I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful stories you’ve been sending in for Stories on the Journey, our summer renewal experience here on Catechist’s Journey! If you’ve just joined us, take a look:
Now, it’s on to Week Three and our topic is: Touching the Sacred – describe a time when you really and truly felt the presence of God (the power of the Holy Spirit) in your work as a catechist. Share a brief story with us (in the Comments box below) – just one or two paragraphs – that describes a moment when you felt the Holy Spirit actively at work in you and in those you teach. Then, return each day this week to read others’ stories and to comment on them if you wish.
I’m looking forward to this week’s stories!!!
Once I had the opportunity to lead a group of 8th graders (not my own class) on a guided reflection in the chapel. Luckily, they were a quiet, cooperative group. I led them to imagine that Jesus had come to sit down next to them for a personal conversation. When we were all done, I talked to the group about what a guided reflection is and I asked for their reaction. It was quiet for a few seconds and then, one young man quietly said, “It’s like Jesus was sitting right next to me.” I thank God for the opportunity to help young people recognize that Jesus is indeed near to them at all times.
Shortly before my class was to make their first Communion, one of the mothers said she did not believe her son was ready since he was unable to answer the questions in the Baltimore Catechism. I explained that we had used a different book and approach to teaching. She was dubious so I asked Andy if he knew what Communion was. With wide eyes he replied, “At Mass God gives the priest the power to change a piece of bread into Jesus’ own body so we can receive him.” “Do you want to receive Jesus in Communion?” I asked. “Oh yes!” he answered enthusiastically, and then, after a brief pause reflected soberly, “I don’t know why my mother never goes [to Communion].”
Andy did make his first Communion with his class – and his mother was with him! An added gift was seeing both of them in the Communion line on subsequent Sundays.
What a beautiful story! This little boy had not only grasped the awesome miracle of Eucharist but had also managed, by his own example, to inspire the faith in his own mother.
And a little child shall lead them . . .
When I first started in ministry I made the mistake of not vetting a piano player. After a very slow and painful Praise & Worship prayer service I went back to my office defeated. I put my head down on my desk and let out all the frustration I had been holding in during the prayer service. When I finally picked my head up, I started talking to God.
I told him that I messed up but that I was having a lot of trouble finding a musician. I babbled on, as we sometimes do when recovering from crying on our desks. Finally I ended my prayer with, “God I bet there is a musician within a block of this church that needs to be here as much as we need him.”
The next week I headed to the church with my guitar still frustrated that I hadn’t found a musician. As I walked across the lobby a young man stopped me. He told me that he had just come back to the church and was looking for people to play the guitar with, he asked if he could play with me.
He finished by saying, “I don’t have my guitar with me, but I just live a few houses down. I will get it and be right back.”
Since it is Pentecost week, I thought I would share with you what happened to me a few years ago when Lydia, a friend of mine invited me to go to the SCRC convention with her and her husband. I was not familiar at the time with what can happen at one of those charismatic conventions. Lydia tried to explain to me what to expect but not only I was skeptical but was doubtful it was the Holy Spirit. Anyway we arrived at the Convention Center and quickly join in the music which was to get us ready for the mass about to start. The music was powerful and beautiful. As soon as the presider started the mass and asked us to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, I heard a strong wind throughout the arena and some people around us started praying in tongues. To my big surprise, a lady fell to the floor next to me while this wind was going throughout the arena. I told Lydia why did they put the fans so loud? She smiled and said that was no fans but the Holy Spirit moving throughout the arena. With regard to the lady and other people throughout the arena who “fell” to the floor, I wanted to dial “911” but again Lydia told me not to worry it was the power of the Holy Spirit and that those people were just fine. I will never forget this experience and every Pentecost Sunday when I hear the reading about the strong wind which could be heard by the poeple outside the upper room, I think of my own experience which I share with my teachers and students alike and give praise to God.
This year I taught classes for our 1st, 3rd, and 7th grades. When we reached the Sacraments of Initiation I set up stations for each of the sacraments with the elements used for each. I then explained to the students the purpose behind each of the elements for each of the sacraments. Then I asked why we would use these specific elements and not others. All three age groups responded with “they are physical reminders of God’s creation, and therefore reminders of God!!!” I was blown away that this worked with all three groups. After the discussion I asked the students to come up to each station and walk through the ritual with each other.
So students “baptized,” “annointed,” and “fed” each other. Their reaction was silent awe, they felt the Spirit’s presence just as I did, in each of those classes.
Great idea MaryEllen! Think I will try it with my class!
I teach RCIA for kids (2nd – 6th grades). During Lent, right before they will be baptized, we do the Stations of the Cross. We have some posters that I put up around the room and down the hallway. At the last minute, I decided to add a candle for each one since they had really enjoyed lighting the one we used for our opening prayer each week.
We went through the Stations and that all went really well, the kids participating nicely and everything. Afterwards, we still had some class time left and they really wanted to see what it was like if I turned out all the lights and just had the candles going, so we did that for a bit. I then ended up just giving them some free time. I made the hall a quiet place and allowed a bit of whispering in the room, but encouraged them to just spend some time thinking and praying. After a few minutes of fidgeting from the younger ones, all of them ended up just being totally silent and praying and thinking.
It was one of those moments where I totally knew it was God working. I hadn’t planned on the whole ending part at all and it just “happened.” Looking back, I can really see the Holy Spirit making it all happen and working in all, both the kids and mine, of our lives.
One of my 5th graders was frequently sleepy during class. When I asked why, he told me he stays up late.
During class one Saturday we were talking about Reconciliation. I mentioned the reconciliation service we had several weeks prior with Fr. Jason. Not two minutes after I mentioned Fr. Jason, he appeared at our door. This is not a regular occurence but he happened to be in the neighborhood.
Father asked what the class was studying and of course the answer was reconciliation. Father asked how frequently a person needs to go to confession and the answers varied. Father then went on to explain a time he had the need to confess something immediately. He walked over to the “sleepy” student (who at the time was very attentive and not in any way sleepy) and told us that he was staying up too late. That prevented him from functioning properly the next day and he felt that he needed to talk to another priest about it.
It was as though the Holy Spirit moved this discussion. For Father to show up when his name was mentioned, and then touch on the very topic and stand by the student guilty of staying up too late was nothing short of Spirit moving.
The class that I was “subbing” for was studying the first three commandments and I just told them to close their books. they said we always just go around the room and read. I just said We don’t need to read about these commandments we need to feel them. These are about a relationship with God and putting God at the center of your life so that God comes before everything and everyone. If that is the decision you make then the excuse of sports or other engagements, or your video games or being lazy won’t work for missing mass. Using God’s name in a bad way just can’t happen because God would be your friend and you wouldn’t want to hurt your “friend”. I told them that is how I live my life. My friends call and know we go to 4:30 mass so if we are going to dinner it has to be at 5;45 or later or we decide to go on Sunday instead. We plan our life around the mass on the weekend.
One studnet responded; I have been in this program for 5 years and nobody ever told us this before. I need to go home and tell my mom I have to go to mass. Then two kids (twins) said I think we need to talk to mom about getting there more often . We aren’t realy doing anything. Kids respond to OUR passion and FAITH,
Thanks for sharing this inspiring story Judi. When next I encourage my class to be regular at Mass, I am going to share with them how MY weekend revolves around our parish liturgy!
We catechists were on retreat – a small group of about 12 – mainly women, with 2 men. I recall that the theme of the retreat was “New Life.” As we were sharing one evening, one of the younger catechists broke down in tears as she shared her pain at ending a relationship which compromised her Christian beliefs, and making the choice to embrace the single life for Christ. Perhaps it was the trigger that we all needed. Another one broke down and shared her struggles to have a good relationship with her firstborn. The room grew very still as each of us wept quietly . . . Truly a sacred moment, truly an experience of God ushering in new life.
Several summers ago I was working as a camp counselor at our archdiocesan summer camp for high school youth. There was Mass the opening night and one of the girls in my group did not receive Holy Communion. When I spoke to her after Mass she said that she felt she needed to go to Reconciliation. I spoke with the directors and before he left, the priest who had said Mass heard her confession. During the rest of the week I could visibly see her anticipation growing to receive the Eucharist at Mass on the closing night of camp. The night of the closing Mass I received Communion after she had received and had returned to her place. As I turned to return to my place, I caught sight of her. To me, she quite visibly glowed with the love and presence of Christ. If I had ever doubted the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (which, thank God, I had not), her appearance would have convinced me of the Real Presence. It definitely bolstered my faith and to this day the memory of that night stirs wonder and gratitude in my soul.
NOTE: This event happened during the second year of the Archdiocesan camping program. This incident became the impetus for the camp program to begin including the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the campers during their week at camp. Reconciliation is now a standard part of the program for all campers.