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Learning by Heart: Love Is …
by Judith Costello
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.
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.


Love Is…

As Catechists, we want to help our learners understand what love is and what it means to love others. We want them to understand that love is not a pleasant feeling but is an act that requires sacrifice? The life of Jesus teaches us what “love is.”

Saint Paul describes love in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient; love is kind…Love bears all things…Love hopes all things…Love endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8). Paul calls us to live as Jesus did and to love so well that we can say, “Not my will but thy will be done, Father;” to love so well that we help carry the burdens of others and never give up on love; to love so well that we are willing to sacrifice to help those in need.


Using the Puzzle Page

Here’s how to use the puzzle [CLICK HERE FOR CATECHIST PAGE for “Love Is…”] to help students memorize what St. Paul says “love is”:
1. Before presenting this exercise, review the puzzle and become familiar with the images used in association with the words:
* Love is patient: A child holds onto the finger of Jesus. In the Gospels we hear that the Apostles ask if they can send the children away. Jesus says, “Let them come to me.” Jesus shows us that love is patient.
* Love is kind: The hand of Jesus reaches out to bless and heal. He repeatedly helps those in need—those who are sick, who cannot see, who are lame, who are possessed by demons. Jesus shows us that love is kind.
* Love bears all things: The hands of Jesus accept the cross, which is also a symbol for all sins. In taking on the cross, Jesus shows us that love bears all things.
* Love hopes all things: The hands of Jesus are lifted toward heaven. We can offer up our lives to the Father and never ever lose hope. Jesus shows us that love hopes all things.
* Love endures all things: Jesus’ body is pierced. He loves us so much that he endures this unimaginable pain. Our response is to love in return no matter what. Jesus shows that love endures all things.
* Love never fails: Jesus’ hands welcome us to the Kingdom of God. He shows us that God’s love for us is eternal; it never ends, it never fails. Love is that strong. Jesus shows us that love never fails.
2. Read aloud 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8 and invite students to talk about the words patient and kind. Ask them what it means to bear things and to hope and to endure. Ask them what and who they think of when they hear that “love never fails.”
3. Have students work the puzzle [CLICK HERE FOR STUDENT PAGE for “Love Is…”] by writing on the lines the words associated with the images. Use the explanations above to help them make associations.
4. Repeat the Scripture as a group.
5. Ask students to memorize the quote.
6. Repeat the exercise as often as needed.


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.


Copyright 2014, Peter Li, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Peter Li, Inc.