To help celebrate the 5th anniversary of my blog, The Catechist’s Journey, I’ve invited a number of people to be guest bloggers here over the next week! We start with one of the first people I “met” online when I began blogging, Gilles Côté, a Canadian living in Ottawa, who is the webmaster of 4CatholicEducators.com and of its sister site Resources for Catholic Educators. Gilles taught grades 7 through 12 for 23 years in Catholic schools and was also Religious Education Coordinator for a number of years in a Catholic High school in British Columbia. Over the years, he has also been involved in faith education in various ways at the parish level and in the larger community. He blogs at Catholic Faith Education Blog and also publishes the Catholic Faith Education Newsletter and curates an online magazine at http://www.scoop.it/t/resources-for-catholic-faith-education/. Here’s what Gilles was kind enough to send along as his guest post. Thanks, Gilles!
Catechesis on Prayer: Learning to Walk on Holy Ground
by Gilles Côté
One day, while my grade seven students were lined up waiting to have their school pictures taken, one young lady felt that others were crowding her a bit too much and jokingly said, “Be careful! You’re standing on holy ground.” She was, of course, quite right. God is present in every part of our lives. There is not a moment, not a fold of our existence that he does not fill with his love. We are always standing on holy ground.
Catechesis on prayer aims at making students increasingly aware of this and to teach them how to walk and even run freely on this holy ground where God is waiting to meet them. Our students need to learn the words of traditional prayers and be introduced to devotions that nourish a prayer life. This, however, is not enough. They also need to learn that God is waiting to meet them in everything that is important to them: the ebb and flow of their relationships, their difficulties, their sorrows, their joys… That is why catechists should provide various forms of prayer experiences that help students make the connection between their everyday life and their prayer life.
These can take a multitude of forms. Below is a list of some of the ones I have tested myself with students of all ages with links to detailed descriptions of the activities on the Resources for Catholic Educators Web site:
- Praying with photos and videos: Psalm for the 21st Century
- Praying with symbolic objects: Bread or Stone – Penitential Preparation
- Praying with a scripture passage: Beatitudes; A Note from Jesus;
- Meditation on the words of a traditional prayer: Listening to the Lord’s Prayer
- Guided meditation and drawing: Praying your Experiences
- Journaling with scriptures: A Byte of Bible a Day
- Storytelling as an invitation to prayer: Making Space for God
I will conclude this article the same way I started it: with a little anecdote plucked from my experiences as a teacher. In the early years of my teaching career I often struggled with how to deal with “problem” children; those who were disruptive, uncooperative, or rebellious. I would often pray for all of my students, but especially for these more troublesome ones. For years, the words that rose spontaneously from my heart when I prayed were similar to these: “Lord, give me a heart that can love these children with your love, eyes to see them as you see them, ears to listen to them as you do, and let what I say to them be your words.” As time went by, I found that there were fewer and fewer “problem” children in my classes. In fact, all of my students became more and more beautiful each year! Obviously, the children had not changed, but my capacity to welcome them as they were and to see what God sees in them did change. When we pray for the children we teach, we create in ourselves and in our classroom a sacred space where they can feel at ease to remove their sandals and walk towards the loving God who is waiting for them.
Here is my guest post on Gilles’ blog: http://catholicfaitheducation.blogspot.com/2011/12/catholics-in-search-of-identity.html