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.

Science Unit

Note to educators: After choosing and teaching the Science unit that best pertains to the articles in the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine, have students compare the scientific knowledge they have learned with some of the challenges written about in the magazine.

The Earth Charter
Earth Charter:

Students may research this site under the following headings:

  1. Have students define the Earth Charter and describe what students in other countries are doing.
  2. What ecological issues are important to the students’ school or to their community?
  3. Have students choose one ecological issue as a class. Investigate the issue and all the various aspects including opposing opinions.What is being done to address this issue? For example, the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges moraine in Ontario, Canada, is under attack from land developers. There are many opposing views about how this land should be used, preserved or conserved.
  4. Students could look at a particular ecological issue and use their skills to forecast the future based on two scenarios:
    1. if priority is given to human needs alone and human activity goes unchecked; or
    2. if priority is given to the needs of all creation and actions serve to maintain or restore the delicate, sacred balance.

Using the ideas from the Earth Charter art pages, invite students to sculpt, paint, draw or design their own ideas about the environment. Using visuals, students could show differing views of the future as they forecast it. An art gallery could be designed and students could write their views and explain their visuals to the school, to parents, community leaders, etc.


After reading from the poetry pages of the Earth Charter website, have students write their own poetry. Some of the poetry could be linked to the artwork, combining the art and poetry in a scrapbook assignment.


David Suzuki
There are several items of interest on the David Suzuki Foundation website:

  1. Newsroom for news releases: what is new concerning the environment, and what are the continuing ecological challenges facing scientists and all humanity today. Keep an ongoing journal of events. Prepare a place on the bulletin board for these news releases.
  2. science matters: This is a weekly column by David Suzuki. Students can go to the newsletter archives to see earlier articles. Ask each student to choose and read one article by Suzuki. Divide students into groups of four or five to discuss what they have learned from their readings. List the articles and group by content. Have each group present their findings to the class.
  3. Essay on Biotechnology: This is a long essay on the effects of biotechnology and would be suitable for grade 10 students. Make copies of the essay and distribute to students for reading. Make a chart of positive and negative effects. Do students agree with Suzuki? Why/why not?


Mahatma Gandhi
Go to the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence:
This website offers Events, News, and New in the Library, and is a more appropriate site for Grades 9-12.



ACTION: “Renewing the Sacred Balance in our spirituality and way of life”    html version |  pdf version
In his article, Mark Hathaway offers personal ways to make changes in our lives. Ask students to:

  1. Read the list and check the actions that appeal to them.
  2. Choose one personal action to do each week. Keep a journal and list the personal actions you promise to do. After fulfilling one promise a week, write about how you felt doing that particular action. Did it make you more aware of the environment?
  3. Have students go back to the Earth Charter web site, Read about what other students have done to make the Earth a better place.
  4. Have students choose one area within the school environment that needs to change. Using the ideas from the Earth Charter for Action, make a plan of action for the class or the school.


Reflection Days 

Day 1: Ecology and spirituality 
Day 2: Renewing the Sacred Balance

These reflections can be used for students in the Roman Catholic school system in preparation for Grade 8 Confirmation. However, they can be adapted for other Christian users.


The focus for this day is to provide time for reflection on the wonders of nature and the ways, both good and bad, that humans have used the gift of the Earth. Students should be asked to bring suitable outdoor clothing (rain gear, coats, boots, extra socks, gloves, hats, etc.)


Students should prepare this day with the teacher so that they can participate in activities that are relevant to them. If they have completed the activities in this Study Guide, students may use many of the prayers, posters, art and poetry that they created.

  1. Art:
    Posters and other images may be used throughout the day. If students participated in the art activities in this Study Guide, they could choose some of these.
  2. Prayers (suggested sources):
    • The Psalms, or student written psalms/prayers
    • “The Message” by Eugene H. Peterson (a modern translation of the Bible)
    • “Prayers of A Planetary Pilgrim” by Edward M. Hays (modern psalms and prayers)
    • “Wrestling the Light” by Ted Loder (justice prayers)
    • “Earth Prayers” (prayers from a variety of faith traditions)
    • Holistic Living: Prayer, Spirituality & Healing:
      (prayers from Christian and other faith traditions)
  3. Skits/mimes:
    Students could choose one issue or topic from the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine that they consider important and prepare a short skit or mime to present to the class on the reflection day.Teacher preparation:

    1. Prayer table: table cloth, globe, bible, nature pictures, candle(s), other…
    2. Opening comments to welcome students and set the tone for the day.
    3. Prizes: inexpensive small prizes for winners of team activities.

    Opening activities:

    1. A sheet of 15 questions based on articles from the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine. Students are required to work in teams to answer. A 10-minute time limit is set and the first team to complete successfully, wins.
    2. Slips of paper with the words: fire, wind, water, Earth, pollution, peace. Divide students into groups of five and give one word to each group. Groups have to form the word/concept using their bodies-no words. Other groups guess the word.
    3. Walk in the park or other nature area.
    4. Reflection paper for quiet times.
    5. Resources: paper and pens. coloured pencils, art paper.
    6. Video: (please be sure to obtain viewing license) “The Lorax”: An animated Dr. Suess film that discusses some of the issues featured in the magazine.
    7. Food: bag lunches, pot luck, order in…


    1. It would be best to hold the reflection day away from the school, perhaps at a retreat place or the church hall. If this is not possible, try to have a time for a walk in a park close to the school. The idea is to set aside time for quiet reflection outdoors.
    2. In the event that outdoor time is not possible, have on hand a variety of nature pictures that students can use for reflection indoors.
    3. When students arrive, they should work in small groups to:
      • bring in resources from the bus and set up on a table
      • assist teacher to set the prayer table
      • prepare material for their skits
      • put up the posters and artwork
      • set up chairs and other tables as needed
      • put food away in cupboards, refrigerator

Reflection Day 1: Ecology and Spirituality

Schedule: (Times are arbitrary. Please feel free to change 
as needed)

9:00 A.M.	Opening comments-teacher(s)			

9:10	Opening prayer (chosen by students)

9:20	Activities (see "Opening Activities" above)

9:50	Quiet reflection 1
	Students will spend 20 minutes in quiet reflection 
        outdoors. They should be instructed to walk in silence 
        and observe nature. They will take a pen and paper and 
        list all that they see, hear, feel and smell.

	If outdoor reflection is not possible, students will 
        choose a nature image(s) and find a quiet place indoors 
        to sit and reflect upon the image. 

10:20	Nutrition break

10:35	Students sit in large group and share what they have 
        experienced outside or what they have seen in the nature 
	What difference would it make if the things they saw 
        How can they gain more appreciation for nature?
        End with a prayer of Thanksgiving to God for the gift of 
        nature. (student chosen) 

11:00	Students could present their skits or mimes. 
        Class discussion about the issues presented and their 
        importance to the ecology of the Earth should complete 
        this time. 
        End with prayer/psalm expressing the wonder of creation. 
        (student chosen)

12:00	Lunch
	After lunch, spend time outdoors walking, playing games, 
        talking, etc.

1:00 P.M.	Watch the video: "The Lorax"
	Class discussion, related to the magazine theme of Renewing 
        the Sacred Balance

2:15	Nutrition break

2:30	Quiet reflection 2
	Extend this quiet time to 40 minutes. Students are 
        instructed to find a place outdoors and complete the 
        reflection paper the teacher has prepared.

Class discussion on the merits of silence as necessary for 

* Was it difficult to keep silent for the length of time? Why?
* What did students learn from their attempt to keep quiet? 
* Would they attempt to take some time each day for quiet 
  reflection? Why/why not?
* How has this unit and this day helped them to prepare for the 
  task of becoming an adult in the Church?

3:15	Closing prayers (chosen and prepared by students)

Reflection Day 2: Renewing the Sacred Balance

Schedule: (Times are arbitrary. Please feel free to change 
as needed)

9:00	Opening prayer (see prayer attached below)

9:20	Video ("The Lorax", or make your choice from one of David 
        Suzuki's series on the environment)

10:10	Discussion about the concepts and how they relate to the 
        magazine articles: how can we renew the Sacred Balance?

10:40	Nutrition break

11:00	Quiet time 1
	Group is instructed to walk outdoors for half an hour. 
        Each person should walk alone and in silence. Ask them 
        to identify some item from nature that symbolizes for 
        them the fragility/wonder of nature.

11:30	Take about 10 minutes to write about the walk, the 
        silence, and the symbolism of the item chosen. 
        Group discussion: What would the Earth be like without 
        the item each person has chosen? 
        What would be missed?

12:00	Lunch

1:00 P.M.	Using the magazines, divide the large group 
        into six smaller groups. Each group should choose 
        one faith tradition to read about how this tradition 
        regards the Earth.

* In each group, discuss the concepts and compare how 
  Christians view the Earth. 
* How are the concepts the same? How are they different? 
  Make a list of the similarities and differences.
* Have each group report to the whole. 
* Discuss: How do these faith traditions contribute to 
  restoring the Sacred Balance?

2:15	Nutrition break

2:40	Quiet time 2
	Each person should find a quiet place to sit. After 
        listening and observing nature for 20 minutes, each 
        person should write a prayer that includes both a 
        Christian view and the other faith traditions' 
        view of the Earth in restoring the Sacred Balance.

3:10	Closing prayer  
	Prayer circle: Group should sit in a circle. Share 
        the prayers for restoring the Sacred Balance.

Morning Prayer

A reflection of North American Native peoples' prayers

Prayers included in the Morning Prayer are found on the 
following websites:

* Prayers from Christian and other faith traditions:

* Cherokee Friends and Family-Native American Prayers:

Call to prayer: (All stand)
(Sioux prayer)

(Leader)	Our Father, the Sky, hear us 
		(Raise you hands to the sky)

All	And make us strong

(L)	Our Mother, the Earth, hear us 
	(Bend and touch the Earth)

All	And give us support

(L)	O Spirit of the East
	(Turn to the East)

All	Send us your Wisdom

(L)	O Spirit of the South
	(Turn to the South)

All	May we tread your path of life

(L)	O Spirit of the West
	(Turn to the West)

All	May we always be ready for the long journey

(L)	O Spirit of the North, purify us
	(Turn to the North)

All	With your cleansing winds

Song:  "Touch the Earth"  
From cassette: Touch the Earth by Kathy Sherman CSJ


Touch the Earth with gentleness, touch the Earth with love.
Touch her with a future by the way you live today;
God has given us the power to create the world anew, 
If we touch the earth together, me and you.

The time is here, the time is now, we can change things,
Give the earth your dream of harmony she is waiting,
Waiting for love, waiting for you, waiting for me.
Show the earth you care about her future, 
Melt the walls of hate and fear that keep us apart. 
Believe we can live, together as friends of the earth.

Be the reason, be the hope for others to believe, 
That the earth is meant for beauty, goodness and peace, 
and that our God of love is God of the Earth's one family.

Prayer for the Earth:

Great Spirit, 
Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give;
never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
never to deny to give our hands for the building of 
earth's beauty;
never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand
that to destroy earth's music is to create confusion;
that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;
that to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a 
house of stench;
that as we care for her she will care for us.
We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst,
help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.
Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse,
help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed,
help us to find a way to replenish them.
Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness 
and corruption,
help us to find the way to restore our humanity.

Twenty-third Psalm:
(Native Peoples' version by George Hunt)

Left:	The Great Father above a Shepherd Chief is. 
I am His, and with Him I want not.  
He throws to me a rope, and the name of the rope is love. 

Right:	He draws and draws me to where the grass is green 
and the water is dangerous not. 
I eat and lie down and am satisfied.

Left:	Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down, 
but He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road.  
His name is WONDERFUL.

Right:	Sometimes, it may be very soon, it may be many, 
many moons.
He will draw me into a valley.
It is dark there, but I'll be afraid not,

Left:	for it is between those mountains
that the Shepherd Chief will meet me
and the hunger that I have in my heart all through this life
will be satisfied.

Right:	Sometimes he makes the love rope into a whip,
but afterwards He gives me a staff to lean upon.

Left:	He spreads a table before me with all kinds of foods.
He puts His hand upon my head and all the " tired " is gone.
My cup he fills till it runs over.

All:	What I tell is true
I lie not
These roads that are "away ahead" will stay with me through 
this life 
and afterwards I will go to live in the Big Teepee
and sit down with the SHEPHERD CHIEF forever

Healing prayer:
(Navajo prayer of healing) 

All:	Let us pray for all those who are ill or suffering 

Leader:	At this time, name all those you wish to pray for

All:	In the house made of dawn 
In the story made of dawn
On the trail of dawn 
O, Talking God
His feet, my feet, restore
His limbs, my limbs, restore
His body, my body, restore
His mind, my mind, restore
His voice, my voice, restore 
His plumes, my plumes, restore 
With beauty before him, with beauty before me
With beauty behind him, with beauty behind me 
With beauty above him, with beauty above me
With beauty below him, with beauty below me
With beauty around him, with beauty around me 
With pollen beautiful in his voice
It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty
In the house of evening light
From the story made of evening light
On the trail of evening light

All:		Let us pray for world peace

The story of the two wolves:

An elder Canadian Six Nations Chief was teaching his 
grandchildren about life. He said to them:

"A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight 
and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil-he is 
fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, 
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, 
competition, superiority, and ego. The other is good-he 
is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, 
kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, 
truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going 
on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

His grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then 
one child asked the grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Chief simply replied, "The one you feed."

Silence and reflection...

Prayers of petition for peace:

Response:	May we act justly, love tenderly and walk 
                humbly with you, O God

We pray for world leaders, that they may hear the cries 
of the victims of war and answer with empathy...

Response:	May we act justly, love tenderly and walk 
                humbly with you, O God

For each of us here, that we may learn to feed the good 
wolf within us...

Response:	May we act justly, love tenderly and walk 
                humbly with you, O God

Add personal Intentions...

Closing prayer:
(An Inuit prayer)

All:	I think over again my small adventures
My fears
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world