In the hubbub of teaching faith formation classes, living and working, trying to do the right thing, and discerning God’s will, there is the simple reality that pervades all things: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
This Scripture verse haunts me as a catechist. There are two reasons why our students will remember our lessons and see our Church as their home: the love that they feel when they come to class and the gift of knowing the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Neither of these things has much to do with our teaching skills. Instead, they rely on our cooperation with the Holy Spirit so that these experiences can be passed onward.
Even when my planned lesson implodes, I have to remember that the Holy Spirit is with me. There is a saying that “people will forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” We are charged with a unique opportunity that with every interaction we have with a student or parent, we are to help them imitate Christ. It’s both empowering and daunting.
How do I focus on showing love to my students and their families? How does this translate to each class, each e-mail, and each discussion? We have to be always mindful that how we make the children and parents feel is a direct extension of how they see Jesus. I find this hard, because in trying to pull off a successful class, do my administrative responsibilities, keep classroom order, and deal with demanding parents who may have a consumerist mentality toward catechesis, it’s easy for me to want to become curt. I have to make a concerted effort to remember to show love. My choice to be loving will afford my students and their families an encounter with Christ and inspire them to want to stay connected to the Church. A simple way I show my love is to think before I speak and act. By God’s grace, I have learned to recognize the signs when I may not be as loving as I should; when I’m getting anxious or when I feel pressured is usually when I won’t be loving. When I slow down and think before I snap, I can address any situation calmly, with patience, and with love. This is not always easy, but I must remember that “love never fails,” while my selfish ways usually do.
The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist reminds me of the truth that love never fails. Whenever my lessons don’t fill the time or when I feel like I am losing the students’ interest, I return our attention to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. Even though much of the year is spent on this topic, I find that you can never cover it too much. So when all else fails in a typical class, love does not fail, nor does the teaching of the Real Presence.
How do you show your love for the students in your faith formation class and their families?