Taking Prayers to Heart

I was born in 1959, which means that my first few years of faith formation in the early to mid-60s involved the Baltimore Catechism and its emphasis on memorizing. After the Second Vatican Council, my remaining years of formal faith formation (mid-60s and 70s) moved in new directions inspired by the Council but with a definite shift in one specific area. Memorization was deemed an old-fashioned, lifeless way of learning. The result, of course, is that as I […]

Using Prayer Intentions Notebooks

One idea/activity that I have highly encouraged catechists to use in their sessions is inviting young people to write down their prayer intentions as soon as they enter the room. This is a good way to get them on task immediately and to begin establishing a climate of prayer, which is key to an effective catechetical experience. As I’ve been sharing this idea in my presentations recently, I’ve encountered a few catechists who shared a […]

Make Your Group Prayer Meaningful

This is the third article in a series about leading prayer. In the previous two installments of this series, I wrote about setting the environment for prayer and best practices for structuring public prayer. But how do you choose the content of prayer so that it is meaningful for participants? Every group has different needs. When prayer is “one size fits all” it can be hard for people to feel it has a meaningful connection […]

First Experiences with Two Forms of Prayer

One of my favorite parts of teaching religious education is introducing young people to various forms of prayer. In addition to starting sessions with three traditional prayers—the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be to the Father—I’ve led them in lectio divina and guided reflection. When I mentioned to another catechist that I was doing lectio divina with seventh graders, she questioned how that worked, unsure that the technique was one young people […]

How to Make a Portable Labyrinth

One of the mistakes we make in adult catechesis when it comes to prayer—one of the six tasks of catechesis—is that we talk about prayer instead of simply engaging people in experiences of prayer and then unpacking those experiences later. I have learned that a very effective tool for engaging people, especially beginners, in the life of prayer is the labyrinth. A labyrinth is a circular pattern with a cross at its center, and a person […]

Celebrating the Month of the Holy Rosary

As we celebrate this month of the Holy Rosary, I am happy to once again make available my free PowerPoint presentation on October: The Month of the Holy Rosary. To download the Rosary slideshow, click on the link above or the images below (also in Spanish).   Also see these other resources on the Rosary: Rosary Activity Center Rosary Prayer Cloths Praying the Rosary (Loyola Learning Tools™) The Rosary: A Path into Prayer The Complete Rosary

Best Practices for Leading Group Prayer

This is the second article in a series about leading prayer. Whenever Catholics pray before group activities—whether a staff, catechist, or parent meeting or a gathering of the parish youth group—we offer all our efforts to the Father. We acknowledge that when we are gathered, Jesus is present with us. We invoke the Holy Spirit to guide us. Group prayers sanctify the activity, reminding us that the ultimate goal is to glorify God. Yet how […]

Setting the Stage: Creating the Space for Prayer

This is the first article in a series about leading prayer. When Catholics pray, we are often surrounded by reminders of who we are. At Mass, we can easily identify the current liturgical season or feast from how the sanctuary is decorated, the color of the priest’s vestments, the hymns we sing, and sometimes from the aroma of incense. We are accompanied in our liturgical prayers by statues of the saints, Scripture stories in stained […]

Teaching Young Adults to Pray

When I look back on my faith journey as a young adult, I am extremely grateful for the older adults in my life who took the time to teach me how to pray. Their gifts of sharing their wisdom and teaching me the practical tools of our faith serve me well as I journey through the transitions of young adulthood. The young adults I have worked with on retreats hunger for methods of prayer that […]

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 […]

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