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 […]

Singing Grace Before Meals

As I continue my quest to encourage Catholics to sing more when we gather for faith formation and various other activities in our parishes, I would like to suggest a simple melody for singing Grace before mealtime. Rather than create a new melody, I suggest we use the melody from the traditional “Agnus Dei” and use the words of our traditional Grace Before Meals prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are […]

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 […]

Taking to Heart the Apostles’ Creed

Each year, the Archdiocese of Omaha requires all third-grade Catholic-school teachers to teach the Apostles’ Creed. Teaching young children to memorize a prayer involves some traditional and non-traditional methods. I am always looking for new methods to help my students since every class is different. What worked with one class may not work with another. I dedicate two weeks to teaching my class the Creed before giving them a test. During the first week, I […]

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 […]

Year of Faith Retreat – Week 4, Day 4: Family Heirlooms (Forms of Prayer, Part III)

WEEK FOUR: Prayer DAY 4: Family Heirlooms (Forms of Prayer, Part III) I’m one of those people who was born (1959) right before the Second Vatican Council so I remember (slightly) the Latin Mass and the beginnings of my religious formation with the Baltimore Catechism. Of course, the approach employed with the Baltimore Catechism included a fair amount of rote learning (memorization). Following the Second Vatican Council, the religious formation I received was very different in nature and […]