Pope Benedict XVI recently told bishops from Slovakia (June 15) that “only by helping young people make a connection between their Christian faith and everyday life can the Church help youths resist the temptations and illusions of consumerism.”
I believe this is our sacred duty as catechists. Unless faith connects with daily living, it will remain a “subject” or “topic” for our young people instead of a way of life. What does this mean practically speaking for us as catechists? It means that we have to pay attention to what’s going on in the lives of young people. As part of our lesson planning, we need to:
- pay attention to current news stories – like it or not, Paris Hilton is a news story and her travails provide opportunities for us to teach. At the more sublime level are stories in the news about immigration, the war in Iraq, and other current events that surface each day.
- surf the Internet – visit sites that kids visit, especially places like Myspace, YouTube and Facebook, to see what kids are talking about
- stay in tune with popular music – it’s good to know what kids are listening to. Anna Scally does a great job of offering help to adults who want to stay in touch with the music that young people are listening to…visit cornerstone media inc.
- pay attention to sports – I get kidded about this a lot but I believe that sports can be a huge influence in a kid’s life. Most kids are involved in some kind of sports today. There are many opportunities for linking faith with daily living by using sports as a portal.
- talk/listen to kids! – what a radical idea! One of the best ways to know what’s going on in the lives of kids is to talk with them informally. Just ask them what’s going on and then LISTEN!
I like to compare a good lesson to a good homily. The best homilies make some kind of connection to daily living. Good homilies tap into what’s on the minds and in the hearts of people, calling them to revisit these issues with a new mind and heart. When planning a lesson, imagine that you are preparing a homily on the topic of your lesson. What current event or issue would you use to “hook” your crowd? That same “hook” can provide you with a doorway into the lives of your students. And, as St. Ignatius taught, “enter through their door but exit through yours” – meaning that you start with that life experience, connect it to the Gospel, and then move forward with a new way of looking at that life experience (conversion).
This is how Jesus taught and, as catechists, we are called to teach as Jesus did.