A lesson on the sacraments
One of the best ways to engage our students is to bring what interests them most into the classroom. Incorporating a bio about a professional athlete into our lesson plans, for example, can create a lively discussion — that can then be used as a springboard to draw the students closer to God and our faith. We merely need to search out the connection. In this case, the process an athlete goes through to achieve greatness can be connected to the process that takes place within us when we receive the sacraments.
To help our students understand that just as the characteristics of a successful athlete are what led him or her to the Hall of Fame, the sacraments can lead us to heaven.
Overview of an athlete:
In advance, do a quick internet search about an athlete who has been inducted into a sport’s Hall of Fame. Compile the information you need to make the connections between the characteristics of a successful athlete and the graces received through the sacraments. For my example, I’ve chosen football player Tim Tebow.
- Begin class with the question: What are the characteristics of a successful athlete?
- A natural (God-given) ability or blessing
- A conscious decision to pursue that talent
- A diet and exercise regimen to build strength and endurance
- The ability to admit defeat, get back up, and try again
- The commitment to a team, giving 100 percent
- The desire to create something that will live on
- Next, outline for your students how Tim Tebow possesses these characteristics:
- A natural (God-given) ability or blessing: Despite doctors encouraging Tebow’s mother to abort him while she was on strong medication, Tebow was born with the God-given talent of a star athlete.
- A conscious decision to pursue that talent: Although homeschooled, Tebow joined the Allen D. Nease High School football team as their quarterback and continued on with the Gators at the University of Florida.
- A diet and exercise regimen to build strength and endurance: In addition to exercise and eating right, Tebow dropped to one knee (“Tebowing”) after each touchdown to signify that his real strength came from God.
- The ability to admit defeat, get back up, and try again: Despite several setbacks in his career, Tebow owned his failures and then turned to God, trusting that he would lead him to the next victory.
- The commitment to a team, giving 100 percent: Tebow signed with the Denver Broncos for two years and then the New York Jets, investing himself 100 percent.
- The desire to create something that will live on: Immediately after signing with the Broncos, Tebow started the Tim Tebow Foundation to help those in need.
Overview of the Sacraments:
- Switching gears, ask your students to list the Seven Sacraments:
- Penance and Reconciliation
- Matrimony and Holy Orders (Note: I’ve listed Matrimony and Holy Orders together as two possible options for making a life-long commitment.)
- Anointing of the Sick
- Using the “match up” handout below, match up and discuss how each sacrament closely relates to a corresponding characteristic of a successful athlete.
“Match Up” Handout: Match the sacrament with its corresponding characteristic
D. Penance and Reconciliation
E. Matrimony and Holy Orders
F. Anointing of the Sick
1. A conscious decision to pursue our faith by sharing it. ___
2. The commitment to another or God, giving 100 percent. ___
3. The blessing that helps our soul live on into eternity. ___
4. A God-given blessing that erases Original Sin. ___
5. A diet and regimen that builds the strength of our soul. ___
6. The ability to admit our sin, seek forgiveness, and try again. ___
Answer Key: A-4, B-1, C-5, D-6, E-2, F-3
Each of us is born with a God-given talent. When we identify it and apply the six characteristics (above) to it, our talent grows, putting us on a path to glory. As Catholics, we have access to the God-given blessings of the sacraments. When we receive them, and embrace the graces that comes with them, our faith and relationship with God grows, pointing us to heaven, the ultimate glory.
NOTE: The same overview and similar connections can be drawn for other public figures, actors and actresses, singers, and saints. A quick internet search can provide the facts we need to draw out the parallels and further engage our students.
CLAIRE MCGARRY is the author of Bayard’s Lenten devotional With Our Savior. Her freelance work has appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, and various devotionals. A regular contributor to CatholicMom.com, she posts weekly on her own blog, ShiftingMyPerspective.com.
PHOTO: RILEY MCCULLOUGH/UNSPLASH
This article was originally published in Catechist, March 2020.