In a recent session, my class talked about being a disciple in the context of Ordinary Time. Since this Church season occupies most of the liturgical year, the discussion centered on how we can follow Jesus in everyday life. We focused on the works of mercy as ways to practice our discipleship.
I set the stage by holding up a poster-sized copy of the liturgical calendar and gave a brief introduction to how we mark time in the Church. I hinted that we would return to this calendar again when we get closer to Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
Following the suggestion of our textbook (Finding God, Grade 7, Session 5), I asked the class if anyone played sports or a musical instrument and invited several volunteers to mention their athletic or musical activities. That led the young people to think about the practice it takes to achieve excellence in a field. I helped them to transition into thinking about how we have to practice to be better followers of Christ. Some scenarios in the textbook helped us think about how to do that and gave the young people a chance to write some thoughts.
Next we moved to a discussion of how we have examples in faith, namely the saints. The text highlighted two saints for us—St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Vincent de Paul—and I split the class so each half would read one of the stories and then tell the other half of the class about the saint. The saints’ biographies led nicely into discussion of the works of mercy, which formed the main section of this session.
To help the young people learn about the works of mercy, we made mini-booklets following an idea Joe Paprocki shared on Catechist’s Journey. Assembling these booklets was a simple task and appropriate for this age level. It also appealed to those young people who enjoy arts and crafts. However, we did not have enough time to complete the booklets because our discussion took more time than I expected.
We pulled together some of the ideas from the night through a guided reflection on the works of mercy. This was the most successful part of the session. My class has a number of young people who talk out of turn or want to sidetrack the conversation. But when it came time for the extended prayer, the young people settled down and seemed to embrace it. I wasn’t surprised—I’ve been using guided reflection with my classes for many years now, and the young people have responded positively. This year, several students have asked to do another meditation. While I expose my class to a variety of prayer forms, I’ll return regularly to guided meditations, inviting young people to the quiet and to a time of having a conversation with God.
How do you talk about being a disciple with your class? How do they practice discipleship?
Denise, that’s interesting that the kids who normally talk out of turn embrace the quiet of a guided reflection. It’s good to know that there are ways of conquering their need for chatter!
Joe, I’m always on the hunt to find what will work with a particular group. It’s different every year, it seems, but reflections are usually on the list.