The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Beyond Memorizing Words to Meditating with Traditional Prayers

This past year I was a substitute catechist for my parish’s faith-formation program. When a young man in one of the classes learned that I had written a book of meditations based on the lives of the saints, he said, “Of course it’s a book of meditations. It’s Bob.” Even though we didn’t spend much time together, he knew that prayer and contemplation are the source of all that I am and all that I […]

Will Robots Replace Catechists? Can They?

During the lifetime of some people who are reading this blog, artificial intelligence will be an everyday reality. Already, robotics are manufacturing and driving cars; the only difference is that they do not have a “face.” Technology in all forms is a daily growing force in our world. Which poses a question: Can a robot serve as a catechist? Without hesitation, I would say no. A catechist is first and foremost a disciple of Jesus […]

Simple Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

While it is true that we can pray simply and spontaneously, at more formal gatherings, our prayer is to resemble how we pray at Mass. In other words, the prayer is meant to be liturgical, which means that it should have a basic structure. This means including parts for the assembly, including Scripture, and including elements of sign, symbol, and ritual. Many of us have never been taught how to prepare and lead a simple […]

Starting Your Meeting with Prayer

This is the final article in a series about leading prayer. If you have read the previous installments of this series on leading prayer, you have prepared or practiced strategies for leading group prayer at a gathering or meeting: Setting the Stage: Creating the Space for Prayer (When we pray in a space other than church, it is essential to include symbols, sacramentals, images, and more.) Best Practices for Leading Group Prayer (Prayer is part […]

Using Sacred Space for Small Faith Groups

One of the most important “ingredients” for small faith groups is establishing a climate of prayer at the beginning of a session. Small groups each have their own unique focus: exploring the Sunday Scripture readings, discussing a book, watching and discussing a video series, and so on. What remains constant, however, is the need to create a climate of prayer in which the “work” of the group takes place. Some of the resources that small […]

The Leader of Prayer: Five Skills for Lay Presiders

This is the fourth article in a series about leading prayer. Have you ever noticed that some priests are really good at presiding over the Mass? When they get everything right, it simply feels good. When done well, the priest “disappears” and he presents himself in persona Christi: acting in the person of Christ, he unites the offerings and prayers of the people to Christ. A good presider is confident, clear, and “leans in” to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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