Traditional Prayers – "Family Heirlooms"

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking aside each student and checking to see if he or she has taken to heart (memorized) a certain number of traditional Catholic prayers as spelled out by the parish curriculum. Before I do that, however, I plan to explain to the young people the importance and the value of knowing traditional prayers. Kids sometimes think that memorizing is a waste of time. But taking to heart […]

How Do I Get Them to See?

One of the frustrations I experience as a catechist is trying to get the young people to recognize the gravity of the material we are covering. One week, we were learning about the cross of Jesus. What could be more profound? A couple of students had the giggles that night and couldn’t seem to control themselves. I try to handle discipline problems with an even hand and a calm demeanor, but I admit that inside […]

Defining Liturgical Catechesis

I’m participating in a good discussion about liturgical catechesis at www.catechistconnection.net (site no longer live). Here’s my latest comments on liturgical catechesis in response to someone who defines liturgical catechesis the way I would define lectionary catechesis. “I think most people use the term lectionary catechesis to refer to what you’re talking about (lessons that flow from the Sunday Scripture readings). From my experience, liturgical catechesis is any form of catechesis that prepares one to […]

No Happy Medium

Working with eighth graders, I find that there seems to be no happy medium when it comes to their energy level. I can have them simply read from the text, which gets boring and makes them lethargic, or I can engage them in activities (my preference), which gets them overly excited and creates discipline problems! Sometimes, I feel like my own worst enemy: I get the kids engaged, and then I’m doing all I can […]

Planning and Preparation

When catechists ask me what is the most important advice I can offer to increase their effectiveness, I answer in three words: Plan! Plan! Plan! We tend to think that 95 percent of the task of teaching takes place in the classroom. Not so. As a student teacher back in college, I was taught (and I continue to firmly believe) that planning and preparation make up about 70 percent of the task of teaching. The […]

What

I mentioned in an earlier post that some behavior issues, especially among the boys, had been an ongoing nuisance. Finally, during the class preparing them for reconciliation, I calmly read the riot act to them. I said, “We are talking about God! We are talking about Jesus! To laugh and make light of things during this class is to make light of our relationship with God.” I went on to explain that, like a coach, […]

What's Mortal and What's Venial

In preparing the eighth graders for the Advent Reconciliation Service, I got into a good discussion with them about sin. Kids are full of questions about what “qualifies” as a mortal sin and what can be characterized as a venial sin. I was encouraged by how comfortable they were in asking questions about some very difficult subjects, such as violence, homosexuality, and adultery. One of the boys asked, “Is sex bad?” They all looked astonished […]

Respectful Discipline

In preparing the eighth graders for the Advent Reconciliation Service, I got into a good discussion with them about sin. Kids are full of questions about what “qualifies” as a mortal sin and what can be characterized as a venial sin. I was encouraged by how comfortable they were in asking questions about some very difficult subjects, such as violence, homosexuality, and adultery. One of the boys asked, “Is sex bad?” They all looked astonished […]

Feeling "At Home"

Here’s a good sign that my students are starting to feel at home with me. I put my Advent candles and purple cloth into place on the prayer table in the center of the room. One of the girls said, “I love purple! It’s my favorite color!” She walked over to the prayer table, took one of the purple candles, and carried it back to her desk, where she set it down and admired it […]

How Did I Get Myself Into This? (But I'm Glad I Did)

When I entered a doctor of ministry program a few years back, some people asked me what I would do when I was finished with the program. “Will you be changing jobs? Will you be getting a promotion? Will you teach at a University? Will you be getting a raise?” Well, recently I finished the course work for my D. Min. So what’s the first thing I did? I volunteered to serve as an eighth-grade […]

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