JUSTeach Newsletter

February 2006

social justice education

The greatest of these is love….


In the 70’s a popular movie offered this thought on love: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Even after all these years, the quote surfaces occasionally proving the staying power of popular culture’s messages. Our culture continues to pepper us with definitions of love, many of them in direct opposition to the Good News of the Gospel. Advertisements urge us to mark Valentine’s Day by buying more and giving more. The greeting card industry, the floral industry, and the chocolate industry will all profit by our acceptance of their messages to buy, buy, buy to prove our love this month. What does love mean? Even Pope Benedict addresses this issue in his first encyclical. What do popular movies and music tell your students about love? What does our Tradition tell us? What difference does our definition of love in terms of self love, love and compassion for others, and love of God make in terms of living out our faith? What can a conversation about the meaning of love bring to our understanding of Catholic social teaching?


Gospel references on love

Mk 12:28-34

Jn 13:34-35

Jn 15:9-17

1 Cor 13: 1-13

1 Jn 2:7-11



Quotes on love from our tradition:



Love feels no burden,

thinks nothing of trouble,

attempts what is above its strength,

pleads no excuse of impossibility…

It is therefore able to undertake all things,

and it completes many things,

and warrants them to take effect,

where he who does not love would faint and lie down.

Love is watchful and sleeping, slumbereth not.

Though weary, it is not tired;

Though pressed, it is not straightened;

Though alarmed, it is not confounded….Thomas a Kempis


We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. Dorothy Day



“Where there is no love, put love; and there you will find love.” John of the Cross

An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all. Dorothy Day


From the bishops www.usccb.org

In All Things Charity: A Pastoral Challenge for the New Millennium

USCCB justice and love


Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical

Deus Caritas Est” looks at the meaning of love, see the full text at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html



Have your students bring in examples from popular culture that show current messages regarding love. Some may be positive and others negative. Have them look for more quotes on love from saints both living and dead. Looking through the lens of Catholic social teaching, what do each of these samples tell us about the dignity of the human being, reaching out to others in solidarity, of working for the common good? Where is God in the things we’re being taught about love on television, in the movies, and in our music? Put the popular messages in conversation with those of the Gospel and voices from our tradition. Have your students come up with their own definitions of love.


Other February Activities

For those with access to the Center of Concerns at www.coc.org , check out their learning activities for Valentine’s Day such as the critique of the chocolate and floral industries through the lens of Catholic social teaching.


African American History Month

The Catholic Relief Service website has resources for honoring African American History Month at www.crs.org including the following:


Their project In Search of Wisdom from Mother Africa http://www.crs.org/get_involved/advocacy/africa_campaign/celebrating_african_family_tree/additional_activities.pdf involves looking at various wisdom sayings and their country of origin in Africa. The project could easily be used to examine the diversity of wisdom sayings from the students’ individual backgrounds and to open discussion of the role wisdom plays in making choices. Who teaches us, do we respect our teachers, our parents, and the wisdom they hand down to us? Do our various cultural and ethnic backgrounds have common points in the wisdom they pass on to us? What wisdom do we glean from the saints we’ve read ?


The Solidarity With Africa Retreat is complete and ready to put into action for a day of retreat for your students. The retreat would work well with adults and students, consider an intergenerational retreat. See the complete planned retreat at:



World Day of the Sick February 11.

Who defines sick? Is it only physical or can it be mental or spiritual? Who is entitled to health care? Are those living in poverty entitled to care? Those without insurance? Those in prison or jail? Every day we find news pieces regarding health care. Have your students examine these articles (or find websites regarding health and sickness in the world ) and analyze what’s being said using the seven values of Catholic social teaching.

Have your students prepare a prayer ritual to pray for those in need of healing. Have them choose a healing story of Jesus’s ministry to include in the service. Consider a discussion of health care in our country and world. In what other ways besides physical illness might we need healing in our world and even within our church?

May you be well and know the love of God every moment of your lives, especially as you teach our children and model God’s love for them.


Blessings, Colette Wisnewski