Philosophy has been called the ‘handmaid of theology’ and indeed that is one of the great gifts of our Catholic faith. The Church teaches us that we come to know God not simply through faith, but also through out intellects, through the reason God gave us in the first place.*
We will begin our year with a basic understanding of the Catholic philosophy of the Human Person which answers those nagging questions: Who am I? What is the meaning of life? Is there truth? And it is these questions that are very relevant to teenagers whose thinking often begins with themselves. The idea is that if we first answer the question about themselves, they will move to the questions beyond themselves.This is where we will begin our catechesis.
To help you better understand and articulate these arguments I have provided a few podcasts from Fr. Mike Schmitz (Diocese of Duluth) on this very question. Listen to the homilies at the following links: “What is a Human Being?” and “Body and Soul”
Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston College (get used to that name; you’ll be hearing a lot from him this year) gave a talk on Identity that you can listen to here or read here. If you have a particular propensity for J.R.R. Tolkein or The Lord of the Rings, this might give you some good information to go off of for small group.
Also, you will find a supplemental lesson in your binders called “A Person is a Person…” which can serve as a small group activity. It is available here electronically as well.
*Interesting fact: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #159).
This is why Catholics are free to believe the findings of science without fear of it contradicting faith. But not all Christians believe this: