Editor’s note: We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey this week by sharing catechetical top-10 lists each day and giving away Loyola Press prize packages. Enter for your chance to win the Ignatian Inspiration pack today; details below.
I’m always looking for help to become a better catechist. Since I often turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help in other areas of my life, I asked her to help me in this ministry. Here are 10 tips she has shared with me over the years.
1. Be confident.
Sometimes I wonder if God picked the right guy when he called me to be a catechist. Recalling the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary—“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28)—I remember that the Lord is with me too. I find confidence and courage in these words.
2. Be obedient.
“Let it be with me according to your word,” Mary assented (Luke 1:38). As a catechist, I must assent to many things. Not only must I be true to what the Church teaches, I must also be true to what my DRE has outlined for the program. Most importantly, I must be true to the young people and their needs.
3. Be surprised.
Just as Mary was surprised when the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:32), I can be surprised by the words of wisdom that come from the mouths of young people. I must always remember to be thankful for those such gifts of grace.
4. Be joyful.
When she was greeted by her relative Elizabeth, Mary said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). In a similar way, my spirit rejoices in young people. I really enjoy their company, and I enjoy sharing the faith with them. Such joy reminds me that the Holy Spirit is present.
5. Be attentive.
Mary was amazed at what the prophet Simeon said to her and Joseph when Jesus was presented in the Temple (Luke 2:22–35). No doubt they paid attention. I also need to pay attention to the needs of the young people in my class. I need to address their concerns and answer their questions. Being present is a simple way to show love and concern.
6. Be gentle.
Whenever I imagine how Mary disciplined Jesus after finding him in the Temple, I cannot imagine her being harsh. Rather, I imagine her asking him with a sweet, gentle voice, “Child, why have you treated us like this?” (Luke 2:48) When the class gets unruly and I have to enforce discipline, I try to do it gently and with love.
7. Be quiet.
Mary kept a lot of things in her heart (Luke 2:51). I understand this as an admonition to be quiet. After class, I find it helpful to sit quietly for a few moments, letting the events settle. I’m not evaluating the class or identifying what worked and what didn’t. Rather, I’m just spending a few moments with God in gratitude.
8. Be helpful.
At the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1–12), one thing always struck me about Mary: she was helpful. Attentive to the needs of the celebrants, she interceded on their behalf. I can intercede on behalf of the young people, in my prayers, of course, but also by helping them whenever I can.
9. Be a community.
After Jesus’ Ascension, Mary devoted herself to prayer, along with the Apostles (Acts of the Apostles 1:13–14). Mary reminds me that the young people and I are more than just a class; we are a community that prays together, serves together, and has fun together. This perspective reminds me—and helps young people see—that I am not teaching a subject; I am introducing them to a person: Jesus Christ.
10. Be inclusive.
When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in 1531, she shared the message that God’s mercy is for all people, without exception. By making all the young people feel welcome and helping them feel like the Church is a place where they belong—regardless of where they might be on their faith journeys—I share that same message of mercy.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is always looking out for me. Knowing that helps me approach the ministry with the grace and confidence that I need to accompany young people on their journey of faith.
How does the Blessed Virgin Mary help you in your ministry of catechesis? How might you share your devotion to Our Lady with the young people in your class?
Thank you for celebrating the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey with us. Giveaway winners have all been notified.