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 […]

Ascension Leads to Looking at Summer Spiritual Experiences

As we celebrate the Lord’s Ascension, just about all of us have moved into the more peaceful period between the end of the religious education year and the start of Vacation Bible School. When I worked in a parish, I savored each and every one of those days, and as I was praying, I turned to St. Luke’s version of the Ascension story (Luke 24:50–53). What struck me in those few verses is that Jesus’ […]

Four Ways to Encourage Silence

The topic of silence has come up a few times in discussions with my seventh graders, and every time it does, the young people make it obvious by their facial expressions and comments that the idea of silence isn’t one they embrace. That’s not surprising, given the fact that they get so few opportunities to practice silence in our contemporary world. But I know that silence can lead to beautiful moments of prayer and can […]

Listening

From time to time I find it helpful to stop what I am doing and listen. I mean really listen. My family has learned to recognize when I am no longer hearing what they are saying to me. I am completely honest when this happens and no longer feel guilty when I say to my spouse or child, “You know, I’m just not listening to you anymore.” We know that any further attempts to convey […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 1: Silence and Reverence

This is the first article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Do your catechists complain that students don’t know how to behave in church? The sad truth is many families do not go to Mass. Catechesis without Mass, however, is not going to “make them Catholic.” One way to help young people love and desire the Mass is by using “the language of mystery” in our catechetical sessions, as […]

Three Lessons Catechists Can Learn from St. Joseph

St. Francis of Assisi is often attributed as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” This quote is very fitting for the life of another saint whose actions spoke louder than his words: St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. In fact, St. Joseph does not say one word in the Gospels. Yet he speaks volumes. What can catechists learn from the life of this holy man? 1. Silence We tend to […]