Making a Statement – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Happy New Year everybody!!!

I hope, pray, and trust that this year will be filled with many blessings for you in your role as a catechist!

Tonight, when I teach, I plan to wear my Blackhawks jersey, which I’m wearing here in this picture at last night’s Hawks’ victory (my daughter Amy’s first Hawks game). I want to point out that we make a statement by what we wear. I’ll then ask the kids to show what statement their clothes are making (most wear t-shirts and sweatshirts with school names, sports teams, or rock bands).

I’ll use this as an opportunity to talk about how Confirmation is an opportunity to make a statement about our faith…not so much by what we wear or even by what we say but by how we act: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Our focus for the evening will be on the Works of Mercy (Spiritual and Corporal), social justice, service, and living the Beatitudes. No, I’m not teaching all of that…this is one of our Confirmation intensives where the kids rotate through 5 different mini-sessions, each lasting 15 minutes. My focus will be on the Spiritual Works of Mercy…more about that in a minute.

I’m bringing in a picture of the character from Batman named “Two-Face” and asking them what it means when we call someone two-faced. I then plan to show them the traditional picture of theatrical masks. I’ll explain how, in ancient Greece, actors wore masks and that the Greek word for actor is hypokrites from which we get our word hypocrite. I want to emphasize that our words and actions need to be consistent and that our goal is to teach them to act in ways that “confirm” one’s discipleship. If not, we run the risk of being hypocrites: saying one thing and doing another.

To introduce the Spiritual Works of Mercy, I’m bringing in pictures (cut out of CVS and Walgreens sales papers) of over-the-counter remedies for various physical ailments: headaches, muscle aches, cough and cold, etc. We’ll talk briefly about how we can take certain medications to get relief from various physical ailments. I will then propose to them that we have other ailments that need tending to: spiritual ailments such as loneliness, sadness, despair, anxiety, grief, and so on. We’ll then explore the Spiritual Works of Mercy as actions we can perform that bring relief to the spiritual ailments that others may be suffering:

  • advising the sinner
  • instructing the ignorant
  • consoling the doubtful
  • comforting the sorrowful
  • forgiving all injuries
  • bearing wrongs patiently
  • praying for the living and the dead

I’ll share more tomorrow about the little booklets the kids will be making for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I hope your New Year gets off to a great start!

About Joe Paprocki 2747 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

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