Being a Disciple Takes Practice

group of young people

In a recent session, my class talked about being a disciple in the context of Ordinary Time. Since this Church season occupies most of the liturgical year, the discussion centered on how we can follow Jesus in everyday life. We focused on the works of mercy as ways to practice our discipleship.

I set the stage by holding up a poster-sized copy of the liturgical calendar and gave a brief introduction to how we mark time in the Church. I hinted that we would return to this calendar again when we get closer to Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.

Following the suggestion of our textbook (Finding God, Grade 7, Session 5), I asked the class if anyone played sports or a musical instrument and invited several volunteers to mention their athletic or musical activities. That led the young people to think about the practice it takes to achieve excellence in a field. I helped them to transition into thinking about how we have to practice to be better followers of Christ. Some scenarios in the textbook helped us think about how to do that and gave the young people a chance to write some thoughts.

Next we moved to a discussion of how we have examples in faith, namely the saints. The text highlighted two saints for us—St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Vincent de Paul—and I split the class so each half would read one of the stories and then tell the other half of the class about the saint. The saints’ biographies led nicely into discussion of the works of mercy, which formed the main section of this session.

To help the young people learn about the works of mercy, we made mini-booklets following an idea Joe Paprocki shared on Catechist’s Journey. Assembling these booklets was a simple task and appropriate for this age level. It also appealed to those young people who enjoy arts and crafts. However, we did not have enough time to complete the booklets because our discussion took more time than I expected.

We pulled together some of the ideas from the night through a guided reflection on the works of mercy. This was the most successful part of the session. My class has a number of young people who talk out of turn or want to sidetrack the conversation. But when it came time for the extended prayer, the young people settled down and seemed to embrace it. I wasn’t surprised—I’ve been using guided reflection with my classes for many years now, and the young people have responded positively. This year, several students have asked to do another meditation. While I expose my class to a variety of prayer forms, I’ll return regularly to guided meditations, inviting young people to the quiet and to a time of having a conversation with God.

How do you talk about being a disciple with your class? How do they practice discipleship?

How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 3


We continue our series here on Catechist’s Journey on how to implement small faith groups in your parish. Today we look at the crucial step of identifying, inviting, and training small group leaders. This is by far the most critical step, since the small faith groups will conduct their sessions in parishioners’ homes, without parish […]

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Free Advent Resources

Preparing for Advent

As you know, Advent begins on Sunday, November 30, 2014. Last year, I created an Advent PowerPoint that was very popular. This presentation includes a script (in Notes Pages view) to assist you in effectively leading your students to a deeper understanding of this wonderful season. When you download the presentation from authorSTREAM, you can […]

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Promoting Catholic Identity, Part 2: A Commitment to Community

community of children

This is the second article in a series on the five characteristics of Catholic identity and how we can nurture those in our children. Children often see “church” as a pretty building to which they go to pray. They often are unaware that the Church is first and foremost a community of people. Jesus told […]

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Marian Devotions—Free Poster

Marian Devotions

Our Lady. Blessed Virgin. Queen of Heaven. Madonna. Maria. Mary. The mother of Jesus and the Church is known by many names, which reflect just how revered she is all over the world. The importance of Mary as Mother of God lies not only in that Mary was the woman who gave birth to Jesus, […]

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Keeping Advent from Getting Lost in the Holiday Shuffle

boy lighting Advent candles

The parish is abuzz with questions already: “Have you started your baking, shopping, planning, list-making, wrapping…?” No sooner has Halloween moved on than we find Christmas bursting onto the scene in every grocery store, department store, catalog, and flyer. It is a cycle that encourages us to be always thinking of and preparing for “the […]

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How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 2

planning calendar

Today we continue a series here on Catechist’s Journey that will lay out for you the steps to successfully implement small faith groups in your parish with an eye on Lent as a target. I am drawing on the successful experience of St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago, where last year over 200 parishioners gathered in […]

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A New Look at the Phrase “Church Militant”

St. Barnabas Veterans Day Mass

I was impressed by the Mass for Veterans that was celebrated at St. Barnabas parish in Chicago this past Sunday. Military personnel, past and present, from all five branches of the military were invited to participate in a rousing entrance procession complete with flags representing each of their branches. The music, which was splendid, was focused […]

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The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 5: Missionary Zeal

enthusiastic woman with megaphone

This is the fifth article in a series about the spiritual life of catechists, inspired by the list of characteristics in the National Directory for Catechesis. Have you ever met someone who was “on fire” for God? When you encounter someone who speaks about faith with contagious enthusiasm, that’s missionary zeal. It’s memorable—and contagious. Zeal […]

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