Healthy and Holy Relationship Concept: Mercy and Forgiveness

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1 Healthy and Holy Relationship Concept: Mercy and Forgiveness Catechist Reflection Page Vol. 3, Issue 1 Vol. 2, Issue 1 When one is looking at the topic of safe environment, we need to consider how we keep our children, youth and teens safe in various settings and situations. While it is the adults that need to protect all our young people, young people can be empowered and encouraged to learn ways to avoid unfavorable situations, to stop when feeling unsafe, and tell a parent or trusted adult so they can help. This applies especially in our relationships. To build positive, healthy relationships, one needs to develop the virtue of forgiveness and mercy throughout our daily life. This lesson cannot cover all on the topic of mercy and forgiveness. It is a start, hoping it encourages more learning and practice to nurture this virtue in all our relationships with God, with others, and with ourselves. Reflection for Catechist ~~ Before teaching this lesson, the first step in preparing the lesson is to take some time to reflect on the relationships in our own life. This is the foundation for the lesson. Consider your relationships Grades 3 5 Mercy and Forgiveness 101 Review this information to familiarize yourself with topic concepts as you prepare to teach this lesson. These points were taken from Pope Francis Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Searching the internet with the title Misericordiae Vultus will allow you to read the entire document, if you desire. Do they help you be a better person or hold you down? How have you handled hurts in these relationships? How does your faith help you deal with these hurts? Remember a time -you asked for forgiveness -you forgave another -How did you feel? Thoughts to Consider: Healthy relationships are holy relationships. Our relationship with God is reflected in our relationship with others. Our relationship with others is reflected in our relationship with God. This is reflected in the Great Commandment: Jesus replied, The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mk. 12: 29-31) Jesus Christ is the face of the Father s mercy. We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father s action in our lives. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive. May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst! Patient and merciful. These words often go together in the Old Testament to describe God s nature. In a special way the Psalms bring to the fore the grandeur of his merciful action (Psalms , 147, 136). The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. In the parables devoted to mercy, we find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon. Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are. In short, we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us. Love is what brings us closest to God. Forgiveness makes us resemble Him by virtue of being an act of love. - Pope Francis, His Life in His Own Words Page 1

2 Healthy and Holy Relationship Concept: Mercy and Forgiveness Grades Overview Vol. 3, Issue This lesson is designed for use during a class session in January/February. It presents information on some ways that our faith life can help us build qualities of right relationships. This lesson stresses that God loves each one of us always as we are special to him. When we do something unloving, he is always ready with his unlimited mercy and forgiveness. We can receive his mercy and forgiveness in our relationship with him, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation. We can also pray to him and tell him we are truly sorry for what we have done, that we will try not to do it again, and try to do something to make it right. As children grow, learn and mature in building healthy relationships with others, they will continue to learn, practice, and exhibit the importance of mercy and forgiveness with their relationships with God and others. Forgiving others does not mean that we let others hurt us. An environment of open communication encourages children to communicate their thoughts and feelings appropriately and seek help from parents and other trusted adults when feeling others are hurting them or pressuring them to break the rules. Goal: To develop the concept of forgiveness, how much God loves us, and that we can ask him for mercy. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. - Matthew 5:7 Session Outline Session Objectives: Opening Prayer (3 min) Reconciliation lesson focus and worksheet (35 min) Activity: Stained Glass Cross (15 min) Summarize Session (4 min) Closing Prayer (3 min) God loves each one of us always. God will always forgive us when we are sorry. God asks that we imitate Him by forgiving others. When we are sorry, we do more than say I m sorry; we do something to make it right. Forgiving others does not mean that we let others hurt us. You need to tell your parents or another trusted adult. II. What Are God s Rules? A Reference for the Lesson, as needed. Share with the class: God gave Moses the 10 Commandments to help guide our lives and how to show our love to God and others. (Give an example of one or two commandments.) One of the scribes asked Jesus, Which is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied, The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mk. 12: 29-31) These are what are known as the Greatest Commandments. I. Opening Prayer Share: Jesus taught us to ask for mercy and forgiveness and to forgive others in the Lord s Prayer. When we love and forgive others, we are followers of Jesus. Our Father Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US. Supplies And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Pre-cut/torn pieces of different colored tissue paper; wide packing tape. Scissors; paper punch, ribbon or string for hanging ( Stained Glass Cross activity). Activities / Hand Outs Activity Worksheet Sayng I m Sorry. May copy How to Celebrate Reconciliation for each. Some materials created by Diocese of Grand Island. Used with permission. Additional materials developed by Diocese of Rapid City. Credit is also given to Loyola Press for How to Make a Good Confession and Kids of Integrity, sources noted. Page 2

3 Page 3 III. LESSON - Reconciliation Introduction As Catholic Christians we celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation. In the sacrament of reconciliation we repent of our sins and we receive forgiveness. We are also called to repair or reconcile the relationships that were damaged by our sins. Lesson Development We can think of a sin as something that damages a relationship. With God With others Within ourselves I. When I hurt another person = I hurt the relationships with the other, with God, and myself. (1) I need to say I am sorry (apologize) with a meaningful heart. (2) I need to ask for forgiveness. (3) I need to do something to heal the hurt relationship. II. When I hurt my relationship with God = I hurt the relationships with God, with others, and myself. (1) I need to say I am sorry with a meaningful heart. (2) I need to ask for forgiveness. (3) I need to do something to heal the hurt relationship (make a change). GOD FORGIVES ME. III. When another person hurts me = this hurts relationships with each other, with God, and myself. (1) I need to forgive the other person; to let go of the hurt, and not seek revenge (not want to do harm to the relationship). I am imitating God and forgiving others like God forgives me. When we start to look at sins in this way it becomes clear that when we are truly repentant we have some reconciling / relationship fixing to do. How do we fix a relationship? If we have done something to damage a relationship, how do we fix it? First of all, we can always ask for God s help to make things right. Next, we need to find a way to communicate our feelings. We need to share with the other in the relationship that we know we messed up and we are feeling remorse about it. Often it works well to use an I-feel statement to communicate this: (insert feeling here for example: sad, bad, awful, really guilty, like pond scum, etc.) About (admit what you did that you are sorry for.) Because (say why you feel remorse, e.g. I know it really hurt your feelings and I didn t mean to I know that vase from Aunt Ethel was really important to you ) Please (Here s where you ask for forgiveness and find out what you can do to make things right - for example: Please forgive me. Please tell me what to do to make it up to you. Please let me replace it., etc.) Finally, we need to put our words into action. We need to really listen when someone tells us what they need to make things right. Sometimes that means trying to see things through their eyes and imagine how they are feeling. We need to do our best to respond to their request. (If you re not sure if what they are asking for is a good idea, pray about it and ask a trusted adult for some guidance) We need to make good on our promise to not sin in that way again. What if we re the one who s hurt? If someone does something to hurt their relationship with us we should try to forgive them. That doesn t mean that we have to keep getting hurt if they don t change their behavior. If you are in a hurtful relationship, you may need some help to change things. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult. IV. Activity Worksheet To develop this lesson, have the students complete the Saying I m Sorry Activity worksheet. You may do this as a class, with students sharing ideas. Each can write down which one they may use for each scenario. (This activity sheet is found on page 4 of this packet. Make copies so each child has one. They may take these home.) continued on next page...

4 Grades 3-5 Activity Page 4 Saying I m Sorry If we think of sin as something we ve done that damages a relationship (with God, with others, within ourselves), then being truly sorry means doing something to reconcile/heal the relationship. Using an I-feel statement can be a good first step toward fixing the relationship. Think of some I-feel statements for the following situations: Example: very sorry (Insert your feeling here.) about taking the remote and changing the channel, (Say what you did that you are feeling remorse about.) because I know it was your turn to choose the show. (Tell why you feel the way you do.) Please let me know what to do to make it up to you. (Ask the person what you can do to fix things.) Spreading rumors Leaving someone out Lashing out in anger Telling a lie Other

5 Page 5 V. ACTIVITY Stained glass cross VI. Summarize lesson s key points: (May share while students are completing their cross.) Directions: 1 Cut two strips of packing tape. Lay one strip on a firm surface, sticky side up. Lay the second strip across the first strip to form the shape of a cross. (May also use clear contact paper). 2 Have your children rip up or cut small pieces of tissue paper and stick each fragment to the cross. When the sticky surface area is covered in tissue paper, use two more strips of packing tape to seal the tissue paper between the two layers of the packing tape. 3 Help your children cut off the tissue paper that extends beyond the edges of the tape, then hang the finished cross on a window. You may also wish to make a cross-shaped paper frame for your stained glass cross. As the light shines through the cross, it serves as a reminder that, despite our sin, we can be beautiful when God s light shines through us. 4 Encourage your children to go and stand before your cross when they are angry or frustrated with a friend or family member, and pray to God. Other ideas If you do not have the supplies required for a stained glass cross, help your children make a cross out of sticks or cardboard. Write a selected memory verse on a card and glue it on the cross. Each child is to take their cross home for their use! from Kids of Integrity.com Forgiveness-PC-2015-best.pdf God loves each one of us always. God will always forgive us when we are sorry. God asks that we imitate Him by forgiving others. When we are sorry, we do more than say I m sorry; we do something to make it right. Forgiving others does not mean that we let others hurt us. You need to tell your parents or another trusted adult. When God asks us to forgive others that doesn t mean that we are supposed to let others hurt us. You need to tell your parents or another trusted adult. VII. Closing Prayer We learn this prayer in preparation of our First Reconciliation, yet it is a prayer that we should learn and pray daily, asking for God s forgiveness. If students do not know the prayer, do it as an echo prayer, saying each phrase or line, and then having them repeat it. Act of Sorrow My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen. How to Celebrate Reconciliation Before celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, be sure to prepare with an examination of conscience. The Sacrament of Reconciliation includes the following steps: 1. The priest greets you, and you pray the Sign of the Cross. He invites you to trust in God. He may read God's Word. 2. Tell how long since your last confession. You confess your sins. The priest may help and counsel you. 3. The priest gives you a penance to perform. Penance is an act of kindness or prayers to pray, or both. 4. The priest asks you to express your sorrow, usually by reciting the Act of Contrition. 5. You receive absolution (forgiveness). The priest says, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You respond, Amen. 6. The priest dismisses us by saying, Go in peace. You reply, Thanks be to God. You go forth to perform the penance you received.

6 A Note to Parents Page 6 This week we discussed the Right Relationship concept of mercy and forgiveness in the context of our religious education lesson. We discussed how God forgives our sins and calls us to forgive one another. In younger grades (PreSchool-2) we discussed ways to show we are sorry, including apologizing, trying not to sin again and doing something to make things right. They were reminded that God wants them to be safe, and it was stressed that forgiving others does not mean letting others hurt us. Children were encouraged to tell their parents or another trusted adult If they are being hurt If someone keeps doing something after being asked to stop or after they say they are sorry. If someone won t forgive them. Intermediate students (grades 3-5) were encouraged to think of sin as something that damages a relationship with God with others within ourselves They were encouraged to communicate feelings of remorse and do something to fix the relationship. I-feel statements were practiced as a good way to communicate feelings and ask for help in reconciling relationships. They also were encouraged to let their parents or another trusted adult know if they are being hurt in a relationship. Older students (grades 6-8) were encouraged to explore and learn more about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (Matthew 25:31-46) as: A measure of our authenticity as disciples of Jesus A way to develop our living as Christians in the world today A set of tools to develop ways one can complete these works as a middle school youth. They inspected the terms forgive and mercy from a greater view as God asks us to forgive others as he has forgiven us. Forgiving others does not mean we let others hurt us. They were encouraged to ask their parent or a trusted adult for help if they are being hurt in a relationship. At the high school level (9-12) we discussed how forgiving others means not holding a grudge and not letting the mistakes of others define our relationship with them. If we are open to receive God's love, then we can enter relationships of giving and receiving love with others. If this is the type of relationship we have, then forgiveness should naturally be a part of that relationship. High school students were reminded that forgiving others does not mean giving up our values, allowing ourselves to be hurt, or accepting blame that does not belong to us. Youth were encouraged to seek help if they are being hurt physically, emotionally, or sexually in a relationship. They were encouraged to confide in a friend, talk to their parents, or tell another trusted adult if they have been hurt even if the other person acts remorseful as the cycle of abuse and control is difficult to break without help. It is in the home that we learn to receive, to appreciate life as a blessing and to realize that we need one another to move forward. It is in the home that we experience forgiveness, that we are continually asked to forgive and to grow. In the home there is no room for putting on masks : We are who we are, and in one way or another we are called to do our best for others. Pope Francis, speaking at a Meeting with Families during his visit to Cuba

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