Questions are important, but I have never been someone who asked questions. Rather, I have always been eager to answer questions. Whether in a classroom as a child, in college, or as an adult, I readily raise my hand to answer an instructor’s question. I am always ready to answer Jeopardy questions aloud to my television, respond to questions in Facebook groups, or join my friends on most Tuesdays for our weekly trivia quiz night. By nature, I seem to be an “answerer” and rarely an “asker” of questions.
As a catechist, I’ve grown in my love of questions. There are the questions catechists ask our students. Some questions have easy, concrete answers, such as, “Who is the mother of Jesus?” or, “Can you describe what happened when Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning?” Other sorts of questions we ask might be more complex, asking for children to reply by processing concepts or experience.
But my favorite questions as a catechist are the ones asked by the children. I love it when they ask questions, because I know they are thinking about what we are doing, processing what they are learning, and trying to make the faith their own. My best classes have been the ones where we totally diverged from my lesson plan, because their questions took up most of the class’s time. Just as Pope Frances said, “It is good that we ask questions about our faith, because in this way we are pushed to deepen it.” (On Faith)
Of course, I don’t have answers to all the questions children ask. Not in the least. Trying to answer question after question on the Most Holy Trinity for second graders is tough. Sometimes a child comes up with a question that stumps me, and, sadly, I’m not quick with an answer. I am not afraid to admit when I don’t know the answers to their questions. Instead of making something up, I find that it’s better to tell them I’m not sure and that I will have an answer for them next week. I’d rather tell the children I don’t know and take the time to do some research to make sure I do have the right information.
Catechesis is not just teaching facts; it is transmitting our beautiful Catholic faith. God is not a subject to be learned but someone we seek to have a relationship with. My task is to introduce the children in my classes to a person, not teach a subject. When you are coming to know a new friend, what do you do? You ask questions: Where do you live? What do you like to do? What do we have in common? That is how we seek God and know him more and more. Sincere questions lead us to overcome our doubts and to develop a stronger relationship with God. Questions are not to be avoided but embraced.
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