How can you convey a love of and devotion to Mary with all the necessary background knowledge in just one class period? The simple answer is that you can’t. You have to select the greatest message you want the class to absorb, focus on it for the class, and then add more about Mother Mary throughout the year as you teach other lessons. Just as you invite her to be with you daily, you must invite her to join you in each of your classes.
My goal with our Mary lesson is twofold. First, I want the children to understand why she is our greatest role model of a disciple. Second, I want them to look to Mary to help them say yes to God.
The Annunciation is a great place to start learning about how Mary said yes to God. Third graders like to use their imaginations, so I always begin by asking my classes to imagine how they would respond if an angel of God suddenly appeared in front of them. We begin by reading the Scripture or a Bible storybook to get a picture of the scene. I then ask the children to picture themselves with an angel suddenly standing in front of them. Goodness—that would be quite a shock! How would you react?
I continue by asking them what they would do if God requested them to do something really, really difficult. What if God requested them to do something that seemed impossible or confusing? What if God asked them to do something that other people wouldn’t understand? Would they question the angel a little further to obtain a few more details before making a decision? Would they hesitate or even attempt to explain why now really wasn’t the best time for this request? Or would they answer “Yes!” with all their heart like Mary?
Most of the kids said no, they wouldn’t be like Mary. Some of the kids said that it was God, so of course they would say yes. So I asked them how they answer when their parents ask them to clean their rooms, take out the garbage, or do their homework. Do you always do it immediately without question, argument, or hesitation? They didn’t answer as quickly or as wholeheartedly. It’s hard to say yes to something you don’t want to do or when you are unsure of the consequences. Mary said yes to something huge that would change her life forever. She responded that she was a servant to God and would do his will.
As we moved through the Bible stories of Mary’s life, we saw how she continued to say yes to God’s will even when she faced the death of her son. Her trust and faith in God didn’t waiver even while standing at the foot of the Cross.
Finally we spent some time as a class thinking about how we are asked to say yes to God in our lives. While many of the kids said they were unsure, a few had answers, which got the discussion rolling. The most popular answers were that they must do good deeds, be respectful of their parents, attend Mass, and pray. I told them that one way I say yes to God is by teaching their class.
What are ways you say yes to God? How do you continue to say yes every day?