The Spirituality of the Catechist: An Openness to God (Online Retreat Week 2)

Spirituality of the Catechist: Online Retreat for Catechists

Welcome back to the Spirituality of the Catechist, our online retreat. This week we’ll look at the first characteristic of our spirituality: An Openness to God.

Thank you for posting your introductions last week as we began our retreat. Your stories were very inspiring, and they helped to form a sense of community among us retreatants. If you’re just joining us, you can read the overview and introductions here (Feel free to add your own!) and then come back to jump in to Week Two.

An Openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

In my book, A Well-Built Faith, I tell the following story:

A stunt man was thrilling crowds gathered at the Niagara Falls, making his way across a tightrope that stretched from one end of the Falls to the other, while riding a unicycle and carrying another person on his shoulders! As he and his passenger successfully dismounted on solid ground, the crowd broke into wild applause. The stunt man thanked the crowd and asked, “How many of you truly believe that I can do that again?” Having just witnessed the amazing stunt, everyone in the crowd raised their hand. The stunt man then mounted his unicycle and pointed to his shoulders asking, “Alright, then, who’s next?”

To believe is to enter into relationship with another and to place our trust in that person. It is to stand on that person’s shoulders and allow him or her to carry us. Such trust is not easy!

Saint Augustine
St. Augustine

As catechists, we have come to the conclusion that our lives need to be centered in God. We have tried to find fulfillment in other places and, like St. Augustine, have come to the conclusion that, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they find their rest in you.” However, we struggle with this and need continually to remind ourselves of where we need to place our trust. To do this, we practice an openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To be open to God is to be open to a relationship with the Trinity—a relationship of self-giving love. All relationships involve trust, and to trust is risky. Perhaps the greatest risk of our lives was the risk we took in Baptism—the day we gave our hearts to God and climbed on God’s shoulders and said, “I trust you.” Time and again, throughout Salvation history, God has proven worthy of that trust. This is what we teach to our students: that God is worthy of their trust!

During these summer months, let’s take the time to renew our openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s reflect on how God has shown, in our own lives, that he is worthy of our trust. Renewed by this, we will be inspired to teach others confidently that their placing trust in God will not be in vain.

Week Two Reflection Questions

Over the next few days, ponder these reflection questions pertaining to this week’s theme. Then return here to Catechist’s Journey and share some of your reflections with your fellow retreatants.

  1. Who do you trust most in this world? Why? Who places their trust in you?
  2. How has your trust in God been validated or affirmed in your lifetime?
  3. If you are having difficulty trusting (being open to, giving your heart to) God, what may be causing that?
  4. In what situations do you find it most difficult to trust God? Easiest?
  5. What do you/can you do to deepen your openness to God?
  6. Who is someone you know who exhibits a great openness to God? How can you emulate him or her?
  7. How does your openness to God affect you in your role as a catechist?
  8. How can you help those you teach to be more open to God?

Spiritual Exercises

During the course of this week, practice one or more of the following spiritual exercises designed to deepen your openness to God. Feel free to share the fruits of your exercises with your fellow retreatants by posting your comments any time this week.

  • Pray fervently at the beginning of each day to give your heart to God. If it has not already been a practice for you, begin each day this week by praying the Suscipe (Take, Lord, Receive) of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
  • Openness to God leads us to open ourselves up to possibilities. This, in turn, leads us to live in hope. As you progress through this week, jot down in a journal or on an index card at least 10 things that you are hoping for. Do so by completing this sentence: “I am hoping for/that…” Keep this list nearby during the week so that you can glance at it frequently. When you do so, pray Psalm 62.
  • Openness to God is manifested in openness to others. Each day this week, make a specific plan to perform an out-of-the-ordinary act of hospitality that opens you up to another person or group of people. This act can be done at home, at work, or in your community. Before or after performing the act of hospitality, pray an Act of Love.

Recommended Reading on the Topic of Openness to God

God’s Voice Within by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ

A Purposeful Path by Casey Beaumier, SJ

Rock-Bottom Blessings by Karen Beattie

Bumping into God by Fr. Dominic Grassi

The Catechist’s Backpack by Joe Paprocki and Julianne Stanz

Remember you can share your thoughts in the comments at any time. Come back on Thursday to read Jayne Mondoy’s reflection on our topic of openness to God.

Catch up on other retreat posts here.

About Joe Paprocki 2158 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

8 Comments on The Spirituality of the Catechist: An Openness to God (Online Retreat Week 2)

  1. While I appreciate the sentiment of this piece, and feel certain that it is well-intended, I think a better choice of words might have been used to express the central message. Saying that God is “worthy of our trust” unjustly inverts the I-Thou dynamic. God needn’t prove his trustworthiness to humanity. We must be careful to express these ideas with humility lest they be misinterpreted.

  2. Trusting God is easy when things are going right. As catechists we have to be able to tell the stories of when it is hard to trust God and how we did it. I was out of work for two years but still continued to teach the middle schoolers. When we would discuss courage as a gift if the holy spirit many students said in our discussions that I had courage to keep trusting God during this time. We have to use our life circumstances to teach trust.

  3. I find it easiest to trust God in situations over which I have no control: illness, natural disasters, etc. Trusting God becomes more difficult, however, in those situations when my actions play a part in determining the outcome. It is difficult to relinquish control to the Holy Spirit when doing so means that I must make a choice that may run counter to my own or other people’s expectations. I think we need to teach our students that listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit is always the right thing to do, regardless of how difficult it is and whether it leads to what we think should be the outcome.

    • Interesting Denise. As I was reflecting I felt that was the hardest to trust my safety in illness to God. And yet of course, who else holds me in that but God.

  4. I trust in God to keep my husband well. To keep him strong to give more time to be with me. He is struggling with a weak heart, diabetes, and lymphoma. I pray every day for patience to be a good wife. We are both retired and we cannot enjoy what we saved for our entire lives. I pray for time with each other and family. I trust my Lord and devote each day to Him.

  5. While leading by example seems a likely answer to #8:”How can you help those you teach to be more open to God”, I’ll offer a few others. Create a space for silence, both in meetings with adult catechists and in classes with kids. Listening to God is as important as speaking to Him and He can be hard to hear if we don’t settle down and wait for our bodies to open to Him. Offer lots of different kinds of prayer experiences so that adults and kids can choose from among many what works best for each of them to connect with Him: silence, song, structured and unstructured prayer, verbal and written, Scripture, imagination, paint a prayer! So many others… Another way to be more open to God is to be more open to one another. Really listen. Share from your heart. Look for and be His reflection daily. I’ll quit here…Hope you’re all having a wonderful Wednesday!

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