Scarboro Missions magazine, September 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.
The ideas in this unit are suggestions for both Religion and Language Arts (Grades 7-8) and English (Grades 9-12) classes. It is suggested that teachers might use the magazine as a theme in English, using the articles and websites as non-fiction reading. Some of the ideas are written specifically for Grades 11 and 12 or Grades 7-10. It is suggested that the learning expectations be taken from the provincial Ministry of Education guidelines in your own location.
In the article, “Swimming in the Wider Culture”, Philippine Bishop Francisco Claver says, “Our success depends on the people of the diocese. And we are beginning to see a wider ecological consciousness. We are in our poverty, but we still have our environment. Through the Catholic schools there are some things we can preserve so the culture is not completely destroyed – so that we may swim in the wider culture but not lose the identity of our tribal culture.”
Bishop Claver depends on and expects a great deal from Catholic schools. We can spend time talking about and teaching those things that preserve our culture as Canadians, as well as our Catholic identity. The water issue is a life issue and one worth teaching.
- As a class, read the first part of Danny Gillis’ editorial (up to the quote from the Indigenous Declaration on Water).
- In his editorial, Danny Gillis speaks about the gift of water and the new appreciation for water that he learned as a missioner in the Philippines. Take stock of how you appreciate or take water for granted in your life.
- In a journal, answer the questions a) to g) below.
- List the ways you use water in a week. Take time to write a thanksgiving prayer for the ability to have this water for these uses.
- In small groups of four or five, discuss questions b), f), and g). Depending on the grade, teachers may end this class with some of the thanksgiving prayers that students have written.
- How often in a day or week do I think about water?
Why do I think about it? Why don’t I think about it?
- Do I know where the water that I drink from the tap comes from? How could I find out?
- How do I waste water?
- Do I ever thank God for having clean clear water? Why/why not?
- Do all people on the Earth have the same access to clean water as I have? Why not?
- Do I understand the water cycle? How does it affect my life?
- In his editorial, Danny Gillis quoted from the Indigenous Declaration on Water
Read the text together as a class. Assign questions to groups of students. Answer the following questions, writing the answers on chart paper. Post the answers on the chalkboard.
- Why do the Indigenous say that they have written this Declaration? List the reasons.
- What are the Indigenous seeing today that concerns them about water? Make a list of their observations.
- What are the Indigenous Peoples asking us to do? List their requests.
Catholic social justice groups use the model See – Judge – Act in addressing issues of concern. In this model, we are asked to make observations about what we see around us. We are then asked to make a judgment or to analyze our observations against Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching. Next, we must act on what we have seen and analyzed. It is not enough to see what is going on in the world. We are called to make a difference. Today we are being called to protect the Earth’s water so that all may live.
The Indigenous Peoples in their Declaration on Water make observations, base their observations on God’s gift of Creation, and then call us to action.
- Make a list of what you can do to conserve, protect and appreciate water. Make a commitment to do it.
- Have the class use the words and intent of the Indigenous Declaration on Water to create posters about the sacredness of water. Use quotes from the Declaration on the posters.
- Divide the class into groups of four or five. Each group should choose a group of observations from the Declaration. Make a mural of the Indigenous Peoples’ observations about water. This mural could be a collage of pictures and words taken from magazines and newspapers. Again, use direct quotes from the Declaration.
- Read this article from the September 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine. List the spiritual values of water as noted by the author.
- In her article, Heather Eaton describes humans as one part of the interdependent web of life. As human beings we cannot live without the rest of nature, but the rest of nature can get along without us. Water is an important aspect of this ecology-without water there is no life on the planet. How we use and protect water sustains life on the Earth.
- Heather Eaton says that we must spend time coming to an appreciation and awe of water as a vital element of the Earth we inhabit. In this way we learn spiritual values for addressing water issues.
- If possible, spend at least a half hour alone beside a lake, river or stream. Observe the water, the plant life, and the animals that inhabit the area. What feelings does this time of quiet reflection evoke in you? Describe the feelings. Are the feelings similar to what the author describes as awe?
- Write a reflective response to the ideas in this article.
- How does it feel to be so dependent upon water for life?
- Have you always understood that you are a part of nature, not apart from nature? Is this a change in thinking for you?
- Have you ever thought about water in a spiritual sense before reading this article?
- Do you think we need a spiritual basis for addressing water issues? Why/why not?
- Have you ever had an experience of awe when reflecting on water?
- If time permits, assign the books listed on page 7 as independent reading. Each student may choose the book she/he wishes to read. Students may also choose other books from the library that discuss water issues.
- Students should prepare a short presentation about the key concepts of the book to present to the class for discussion. Students who have read the same books may collaborate so that presentations do not overlap.
- Read this article. Describe the ways that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have changed since World War ll.
- What is privatization? Who does it affect? How does the privatization of water affect you? How does it affect the poorest of the poor? What is the difference between your life and the life of the world’s poor?
- Define the “common good” as set out in Laura Vargas’ article.
- Read the three highlighted quotes on Catholic Social Teaching on page 17. Read the excerpts below, written by Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. Archbishop Martin reflects on economic justice and poverty.
- Do you think the privatization of water would be acceptable in Catholic Social Teaching? Explain.
- Write a reflection paper on the “common good” and the right of the individual. When does the right of the individual infringe on the common good? Use the two articles and the excerpts from Catholic Social Teaching as a basis for your thoughts.
Excerpts from “Episcopal Conferences and Social Justice” – Reflections of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
“In our discernment of the phenomenon of globalization we should in particular recall the very important principle stressed by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus (#39) namely, that “the economy is only one aspect and one dimension of human activity” and that “economic freedom is only one element of human freedom”. If economic life is absolutised, if the production and consumption of goods become the centre of social life and society’s only value, not subject to any other value, economic freedom looses its necessary relationship the human person, and ends up by alienating and oppressing…”
“Poverty is the inability for people to realise their God-given potential. Fighting poverty means that we invest in human capacity, we enable people to be the people that God wishes them to be. We rejoice that they can be so, equal in dignity to us. It means that we personally feel hurt when there are others in the world who are unable to have the same opportunity to fully realise themselves as we are. Our relationship is one based on love and respect for the other as a person.
The fundamental principle of any policy for fighting poverty today is that of enhancing human capacity. People should never the objects of our development policies. They are its subjects. Subjectivity is of the essence of being human. Human beings anywhere in the world are subjects with potential. The more individuals are enabled to realise that potential the better it will be for all. Human rights must therefore be a theme which cross cuts all our social reflection and our programmes of international development. Human rights are the same for all: all have the same yearning for human rights.”
On the unity of the human family:
“When God created humanity he created it as a family. From this affirmation flow the principles of common responsibility, of solidarity and of familial relationship of love that should be the true trademark of relationship between peoples. This is the fundamental principle that should guide the process of globalization. Globalization will be worthy of its name if it enhances the unity of the human family. Any form of globalization that breeds exclusion, marginalization and crass inequality does not have the right to call itself global. Globalization has to be made the synonym of inclusive. The Globalization of solidarity, the Pope notes inPastores Gregis, is “a direct consequence of that universal charity which lies at the heart of the Gospel” (#69).
The changes that are taking place in our era of economic globalization, inspired by liberal economic vision, make it more and more difficult to identify the patterns of responsibility that should guide the process. The move from the public to the private, the dominance of economic values above all others, the inadequacy of our international structures make the governance of globalization difficult. In international relations, including trade relations, rules are important. But we should remember the basic principle that rules are there to defend the more vulnerable and to restrain any tendency towards arrogance of these who are more powerful. In many international institutions this is not the case, even where theoretically the rules are the same for all. In the free-for-all of bilateral international relations, the imbalance may be even greater. We see today a new tendency to isolation and protectionism that can lead to a weighing of the rules in favour of the relatively powerful.”
Supplementary reading 1:
Psalm 8 (The New Revised Standard Version)
O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!You have set your glory
above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark
because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have established,
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?You made them a little lower than God.
and crowned them with glory and honor.You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you put all things under their feet:
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Supplementary reading 2:
Excerpts from “Episcopal Conferences and Social Justice” – Reflections of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
“The human family, as we know it, was given the earth and creation as its home. Humankind was entrusted with the mission of maintaining the original harmony that God gave his creation, in which the various elements were individually created and each was seen as good.”
“A vision of the integrity of creation will in fact produce an important corrective to our understanding of the human person, reminding humans that we did not create the world with our own hands and that we should never attempt to set ourselves up in the place of God.”
“The question of water would also draw us into the problem of the domination of economic values in addressing ecological questions. Certainly, market mechanisms can help us to arrive at a realistic use and sharing of resources. But there are certain realities, which are so vital for humanity and for the integrity of creation, that they require that other values than economic also be taken into consideration and considered primary.”
- Read Psalm 8 (supplementary reading 1, above).
- How do the words of the psalmist make you feel?
- As a human being, what are your responsibilities to the rest of creation?
- What does it mean to “have dominion over”? Can you do whatever you want with creation if you have “dominion over” it?
- Read the excerpts written by Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin (supplementary reading 2, above).What are the responsibilities of the human family towards creation?
- Read the article, “The Fountain of Life” by Ron MacDonell.What are some of the water issues in Brazil that the author witnessed?
- Archbishop Martin writes: “The question of water would also draw us into the problem of the domination of economic values in addressing ecological questions. Certainly, market mechanisms can help us to arrive at a realistic use and sharing of resources. But there are certain realities, which are so vital for humanity and for the integrity of creation, that they require that other values than economic also be taken into consideration and considered primary.”How can the people of Brazil use this quote to convince the rice grower and the government that there has to be access to water for all?
- Rewrite Psalm 8, using the ideas from the article, the supplementary readings, and the quote from Pope John Paul ll on page 9.
- Prepare short skits to dramatize the discussion between the village people and rice-grower, and the village people and the government officials. Use ideas from the article, the supplementary readings, and the quote from Pope John Paul ll on page 9.
Why then, do you not give thanks? html version | pdf version
GRADES 7-12Water purifies and water gives life. Each of the world’s faith traditions holds water sacred and gives it a central place in rituals. After reading the two pages, have the students write prayers of thanksgiving incorporating the traditions they have just read.
The authors of these articles write about preserving cultures. After reading the articles, have the students answer the following questions and then discuss them in small groups or as a class.
- Why is it important to preserve culture?
- What evidence do you see in your own family or in the community where you live that people try to preserve the culture they had ties to?
- How is culture being eroded in the two places? How are people trying to stop this erosion of culture?
- In “Swimming in the Wider Culture”, Bishop Claver is quoted: “Our success depends on the people of the diocese. And we are beginning to see a wider ecological consciousness. We are in our poverty, but we still have our environment. Through the Catholic schools there are some things we can preserve so the culture is not completely destroyed-so that we may swim in the wider culture but not lose the identity of our tribal culture.”
- What does he mean by that statement? How can Catholic schools preserve the culture?
- In Canada, Catholic schools preserve a Catholic identity, a Catholic culture. In a constantly changing and multicultural world, it is important to keep an identity, while respecting and valuing the identities and cultures of others.How can students who attend Catholic schools preserve the culture while “swimming in the wider culture?”
- There are two reflection questions at the end of “Privatizing Life”:
- What does the privatization of water mean to us as followers of Jesus?
- As Canadian Christians in solidarity with the poor in Malawi and other developing countries?
If we read the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, we begin to understand what Jesus wants us to do in community. We also get another idea of what Eucharist is-reaching out to others in need.
How are we participating in Eucharist when we work in solidarity with the poor?
- End this unit with this group meditation.
- Alternatively, divide the class into groups and have them use the format of this meditation and prepare a meditation on water. These group meditations on water could be prayed each day of the unit.
Blue Planet Project: www.blueplanetproject.net
Explore the events, action, and other links that provide more information from Coalition of Canadians (Maude Barlow).
The Water Information Network
Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops: www.cccb.ca/Files/pastoralenvironment.html
This site offers resources by the Catholic Bishops on Catholic social teaching.