Growing in Gratitude

In this series we will explore practices that can help us to develop a space for grace in our lives. As I explain in my book, Braving the Thin Places, the acronym GRACE can help us if we: G—Grow in gratitude R—Release regrets to rest and reset A—Authentic availability and acceptance C—Cultivate radical hospitality E—Embrace simplicity This article will focus on the first practice of GRACE, which is growing in gratitude. Encouraging our students to […]

Cultivating Peace in Our Classrooms in an Anxious World

We live in a fast-paced and increasingly anxious world that is clearly affecting the social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health of children. Studies published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics and based on data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health indicate significantly increased rates of anxiety among children, youth, and young adults. Researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety for children ages 6–17 between 2007 and 2012. […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Filling Your Home with Joy

The notion of a happy home can seem Pollyannish, given the complexities of family life in today’s very complicated world. Perhaps that’s because we tend to confuse the words happy and joyful. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that is influenced by exterior conditions, for instance sunshine makes me happy. But we all know that exterior conditions are not always favorable. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep-down gladness grounded in the love of Christ that […]

Like Learning a New Language, Faith Formation Requires Immersion

My New Year’s resolution this year was to learn Spanish. I was all set: I signed up for a 10-week course, purchased some resources, downloaded some apps, and began the journey. I made some good progress at first, especially as a result of the classes, and even spent extra time while on the train each day going over lessons and learning vocabulary. Then I hit the wall. My class didn’t meet for a couple of […]

Year-End Baseball Review

Our parish ends the faith-formation year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, so even though there are still lessons we want to cover, we use the last class as a fun review day. In Washington, D. C., we root for our hometown baseball team, the Nationals, so I tease the last class by telling them the week before that we’ll be playing baseball during our last class. Before class, I lay out a baseball diamond […]

Aren’t We Blessed?

At a reception after the Easter Vigil, one of the newly baptized came up to me. He’s an eighth-grader and was prepared to receive the sacraments through RCIA for youth. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but he seems like a great kid. He had been invited to attend one of our religious education classes by a friend. A personal invitation by another teen is what started the process. God took care of […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

This is the fourth article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) Happy are the catechists who help young people find God in all things, for they will find God in them. “I’m sorry Carrie was absent last night,” began the e-mail from the parent of one of the young people in my […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are They Who Mourn

This is the second article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Happy are the catechists who can take time to be with God, for they will find the joy of knowing God’s love. A few weeks ago, I attended a catechist training at my parish. We went over safety procedures and were shown how to use […]

May I Speak to Vincent, Please?

This is an excerpt from Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time by Jane Knuth. September 27 is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul and therefore, by association, it is also the feast day of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. There are still times when I get caught unprepared for a rush on a particular saint, but that’s not going to happen this September 27. I have ordered a box […]

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