Are there any key themes that should be a part of any classroom regardless of the topic of the day? In 1973, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in their document “Basic Teachings For Catholic Religious Education” spoke of three themes which should “carry through all religious education” (pg. 3).
1. The Importance of Prayer
“This teaching will take place through experiences of prayer, through the examples of prayer, and through the learning of common prayers(pg. 3).” Consider focusing on the following:
a. The example of prayer (how is prayer modeled by the catechists)
b. learning common prayer (by memorization)
c. Experiences of prayer (opening and closing each session in prayer, praying the Scriptures, prayer services, intercessory prayer)
2. Participating in the Liturgy
The Bishops documents states, “Liturgy itself educates. It teaches, it forms community, it forms the individual. It makes possible worship of God and a social apostolate to men. The Mass, the Church’s “great prayer,” is the highest, most noble form of the Church’s liturgy. Effective instruction will therefore help every Christian participate actively in the Eucharistic celebration of his own witnessing faith community (pg. 4).” Without connecting students and adults to the liturgy we will struggle to draw people into participation and the very life of the Church.
3. Familiarity with the Holy Bible
At the heart of passing on the Faith is the use of the Scriptures. The document goes on to say, “The Word of God is life giving. It nourishes and inspires strengthens and sustains. It is the primary source, with Tradition, of the Church teaching.”…The words of St. Paul should describe the Catholic students of religion: “From your infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, the sources of the wisdom which, through faith in Jesus Christ, leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) (pg. 4-5).” Using Scripture in the classroom to allow the students to become familiar with the Bible as well as showing them how God reveals His plan to us cannot be underestimated.