Year of mercy

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Diocese of Lansing


Dec 8, 2015-Nov 20, 2016

An Introduction to the Jubilee Year of Mercy Lesson Plans for Grades 6-8

Diocese of Lansing Michigan, Fall 2015
To formulate these plans I did internet searches and used the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These are two resources which all teachers have readily available to them. That way anyone can easily find and read the information needed in preparation for teaching the lessons.

I did not always define or spell out important concepts within the lesson plan, but provided the resources (CCC or internet site) for the teacher to decide on how to present the concept, since a teacher best knows his or her own class.

In developing these lesson plans, I gave very detailed information meant to guide someone through a logical progression for the lesson, including whether or not to include certain aspects based on what they know their class strengths and class needs are.

I kept activities very simple, with suggestions for taking it up to the next level, in the hopes that anything I came up with would be something any teacher in any classroom would have the means to accomplish.

I hope this introduction has helped to clarify why my lesson plans are developed and constructed the way they are.

Lesson Plan for Grade Levels: 6-8
Topic: What is Mercy as Defined by the Catholic Church
Standards covered from the DOL Religion curriculum: 1.A.5-6, 1.C.36
Overarching Concepts:

  • God is merciful and just: These are two qualities of God

  • Out of his mercy, God established a covenant with us (Old Testament and New Testament)) to which He has remained faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness, because of His merciful love for us.

  • Through our Baptism, we receive justification, become members of God’s family, and enter into a covenant relationship with Him. We receive His mercy and love.

Essential Questions:

  • What is mercy?

  • What is justice/justification/what does it mean to be just?

  • What is a covenant?


Prepare to teach by using your religion curriculum and/or accessing resources from the CCC or other Catholic books or websites to ensure proper knowledge of important concepts to be taught.

Mercy and Justice/Justification/Being Just: Using the religion curriculum or other resources as needed (list provided at the end of this plan), introduce that we are beginning the Year of Mercy and first and foremost it is important to understand what mercy is and how God’s mercy/merciful love has been present from the very beginning and continues to be present right now. Students may be given tasks to look up definitions, find/recall stories of God’s mercy from the Bible, lives of Saints, their own lives and the lives of other they know. The goal here is that the teacher is facilitating/starting a discussion in which mercy is introduced/reviewed.
The same procedure should be used with the virtue of Justice and the concept of Justification. The focus is on God’s Justice and how He is merciful and just. Continue from there by discussing Baptism and reviewing the effects of Baptism. Include justification (which very likely will be a word

many of them haven’t heard before) and connect that in with the virtue of justice and it’s connection with God’s merciful love.

After students have researched and presented examples of God’s merciful love and justice in the lives of people from the Bible, lives of Saints, and other they know, finish the lesson with the following conversation.
The final key concept is “covenant”. Recall the Old Testament Covenant God made with Abraham. Review how Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant in the New Testament and what that means for us today. Discuss how God’s merciful love and justice are essential to our covenantal relationship with Him.

Skills: Students will demonstrate skills in research (especially locating stories in the Bible) , comprehension, note-taking, and oral presentation during this lesson. If the teacher has students work in groups, the skill of working effectively with others will also be demonstrated.

Assessments: Students will show their knowledge, understanding, and learning through their research and presentation.


Mercy: CCC #s 1829, 1846-8, 2447

Justice: CCC #s 1805-7, 1836

Justification: CCC #s 1987, 1990-5, 2018-19

Lesson Plan for Grade Levels: 6-8
Topic: Sacraments of Mercy
Standards covered from the DOL Religion curriculum: II.A.3, II. A.5, II.A.11, II.A.19, 40
Overarching Concepts:

  • The Seven Sacraments are sources of grace and mercy and are fundamental to our spiritual life, relationship with God, and growth in holiness.

  • The Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick are Sacraments where we especially receive God’s mercy in very particular ways.

Essential Questions:

  • What is a Sacrament and what are the Seven Sacraments?

  • Why and How are Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick particular Sacraments of God’s Mercy/Merciful Love?

  • What is the proper understanding of each Sacrament and how do we worthily participate and receive the grace and mercy each has to offer?


Prepare to teach by using your religion curriculum, the CCC, and/or other Catholic books or internet sources to ensure proper understanding of each Sacrament and its form, matter, and sign.

Begin the lesson with the definition of Sacrament. Go on to develop a list of the Seven Sacraments, ensuring that students recall them. Explain that all Sacraments are Sacraments of God’s mercy/merciful love. Recall definitions of these terms from the previous lesson. Use this as a discussion starter/brainstorming session for students to develop ideas for how Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, and Holy Orders are filled with God’s mercy. Begin with reviewing/making sure there is an understanding of the basics of each of these Sacraments (form, matter, sign) and how we may worthily participate in them. Explain to students that Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick are particular outpourings of God’s mercy and will be studied together shortly.

After ensuring that students have accomplished learning the previous content, through their participation in discussion, continue by introducing Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick as particular opportunities and outpourings of God’s mercy/merciful love. Begin as before with reviewing/making sure there is an understanding of the basics of each Sacrament (form, matter, sign) and how we may worthily participate in them. Continue with student contributions exploring ways they see God’ mercy/merciful love being poured out in these Sacraments. Conclude with a focus on how we can see that these Sacraments are particular outpourings of God’s mercy. Have students contribute their own thoughts and then end the discussion by focusing on these most important moments of mercy:

Eucharist--Jesus’ mercy in coming to us in His Body and Blood as Spiritual Food; God’s mercy at allowing us to participate in the re-presentation of Jesus’ sacrifice; God’s mercy in forgiving venial sin in our reception of the Eucharist.
Reconciliation--God’s mercy in forgiving repented and confessed mortal sin committed after Baptism; God’s mercy in reconciling us to Himself through doing our penance and receiving absolution for our confessed sins; God’s mercy allowing us to be judged by Him before our death, thus giving us a chance here on earth to repair that damage to our relationship with Him.
Anointing of the Sick--God’s mercy in allowing us to to share in and unite our sufferings with those of Jesus on the cross; God’s mercy in His gifts of strengthening, peace, and courage, which are received in this Sacrament; God’s mercy in allowing us, through our redemptive suffering, to contribute to the sanctification (growth in holiness) of the whole Church; God’s mercy in being with us at the moment of our death.
End or follow up the lesson the lesson by making a visit to a chapel (school chapel?) or go into the parish church and as a class pray an Act of Contrition and a Spiritual Communion prayer (unless attending Mass that day. If attending Mass, connect that back to the Eucharist as a source of mercy). Before doing this, make sure there is understanding that the prayers are to remind us of the importance of acknowledging and confessing our mortal (serious) sins before we receive the Eucharist (thus taking time to pray an Act of Contrition before making a Spiritual Communion). It is a time to be thankful for all the gifts God gives us, most of all His great mercy.
Skills: Students will utilize their skills of activating and using prior knowledge to list the seven Sacraments and their forms, matter, and signs. Students will show their ability to actively participate in and contribute to discussion. Students will show memorization of appropriate prayers by participating in praying an “Act of Contrition” (if students already know a Spiritual Communion prayer, this would also show memorization).

Assessments: The day following the lesson, put students in pairs or small groups (depending on class size) and have each group responsible for reviewing one Sacrament with the rest of the class. Reviews should include the form, matter, and sign of the Sacrament and then focus on how we are receiving God’s mercy through that Sacrament.


Sacraments: CCC #s 698, 738-98, 815, 875, 947, 950, 977-8, 1074-88, 1115-32, 1210-75, 1401-25, 1534-5, 1680.

Lesson Plan for Grade Levels: 6-8
Topic: Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Standards covered from the DOL Religion curriculum: III.A.1-3, III.A.11,15, III.C.73
Overarching Concepts:

  • Knowing and living the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy is essential to the Christian Life.

  • Recognizing examples of Jesus showing us how to live the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

  • Giving practical examples of how they as 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students may participate in the Works of Mercy.

  • Participating in the Sacraments of the Church should lead us to participating in Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The Sacraments point us to them.

  • We grow in holiness and thus sainthood through our participation in the Sacraments and Works of Mercy. They are connected and we cannot have one without the other.

Essential Questions:

  • What are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and what is their connection with the Sacraments/living a Sacramental life?

  • How/in what ways will participating in the Sacraments of the Church and living a life filled with Works of Mercy benefit our spiritual lives and help us to grow in holiness?

  • Why are the Works of Mercy so important to know and grow in practicing during this Jubilee Year of Mercy?


Prepare to teach by using your religion curriculum or internet sources to ensure knowledge and understanding of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

Begin by ensuring students know the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Use your religion text, create handouts and/or a Powerpoint presentation. Whatever works best in your situation. Students need to begin by seeing what each of these Works of Mercy is and having a basic understanding of what they ask of us.
Once students are familiar with each Work of Mercy, review the definition of mercy and God’s merciful love from the first lesson. Brainstorm with students for examples from Jesus’ life of each of the Works of Mercy. If an example from Jesus’ life doesn’t come to mind, look to the Saints and to anyone they might know who has been an example of one or more of these.
Briefly review the Seven Sacraments. Ensure that students remember what they are. Review how the Sacraments are a source of God’s mercy for us which should, in turn, lead us to lead lives of mercy. Connect that living lives full of Works of Mercy is how we share the mercy we have received from God with others.
Discuss how they as 6th, 7th, or 8th grade students can find ways to fill their lives with Works of Mercy. Consider if there is anything that can be done during the school year as a class or school, like collecting food or clothing or money to help those in greater need.
After discussing the practical application of the Works of Mercy in their lives, inform students that during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, one of the ways Pope Francis is allowing the faithful to receive indulgence (remission of temporal punishment for sin) is through performing specific Works of Mercy with the intention of receiving that indulgence. He will do that himself.
We’ve all heard of the popular phrase “Pay it forward”; that is what the Works of Mercy call us to do: They call us to take the mercy we have received and instead of keeping that gift all to ourselves, to help it to grow and be a gift that keeps on giving, by sharing it with others.

Skills: Students will activate prior knowledge/review the Seven Sacraments and show their learning. Students will participate in learning or review of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and show their understanding of each by brainstorming and generating examples from the lives of Jesus, Saints, and other people. Students will extend their learning by brainstorming and considering ideas for incorporating some Works of Mercy into their classrooms and schools as well as their personal lives.

Assessments: Students individually or in groups create posters or Powerpoint presentations where pictures (photographs or clip art) represent each Work of Mercy. Encourage students to take photos of each other showing how they could perform that Work of Mercy, when possible.


Lesson Plan for Grade Levels: 6-8
Topic: Jubilee, Pilgrimage, Indulgences, Holy Door
Standards covered from the DOL Religion curriculum: I. A. 22, IV.D.20
Overarching Concepts:

  • Just as God asked for a weekly rest (Sabbath), he also asked for a Sabbath Year to be celebrated every seventh year.

  • This was meant to be a year consecrated to God, in which His people trusted in His loving care for all of their needs and His Kingship was recognized in all areas of life.

  • The Jubilee Year was intended to be a celebration of God’s sovereignty as Ruler of His People. As Ruler He declared that during a Jubilee Year there would be

  • 1) Emancipation: Redeemed by God, no Israelite can forever remain a slave. The Jubilee was meant to restore equality among the Israelites

  • 2) Social Justice: Equality meant raising up, as well, those who were in need. God’s Providence is for all, so the goods of the earth are the common property are all.

  • The Holy Door represents Jesus, the Good Shepherd and the gate of the sheep pen. The Jubilee Year is celebrated every 25 years, meaning that the Holy Door is opened every 25 years (usually).

  • The Jubilee Year of Mercy begins Dec 8. Special indulgences will be available for the faithful. They may be obtained for oneself or for individuals who have died.

  • 5 Steps to Obtain a Plenary Indulgence (remission of all temporal punishment due to sin):

  • ◗ Take a pilgrimage. Make a journey to your local Holy Door (at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing) or to one of the Holy Doors in the four papal basilicas in Rome.

  • ◗ Go to confession.

  • ◗ Receive the Holy Eucharist "with a reflection of mercy."

  • ◗ Make a profession of faith.

  • ◗ Pray for the pope and for his intentions.

  • If someone you know is elderly, confined and the sick:

  • ◗ Pope Francis said that they may obtain the indulgence by "living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial."

  • ◗ By attending Mass and community prayer, "even through the various means of communication."

  • One final way anyone may gain indulgence:

  • ◗ Perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy. Pope Francis said that an indulgence may be obtained when a member of the "faithful personally performs" one of these merciful acts.

Essential Questions:

  • Why does the Church still celebrate the Old Testament custom of Jubilee Year and see it as important to carry on this tradition?

  • Why is Pope Francis announcing this Jubilee Year early (next one wasn’t due until 2025)?

  • What is the significance of making a Jubilee Year pilgrimage through the Holy Door and obtaining the plenary indulgence?


Begin with the Old Testament and explain the tradition of the Jubilee Year as a special time for God’s people to receive an outpouring of His Mercy and to renew their covenant with Him. The popes providing opportunities for the faithful to make pilgrimages and receive plenary indulgences is a concrete expression for us of God’s desire to renew His covenant with us and to have us renew our covenant with Him and remain united with Him. Popes provide many conditions under which a person may receive a plenary indulgence so that no one might feel unable to partake.

Discuss a general definition of indulgences along with the specific conditions for indulgences for this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Note that since performing Works of Mercy with the intention of the indulgence is one way of receiving, anyone can do this, even during a school day!
Explain the Holy Door and what will happen in Rome on December 8, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Holy Door at St. Mary Cathedral will open on December 13th at the 11:00 am Mass and be available from that time until the end of the Jubilee Year for pilgrimages. It will be important to plan a pilgrimage to the Holy Door. We can help ensure that our students have an opportunity to receive the grace of the pilgrimage and the plenary indulgence attached. Check our diocesan website for further information .
Skills: Most, if not all of this information will be completely new to students. It will be important to present it in a way that is as clear and concise as possible, knowing what they are ready to take in and learn. Students can be active participants in this learning process, by first listening to the teacher’s presentation and taking notes and then being sent off individually or in small groups to do further research on an individual aspect of pilgrimages, indulgences, Jubilee Years, Holy Doors.

Assessments: Student learning will be assessed through their research and what their presentations of that research add to the basic information presented. Perhaps one group of students will research what our diocese is doing to celebrate and provide opportunities for pilgrimages and get involved with helping to plan that pilgrimage for the class.


CCC #s 1471-9, 1498

Lesson Plan for Grade Levels: 6-8
Topic: Mary, Mother of Mercy and the Communion of Saints
Standards covered from the DOL Religion curriculum: I.C.49-51
Overarching Concepts:

  • Mary is the Mother of Mercy because she is the mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Incarnate, God who is Mercy itself.

  • Mary shows us merciful love in action throughout her life, starting with her “Yes”/”Fiat” at the Annunciation. This is her total self-giving to God, showing us how to trust in His merciful love. Because she surrendered herself totally to His will at that moment, she was able to live in complete union with His will and share His merciful love with others.

  • We look to Jesus, Mary, and the Saints to give us the best examples of how to live a life full of merciful love which we shower on others.

Essential Questions:

  • How does Mary show herself, throughout her life, to be the Mother of Mercy?

  • How does St. Junipero Serra (newly canonized) show himself to be a Saint who gives us examples of both Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?

  • How does Blessed Mother Teresa show herself to be a saint who exemplifies both Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?

  • How do Blessed Luigi and Blessed Maria Quattrochi (the first married couple to be beatified together as a couple, thus showing how marriage is a source of sanctification) exemplify Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?


Prepare to teach by using your religion curriculum and/or other Catholic books and internet resources to ensure proper understanding of concepts to be presented.

Begin by reviewing/explaining that Mary is our Mother, given to us by Jesus when He was dying on the Cross. We call her the Mother of Mercy because she is the Mother of God, who is Mercy itself. She submitted to His will perfectly, and thus opened herself up to living a life full of His merciful love, which she then gave to those around her.

Lead students in a discussion of key examples from Mary’s life in which she shows herself to be the Mother of Mercy (Annunciation, Visitation, Wedding Feast at Cana, Jesus’ Passion and death on the Cross, in the Upper Room before and on Pentecost). Encourage students to brainstorm and generate responses and cue them/give them hints as needed.

Use examples of Saints given above and/or add/generate your own. Have students work individually or in groups to research Saints and come up with examples of the Works of Mercy in their lives. Students will present to the class and use pictures/multimedia presentations as they are able.
This lesson should begin and end with a focus on Mary as the Mother of Mercy, but not forgetting the important quality of mercy which has been stressed throughout the lessons: Mercy is about giving and not receiving. Jesus is our ultimate example of how to live a life full of the Works of Mercy. Mary is our next best example, followed by the Saints. However, we can never stop there because the whole purpose of studying all of these examples of living lives full of the Works of Mercy is to inspire us to choose to live our lives following their example and to give us practical ways to do that.
At the end of the presentations on the Saints, bring it all back to Mary again, reminding everyone that Jesus and Mary are our two best examples of how God is calling us to live our lives. Pray a whole Rosary (the Joyful Mysteries are full of the many ways that Mary shows us how to live the Works of Mercy) or one or two decades, choosing moments in the lives of Jesus and/or Mary to meditate on as a source of inspiration and asking for their intercession as we strive to follow their example(s) and grow in holiness.

Skills: Students will show prior knowledge of Mary’s life through participating in a discussion about how Mary shows us she is our Mother of Mercy. Students will show their skills in research by learning about Saints who exemplify the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and developing presentation which provide examples of this. Students will show their knowledge of the Rosary and its prayers through participating in praying the whole Rosary or choosing certain decades to meditate on.

Assessments: Students will research Saints who exemplify the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and develop a presentation which focuses on examples of these.


CCC #s 963-75

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