On All Souls Day, we had a whole-school liturgy where we remembered those who have died. We have put their names in a box, which formed a part of our prayer. This box will be in the chapel for the month of November, the month when traditionally Catholics remember the dead. It’s also a good opportunity for teaching about beliefs to do with death and the afterlife.
One of the challenging concepts to explain to students in Religious Education (or Religious Studies, if you prefer) is the idea of the soul. It seems to be something be both innately ‘get’, and yet something that defies linguistic precision. So where to begin? Do I begin with something like ‘the bit of you that’s not physical’ before we analyse whether that is in fact a helpful definition or not. Students often have very good questions to do with this. They want to know to what extent science can explain those aspects of us, like personality and spirituality, through our brain activity, and what it means for an understanding of the soul if we are able to understand such supposedly ‘non-physical’ elements of humanity through the physical way in which the brain works.
The main message of the liturgy we had was one of hope (which is also a part of the theme of the Marist Association for 2018, but more about that another time). Our College Chaplain encouraged students and staff to reflect on the way they live their lives from a consideration of them as eternity-focused. Are their actions hopeful, future oriented, and in keeping with who we are?