Monthly Catholic Social Teaching - October 2017

NCEA is pleased to offer a series of service projects, prayers and activities surrounding the series of Catholic Social Teachings each month. The summaries and scripture references were taken from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

October: Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. (USCCB 7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching)

Explanation/Activity: The principle of "Life and Dignity of the Human Person" recognizes that because we are all made in the image and likeness of God, that we all have the fundamental dignity and rights to basic human necessities. There are many possibilities for this month. October is Respect Life Month, so fundraisers to support local pregnancy centers would be a natural fit. Your school could hold drives to collect baby items (a "baby shower" of sorts) and donate them to a local pregnancy center. Some schools have created a cross memorial, placing crosses in the front yard of the school, with each cross representing 100 or 1,000 lives lost to abortion. Over the course of the month (weekly or daily if you are really ambitious), a different person or saint could be highlighted who is an example of recognizing the dignity in people. St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Vincent de Paul are just a few examples of such people.

Elementary Guide

Service Project Idea: Collect diapers or supplies for a local crisis pregnancy center. The focus for elementary students is recognizing Mary and Elizabeth as mothers we respect and trying to follow their example.

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:40-45

Reflection: Let us imagine ourselves standing next to Elizabeth as she greets Mary. Both of them are happy to be having their babies. Elizabeth is an older woman and Mary, a younger woman. No one really knows their stories, both trust God to be with them and help them. We sometimes judge others. Help us to be like Mary and Elizabeth, open to God’s call to be welcoming and open to those around us.

Secondary Guide

Service Project Idea: Collect diapers or supplies for a local crisis pregnancy center.

Modern connection: All of the pro-life issues—abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, poverty, etc.

Prayer Service Suggestion:

Opening Prayer:
God, we know you created all of humanity in your image and likeness. Help us to always see you in the faces of our classmates, teachers, family members and friends. Help us to follow you. Amen.
Reading:
Psalm 139:13-16 or Genesis 1:26-31
Reflection:
A faculty or staff member or student should offer a brief reflection challenging the community to treat each other with dignity and respect, seeing God in the face of everyone they meet. This could be a good opportunity to address the realities of bullying and how that takes away the dignity of people.
Reflective activity:
A representative of each of the clubs, sports teams, and organizations at the school can light a candle, one at a time, at the front of the prayer space, symbolizing the light brought to darkness when each individual and group makes a commitment to recognize the dignity in all people.
Closing prayer:
Eternal God, Creator and Sustainer of life, bless us with the courage to defend all life from conception to natural death. Bless us with the strength to respect all peoples from east to west, from north to south, so that we may truly follow the call of Jesus to be good neighbors. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.