Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

It’s May! This is the month devoted to Mary in the church, so it only seems fitting to dedicate the blog posts this month to learning more about our Blessed Mother. As I’ve been developing teaching resources for distance learning, I’ve been trying to deepen my understanding of Mary: who she is and what she does. And in my research, I’ve had some time to take a deep dive into scripture, one of my favorite things to do for prayer.

Mary only speaks four times in the bible, so it doesn’t take very long to dive into each of those four times. The first of these times is Luke 1: 26-38, at the Annunciation. Mary responds to the angel Gabriel twice, once with a question and once with a profound statement of faith: her fiat. “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” she asks, and when Gabriel explains God’s plan to her, she responds, “Behold, I am the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” This “let it be done” is often called Mary’s fiat, because that is the word in Latin.

For the month of May, I am brainstorming ways to use the four words of Mary as a theme in my classroom next year. Here are some ideas for a week about “fiat”:

Read the Annunciation story in the Bible. Students could read the scripture and study it using the Lectio Divina scripture study method. I have a pre-made version in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but you could easily do as a whole class bible study or prayer journal activity.

Use imagainative prayer to put yourself “inside” the Annunciation. I’ve had retreat directors lead me through guided meditations on the scene described in the gospel of Luke. For some reason, I’ve always imagined that Mary was making bread when Gabriel appeared to her. This is the first image that came to my mind with this scripture and it’s been there ever since. I love to think of all the connections to Jesus dwelling within us as the Bread of Life. When leading imaginative prayer, invite students to close their eyes and sit comfortably. Read the story slowly, pausing often to allow for reflection. Use questions to invite them to imagine the scene.
Some questions I have used are “What does Mary’s house look like? Smell like? Sound like? What is Mary doing? Is she alone? Awake? Asleep? Do you see the scene from her perspective? Gabriel’s? Are you watching it like a movie?
After imaginative prayer, I often have students journal or draw what the experience was like for them.

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting of The Annunciation

Use images to do Visio Divina for the Meditation. Visio Divina is using sacred art to study God’s word. I did a quick google search and found many public domain images of The Annunciation. If you have a way to project large images, you could have a whole class discussion about what students notice about the painting, what it makes them wonder, etc. You could have students look for symbols, art techniques, color etc. For extension, they could create their own art of the scene.

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation

Have students reenact the scene. Almost without fail, my classes LOVE to act out Bible stories. This would be a fun one to put time limits on- sometimes I give my students 1 minute to act out the scene and then we make the time shorter and shorter until they have to tell the whole story in 10 seconds or less.

Stay tuned for more May ideas based on Mary’s four words in the Bible!

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