Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

Which way do I go?

Have you ever felt lost?  Maybe you weren’t sure of what to do next or where to go next.  Maybe it felt like you were following a map and you reached the edge of that map with no idea which path you’re supposed to take next to get to your destination.  That’s what I feel like sometimes.

Lately, I feel like I’m walking down a dark path and I stop and yell out to see if someone can direct me.  I know someone is there willing to, but I can’t quite make out where they are telling me to go.  So, I keep walking down the path I’m sure is the right one and in a short while, I yell out again to see if the person I know is out there somewhere can tell me the way, but I end up with the same result.  That pretty much sums up my spiritual life these days.  I know someone’s there trying to tell me where I should go next, but I can’t quite make out what they are saying.

As I’ve reflected on this feeling, not really one if despair, but more of confused longing, I keep focusing on something I read a couple of years back in the Guide for Catechist, which was issued in 1993 by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  It states, “To help catechists in their spiritual life, spiritual direction should be made available” (#22) and “… spiritual direction is very important, as it touches the depths of a person’s soul and helps open it to God’s grace” (#28).  Additionally, as I’ve read other blogs, such as Joe Paprocki’s Catechist’s Journey, he has mentioned once or twice about the benefits of spiritual direction, even for the laity.  I also have recalled a news piece a few years back where the Holy Father himself encouraged everyone to seek spiritual direction.

This is a journey that I have contemplated taking from time to time.  I’ve given myself the excuses that I don’t have time, or that a potential director’s time would be better spent on someone else, that this is not for me, etc.  And those times that I’ve brushed aside all those excuses, I’ve faced apprehension, intimidation and at times, downright fear of the process.  That smells like attachment to me, and not in any good sense.

So, enough is enough.  It has become quite clear to me that I am being called to find a companion to help guide me down the path and to help me interpret what that voice, God’s voice, is actually guiding me to do.  I’ve been fortunate to find a number of resources to help prepare me for this journey.  Sites like Catholic Spiritual Direction have been extremely eye opening.  A number of other bloggers like Fr. Charles Sammons from a minor friar and Becky Eldredge from Everything Is Holy Now have inspired me through some of their blog posts and comments to take this very important next step in my spiritual journey.  As a final step in preparing to begin the process, I’ve also discovered and have been reading “Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within” by Thomas Dubay, S.M. on the Catholic Spiritual Direction site.  I’m almost done with reading the book and it has proven to be a wonderful resource!!  I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering finding a spiritual director.

My initial meeting with my new director is tomorrow.  I have mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension, but I am committed to this process  and am looking forward to seeing where God is leading me next in my spiritual journey.  Please pray for me as I take this next step down the path unknown with the Lord.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith.

Goodbye 6’ers. Hello 9’ers.

No, I’m not switching sports teams; but I am switching grades.  Due to some schedule changes going on at the parish for religious education, I will not be teaching 6th grade next year.  Instead, I’ll be moving up to 9th graders. To be honest, that’s somewhat intimidating to me.  I remember what high school was like and how certain students interacted with their teachers so I feel a bit anxious about it.  The good news is that I remember what high school was like so I least I can prepare a little bit for the experience.

Over the past year, I’ve been looking at a lot of resources on the internet gathering ideas on class setup and lesson structure.  Part of what I plan to do next year is to throw my students off their game a bit.  The grade’s primary curriculum will be an in depth look at the Mass.  This will be a topic that will lend itself to discussion, so I’m going to move the students away from the tables and have the chairs placed in an open circle in the center of the room.  My hope is that the proximity to me and the other students will make the discussions more lively and intimate.  It should set the tone that all must participate and it doesn’t give anyone a place to hide. A huge plus is that there will be no table there to help them hide their texting under and while that hasn’t been a huge problem in the past, with an older grade I wanted to eliminate the temptation. My CRE is also working on a way to incorporate Theology of the Body into the year.  My experience is that sex is on every teen’s (and tween’s) mind, but they are uncomfortable discussing the topic with any reliable source of information.  I suggested a student retreat as an option for covering some of the material.

Intimidation aside, I’m actually excited about the change.  The Mass is such a central part of how we express our faith that I think this has so much potential.  Additionally, I’m hoping the three year difference in age will make for more intelligent discussions as compared to what I was able to have with my 6th graders.  I’m pretty sure the students will keep me on my toes, so I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit wins out.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Me? RCIA? Are you sure??

RCIASo I got a call.  It was a call I saw coming but was not looking forward to.  It came nonetheless.  It seems that my pastor and my CRE recommended me to our Director of RCIA as a possible addition to the RCIA team.  The reason I saw it coming was that my CRE mentioned that she was hoping to get me more involved in the parish and said “maybe RCIA”.  I guess I’ve made a few fans over the last year of teaching catechesis.

Now one might ask why I would not be looking forward to such a call.  For me, it was intimidation.  Similar to my initial discernment for becoming a catechist, I didn’t think I was qualified to teach adults.  It’s one thing to teach 6th graders.  I can anticipate most questions and respond to most of what they throw my way.  Adults?  Not so much.

My primary concern was that adults can obviously pose more difficult questions and I feared getting into a debate over theology.  While I’m comfortable in my faith, I’m not the best debater; so I wasn’t sure I was the best one for the job. As I digested the information on the answering machine, it reminded me of another blogger who experienced the opposite type of request.  Christian from Smaller Manhattans was an RCIA catechist who was asked to teach a 6th grade class.  I remember him saying that he wasn’t all that excited at the prospect of switching groups, but he quickly began to love teaching the 6th grade.  While I was adding RCIA versus switching, I started to wonder if my experience would be similar to Christian’s.

It’s funny how the Holy Spirit works.  I got a message on a Monday and was supposed to meet with the director after Mass on the coming Sunday.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week long.  With prayer, intimidation became curiosity and curiosity turned into excitement, all before even having met with the director.  It didn’t take long for him to convince me to come to the next session to observe.

Two days later, I was sitting around a table with 3 other catechists and one catechumen.  Everyone was very welcoming and I felt quite comfortable for a fly on the wall.  I was there to observe as one catechist presented on the faith topic of that particular session and the other catechists offered additional insights.  All I can say is that for an observer, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut!!  I participated like I was a veteran of the group even though I had not prepared to do so.  If felt natural and it felt right.  The team is a great team with everyone bringing a slightly different perspective on how to “live” the faith.  The dialogue was insightful and I learned quite a bit myself.

So guess what.  I’m a RCIA catechist as well now.  I find myself looking forward to the next session with excitement and eagerness.  That’s a good sign, right?  I’m thankful for the wisdom of both my pastor and my CRE, because if they hadn’t initiated this, I don’t think it would have ever happened.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Back to School

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.comBackpack – Check!

Notebook – Check!

Pens and Pencils – Check!

Loose Leaf Paper – Check!

Pocket Folder – Check!

Brain – Question_Mark

As you know, I’m going to be working towards my diocesan Catechist Certification over the next few months and my first course starts next week.  As you can see, I’ve got all my school supplies ready.  Unfortunately, they are all going to sit in the closet unused.  Why?  Because for the first time ever, I’m going to be taking an online course and, aside from the books I have to read, I’m going to do this “paperless”.

Starting tonight at midnight, the mystery will be revealed to me.  When I wake up tomorrow, I will have access to the course materials and the course will start the following day.  I’ve known this was coming for quite a while, but somehow I don’t feel ready.  I’m not sure if it’s because it is Summer and it feels like “slow down” time or if it’s because it has been eight years since I’ve been a student in a class, but I’ve becoming somewhat apprehensive about it.

As I reflect on this, it hits me.  This is the exact same feeling I felt when I was trying to decide whether or not to help our parish out by becoming a Catechist.  Apprehension.  Insecurity.  A feeling that maybe I’ve made a mistake and this is just not for me.

This made me recall a homily given by a new priest, Fr. Hugh Macsherry, OFM at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston last Wednesday.  During that homily, he spoke about discernment.  It wasn’t just about the traditional discernment of a vocation, but about discernment of what we are called to do in all parts of life and at all points in life.  A big part of discernment is trust.

You’d think that by now I’d have this figured out.  It is time to put aside my doubt once again and begin to trust.  I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is calling me to further my faith so that I can help further others’.  Maybe it’s time to put a check next to “Brain” too?  I think I’ll keep that school supply with me though.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll need that one.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on my progress.

*”Back to School” clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Discoveryschool.com.