A Friendly Guide to Matthew’s Gospel by Dorothy A. Lee. (2013). Publisher: Garratt Publishing. ISBN: 9781921946332
Resources for Religious Education
The intention of these friendly guides, according to the publishers, is to “provide easily accessible information on themes fundamental to understanding the Catholic faith.” One can find nothing more fundamental to the Catholic faith than the Gospels and Dorothy Lee has provided a text that is both accessible and informative.
We are invited to explore how the Gospel of Matthew was written and by whom, in a concise first chapter. After offering some contextual chapters that explore broad themes and understandings of Jesus, his disciples, an outline of the general structure of the Gospel and how Matthew approaches the writing of his story of Jesus, Lee expands upon these themes while exploring Matthew’s approach.
The Guide is divided into chapters that cover:
- Jesus’ birth and his preparation for ministry
- Jesus’ ministry expressed in word and deed
- Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem
- Jesus’ days in Jerusalem before his death and resurrection
- Jesus’ death and resurrection
In each of these chapters Lee breaks open key texts with sensitivity and expertise, tapping into the message of God’s kingdom. The commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and Lord’s Prayer, can be reflected best in Lee’s words, “Once our hearts are right before God, everything else falls into place.”
The different genre within this Gospel is also addressed with succinct clarity that makes understanding the Gospel more attainable. The parables, the miracles and the feeding stories are all presented in such a way that we are left with no doubt how they fit into the story and present the message of Jesus. We find with the various narratives, that we are led reflectively into the text and appreciate the dynamic at work, that these actions and events in God’s hands are “transformed to become the means of salvation.”
This is an excellent book for the teacher or catechist who wants a quick resource that gives a good quality guide to the Gospel of Matthew while offering some sound scriptural scholarship that will support many aspects of the religious education program. It is attractive and has relevant images that assist the text. It is easy to read and invites one to keep reading.
We Pray as One 2013 – Daily Liturgical Prayer compiled by Julie Moran, John Fitz-Herbert, Tom Elich. (2012). Publisher: Liturgy Brisbane. ISSN: 1833-1157
For those who are interested in praying with their students using the rhythm of the Prayer of the Church (Liturgy of the Hours), this is a wonderful resource. The pattern is the same throughout, following the form of the Prayer of the Church. Having been written in Australia for the Australian and New Zealand context, the resource makes strong connections with the experience of the Church in the southern hemisphere. The resource links the seasons of nature with the liturgical year of the Church, providing a rhythm that connects with the experience of students. In many ways this resource as it stands, would best suit students who can read with a degree of proficiency, probably from year three and above.
The first 17 pages provide valuable instruction on how to use the resource. On page four we learn that this resource is for children, adolescents and parish groups to pray liturgically, communally and seasonally.
All aspects of this form of liturgical prayer are clearly explained with the relevant actions indicated (standing or sitting). One element that offers a great resource for use outside of this prayer time, is the provision of the photocopiable Psalter. This is a marvelous way of using the psalms and canticles of our Christian tradition as familiar and regular aspects of our life of prayer and not only when praying the Liturgy of the Hours.
The roles for liturgical prayer are always clearly defined and this resource is no different. Each role is outlined and there are explanations that are accessible to the students should they be reading this material, which is highly likely since this resource is intended to develop student-led prayer. There are also a number of student pages that presume students will explore the meaning and purpose of prayer in the life of the Christian. Students are invited to complete activities that tap into their understanding of prayer and the liturgical life of the Church. All of these student pages are relevant and enhance the resource, but are not essential to the practice.
The value of this Prayer of the Church is that it intensifies the sense of ritual and purpose for young people, connecting them through a traditional and liturgical form, with the whole Church at prayer.
Many Roads One Journey by Andrew Chin and Friends. (2007). Music Book ISBN: 9780975805053, Compact Disc Code: 9780001805057.
This selection of music provided by the prolific Andrew Chin, is another fantastic resource for the primary classroom, albeit an oldie from 2007. It brings together a variety of religious songs that well suit the Asian-Pacific region. Chin draws heavily upon his “friends” from the Pacific region to provide the backing vocals and solo performances. There are 21 religious songs as well as an arrangement of 12 responses for a children’s Mass called Mass of echoing praise.
Most of Chin’s songs are scriptural in essence using direct quotes from the text where possible and key messages related to the theme of journey and care for others on the journey. Interspersed throughout the CD are a number of very reflective songs that lend themselves to a variety of uses such as reconciliation and prayer.
The music is rhythmic and engaging, easy to remember and quickly learn. The general theme throughout the CD is that of journey as the title suggests, however every so often Chin has recorded a gem such as May God be in my heart, a slight variation on the prayer used in the Mass before listening to the Gospel. This reflective song, with solo performances from children, is a beautiful and easily sung alternative for morning prayer that would be great for a class of any age.
There are a few contemporary style tunes offered such as, Many roads one journey as well as some of the old favourites such as If I were a butterfly. The responses to the Mass of echoing praise are sung in an echo style. The tune is very easy to learn and provides an easily learned tune for leaders of Children’s Liturgy of the Word. One cautionary note is that the responses for this Mass are from the pre 2011 translation of the Roman missal and as such not all the responses are correct. However some, such as the Our Father and those not dependent upon the changed wording, are still able to be used successfully.
This particular CD of Chin’s may be familiar to many of you and is worth revisiting to include songs in the religious education program and spread the Good News.