Free Lunch: Salvation and Grace

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand how we are saved and the role of grace in their lives.

This Edge Night seeks to help the middle school youth understand our salvation and the role grace plays in our life. Grace is a free, undeserved gift of God’s love to us. Salvation and grace are not something we can earn. We receive salvation through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is in Baptism that we take part in this saving mystery of our faith. We receive the sanctifying grace that reestablishes our righteousness before God. God’s grace fills our lives so that we can live a life that mirrors His great love.

This Edge Night begins with a classic game of “Bigger or Better.” In small groups the youth will trade a simple seed for another object that is bigger or better than the previous one. After a teaching on salvation and the gift of grace God gives us freely because of his love for us, the youth will discuss the role of grace in their lives and work together to write a prayer of thanksgiving to God. The Edge Night will close with the youth praying one decade of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Creative Righting: Creation and the Fall

The goal of this Edge Night is for the middle school youth to understand how creation is an expression of God’s love. The youth will also discuss humanity’s fall and our need for redemption.

The creation story in Genesis is not a science book or a history book. In fact, the Bible is not a science or history book in general. The creation story — creation of man and his subsequent fall from grace — is less about how, or even the “what, where, or when,” so much as it is about why and who. The creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 give us great insight into who God is. God is love. God did not create man because He was lonely or had some need to fill. Genesis 1 and 2 help us to understand God as creator and that He created out of love. When we look at the account of creation in the Bible, we discover a loving God who set man at the pinnacle of creation and said man is “very good.” Not only do we read about God and creation, but we also read abut man’s fall from grace – Adam and Eve’s temptation by the serpent to become like gods so as to know just as God knows and decide what is right for their lives.

After the introduction, the middle school youth will break into small groups as part of the Gather. During the Proclaim, a video clip will set up a talk about how creation tells us who God is, leading into a skit depicting the fall from grace. The Proclaim will re-emphasize God’s unending love in His creation, connecting it to how He still longs for us despite the fall of man. This will lead into a small group discussion on creation, the fall and God’s grace. The Send for the night is longer than that of most Edge Nights; the youth will reflect on God’s enduring love for humanity and our response to this love.

Yes, Mother: Mary, Mother of God

The goal of this Edge Night is to give a better understanding of Mary as Mother of God and its implications for the middle school youth and their faith.

As Catholics, we refer to Mary as the Mother of God. Since Jesus was fully human and fully divine, we cannot separate the two and just call Mary the Mother of Jesus. Rather, she is Mother of God because we can never remove the divinity of Jesus from His person. Mary is truly the Mother of God. At the cross, Jesus places us in the care of Mary, and all humanity receives her as their Mother. Not only is she our Mother, but she is also the Mother of the Church. As Mother of all, Mary is our greatest advocate and example of charity. She is inviting us into relationship with her and her Son. She desires nothing more than for us to embrace Jesus as our Savior. To fully accept Jesus is to also accept His Mother.

After a fun introductory game, the middle school youth will learn about Mary as Mother of God through a skit, followed by a short talk for the Proclaim. In small groups, they will discuss the role of Mary as Mother and create their own prayer sheets with the words of the Magnificat. Finally, they will pray the Magnificat during the Send, asking specifically for Mary to intercede as their Mother that they might more actively and firmly say yes to God.

Use the YouTube videos “50 Reasons why 50 Teens Pray with Mary, Mother of God” and “May Feelings II” as samples to create your own video on the role of Mary as Mother. If possible, use high school teens in the video. The middle school youth often look up to high school teens, so it would mean a lot to see them in the video.

Facing the Final Judgment: Eternity

The goal of this Edge Night is to help youth understand what the Catholic Church teaches regarding our final judgment and eternal life.

This night will help the youth to realize the importance of the decisions we make today and the importance they bear on our final judgment. The night is meant to draw youth in repentance and help them realize that they make choices every day to draw nearer or further from Christ. Our Catholic tradition teaches us that there are two types of judgment at the end of our lives: particular, or immediate, judgment and final, or universal, judgment. When we die, we will face our particular (immediate) judgment – we receive from God what we deserve according to our faith and works during our lives. At this point there are three different options for each human soul based on how he/she has used his/her free will (heaven, hell, or purgatory). Our final (universal) judgment is when our bodies will be resurrected and join our souls. The bodies will share in either the happiness and joy of heaven or the misery and hatred of hell. This is the time of the return of Christ. The natural world will pass away and a new heaven and a new earth will come forth. At this time, Jesus will judge the living and the dead.

The Gather is about random choices and consequences – this will be discussed during the teaching of the night. The Proclaim will discuss eternal life and challenge the youth to make decisions that will lead them to heaven. As the youth break into small groups, they’ll be able to dive deeper into the idea of accepting their judgment. During the Send, the youth will have an opportunity to attend Reconciliation or prepare for Reconciliation with an examination of conscience.

You’ll want to secure a priest or two ahead of time to help out with Reconciliation during this night.

The Great Trilogy: Paschal Mystery

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand and apply the Paschal Mystery to their lives.

This Edge Night will break down the three parts of the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ Passion, His Death, and Resurrection (Jesus’ Ascension will be addressed in a separate Edge night). The Paschal Mystery is the central mystery of our redemption; it is here where God’s plan to save His people is accomplished through Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. It is completed in Jesus’ Glorious Resurrection. We encounter the saving effects of the Paschal Mystery through the sacramental life of the Church.

The night will begin with the a game called “Find Your Trilogy,” which will give the middle school youth an opportunity to meet two new people. Then we will move into the Proclaim, which will focus on the “trilogy” of the Paschal Mystery. Following the Proclaim, the middle school youth will have some time for discussion in their small groups. Each small group will have the opportunity to write a reflection and prayer for the Stations of the Cross, which will be used during the Send. In the Send, the whole group will gather together to pray the Stations of the Cross and “walk” through the events of Jesus’ Passion and death. The night will end with a celebration at the empty tomb to commemorate Jesus’ Glorious Resurrection!

You will need to make the tomb for the environment and Send. This will need to be prepared ahead time. The handouts for the Stations of the Cross  will also need to be printed out in advance. Also make sure that the Core Team is ready to go with their reflections for the Stations of the Cross (see the Break for more information).

Rise Up: The Ascension

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand the Ascension and how each of them is called to carry out Jesus’ mission on earth.

The Ascension of Jesus takes place forty days after His Resurrection. The Ascension is when Jesus ascends into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of His Father. He gives His disciples the final command to “Go make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and then returns to the Father. This completes the Paschal Mystery and it also allows the Holy Spirit to descend upon the Apostles ten days later at Pentecost.

This night will have a theme: “rising up.” The Gather will encourage teamwork as groups compete to see how high they can construct a tower out of uncooked spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. After the Gather, the Proclaim will dive into the teaching on the Ascension and focus on how Jesus prepared His apostles to “rise up” and spread His mission. During the Break, small groups will have time to discuss the main point from the Proclaim and begin to see how the Ascension applies to the lives of the middle school youth. The small groups will also have time for an individual reflection as well as creating a skit on one event of the Ascension. The night will conclude with a meditation and prayer that will encourage the middle school youth to “rise up” as disciples of Christ.

Mysterious Love: The Trinity

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand the Trinity and that it shows us that God is Love.

The Trinity — God three in one — is a mystery of faith. Although the Trinity is a deep mystery, we can seek to understand it with our greatest human ability. As Catholic-Christians, we believe in a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity teaches us that God is love. The Trinity is a communion of three persons — a divine relationship of love.

At the beginning of this Edge Night, the middle school youth will work together and compete in groups of three to complete a team braid. The Proclaim will explain how, together, the three persons of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — show how God is love. For the Break, the youth will have a short discussion on the Trinity and love, leading to an activity where they explore God’s love and how we can love others. For the Send, the youth will reflect on ways they have failed to love God and ask Him to help them be a reflection of the love of the Trinity.

Marian Image Loop

This loop is of Marian Images and Sacred art. This is the perfect loop to help set the environment on an Edge Night that focuses on Mary.

Paschal Mystery Teaching

Richard Rivera shares a teaching on the Paschal Mystery. He talks about the story of salvation and how Christ suffers for us, out of love for us

Drag & Gary: What is Edge?

Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two decide to explain what Edge is. They also try to distinguish the difference between middle school and Jr. High.

Drag & Gary: Answering Emails 2

Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two decide to read some emails… again.

Saintly Minute: St. Thomas Aquinas

This Saintly Minute is on St. Thomas Aquinas. He loved to learn and then became a priest. He was nicknamed the “dumb ox” because he was very large, but he was actually one of the doctors of the Catholic Church because he was so smart.

Saintly Minute: St. Faustina

This Saintly Minute is on St. Faustina. She is from Poland and she became a nun at the age of 20. In the 1930′s, the Lord gave Sr. Maria Fuastina the image of the Divine Mercy, and she encouraged people to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Call to Holiness and Sainthood: Matthew 5:43-48

The middle school youth will understand the concepts of sainthood and holiness, as well as their personal call to be a saint.

When we pray the Apostles’ Creed, we profess our faith in “the holy catholic Church,” followed immediately by “the communion of saints.”  According to the Catechism:

In a certain sense, this [second] article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church. “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others…. We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head…. Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments.” As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund.” (946-947)

Many lay Catholics, particularly young people, fail to understand their role as a member of the Communion of Saints.  Rather, they think of the Saints as an elite group of people who have reached a level of holiness unattainable by most of humanity.  Instead, they should view the Saints (with a capital “S”) as real people with flaws who still serve for us as examples of holiness (CCC 2030).

More importantly, all Catholics should strive to live as saints (with a lowercase “s”), providing an example of holiness to others.  As the Catechism states, “‘all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.’ All are called to holiness: ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’” (CCC 2013).