Question: Are there some specific ways that I might pray personally in my role as a catechist?
SR. JANET SCHAEFFLER, OP OFFERS THIS ANSWER…
Many ways of prayer can be adapted specifically for our lives as catechists.
Praying Within the Communion of Saints
Sr. Jose Hobday, OSF, an author and international speaker on prayer and spirituality, spoke of a prayer method she used while praying alone (yet also praying within the community of saints). Jose imagined herself as part of a large circle. Within the circle, she visualized many people: wisdom figures within the community (past and present), people who were important to her, people who had connections with her. She prayed in the presence, and with the support, of all these people.
As catechists, who might be within our prayer circle — patron saints of catechists (Saint Robert Bellarmine and Saint Charles Borromeo), the patron saints of our learners, the families, especially the ancestors, of our learners, those who have mentored us?
As catechists, we might journal about our experiences:
■■Giving thanks for people, happenings, and encounters;
■■ Naming the challenges ahead, praying for God’s strength and wisdom;
■■ Bringing to mind people on the journey with us who have asked for prayer;
■■ Remembering the concerns, worries, and dreams of those with whom and to whom we minister.
One of my journals simply lists those people and circumstances that I am currently keeping in prayer. Praying with this on my lap, and perusing it often, also reminds me to reach out to them in ways of concern and care.
No matter what age group we are ministering to and with as catechists, Scripture is a part of our prayer, our reflection, our learning. Each week, as you begin to plan your catechetical gathering, look ahead for the Scripture reading(s) that will be used. Use these in your prayer — not studying them (at this time) but praying with them. Ask yourself: What is God’s message to me in this passage?
Make a list of those people (adults, youth, and/or children) in your care as a catechist. Place it where you will see it every day (or many times a day). Praying for those with whom we journey can affect the way we minister.
In addition to praying for each of them as a group, at times pray for one person at a time. Keep each person individually in your prayer and thoughts for a specific week (or a day). As part of your prayer, you might want to send the person a written note, letting them know that you prayed for them during the week and thanking them for the gifts that they bring to your learning group.
Praying While Catechizing
Everything can call us to prayer. In the midst of a session, when you are in awe of the enthusiastic faith of your learners, whisper a prayer of thanks. When something occurs, a question is asked, and you’re not sure what to do next, ask for God’s words and wisdom.
[Editor’s Note: The above is excerpted from The Spirituality of the Catechist: Feeding Your Soul, Growing in Faith, Sharing with Others, by Janet Schaeffler, OP. Copyright 2014. Published by TwentyThird Publications (TwentyThirdPublications.com). Used with permission. All rights reserved.]
Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, is involved in catechetical and adult faith formation, consultation, writing, workshops, days of reflection and retreats, and teaching. Find more at JanetSchaeffler.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, February 2018.