Taking Children to Adoration

I teach at St. Margaret Mary School, and the students in grades five through eight participate in the first Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They witness the Blessed Sacrament being exposed in a monstrance for a day of Adoration. This year we just happened to have an all-school Mass on the first Friday of the month, and I realized that many of my students were unfamiliar with Eucharistic Adoration. I knew I […]

Helping Parents Model Catholicism for Their Children

My friend Steve once related that perhaps the most influential experience of his childhood—in terms of his Catholic faith—was getting out of the bed one night to go to the bathroom and seeing his father on his knees saying his prayers bedside. Steve had no idea that his dad prayed at all, let alone on his knees each and every night. Because children are so strongly influenced by their parents, we need to do all we […]

Three Ways to Teach the Creed to Younger Children

I was teaching a class of second graders the Nicene Creed when I started reciting it phrase by phrase. I asked them to repeat the lines after me. A group of children who attended Mass regularly realized they knew what came next and excitedly continued on without waiting for my prompts. I let them go, curious to see how far they would get. They spoke the words very quickly; whenever they paused or thought about […]

The Six Tasks of Catechesis #4: Teaching to Pray, or Praying Our Faith

The fourth of the Six Tasks of Catechesis is teaching to pray, or in terms of the remembering phrase HELP ME, praying our faith. Read what the bishops say: Conversion to Christ and communion with him lead the faithful to adopt his disposition of prayer and reflection… His prayer was always directed toward his Father. Catechesis should invite the believer to join Christ in the Our Father. Prayer should be the ordinary environment of all catechesis […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 4: Intercessory Prayer

This is the fourth article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful at Mass (formerly called the General Intercessions), the people claim their baptismal priesthood “by offering prayers for the salvation of all.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 69) How can we help children and youth growing up in a culture that focuses on “me first” to understand and join […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 3: Listening to the Word

This is the third article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. To help children listen well to the Word of God at Mass, catechists should provide experiences of Scripture that allow young people to respect the Word, to become aware that Jesus speaks to them through it, and to engage in holy listening.* Respect for the Word From early childhood, students should learn that a reading from the Bible […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 1: Silence and Reverence

This is the first article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Do your catechists complain that students don’t know how to behave in church? The sad truth is many families do not go to Mass. Catechesis without Mass, however, is not going to “make them Catholic.” One way to help young people love and desire the Mass is by using “the language of mystery” in our catechetical sessions, as […]

Where Have You Been, Lord? Praying the Examen with Your Families

I always found our opening prayers for Confirmation and First Eucharist meetings to be challenging. Normally these involved something written down, something we would all read together, or maybe a pertinent piece of Scripture, or maybe both. It often felt dry and mechanical. What I wanted to do was engage our families, invite them to get to know the Jesus I knew—a Jesus who was active, interesting, and intensely interested in their lives. The question […]

Praying and Talking About Newtown, CT

Last evening was my first opportunity to be with my 6th graders in the wake of the tragic massacre in Newtown, CT. I came prepared to spend some quality time touching on the subject with them and praying about it. Here is what happened: As I was setting up for class, one young lady arrived early as usual to help me distribute materials. She said, without provocation, “Well, I’m very upset.” I asked her about […]

Thank You Jesus – Success Teaching Roman Missal Changes to Children

Last night, I had a surprisingly good experience teaching the Roman Missal changes to ALL of the children in the religious education program at Most Holy Redeemer parish in Evergreen Park, IL, where I serve as a catechist. Here are the details: I did the presentation twice: first session (5:30 – 6:45 pm) for 1st – 4th graders and their parents (about 250 total, kids and parents); 2nd session (7:00 – 8:15 pm) for 5th – […]

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