It’s about that time of year to start really gearing up and getting ready for another religious education year to begin. This time of year is always exciting because it is a fresh new year full of potential, promise and your dreams to form students in the Catholic Faith and discipleship in Jesus Christ. I would like to share a few things to keep in mind as you “gear up”.
1. Rely on the Holy Spirit — You can be the most talented of catechists, but without a reliance on what God wants and allowing God to work you will not be the instrument God is calling you to be – Your impact will not be as great. For example – if the topic of the day is the Holy Trinity and you say…”I think this is over the heads of my students so I’m going to talk about how God loves them and how no matter what they do He is their for them”. It is true that you could say some very good things to your students, but helping them understand the mystery of the Trinity is essential to building a foundation for their understanding that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our whole faith depends on the truth of the Holy Trinity – the central mystery of the Christian life (CCC 234). Or if you are really good at engaging with your students because you can get them talking and involved in activities that is a wonderful gift to have; however if you do not seek to be grounded in your own spiritual life which calls each of us to rely on Him your talents will bear less fruit. Offering to God your gifts and seeking an active spiritual life is invaluable to the fruitfulness of your catechesis.
2. The Darn Textbook — Many religious education programs use a textbook. Granted they can be useful and helpful to new and old volunteer catechists, however they are only a tool. Catechists who most often go through each page of the textbook and have students take turns reading out of it are not using it as a catechetical tool, but more as a crutch. In the Third Millennium students are not as engaged when this method is used. The Catechism is a vital source book for catechists to turn to in order to understand how the Church desires to pass on the faith. Each thing you use – video, art, activities and the textbook are all tools to drawing your students into a greater knowledge of God’s plan for them and a deeper personal friendship with Jesus.
3. Bling Bling — In order for the proclamation of the Gospel to be compelling to today’s generation it must be beautiful, it must be attractive, it must use today’s sensibilities to draw students into the ancient and glorious mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who is the source of our salvation. The society we live in is completely saturated with facts about x, y & z. How are we taking the rich deposit of faith and communicating it in a manner that attracts believers to desire to respond to God’s Will, God’s ways, and His call for conversion?
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you gear up for a new religious education year. May the Holy Spirit speak to your hearts and to the hearts of the students who will be in your classes!