ASK THE PROS
- The Bible & How to Read It
- Resources Available to Catholics Today
- The Devil’s Plan
- Mark’s Message for Today’s Youth
Question 1- Does God Exist?
Yareli is a freshman at St. John the Baptist de La Salle High School. She really doesn’t want to be there, but she transferred to the school under her parents’ orders. She no longer spends time with her friends from her old school, she is finding it difficult to keep up with high school level homework, and she is not a fan of wearing the school uniform.
After the first few weeks, Yareli has made a few close friends but her grades are beginning to plummet. She joined the school tennis club and is showing great talent. She is an up and coming Protégée who, if trained well, could become a contender for State Champion in a couple of years. However, she realizes that if she doesn’t get her grades up, she will not be eligible to play.
La Salle High has mandatory parent-teacher conferences for all new students after the first four weeks. Yareli’s parents only speak Spanish and her teachers only speak English. Since they see Yareli as a very honest and trustworthy student, they have asked her to join them in her conference as a translator. Yareli reluctantly agrees.
When Yareli’s mother and father are told that she is a talented tennis player, Yareli translates accurately and her parents beam with pride. When the teachers tell them that she is a joy to have in class, they are immensely delighted that she has made such a great transition to her new school. Yareli feels good knowing that her parents are proud of her.
However, when the teachers tell her parents that Yareli is not performing well academically, Yareli purposely translates incorrectly and tells her parents that she is doing great in all of her classes. She didn’t want to upset her parents and knows that for the next 4 weeks, she can work extra hard to pick her grades up before her report card comes out and her parents would never know.
Everyone leaves the conference happy; everyone except Yareli.
- Put yourself in Yareli’s shoes. Why do you think she would not be happy after leaving the parent-teacher conference?
- Is it possible that she might be truly happy with her decision?
- What could potentially happen to Yareli because of her “little” lie? What could happen to her parents? To her teachers? To her friends?
- How would you define the word conscience?
Read points 4-6 from your YOUCAT including all the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side columns. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- What is reason?
- What does reason have to do with your conscience?
- Why do people deny the existence of God?
- Is it pointless to speak about God if we are imperfect humans?
- How can we speak about God in a more perfect way?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 4, 5, or 6 in your response.
How can you prove that God exists?
Question 2- Why Did God Create You?
Sofía loves to dance. She can frequently be found on the weekends at parties with her family and friends dancing to the latest music. She especially enjoys Latin music and has signed up to take salsa and meringue lessons. She is 16 and she is even contemplating becoming a professional dancer when she graduates from high school.
One day, Sofía’s best friend, Janell, texts Sofía that she has great news and that they need to meet at the mall as soon as possible. Sofía gets in her car and drives out to see Janell. When they meet, Janell tells Sofía that she had a profound religious experience at a local Protestant church and that she is going to be baptized this weekend. Sofía is Catholic and is thrilled that her friend has made such a great decision. She will finally be part of God’s family!
However, Janell goes on to tell Sofía that her church doesn’t allow its members to dance, go to movies, or or for its female members to wear anything but long dresses that are approved by the head preacher. The pastor of this church believes that watching movies and dancing are sinful and that they lead people, especially young people, to hell. As a result, Janell tells her friend that she will no longer be able to go dancing with her. She then goes on to try to persuade Sofía into giving up dancing.
- Put yourself in Sofía’s shoes. How would you respond to Janell?
- Is Janell right in saying that dancing, going to movies and wearing certain clothes are sins?
- What is something that you really love to do? Have you ever thought that this thing you love to do is sinful? Why or why not?
Read points 1-3 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- When do you most feel that God is near to you?
- When do you feel that He is far away?
- Earlier you reflected on the things you love to do most. Does what you love to do bring you closer to God or push Him farther away?
- Are there ways to unite the things you love with God?
Final Reflection journaling prompt
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 1, 2, or 3 in your response.
Why did God create you?
Question 3- Was Jesus Really God?
J’Kwan is an 8th grade student at César Chávez middle school. He has gown up in the area and everyone knows him to be a nice kid who loves the game of basketball. He plays every day during lunch and stays after school watching the high school kids play until it gets dark.
J’Kwan has always had a desire to play with the older kids, but every time he asks, they either tell him he is too young or ignore him completely. The only time he ever gets to play is between games while the others rest for a moment.
One day while the players were resting, Jamal, a high school basketball star, came over to J’Kwan and struck up a conversation. He told J’Kwan that the reason he never gets picked is because he doesn’t have the right clothes to make him look like a basketball player. He recommends that J’Kwan buy the newest pair of Nikes and a jersey so that he can replace his school uniform and play with the rest of the guys.
Thrilled and overwhelmingly happy, J’Kwan ran back to home ask him mother for money to buy new shoes and a jersey. Since he rarely asks his mother for anything, she happily drives him to the mall to pick up his new basketball gear.
The next day, J’Kwan showed up in his new shoes and jersey and the guys chose him to play with them. He was beyond happy now.
He played very well throughout the night. He scored points, had many assists and even blocked a couple of the taller guys. Then, during the last game, he scored the final basket to beat one of the best teams in the area. He had finally made it! He was part of the evening basketball group that he had watched for so long.
As he started to walk home, he saw Jamal and thanked him for his advice. Jamal was equally happy for him for doing so well that night. Since he lived in the same neighborhood as J’Kwan, they walked home together.
As they were rounding the corner of their street, the guys that J’Kwan had beat with his final shot sprang out of some bushes, beat both of the boys up, and stole J’Kwan’s shoes and jersey. After the boys came crawling home, J’Kwan’s mother ran to their care and immediately called the police.
- Put yourself in J’Kwan’s shoes. Would you ever return back to the basketball court?
- What do you think about Jamal’s advice to buy new basketball gear? Was it helpful? Was it necessary?
- Do you think that J’Kwan ever truly felt part of the basketball group?
- Have you ever been part of a group that you never really felt a close connection to?
- Have you ever been part of a group that you HAVE felt a close connection to?
Read points 73-78 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- What does the word Lord mean?
- Why did God become man in Jesus?
- Was Jesus the Lord, a liar or a lunatic? Explain your answer.
- How do you think Jesus felt being both human and God on this earth?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 73-78 in your response.
Was Jesus really God?
Question 4- Why Are Mary and the Saints So Important?
Jesse and Pete are best friends. Ever since they can remember, the two have been inseparable. They both love reading, building things with scrap wood, drawing, and riding their bikes along the city streets. It is understood that Jesse is always welcome in the house of Pete’s family and vice-versa. In fact, both Jesse and Pete’s parents frequently meet up for celebrations, movies and other moments for the two families to have a good time.
However, Jesse’s mother, Raquel, is different in physical appearance than the rest. She is from Honduras and has darker skin and a thick accent. She married Jesse’s father, Ron, 15 years ago and has never gone back to her home country.
One day, Jesse and Pete were out in the park with their families enjoying a nice spring day. After a long winter of being cooped up in their small apartment building, it felt nice to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sunbeams on their skin. Raquel made sure that both had on sunscreen, because their fair skin would always burn on warm days like this.
While the children were playing volleyball in the community sand court, Raquel went to buy some ice cream for her family at a little stand just outside of the park. It was then that Pete had to go to the bathroom which was located near where Raquel was making her purchase. Jesse stayed on the court to continue playing with his father, who had taken Pete’s spot.
As Pete came out of the bathroom, he watched as Raquel started to question the ice cream man about her purchase. She told him that he had given her the wrong flavor ice cream and he responded by saying, “I gave you the flavor you told me. No returns! It’s not my fault you can’t speak English. Go back to Mexico!”
- Put yourself in Pete’s shoes. How would you feel about what the ice cream man said? How would you respond?
- Put yourself in Raquel’s shoes. How would you feel about what the ice cream man said? How would you respond?
- Do you have a relationship with someone like Pete has with Raquel? In other words, do you love someone who isn’t related to you like they were family?
- Have you ever had to defend this person because others didn’t understand them?
Read points 84,85 and 146-149 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- What is the difference between the word adore and the word venerate?
- What does the term “communion of saints” mean? Are you a part of this communion?
- Catholics do NOT “worship” Mary. Why do you think people believe that we do?
- Why is Mary the Mother of all Christians?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 84,85, or 146-149 in your response.
Why are Mary and the Saints so important?
Question 5- Are Non-Catholics Saved?
Jessica is a junior in high school. She was recently confirmed into the Catholic Church and ever since the Bishop anointed her with the Chrism oil, she has had an intense desire to know God. As a result, she signed up to take a World Religions class as one of her electives at her public high school. She has been Catholic her entire life and she is kind of scared to take the class because she doesn’t know a lot about other religions. She’s afraid she will be labeled as “uncultured” or even “racist.”
To feel a bit more comfortable, she convinces her friend Amir, a Muslim, to sign up for the class too. She’s never had a religious conversation with him, but she’s always felt comfortable in his presence. She thinks that if he is there, she will feel more confident in expressing her doubts, ideas and reasons for believing what she believes.
As they walked in and took their seats, the teacher passed out a small survey compiled of 4 short questions. They read:
- What religion are you?
- What do you think happens to you after you die?
- Have you ever thought about what might happen if your religion is wrong?
- Which religions do you think are wrong? Why?
As she writes down her responses, she notices that the other students in the class are uncomfortable. Most are staring blankly at the page while others are peering over their shoulders to make sure no one sees their response. Amir is one of them.
- Why do you think the students are uncomfortable with the survey questions?
- How do you think Jessica answered the questions?
- How would you answer the questions?
- Read points 129-131 and 136 from your YOUCAT and numbers 841-848 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (especially paragraph 843), including all the citations, quotes and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- Is there salvation for people outside of the Catholic Church?
- Why can there only be one Church?
- Many people believe that “all religions lead to God” and that it doesn’t matter which one we belong to because they all supposedly “end with salvation.” Why is this not true?
- Are other religions “wrong”? Explain your answer.
- How are we supposed to treat non-Catholics?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 129-131 or 136 from your YOUCAT or numbers 841-848 from the original Catechism of the Catholic Church in your response.
Are non-Catholics saved?
Question 6- Why Confirmation?
Selena is a home-schooled 17 year-old. She was able to graduate from high school at the age of 16 and she is already moving into her second year of junior college. She wants to transfer to the University of Michigan when she is finished with her general education credits to become an engineer.
Julio is also 17 years old. He is a senior at George Washington Prep and looking into colleges. He has a solid GPA of 3.7, is part of several volunteer organizations, and has even been offered a partial scholarship to a few universities. Like Selena, he also wants to become a successful engineer and the University of Michigan has one of the top programs in the country.
Selena and Julio are both very intelligent. However, neither of them get accepted to U of M. They both received letters saying “Thanks for applying, but at this moment we are unable to accept you into our school due to full enrollment. Also, be advised that without credible letters of recommendation, we will be unable to consider you in the future. Please apply again next year.”
- Put yourself in either Selena’s or Julio’s shoes. How does it feel to be denied by U of M?
- What requirements did they need to satisfy in order to be accepted?
- Besides letters of recommendation, what else did they have to demonstrate during their high school years in order to be accepted by the U of M?
- What are the requirements for being a Christian?
- What makes the faith of a 5 year-old different from the faith of a 15 year-old?
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:2, then describe what a “mature” faith looks like.
Read points 203-207 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- What happens at Confirmation?
- Who performs a Confirmation?
- What does it mean to be in the “state of Grace”?
- What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit received during Confirmation?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 203-207 in your response.
What is Confirmation and why is it important?
Question 7- Why is the Eucharist so Important?
Maira is a small, skinny 12 year-old girl who loves to swim. For her birthday gift, her aunt and uncle bought her tickets to a water park a few miles away. She was able to bring a friend to accompany her and her cousins.
When they got there, Maira and her friend Jewel went straight to the water slides. For hours they went up and down each one until they had to sit down and take a rest. Jewel suggested that they go to the calmer Lazy River so they could just float for a while until they got their energy back. Maira agreed.
When they were on the Lazy River, the current brought them in and around the long curves. It was very far away from the loud machines and screaming children on the slides so it was very peaceful. However, there were a lot of people on the river floating in their inner tubes.
Maira was almost asleep when CRASH! she ran into a mini palm tree mid-way down the river. She flew out of her tube! Surprised and without a sound she slid into the water current. She started to sink and was so weak from the slides that she couldn’t swim. She sank down to the bottom and pushed with her legs hoping to surface and breathe in a gulp of much needed air.
Her head connected with another tube. No air. No strength. She sank lower to the ground.
The moment her feet touched, she saw a bright light at her side and heard a voice telling her to push as hard as she could. She did, and as she torpedoed towards the surface, she saw the same blanket of inner tubes with adults on top of them. She thought she was going to die.
As her head was about to connect, she ducked and her shoulder now glowed with that bright light. She felt an explosion of energy and she tipped over a 40 year-old man from his inner tube. She breathed, apologized quickly and swam her frail body over to the ledge.
- Define the word miracle.
- Have you ever seen, experienced, or heard of a miracle that has taken place?
- If you witness a miracle right now, what would you do? How would it change your soul?
- What do you know about the Sacrament of the Eucharist?
Read points 208-212 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- Why is the Eucharist a miracle?
- Why is the Eucharist the “source and summit of the Christian life”?
- What does the Eucharist have to do with the Lord’s Supper?
- Why is the Eucharist considered a sacrifice?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 208-212 in your response.
Why is the Eucharist so important?
Question 8- Why do Christians Get Baptized?
Joel plays rugby and so does his older brother, Jake. Jake is a senior in high school and Joel has been home schooled up until this year, his freshman year of high school. Neither of the two really want to be at the school because they liked working on their own time at home with their parents. However, they REALLY like the sport of rugby and are willing to make the sacrifice to play on the local high school team.
Since Jake has been at the school longer, he makes sure to look after his little brother. He guides him to his classes, helps him make friends, and even eats with him at lunch with a group of other students who were home schooled and are still a little timid about high school life.
When the bell rings marking the end of the first school day, Jake and Joel head out to the field to meet the team. Jake knows most of them, so he introduces his brother and they seem happy to see him. The coach is also pleased to have Joel on the squad since he has known Jake to be a very talented rugby player. He believes that the two of them will be stars.
The coach tells the team that he has to meet with the principal for a couple of minutes to discuss the schedule for the year. He puts Rick, the team manager, in charge of overseeing the locker room as everyone gets ready for practice.
When they walk in, Jake is a little bit hesitant to let Joel in. He remembered the first time that he went into the locker room as a freshman and was locked inside of a locker for the duration of the first practice. The team came back after practice and congratulated him for “passing the test.” Apparently this was part of his initiation to the team.
Jake is afraid that the same thing will happen to his little brother.
- Put yourself in Jake’s shoes. Why would you be worried for your brother?
- How do you think Joel feels as they come closer to the locker room door?
- What do you think Jake is going to do?
- Have you ever been part of or heard of a bad “initiation” ceremony like the one Jake went through?
- Are there other “initiation” ceremonies that aren’t bad that you can think of?
- Why do people create ceremonies like these, good or bad?
Read points 194-202 from your YOUCAT including all of the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side column. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:
- How does Baptism unite us with Jesus Christ?
- Why do Catholics baptize babies?
- Who are the four people that can perform a baptism?
- What does being baptized mean?
Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary. Make sure you quote at least one sentence from points 194-202 in your response.
Why do we baptize people?
Level Ignite: Final Reflection
Congrats for completing your first Lit course! Now it is time for your final response.
One of Jesus’ final words to His Apostles before He ascended to heaven was “Go.” Since then, missionaries have “gone” to the ends of the world to tell the story of salvation to the people who didn’t know it.
Now it’s your turn, if you desire.
To complete level 1, begin writing your testimony. Journal about
- how you came to know God
- what you are doing now to build His Kingdom
- what you plan on doing in the future to sustain it
- what holds you back from Him
- what further questions do you have
Start thinking about ways in which your story can be told if you are willing to tell it, either now, or later when you are stronger in your faith:
- Record your story and put it on YouTube.
- Write your story and create a book.
- Open up a blog that deals with your spiritual journey.
Best of luck as you continue on to the next level.