“Make big things from small beginnings.”
First Read Titus.
The letter from Paul to Titus is very short and was written (around 66 AD) to a Church leader who did not become very famous. And yet a passage from this letter (Titus 2:11-14) is used every year at Christmas midnight Mass. Four little verses that are read at Mass begin with, “Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires” (The Lectionary, p. 106).
The Christmas story itself has other examples of God making big things from small beginnings. Mary is just a young girl – a teenager – and she becomes the mother of God. Bethlehem is a tiny town, not very well known for anything, and it becomes the birthplace of our Messiah.
God is very good at making surprising things happen from humble beginnings. So don’t ever doubt the importance of whatever you do for God. Even if you think it is small, God can make very big things come from it.
Second, take note of specific passages that Paul offers as advice to Titus.
Consider these themes:
1. What makes a worthy church leader? (Titus 1:5-9)
2. What tips are offered for living the Christian life? (Titus 2:1-8)
3. How can people, in general, be good in every way? (Titus 3:1-11)
Finally, write your own letter to a trusted friend. Modernize it. Make it real, convincing, believable for the 21st century.
Consider these themes:
1. What advice could be offered to a teenager looking at their personal future as an adult citizen (or a leader) in Canadian society?
2. What advice could be offered to a teenager struggling with peer pressure and social media or struggling with the temptation of drugs and alcohol?
3. What advice could you offer a teenager who struggles with relating to adults in authority: teachers, parents, police, politicians, TAs, … referees?
Format your letter using the same business letter guidelines you have mastered in ELA 9. Use your own address and the address of a friend in class, (or invent a realistic looking address).
Theme 1: When is it stealing?
- express and apply the seventh commandment
- identify how the seventh commandment challenges actions that are commonly deemed acceptable
- define stewardship and discuss it in terms of the demands of the seventh commandment
- identify the balance between the right to own and the requirement to share in specific situations
- evaluate their own behaviour in light of the seventh commandment
- understand tithing as an offering to God and a form of prayer
- seventh commandment – “You shall not steal” – forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbours or wronging them in any way with respect to their goods.
- We believe in the right to property; however, it must always be held in check by the common good.
- All people have a right to what is necessary to fulfill their basic human needs.
- When we own something we are merely stewards. Each of us must use the things we own in such a way that they benefit not only ourselves, but also the common good.
Theme 2: Why tell the truth when a lie will do?
- express and apply the eighth commandment
- recognize that there is an absolute truth, and God is its source
- explain the role of truthfulness in relationships
- identify the balance between charity and respect for the truth in specific situations
- evaluate their own behaviour in light of the eighth commandment
- explore the meaning of the prayer and gesture that immediately precedes the proclamation of the Gospel
- The eighth commandment states: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”
- Truthfulness is foundational for trusting relationships.
- God is the source of all truth.
- Human beings tend by nature toward the truth.
- Both charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information.
Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and
- summarize its main point,
- tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Conscience”,
- list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
The reflection will take effort, but it is an effort to focus – for yourself – an ego-conscience. If that’s not worth the effort, you will always have a personality, but it is unlikely you will ever develop character.
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On one side of the line, list the do’s and don’ts your parents, teachers, and media (other external forces) have taped on your Superego that you have already checked against reality and find are now wrong – or at least far too simplified. On the other side, write the elements of your Superego that you now see for yourself are valid.
“Faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13
“The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards of moral conduct.” – The Church in the Modern World, 16
“Return to the root and you will find the meaning.” – Sengstan
“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles
“In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.” – Mohandas Gandhi
- Roughly how many of your peers do you guess cheat routinely on homework, quizzes, and tests? What are the reasons most would give for doing that? Why is “Well, everybody does it” not a legitimate excuse? If trust and honesty are the glue that holds together the web of our human ecology, what is the effect of widespread cheating on the web of society?
- When schools discover that a great deal of cheating is going on, the administration frequently will encourage teachers and exam supervisors to have greater vigilance and require strong punishment when someone is caught cheating. Similarly, with the increase of crime in our cities, the almost automatic response is to call for an increase in the number of police. What would be a better way to attack the problems of cheating and crime at their roots?