A Meditative Test

In two weeks (we have no class this coming Monday), the 8th graders will be given their Confirmation Test/Assessment. As I’ve been explaining to them, this is not a pass or fail proposition, but rather, an assessment of each student’s grasp of the basic content of the Catholic faith. For those who do not do well on the assessment, my aide and I will design some steps to take to assist them in grasping the concepts. The goal is for every student to be able to love the Lord God with their whole heart, soul, MIND, and strength!

I’m thinking about presenting the assessment within a prayerful context to further remove the idea that this is a “final exam.” I haven’t figured this out yet, but I thought I would begin the session with a further explanation of just what we are doing and then lead them in a brief meditation that sets a prayerful mood and allows them to encounter Jesus for the purpose of talking with him about knowing their faith. I would then, without too much disruption of the prayerful mood, quietly distribute the assessment and have the students work on it while I continue to play some instrumental music very quietly in the background. When they are done, I will encourage them to put their head down and once again spend time with Jesus, talking with him about where they are at in their commitment to follow him.

I need to further develop the idea. If anyone has done something like this before, I’d love to hear about it.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 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.


  1. I’ve never heard of this approach, but I’d love to hear how it works out. My caution would be against the music playing during the actual test. Some students have a really hard time concentrating with music, and there are studies to back that up. But the intro with Jesus idea sounds good.

  2. Joe
    I like the idea of having the prayerful reflection before hand. But I guess it would depend on the group of kids. You will need to tread very carefully if any of your students have any learning problems. In thier minds a test by any other name is still a test even if you call it an assessment and frame it differently. For these students you do not want to have them associating a deep prayer encounter with Christ with being tested by or about Jesus.
    That being said… Have you given any thought to cushioning the transition between the two with some openended journaling type questions. It might make the transition smoother and also enable you to evaluate more accurately students who have difficulty remembering or articulating faith facts but who in fact have deep faith.
    Just a thought

  3. Maura, excellent thoughts and suggestions. I certainly wouldn’t want them to think that Jesus was testing them! I like the idea of “cushioning the transition.” Thanks much!

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