Students in Ms. George’s religion classes are given unique challenges throughout the year to help and encourage them to grow in their faith. These challenges, as described by the mastermind herself, are totally up to the individual and are, although assigned as homework, ungraded. Ms. George explains that she makes them optional so that there is no added stress upon her students, taking to mind the constant bustling of high school life.
During this Lenten season, Ms. George created the #lentenchallenge, composed of three components: prayer, sacrifice, and giving. Her goal was to depict Lenten fasting and sacrifice not as a type of “New Year’s resolution,” but rather a commitment to the intent of improving one’s spiritual life. The prayer component, she describes, gives the purpose to initiate and strengthen one’s relationship with God, inspired by the question: “What action, that I do, can I give to God?” Another element is, of course, sacrifice. This component helps us to remember what Jesus did to free us from our sins, and to remember his painful suffering by practicing acts of constant self-denial. As for some pointers to help, Ms. George suggested to make it a prayer to God asking what you could do to improve your relationship with Him. The third and final factor is giving, meaning to help others see that God loves them whether it is through good works, such as volunteering at the soup kitchen or giving one’s time by simply sitting down and listening to an elderly person at the nursing home. Since the Pope has declared this the Year of Mercy, Ms. George stresses this special grace especially to help communicate God’s love through one to another.
When asked about her hopes for her students in what they learn during these challenges, she replied, “I hope it gives them peace and to put into action what we talk about in class about our faith.” Her own Lenten challenge includes “Trying to prepare to be merciful… [and] I hope to be more of an example of mercy to my students…and to have a greater appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice.” She explains how thus far, this challenge has become eye opening and humbling, as she tries to make a daily examination of conscience to become a living example of the faith, while molding her students into faithful daughters of Christ.
By Kelly Szalankiewicz