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.

HELLO-O-o-o? ECHO-O-o-o!

Is anyone out there?  It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, so everyone that has stopped looking has rightfully done so and those that are still here have shown great hope.  I would especially like to thank reader Christian LeBlanc for giving me a much needed kick in the pants to get me to post again.  To be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt inspiration to post lately.  I don’t know if that is because my life has gone into overdrive, if it’s because I have a particularly challenging class this year, if it’s because the content of what we’ve chose to cover in our program seems to completely go over the students’ heads or if it’s something else altogether.

Last time, I mentioned that I was trying to begin a Youth Ministry group in our parish.  That has really taken up quite a bit of time.  The original core group of adults had a very different view of youth ministry than I did.  That being said, I tried to be accommodating because if it’s one thing I learned over the years, it’s that I do not have all the answers.  Well, the two other adults decided to leave the program and that left me having to do everything.  The good news is that I get to structure the group in a way I think best balances faith and social activities; the bad news is that it is all me at this point, which I think limits how much we can do.  I’m praying and asking for more help, but we’ll see what happens there.

As I mentioned, Religious Education is pretty challenging this year.  I have a group of 9th graders, and about a third of the class is made up of members of a local high school’s freshmen football team.  Additionally, two thirds of the class are boys that know and feed off of each other.  Discipline is a challenge and they seem so disconnected from their faith that they just don’t get the curriculum from this year.  I’m going to talk to my CRE about the possibility of changing the content for next year.  While I love the idea of going through the Mass in detail, there are some basic things these students seem to be missing, which significantly limits how much they can get out of the material.  Can you say “blank stares”?

Anyway, I’ve recieved some great feedback over the last few years on my blog and encouragement to keep it up.  I’ve also gotten a lot out of posting and reading the comments some of my readers leave, so I’m not ready to give this up.  I truly hope to have more content to offer going forward, but I also recognize that I’ve said that before and have then fallen off the face of the blogosphere.  I ask for your patience and forgiveness as I try to get back in a routine that will allow me to share with all of you again.

Until next time (which I hope will be much sooner than last time), keep sharing the faith.

Hitting a Brick Wall

Spiritually speaking, I feel like I’ve been hitting a brick wall lately.  I feel like the passion is gone.  I feel like I’m talking into dead air.  I feel like there is no one listening or answering.  HELLO-O-O-o-o-o …  See?  Echo.  That’s what prayer has felt like lately.  This must be what they mean by Spiritual Dryness.

Now, I realize that what I’m feeling is not reality.  It’s not dead air and my faith tells me that someone, namely God, is always listening even if I don’t feel like He is.  With that faith as support, you keep on going.  You don’t give up.  You don’t let temptation win out.  And here’s the kicker … you need to PRAY about overcoming the dryness and until God reveals to you how to get past it, you offer up that dryness as suffering.

There is a great series about dryness in prayer over at Catholic Spiritual Direction.  Fr. Bartunek’s comments are very helpful in putting this into perspective.  If you are feeling spiritual dryness or want to read about it, I recommend going over there and reading the three articles Father has posted.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Ask Sister Mary Martha

I follow a number of Catholic blogs in the blogosphere. They range from priests to religious to laity and cover a number of topics from catechesis to living an everyday Catholic life. One of my absolute favorite Catholic bloggers is Sr. Mary Martha from “Ask Sister Mary Martha” where her tagline is “Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.” Sister is hilarious to say the least. Her online personality reminds me of the role of the nun in a performance of “Late Night Catechism” I saw a few years ago, and I mean that in a good way. Have I mentioned how hilarious she is yet?

Anyway, Sister usually answers reader-submitted questions on her blog. Last week, she answered a question from a catechist around the use of the left hand for making the sign of the cross. This post really got me thinking about the various traditions and devotions that exist in the Catholic Church. Our faith has so much to strengthen us as we progress through our faith journeys. I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten through high school and was constantly exposed to ways of expressing our faith, not only through prayer but through action as well. I can clearly remember learning the Hail Holy Queen in 3rd grade, learning how to pray the Rosary, walking the Stations of the Cross every Lent, attending First Friday Mass throughout the school year, learning how to follow along using a missalette (talk about confusing!) and having Benediction periodically. (Boy, I hated the smell of incense back then!!)

All of my students go to public school and therefore they get none of that exposure. For example, I was shocked to find out that none of my students had ever done the Stations of the Cross before!?! Many of these traditions are opportunities to better understand the meaning of our faith and to strengthen us spiritually. Additionally, they are beautiful, especially when you understand their history and meaning. I would love to be able to expose my students to these practices as tools to further their understanding of Catholic faith.

I have two challenges here. The first is time. How does one go about giving their students exposure to some of these traditions and devotions when one is limited to 1 hour a week with a full lesson’s worth of material to cover? The second challenge is the fact that while they are not exposed to this at school, most are not exposed to this at home either. Even if I could find the time to do at least a cursory review of some of these practices in class, there is very little expectation that it will stick without exposure to it outside of class.

I guess I have a whole summer to figure this out. Have any of you found successful ways of exposing your students to the beautiful devotions of the Church and its faithful (and making them stick)?

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Where in the world is Carlos the Catechist?

I’m embarrassed to say that I’m still right here. I have no amazing stories to tell of travels nor do I have any unimaginable tales to share of events that have kept me away from my blog. In fact, I have no good excuse whatsoever. Yet, it’s been nearly two months since I’ve said anything to my readers.

All that being said, I have been busy. Not spectacular busy, but more like boring, every day busy. It’s time, however, to refocus on sharing my experiences with you — experiences of catechizing, experiences of personal spiritual growth and experiences of sharing the faith to all. Stay tuned for more regular updates and thanks for sticking with me!