Praying with Little Ones

Last fall, Joe Paprocki provided 20 tips for catechists. The ninth tip stuck with me: as catechists, we are not teaching a subject, but we are facilitating an encounter with Jesus. All of us encounter Jesus in different ways on any given day, and our students are no different. Offering a variety of prayer experiences for children can open up new ways for Christ to work in their lives. When I’m praying with my first-grade […]

Taste and See: Savoring the Liturgy

One of my favorite books in recent years is Thich Nhat Hanh’s Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, in which he introduces the concept of mindfulness—the practice of being fully present in each moment—as an approach to healthier eating and living. When we eat mindfully, we savor that which we are eating. To savor literally means to “give oneself to the enjoyment of.” It means to be mindful of that which we are eating and drinking—to unite […]

Downloadable Worksheet: Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church

When children visit a church, they may see sculptures, paintings, objects, and gestures new to them but steeped in Church tradition. Help children begin to understand the Catholic imagery around them with this month’s downloadable activity, “Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church.” Use the worksheet in the context of a classroom visit to the parish church, or invite children to complete it independently on Sunday. If children visit different churches throughout the year, […]

How Marian Feasts Teach Us About Jesus

As we approach the celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, it is important to remind ourselves that Marian feasts are not primarily about Mary! In fact, the Blessed Virgin Mary would be the first to resist our efforts to draw attention to her. Her great Magnificat prayer proclaims that it is the Lord who is to be magnified. Like all Marian feasts, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is ultimately about Mary’s Son, […]

Praying with Second Graders

The longer I am a catechist, the more I feel the need to focus on prayer with the children in my classes. For so long I limited prayer to the start and end of class, and I encouraged the children to memorize traditional prayers. But I didn’t do much else. Now I lead the children in exploring new and varied ways to pray so they can grow in their personal relationship with God. Early in […]

Scripture Gives God a Face and a Voice

Imagine getting into a conversation with a friend and asking him/her to tell you about his/her spouse or some other significant person whom he/she claims to love, and he/she comes up completely blank—unable to describe what that person looks like, what personality characteristics he/she has, or what stories reveal that person’s essence. You would no doubt be suspicious (and rightly so) about whether or not your friend truly knows this other person or if this […]

Teaching Children the Lost Art of Being

In today’s world, there is a lot of emphasis placed on knowing and doing and not so much on being. In other words, we find ourselves focused on what we know and do and not enough on who we are. As catechists, we have the privilege of helping those we teach to develop a deeper understanding of who they are in relation to a loving God, in whose image they are created. One of the primary […]

The Saints and Election Day

The Feast of All Saints, falling on November 1 of each year, is celebrated on the doorstep of Election Day in the United States. This annual coincidence provides us with an opportunity to make a connection between the lives of the saints and our civic duties. Pope Francis explained that “an authentic faith…always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it….If indeed ‘the just […]

Reconciliation Resources: A Story of Reconciliation and an Examination of Conscience

If you’re preparing children to receive First Reconciliation or planning a Reconciliation service for your school or parish, here are two resources to help. A Story of Reconciliation is a readers’ theater script presenting the story of the prodigal son/forgiving father, as found in Luke 15:11–32. Use it with children preparing for First Reconciliation, or present the story as part of a lesson on the parables. You may want to invite parents to—or involve them […]

The Saints: Our Catholic Heroes

When I was a young boy, I collected baseball and football cards. I traded for my favorites and found ways to pass on those I didn’t care for to other individuals. As an impressionable child, I saw these athletes as my heroes. They were famous, rich, and able to bring their teams to victory even when defeat seemed imminent. I cannot imagine the hours I must have spent over the span of my life memorizing […]

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