Key Stage 4: RSHE Secondary Pupil Copy
A Fertile Heart Receiving & Giving Creative Love
Love is creative. To have a fertile heart is to love, grow and make a positive difference.
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love Panda Press Publishing would like to thank the following contributors to A Fertile Heart: Kathryn Lycett, John Cook, Mary Dickenson, Maryanne Dowle, Bernadette Eakin, Christopher Hancox, Louise Kirk, Gavin McAleer and Rebecca Surman Thanks also to Dr Charlie O’Donnell, Joe Smiles, Michael H. Barton, Mary Flynn, Rev Dr Stephen Morgan and Fr Wayne Coughlin for their kind support. ISBN: 978-1-9164575-3-9 A Fertile Heart KS4 Scripture quotations taken from various authorised translations. Every effort has been made to locate copyright holders and to obtain permission to reproduce sources. For those sources where it has been difficult to trace the originator of the work, we would welcome further information. If any copyright holder would like us to make an amendment, please inform us and we will update our information during the next reprint. All images and illustrations used under licence. Design © 2021 Panda Press Publishing Limited Illustrations and Images: Shutterstock All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Publisher who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org British Library Catalogue Publication Data. A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Printed and bound in the UK and published under licence by Panda Press Publishing Ltd, 1 Newcastle Street, Stone, Staffordshire, ST15 8JU Company Number 11786188 Printed, bound and distributed in Australia by Createl Publishing, 98 Logistics Street, Keilor Park, Victoria 3042, t: 03 9336 0800, f: 03 9336 0900, www.createl.com.au Keep in touch Facebook @afertileheart Linkedin.com/company/a-fertile-heart Twitter @afertileheart visit A Fertile Heart at www.fertileheart.org.uk Version 7, September 2021
Nihil Obstat for KS2, 3 & 4: Reverend Jonathan Veasey. Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, 30th November 2020.
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love
Foreword His Grace George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel “The Glory of God is humanity fully alive”. Thus wrote St. Irenaeus in the 3rd century. His words remain true to this day. They mean that God is the creator of the gift of life. In that gift, each human person receives a share in His own creative love. His revelation in life and love, as well as through creation, is pure gift. This is the ‘grace’ of which we speak, in order that “we may have life and have it to the full” (Gospel of St. John 10:10). This truth lies at the heart of the Gospel. It is what it means to be truly human. The gift of life is bestowed by God in order that we may flourish and thrive. We do this in the first place simply by living with gratitude. We do it by responding to His love in a life of joyful communion with Him. We express it by actively engaging in the good of others so that mutual ‘flourishing’ may take place. The more we give, the more we receive. The ‘Gospel of Life’ outlined above is, indeed, ‘Good News’. It is revealed in every aspect of human nature and creation itself. This is the life-giving teaching we seek to hand on to our children who are “the messages we send to tomorrow”. The Rite of Baptism reminds us that parents are the first and best teachers of their children. The Catholic school exists primarily to educate children to receive and respond to God’s love for each one of them and for all. Our schools are designed to help parents fulfil their God given task of caring for their children in the school of love. The Catholic school is not just a place for professional education – existing for improvement in learning - important though that is. It is a place of formation, a place in which ‘lessons for life’ are imparted, received and shared. The whole school community teaches and learns these lessons in a truly Catholic environment. Human relationships are obviously at the heart of life and flourishing. We are made to relate to each other, body, mind and spirit. The physical, emotional and spiritual reality of our being are part and parcel of the ‘holy trinity’ of each one of us. Thus affective sexuality education is a crucial part of human formation. A Fertile Heart is the culmination of several years work of dedicated individuals [teachers, theologians, education advisers and parents] from within the dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton, Arundel and Brighton and Shrewsbury. They have worked tirelessly to create a resource which puts the human person and the flourishing of our pupils at the heart of the Catholic school. It is offered as an important aid to pupils, parents, teachers, governors and clergy to remind us all that “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning God had meant us to live it” (Ephesians 2:10).
Introduction If you don’t know how a car works, you’re not likely to be able to fix it. If you don’t know something about how crops grow, you’re not likely to be a great farmer. If you don’t understand a mobile phone, you’re not likely to get the most out of it. Understanding what it is to be a human person will help us know how to think and act, and so be happy and fulfilled. This booklet is part of a curriculum that goes from Reception to Y11, comprising ten modules every KS4 year. A Fertile Heart offers you a vision of what it is to be human, helping you to understand yourself more deeply, and therefore make better, more informed choices. An important dimension to being human is the need for love and relationship. Another is the desire to grow and make a meaningful difference. It is important to see the connection between growing and love: love helps us grow, true growth helps us love more. We can only truly grow and make a meaningful difference if we understand our meaning and purpose, which itself comes from each of us understanding who I really am. So, we first need to understand ourselves in our given-ness - including what it is to be human - and in our uniqueness - our personhood, thinking and choices. That is quite hard to understand at first, but basically I didn’t decide to be human, or the make-up of who I start out as - so I have to understand my ‘starting point’. Then I need to understand the end to which I am called - what full human maturity is - to be as loving as God. Once I know where I’m coming from, and where I am going, I can also understand my amazing ability to cooperate in growing, in becoming that person - and in helping others to do the same! Key to gaining correct self-understanding is the ability to think correctly. If we don’t get that process right we won’t understand ourselves correctly: we’ll be fooled by pressures that tempt us to sell ourselves short. It is truth, and our ability to reason, that protect us from this. Reason and faith are friends. We are often told that they are not, but if any faith belief is irrational, it is clearly wrong. Instead, authentic faith strengthens reason and opens it up to deeper realities. Please don’t be fooled into a false choice between faith and reason - we need them both to grow. The modules agree with the Catholic faith, but are founded on reason - and are therefore able to be received by all students - of all faiths, and none. They reflect logically on human experience, and encourage you to gradually learn to do the same. Central to the understanding of being human is that we are called to be ‘fertile’ - to grow and make a difference. We love doing both. What is important to understand is that, at its deepest reality, all creativity, all ‘fertility’, comes, not simply from the things we do, but rather, from the communion of loving persons. This love is revealed in what we call ‘reciprocal complementarity’. Reciprocal complementarity is when, as well as the equality of each person, the God-given differences between persons shape the relationship between them in a bond of mutual love. If you think of a doubles tennis partnership - it develops from both persons developing their own ability, and deepening the understanding and team work of the partnership. All reciprocal complementarity works like this. Reciprocal complementarity is true within God himself, of the relationship of each of us with God, and our relationships with each other. Within this creativity is the fertility of procreation, but so are all dimensions of creativity and growth. This course seeks to help you understand your deeper fertility at the heart of your personhood, and your ability to cooperate with others for the good of all. This will allow you to gradually understand your biological fertility within this deeper, richer understanding of the communion of persons. From this we can understand marriage and therefore, sexuality, sex and parenthood in a richer, beautiful way. This curriculum is not dumbed down. Some of the concepts dealt with might challenge and stretch you, but the modules have been tried and tested and found to really engage and lead on young persons. Please persevere in them. And if you do, you will find the self-knowledge gained helps you in all your other subjects, too. Whatever family you come from, we are confident you will understand the examples we use to reflect on the importance of love. And with love there always comes joy, so we do ask you to enjoy these modules too, by entering into them and engaging with your teacher and class. It would also really help if parents or others at home could join in, too. Every week your teacher may give you one of the activities to go back home with for discussion. That way, we all join in the journey, and hopefully all grow and enjoy it.
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love
We move, in Y10, to thinking about how sex is meant to be a means of giving myself in love. For sex to be meaningful and the persons to be authentic, this genuine self-giving has to be given much more importance than simply learning about its physical and biological dimensions. Y10 starts, then, with understanding the importance of self-reflection: as Karl Jung said, “who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens”. By honestly looking inside, I can gradually learn to govern myself through better choices, and so possess myself more. This means I am able to give myself more, because I cannot give what I don’t possess. This is true of all my personhood, including my sexuality. Knowing this helps me in my relationships, because I focus on the things that really matter. To have confidence to make that journey within, you have to trust that you are loved and already beautiful within (10a). A difficult concept to understand is that there is an objective dimension to love and a subjective one: a given-ness and a choice (10b). The given-ness offers direction; the personal choice gives movement. It is the inner journey that most reveals the objective dimension. It is worth persevering with this difficult concept as it really does open up an understanding of true growth and freedom. Actually making the journey within requires stillness and a focus on being and on love; panic and over-busy-ness work against this (10c). Within personhood we discover masculinity or femininity, at the heart of which is the complementary dynamic of loving so as to be loved more, and being loved so as to love more (10d). Sex should express this dynamic within a communion of persons, and so complement every other aspect of the relationship (10e). For sexuality to fully be a vehicle of self-gift to the other, it first has to be offered to God in chastity (10f ). This gives it its right objective dimension. Otherwise, people get very hurt. Thus, understanding one’s fertility more allows for it to be offered more authentically, resulting in deeper joy (10g). The bonds of love connected with marital love - between spouses and between parent and child - are reflected and supported, chemically, by oxytocin and vasopressin (10h). We finally look at two different dimensions of fertility. Suffering, initially, seems the opposite of fertility - a decrease rather than an increase. However, when undergone in love, it becomes a decreasing for the other, which is taken up into the greatest fertility of all (10i). The workplace shows that work reflects marriage in a central way: it is in relationship, as a communion of persons, that we are most creative (10j). We have, obviously, covered most of the course already. Much of Y11 now focuses on virtue: how to think and act best, and in accord with our nature. We have, say, the virtue of patience, when we naturally are patient in every circumstance. That doesn’t come easily! The more we understand patience, the more we will want to be patient. Every time we chose to be patient, against what our emotions are telling us, we do become more patient in ourselves. So, if we keep choosing patience, we gradually find it easier and easier to be patient. Practice makes perfect! It becomes a virtue when there is no longer any battle going on within me: my intellect, will and emotions all ‘point the same way’. As we said, this isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort! We start this year with a summary of much of what has gone on before: The Fertile Person, uniquely expressed through our sexuality (11a). Then we look at the intellectual virtues: how we seek to discern truth, not decide it, through reflecting on our sense perception and emotions, and trying to understand them ever more deeply (11b). Then we move onto the four moral - often called ‘cardinal’ - virtues. Prudence is applying well the general understanding we have to specific situations. Modules 11c & d seek to do this for various situations relevant to your year group. Next we look at justice - something Y11s normally have a great passion for (11e)! Then we reflect on temperance (11f ) and fortitude (or courage, 11g) which are focused on the connected impulses of living and growing, and of not dying or suffering. The whole curriculum then finishes with a deepened revisit of the beauty and dignity of the ability to share in the creation of a new human person (11h); a reflection on our role as stewards in passing on, to the next generation, the gift of creation, enhanced by our efforts (11i); and lastly, the amazing fertility of forgiveness, which allows the other person to get up and try again - without which, all the theory in the world is useless because we all fail so often (11j). Enjoy the course - and, together, change the world through your fertile hearts and minds!
Glossary Person A rational being for whom relationship is central to their fulfilment and happiness. This is a richer understanding than ‘individual’, which can mean a thinking being whose fulfilment is found primarily in themselves. Fertility The capacity to cooperate in growth. We are not Creators, but we are not sterile either: we can cooperate in our own growth, the growth of the other and the relationship between us. We tend to think in terms of babies when we hear the word fertile, but you can have fertile crops or a fertile imagination or intellect, etc. Understanding fertility in this broader sense helps us understand that it is as a person that you are fertile, not primarily as a gender: every person is called to be fertile in this sense and every person can be. It is through communion with God and each other, in love, that we are most fertile. Freedom The ability to readily act in complete accord with my true nature - in harmony with who I truly am. True human freedom always seeks truth and love. The false understanding of freedom is to be able to do what I like. Tolerance Respect for the other’s true freedom. (So, if we misunderstand freedom, we will misunderstand tolerance as well.) Nature The given-ness of something, of who I am. Justice Acting in accord with the nature of things. Joy The deepest experience of being alive, growing, and being in life-giving relationship; of being and living in accord with who I truly am. Initiator The one who takes a lead in a relationship of love: not a controller or someone who dominates, but one who initiates out of love for the other. In turn, the initiator receives from the receiver & responder. Receiver & Responder The one who first receives from the initiator in a communion of love, and loves in return by accepting the love offered and responding to it. In the Bible, this receiving of love is often called obedience or submission, but in a respectful way that is in no way demeaning, and is fulfilled in the response - often an initiating in itself - being then received by the initiator, and responded to, etc. - resulting in a life-giving relationship of mutual submission and respect. Reciprocal Complementarity This is the relationship of love between initiator and receiver & responder, where both persons benefit from the other and their genuine differences enrich each other. It helps us see how right order in relationship does not mean domination, but rather can be mutually beneficial. It can be seen that the three above definitions are interconnected. This relationship is primarily between persons, but can also be between things - such as reason and emotions. Appropriate Vulnerability Relationship and intimacy require a certain vulnerability on behalf of both persons. Especially as we are growing, we can tend towards too little vulnerability or too much. Appropriate vulnerability is the ability to allow one’s relationships to grow steadily and with appropriate boundaries, that benefit both persons.
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love
Year 10 Modules a-j
Contents: Year 10 Year 10 deals most with human sexuality, beginning with the importance of trusting in one’s own beauty. It explores the integration of the objective and subjective dimensions of life and love: reality and feelings. This requires thoughtfulness, stillness and patience. We then see the beauty of complementarity between masculinity and femininity. This helps us see authentic sex as expressing a communion of love. We truly own our sexuality by offering it to God, in chastity. Adolescence is an important time for getting in touch with the joy of fertility, in every dimension, and learning how our biology and our hormones affect us. Finally, we look at the very important issue of the fertility of suffering, and then at how to be fertile within society. Module 10a: You’re beautiful! To appreciate that when we understand our true beauty, we cooperate with it and become more beautiful. When we panic into settling for second best, we sell ourselves short and tarnish our beauty. Module 10b: Growing up: objective and subjective love To understand the difference between the truth of love and the movement of love, and why they need to be integrated into true personal love. Module 10c: Being and Stillness; Personhood and Panic Knowing God loves me dispels fear and allows me to gradually, fully discover who I am, what is going on inside me, and how that can be fully integrated - so that I can become a happy, relational, fertile person. Module 10d: Equality and Complementarity To be clear that God created male and female equal in dignity. To understand complementarity specifically in relation to male and female. To begin to think through what makes up this complementarity. Module 10e: Sex as Expressing a Communion of Love To more deeply understand the intimate link between the communion of love and fertility, which is uniquely reflected in marriage and sexual union. Module 10f: Sexuality and Relationship with God To understand that we are called first to enter into communion with God, within his communion of love, and how this then opens us up to deeper communion with each other, and opens us up to greater responsibility. Module 10g: The Joy of Fertility To realise that the whole process of discovering one’s fertility, understanding and owning it, and offering it appropriately, makes up one of the greatest joys of life. To be more aware of what can help or hinder this process. Module 10h: Sexual bonding To understand something of our complementary biology and the hormones that are connected with sexual activity and how they affect women and men, so that we can make wiser choices. Module 10i: Fertility of Suffering To reflect on how the brokenness of life does not diminish the truth of the human calling and, through the Cross, can even be at the heart of even deeper growth. Module 10j: Social fertility To apply what we have learnt about the pattern of fertility - making a difference, growing and helping others to grow - to our role in society.
Sexuality and Relationship with God
Learning Objective To understand that we are called first to enter into communion with God, within his communion of love, and how this then opens us up to deeper communion with each other, and opens us up to greater responsibility. Step 1 We all like receiving gifts! But what can we sometimes forget to do when we’ve received one? 1. We can forget to thank the person who gave it. 2. We can get so excited about the gift that we forget to read the instructions so as to understand how it works and just use it and see what happens. Why is the first response wrong?
“To give your body to another person symbolises the total gift of yourself to that person.” Pope John Paul II.
Regarding the second; when you get, say, a mobile phone, you start using it straight away, but find out later that you’ve been using it a bit wrongly, or just weren’t getting the most out of it. Both of these are true about God and the gifts he gives us. Often the more precious the gift, the more fragile it is, and so it needs extra care. And it is even more important to give thanks to God for it and allow him to teach us how best to use it. This is true, most of all, of the gifts of life and fertility. All religions make a special point of marking the gift of new life: showing gratitude for the gift by offering it back to God. The Jewish religion started the tradition of doing this with all things - of offering the best of the crop back to God, in thanksgiving. When we offer our life back to God, we are not doing it in the sense of saying “We don’t want this. You have it back!” It is more like when someone buys us a box of chocolates, and we open them and offer them one, or someone buys you a game and you invite them to play on it, or join you. It is an appreciation of the relationship and the gift. Activity 1: Take the title ‘Gratitude’. Spend some time making a long list of all the things in your life for which you are grateful. Perhaps start with life itself. (Don’t forget all those things you might take for granted e.g. sight, school, food! Etc.) Step 2 What is true of life is also true of sexuality. To get the most out of it we need to first offer it back to God, and then get to understand it in cooperation with him getting the best results by following the maker’s instructions. Chastity is primarily offering our sexuality back to God, before anything else. Like most things, to get the most out of it, we need to be patient, attentive and willing to learn. However, this patience and sensitivity are also central to using our sexuality in the right way, because at its heart it is a means of communicating self-gift within a communion of persons, and that requires respect, sensitivity, and a sense of the dignity, beauty and holiness of the other.
Key Word Chastity: – A virtue. Purity in heart. The conscious practice to not engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage.
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love
Are we grateful for precious gifts?
Almost without exception this chastity will be difficult for us. Our animal nature is geared towards procreation. Especially when we are younger, we are tempted to masturbation - as an experiment, or much worse, through simply choosing to use our sexuality for our own pleasure. We have many chemical, emotional and cultural pressures to reduce sex to the physical or emotional. This is so true that often people who, in other areas of life would not be strongly tempted to use others for their own end, are tempted to do this with regard to sex. And even to obscure this by claiming it is love. We can often feel that everyone else is using sex just for pleasure and that I am missing out by holding on to its deeper meaning. Chastity and consent go hand in hand, because chastity is linked to appreciating the gift of our sexuality from God, and therefore leads to maturity in appropriately giving that gift to another. Put another way, living by God’s truth means having God’s consent to our actions. A key reason why it is against the law to engage in sexual activity under 16, or particularly with someone under 16 (UK: Sexual Offences Act 2003), is that we need a level of maturity to give informed consent: information is not sufficient - we need to have gained a certain level of wisdom or prudence. Activity 2: Take the title ‘Would you share?’ Then, under it on the left put ‘share with anyone’ and on the right ‘share with no-one’. Then, think of various things and who you would share them with, especially thinking of friends and strangers etc. (e.g. putting, ‘food’ midway between ‘anyone’ and ‘no-one’ if you would share with someone who was hungry, but not just anyone, or putting ‘my toothbrush’ on the far right because you wouldn’t share it with anyone). From this you will quickly identify there are things that you would only be prepared to share under specific circumstances. Might the same be said for something as special as sexual intercourse?
Suggested Activities 1. Chastity isn’t just a virtue practised before marriage. It will have to be practised throughout life. Can you think of examples when a married couple will practise chastity even within their marriage? 2. Summarise in 4 sentences what you think are the main points of this lesson. Write out and revise. 3. Play devil’s advocate. With a partner write out a script between two opposing characters that explores the different arguments about chastity. 4. “I do not yet know whom I shall marry. But I do not want to betray or let down my future wife/ husband today”. Evaluate this statement using more than one point of view and come to your own conclusion. 5. How does the wisdom behind the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003 link with God’s commands and with chastity?
The more precious something is, the more discerning we are in sharing it. Activity 3: Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOKlBs9Tdjc (Jason Evert: Why Chastity?) (5:27). Then go back through clip and find 5 positive reasons to practise chastity.
Summary We can easily forget the giver, the more amazing the gift, and lose sight of how best to use it. This is particularly true of God, life and sexuality. The gift of chastity comes from offering the gift of sexuality to God and it frees us to relate as persons, and to truly use our sexuality as something beautiful, personal and self-giving. 21
Year 11 Modules a-j
Contents: Year 11 Much of Year 11 focuses on virtue - particularly on the seven virtues that Greek philosophy and Christian theology have called us to, for 2,500 years. We begin with a summary of what it means to be a fertile person personally sharing in God’s creativity. Then we look at the importance of discerning, not deciding, truth in our growth. This leads us to explore prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. We finish the whole curriculum with three important modules on: the unity of marriage, sex and family; the importance of being stewards of the planet for future generations; and the fertility of mercy - without which we are all diminished, because we all have done wrong. Module 11a: The Fertile Person and Sexuality To recap on what it means to be a fertile person, and to understand my ‘fertility’ and sexuality in the context of sharing in the creative power of God. Module 11b: The Intellectual Virtues To know how to think. To apply right-thinking skills so as to arrive at truth. Module 11c: Prudence Part 1 To know what is meant by ‘prudence’ as a virtue. To evaluate its usefulness in helping us to grow. To know what obstacles can prevent us from making prudent decisions. Module 11d: Prudence Part 2 To deepen our understanding of the virtue of prudence, by looking at real life situations and dilemmas. Module 11e: Justice To know what is meant by the virtue ‘justice’, and how to apply it responsibly in the context of relationships. Module 11f: Temperance To understand what the virtue of temperance is, and how it is linked to happiness and true growth. Module 11g: Courage or Fortitude To understand what the virtue of courage or fortitude is, and how it is important in standing up to adversity and to others seeking to make me into something I am not. Module 11h: The Gift of Human Life To understand more the integration of love, life and joy, particularly in reference to cooperating in the gift of human life. It is this integration that enables us to grow as persons, not simply as individuals. Module 11i: Stewards of Our Future To understand that to be a person includes thinking in terms of our future, to understand ourselves as stewards for those who follow us, to be a co-operator: this affects all our morality - how we treat ourselves, others and the planet. Module 11j: Forgiveness To understand more the centrality of forgiveness in any human relationship: the fertility of mercy.
The Intellectual Virtues
Learning Objectives To know how to think. To apply right-thinking skills to arrive at truth.
“The educated intellect is disposed toward attaining truth.”
Discernment – coming to an understanding of what is true. Individualism – making decisions based on what I think is right for me. Step 1 Imagine you see the most perfect pair of trainers/new phone while out shopping with your friends. How do you react? You are attracted to this potential purchase. However, it is very expensive and you don’t really need it. And you only have enough money to pay for half the cost of it. But, you do want them. It would mean blowing all your savings on them and asking for the rest of the money from family, but it would be so cool. It’s not fair to ask mum or dad for more money but, things have been a bit unfair on you recently. The more you think about it, the more you realise that maybe this purchase is within your reach after all…. Can you work out what has happened? How did you move from, ‘no, I can’t afford them’ to, ‘Yes I can’? What about this: A dog sees some meat. His impulse is to take it - unless he has been carefully and very strongly trained not to. Either way, he follows his instinct - to eat meat, or to obey the ‘head of the pack’. You will never see a dog pondering about whether to leave the meat till later. Step 2: Humans have choices
When you were younger you might have reacted a bit like that dog when you saw chocolate, but there’s no freedom in following instincts. As you grow older, you learn about sharing, about diet and about self-control - your intellect helps you see factors that aren’t immediately visible, but are no less real. You gain greater freedom when you apply reason to your impulses. So, you won’t always buy and eat chocolate every time you feel a bit peckish. Your informed intellect tells you that this is not good for you. This is what makes humans unique on earth. When I apply reason to my impulses I am thinking. When I allow my impulses to come up with false arguments I am rationalising. Step 3 Head or heart? People often say “should I follow my head or my heart”. However, this question doesn’t actually make sense: we wouldn’t think of saying, “shall I be rational or irrational today?” The head gives direction; then the heart gives movement. Intellect is vital in helping us understand ourselves and the rest of reality. Without it we cannot possibly hope to relate well to God, to others or to creation. Intellect helps us understand truth - what is real. It allows you to truly become a person. We wouldn’t spend so long at school if intellect wasn’t so important! 34
A Fertile Heart | Receiving & Giving Creative Love
A false tension.
A truth about each of us is that we tend to want to believe that “I can decide what’s best for me”. The idea of having to apply reason to my impulses (this is also called discernment) is challenging. It is especially challenging having someone else telling me what’s best for me! Activity 1: Using the downloadable worksheet from 10b - on ‘subjective and objective love’ - apply this process to today’s scenarios. When a teacher tries to explain how glaciers or crystals are formed, if you don’t understand, then you automatically assume it’s you that isn’t getting it and that you need to listen again. But if a teacher explains how we are formed and how we should behave and we don’t get it, then it is so easy to decide they don’t know what they are talking about. Of course that teacher could be wrong, but it is important to be aware of something much deeper going on inside us - that we don’t want them to be right. This is at the heart of individualism – wanting to decide what is true, because of thinking that having my way makes me happy. Watch https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=LZVRl0D2DPU Individualism: Is it a good or bad thing? (2:31). Personalism sees our uniqueness, but also our fulfilment being in relationship not in self.
“Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her, she is readily found.” Wis. 6:12.
Suggested Activities 1. When it comes to making decisions about things, are you ruled by your heart or your head? Why? Give an example. 2. Think of a time when someone in authority made a decision for you about something. In retrospect, was the decision they made on your behalf, the right one for you? Would your choice have been better?
Trust should be rational: it is rational to trust in God
Joy takes effort; pleasure often doesn’t. And so we are often tempted to ignore the truth that joy is better than pleasure. This is made harder for us by the idea that if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. We don’t actually believe that in most of life, but we are told to believe it regarding God and life. If we are just physical beings, simply random, colliding particles, how can anything our brain tells us be trusted? Activity 2: Discuss whether rationally discerning God’s existence is a weakness or a strength. Does it make me more rational or less? How will ‘deciding’ God’s existence by emotion affect a person’s rationality in general?
Summary Our ability to think is central to being a person. The process of thinking correctly is hugely important to truly growing as a person. In the way, is the strength of our emotions tempting us to rationalise. Central to right thinking is co-operation with God - we cannot truly gain wisdom without thinking about him and learning from him: but working against this, there is a deep desire in us for what I think or feel to be true instead. The virtues of Intelligence, Wisdom and Understanding grow when we seek his truth.
3. Why didn’t you check this morning that your bus driver had passed his test and had good eyesight before you got on his bus? Why won’t you check that the water from the kitchen tap is alright to drink? 4. Design a screen shot of a 100 word text message of a summary of today’s lesson for a friend who was absent. 5. ‘Our ability to reason is more important than our emotions.’ Evaluate this statement showing you have considered more than one point of view. Give your own concluding thoughts to sum up.
A Fertile Heart Receiving & Giving Creative Love
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