BY LORI DAHLHOFF
In his Year of Faith address to catechists, Pope Francis said, “If we go out to bring his gospel with love, with a true apostolic spirit, [Jesus] walks with us, he goes ahead of us, he gets there first.”
One way Jesus remains with catechists and goes ahead of them in the lives of learners is through the living Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture. Here are a few tips for helping both catechists and learners notice when and how Jesus is present in their lives.
Ensure that each family has access to a Catholic Bible in their home. Include a check box on the program registration form asking if the family does or does not have a copy of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (2011). Provide a link to the online edition found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, USCCB.org/Bible.
Choose one Scripture verse that all catechists will use in some way in each class over one or two months. The verse could be part of a prayer, used in an activity in which students practice looking up the passages in the Bible, or the basis for self-reflection on how each learner is living as a Christian disciple.
Point out how Scripture is a regular part of the Eucharistic liturgy. Include references and real-life connections to these Scriptures in the parish bulletin, program newsletters, or social media posts.
AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD:
Offer a “scriptural tour” of the neighborhood surrounding your parish. Identify artwork, businesses, buildings, or amenities that relate to a Scripture passage. For example, a park near a lake could be associated with Psalm 23:2–“In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me.” Work with locations to maintain a poster with the name of your parish and a QR code that links to a website with more details about the connection to Scripture.
WITHIN MY HEART:
Challenge every catechist, learner, and family member to memorize at least one verse from the Gospels. Suggest using the memorized verse as a way of entering into prayer as an intimate, personal conversation with Jesus.
To share the gospel with others, we first have to notice where it is written within our own hearts and minds. Read Pope Francis’ full address for more inspiration here.
Lori Dahlhoff, EdD, has been a catechist and catechetical leader for more than 20 years. She is the executive director of the National Catholic Educational Association Religious Education Department.
This article was originally published in RTJ/Creative Catechist, September, 2014.
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