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 […]

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 […]

Teaching the Daily Examen to 4- to 6-Year-Olds

One of the hallmarks of Ignatian prayer and spirituality is, of course, the Daily Examen—a prayerful way to review your day to recognize God’s presence and movement in your everyday life. We tend to think of this prayer as an adult exercise; however, many catechists and school teachers have found that this prayer is easily adaptable to children and can serve as a great tool for introducing young people to the contemplative aspect of our […]

Encountering God in the Silence—Shhh!

In my years of experience as a catechist, I have always sought to provide those I teach with experiences of silence which, according to St. John of the Cross, and, more recently, Fr. Thomas Keating, is God’s “primary language.” At first, the young people are often uncomfortable with silence, because they experience so little of it in our society. Gradually, however, with some coaching, they can learn to view silence, not just as empty space, but as […]

40 Ways to Foster Prayer in Your Home

Our lives offer many opportunities to pray, and we can share those opportunities with the children in our care. Find inspiration for different ways to pray in the home by downloading Tom McGrath’s suggestions for 40 Ways to Foster Prayer in Your Home—in English or in Spanish. Share the booklet with families in your school or parish. These suggestions are excerpted from Tom’s book Raising Faith-Filled Kids: Ordinary Opportunities to Nurture Spirituality at Home. Fill […]

Relaxing Prayer

I prepared my students to pray with a guided reflection, telling them that using their imaginations to have a conversation with God might take some practice. I gave them permission to “not get it” the first time. This was important for establishing trust and tone. I then played the “Called by Name” prayer track from the CD that came with our Finding God program and sat down with my students to participate in the imaginative […]

Praying with Families in the Classroom

Prayer is essential for a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the most important responsibilities we have as catechists is to help our students develop a life of prayer. I encourage my students to find ways to pray with their families, and to facilitate that I invite parents and younger siblings to be part of our prayer circle at the end of each class. While children haven’t yet learned to be self-conscious about prayer, parents […]

Rosary Craft Activities

October 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and October and May are the two months especially devoted to Mary. Plan a special activity for either of these months with the help of our free Rosary Craft Activities. Invite families to string their own rosaries, and encourage them to make this treasured prayer a family event. Or work on a poster with children to help them as they learn to pray the […]

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Beyond Memorizing Words to Meditating with Traditional Prayers

This past year I was a substitute catechist for my parish’s faith-formation program. When a young man in one of the classes learned that I had written a book of meditations based on the lives of the saints, he said, “Of course it’s a book of meditations. It’s Bob.” Even though we didn’t spend much time together, he knew that prayer and contemplation are the source of all that I am and all that I […]

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