The Difference Between a Hero and an Idol

When I was growing up, most of my “heroes” were sports figures: Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs), Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks), Muhammed Ali (boxing). In retrospect, I think it’s safe to say that they were my idols rather than heroes. An idol is simply someone who is adored for various reasons: good looks, accomplishments, charisma, and so on. A hero, on the other hand, is someone who puts personal needs aside and goes above and beyond […]

Engaging Our Little Ones in Service: It Is the Way

One of the first lessons we teach our children when they begin interacting with other children is to share. Even if something belongs to them, we encourage them to share with others. To borrow a phrase from The Mandalorian: “This is the way.” Indeed, sharing with others is integral to “the way” of Christian life. We call this way of living stewardship—the sharing of our time, talent, and treasure with others. I would contend that, […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Finding Hidden Heroes in Our Everyday Lives

We usually think of a hero as someone who has done something very dramatic, such as running into a fiery building to save someone who is trapped or rescuing someone who is drowning in a lake, river, or pond. Certainly, such acts are heroic. However, a hero is simply someone who puts personal needs aside and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make a profound and positive impact on the life of another. […]

Preparing Hearts and Minds Strategy 4: Invite a Leap of Faith

As we continue our summer series, Preparing Hearts and Minds: 9 Simple Ways for Catechists to Cultivate a Living Faith, we explore apprenticing those we teach in laying down their lives for others. Strategy #4: Invite a leap of faith. It is a fairly common practice in advertising to garner attention by making a claim about a product or service that is counterintuitive and requires a “leap of faith.” For example: a diet plan promises that you […]

Service as a Catalyst for Missionary Discipleship

The corporal works of mercy play an important part in discipleship. When acts of service are planned to intentionally proclaim the Gospel and treat all people as if they were Jesus in disguise (see Matthew 25:34–40), they are a catalyst for initial and ongoing conversion. In her wisdom, the Church outlines a systematic and comprehensive process of evangelization and faith formation that nurtures conversion. This process of evangelization includes the following five stages. Pre-evangelization Initial […]

How to Be a More Evangelizing Catechist #4: Don’t Avoid the Cross

It is a fairly common practice in advertising to garner attention by making a claim about a product or service that is counterintuitive or defies commonly accepted reasoning. For example: a diet plan promises that you can lose weight in 30 days while eating all the bacon you want; a light beer promises robust flavor with only 64 calories; a body lotion promises to physically reshape your body; a bracelet promises to relieve arthritic pain. […]

In-House Service Experiences: Reading Books to Young Children

It’s not always easy for young people to arrange to participate in service experiences, since they rely on adults for transportation. Likewise, as a catechist or teacher, it can sometimes be difficult logistically to plan opportunities for your students to participate in off-site service experiences. One solution is to arrange for older children to spend some time reading books to younger children! Young children love to be read to. In addition to that, reading aloud to […]

Empowering Young People to Become Women and Men for Others

Here’s a great idea that Fr. Tom Sweetser, SJ, recently passed along in his newsletter from the Parish Evaluation Project (reprinted with permission). The St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ has as its mission and purpose, “Empowering students to become men and women for others through faith, service, and justice.”  One concrete way of carrying out this mission is a creative project for the 7th and 8th grade students called The Arrupe Project. It was […]

Five Ideas for Including the Year of Mercy in the Classroom

After my first year working as the Director of Faith Formation, I realized that I had spent very little time focusing on Christian service with my students. Though service has been a great influence on my own faith, with our calendar already packed with so much curriculum to cover, service seemed like something extra—something nice to have if we could find the time. The Year of Mercy, however, offers catechists a unique opportunity to be […]

Service Within the Context of Faith and Discipleship

More and more, I am finding that many parishes have numerous adults involved—under the radar, in many respects—in giving service to others. On a weekly basis, folks are visiting/staffing food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and so on. They are preparing sandwiches, folding clothing donations, and delivering meals to people. All of this is wonderful. However, we are not doing enough to help people see their efforts through the lens of faith. There are numerous […]

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