First Guided Reflection

Monday evening, I led my 8th graders in their first guided reflection. We were focusing on the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit helps us to pray.

I invited the young people to make themselves comfortable…most chose to sit or lay on the floor. The guided reflection I used is from the Finding God program and is on a CD.

After getting the young people to shift gears, I turned down the lights and put on the CD. The reflection lasted about 12 minutes during which time my aide (Kris) and I were free to move about and make sure kids were focused. The guided reflection invited them to imagine they were meeting Jesus and speaking with him about prayer.

For the most part, things went very well. Most of the kids were quiet and cooperative. There was a smattering of antsy-ness and giggling that Kris and I continually and quietly addressed.

When it was over, we talked about the experience. I told them that this was something new and that I expected there to be some difficulty. I also told them that at their age, it can be difficult to hold still for an extended period of time. Finally, I told them that a few of them were just downright acting immaturely and needed to act their age. I reminded them that I wasn’t scolding them…I was coaching them on a skill for Christian living and giving them tips and advice on how to grow into it.

I asked how many would say that those 12 minutes were the most peaceful moments of their day…every hand went up! I explained that we could continue to work at this each week if they promise to try harder or we could just forget it and do book work. Every single one of them requested without hesitation that we do this every week.

This was a fascinating experience to introduce young disciples of Christ to a facet of Christian life that has been practiced for over 2000 years! It requires patience and an understanding of the adolescent mind and heart. Was it a challenge for me? Absolutely. At times I was frustrated. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and look forward to mentoring them into a prayer relationship with the Lord, guided by the Holy Spirit.

I know that an athletic coach recognizes that kids need to learn step by step. I’m sure that when a coach introduces a new skill or a new play, the first few times around can be a bit rough. The coach’s job is to develop those skills…to polish them and to move his or her players to the next step. I am using the same philosophy in teaching reflective prayer to young people. The first time around, they handled it as I would expect 13-year-olds would. I am satisfied with how it went for the first time. I am not satisfied that this is the best they can do.

We catechists walk a fine line between reaching for ideals and taking kids where they are at. Next week, they’ll be better and the week after that they’ll be even better.

I must say that a number of the kids appeared to be truly intrigued with what we were doing and I find that to be very rewarding. Wait till I tell them that what they are learning is called MEDITATION! I think I’ll wait another week or 2 before I say that….I don’t want them to think that I’m trying to make them holy (even though that’s exactly what I’m trying to do!).

About Joe Paprocki 2375 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.

9 Comments on First Guided Reflection

  1. Ohhhh, I love it! Will you be my teacher? LOL Somehow I’m thinking we would have to work up to this with littles, but I would like to implement something like this during our prayer circle.

  2. Ali, I’ll teach you how to work with the older kids if you teach me how to work with the little ones! I’ve said it before, I couldn’t do what you and all the pre-school, K, and primary catechists do, working with the wee ones! I admire your patience and skill.

    Having said that, I have no doubt that the little ones are capable of reflective prayer. Certainly not a 12-15 minute one like the one I did, but a few minutes to quiet themselves, close their eyes, pay attention to their breathing, and imagine spending a few minutes with Jesus and speaking to him and listening to him speak. Little children are the masters of imagination and the Spirit uses our imaginations to encounter the Lord. I’ll see what I can do about posting a guided reflection for little children.

  3. Oh, I know 5 minutes would be to long 😉 But I do think we could start with 30 to 60 seconds. Our first class was “God Made Everything”. We closed with each child (all three of them! lol) individually thanking God for one special blessing. I think we could have had quiet time for a short time afterward to just concentrate on each child’s blessing.

    I have so much I want to do this year, and not much time to get it done! Outside class prep, that is. LOL

  4. “The red string” is a great reflection for little ones. I used it very successfully with 2nd graders.

    I have to admit, I have great respect for those who are called to work with preschoolers and primary graders. It is not my strength.

  5. Ali, that sounds like such a wonderful idea to have the kids think of one special blessing…I can just imagine what goes on in their little minds and hearts!

  6. Hi Joe,

    If you do the guided reflection for the younger children, I would be
    interested. Our Director has done this with us before class.

    Another reflective meditation
    would be very useful to me.

    Thanks Joe,

    Kate

  7. Well, I tried it this past Sunday. I was met with two giggling 6 year olds 😉 Our lesson was about Light. I thought if I could have the kids lay quietly and close their eyes I will quietly talk about “darkness”. Then have them OPEN their eyes to see the light God has made. OMGoodness! LOL They are so cute, but so not mature enough. I’m stubborn though, and not giving up yet.

    I’m in the process of rearranging our room, getting rid of a big desk and replacing it with bean bags. That might set up a better prayer/meditation space than the floor. Hehehehe.

    What I really wanted to do was have them them close to me and I could put my are around them similar to how I do with my own kids when we have quiet time here at home. Unfortunately, that’s frowned upon.

    So, better luck next time for us.

  8. Ali, I can tell that you won’t give up! Don’t forget that I had giggling 8th graders on my first attempt a week ago! Last night, attempt number 2 was much better (as I wrote about in today’s post). You know, the bean bags just might do the trick for them! You might want to just begin by having a “quiet” contest…tell the kids that you’d like to see who can stay still and quiet the longest and see how long they can go. Then, tell them that, to help them stay quiet longer, they should think about…and then have them think about the theme you have chosen such as the light/darkness idea you tried. Let us know how your next attempt goes!

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