Memorization and Catechesis

I mentioned recently that I will be checking to see if my students have memorized (taken to heart) certain prayers outlined in the parish curriculum. I grew up at a time when memorization in catechesis had fallen upon hard times. Sure, I learned the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, but not much else. As a result, I grew up deprived of quick access to a major part of our Catholic Tradition. I recall being embarrassed at a meeting some years ago when a co-presenter invited all of us to begin by praying the Memorare. I stood in front of a group of fellow Catholics unable to pray with them. A few years ago I made it my Lenten discipline to memorize certain prayers and doctrinal formulas that I missed out on in my childhood.

When God gave Israel the Ten Commandments, he told them, “Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.” (Deuteronomy 6:6) In addition to helping your participants to take to heart certain doctrinal formulas, the memorization of commonly known prayers of the Christian tradition, appropriate to their age, is beneficial. When directing your participants to memorize, be sure to help them understand the meaning of what they are taking to heart.

What role does memorization play in your catechetical approach?

To end on a light note:  A catechist decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible; Psalm 23.  She gave the youngsters a month to take the verse to heart.  Little Ian was excited about the task, but, he just couldn’t memorize the Psalm.  After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the class, Ian was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up in front of the class and said proudly, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

About Joe Paprocki 2365 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.

3 Comments on Memorization and Catechesis

  1. Only yesterday at Mass, our Pastor asked that our children learn and memorize the peace prayer. Never really thought of asking them to memorize prayers too. Good idea indeed. Thanks

    • Thanks for sharing, Angie. I think of this scene from the TV show Seinfeld when Jerry meets a woman he is interested in and she mentions where she works…he keeps repeating the name of the company over and over again so he can memorize it for future reference. This is what we do in relationships…we take to heart (memorize) important pieces of information for future reference. It is part of “knowing” someone!

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