Suit Up: Vocations in the Church: Ordained and Consecrated Life

The goal of this night is to provide middle school youth with a clear understanding and appreciation of the ordained and consecrated life. They will learn about the path to ordination and consecration and begin to pray about the vocation that God may be calling them toward in their lives.

 

This Edge Night will introduce the youth to the vocations of ordained and consecrated life. Many young people have misconceptions about these vocations, and this night addresses those misconceptions and allows the youth to see their priests and religious brothers and sisters in a very real way. The Gather begins with a fun game where middle school youth race to put on the correct uniform for various professions. The Proclaim discusses the vocation to ordained and consecrated life, followed by an opportunity for an ordained man or consecrated religious to share with the youth the joys of his or her service to the Church. After a brief small group discussion to begin the Break, the youth will have a unique opportunity to write down ways they can live out the evangelical counsels now. The Edge Night will close by praying for the local seminarians.

Make sure you ask your parish clergy to be present for the Edge Night. It would also be great to invite some local religious brothers and sisters. If possible, invite one of them to share a personal testimony about their vocation. Be sure to promote prayer for vocations among your Core Team prior to the night as well, and advertise

Building Blocks: Hierarchy and Magisterium

The goal of this Edge Night is to teach the middle school youth the structure of the Church’s hierarchy and define the roles of the pope, bishops, priests, and laity. This night also helps the youth understand the virtue of obedience to the Church.

For hundreds of years, the Church was a voice of authority in the world. It spoke truth into world events and defined how people ought to live. In more recent years, the Church has become less of an authority in the areas of faith and morals. This trend is not because the Church is irrelevant, but because cultures have decided that the authority of truth is not directed from Christ, but from personal beliefs. As we move forward in studying the Church, it is important that the message of Christ, who is Truth himself, is not lost. It is the Catholic Church that Christ gave the authority to echo this truth.

This Edge Night begins with prayer and a small group time of playing an oversized game of Jenga©. The Proclaim will help the youth understand the different roles in the hierarchy of the Church and why obedience and authority is important in the Church. After a time of small group discussion, the youth will have a chance to write a letter to  the pope (or local bishop) thanking him for his service. The Edge Night will end by praying one decade of the Rosary for the protection of the Church.

When preparing the teaching for this session, take some time to create a few visual aids. The topic for this night can quickly become a list of facts. Without engaging the youth in the teaching they will become disinterested and make the teaching harder. Use the examples in the teaching as a guide. Adapt them to fit the youth or change them to be more effective.

Got A Question?: Questions About the Catholic Church

The goal of this night is to give a brief summary of the semester and give the teens an opportunity to ask some questions about the things that they learned. It is also an opportunity to emphasize the importance of continuing to ask questions and learn about the Church. The night will end with an activity that will guide them through using resources such as the YouCat, the Catechism and the Scriptures in finding answers to questions.

The process of learning about the Church is ongoing and should continue for the rest of our lives. Life is a continuous journey of faith, and we should always try to expand our knowledge of the Catholic Church by asking questions and seeking answers. There is no end to what can be known about God and our faith. We must continue to have open, teachable hearts to the truth and beauty that is contained within the Church.

This night is designed to be more informal than other nights and is a time to recap what has been learned over the semester and for the teens to ask questions. It will begin in small groups with a simple game of 20 questions and then move into a brief proclamation about the importance to continue to learn about the Church and ask questions. There will then be a time period for questions and answers about the Church and what they have learned that maybe they don’t quite understand. After the Q&A the teens will be given time to learn how to do some research on their own using the YouCat, the Catechism, and the Scriptures. The night will end with a final recap of the semester and praying of the Act of Faith.

Make sure that the leader who is going to lead the closing prayer is prepared to do a summary of the semester before they close in prayer.

Destination Heaven: Christ Established the Church

The goal of this night is to bring middle school youth to a greater understanding that Christ gave us the Church as a gift and a way to grow closer to him in holiness and to ultimately get to heaven.

Jesus established the Church as our way to heaven, our connection to Him and one another. By being in the Church, we are in communion with one another and grow in our love of Jesus Christ and receive the tools to grow in holiness, most specifically by giving us the sacraments. Jesus established the Catholic Church and assured us the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. For this reason, we know the Holy Spirit leads the Church and the Church is holy.

This Edge Night begins the semester on the Church. The goal of the night is to show the middle school youth that Jesus established the Church and to help them understand the importance of the Church. The Edge Night begins by having the teens break into their small groups and take turns going through an obstacle course. Playing on a theme of following the right way and not getting lost, the game will transition into the teaching on the Church being established to help us find our way to heaven. The Break will give the teens a chance to discuss the teaching in small groups, and the night will end in a time of Eucharistic Adoration as a church community asking for deeper appreciation for the gift of the Church.

So You Think You’re Catholic?: Why Be Catholic?

The goal of the Edge night is to help middle school youth understand the beauty of Catholicism and what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church. Middle school youth will learn about some important aspects of Catholicism and will be able to state their own thoughts on why they love being Catholic.

This Edge Night is designed to challenge the middle school youth to stop and reflect on why they are Catholic and what it means to them.  The Edge Night begins with the middle school youth being separated into small groups as they enter.  After everyone is welcomed the youth minister will lead a few rounds of “Catholic Trivia,” challenging small groups to answer basic questions about the Catholic faith. The Proclaim features a talk by a Core Member and includes a personal witness about what he or she loves about being Catholic.  The middle school youth will have a short time for small group discussion during the Break as well as a time for journaling asking God to help them understand their faith. The night concludes with the youth professing our Catholic faith together by reciting the Nicene Creed.

This is a good night to bring in a few high school students for a witness on why they are Catholic. Before the night, meet with these students and have them give their witness talks about why they are Catholic and how being Catholic influences their lives.

United Way: Catholics and Other Christians

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand the relationship between Catholics and other Christians, and Christ’s desire for all to be united as one.

 

Jesus Christ desired all along that his Church be one. Even though there is division in the Christian Church, we are called to unity. We have confidence in the Holy Spirit who has been leading the Catholic Church from the beginning to continue to guide and protect, giving us the one, true faith. Still, we cannot neglect other followers of Christ and must pray for them and work together for the salvation of the world.

This Edge Night will introduce the topic of Catholics and other Christians with a small group competition to build bridges. During the Proclaim, the middle school youth will be affirmed in their Catholic faith and encouraged to find unity with other Christians. In small groups they will discuss ways to live out ecumenism. Finally the Send will briefly explain the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and present the octave of prayer, challenging the youth to finish it on their own before the next Edge Night.

Hurry Up and Wait: A Single Person's Vocation

The goal of this Edge Night is make the middle school youth aware of the role of the single person in the life of the Church – especially in regard to his/her vocation.

What is one’s vocation in life? In this sense, we are not referring to one’s job or occupation. Rather, vocation, for us as Catholics, refers to the journey we are on in pursuit of holiness. Each of us is called to holiness – this is not reserved just for those who are married or serve as a priest or nun. This journey to holiness is the “universal vocation.” Our secondary vocation is the one people refer to the most – meaning that job we tell people that we “do for a living.” However, the one that many of us spend a lot of time thinking about is “when I grow up, am I going to be married or will God call me to be a priest or religious?” This is our primary vocation – when we lay down our lives for the good of another (husband for his wife, wife for her husband, priest for the congregation). While there is still debate as to whether or not being single is a “vocation,” the Church, in her wisdom, encourages those who are single not to simply sit around and wait, but rather to actively participate in the life of the Church, to grow in virtue, and to pray/discern if God is calling him or her to marriage or religious life. The “single years” are an important part of one’s formation – he or she learns to love God and to serve others – so that whether called to marriage or religious life, he or she is ready to make a life-long commitment of dying to self. Much like an Olympic athlete who trains rigorously for years for the opportunity to compete in the games, we too must train ourselves during our single years in prayer, discernment, and service so we are ready to respond “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

The night will begin with a fun look at how we can sometimes waste time on doing nothing when we feel like we are “waiting” for the next big thing in our lives. This is a great opportunity to add small service projects into the Edge Night. There is a video teaching that goes along with this Edge Night (found on Edge DVD Support 10) – if you are not able to use it, there are some talking points available in the Proclaim section. Use the small group time to help the youth understand the importance of their decisions today. Finally, the youth will be challenged to examine those ways in which they are distracted from hearing God’s voice and to respond to God’s call that He is placing on their hearts.

For the Gather portion of the night, you may want to consider the “wait tables” to be small service projects that the youth can accomplish in a short amount of time. For instance, writing a card/letter to a soldier or putting together a care package for those either in the hospital or a facility for the elderly. Think about groups that may not receive a lot of attention throughout the year to help the youth to understand how big of a need there is for them to serve (orphanage; retired priests/ nuns/religious; children/youth who are sick; etc.).

Be sure to also give the parents a one week notice if you want the youth to bring supplies for the service projects: travel sized shampoo bottles, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

To the Nations: Evangelization

The goal of this Edge Night is to show the Church’s mission to evangelize and how each member of the Church is called to live out this same mission.

The Catholic Church has a mission and obligation to evangelize. Evangelization is to proclaim Christ and His Gospel by word and testimony of life. Not only are the clergy and faith leaders called to proclaim Christ, but also each baptized person is given the role of a prophet to fulfill this call. This mandate was given straight from Jesus to his Apostles and to us today.

The night will begin with an icebreaker game that will be a fun way to get the kids up and moving around. The night will move from the ice breaker to the teaching. After the teaching the middle school youth will have an opportunity to discuss the teaching in small groups. Also in small groups they will brainstorm ways to evangelize using social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. After, the night will transition from small groups into a short skit that will show good and bad ways to evangelize. The night will end with a meditation and a challenge to “go out to the nations” and evangelize with the example of the Light of the World.

You will need to blow up several balloons depending on the number of youth you have attending. You will be writing different words on the balloons. On red balloons write the word “Christ”, on the blue balloons write the word “Gospel”, on the yellow balloons write the word “truth”, etc. (See the Gather game “Up in the Air”)

“Why Be Catholic”

Different Middle Schoolers share why they’re Catholic and what it means to be Catholic.

Dos and Don’ts of Evangelization

This video is a great tool on how to teach teens how to reach out to their peers. A funny, comical, and relatable video that will help ease their fears of reaching out to their friends and inviting them to church.

Mission: Possible: Pentecost/Discipleship

The goal of this Edge Night is to introduce the middle school youth to the significance of Pentecost. We will help communicate how the Holy Spirit leads us and gives us life, and inspires us to do the work of the Church here in the world.

This Edge Night focuses on the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church. Present since the beginning of time with the Father and the Son, The Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost and remains with us all today. Pentecost occurred ten days after the Ascension of our Lord and is considered the birthday of the Catholic Church. On that day, the disciples took up the mission of the Church to make disciples of all nations. The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church and also guides us as disciples of Christ continuing the mission of the Church.

Tonight, the middle school youth are also on a mission. They will get a chance to compete in a particular mission and represent their small group in a larger mission. Through the Proclaim, the youth will be challenged to be disciples of Jesus and to live with a “spirit of power, love and self-control.” Small groups will focus on getting ready for the mission and the Closing Prayer will help empower them to go forth and begin their mission.

Steady Shelter: The Four Marks of the Church

The goal of this Edge Night is to allow the middle school youth to grow in their knowledge of the unique characteristics of the Catholic Church, which are called the four marks of the Church. We profess our belief in the four marks every time we profess the Creed, “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” These defining characteristics form a foundation for the Catholic Church.

The topic of this night is the four marks of the Catholic Church as mentioned in the Creed: “We believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” These four marks indicate the Church’s essential features and the mission that she carries out as given by Christ. The Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic not by her own power, but because the Church was founded by the divine person of Jesus Christ.

The theme of the night is Foundation – looking at the Four Marks and how they form the foundation for the Catholic Church. The night will begin with the game of Four Corners, which is a great way for the middle school youth to get out some energy and also meet new people. Then the night will move from this high-energy game into upbeat music; see the Media Suggestions or feel free to use any Christian music. This will transition into the Proclaim talk, which will dive into the four marks of the Church, beginning first with Christ and ending with our role as Catholics in the Church. From that point the teens will break into small groups for discussion and activities that emphasizes the main points of the talk. The night will end with an invitation to prayer and a commitment to put our lives on the foundation of the Church.

The Final Four: Last Things

The goal of this night is to grow in our understanding of the “last things” (death, purgatory, heaven and hell), so we understand what everlasting life means. People have a lot of misconceptions about death, heaven, hell, and purgatory; by the end of this night the misconceptions will be discussed and clarified. Ultimately, the goal is to empower each middle school youth to desire heaven more at the end of this night.

The four last things are death, purgatory, hell and heaven. Christians proclaim in the Creed that, “We believe in Life Everlasting” and everlasting life includes two options: heaven and hell. After death a person will either spend eternity in heaven or hell. Heaven is for those who die in the friendship of God and have been completely purified. Hell is for those people who have rejected God and die with mortal sin on their souls. There is Catholic belief in purgatory, which is a place of final purification. Purgatory is for those who die in God’s friendship but have not yet been perfectly purified.

This night will begin with a video that shows the common opinions that people hold on heaven and hell. The video will be a fun way to clarify many misconceptions that people have. The room will be divided into four for the night; death, hell, purgatory, and heaven. The Proclaim will be given in each area of the room that coincides with that portion of the talk. At the end of the rotating talk the middle school youth will go to small group to discuss the four last things. After a time of small group questions, there will be an activity that the each group will work on and then present to the larger group. After the large group sharing, the Send will move into a quieter, more reflective time. The youth minister will read a story on a “Teen’s View of Heaven,” leading into Adoration. The night will wrap up after Adoration.

The House That Christ Built: The Church – Established by Christ

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the youth understand the Catholic Church is built upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit to lead the faithful to salvation.

Welcome to the semester on the Church. Throughout this semester, the themes will help the middle school youth better understand various aspects of Catholicism. As a Core Team, take some time to reflect and pray about how this semester will unfold for you and the middle school youth. Have a Catechism of the Catholic Church available.

The Gospels reveal that Christ came to establish His church here on earth. In Matthew 4:17, Christ says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” During His public ministry, Christ instituted the sacraments, called the twelve apostles, taught the faithful, cared for those in need, and gave His very life for the salvation of all. Christ then commissioned the twelve to go and make disciples of all nations, giving them authority to teach, govern and sanctify.  The Catholic Church is built upon the firm foundation of Christ’s life, teachings, miracles and sacrifice and He tells us, “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” As the Psalmist writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Tonight we are talking about foundations. We are discussing that the foundation of the Catholic Church is firmly built upon Jesus Christ and we want to set a solid foundation for the upcoming semester. The youth will get a chance to build a house of cards and see how difficult it is when the foundation is shaky. The Proclaim will further illustrate the need to build our faith on the solid rock of the Church and why we need the Church. Finally, the youth will have an opportunity to see how God uses them to bring light to the world.

Preaching and Walking: Evangelization

The goal of this night is to challenge the middle school youth that evangelization begins with the way we live our lives. People see and learn about the love of God by the way we behave and treat others.

The Catholic Church, by her nature, is evangelistic. Jesus taught and instructed the apostles and disciples to go into the world and “preach the Good News.” Through our Baptism, we are called into the mission of the Church: to evangelize the world. Although we may get caught up in the tragedies of today, we must live and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As St. Francis said, we evangelize others by the way we live our lives. Often middle school youth struggle to understand that their actions affect other people and affects their witness of faith.

St. Francis should make an appearance for this Edge Night to talk to the youth about living out the faith. The environment, icebreaker, and opening activity will all focus the youth’s attention on their “walk,” or the way they live their lives. A Core Member dressed as St. Francis of Assisi will do the Proclaim and share about the life of St. Francis as well as a challenge to live a life of holiness.

Truth of the Matter: Magisterium of the Catholic Church

The goal of this Edge Night is to teach the middle school youth about the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as the office that safeguards the truth and is the teaches and instructs the faithful.

CORE PREPARATION

We always recommend full preparation for any Edge Night. This night, however, will require you to be ready to answer questions about some of our beliefs as Catholic Christians. Read through the “Fact or Opinion” activity (Handout A on page 74) and be prepared to answer questions that may arise. Read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other resources (100 Things Every Catholic Teen Should Know from Life Teen) to better prepare for this session.

The word Magisterium refers to the teaching authority of the Church. The Magisterium is made up of the pope and the bishops who are in communion with the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. The role of the Magisterium is to teach or interpret the truths of the faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him” (100). The Magisterium teaches us in matters of faith and morals, as well as guides us in the interpretation of Scripture. We cannot ignore the Magisterium because their authority comes from Jesus Christ.

Begin this night with a fun icebreaker that involves the youth safeguarding an item from being taken. The Proclaim will introduce the Magisterium, the role of the Magisterium and the importance of looking to the Catholic Church for answers to our questions. During small group, the youth will be challenged to understand the need for a teaching authority for knowing what is truth. The Closing Prayer is from the Liturgy of the Hours. This is a universal prayer of the Church and connects us to the Liturgy and brings them into the prayer of the Catholic Church.

BEFORE THE NIGHT

Create a video to show during the Edge Night of various people, young and old, answering a few questions about where they learned a particular fact or skill. Begin by asking the person his/her favorite subject in school. Second, ask the person being interviewed where they learned the most about that particular subject or skill. Third, ask the person being interviewed, where he/she believes the one who taught him/her learned that knowledge or skill. You can follow up by asking where he/she thinks the person who taught him/her was taught, etc. Prepare and edit the film as needed.

Edgetopia: Precepts of the Catholic Church

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth learn the precepts of the Church and that they exist to show the faithful what is necessary for us to do to grow in love of God and neighbor.

This Edge night tackles a subject some typically view as “minimum requirements” to be fulfilled for someone to be considered a faithful Catholic. The precepts of the Church, although minimal in subject, show us the great work that God calls each and every one of us to participate in as Catholic Christians. The night will familiarize the youth with the five precepts, in different ways throughout the night. The church is not an exclusive “club,” so the night plays off that topic in the Gather. Be sure to keep the focus on the positive aspect of the five precepts. They are not a punishment, but are the way we can grow in our relationship with Jesus.

As a way to introduce the concept of the precepts, the youth will create a set of precepts for their own country called “Edgetopia.” This will help them see that the precepts are not a punishment and that with any group we belong to, there are requirements to remain as an active member. The teaching will introduce each precept and put them in terms with which the youth can relate. During the Break, the youth will be challenged to make the precepts relevant and to put them in their own words. The night will conclude by challenging to begin following the precepts of the Catholic Church and sign a commitment to begin living out the precepts.

Heaven and Earth: Mass/Liturgy

The goal of this Edge Night is to make the middle school youth aware of their responsibility for “full, active conscious participation” in Mass.

For many middle school youth, going to Mass is often a struggle. They live in a culture where they are constantly entertained and have very little quiet time. Mass, however, calls us to a sacred time and a time to be connected to God in full communion. We are also called to enter into Mass with “full, conscious and active participation.” After Vatican II, a document called Sacrosanctum Concilium discusses this sense of active participation: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” (14).

The activities for the Gather are to help the youth be exposed to many different terms from the Holy Mass as well as signs and symbols that they may see, hear or smell at Mass and at your parish. The Proclaim will help the youth to process the information from the Gather and prepare them for a small group discussion. The Edge Night concludes with Mass. Be sure to leave 30-45 minutes for Mass.

You will need to do quite a bit of preparation on two different activities for this Edge Night. First, you will need to prepare pictures of signs and symbols from your parish for the opening activities. Second, you will need to prepare to have Mass as your Closing Prayer.

Saintly Minute: St. Francis

This Saintly Minute is on St. Francis of Assisi. He was a very popular young man and he joined the army at a young age. He returned home because of a dream and began to preach the Gospel. He foudned the order of the Franciscans and he is the patron saint of ecologists and merchants

Saintly Minute: St. Joseph

This Saintly Minute is on St. Joseph. There is not one word of St. Joseph’s recorded in the Bible. He was the protector of both Mary and Jesus. He was the most chaste spouse of the Virgen Mary. He is the patron of the Universal Church and he is known as the “defender of virgins.”

Drag & Gary: Catholic Mass

Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two decide to exercises… Catholic Style.

Drag & Gary: Matt Maher

Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two get to hang out with Matt Maher. Matt Maher shows them one of his new songs… and Drag and Gary are suprised that he sings something other than “Your Grace is Enough.”

Vocation: Philippians 2:1-5

The middle school youth will understand the concept of “vocation.” They also will discuss the Sacraments of service and consider whether they are feeling a call to serving God and His people as a lay person or through the religious life.

The word “vocation” is derived from the Latin word vocare, meaning “to call.”  Vocation, in the Christian sense, refers to the individual calling of each person to serve God in a personal way.  As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man.  He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.  He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.  In his Son and through him he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (1)

So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel…. (2) 

As followers of Christ, we too are called to respond to God’s call by proclaiming the Good News in word and action: “All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer” (3).

Within the Catholic Church, vocation frequently is associated with service to God’s people as a consecrated religious sister or brother, or as a minister – bishop, priest or deacon – ordained through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  The Sacrament of Matrimony also is “directed toward the salvation of others” (1534), and “on their part, ‘Christian spouses are fortified and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament’” (1535).

In truth, however, Christians of all ages, whether married or single, whether lay persons or religious, are bound to live their calling or vocation through reception of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist:

They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. They confer the graces needed for the life according to the Spirit during this life as pilgrims on the march towards the homeland. (1533)