It’s time to say goodbye to another class of third graders, and as I reflect on our time together, I have noticed that there was a beautiful pattern woven throughout each day. Our classes began and ended with prayer, and we took advantage of opportunities to pray as they popped up throughout the day.
For example, our school is next to a main thoroughfare through our city. Hundreds of cars pass by our school every day, which unfortunately leads to accidents now and then. Whenever we heard sirens, we stopped whatever we were doing to offer a prayer. I would begin by saying, “Mother Mary, place your loving arms around this person,” and then we would pray a Hail Mary.
I also took the opportunity to connect our prayers with the Mass. On Fridays we look at the readings for the coming Sunday. When we were reading the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter (John 20:19–31), I stopped my class when a student read the words of the Apostle Thomas upon seeing the risen Lord: “My Lord and my God!” I shared with my class that I say these words when the priest elevates the Body of Christ and the chalice, after the consecration of the bread and wine during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I explained that my parents first taught me this prayer, and now I was passing it on to them. I encouraged my students to pray these words as well.
I also like to share my love of the saints in our prayers. When a student has misplaced something, I’ll call out to St. Anthony of Padua, “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost that must be found!” If we are having problems with our WiFi, I’ll invoke the help of the patron saint of the Internet, St. Isidore of Seville, by praying, “St. Isidore of Seville, pray for us!” And if the kids are having trouble learning division with remainders, I’ll ask for the intercession of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes: “St. Jude, pray for us!”
Our prayers might have been a little silly now and then. To help calm my students’ nerves before a big test, immediately after handing out the test papers I would pray: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Dear Holy Spirit, these boys and girls have studied hard for this test. Please help the knowledge that is in their brains, go down their arms, through their hands, to their pencils, and to their papers, with the right answers.” I would conclude the prayer with a dramatic, “Amen!” This prayer always seemed to get the children in the proper mindset for a test.
Prayer became such a part of our classroom that my students noticed when we forgot to pray. Once, before we started our morning routine, I shared a Catholic meme I found showing a finger Rosary as a fidget spinner for Catholics. This led to stories about fidget spinners, and before I knew it, we began math class without having prayed. Two students had to point out that we had forgotten and that we needed to pray.
I hope that as my students move on to their next grade, they will continue to weave prayer throughout their days at school and at home. As they remember praying the Rosary and other prayers throughout our year together, I hope they will reach for their rosaries and pray comfortably and often as they grow.
How do you weave prayer into your classroom?
Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts helps you to weave prayer into every lesson and instills prayer as a lifelong practice.
Readers, you will be happy to know that St. Jude came through for my 3rd graders! Although they felt, at the first few days of division with remainders, that understanding the concept was an impossible cause. They all mastered the concept. Thank you St. Jude!