation by the way he talked about creation. He expects human beings to care for God’s creation.
  Part 3: Created in God’s Image
 
  • According to Genesis God created human beings in God’s own image and likeness.
  • Human beings have been created body and soul. The soul united to the body constitutes a human being.
  • God has created human beings to love and to be loved.
  Part 4: Caring for Creation
 
  • The earth and its resources belong to God. God made us stewards of creation.
  • Although God gave us the freedom to make our own choices, we are expected to manage and care for creation.
  • Looking after creation must become a way of life; it is what we must do every day.
  • When we care for creation, we are showing our love for and commitment to God.
  • Every choice we make has a consequence, and many choices that people make damage the earth and its resources; the earth, the air, water and land can become polluted.
  Part 5: Caring for Ourselves and Others
 
  • Human beings are important and special because they have been created in God’s image and likeness.
  • We reflect God’s love when we are being and doing what is good, and we have love in our hearts.
  • Because we have been created in God’s image and likeness we must care for ourselves and for our relationship with God. Doing these things is a way of showing respect and love for God.
  Part 6: Two Case Studies of Stewardship
 
  • Stewardship involves looking after the environment and the people who live within that environment.
  • As Christian stewards, we are called to be active in caring for the Great Barrier Reef and preventing any further damage.
  • Mini Vinnies is an organisation which provides the opportunity for school aged children to increase their awareness of the problems which face others, as well as broader social justice issues.
  • As Christian stewards, we are called to be active in caring for others in our world and promoting social justice.
Stage 3
Unit 42 Discovering God in the Old Testament
  Part 1: Introducing God
 
  • We learn about God from:
    • Discovering and experiencing God in the works of creation
    • Reading, hearing and reflecting on God’s Word in the Old and New Testament
    • The teachings of the Church
    • Public and private prayer and worship
    • A loving relationship with God.
  • The Old Testament portrays God as powerful, strong, righteous, unchanging and glorious. God is a God who is awesome in splendour, with guiding steadfast love for us. God’s love will never fade away.
  • In the Old Testament there are many images of God that reveal to us something of who God is. These images portray and make more manifest and visible our invisible God. They help us to discover who God is and to learn more about God in order to grow in our knowledge and love of God.
  Part 2: The God of the Israelites
 
  • The Old Testament records the Israelites’ experiences of God as their Father.
  • The Israelites had many images of their Father, God. Most of these images give us an accurate image of what God is like – a personal and loving God.
  • However, the Israelites had a distorted image of what God is like when they sinned. Their image of God was one of an angry and vengeful God who cast upon them the consequences of sin in the form of punishments and retribution. This image of God as vengeful and unforgiving is distorted and inaccurate. For this reason the Old Testament is full of stories of love and punishment.
  • God expected the Israelites to love God with all their being. God gave Moses the great command to love God above all: to love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
  • The Israelites enshrined this command of love in their great prayer called the Shema.
  Part 3: Revelation – History Comes Alive
 
  • There are, broadly speaking, two ways to the ‘knowledge’ of God: reason (our ‘discovery’) and revelation (God’s ‘disclosure’). By natural reason a person can know God on the basis of God’s works of creation; but there is another order of knowledge which no one can possibly arrive at by their own powers – the order of Revelation. (Compendium of the CCC, #50).
  • From the beginning of human history, God revealed Himself to humankind by gradually communicating His own mystery in deeds and in words. God manifested Himself to our first parents and after the fall, promised them salvation (Gen 3:15). God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings (Gen 9:16); God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants. By this covenant God formed His people and revealed His law to them through Moses. Through the prophets God prepared them to accept the salvation destined for all humanity (CCC, #70-72).
  • God has fully revealed Himself by sending His own Son in whom He established His covenant forever. The Son is his Father’s definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him (CCC, #73).
  • The Old Testament is a record of God’s revelation to humankind through:
    • Personal relationships
    • God’s covenant with the Israelites
    • Important events in the history and experience of the Hebrew people
    • Creation and the natural world
    • The prophets.
  • Isaiah described God as a hidden God due to the fact that the Israelites turned away from God by disobeying God.
  Part 4: Names of God in the Old Testament
 
  • The names of God found in the Old Testament Scriptures reveal aspects of God’s identity. They disclose and highlight characteristics, attributes and faces of God which shaped the Israelite’s knowledge and image of God.
  Part 5: Sources of God’s Revelation
 
  • The Old Testament image of God was shaped by the Israelite’s knowledge and experience of God. This knowledge and image of God grew and developed gradually over a long period of time. It was drawn from God’s revelation to the Israelites through:
    • Their personal relationships with God and others
    • God’s covenant with the Israelites
    • Important events in the history of the Hebrew people
    • God’s works of creation revealed in the world of nature
    • God’s word spoken through the prophets.
  Part 6: Importance of the Old Testament
 
  • The Old Testament is the Word of God which contains stories about God and God’s people.
  • The Old Testament is the:
    • Word of God (used in our worship and liturgy, for example, the first readings at Mass)
    • Source of Truth from which our knowledge and beliefs about God come
    • Story of God’s plan of salvation (the Exodus and the Messianic prophecies prepare God’s people for Jesus’ coming).
  • The Old Testament foreshadows the birth of Jesus through the promise of the Messiah, who would save the world from sin and death. God’s promise was fulfilled with the incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son.
Unit 43 Mission and Ministry of Jesus
  Part 1: Jesus’ Jewish Heritage
 
  • The Son of God became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He was born into and raised in the culture and religion of the Jewish People.
  • The Old Testament prepared the Israelites, and all people, in fact, for the most important event in human history – the Incarnation – God becoming man through Jesus.
  • Jesus’ Jewish heritage played a significant part in his mission and ministry. Certain Old Testament stories played a significant role in preparing Jesus for the ministry the Father had given him to carry out.
  • Jesus was an observant Jew. He knew and lived Judaism in its truest and deepest sense. He challenged those Jews who interpreted and / or taught beliefs and practices that were erroneous or false. During his ministry, Jesus confronted Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and others who created factions and divisions within Judaism by teaching their own ‘brand’ or interpretation of the Law.
  Part 2: Israel – The Land Where Jesus Lived
 
  • Jesus of Nazareth was born and lived in Israel at the time of Roman occupation. It was a period in Jewish history of oppression and suffering under the domination of pagan rulers subject to Rome.
  • The class structure in Jewish society was maintained by a rigid purity system. Usually men were regarded as clean and righteous; they were pure. The wealthy were also thought of as pure. By contrast, the poor, the outcasts, and gentiles were regarded as impure or unclean. Women were automatically regarded as inferior to men, and they were oppressed by men.
  • There were several religious groups in Israel during the time of Jesus.
    • Pharisees – a group of Jews whom Jesus criticised for being more concerned with the traditions of their fathers than with God’s word.
    • Sadducees – a priestly group of Jews who rejected all scriptures save the Torah (first five books of the OT) and who rejected the belief in the future resurrection of the body.
    • Scribes – lawyers whose primary task was to copy the scriptures and whose focus was on the letter of the law. They were ‘professional’ teachers of the law.
    • Zealots – religious extremists who fought for religious/political freedom claiming allegiance only to God as king and ruler.
    • Sanhedrin – a group of judges consisting of 70 Jewish men who under the high priest acted as a council or supreme court in Jewish legal/religious matters or trials.
  • There are many important geographical locations in the story of Jesus’ life. Most are located within the land of Israel which is sometimes referred to as the Holy Land because it is where Jesus lived and worked while he was on earth.
  • At the time of Jesus, Israel consisted of three main regions or provinces: Galilee, Samaria and Judea. Each of these regions had many villages and townships. Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, was located in Galilee which was a more rural and countryside region to the north of Samaria and Judea. The city of Jerusalem located in Judea was the largest and most important place for the Jewish people to visit because of the Temple there. It was called the Holy City of God.
  Part 3: Proclaiming the Kingdom of God
 
  • Jesus’ mission is to redeem, rescue and save humankind from the loss of their original sinless and loving relationship with God.
  • Sent by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ mission was to proclaim and bring about the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Jesus carried out and effected this mission by proclaiming in word and in deed the kingdom of God. This mission Jesus accomplished amongst the people of his time and through His Church continues to accomplish amongst all people of every time and place.
  • Through Jesus’ ministries of teaching, preaching, healing, forgiveness and atonement for the sins of all humanity by his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus accomplished his mission while on earth.
  • Before returning to his Father in heaven, Jesus commissioned and sent out his disciples to continue His mission and ministry until the end of time.
  • Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God launched His mission and ministry. At Jesus’ Baptism by John in the Jordan River, the Father commissioned Jesus and the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus in his mission and ministry to announce and bring about God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Jesus proclaims God’s kingdom in word and in work. He begins his public life announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand; it is near; it is here. Jesus comes to make God’s presence and rule operative, reigning within the life and world of each human person.
  Part 4: Teachings about the Kingdom of God
 
  • The mission and ministry of Jesus proclaim and activate God’s Saving Plan for humanity.
  • God’s Plan of Salvation will be accomplished when the kingdom of God is fully realised ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for this day to come; we pray that the reign of God’s presence and love will extend to the very ends of the earth, encompassing every corner and every person.
  • Jesus teaches his followers in words and deeds about this kingdom and reign of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us about the attitudes and values of this kingdom, what it is like and how it is to be found and treasured.
  Part 5: Signs of the Kingdom of God
 
  • Jesus carried out His mission of bringing the good news of God’s kingdom through his ministry of preaching, teaching and healing. His words and works marked the beginning of a new era in God’s Plan of Salvation.
  • The signs and wonders Jesus worked give evidence and testimony that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and that God’s kingdom had come. Indeed, the words of the prophet Isaiah 61:1-2 took flesh in the person and works of Jesus. In proclaiming the good news to the poor, Jesus went about setting captives free of sin, evil and death. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the broken hearted, gave sight to the blind, drove out evil spirits, forgave sinners and raised the dead to life.
  • ‘By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs.’ (CCC, #549)
  • The signs and wonders Jesus performed required faith in his message and mission as the Chosen One anointed by God to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.
  • The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs of the presence of God’s kingdom. (CCC, #547)
  Part 6: Bringing About the Kingdom of God
 
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ‘opened’ heaven to us. By His death and resurrection Jesus made possible our entry into the kingdom of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection brought about the kingdom of God on earth.
  • ‘By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has ‘opened’ heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.’ (CCC, #1026)
  • Jesus removed the barriers which sin had created in separating us from God. Jesus redeemed and saved all humankind from the banishment of life without God. Jesus opened the gates of heaven for us. In Jesus we become sons and daughters of God and heirs to His kingdom.
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus is the great Act of Salvation foretold by God’s prophets and witnessed by Jesus’ disciples. It is the ultimate and definitive work of his earthly mission and ministry. His works of healing, feeding, restoring and setting people free from the afflictions and effects of sin and death are all signs foreshadowing this, his greatest work: the salvation of the world.
  • At Mass we acclaim Jesus as Saviour:
  • Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and resurrection you have set us free.
  Part 7: Responding to Jesus
 
  • Our response to Jesus and His message of God’s kingdom makes a difference to us and our lives. Those who accept Jesus and receive His message have life forever. Those who reject Jesus and the kingdom of God miss out on the greatest gift God offers us in His Plan of Salvation.
  • At the time of Jesus there were those who accepted Jesus and responded to His message in faith and with open hearts. There were others who rejected Jesus and chose to criticize, mock and ridicule His message. Yet others remained indifferent.
  • How we respond to Jesus makes a difference to ourselves and our lives. Choosing to live as kingdom people can bring us happiness not only here on earth but forever in God’s kingdom in heaven.
  • The greatest gift of God to us in His Plan of Salvation is Jesus.
  Part 8: Continuing the Mission of Jesus
 
  • Before ascending into heaven, Jesus commissioned his followers to continue his mission and ministry to proclaim and bring about God’s kingdom to the ‘ends of the earth’. By many works and signs and by his death and resurrection Jesus proclaimed and brought about God’s kingdom on earth.
  • During his public mission and ministry Jesus inaugurated this kingdom. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus entrusted to his disciples the task of continuing the proclamation and bringing about of God’s kingdom on earth.
  • ‘Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 27:19-20)
  • The Church down through the ages continues the mission and ministry of Jesus and the bringing about of the kingdom of God on earth through her works of evangelisation.
Unit 44 Beginnings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  Part 1: Abraham – Father of Many Nations
 
  • God first reveals Himself in an enduring way in creation and in history to the person of Abraham (which is where this unit begins). God desires that humanity should enter ever more fully into relationship with God, so He forms a covenant with Abraham.
  • There are two parts to the covenant which God established with Abraham. It involves mutual obligations on behalf of both parties. God promised Abraham that God would be the God of Abraham and all of Abraham’s descendants. God promised Abraham that he would enter the Promised Land, that many generations would come after him, and that God would protect them. In turn, Abraham promised to obey God and to worship only God.
  • The covenant of God with Abraham marks a departure from belief in many gods (polytheism) to belief in the existence of One True God (monotheism).
  • Abraham becomes the father of many nations throughout the world, and the ancestor of three world religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Abraham is the spiritual ancestor of Jews and Christians throughout the world through Isaac, the son he bore with Sarah. Abraham is the spiritual ancestor of all Muslim people through Ishmael, the son he bore with Hagar.
  • Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic religions tracing its origins back to Abraham, its forefather in faith, whose life is generally dated circa 2000-1800 BCE. With the refinement and development of Mosaic Covenantal Law and the growth of the priestly and prophetic traditions, the Judaic religion took on a more unique and prominent identity and form. Jewish law was based on the oral and written traditions of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah contains a considerable number of legal rules and many accounts of events from which legal rules can be deduced. The current form of Judaism grew out of ancient Israel after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.
  • Christianity grew out of ancient Israel in the 1st century CE. It is founded on the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation to fallen humankind. Christianity is a monotheistic religion with many different branches and forms that are a result of a variety in beliefs, practices and traditions. Christianity is one of the major religious traditions of the world. Followers of Jesus Christ are called Christians and their sacred writings are contained in the New and Old Testaments of the Bible.
  • Islam is a religious tradition founded by Muhammad in the 6th century CE, after the time of Christ. Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Qur’an, the Holy Book containing what Muslims believe to be the exact words of God revealed to the prophet Muhammad. The first followers of Muhammad were mainly Arabs but in time have spread to many places and people.
  Part 2: Judaic, Christian and Islamic Origins
 
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three great monotheistic religions of the world.
  • Judaism holds that the Ten Commandments are the basis for the 613 commandments (mitzvot) in the first five books of the Bible. The origin of Judaism as a formal religion began with the Mosaic Covenant in which God enters into a special relationship with the Israelite people on Mt Sinai. In this covenant, God becomes their God and protector and the Israelites become God’s chosen people. This covenant obliges the Israelites to remain faithful to God in obedience to the commandments.
  • Christianity is the religion of the fulfilment of God’s promise to redeem and save humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, Son of Mary and Son of God.
  • God fully reveals Himself through the incarnation, when God becomes man in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the fulfilment of the promise that God made through the prophets. Jesus establishes a new and everlasting covenant through his suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. Jesus frees humanity from sin and death and reconciles us to God. As an historical person, Jesus left humanity to return to the Father, leaving us with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Islam is a monotheistic religious tradition that began in the 7th century CE in the Middle East. The ancestry of Islam can be traced back to Abraham, who through Ishmael and his descendents gave rise to the Arab people. Muslims believe that God revealed Himself to Muhammad in a series of visions. Islam originated as a formal religious tradition when Muhammad and his armies conquered Mecca in 630 CE.
  Part 3: Traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
 
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have their own traditions. The members of a particular religion share its tradition. Tradition helps people to feel that they belong to that religion. They give people an identity as Jews, Christians or Muslims. Some traditions are even held in common across the three religions.
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam share a number of beliefs:
    • Abraham is the common spiritual father.
    • God is One.
    • God revealed Himself to humanity.
    • God made a covenant with Abraham.
    • The existence of angels.
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam have sacred writings. These sacred writings record how God revealed Himself to people through history. They are a record of God’s message to humankind.
  • The Jews believe that God gave the Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. These laws govern their life and worship and form/shape their identity and culture. They believe as do Christians and Muslims in One God.
  • Christians believe God is one God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They believe Jesus Christ is the son of God who became man, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. They believe Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead. They believe Jesus is both God and man.
  • Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet and that Muhammad is the last and greatest of the prophets. They believe in one God, in Arabic, ‘Allah’. They believe, Muhammad is the messenger of God to whom God communicated
  Part 4: Beginnings of Christianity
 
  • At the Annunciation, Christ took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, Christianity took flesh in the apostles and believers by the power and outpouring of the same Holy Spirit.
  • Ignited with the Spirit’s tongues of fire, the apostles fearlessly and boldly proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ to the crowds in the streets of Jerusalem. That day Jews and Gentiles from near and far heard the good news of Jesus Christ and many believed and were baptised.
  • Christianity began by the power and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
  • Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit completely transformed the apostles. Filled with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles began to preach the Good News of God’s saving plan to everyone around them.
  • The Holy Spirit played a very important role in the foundation of the Christian Church. The Holy Spirit helped the apostles and the early Christians in many ways.
  Part 5: Early Christianity
 
  • The first Christians are referred to by later historians as ‘Jewish Christians’. They are described by St Luke in the first chapters of the Acts of the apostles as Jewish, either by birth, or conversion.
  • Only gradually did Christianity become recognised as a separate religion from Judaism. Christians generally used and revered the Jewish Bible as Scripture, mostly in the Greek or Aramaic translations.
  • St. Luke records in the Acts of the apostles that the first Christian community was centred in Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James and John. After his conversion Paul of Tarsus joined the Christian community though he was not immediately accepted because of his former hostility and persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:1-2)
  • The disciples and followers Jesus Christ were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:19-26). The early Christians spoke of themselves as ‘brethren’, or ‘disciples’, or ‘believers’ or ‘saints’, and followers of the way.
  • From the very beginning Christians have recognised Mary as the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. Mary was a great example and a source of inspiration for the early Christian communities.
  • Peter, the first pope, had great authority in the Church and the apostles acted in communion with him. Peter played an important role in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, and at the Council of Jerusalem he supported initiatives aimed at converting the Gentiles.
  • Paul set out on many missionary journeys, bringing Christianity to the Gentiles in many different countries. His influence on Christian thinking contained in his letters to the early Christian communities is of great significance.
  • In addition to the apostles, there were many other men and women in the early Church who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, played an important part in its foundation.
  Part 6: Christianity Spreads and Grows
 
  • Christians were persecuted by the Romans for almost three centuries.
  • Despite persecution, the early Christian Church continued to grow under the leadership of holy men and women who were a source of hope, courage and strength for the Christians. Some of these leaders were Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome and Polycarp of Smyrna.
  • Christian persecutions came to an end when Emperor Constantine defeated Rome in 313 CE. Christianity became an accepted religion when Emperor Constantine made it the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  • Christianity has spread world-wide through the missionary activity of Christian Churches in carrying out the mandate of Jesus to ‘go teach all nations’. Christian missionaries of all ages have followed in the footsteps of St Peter and St Paul in bringing the message of Jesus to ‘the ends of the earth’. Today Christianity numbers over 2 billion adherents.
  • From small beginnings in Jerusalem, Christianity has become a global religion. It is the largest of the major religions of the world. Its growth from seed to tree and its spread throughout the world is living testimony to the authenticity of Jesus’ message and to his life, death and resurrection.
  • Though one in their commitment/adherence to Jesus Christ as founder and leader, Christians are many in their geographical and theological diversity.
  • Differences in interpretation and understandings of faith beliefs and practices have fragmented Christianity into a diversity of groups and denominations. About half of the Christian population are Catholics. Protestants (broadly defined) make up the second largest group/denomination of Christianity. Orthodox and various other Christian groups make up the remaining Christian global population of over 2 billion.
  • Jesus’ prayer to the Father for his disciples at the Last Supper was ‘that they may be one, just as you and I are one.’ Within Christianity today there is a strong movement to reconcile differences and work toward that unity which Jesus so ardently prays for his followers. Ecumenical endeavours and movements among and within Christian groups are an expression and response to Jesus’ prayer and call to all Christians to be united in one faith, one baptism, one Lord of all.
Unit 45 Encountering God Through Prayer
  Part 1: Friendship with God
 
  • As religious educators, it is important not only to help children know about God but to know God personally. That is why prayer and praying with children is such an important element in any religious education endeavour.
  • Prayer is a personal encounter with God. It is an expression of our relationship with God. Quite simply, prayer is talking with God. Like all genuine dialogue and communication, It involves talking, listening and responding. Prayer connects us, puts us in touch and ‘on-line’ in communicating with God. It enlivens and nurtures our friendship and relationship with God.
  • Prayer can take many forms. It can be formal or informal, public or private, liturgical or devotional, prepared or spontaneous, vocal or mental. But whatever form or kind it is, all prayer is personal and from the heart if it is prayer and not parroting.
  • When do we pray? Always, St Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18. An interesting activity for both teacher and student is to note the times and places when you pray. This tells us something about our relationship with God. Do I pray only when I’m in trouble? Happy? Depressed? Need something? Do I pray only when I’m in church? With others? Alone? On my knees? If we are honest in answering these questions, we will discover a lot about ourselves and our relationship with God.
  • Another worthwhile activity is finding in the Gospel texts the times and places when and where Jesus prayed. See Matthew 14:23, 26:36; Mark 1:35, 6:46, 14:32; Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:28. These texts tell us about the importance Jesus placed on prayer.
  • In Matthew 6:5-15 Jesus teaches us how to pray using simple and sincere words, without showing off and using a lot of meaningless words and long prayers to impress others. Jesus taught us how to pray by giving us the prayer we should pray – The Lord’s Prayer.
  • In the story Jesus told of the Pharisee and the Publican who went up to the Temple to pray. Jesus teaches us the importance of praying with a humble heart. He tells us that God does not listen or hear the prayers of those who are proud and boastful of how good they are.
  • In Luke 11:5-10 and 18:1-8 Jesus teaches us to persevere, to continue, to keep praying always; never to give up or become discouraged in praying to God for what we need.
  Part 2: Kinds of Prayer
 
  • There are different kinds of prayer:
    1. Prayers of Praise and Adoration – These prayers express praise and admiration and worship to God for His great glory and majesty and power; they are centred on God’s beauty and love, His mercy and grace, His eternal characteristics. There are many prayers of this kind in the Bible.
    2. Prayers of Penitence and Sorrow – These prayers express repentance and sorrow and ask God’s forgiveness of sin. Psalm 51 in the Bible is one of the well known prayers of penitence.
    3. Prayers of Thanksgiving – These prayers express appreciation and thanksgiving for the gifts God has given us. Being thankful is one of the greatest ways of being cheerful and gracious; it overcomes sadness and depression and feeling sorrow for ourselves. Prayers of thanksgiving remind us to count our blessings, not our worries or trials.
    4. Prayers of Petition – Asking or requesting prayers. They are prayers that are perhaps most often used and misused. God loves us to ask for things – good things that we need – but we need to remember that God knows what is best for us and sometimes what we ask for may not be best for us. God always answers our prayers of petition but sometimes in unexpected ways. So it is always good to add to these prayers ‘Your will be done’ to express our trust in God’s knowing what is best for us. Because God is our Father, he loves and cares about every part of our lives and wants us to ask Him for whatever we need. But what pleases God most is when we ask for our spiritual needs and the gifts of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
    5. Prayers of Intercession – Prayers in which we pray for others. Prayers we pray in the name of Jesus or Mary or the saints are also called intercessory prayers because are asking them to intercede for us, i.e. to pray or petition on our behalf. When we pray for others we are most like Jesus, interceding for others. Our Blessed Mother Mary and all the angels and saints in heaven intercede for us, too. In the great communion of saints on earth and in heaven, we join with Jesus our High Priest interceding with the Father for everyone everywhere.
  Part 3: Old Testament Prayers
 
  • Prayer began with God, because God wanted to share God’s love with all humankind. And so God inspired the Israelites to pray.
  • The Old Testament has many examples of how the Israelites prayed to God.
  • The psalms reflect the intimate relationship the Israelites shared with God. There are different kinds of psalms:
    • Hymns of Thanksgiving and Praise
    • Hymns of Grief and Petition
    • Hymns of Wisdom
    • Hymns of Worship
    • Historical Psalms.
  Part 4: New Testament Prayers
 
  • Jesus instructed his followers that they were to pray always and to never lose heart.
  • We must pray with absolute confidence in the knowledge that God grants us what we ask for.
  • Jesus told his followers to be persistent with their prayer and to never give up praying.
  • Jesus taught his followers that they were to be sincere when they prayed.
  • Jesus demonstrated that when we pray honestly and sincerely we are called to action.
  • Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. He taught them the Lord’s Prayer.
  Part 5: Ways of Praying
 
  • There are a variety of ways of praying. The Catholic Catechism refers to these ways of praying as expressions of prayer. (CCC #2721)
  • The Christian tradition has three main forms of expressing prayer: vocal prayer, meditation and contemplative prayer. Common to all three ways or expressions of prayer is recollection and engagement of the heart. (Compendium of the CCC #568)
    • Vocal Prayer links the body with the interior prayer of the heart. Vocal prayer, while external, must always spring from an interior personal faith and attitude of the heart. Jesus taught us the most perfect vocal prayer, The Our Father, also known as The Lord’s Prayer.
    • Meditation is a prayerful reflection on God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. Meditative prayer engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire in order to deepen our faith and convert our heart and strengthen our will to follow Jesus. It is a first step toward the union of love between a person and God.
    • Contemplative Prayer is a simple gaze upon God in silence and love. It is a gift of God given in a moment of pure faith when one literally ‘loses oneself in God’. In contemplative prayer one experiences the presence and love of God in a way that is beyond words to describe or explain. This deep communion and relationship with God in contemplative prayer St Teresa of Avila describes as an ‘intimate sharing of friendship’ in which time is taken to be alone with God who we know loves us.
  Part 6: Praying with Others
 
  • Prayer has a variety of forms of expression. It may be public or private, individual or communal, formal or informal, official or unofficial.
  • Communal prayer is prayer that is prayed with a group of people. The communal public and official prayer of the Church is called liturgical prayer. The prayers used in the Mass and the sacraments are liturgical prayers.
  • Communal prayer includes prayer services and other devotional prayers said with others who gather informally to pray. In this situation the communal prayer though not recited officially in the name of the Church, is still Christian communal prayer.
  • There are many needs in the world for which we should pray.
  • Many people use the Rosary to pray for various intentions.
  • The intention of offering the Rosary for world peace came about as a result of Mary’s appearances or apparitions to three children near Fatima in Portugal.
Unit 46 Sacraments of Healing
  Part 1: The Seven Sacraments
 
  • Historically God revealed Himself to people through signs. God reveals His love for humankind most perfectly through Jesus.
  • Jesus is the ultimate and most perfect sign and gift of God’s revelation to us. God makes God’s presence and loving care known and active in our lives through Jesus Christ in and with the Holy Spirit by means of the sacraments.
  • The sacraments are visible signs instituted by Jesus to reveal, to make present and transmit God’s loving care and divine life (grace) to those who believe in Him.
  • The Catholic Church recognises and celebrates seven sacraments which can be categorised into three groups: Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; Sacraments of Healing – Penance / Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick; Sacraments of Service – Matrimony and Holy Orders.
  Part 2: Experiencing Jesus’ Love and Compassion
 
  • The Sacraments of Healing bring us the loving and healing presence of Jesus in times of physical and/or spiritual illness and affliction. In the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself as ‘physician’. In Mark 2:17 Jesus says: ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’ Jesus is Healer of both body and soul.
  • There are two sacraments of healing:
    • The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
    • The Sacrament of Penance / Reconciliation.
  • Sickness and suffering is a part of human life. In the Old Testament it was experienced as a sign of weakness and perceived as mysteriously bound up with sin. Jesus’ deep compassion toward the sick and his many healings of the infirm were a clear sign that he had come to bring the kingdom of God with its victory over sin, suffering and death.
  • By his own suffering and death, Jesus gave new meaning to our suffering which, when united with his own, can become a means of purification and salvation for us and for others.
  • Having received from the Lord the charge to heal the sick, the Church strives to carry out care for the sick and suffering with prayers of intercession and with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament was instituted by Christ and is attested to by St James: ‘Is any one of you sick? He should call for the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).’ (Compendium of CCC, #313-315)
  • Jesus came to heal not only our bodies but our hearts and souls as well. In the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation Jesus heals sinners from the affliction of sin and evil. In the gospel story of Jesus healing the paralysed man (Luke 5:17-26) Jesus heals not only the paralytic’s physical affliction but his spiritual one as well.
  • The idea that God causes suffering and sickness is erroneous. God does not cause sickness and the suffering that results from being ill. God lets nature take its course. Because of original sin, sickness, suffering and death have become a part of our existence and world. Environment and human actions can aggravate or mitigate sickness, suffering and death but they cannot eliminate it. They are the result of sin. God created our first parents free from evil, sickness, suffering and death. In sinning, Adam and Eve (and all of us after) become ‘wounded’ and subject to evil, sickness, suffering and death. Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection conquered the evils of sin and won for us victory over sickness, suffering, evil and death.
  • During his ministry Jesus revealed a tender and deep compassion for the sick and the dying. Jesus cured the incurable by performing miracles. He did this to show his followers that the kingdom of God had arrived.
  • Today it is very rare that people are healed in the way that Jesus healed, that is, through the performance of miracles. Occasionally God chooses to perform a miracle through the intercession of a very holy person. God does this as a sign that this person is a saint.
  • Jesus’ work of healing is continued every day through the Sacraments of Healing – The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
  Part 3: Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick: Overview
 
  • Jesus’ special love and healing presence to those who are sick and suffering has continued for centuries through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Jesus used many visible, tangible signs as he went about healing. On one occasion Jesus mixed saliva with a bit of dirt to form a mixture of mud to lay on the eyes of a blind man; more often Jesus simply touched or placed his hand on the person being healed. Today Jesus continues his healing touch and power using the tangible signs of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
  • When we celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick the entire Church prays with and for us to be healed. The Holy Spirit works through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to strengthen us and to help us endure the sufferings of serious illness or old age. Through the sacrament the Holy Spirit heals our soul, and if it is God’s will, we are healed physically as well.
  • The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick unites us with Jesus, who suffered for our sins. It prepares those who are about to die for eternal life. It invites us in our sufferings to embrace and unite more closely to Jesus who overcame the power of death.
  Part 4: Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick: Symbols and Rituals
 
  • Signs and symbols play an important role in the life of the Church. They act as tools which teach us more about our faith and about what we are celebrating. They make visible unseen realities.
  • The symbol of oil used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has rich meanings that tell us a great deal about the sacrament. Oil is and has been important throughout history because of its many healing qualities and uses. It has been and is still used as a healing lotion and remedy for a number of illnesses, from external skin afflictions to inner nerve and muscular pains and ailments.
  • There are many references to the use of oil in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Anointing oil was used in the Old Testament for consecrating or setting apart as holy certain people such as high priests, or kings or for objects used in sacred worship, such as the tabernacle and its furnishings (as in Exodus 25:6, Leviticus 8:30 and Numbers 4:16).
  • In the New Testament the practice of anointing with oil is mentioned in Mark 6:13 where the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In Luke 10:34 the Good Samaritan pours oil over the wounds of the man left for dead on the roadside. In Mark 14:3-9 Mary anoints the feet of Jesus as an act of worship. In the early Church, James 5:14 speaks of the church elders anointing the sick with oil for healing. Oil is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit as in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). It is the oil of the Spirit that leads Christians into all truth and anoints them with His grace and comfort: ‘But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth'(1 John 2:20)
  • Holy oil is used on many occasions in the life of the Church. There are three types of oils used:
    • The Oil of Catechumens
    • Holy Chrism
    • The Oil of the Sick or ‘Oleum Infirmorum’.
  • Oil symbolises the healing that Jesus brings to us through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. It is a sign of the healing that takes place when we receive this sacrament. The Holy Spirit works through the oil to release us from sin and make us holy.
  • When we celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick the priest or bishop administers the oil of the sick with his hands. This reminds us that Jesus used hands to heal the sick and the suffering.
  • The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can be celebrated in the home, in hospital or within the Mass. In fact, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can be celebrated almost anywhere – even at accident scenes and battle fields.
  • Rituals are a series of ordered events. These events are the same each time they are performed. And they are performed in the same sequence every time.
  • There are three distinct parts to the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick:
    • Prayer of faith
    • Laying on of hands
    • Anointing with oil.
    The actions performed during each part are known as rituals.
  Part 5: Sacrament of Reconciliation: Overview
 
  • Just as the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick brings healing of body and soul to the afflicted, Penance brings reconciliation and spiritual healing to sinners. These two sacraments evidence the centrality of healing in the mission of Jesus and his Church.
  • We come to Jesus for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus welcomes us with open arms, just like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
  • Sacramental reconciliation consists of four parts or aspects:
    • Contrition (an internal attitude of sorrow and repentance)
    • Confession (naming the sins for which one is seeking forgiveness)
    • Absolution or forgiveness (which emphasises the healing power of Jesus Christ)
    • Satisfaction (the resolve to make amends and reform one’s life)
  • In the Sacrament of Reconciliation the priest acts as Jesus’ representative. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the priest absolves us from sin in the name of Jesus.
  Part 6: Sacrament of Reconciliation: Symbols and Rituals
 
  • Like all the sacraments, the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation has outward signs, symbols and rituals used to represent and celebrate it.
  • The major symbols for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are keys, a stole, a raised hand and the Sign of the Cross.
  • Several rituals are performed during the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
    • Welcome
    • Confession
    • Penance
    • Contrition
    • Absolution
    • Dismissal
    • Performance of the Penance
  • Proper preparation for the sacrament of Reconciliation requires us to examine our conscience. The Holy Spirit helps us to listen to what our conscience is saying.
  • There are three rites or ways of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
    1. Individual celebration of priest and penitent, one to one in private.
    2. Communal celebration of priest and community/group of penitents usually celebrated at important times in the Catholic church year. This rite is celebrated in common save for the individual confession of sins. For this, more than one priest is usually present to assist in the individual confession of sins if the group is a large one.
    3. A communal celebration of the sacrament at which general absolution is given after the community reflects individually on their sins. There is no individual confession of sins to a priest in a one to one encounter in this rite (as there is in the other two rites). This 3rd rite is used only in very special circumstances when individual confession and absolution of sins is not possible due to the number of penitents and/or the situation.
Unit 47 Lent and Easter: Our Journey of Salvation
  Part 1: Milestones Along the Way
 
  • Jesus undertook many journeys, both as a boy and as a man. There are many stories in the gospels about these journeys. The greatest of these journeys is commemorated and celebrated during the Lent and Easter season of the Church year.
  • The Church year is made up of a calendar of cycles and seasons and holy days which mark significant events in the lives of Jesus and his mother, the angels and saints. During the Church year the Christian community celebrates in rites, rituals, ceremonies, worship and prayer the mysteries of faith.
  • The cyclic occurrence of seasons and feasts is marked out on a calendar called the liturgical year. The liturgical year has two main seasons: the Christmas season and the Easter season. Each of these seasons has a preparation time: Advent in preparation for Christmas, and Lent in preparation for Easter.
  • Our spiritual journey is linked to the Church’s liturgical journey. The Church’s liturgical journey begins with Advent and ends with the celebration of Christ the King, the day before Advent.
  • There are many important milestones along the Church’s liturgical journey. In this Title we will signpost and study those occurring in the Easter cycle: Lent, Holy Week, Easter Sunday, Ascension and Pentecost.
  Part 2: The Lent and Easter Cycle
 
  • Lent is a journey to Easter lasting for forty days.
  • There are many milestones during Lent; Ash Wednesday and the Annunciation being the most important before Palm Sunday.
  • The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week. As we go through each day of Holy Week we travel with Jesus on the last days of his earthly journey.
  • The Easter Season begins with the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass. This season lasts for fifty days, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.
  Part 3: Colours of Lent and Holy Week
 
  • Colours are used to mark the seasons of the Church’s liturgical journey.
  • Purple is the main liturgical colour for Lent. It is a reminder of repentance, forgiveness and reparation for sin.
  • A variety of liturgical colours are used during Holy Week. Red is the colour that is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. This colour is used to remind us of Jesus’ suffering and death.
  Part 4: Symbols of Lent and Holy Week
 
  • Symbols play an important role in the life of the Church. They act as tools which teach us more about our faith.
  • The ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday are a symbol of Lent. They remind us that we are sinners, and that we need to repent and return to God.
  • During Lent, we usually find simple symbols in the church. They remind us of the need to repent, make up for our sins and return to God.
  • There are many symbols which highlight the importance and meaning of Holy Week. One of the most important of these is the symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
  Part 5: Stations Along the Way
 
  • Lent is a period of preparation for Easter through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
  • During Lent Christians practise and perform penance by means of observing penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These practices and customs are like ‘stations along the way’ aiding and assisting us in preparing for Easter.
  Part 6: Celebrating Easter
 
  • The Paschal Mystery of Easter is the triumph of life over death – the victory of Jesus over sin and death. In the Easter mystery, Jesus the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the world stands alive and risen, triumphant over the power of sin, evil and death.
  • The feast of Easter celebrates the most solemn and magnificent moment in the history of humankind and in the story of God’s plan for creation. Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again!
  • Jesus’ death had left the disciples afraid and confused. Jesus appeared before the disciples many times to help them through their fears and confusion and doubts. He wanted to reassure them that he was indeed alive; that all that he had said and taught them about his sufferings and resurrection had truly happened. It was so unbelievably and wondrously true that even his closest friends and disciples had difficulty ‘wrapping their heads around’ what had happened. Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection confirmed to all who would believe that he had truly risen and was truly alive and remained with them in a new but real post-resurrection form of presence.
  • Jesus is our Saviour and Redeemer. By his death and resurrection Jesus saves us from the death of sin and redeems us, paying the ransom for our deliverance and release from the power-hold of sin and evil.
  Part 7: Final Stages of Jesus’ Easter Journey
 
  • Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into heaven. It reminds us of just how high Jesus was raised, and what it means to enter into the glory of heaven.
  • By ascending into heaven Jesus made it possible for God’s children to enter heaven.
  • Taking leave from earth, Jesus returns to his Father in heaven; Father and Son send the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the newly founded Church is anointed and empowered to continue and complete the work Jesus had begun in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth.
  • Moments before Jesus takes leave of them the disciples ask: ‘Will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?’ The question was not a foolish or surprising one. That was what every Jew expected the Messiah to do – to restore the Davidic monarchy. But Jesus responds telling them that something more grand, more important and more astounding is about to happen: God’s Spirit is to come upon them empowering them to become his witnesses. A greater kingdom and era is about to begin. The age of the Holy Spirit is about to unfold in and around them empowering them to bring God’s kingdom to all nations and all peoples.
  • Rather than worry about the times and seasons God has set for the fulfilment of all things, Jesus tells them that they are to take up the task he has entrusted to them in this new age. No longer simply followers, they are now mandated to continue his work and mission; they are to become his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
  • On the Feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. On Pentecost Sunday we remember and celebrate the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit.
  • On Ascension Day, we remember and celebrate the mandate Jesus gave his followers before taking leave of them on the mount of the ascension.
  • At Baptism and Confirmation each follower of Jesus receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are enabled and empowered to become apostles and witnesses, to bring Jesus’ message to all people – to the very ‘ends of the earth’.
Unit 48 Advent and Christmas: A Time of Hope
  Part 1: Come, Lord Jesus!
 
  • During the Church’s liturgical year we celebrate the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The Christmas season celebrates the birth of Jesus in the Catholic liturgical year. It commences with the Advent season which anticipates and prepares for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.
  • Advent means ‘coming.’ Before Jesus came, God’s people waited eagerly for the promised Messiah. During Advent the Church calls God’s people to anticipate and prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ coming / birth at Christmas and for his coming again at the end of time.
  • Actually, Advent celebrates three dimensions of Jesus’ coming to us: his coming in the past, in the present and in the future. Some 2000 years ago Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and came to live amongst us as one of us; today Jesus continues to come to live with us in his Word and sacraments; And at the end of the world, Jesus will come again as our King and Judge.
  • Another way of expressing this three-fold coming of Jesus is to say that Jesus comes to us in history (the past), in mystery (the present) and in majesty (the future). In other words:
    • Jesus came to us in history at his birth in Bethlehem.
    • Jesus comes to us now in mystery in a more hidden, less visible but real way in his word, in the sacraments, in his grace and mercy.
    • Jesus will come in majesty at the end of the world as judge of the living and the dead.
  • During Advent the Church year calls Christians to contemplate and celebrate this three-fold coming of Jesus.
  • Advent is a time of great expectation and hope. It is a time of eagerly looking forward to celebrating the wondrous event of Jesus’ coming to be one with us, to be Emmanuel (God with us), to be our Saviour and to be our King.
  • During Advent Christians reflect on God’s love for humankind and on all the wondrous works Jesus performed as he ministered to his people. During Advent Christians recall and make a special effort to continue the work Jesus began by promoting God’s kingdom of harmony and peace among people of good will.
  • The Aramaic phrase ‘Maranatha’ sung and prayed by the first Christians has become the Advent theme song and prayer of Christians of every time and place. During Advent we express our longing, expectation and anticipation of Jesus’ coming in proclaiming ‘Maranatha’ – which, translated into English, is ‘Come Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 22:20).
  • Christmastide is a season of great joy and hope, because Jesus is the Promised One who has come to bring about the fulfilment of the kingdom and reign of God.
  • The Christmas theme of wonder and good news, of joy, peace and harmony is reflected in the name given to Jesus as ‘Emmanuel’ – God is with us. In Matthew 1:22-23 the angel tells Joseph that Jesus is to be named Emmanuel, which literally means God-with-us.
  Part 2: Mary Waits for Jesus
 
  • Mary is the Mother of God and the instrument through whom the Incarnation was accomplished. At the Annunciation she said ‘yes’ to God in complete faith. She waited nine months for Jesus’ coming and birth in Bethlehem.
  • Mary was deeply humbled that God had chosen her to be the Mother of His Son. She visited her cousin, Elizabeth, to share the good news with her.
  • When Mary visited Elizabeth, she was so joyful about becoming the mother of Jesus that she burst into song. This song is known as Mary’s song, or the ‘Magnificat’.
  • Advent is a good time for Christians to reflect on the example of Mary as she waited and prepared for the birth of her son Jesus. Mary was the humble and obedient handmaid of the Lord; she awaited the birth of her baby boy in total faith and trust that what God’s messenger had told her would happen.
  • The message of the angel at the Annunciation filled Mary with great hope, joy and anticipation that God’s promise of a Saviour was about to be realised in the child taking flesh in her womb. What better model and example than Mary can Christians have in preparing for the birth of Jesus! They can renew their efforts to be better followers of Jesus by living as Mary did – filled with faith, trust, hope and joy in the wonders God was working in her life. In her prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God – the Magnificat – Mary expresses her faith, hope and joy in the mystery and wonder of ‘God with us’ – Emmanuel.
  Part 3: Symbols and Rituals of Advent
 
  • The symbols and rituals used during Advent remind Christians that Jesus is the light of the world, who came to earth to destroy the darkness of sin and bring God’s people new hope and joy. Advent symbols and rituals signify this hope and joy in the expectation of Jesus’ coming to be Emmanuel, God-with-us. They assist us in preparing for the three-fold coming of Jesus in history, mystery and majesty. They highlight the sacredness and joyfulness associated with the mystery of the Incarnation.
  • The Jesse Tree is a tree or branch that is decorated each week with symbols. These symbols remind us of God’s promises to His people from the beginning of creation through to the birth of Jesus.
  • The Advent wreath is a circular garland of intertwined evergreens with four candles representing the four Sundays of Advent which are lit during the prayers said around the Advent wreath.
  • The Christmas candle represents Jesus’ coming and birth as the Light of the World who came to dispel and destroy the darkness of sin.
  • The Maranatha mantra or song is a reflective chant and prayer used during Advent as an expression of longing for the coming of Jesus.
  Part 4: Christmas – A Time of Giving
 
  • God gave Himself to us in human form in the person of Jesus through the Incarnation. Christians celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation during the Christmas Cycle of the Church’s liturgical year.
  • Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us, to the world and to all people. Christmas is about gift-giving. It is a time of gift-giving amongst family and friends. But above all, it is a time of giving the gift of Jesus’ love in practical ways to those in need.
  • The gospels of Matthew and Luke recount the story of the birth of Christ, and these accounts are known as the infancy narratives.
  • Christmas is the celebration of the fulfilment of God’s promise through the words of the prophets to send a saviour, Jesus, the Son of God, to save God’s people from their sins. It is a celebration of God’s love and of the joy, hope and peace the good news of Jesus’ coming as Emmanuel (God with us) brings us.
  Part 5: Christmas – Customs and Traditions
 
  • Christmas customs and traditions are an important part in the celebration of the Christmas story. They express in ritual, sign and symbol what Christians believe about the birth and coming of Jesus into our lives and world.
  • Christmas symbols and rituals highlight and reflect the sacredness and joyfulness of the Incarnation. They remind us that Christ is the light, joy and hope of the world; and that Jesus has come to be God-with-us, Emmanuel.
  • In celebrating the Christmas Story, Christians down the ages have originated and / or adopted traditions and customs which have become a worldwide part of the Christmas season. Decorations of holly and mistletoe, carolling and gift-giving originated in England. The Christmas tree has its origins in a medieval German tradition as does also the well known carol ‘Silent Night’. The tradition of Father Christmas, known also as Santa Claus originated in Europe as a custom celebrating St Nicholas who used to leave gifts at the homes of poor children.
  • Today, many Christmas customs and traditions have become commercialised and have lost their Christian significance. Christians today are called to ‘Put Christ back into Christmas’ by reminding people of the true significance of Christmas: ‘Celebrating Jesus with us’.
  • One of the most loved and observed Christmas customs and traditions is the re-enactment of the nativity story by way of the Christmas crib or creche as it is sometimes called. It depicts in real characters or figures the scene and story of the first Christmas.
  • The origins of this custom date back to St Francis of Assisi who in 1293 created the first Christmas creche in the woods of Greccio, near Assisi, on Christmas Eve. In order to excite and encourage people with a greater devotion in commemorating and celebrating the nativity of the Infant Jesus, Francis determined to enact the nativity scene with real life characters to give it a greater sense of reality, solemnity and significance. He prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the given place appointed.
  • Friars from the many Franciscan communities joined with the men and women of the neighbourhood in gathering with St Francis to celebrate the evening Mass. They brought with them candles and torches to brighten the night. As they arrived, they saw with their own eyes a stable and manger filled with hay. The ox and the donkey were led to the spot. The place in the Greccio woods became a new Bethlehem.
  • Led by Francis the crowd celebrated with exuberant festivity, devotion and solemnity the feast of the nativity of Jesus. The forest resounded with their voices and songs of praise and rejoicing. On that venerable night the beginning of the beautiful tradition and custom of the Christmas crib began and continues on into our own lifetime where it is still so loved and embraced by Christians all over the world.
  Part 6: The Christmas Season
 
  • The Christmas Season extends over twelve days, commencing with the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord on 25 December and concluding with the Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord on 6 January (or on the Sunday between 2 January and 8 January).
  • The Feast of the Holy Family celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Innocents on 28 December fall within the Christmas season as does the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on 1 January.
  • The first eight days of the Christmas Season is known as the Octave of Christmas. During this octave the following feast days occur:
    • The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord which celebrates the birth of the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour at a definite time and place. Surrounded by the silence and darkness of night, Mary the ever-virginal wife of Joseph gave birth as ‘mother and midwife’ (St Jerome’s description) to her child Jesus, Saviour and Light of the World.
  • In little and humble circumstances, poor shepherds minding their flocks by night are the first to hear the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus. From the first moment of Jesus being with us in his birth, God’s feeling and regard for the small and insignificant people is evident. Like the simple and humble Christmas shepherds, Christians are invited to come in haste to behold the wonder of God-with-us in the newborn Babe of Bethlehem.
    • The Feast of the Holy Family which reminds us of the importance of our family and family life. We reflect on the love and compassion that Mary, Joseph and Jesus had for one another. We follow Jesus’ example as we try to be obedient, loving, kind and caring members of our family.
    • The Feast of the Holy Innocents which is celebrated on the 28 December. This feast commemorates the massacre of the innocents by Herod the Great, the Roman appointed King of the Jews. According to Matthew (2:16) Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the area of Bethlehem after learning from the wise men news of the birth of a newborn King.
    • The Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God is a celebration of Mary as Mother of Jesus. Mary is referred to as the Mother of God because Jesus is God – he is fully human and fully divine. Mother of God is often referred to as Mary’s greatest title. This feast day occurs on 1 January which is the 8th day in the octave of Christmas.
  • The Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the divinity of Christ and the manifestation of Jesus as Saviour and Light of all Nations. The Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Magi, wise men from the East who represent the Gentile / Pagan world for whom Jesus came as Light and Saviour as well as for the Jews. On the Feast of Epiphany the Church celebrates the visit of the Magi or wise men from the East (Matthew 2:1-12).
  • During the 12 days of Christmas, Christians are called to reflect and contemplate more deeply and to savour and celebrate more fully the mystery of the Incarnation of God’s infinite love for us: God sending His Only Begotten Son to become Emmanuel, ‘God-with-us’!
Unit 49 Called to Justice
  Part 1: Respect and Dignity
 
  • All human beings are created in the image of God. Therefore every human person is gifted with an inborn, inherent dignity proper to God. Each person is loved uniquely and equally by God. We have been born with the very dignity we inherited from God.
  • Each person has been endowed with unique physical, intellectual, social, spiritual and moral qualities which set them apart from every other person and which, collectively sets humanity apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.
  • All human beings have been created with the gift of free will. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve illustrates how this gift of free will was used to respond to God’s command to choose good, not evil. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. They committed a sin which damaged the image of God within themselves. They passed that damaged image on to all humankind. So while we are still created in the image of God, we are not the perfect image of God because of the consequent damages of original sin.
  • #1700 of the Catholic Catechism teaches:
    • The dignity of the human person is rooted in his/her creation in the image and likeness of God
    • This dignity is fulfilled in his/her call and vocation to divine life/beatitude
    • It is essential to a human being to freely direct him/herself to this fulfilment
    • By a deliberate choice of his/her actions
    • According to his/her well-informed judgment of conscience
    • Human beings make their own contribution to their interior/spiritual/moral growth;
    • With the help of grace they grow in virtue and avoid sin
    • If they sin, by entrusting themselves as did the prodigal son to the mercy of our Father in heaven, they can be forgiven
  • In this way human beings attain to the perfection of charity and a life of moral integrity.
  • Human rights are the entitlements due to each human being. They are not human-made but inborn and inherent in each person. Though they can and may be violated, they cannot be taken from anyone without serious/grave moral implications. Human rights recognise the value and dignity of all people.
  • Jesus taught us what it means to regard every person as someone who deserves respect and dignity.
  Part 2: Accepting Others
 
  • When asked by the teachers of the Law which was the greatest commandment of all, Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:36-40)
  • All other moral laws, rules and sets of values hang on this hinge: Love. Accepting others is an expression of what love means and looks like in practice.
  • Today, communities of people are bound together because they share a common way of life based on certain common beliefs, practices, and interests. People in the Australian community live together in peace and harmony, because they choose to live according to a democratic and Christian set of values that underlies and shapes the community code of conduct and relationships.
  • As members of the world-wide Catholic Church we share a set of Christian values and code of moral living which have their origin in Jesus.
  • In the Scriptures, Jesus repeatedly taught us that we should accept everyone and treat them with dignity and respect. He summarised his teachings in a short statement, which we often call the Golden Rule: ‘Do to others as you want done to you.’ There are many versions of this moral imperative but they all mean the same: ‘Love others as you love yourself’. Jesus showed us how to put this Golden Rule into practice.
  • All Christians are required to live by the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is applied in our lives through the four principles of moral mindfulness:
    • Prayer – to discern between good and evil, right and wrong decisions, responses
    • Examination of moral options and implications – to consider available choices, possibilities, alternatives
    • Examination of moral implications – to consider consequences, effects, outcomes
    • Learning from the past – enlightenment of individual and collective wisdom gleaned from past experiences.
  Part 3: Valuing Uniqueness
 
  • Each human being is a miracle of God’s creation possessing a uniqueness that makes each individual alike but different from every other person. Each person is unique.
  • God intentionally created all of us to be unique. In creating us in own His image and likeness God gives each of us each a unique identity and individuality that makes us the same but different from all others.
  • Jesus expects us to value our own uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. He expects us to appreciate our own dignity and the dignity of every person. We are to respect everyone because God has created them as unique persons, children of God.
  • Jesus taught us it is wrong to be disrespectful toward people just because they are different to us. When we are disrespectful to a person, we deny them their dignity.
  • We cannot know something about a person or his/her actions just by looking at their physical appearance. We should not draw conclusions about what a person is like when we only know one or two things about them. Each person must be seen and appreciated for what they are, i.e., an ‘original’ in God’s work of art in the miracle of creation.
  Part 4: Doing Justice
 
  • Human life is sacred because every person is created in the image and likeness of God.
  • The vocation of each person is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son, Jesus. This vocation concerns not only the individual person but the human community as a whole.
  • Christian morality sets out the values, virtues, norms and principles/standards of human conduct and behaviour in the living out and fulfilment of this vocation.
  • The human person is a social being and as such needs to live in society. It is through social exchange and relationships that one develops his/her potential and responds to their vocation to show forth the image of God as son or daughter of God in, with and through Jesus. (CCC,#1877-1880)
  • Social life requires a common good that promotes and ensures the dignity of each member of the community. It requires social and moral standards and principles of living that ensure human dignity is honoured and that love and respect defines and determines both the individual and the common good. These social and moral standards are defined by the cardinal virtue of justice.
  • Respect, responsibility, fairness, trustworthiness, care and good citizenship are standards we need to uphold if we are to act justly.
  Part 5: Social Justice
 
  • Social justice is about promoting what is good for everyone in the community. For children in primary school it is about promoting the common good for everyone in our school community.
  • We are Jesus’ eyes, ears, voice, hands and feet. We can spread Jesus’ love by what we do and say. Social justice is not about trying to change the world. It is about doing what Jesus would do. Social justice begins with us, and a good place to start is at school.
  • Social justice teachings and principles underlie the peaceful, equitable and fair co-existence of people living together in society. It recognises that all peoples and groups of people have the same human rights that flow from their dignity as images of God.
  • Social justice is advanced when the barriers people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability are removed and all peoples enjoy equality and solidarity with one another.
  • A socially just society is one that is based on human equality and solidarity. The exclusion or marginalisation of any person or group of people is contrary to a just society. The kingdom of God is inclusive of all peoples.
  • There were many groups of marginalised people during Jesus’ time. Jesus spoke out against these forms of marginalisation.
  Part 6: Injustice
 
  • Injustice transgresses the worth and dignity of the human person. It is a betrayal and violation of human rights and solidarity. Injustice is never admissible or excusable. Jesus taught us that it is unfair to be prejudiced against someone else. We should not assume things about people that we do not know. Instead, we are to be kind towards them.
  • Jesus never rejected anyone, even if they were considered by others to be unworthy of his time and attention. Jesus always considered every person to be worthy of his time and attention. He accepted all people, no matter who they were. Jesus taught his followers to include everyone.
  • Human injustices are many in kind and gravity. They are expressed in many variant forms of negative behaviour which is carried out either overtly or covertly. Physical assaults on the human rights of a person or group are readily seen and identified as unjust while equally devastating assaults on the reputation and spiritual/socio/economic well-being and rights of the person or group are not always so apparent.
  • Many ‘covert and silent’ injustices are committed through negative attitudes and acts of prejudice, bias, stereotyping, marginalising, discriminating, segregating and excluding others.
  • Stereotyping involves making generalisations or assumptions about a person based on the typical characteristics of members of the group to which one belongs rather than based on the individual’s characteristics. It labels and categorises and tags/brands a person before they have had the opportunity to be known for who they truly are.
  • Discriminatory behaviours appear in many forms. Whether negative or positive, it involves some form of bias, exclusion, and separation in differentiating and distinguishing in and between things or people. It focuses on what is different about people and things rather than on how people and things are alike, what they have in common.
  • Prejudice is the biased and subjective attitude or opinion about a person or group. The prejudiced person bases their knowledge and judgments on presuppositions rather than on truth or fact; they draw conclusions about the person or group without reference to objective fact or reality. The prejudiced person’s thoughts, opinions and attitudes are filtered by an unjust bias in dealing with others. Prejudice is an attitude of injustice violating the true worth and value of others.
  Part 7: Justice in Action – See, Judge, Act
 
  • It is our Christian duty to live and act in justice. Putting justice into action involves the process of seeing, judging and acting. This is known as the See, Judge and Act method used by the Catholic Church in responding to issues of justice.
  • This method originated with a Belgian Cardinal, Joseph Cardijn (1882-1967), who as a priest ministered to poor workers and founded the Young Christian Workers. He wrote ‘in order to act well, it is necessary to see and judge well.’
  • Pope John XXIII spoke about the See, Judge, Act method during the second Vatican Council in 1961 but it was a legacy left much earlier by Cardinal Cardijn.
  • – cf The Australian Social Justice Council

  • Usually we don’t deliberately set out to reject people, exclude them or stereotype them. Often we are not even aware that we may be discriminating against a person until the situation breaks into a conflict. Fortunately there are ways of determining whether we are treating someone unfairly. One of these ways is called the See, Judge, Act process.
  • When Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes on the Mount, he identified the values we must draw on to make good decisions.
  • Unlike the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes are not a set of rules. The Beatitudes are a set of values which transform our thinking. They help us to transform our inner selves so we become more like Jesus.
Unit 50 Christian Scriptures
  Part 1: What is the Bible?
 
  • The bible is a collection of books that are organised into one volume.
  • The books of the Bible may be divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  Part 2: The Books of the New Testament
 
  • The 27 books of the New Testament may be divided into four distinct sections.
  Part 3: How the Bible Came About
 
  • The early Church recognised the importance of recording events about the life of Jesus and so put down in writing stories that had been passed on orally.
  • The books that the Church considered sacred and inspired were collected into the canonical Bible. It is known as the Christian Scriptures.
  Part 4: Exploring the Gospels
 
  • Different authors who had a specific intention and audience in mind wrote the four gospels.
  Part 5: The Story of Jesus through the Eyes of the Gospel Writers
 
  • The four Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ life and ministry. Each of the four gospels presents a particular version of this story. Each version has been influenced by the purpose for which it was written and the audience for whom it was written.
  • The personal experience each of the gospel writers had of Jesus affected their version of the story of Jesus as well as did their sources and the time in which they wrote.
  • The gospels writers did not set out to give a complete story of every detail of Jesus’ life and ministry but rather to proclaim Jesus as the One sent by God. At the end of his gospel John notes that there were many other things Jesus did that were not written down. He playfully supposes that if they were all written down, ‘the whole world could not hold the books that would be written.’ (John 21:25)
  • Although the gospels may present the same story or event, the accounts in each gospel are not identical. The Gospels are the same story told/written in different versions.
  Part 6: Text Types in the New Testament
 
  • The New Testament is a collection of books that include narratives, parables, miracle stories and letters, all of which have theme and purpose.
  Part 7: Importance of the Christian Scriptures
 
  • The Christian Scriptures are considered to be the most important collection of sacred books in the Church. In the Christian Scriptures we have the good news of Jesus enshrined in the gospels; we have the stories, writings, teachings and message of Jesus and the beliefs and practices of the first Christian communities.
Unit 51 Who is Jesus?
  Part 1: Interfaith Dialogue
 
  • Jesus Christ is fully and completely divine. Jesus Christ is fully and completely human. The divine and human natures of Christ are distinct. The divine and human natures of Christ are completely united in one person.
  • The Annunciation, the Baptism of Jesus, the transfiguration and the ascension reveal the special relationship Jesus shared with his Father. They reveal the divinity of Jesus.
  • Jesus revealed his divinity by what he said and did. The divinity of Jesus was revealed at the Baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration of Jesus. ‘The resurrection of Christ confirms the divinity of Christ and all the things he did and taught’ (Compendium of the CCC, #131)
  • The historical events of Jesus’ life while on earth reveal that he is fully human.
  Part 2: Jesus – Son of Man
 
  • Jesus, being fully human, experienced and responded to situations and conditions of human life and living; He shows us by example the virtues we should strive to nurture in ourselves.
  • In the Gospels, Jesus often calls himself, ‘the Son of Man’. Just as his name, ‘Son of God’, implies his deity/divinity, ‘Son of Man’ implies his humanity.
  • In Daniel 7 of the Old Testament the term ‘Son of Man’ is a reference to a very exalted figure, someone understood to be more than just a human figure. In calling himself the Son of Man, Jesus was implying his humanity but also his divinity in the sense of Daniel 7. This dual meaning of the term ‘Son of Man’ conveys both the human and divine aspects of who Jesus is.
  Part 3: Jesus – Our Role Model
 
  • We see in the person of Jesus the perfection of human virtues. He is someone who set a great example of how to live our lives as God’s children.
  • The world has never seen and will never see a role model greater than Jesus, because Jesus is the Son of God and a perfect human being.
  • As Christians we are inspired by Jesus and want to be like him. We look to Jesus for guidance on how to live good and holy lives.
  Part 4: Jesus – Our Leader
 
  • Jesus inspired the disciples to follow him.
  • Jesus taught his followers the meaning of discipleship.
  • There were many people in the early Church who answered Jesus’ call to discipleship.
  • Jesus invites us to follow him, to become his disciples.
  Part 5: Jesus – Lord and Saviour
 
  • Christians profess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
  • Lord is a title of respect given to certain people of high honour; a master or ruler; one having power and authority; one having control and jurisdiction over others. In the Bible, the word ‘Lord’ occurs more frequently than any other name or title when speaking of and/or addressing God.
  • ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the shortest form of the Christian creed. To proclaim ‘Jesus is Lord’ is to profess belief in all that God is, all that God has revealed and all that God has done and continues to do for humanity in with and through His Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • In the Bible, Saviour is a title/name given to God who saves his people; in the New Testament it is the name given to Jesus. The angel Gabriel told Mary (Luke 1:31) that she was to name her son Jesus: ‘You will name him Jesus’; likewise, Joseph was told by an angel, ‘You will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.’ (Matthew 1:20). Again, at Jesus’ birth the angelic message announces to the shepherds, ‘This very day … your Saviour is born – Christ the Lord!’
  • In 2 Peter 3:18, Christians are urged to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
  Part 6: Jesus – Alpha and Omega
 
  • In the book of Revelation John records in the opening and closing chapters of his apocalyptic vision the declarations of Jesus Christ: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega … I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end…’ (Revelations 1:8, 1:17; 22:12)
  • Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, is the beginning and the end of all things. All of Christian Scriptures, both the New and the Old Testament, point to Jesus. Jesus always has existed and always will exist; Jesus is eternal.
  • Through Jesus we have come to know and experience the infinite love of God.
  Part 7: Jesus in Art
 
  • Jesus is both human and divine.
  • We have no records of what Jesus looked like, but many artists have tried to portray his human and divine natures. Nowhere in the four New Testament Gospels is a physical description of Jesus given.
  • Every artwork representing Jesus is unique because it reflects the artist’s response to Jesus’ question, ‘Who do you say I am?’
Unit 52 The Mystery of God
  Part 1: Our Beliefs
 
  • In our human search for meaning and understanding our world, we are led to the mystery of God. Learning about God involves mystery, revelation, beliefs and faith.
  • There are many different kinds of beliefs; some are religious, while others are secular. So too, there are different kinds and expressions of faith; some religious, others non-religious.
  • Christians believe that God reveals Himself to us in many ways: through His words and works (Sacred Scripture, Creation, Divine Providence) and most fully in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.
  Part 2: How Our Christian Beliefs Evolved
 
  • Christian beliefs developed over time and across cultural and historical contexts. As Christian leaders, scholars and believers explored and reflected upon these beliefs, they became more clearly understood, defined and expressed.
  • Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, understanding and articulation of Christian beliefs develops and evolves.
  Part 3: The Apostles’ Creed
 
  • The Apostles’ Creed is one of the earliest (the first) formal statements enshrining core Christian beliefs. Although not written by the apostles, the Apostles’ Creed reflects the theological formulations of apostolic teachings of the first century church.
  • The Apostles’ Creed has its roots in apostolic teachings and origins in the early baptismal affirmations of faith made by candidates when asked: ‘Do you believe in God…Do you believe in Jesus Christ… Do you believe in the Holy Spirit…’ These professions of faith were preserved in the Old Roman Creed which preceded and is nearly identical to the Apostles’ Creed.
  Part 4: The Nicene Creed
 
  • The Nicene Creed is a more detailed and explicit statement of Christian beliefs. It was the outcome of the first two ecumenical councils of the Church, the Council of Nicea (325 CE) and the Council of Constantinople (381 CE) in response to theological disputes and controversies fracturing the unity of the Christian faith.
  • Heretical understandings of the nature of Jesus Christ as held and taught by Arius created tension and turmoil within the Church.
  Part 5: The Greatest of all Christian Mysteries – The Trinity
 
  • ‘The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.’ (CCC, #234). The mystery of the Trinity is the most fundamental and core teaching and belief of the Catholic faith; it is the mystery of Who God is in Himself and is the source of all other mysteries of faith.
  • The ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ is a reference book outlining and explaining Catholic beliefs.
  • The Catechism explains that the Trinity is a Christian mystery of faith in which God is celebrated as a relationship of love. This love is between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three unique persons in the One God.
  Part 6: The Catholic Church
 
  • Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Church continues in time the mission and ministry of Jesus of bringing about the kingdom of God.
  • The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
  Part 7: The Church – People of God and Body of Christ
 
  • ‘The Church is the People of God. The Church designates the assembly of those whom God’s Word gathers together to form the People of God. Nourished with the Body of Christ, they become the Body of Christ.’ (CCC, #777)
  • ‘The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept.’ (CCC, #779)
  • ‘The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men. The Church is the people of God.’ (CCC, #780)
Unit 53 Encountering God Through Liturgy
  Part 1: Official Prayer of the Church
 

Liturgy is a word used to describe the official public ceremonies Christians observe when they gather to pray and worship God. It refers to the fixed set of ceremonies, rituals, symbols, words and actions used in the public communal worship of the People of God.

The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium).

Liturgy is

  1. A public action.
  2. A ritual action.
  3. A symbolic action.

The liturgical calendar divides the year into periods of time, called seasons, which regulate the liturgical prayers and worship. The calendar ensures that the Church celebrates the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

  Part 2: Liturgical Celebrations
 

In the Christian tradition, liturgy is understood as the participation of the People of God in the ‘work of God’. It is through the liturgy that Christ continues the work of redemption in and with his Body, the Church.

Christians gather together in the name of Christ and his Body the Church in the celebration of the seven sacraments. In and through the celebration of the sacraments, the work of salvation continues in time. The sacraments make present the mystery of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

There are seven liturgical celebrations of the sacraments. The most important and greatest sacramental celebration is the Mass.

The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is the official daily prayer of the Church. It is recited seven times each day in three hourly intervals (midnight being the only hour at which the prayer is not recited).

  Part 3: Origin and Importance of Mass
 

Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

In the Eucharistic Prayer of each Mass, the sacrifice Jesus made a long time ago is brought into the present moment at the altar. The bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood.

The Mass very quickly took the form and structure of the Mass we celebrate today.

The Eucharist is the greatest and most perfect act of prayer because Jesus is present in the consecrated bread and wine.

Jesus is present in three ways:

  1. Jesus is present as meal.
  2. Jesus is present as sacrifice.

Jesus is present in the consecrated bread and wine as a memorial.

  Part 4: Celebrating the Mass
 

The Mass follows a set pattern each time it is celebrated, consisting of five rites:

  1. The Introductory Rite.
  2. The Liturgy of the Word.
  3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  4. The Communion Rite.
  5. The Concluding Rite.
  Part 5: Liturgical Rituals, Signs and Symbols
 

The Church uses many different symbols and rituals in liturgy. Some of these are used in all liturgical prayer.

The sacred objects used in the Mass are necessary for the proper celebration of the Mass.

The symbols used in the Mass point to the meaning of the Mass.

Liturgical gestures help the congregation to prepare and focus our body and soul for prayer and worship.

All members of the congregation participate in the celebration of the Mass, and there are numerous liturgical ministries associated with its celebration.

  Part 6: Special Liturgical Celebrations and Other Devotional Celebrations
 

Some liturgical celebrations are celebrated for special situations such as a Class or school Mass, a graduation Mass, or a Communion Service (for those unable to attend a Mass).

Though liturgy is the central and most important communal worship of the Church, it is not the only form of Christian prayer. There are many popular devotions such as the rosary, Way of the Cross, adoration, benediction and novenas that are forms of prayer which enrich and complement the Church’s liturgical prayer.

When these devotions are in harmony with the liturgical season and in accord with the sacred liturgy in being in some way derived from it and/or leading to it, they can nourish and deepen the prayer life of the faithful. Popular devotions are not meant to replace liturgical prayer but rather to nurture and deepen the spiritual lives of those Christians who practise them.

Catholics adore and honour Jesus in the Eucharist in a service called benediction.

The devotion of the Way of the Cross began as pilgrims came from far and wide to follow the road that Jesus walked to his crucifixion. It later became known as the Stations of the Cross.

The Stations of the Cross is a devotional prayer which follows a set pattern approved by the Church. It can be practised by an individual on his or her own in private prayer, or observed publically with a group in the name of the Church which, in this case, it is usually presided over by a priest.

Unit 54 Sacraments of Service
  Part 1: Signs of God’s Love
 
  • Historically God revealed Himself to people through signs. God reveals God’s love for humankind most perfectly through Jesus.
  • Jesus is the utimate and most perfect sign and gift of God’s revelation to us. God makes God’s presence and loving care known and active in our lives through Jesus Christ in and with the Holy Spirit by means of the sacraments.
  • The sacraments are visible signs instituted by Jesus to reveal, to make present and transmit God’s loving care and divine life (grace) to those who believe in Him.
  • The Catholic Church recognises and celebrates seven sacraments which can be categorised into three groups: Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; Sacraments of Healing – Penance/Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick; Sacraments of Service – Matrimony and Holy Orders.
  • The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders are received only once; they imprint upon the recipient an identity that is permanent, often referred to as an ‘indelible mark’ – one that cannot be removed.
  • The sacraments of Confirmation, Eucharist, Holy Orders and Matrimony are called ‘sacraments of the living’ because before receiving them, one must be living the life of God, i.e., in the ‘state of grace’.
  • The sacraments of Eucharist, Penance/Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick can be received numerous times. Often and frequent reception of Eucharist and Penance is recommended as a means of strengthening and developing a deep and strong loving relationship with God. The Sacrament of Matrimony can be received more than once in the case of the death of a spouse.
  • Grace is an unmerited gift of God’s favour. It is a kindness from God we do not deserve. There is nothing we have done, or ever could do to earn this favour. It is a gift freely given and freely received; God does not force the gift of His kind favour on anyone; God respects the free will of each person to accept or refuse the gift of grace.
  • The magnitude and marvel of God’s gift of love and life – of grace – is not only beyond human merit, it is beyond human understanding. One can only humbly acknowledge and accept this gift of God with boundless and never ending gratitude and praise to God, as did Mary who sang of the grace of her blessedness in the words: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant…’ (Luke 1:46-55).
  • Through the grace and favour of God, we become sons and daughters of God, partakers in the divine life of God and heirs to the kingdom of God.
  • Sacraments are visible signs and actions of the Church, in which God communicates and conveys the gift of God’s grace to us. Sacraments are the means by which we receive God’s grace and are made holy and pleasing to God.
  Part 2: Seven Spiritual Treasures
 
  • Sacraments bestow on us the treasures of God’s love, making us partakers in divine life and heirs to eternal life as God’s sons and daughters.
  • The sacraments are visible signs instituted by Jesus to reveal, to make present and transmit God’s love and divine life (grace) to those who believe in Him.
  • The sacraments are encounters with God through visible signs, symbols, rites and rituals celebrated in the liturgy of the Church. Sacraments communicate/transmit God’s gratuitous gift of grace, unmerited and freely given.
  • There are seven sacraments, which can be divided into three groups:
    1. Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
    2. Sacraments of Healing: Penance/Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
    3. Sacraments of Service: Matrimony and Holy Orders.
  • Through the sacraments we receive the gift of God’s grace which helps us to love and serve God and one another. The sacraments help us to become more like Jesus.
  Part 3: A Call to Service
 
  • Every follower of Jesus is called to a life of love and service. By reason of our baptism, each of us is called, chosen and sent to carry on the mission of Jesus. This is our Christian vocation. We are called to use our gifts and talents in the service of God and others. This is what we call our Christian vocation.
  • Often the term ‘vocation’ is used to apply to priests and nuns or people following a particular trade or profession. We are all called to live out our Christian vocation.
  • Jesus expects us to express our love for God by serving our neighbour with generous and loving hearts.
  • The Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation help us to live out our baptismal call to know, love and serve God. We need to receive both of these sacraments to be able to participate fully in the mission of the Church.
  • Jesus has given two additional sacraments to the Church to help us to live out our baptismal call, the Sacrament of Matrimony and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
  Part 4: The Sacrament of Matrimony – Commitment for Life
 
  • The Church teaches that marriage is a sacred relationship and life-long commitment made between a man and woman. It is likened in the Old Testament to the sacred relationship of God with His chosen people. This relationship is called a covenant.
  • Understanding marriage as a covenant greatly enriches appreciation of this special union as sacred in the plan of God, as permanent, faithful and fruitful and as a living symbol of God’s love for His people.
  • In the New Testament, marriage is likened to the union of Christ with his Church. In this sense, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and his Church, the Bride.
  • The relationship between a husband and a wife is meant to reflect and mirror the loving relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, i.e. Trinitarian love.
  • Marriage is a life-long commitment of love. It is a spiritual bond with God and the couple. This bond perfects the couples’ love and gives them the strength to be totally faithful to each other and to live a life of loving service.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that:
    • Marriage is a permanent relationship. When a couple are married, they are married for life.
    • Married couples are open to accepting the gift of children from God.
    • Couples promise to be faithful to one another.
  • Couples promise to teach their children that Jesus loves them.
  Part 5: A Catholic Wedding Ceremony
 
  • In the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Matrimony is celebrated in a church.
  • There are a number of essential elements which are common to all Catholic weddings. However, there are still many variations in how a Catholic wedding is conducted.
  • The Liturgy of Marriage is the most important part of the wedding ceremony. This takes place in four rituals.
  • There are many important symbols of matrimony in the Catholic Church. Some of these originate from the Old Testament.
  • There is a great variety of marriage customs in different Christian churches and across different religions.
  Part 6: Sacrament of Holy Orders
 
  • All Christians are called to share in the priesthood of Christ. ‘Though the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are consecrated to be… a holy priesthood.’ (CCC, #1456).
  • The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ. While sharing in one priesthood, they are essentially different. The common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace in living a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit, while the ministerial priesthood is exercised and directed through the graces of the sacrament of Holy Orders to the ministry and service of the common priesthood.
  • The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders (CCC, #1457).
  • In the Catholic Church, the ministerial priesthood is made up of three orders or groups: the orders of the Episcopate (bishops), the Presbyterate (priests) and the Diaconate (deacons).
  • Before ordination, candidates prepare for the priestly ministry at a place called a seminary. After many years of hard work and study, the seminarian is ready to become a priest. He is ordained and receives the sacrament of Holy Orders from the bishop. The bishop imposes his hands upon the seminarian’s head. The action of the Holy Spirit working through the bishop transmits to the seminarian the powers of priesthood and the office of the Presbyterate.
  • The priest is given the mission entrusted by Jesus to his apostles through the sacrament of Holy Orders. Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, gives the ordained priest authority to celebrate the sacraments and the graces he needs to lead and serve God’s people.
  • The Ordination ceremony is celebrated within the Mass. It begins after the proclamation of the gospel. It has six important rituals:
    • Promise of obedience
    • Litany of the Saints
    • Imposition of hands by the bishop
    • Vesting the new priest
    • Anointing of hands
    • Receiving of chalice and paten.
  Part 7: Priesthood – A Ministry of Leadership and Service
 
  • Priests lead and serve God’s people in four ways:
    1. Preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus’ love for everyone
    2. Leading the parish community in celebrating the sacraments
    3. Leading the parish community in working together to build up the Christian family
    4. Helping the parish community to serve the poor and all those in need.
  • Because priests are ordained ministers, the mission Jesus entrusted to the apostles have been passed on to them.
  • As Christians, we share in the common priesthood of all believers. We participate in his mission of teaching and taking care of God’s people.
Unit 55 Celebrating Lent and Easter
  Part 1: Lent – Origins and Importance
 
  • Lent and Easter are seasons of the Church’s liturgical year.
  • Lent is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for Easter which is the most solemn and holy season in our liturgical year.
  • Lent spans a period of forty days (excluding Sundays), beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding with the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass.
  Part 2: Rituals and Symbols of Lent
 
  • Lenten rituals highlight the theological importance of Lent as a time of preparation for Easter.
  • Symbols and colours are used during Lent to highlight the importance of repentance and penance.
  Part 3: The Gospels of Lent
 
  • During Lent, the themes of prayer, sacrifice and fasting are emphasised in the Sunday gospel readings.
  • The gospel readings on Ash Wednesday remind us that if we are serious about setting our relationship right with God, then our motive for praying and fasting must be sincere.
  • The gospel readings of the first Sunday of Lent emphasise that if we genuinely seek to make right our relationship with God, we have to:
    • Seek spiritual nourishment
    • Be humble
    • Resist our selfish desires.
  • The gospel readings of the second Sunday of Lent emphasise that if we genuinely seek to make right our relationship with God, we have to listen and put into practice Jesus’ teachings, because Jesus is the Son of God and is our way to the Father.
  • The Sunday gospel readings for the remainder of Lent focus on four themes: Forgiveness, repentance, Jesus as the source of eternal life, and Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • The period of Lent closes with Holy Week. Palm Sunday introduces Jesus as King of Israel, the messianic one who is to deliver his people from sin, slavery and death. In the liturgy of Palm Sunday, the Church enacts/takes part in the prophetic triumph of Christ who enters the holy city of Jerusalem in order to pass from this world to the Father. Palm Sunday opens Holy Week and the annual Easter celebration.
  Part 4: Holy Week Ceremonies
 
  • The Holy Week ceremonies are the most important and holiest time in the Church year. The readings, symbols and rituals of Holy Week highlight the significance of the feast and celebration of Easter.
  • The Paschal or Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and continues until evening prayer on Easter Sunday.
  • On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We also celebrate during this Mass the institution of the priesthood. During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the celebrant re-enacts Jesus’ washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper. This is a reminder that the priesthood is there to serve in the same way that Jesus took care of God’s people. It is a reminder to us of our obligation to be kind and helpful to those around us.
  • The Good Friday liturgy reminds us that Jesus descended into the darkness of sin and death for our sake, even though he was without sin. It is a day of prayer and reflection when we grieve over Jesus’ death on the cross.
  • The Easter Vigil Mass is the most majestic of all the Masses in the Church’s year, because Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection – his victory over death! It is a time of great joy.
  Part 5: Celebrating Easter
 
  • There are many different Easter customs throughout the world.
  • There are many liturgical symbols and rituals in the liturgy of the Church to remind us of the gift of new life we have received through the resurrection of Jesus.
  • The Masses on Easter Sunday continue the celebration which began at the Easter Vigil Mass.
  Part 6: The Easter Cycle
 
  • The Easter cycle extends over a period of fifty days closing with the Feast of the Ascension. The Church provides this time for us to reflect, meditate, assimilate and spiritually grow in understanding and living of the Easter/Paschal mystery.
  • In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the final phase in the RCIA process is the ‘mystagogy’, a Greek term meaning ‘entering more deeply into the mysteries of faith’. The seven weeks of the Easter cycle provide the opportunity to enter more deeply into the Paschal mystery we have just celebrated. The Sunday scripture readings reflect on the appearances of the Risen Lord Jesus and prepare for the ascension and Pentecost.
  Part 7: The Holy Spirit Comes
 
  • At Pentecost the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. Fifty days (seven weeks) after the resurrection, the glorified Jesus Christ poured out the Spirit in abundance and revealed him as a divine person so that the Holy Trinity was fully manifest. (CCC, #731-732)
  • The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is consubstantial with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is the expression of the infinite love the Father has for the Son and the Son for the Father.
  • The Holy Spirit is active in God’s creation. The Holy Spirit is the source of life. The Holy Spirit builds, animates and sanctifies the Church. As the Spirit of love, he restores to the baptised the divine likeness that was lost through sin and causes them to live in Christ the very life of the Holy Trinity. (CCC, #733-736)
  • At Pentecost, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit became the mission of the Church. The Holy Spirit gives the Church the power to continue Jesus’ work of saving people by sharing God’s love with everyone. All Christians share in the mission of the Church because they receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation. (CCC, #737-741)
Unit 56 Celebrating Advent and Christmas
  Part 1: Advent – Jesus Comes
 
  • Advent is the four week period of the liturgical year celebrating the coming of Jesus. It occurs just before Christmas. It is a time of preparing and getting ready for the coming of Jesus.
  • Though Jesus has already come to us some 2000 years ago at his birth in Bethlehem, Jesus told us he would be coming again at the end of time. And in the meantime, Jesus comes to us each time we receive the sacraments. The season of Advent celebrates this three-fold or dimensional coming of Jesus: in the past and in the present and in the future.
  • Advent is a time of expectation, hope, and joy; it is a time of preparation and promise as we wait for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas and his coming again at the end of time.
  • During Advent we prepare ourselves to be more welcoming, open and ready to the presence of God’s kingdom in our hearts as we wait for Christmas to come.
  • John the Baptist called on people to turn away from sin, selfishness and evil and be baptised. His purpose was to prepare people for the coming of Jesus.
  • Isaiah tells us that wonderful things will happen to us when we repent and experience God’s healing love through Jesus:
    • We become more virtuous.
    • We become less selfish.
    • We learn to treat our families, friends and teachers with greater respect and dignity.
    • And the personal qualities that we are not proud of begin to disappear.
  • Isaiah told the Israelites that:
    • God would send a voice (John the Baptist) to prepare the way of the Lord.
    • God would transform people’s hearts through the coming of the Messiah.
    • God’s love would be revealed through the people who welcomed the Messiah into their hearts.
  • The birth of Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise to send the Messiah to save God’s people.
  Part 2: The Jesse Tree
 
  • The Jesse Tree is a traditional Advent custom and devotion dating back to the middle ages in Europe. The tree is decorated with various ornaments which represent the ancestors and events leading to Jesus’ birth.
  • Its name is taken from the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-2 in which Jesus is called the shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse who was the father of King David. God promised King David that his kingdom would last forever. In the birth of Jesus, Son of David, this promise was fulfilled.
  • The Jesse Tree is based on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ancestry. It traces important events in the history of God’s plan of salvation of humankind, finishing with the birth of Christ. Each ornament represents one of the major events or people of the Old Testament who played a significant part in the story of God’s plan of Salvation.
  Part 3: Gospels of Advent
 
  • Gospel means good news or glad tidings. The first four books of the New Testament are called the gospels of Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Selected sections of these Gospel are proclaimed at each Mass during the Liturgy of the Word.
  • During Advent, the Church selects gospel readings for the Sunday Masses which highlight the main theme of Advent: the coming of Jesus. Advent is an anglicised version of the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming’.
  • On the first Sunday in Advent the gospel readings are about the second coming of Christ at the end of time. Today Christ is present in the sacraments and in our hearts. But one day he will return to us in person. The gospels remind us of the importance of renewing ourselves so that Jesus’ presence in us may be made more visible.
  • The gospels of the second and third Sundays of Advent recount the story of John the Baptist and the work he did to prepare people for the coming of Jesus.
  • The gospels of the fourth Sunday of Advent recount the events immediately leading up to the birth of Jesus.
  Part 4: Gospels of Christmas
 
  • Christmas is one of the two major feasts and seasons of the Church year. The season of Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus.
  • Jesus’ birth is the centrepoint of history. From the beginning of time Jesus’ birth was in the mind and plan of God. Jesus, God’s Word took flesh some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Today Jesus continues to be born and present in the lives and hearts of his followers through the sacraments. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus yesterday, today and forever as Emmanuel, God with us.
  • Christmas is a very solemn, special and major celebration in the Church. Because of this, there are four different Masses celebrating this feast, beginning with a Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, then a Midnight Mass followed by a Mass at dawn and ending with the Mass of Christmas Day.
  • The gospels proclaimed at the first three Masses are about the events leading up to and surrounding the birth of Jesus. They are taken from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
  • The gospel proclaimed at the Mass on Christmas day is taken from the Gospel of John. John points out that Jesus is the true light, because he was born of God. John emphasises the mystery of the Incarnation, God becoming human through the person of Jesus.
  Part 5: Christmas Around the World
 
  • The exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown. Western Christianity first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336 CE after Emperor Constantine decreed Christianity as the state religion. However, Eastern Christianity continued to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany.
  • In Rome 25 December was celebrated as the birthday of the pagan sun god, Sol. Tradition has it that this date was chosen by Christians of the West to transform and ‘Christen’ a pagan feast with the birthday of Jesus, Son of God and Light of the World. The celebration of Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration. Along the way, it incorporated many pre-Christian and pagan traditions into its festivities.
  • Christmas was not traditionally a season of Christian celebration until the fourth century.
  • After Emperor Constantine decreed Christianity as the state religion in 336 CE, the tradition of celebrating Christmas spread throughout Europe. The celebration spread so quickly, that the Church was unable to control how people actually celebrated Christmas. Therefore, while Christianity had replaced paganism, many pagan traditions remained in the way Christmas was celebrated.
  • Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December. Many Orthodox Christians retain an earlier tradition of celebrating Christmas on or around 6 January.
  • The Christmas celebration was originally known as the feast of the Nativity, a name which continues to this day.
  • The traditional 12 days of Christmas begins with the feast of the Nativity of the Lord on 25 December and ends with the feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. In some countries the feast of the Epiphany has been moved to the Sunday between 2 to 8 January.
  • The gospel reading for the feast of the Epiphany recounts the story of the three wise men who learn of Jesus’ birth by the appearance of a star and come from afar to worship him.
  • This gospel concludes the Christmas story with the proclamation of the good news of Jesus’ birth to all people. The important point of the reading is that Jesus was sent by the Father to save all people, not just the Israelites. Through the Incarnation God extended God’s salvation to all nations on earth.
Unit 57 Created in God’s Image
  Part 1: Our Creator God
 
  • Justice calls us to acknowledge and recognise God as creator of the world and giver of the gifts of creation. It calls us to profession of the truth that God exists and is present in our lives and world.
  • Justice and truth call us to act justly and fairly, kindly and caringly in using and sharing the gifts of creation. No one ‘owns’ the gifts of creation. They are given to us by God to care for and share with others.
  • The works of creation reveal the existence and wonder of our Creator God. Human beings can discern and know something of God in the works of creation. The gifts of creation reveal and make visible the presence and Being of the Gift-Giver.
  • In a very real sense, creation can be described as a sign or sacrament of God’s existence and presence. Sacraments are visible, outward signs of invisible realities, of unseen mysteries. Creation is the visible sign and revelation of an invisible Creator God.
  • Creation images God in its beauty, power, order, design, balance, bounty, goodness, greatness and mystery. Creation reveals and proclaims that our Creator God exists, is beautiful, powerful, wise, good, loving and just.
  • The Christian story of creation is found in Genesis. There are two accounts of the creation story in the first pages of the book of Genesis. Both accounts make two very important points:
    1. Creation bears God’s signature because God created everything.
    2. Human beings have a duty to take care of creation.
  Part 2: Giving Thanks to God
 
  • In the opening dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer, we are invited to give thanks to the Lord our God. ‘It is right and just’ is our response. Giving thanks to God is truly right and just.
  • Thanksgiving expresses acknowledgement of gift and Gift-Giver. Thanksgiving is right and just because it acknowledges the existence and wonder of our Creator God. All creation proclaims the existence and greatness of God, each according to its own capacity. All creation shouts and sings the infinite glory and wonder of God.
  • We as creatures endowed with mind and heart are called in justice and truth to profess our belief in God and proclaim His greatness. We are called to join in creation’s song of praise and thanksgiving to God. Justice is served when we honour, proclaim and give thanks for the awe-inspiring truth of God’s greatness and goodness as Creator and Lord of heaven and earth – of all that is.
  • Acknowledgement and appreciation of a gift is expressed in a number of ways, in varying languages and forms. There are innumerable songs, prayers, psalms, lyrics, poems and verses expressing praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of creation.
  • The Eucharistic Prayer in the celebration of Mass is the great Prayer of Thanksgiving.
  Part 3: Respect and Communion
 
  • Human beings are not above and apart from creation, but interconnected with one another and with all creation. Justice calls us to live in respect and communion with all creation.
  • Humans are a part of creation and rely on creation for their survival. God has provided for every human need through His works of creation. Likewise, creation is reliant on humans who are called in justice to respect and share creation with people of all places, faces and generations.
  • This mutual interdependence requires that we act with justice and respect in responding to the needs of each and every creature in God’s Garden of Creation.
  • Justice calls us to live in communion with one another in order to care for the earth and its resources and to treat God’s creation with respect.
  Part 4: Stewards of Creation
 
  • As the crown of His creation, God has given human beings dominion over all creation. God appointed them to rule over everything He made; placing them over all creation. (Psalm 8:6)
  • Human beings are managers of God’s creation. Individually and collectively we have the responsibility to care for God’s creation as stewards and trustees. Justice calls us to be responsible stewards and care-takers of creation.
  • The story of Adam and Eve is a story of failed stewardship. Human beings inherited original sin through Adam’s act of disobedience. Disharmony and abuse of creation was initiated through Adam’s act of disobedience. Due to original sin humankind continues to act on selfish desires by abusing God’s creation.
  • There are many ways in which the earth is being damaged because its resources are being exploited.
  • As stewards of creation, human beings are called to love and care for one another and all creation. In justice they are called to seek and live spiritual values rather than material ones.
  Part 5: Promoting Stewardship
 
  • Just stewardship of creation proclaims and promotes due respect and integrity in our relationships with God, one another and with our environment. It seeks to manage and maintain, to share and sustain the resources of earth.
  • In his Canticle of ‘Brother Sun and Sister Moon’, St Francis of Assisi expressed the close relationship and connection human beings have not only with one another but with all creation. Francis’ whole life was one of seeking justice and peace in bringing all creation into a harmonious song of praise to its Creator.
  • Jesus teaches us that creation is a gift from God which must be respected and cared for.
  Part 6: Ways of Stewardship
 
  • Just stewardship of creation proclaims and promotes due respect and integrity in our relationships with God, one another and with our environment. It seeks to manage and maintain, to share and sustain the resources of earth.
  • In his Canticle of ‘Brother Sun and Sister Moon’, St Francis of Assisi expressed the close relationship and connection human beings have not only with one another but with all creation. Francis’ whole life was one of seeking justice and peace in bringing all creation into a harmonious song of praise to its Creator.
  • Jesus teaches us that creation is a gift from God which must be respected and cared for.
  • The Church promotes Jesus’ message of stewardship and actively engages in caring for the environment.
  • Stewardship of creation is the responsibility for and care of the earth and all of its resources.

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