“People like that have poop for brains” – Pardon my “French”

Last evening’s class was a lot of fun and very productive. I told the kids that they were going to take a “final exam” and, of course, they all freaked out. I then proceeded to calm their fears and tell them that we were going to review first and that the test was just a way to see what “stuck” and what we might need to cover on our last class.

I then did the review that I described in my post yesterday and it was a lot of fun. The kids were really eager to come to the board and write in an answer and tape it into the correct space. When we got to the Ten Commandments, things really took off. I was pausing after each commandment to add a few thoughts and give a few examples when all of a sudden the kids eagerly began volunteering stories of commandments they had broken when they were “little.” It snow-balled into a number of stories of how they lied, took some money, or even “shop-lifted” when they were 3, 4, or 5 years old. The stories were very cute and it gave me an opportunity to talk about how kids that age are not yet old enough to be held responsible or to consider those acts sinful. But now that they are older and understand that something is wrong, such acts become sinful. The stories also revealed how their parents taught them right from wrong (one boy said he secretly took the waitress’ tip off the table at a restaurant and when his mom found out at home, they went back to the restaurant to return it!)

The best moment came, however, when I told them a true story that was in the news recently in Chicago of a thug who stole an iPhone from someone at the train station and, in his hurry to get away, knocked over an older woman who then hit her head and died from the injury. I explained how at least 3 commandments were broken in that incident: the thief first coveted his neighbor’s goods, that desire led him to steal, and all of it led to him killing someone…all over a phone. One young man raised his hand and said, “people like that have poop for brains!”

Amen! I told the young man that he was absoutely right and that they were so lucky to have parents who care enough to send them to religious education so that they can grow up with God’s word in their brains instead of you-know-what. And then I explained that THAT’S why I’m giving them a test to see whether or not their brains had the right stuff in them!

I guess this is a good example of what St. Ignatius meant when he said that when we teach we need to “enter through their door but be sure to leave through your door.” When you enter through their door, you never know what you might step into! 🙂

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. Thanks Joe for this. All of it a delight to read, but it was the final sentence that had me in fits of laughter!

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