Teaching Tip

The Gift of Prayer

Prayer is the life of the soul!  How are we drawing adults, parents, kids and youth into a life of prayer?  The Catechism is rich in what it says about prayer.

In paragraph 2560 it says:

“The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there Christ comes to meet every human being.  It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink.  Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us.  Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.  God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

Prayer and Catechesis

In many ministry settings prayer is seen too often as something to get out of the way (an attitude of “I know I should pray so let’s say a quick prayer and get on with the lesson of the day) instead of something that draws people into the mystery of Christ and a greater intimacy with Him.  It is essential in our catechetical settings to create an attitude of prayer that opens hearts.  Helping create an environment that draws souls into that relationship with Jesus is key if we are to lead adults and children into being truly disciples of Christ.

Not only is it important to lead people into prayer, but it will only occur if we ourselves are people of prayer; people who take time to foster a spiritual life and time for mental prayer.  Yes, it is great to pray at all times and make your whole day a prayer, but this is not sufficient.  We must be people who take time away from the busyness of jobs, social media that we are exposed to 24-7 and all our family responsibilities and be silent before God.  Taking time to pray and making prayer it a priority is necessary for our relationship with Christ as well as our success in ministry.  Catechists are then able to better engage and lead others into prayer if they themselves are people of prayer.

Practical Recommendations

I recently read a great article by Marianne Cuthbertson and Dr. Caroline Farey that gives wonderful recommendations for leading others into prayer in our catechetical settings.  Their numerous recommendations are exactly what we need to consider to allow our catechetical session to be times of grace and session soaked in prayer.

How do you help engage others in prayer in your catechetical sessions?  Let us be drawn into and help draw others into the “wonder of prayer”.


Divine Mercy Sunday is just around the corner.  What a great way to teach kids about God’s Mercy.  An attribute of God is Mercy.  God thirsts for us tirelessly because He loves and cares for us so much.  His Mercy is great and boundless.  St. Faustina has been such a gift to the Church through her bringing us Jesus’ message of Mercy.  Here are some great resources for kids about the Divine Mercy Chaplet and various crafts from Catholic Icing , Divine Mercy Kids  , and Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Last week I hosted a number of DRE’s at my parish to discuss how to use technology and media within ones religious education program.  Many of the participants wanted to know where to find resources to use in the classroom and how I go about choosing certain media clips that I found on the internet.  We had some good conversation about using technology in the classroom as a tool.  I stressed that it is only a tool and that the catechist is the linchpin and the heart of transmitting the Gospel.  The textbook, the video, music, art, etc each are tools and instruments but it is the catechist who pulls it all together and helps their students be engaged and drawn to a relationship with God.  Nothing is more important than the catechist — even in the third millennium.

Also, I provided the DRE’s with some resources I’ve used in the classroom: Website Resources for DRE Mtg Feb. 2012.  Some of them are video links and others are good places to go for information on catechesis.  Overall it was a really good meeting and many of the DRE’s were grateful for the discussion on the topic.

Does anyone have some good video clips you use for younger children?  How about other resources that you’ve found helpful?  Please share!

In ministry we are always trying to find ways to show others how to respond to serving others.  Here is a great video clip to help illustrate serving Jesus in others.  I’m going to be using this soon to a group of 1st -6th graders and their parents.

A recent NCCL newsletter referred to a finance article from “The Telegraph” that talked about the great advice we can learn from Bob the Builder.  I really liked it because I think we live in a society that believes that our choices are endless and that we can do anything we set our mind to.  I realize that we don’t want to limit ourselves and how we should live to our full potential, but God has given each of us certain talents and gifts and we should head advice similar to Bob who asks “Can we fix it”?  Our question should be, has God given me the ability to do it (whatever it may be).  Also we could ask, is God calling me to do it?  The article said:

“Most of us believe in positive self-talk. “I can achieve anything,” we mouth to the mirror in the morning. “Nobody can stop me,” we tell ourselves before walking into a big meeting. We believe we’ll do better if we banish doubts about our ability or our strategy and instead muster an inner voice that affirms our awesomeness.

But not Bob. Instead of puffing up himself and his team, he first wonders whether they can actually achieve their goal. In asking his signature question – Can we fix it? – he introduces some doubt.

…In other words, questions open and declarations close. We need both, of course. But that initial tincture of honest doubt turns out to be more powerful than a bracing shot of certainty.”

It is my experience that we have to help the children, youth and young adults we catechize to see that the modern day approach to doing “anything” we set our minds to do is not completely healthy.  I think it can contribute to anxiety and discouragement because people are asking the wrong questions about all the things they could be doing in their lives.  I think all the choices we have for our lives and our kids lives creates anxiety because we feel like we have to keep up and make sure we or our kids don’t miss out on what’s available.

We have great opportunities in catechesis to assist students and parents in discerning what God is calling one to do.  What is God’s will regarding how I should respond?  The right questions will help us and our students discern properly according to God’s purposes and plans instead of the world’s or our own.

The Telegraph article concludes by saying: “So the next time you’re feeding your inner self a heady brew of confident declarations and bold affirmations, toss in a handful of interrogatives with a few sprinkles of humility and doubt.  Can you do that? Yes, you … well, you’ll have to ask that yourself.”

I’d love to hear your feedback!!!!

Advent is upon us.  One of the images I love to reflect upon is how this is a season where it gets dark earlier and the sun rises later.  This season of expectation helps us remember how the world was in darkness and the light of the world, Jesus Christ, came to fill the world with the light and truth of God’s revelation of Himself.    Here are some ways to give students a glimpse of this:

1. Turn out the lights for a few moments and light the candle(s) of the Advent Wreath and share how the days have gotten shorter and how there is less less light outside and more darkness.  Help them see that the closer we get to Christmas the more light there is in the Advent Wreath.  The light from the advent wreath remind us of the light of Christ.  Light in the darkness of the night gives us direction.  Share with your students how their kindness, their generosity and their time spent in prayer this Advent are helping us be light and bring hope to a world that is often lost in darkness and a world longing for what we as followers of Christ can share with them.

2. Another way to help make this concrete for students is to share with them how most people put lights up at the beginning of Advent – outside & inside their houses.  Christmas lights are a constant reminder this time of year of the light of Christ.  Challenge your students to offer a small prayer when they see these various kinds of light…Jesus, thank you for being the light of the world; Jesus, bless Grandma with your light and hope in her time of sickness; Jesus, help those who don’t know you find you; or Jesus, be my light in all the decisions I make today.

3. Here are a few great Scripture verses on light: John 1:4-9; John 8:12; Jn. 1:6; Mt. 5:14-16 & 1 John 1:5-7 that you could use during opening and closing prayer.

Photo from Flickr.com

Building unity and a greater sense of community in the classroom makes a significant impact on learning.  Here is the following suggestion I gave to our parish catechists this week:

Take 10-15 minutes of class time to do a community building activity every now and then.  The more your class feels united and glad to be together, the more open they will be to all you do to lead them closer to Jesus.  Here are 2 websites I found that have some icebreaker ideas: http://wilderdom.com/games/Icebreakers.html or http://www.icebreakers.ws/

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