You think you are ready to teach teenagers? Then answer the following questions: “Are there homosexual extraterrestrials?”, “Is everyone in heaven good looking?”, “Can a person see their soul?” and my favorite: “Why DID the chicken cross the road?”
When teaching teenagers one has to be ready for all sorts of questions. We, as catechists may want those questions to be deeper, or demonstrate a high degree of contemplation. But teenagers will say what’s on their mind. And we as catechist must be ready to use any inquiry – let me repeat that – ANY inquiry, silly or not, as an opportunity to catechize, to bring them closer to the truth of the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our job is to plant the seed, to take them deeper, to tickle their intellect, to allow them self discovery in the eyes of God.
In short, provide serious answers to silly questions. Doing this continuously, will provide the discipline of keeping Christ, and the Church ‘front and center’. And eventually the serious questions will come.
How to do this?
In the start of the year select a few themes you want reinforce. When those ‘silly’ questions pop up, concentrate on your basic themes and provide the type of serious answers that will eventually teach your teens to refocus their minds back to the faith.
Keep your chosen themes on your mind, and post them somewhere as a reminder. If you make it the year’s theme, and you have the funds you can have them printed on pencils, pens, bracelets, something that will remind you and your students.
Real Life Example:
Why DID the chicken cross the road? – This question came out of a conversation about animals and their place in creation. The conversation de-evolved into a conversation about which animals are smarter, which in turn de-evolved into how stupid chickens are which then lead to “Why DID the chicken cross the road?”
One of my main themes that year We belong to God, so the answer went something along the lines of this: “I bet you the chicken was hungry, it found no corn on this side of the road so of course it crossed. When an animal is hungry they would do anything, they act on instinct. But people will do almost anything too for food. Humans of course act on more than instinct they possess a higher type of hunger, A spiritual hunger. People do all sorts of things to satisfy that spiritual hunger. Every person, deep down wants to know their place in this world. And that hunger doesn’t go away until we realize We belong to God.”
It is important, as a catechist to turn silly questions inside out by providing a deep answer. Eventually the deeper questions come.
2010 Maria Rivera