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This teaching tool uses visual clues to trigger memorization. Presented as a puzzle, it is a unique way to remember key elements of our faith, including prayers, Scripture, facts on Catholic teachings and traditions.
Why should we, as catechists, include learning by heart—memorization—in our methodologies? Here’s what you need to know:
* “While the content of the faith cannot be reduced to formulas that are repeated without being properly understood, learning by heart has had a special place in catechesis and should continue to have that place in catechesis today” (National Directory for Catechesis, n. 29F).
* Memorizing has been proven to strengthen the mind. Like pulling clay, memorizing makes the mind more flexible, capable of grasping and retaining more information. Memorization helps learners grasp information about the Church and our Catholic faith.
* Memorizing helps key elements of our faith—including prayers, Scripture, Catholic teachings and traditions—take root in the mind. Learners can retrieve the information when it is most needed, often during times of crisis.
* Understanding and committing to memory key elements of Catholic teaching helps students learn by heart so that they can live by faith.
Here is a Learning by Heart exercise to use with your students.
The Prayer of Praise
The Prayer of Praise (Glory Be to the Father) was a favorite prayer of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897). Thérèse offered kindness to anyone who was mean or unfair to her as her “little way” of loving Jesus. Her example changed those around her. Still, Thérèse didn’t think she was doing enough to give glory to God. Then one day in prayer, God let her know that her generous spirit was a great gift. She was doing “little things with great love.”
Saint Thérèse died at age 24. Her feast day is October 1. She loved the Prayer of Praise because in its simple way, this prayer expresses a great mystery of faith. It calls us to praise the Holy Trinity now and for all eternity.
The Prayer of Praise is a doxology, a “glory saying” in the Greek language. Use the puzzle on the next page to help students memorize or review the Prayer of Praise: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Using the Puzzle Page
This exercise can help students learn the Prayer of Praise by heart. Here’s how to use it:
1. Before presenting this exercise, review the puzzle [CLICK HERE FOR CATECHIST PAGE] and become familiar with the images used in association with the words:
* Angels are messengers calling us to give praise to God. The angel with the trumpet represents that glory message.
* In the mystery of the Trinity, God the Father is represented as Creator, holding the world in his hands. God the Son is our Savior on the cross. God the Holy Spirit is portrayed as the dove, our guide.
* At the dawn of creation (as it was in the beginning), angels filled the heavens with their praises.
* This praise continues today (is now) in the Body of Christ, the Church.
* This praise will continue always (and ever shall be), for the Body of Christ, the Church, will never cease to praise the Holy Trinity.
* The infinity symbol means praise for the glory of God will ring for all eternity (world without end).
* “Amen” means “so be it.” The prayer hands represent this affirmation.
2. Review the words of the prayer with students. Point out how it gives eternal glory to God in Three Persons, the Trinity. (With younger students, repeat the prayer at least twice.)
3. Have students work the puzzle by writing on the lines the words associated with the images. [CLICK HERE FOR STUDENT PAGE]
4. Students can color or decorate the page to create a poster.
5. Repeat the Prayer of Praise as a group.
6. Ask students to memorize this prayer.
7. Repeat the exercise as often as needed, discussing the
meaning of the words carefully each time.
Judith Costello, MA, writes for national and regional publications and is a Third Order Carmelite (OCSD). She is an artist, freelance writer, and catechist. Judith can be reached at Judith@parentingwithspirit.com.