BY BECKY GROTH
We’re sure to encounter a variety of attitudes that young people hold toward Mary, the Blessed Mother. In my youth ministry experience, I find two prevailing attitudes: Some appreciate Mary’s contribution to the faith, but don’t think about her much beyond Christmas and Easter. Others have a love for the Blessed Mother and a relationship with her.
Our catechetical task becomes: How do we present Mary in a way that will simultaneously encourage new relationships where needed and strengthen relationships that already exist?
Here are three suggestions.
1. Use visuals.
FILMS: Find films with truthful depictions of the Mother of God, such as The Passion of the Christ, Full of Grace, The Nativity Story, and The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Show clips to your students, then discuss. Here are discussion prompts:
✱ What kind of person does the film show Mary to be?
✱ How does this compare to what the Church teaches about Mary?
✱ How does it compare to what we think Mary was like?
✱ Does it inspire a devotion to Mary in any way? If so, how?
IMAGES: Instead of film clips, you can also find photos, icons, or statues of Mary. Choose them from different times in history and various cultures in the world. Present them in the same manner suggested for the film clips. The film questions are also applicable to this exercise.
You can also invite students to choose their most favorite image of Mary and their least favorite. Ask them to be prepared to explain the choices they make.
2. Use titles.
✱ What does each title say about Mary?
✱ What title has the greatest meaning for you, and why?
✱ What role can Mary play in our lives, and how can she influence our faith?
3. Use prayers.
Print out various Marian prayers and pray them with your students. Try the familiar ones first: Hail Mary, the Angelus, the Memorare, Salve Regina, or the Magnificat. Find Pope Francis’ “Prayer to the Immaculate” here. Find a one-page instructional guide on how to pray the Rosary here.
Have students choose one prayer for themselves. Invite them to write down some thoughts about Mary and her role in their lives. Then challenge them to pray the prayer they chose every day for a month. When the month is over, have them reread what they’d written a month earlier. Has anything changed? If so, what?
No one can lead people to Jesus like the Blessed Mother. Providing your teens with experiences like these will draw them into a deeper relationship with Mary, and ultimately with her Son.
Becky Groth is a producer for ODB Films.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April/May 2017.
Image Credit: FLECKSTONE/SHUTTERSTOCK