Exploring Eastern Christianity for Senior High School Students

Exploring Eastern Christianity

Four Segments on Aspects of the Byzantine Heritage

For Senior High School Students

Office of Educational Services

– Melkite Eparchy of Newton

Saints Peter and Paul



One of the changes resulting from the Second Vatican Council was the new appreciation of the integrity of the various Eastern traditions. The Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Decree on Ecumenism both indicated that our tradition included much more than liturgical variants. The council taught rather that each historic Church tradition included its own proper liturgy, discipline, theology and spirituality which were to be preserved and developed only in an organic fashion.

How to Use These Courses

The present guide is arranged for those parishes with established high school catechetical programs. The contents are very clearly intended as study courses, but to insure that the students experience the Church as more than a “Sunday School’, they must be integrated into a wider perception of Youth Ministry. Teens need to experience prayer and worship, fellowship and service as well as study group meetings to develop a balanced picture of Christian life. More importantly, they need to have experienced a conversion appropriate to their own age level in order for them to be interested in worship at all!

The material can be used in several ways. First of all, the original sequence of chapters in Come Let Us Worship; can be followed, providing for a 26-class year in harmony with the regular Church School cycle. In this approach the lesson order in Come Let Us Worship would be followed sequentially.

Secondly, the text can form the basis of one or more mini-courses according to the following topics:

A. The Church – 13 Lessons

B. Worship – 10 Lessons

C. Icons – 6 Lessons

D. The Church Building – 7 Lessons

Thus this material can be spread over a four year period, integrating it each year with topics of guidance and practical teaching. This is the format followed in this guide.

The Design of Each Lesson

Each lesson segment in this guide has a significant part to play in attaining the course objectives. No more than 10- or – 15 minutes should be spent on any one part.

Preliminaries – The first session sets the tone for the course by allowing time for personal interaction, then describes the content and dynamics of the rest of the course. In subsequent sessions, personal interaction is followed by a time for reviewing the previous lesson.

Opening Discussion – This prepares the way for the presentation by introducing the lesson topic and the student’s direct or analogous experience of it.

The Presentation – Here the catechist presents the Church’s faith Tradition and the experiences through which the Spirit of God led to this insight..

Response – For interest to be maintained, teenagers must see their own personal experience mirrored in the life and experience of their Church, and so this segment attempts to integrate the opportunity to share personal experience and vision where appropriate. Here the catechist should assist the students to articulate their own understanding of a particular question and to pinpoint the experience which brought them to that understanding.

Summary – Here the catechist summarizes the main ideas of both the presentation and the response.

Action – Even experiential catechesis can be abstract for young people whose personal experience or ability to reflect on experience is limited. Without being able to articulate it, they sense that Christian life is incomplete without action. Accordingly, each mini-course focuses on an action project which flows directly from the concepts studied so that Christian faith not be seen as simply a mental exercise. Each lesson contains a time for reflecting on the project and evaluating its progress to help students make the connections necessary if they are to draw the fullest benefit from the experience.

Course Segments and Outline

(Note: The links are to Word Documents for ease of printing and distribution)

The Story of Our Church
Chapter One – Section One
Chapter One – Section Two
Handout AHandout B
Our Call to Worship
The Meaning of Icons
The Church Building