Winter Doldrums?

It's been a hard week, relax, enjoy! This is the time of the year when many of us begin to experience the winter doldrums. As mild as winter has been in Chicago this year, the lack of light and color still gets to you after a while. My students came into class last night with a collective case of the doldrums! Several had just come from basketball practice and were a bit tuckered out but got their second wind a half hour later. A few others just seemed very quiet and one just looked downright sad 🙁

I also had 4 students absent (out of 13) which made for a sense of quiet but also emptiness. Luckily, as class went on, the energy level increased and things turned out quite nicely. Even the sad face seemed to disappear by night’s end! 🙂

We focused on the Prophets once again, this time emphasizing how they brought HOPE to the People of Israel during and after the horrendous experience of EXILE. Here are a few highlights:

  • They were very attentive to the brief  YouTube video of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which I showed to give some sense of how the People of Israel felt when they returned home from Exile to a destroyed Temple and homeland.
  • That served as a good lead in to reading from the book about the Prophets and how they sought to give hope to a People in despair and how we Christians recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of that hope.
  • After we read from the  Finding God book, I showed them a First Aid Kit and asked what would normally be in it (bandages, gauze, ointment, tape, etc.) and how we used these to tend to the needs of someone who is injured.
  • I then asked what ONE tool we Catholics use to tend to the needs of those who are “hurting” in other ways. I opened the kit and took out a piece of paper with the word MERCY on it and explained how, through works of mercy, we bring hope to those in despair.
  • We read about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy from the  Finding God book and then I had them assemble a couple of picture charts that illustrate examples of each of these works of mercy.
  • The kids worked “quietly” on this project (in their sacred space) for about 15-20 minutes. They behaved for the most part although a couple of the basketball players had gotten their second wind now and were a bit hyper. Not a problem but it just required some vigilance on my part to keep it in check.
  • When they were done, I turned the lights down and had them spend some quiet time talking to Jesus about how they can bring hope and mercy to others and how they might need it themselves (thinking especially of the sad face who seemed in need of some hope).
  • We finished by talking about how next Monday’s holiday (from school and religious education) is in honor of a modern-day prophet – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – who challenged our society to be more just and gave hope to an oppressed people just as the Prophets of the Old Testament did. It was a good way to close the session.

[photo: Valerie via Compfight]

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

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