The Blessed Virgin Mary is so many things to us: she is our mother, our help, our comfort, and our joy. She is our model disciple; she is the “untier of knots.” She is also our model catechist. Here are three ways we can be more like Mary as catechists.
1. Say “Yes.”
When I invite parishioners to prayerfully consider becoming a catechist, their first response is often “Who, me?” followed by expressions of doubt, such as “I’ve never taught before” or “What if I don’t know the answers?” I always emphasize that if God is calling them to this ministry, God will give them the gifts to do it well. My experience in asking people to explore the vocation of a catechist reminds me of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26‒38): Mary was greatly troubled by the angel Gabriel’s message. She wondered how everything Gabriel described could happen. The angel assured her that nothing is impossible with God, and the story continues with her humbly serving God and others.
When you doubt that this ministry is for you, when you feel like you are not reaching the children, when you don’t have the energy to face another week, look to our mother Mary and through her intercession ask for the grace to say “Yes!” again.
2. Ponder in your heart.
Catechists are often extraordinarily busy with their jobs, families, and other volunteer work. It is difficult to plan a lesson ahead of time, especially when you can open your notes from last year and just do the same thing. But Mary teaches us to ponder. She kept all of the extraordinary events in the life of her son in her heart, and this contemplation bore fruit in her actions.
I encourage you to read through your lesson at least a few days before your class. You don’t have to spend three days planning and preparing; instead spend three days pondering and praying. Let the lesson sit with you. Let it stew in the back of your mind and in your heart. You may start to notice random things throughout your week that relate to it. You may remember a story to share with your class, or think of a perfect activity. My best ideas often come to me when I am not thinking about the lesson at all, but when I am pondering it. That is when the Holy Spirit suddenly brings my best ideas to the surface. Allow God the time and space to work within you.
3. Lead others to Christ.
This is our primary goal as catechists—to lead others to Christ. Who better to serve as our model than Mary, who spent her life doing just that? She bore Christ to the world, just as we bear Christ in our classrooms. She welcomed the poor, outcast shepherds as well as the grand magi into her home to adore her son, just as we welcome all of our children to adore him. She presented Jesus in the Temple, just as we present him to the children in our classrooms. She instructed the servers at the wedding in Cana to do whatever Jesus told them, just as we instruct our children to do the same. She walked with other women at his Death, just as we walk with our students through their trials. She spread the Good News of the Resurrection, just as we proclaim this same Good News again and again. In each lesson you teach, ask yourself, “How does this lesson lead the children to Christ?”
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us catechists. Help us to be more like you and bear your Son to the world.
Download a free poster of Marian devotions to use with your class.