Scarboro Missions magazine, April 2004

Developed by Sharon Willan, program assistant for Scarboro Missions’ Lay Mission Office and former curriculum writer in the York Catholic District School Board, Toronto, Canada. This Guide was developed for use within the Toronto Catholic school system. However it can be adapted for other Christian users and adult educators.


This guide can be linked to Science, Religion and English units in an integrated model for Grades 7 & 8, ideas for Grade 8 Confirmation preparation and retreat, as well as a Day of Reflection on Ecology. Teachers should choose the learning expectations/objectives relevant to their school boards.


The Grade 8 teacher could use this guide for Confirmation preparation. The Sacrament of Confirmation calls students to journey towards adulthood in the Church. Local and world issues, social justice, and a deepening spiritual life are all part of that call, as are the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as perseverance, peace and joy. Students can use this study guide to reflect upon these aspects of the call to participate in Church and society.

Religion, English, Science

For Grades 9 and 10, the teacher could use this unit in a Religion or English class as an alternate unit, supplying the Ontario Ministry of Education expectations as needed by the students. For Science classes, the teacher could use the magazine articles to see if students could apply science concepts.

Using Scarboro Missions magazine, April 2004 edition, students will:

  • Read for comprehension and detail
  • Analyse positive and negative facts pertaining to the environment
  • Study how major world religions view the environment
  • Understand what the Earth Charter entails
  • Make a plan of action to work towards a better understanding of the Sacred Balance

Prepare all magazine articles on chart paper

  1. Prepare 10 sheets of chart paper ahead of time. Write one of the following article titles on each chart paper:
    1. “Renewing the Sacred Balance”
      html version |  pdf version
    2. “A changed way of life”
      html version |  pdf version
    3. “The Middle Way” – Buddhist perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    4. “The Path of Submission” – Muslim perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    5. “A mutually caring relationship” – Aboriginal perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    6. “Mending the world” – Jewish perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    7. “The interdependent web of all existence” – Unitarian perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    8. “The Earth Charter”
      html version |  pdf version
    9. “Water: Common good before private profit”
      html version |  pdf version
    10. ACTION: “Renewing the sacred balance in our spirituality and way of life”
      html version |  pdf version
  2. Divide each chart paper into three columns labeled, “Positive,” “Negative,” and “Garage Station.”
  3. Set aside the “ACTION” chart paper for later use.
  4. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Assign one article with corresponding chart paper to each group. (Do not use the “ACTION” article on page 21.)


Identify positive or negative facts

  1. Each group chooses a fact from the article and writes it on the chart paper under the “positive” or “negative” column. The fact will be “positive” if a person or group in the article is working towards a solution, or if a person or group has a positive outlook towards the environment. The fact will be “negative” if the fact is harmful to the Earth, nature, and/or people.
  2. Have each group read the next article (if the group had read #1, they will read #2 and so on). Using the chart paper for that article, have the group add new positive and negative facts concerning the article. Do not repeat facts already listed on the chart by previous groups. Continue until each group has read all nine articles.
  3. In the third column, “Garage Station”, have students write questions, comments and ideas gleaned from the reading.


Group discussion
Post the chart papers around the room. Still in groups, have students discuss the problems in the world today. Have them write their answers to the questions below and then have a class discussion. Where is there agreement/disagreement?

  1. Which of the environmental problems affect you most? Why?
  2. Which of the environmental problems are most serious to the planet as a whole? Why?
  3. What are some of the solutions posed in the articles? How effective do you think they are?


“The Earth Charter”    html version |  pdf version

  1. Read the “Key Principles of the Earth Charter”
  2. Look at your school and answer the questions listed below. These questions are meant to create an awareness that the Earth Charter begins with an individual-YOU. As Gandhi says, “We must be the change we want to see.”Respect and care for the community:
    1. Do I recognize that all living beings are of value and are interdependent? Do the students in this school recognize this? By my actions, how do I show that I recognize the value and interdependence of all living beings?
    2. What is meant by the “common good”? Do I contribute to the common good?
    3. Human rights also implies human responsibilities? Do I stand up for the rights of others in this school? Does this include all others or just my friends?
    4. What do the students in this school do to protect the beauty of the Earth? What do I do?

    Protect and restore Earth’s ecological systems:

    1. Do I over-consume? Must I have the latest fashion, CD, technology? Can I live with old things? What does it mean by the saying, “live simply so that others may simply live”?
    2. Do I know how First Nations Peoples understand the environment? How do other world religions understand the environment? What does my faith tradition say?

    Promote social and economic justice:

    1. Do I look down on others who do not have as much as I have? Do I tease students in the school because they are not wearing a certain fashion label of dress?
    2. How do I treat the opposite sex? If I am a female, do I respect the males in the school and see that they have good things to contribute? If I am a male, how do I treat the females in the school? Do I respect them?
    3. How do I treat others who are from a different religion, culture or ethnicity?

    Build a global society based on democracy, nonviolence and peace:

    1. Do I promote education by doing the best I can and appreciating that I am able to attend school?
    2. Do I value nonviolence? Is the schoolyard a peaceful, nonviolent place? Do I feel safe there? Do I feel safe walking home?


“The Sacred Balance: An interfaith perspective”    html version |  pdf version

  1. Read the articles from the different faith traditions. Create a chart entitled “Renewing the Sacred Balance”. Using point form facts, drawings and pictures, graphically display the ecological perspectives of the world religions.
    1. “The middle way” – Buddhist perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    2. “The path of submission” – Muslim perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    3. “A mutually caring relationship” – Aboriginal perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    4. Hinduism
      html version |  pdf version
    5. The Baha’i faith
      html version |  pdf version
    6. Jainism
      html version |  pdf version
    7. “Mending the world” – Jewish perspective
      html version |  pdf version
    8. “The interdependent web of all existence” – Unitarian perspective
      html version |  pdf version
  2. Class Discussion
    1. How do these faith traditions complement or add to my understanding of the Earth?
    2. How are they similar to the beliefs in my own faith?
  3. More Ideas:
    1. Create a panel of “Experts” to discuss the issues in these articles. Invite other classes to listen to the panel and participate in the discussion.
    2. Create posters about the other faiths’ understanding of the Earth to display in the hall.
    3. Invite guest speakers from other faith traditions to speak to the class.
    4. Have students interview adults (parents, business people, clergy and others) about their understanding of the challenges of Earth ecology.


The Psalms: A way to understand the Earth as God’s art

  1. Use a variety of Bible translations such as: The Message, New Revised Standard Version, The American Bible, The Serendipity Bible, and The Jerusalem Bible. Students may go to to find other translations.
  2. Divide the students into groups of three. Assign each group one of the following groups of psalms to read. Or groups may choose their own psalms.* Psalms 3, 4, 7
    * Psalms 8, 23, 24
    * Psalms 29, 30, 46
    * Psalms 62: 1-8, 67, 70
    * Psalms 82, 85, 93
    * Psalms 96, 100, 104
    * Psalms 111, 113, 117
    * Psalms 128, 130, 131
    * Psalms 136, 138, 142
    * Psalms 146, 148. 150
  3. Have the students list the following:
    1. The names used to address God.
    2. The adjectives used to describe God.
    3. The parts of creation mentioned in the psalm.
    4. Does the psalmist praise, thank or ask God for things? Explain.
    5. Does the psalmist complain to God? What about? Explain.
  4. Have a class discussion about the students’ findings. In the psalmists’ day they used their scientific knowledge and their concept of God to pray. Today, we have a very different idea of who God is and our scientific knowledge has grown. If the psalmists were alive today, how would they write the psalms?
  5. Have the students choose a thanksgiving, praise or complaint psalm to write. Have them choose one of the psalms they had read as a model. What name(s) will they address God? What scientific knowledge will they praise or thank God for in their prayer? In their complaint, will they blame God, others or themselves for the way things have turned out?
  6. Provide art paper and have the students embellish their psalms with pictures, scientific symbols, etc. Use the psalms in morning prayer.


The Hubble Telescope:
This website carries photos and news of the Hubble Telescope. Have students investigate this site and use the material to write prayers, psalms, commentaries and short essays about the wonders of creation.

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