Feeding My Soul with Purpose, Respect, and Delight
by Sister Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA
Feeding My Soul is designed especially for youthe catechist. It names a catechetical value and gives you the words of prayer for your personal time with the Lord
“Come, my friends. ’Tis not too late to seek a newer world,” wrote the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. Isn’t teaching in your name, O Lord, a matter of inspiring my students to seek out a newer world—one filled with justice and peace among people, one where your love reigns over all? And isn’t every day that I spend with my students, no matter how late in the learning year, yet one more day to accomplish that purpose?
Heavenly Father, in creating the world, you created me, too, and gave me the tools and means to be a co-creator with you.
Divine Son, in saving the world from that dearth of love that we call sin, you saved me, too, and appointed me to join you in your ongoing work of redemption.
Holy Spirit, in sanctifying the souls of believers everywhere, you are continually at work in me, too, moving me toward further growth in faith and greater love in action.
Holy Trinity, One God, keep me true to my purpose whenever I teach in your name: to lead young people to a deeper awareness of who you are—and of who they are because of you. Amen.
What do today’s young people need most? More than one youth leader would say that young people today need respect.
Father in heaven, there is so much I want to share with my students in the course of a learning year. I want them to know what the Church teaches. I want them to recognize the ways you are present in their lives. I want them to learn all the attitudes and actions that will lead them to everlasting happiness.
Yet, I make a mistake if I am the kind of teacher who does all of the talking all of the time. There are times when I need to sit back and listen to my students—to ask meaningful questions and to wait patiently for their responses, whether these come in speaking, writing, or some other form of self-expression.
To honor what my students say is to honor who they are, and isn’t that what your Son Jesus always did when he taught his disciples? He listened respectfully to a variety of answers, for instance, when he asked them, “Who do others say that I am?”
O Holy Spirit, teach me the art of respectful listening that I may teach as Jesus did. Amen.
Lord Jesus, when I ponder the sheer joy that you sometimes found in teaching, I realize how much you and I have in common.
There was, for example, the time when Peter delighted you with his answer to your question, “Who do you say that I am?” In that moment you knew that your heavenly Father had revealed to him a truth beyond ordinary human comprehension. Sometimes my students amaze me, too, with the depth of their insight.
Another time Mary took instruction at your feet while Martha busied herself with kitchen duties. Mary understood that the greatest needs of the moment are spiritual. She needed to learn more about her faith from you, and you needed to satisfy her spiritual thirst. Dinner could wait.
In a similar way, the woman at the well delighted you with her willingness to engage in theological debate. On some days my students also delight me with their high level of class participation.
For every single time that teaching is a delight, I give you thanks and praise, O Lord! Amen.
Sister Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA, has been a Sister of St. Agnes for over 30 years and a religion teacher and writer for the past 20 years. She has a master’s degree in pastoral studies from St. Joseph’s College of Maine.
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