Lent with the Saints, Part 2: Fasting with St. Vincent Ferrer

This is the second of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a season in which we respond to the Lord’s call to “return to me with all your heart, / with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12) As I remind young people of the requirements for Lent, I usually share this passage with them to remind them that this obligation is nothing more than responding to […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 1: Praying with St. Patrick

In the first of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we learn from St. Patrick how to make Lent a special season of prayer. In the weeks leading up to Lent, I am reminded to tell the young people in my class about Lent. I have to tell them when Ash Wednesday services at my parish are. I am required to inform them of the Lenten regulations. I need to […]

Lifting Hearts and Eyes to Mary with a Living Rosary and Balloon Release

There’s no doubt that St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas has a passion for Mary and her discipleship. Lessons about the Rosary are incorporated in religious instruction at all grade levels and focus especially on Mary during the Month of the Rosary in October. Fifteen years ago, St. Gregory’s seventh-grade students started asking questions about Marian apparitions and how they connected to the Mysteries of the Rosary. The students were asked […]

10 Tips for Catechists from the Blessed Virgin Mary

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. […]

Celebrating St. Francis Xavier

Tomorrow, December 3, is the feast of the great Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier, a companion of St. Ignatius of Loyola and then a fearless missionary to India and Japan. This feast is a great opportunity for catechists to teach about our missionary call to bring the Gospel of Jesus “ad gentes” (to the nations). In particular, Francis Xavier stands as a monumental example of learning and encounter. Some Jesuit schools observe “Xavier Day” by arranging […]

Three Lessons for Catechists from St. Nicholas

On December 6, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. On the night of December 5, children leave their shoes by the door, finding them filled with treats when they wake up the next morning. Catechists too can find “treats” from the life of St. Nicholas to help them in their ministry. Here are three lessons we can learn from the life of this fourth-century saint. 1. Be a gift-giver. St. Nicholas is best known […]

St. Cecilia, Patron Saint of Musicians, Pray for Us

Tomorrow, November 22, we celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. I’ve made no secret on this blog about my insistence that music and singing must be a part of our catechetical ministry. I also believe that we have a largely untapped embarrassment of riches right under our noses in the form of young people who are adept at playing various instruments such as cello, flute, classical guitar, or piano. These […]

Patron Saints Election Results

At the time I write this, my group of seventh graders has narrowed down the pool of saintly candidates to three as we move toward electing a patron saint for our classroom. The finalists are St. Mary, St. Francis Xavier, and Blessed Miguel Pro. Mary is polling as the current leader, but who knows what the final tally will say. You may recall that when I originally shared this activity of electing a patron saint, […]

St. Charles Borromeo, Patron Saint of Catechists

In her book, My Best Teachers Were Saints, author Susan H. Swetnam writes about St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of catechists, whose feast day we celebrate today. She explains that he supervised the writing of an accurate catechism, rewrote liturgical texts and music, and began enforcing clerical reform in Rome after the Council of Trent. She writes that he was, “an energetic reformer who took ‘always the most austere and stringent interpretation’ of the […]

Halloween, All Souls, Purgatory, and the Communion of Saints

“I see dead people!” Remember that famous line from the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense, in which a boy, played by Haley Joel Osment, reveals to the character played by Bruce Willis that he sees dead people? For many years now, I’ve been facetiously telling people that, if you see or talk to dead people, you’re not crazy, you’re Catholic! An important part of our belief system—our Catholic vision of reality or our cosmology—is our belief in […]

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