A Catechist's Story, Part III: Growing Pains

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(Continued from Part II)

stressAs the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

As the weeks passed, I continued developing lesson plans with a variety of activities. I tried marching the kids around in a big circle to get them moving and singing rousing spirituals like, "This Little Light of Mine," "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" and "When Those Saints Come Marching In." This was such a hit that it became a permanent part of my weekly repertoire.

Emboldened by early success, I began incorporating simple crafts, playing my guitar (badly, but the kids didn't mind), acting out Bible stories and then having the children act them out with me. After a few weeks, I got the word from my DRE that she wanted a weekly decade of the Rosary said in every classroom, so I put that in, too. It felt great inviting Our Lady to every class.

But after several weeks of teaching religion, I hit the wall. I found myself straining to come up with any enthusiasm. I realized I'd been relying too much on myself and was too involved in the ego boost of a successful "performance." I slogged to class one afternoon in a daze, devoid of inspiration, tired from a busy week and low on energy. I let it all go and prayed, "Lord, you are my wattage. Light me up!" That class was a revelation. I wasn't straining to push things along; I was easier with everything. I relaxed and trusted the Holy Spirit. I spent more time listening to the children and allowing myself to learn while I was teaching. We had a wonderful time together.

After several months, a nagging question began to assail me: Had I just been entertaining the children or had I been teaching them the Faith? If they hadn't learned anything, no matter how much fun we were having, I was a failure. But I had no clear methodology for assessing their progress. I began to pray about this and implored God to help me transmit to the children what was most important in each week's lesson.

As often happens when I pray from the heart, the answer was not long in coming. At the end of one of our last sessions, some of the mothers who had arrived to collect their children took the time to speak with me. Their children, they said, had grown so much because of our class work. They were much more interested in prayer and in doing good works. They couldn't wait to come to class each week and they were sorry that our time was coming to an end. One of the mothers said, "She's even got me praying more!" I nearly wept with relief.

The lesson learned? Do what you can; give it your best, leave the rest to God. He will not fail you.

So, now you know my story and I'd like to know yours. Wouldn't you love to share the reasons you teach the Faith, the methods that work for you, the people who have encouraged and inspired you along the way? Write to me, and I'll help you do just that, right here at this column.

Thank you so much for reading my little tale. I hope it has been of help to you, and that you'll join me again next Wednesday for a column about making your family your top priority in the midst of your busy life in ministry to the Church.

Next week: "Walking Across Hot Coals, Back to Love."

10/11/2011 4:00:00 AM
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  • Lisa Mladinich
    About Lisa Mladinich
    Lisa Mladinich is a Catholic wife and mother, catechist and workshop leader, and the author of the popular booklets, "Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children," and "Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation" available from Our Sunday Visitor. She is the founder of www.AmazingCatechists.com.