Archive for the ‘Catechist's Corner’ category


February 13, 2013

Fasting can be difficult.  Some words of advice are in order:

  • Do not purposely bake food you intend to give up.
  • Do not purposely smell food you intend to give up.
  • Lastly, if you fail, do not beat yourself up about it.  Try again.

Game Night!

November 1, 2012

Subtitle: More Free Stuff

Our creative catechists have been busy coming up with ways to help your kids memorize the books of the Bible and we’d like to share a few of them with you.  One game’s focus is helping your students categorize all the books according to their major divisions (Old or New Testament?  Wisdom, prophet, law? Etc.).  The other’s objective is to help kids learn the names of all 73 books in order.  These games add manipulative and visual elements to the learning and they add action!  Both games were designed for classroom use, but could easily be adapted for family fun.  The links below open into pdf’s that you can print.

Books of the Bible Race

Classifying the Books of the Bible game


An introduction to our introduction

May 15, 2012

Close to the top of our list of favorite things is talking to others about the blessings of Family Formation! (I know, I know – no surprises there.)   One of the missions of our Core Team is to be “enthusiastic ambassadors” for Family Formation in a one-on-one way, our office staff gladly spends hours each month explaining different aspects to prospective users, we visit distance parishes to talk with their parents, parish councils, etc., we attend conferences, and each spring we offer an introductory workshop.

At almost all of these encounters, we give away folders full of basic information about the program.  It took awhile, but in a recent Aha! moment, we  thought why wait until we see you to give you the folder?

So [drum roll please], we are glad to share our folder of Family Formation basics with you, your questioning pastor, your skeptical mother-in-law, your fellow parishioners, your searching-for-a-better-way DRE, your friends and neighbors who want more family togetherness, and anyone else who would like to grow in the Catholic Faith and deepen their family life.

Simply click on the “Workshop Folder” link on the sidebar of our home page and you’ll open a zip folder of PDF files including sample lessons, topic overviews, Church documents in support of family catechesis, FAQs, practical basics, and tips for easing into the transition.  Thanks for reading and feel free to share!

Don’t forget your Rosary

May 4, 2012

Just a brief reminder to bring your rosary as we will be praying it together as part of May’s Family Formation meetings.  The second graders will be leading the procession with flowers and a May Crowning and then all of the classes will help us pray the Glorious Mysteries.

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

March 27, 2012

At our recent Catechist Training session we suggested classes arrange a little visit to Jesus reserved in the tabernacle as part of their study of Eucharistic adoration.  In that delightful, meandering way discussions often go, someone asked if sanctuary lights are always red like ours, and if so, why.

First of all, a sanctuary light (or lamp) is a candle or oil lamp stationed near the tabernacle in each church as a more visible way for us to the know where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.  (When I go into an unfamiliar church, the first thing I do is look for it so I know in which direction to genuflect.)  According to Canon Law (940) and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (316)*, there must be a special lamp, indicating and honoring the presence of Christ, shining continuously before a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.

Quite often it is red for a purely practical reason – to distinguish it from the other votive candles that may be in the church – but it’s not uncommon at all to see a white candle instead.

*Among other places, I assume.

Eucharistic Devotions

March 26, 2012

Here at Church of Saint Paul, we’ve had perpetual Adoration for so long that we tend to take it for granted that everyone knows what it’s all about.  Likewise, we can be less informed about other similar devotions, just because they’re not a regular part of our parish life.  Because this is the topic of April’s Classroom Lesson, it may be in our best interest to develop a common language on the topic.  This short post is going to be a glossary of sorts on different types of Eucharistic Devotions.  (If you know of more, please add them in the comments box.)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – Worshiping Christ, truly Present in the Mass is the highest form of worship for Catholics.  Under normal circumstances, we are required to attend Mass each Sunday and on holy days of obligation, and everyone is warmly invited to attend more often when possible.

Perpetual Adoration - The continual (twenty-four hours a day) exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, typically in a monstrance, for worship by the faithful.  Parishes (or convents and monasteries) which offer perpetual adoration will have a chapel set aside for this purpose.

Holy Hour - Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for an uninterrupted hour.  Perpetual adoration is typically possible in a parish because many parishioners are willing to commit to a regular holy hour each week.  The inspiration for a holy hour comes from Matthew 26:40 when Jesus asks Peter, “So,  you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”

40-Hours Devotion - The practice of a group arranging 40 continuous hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament displayed in a monstrance.  This devotion may be carried out  in a parish church or in a chapel.

Benediction - Benediction (from a Latin word for “blessing”) can be done alone or as part of some other service such as Stations of the Cross.  In common use, “benediction” refers to a priest of deacon blessing a congregation with a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.

Little Visits - Jesus is truly Present almost year-round in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church in the entire world.  You can visit Him there in a simple, informal way any time a church is open.  Simply sit in a pew and visit Him.

Reverent Actions - Reverent actions such as genuflecting in the presence of a tabernacle or making a Sign of the Cross when passing a church are small moments when we pause to remember the Presence of Christ nearby.

Corpus Christi Processions - A Corpus Christi procession is basically a sacred parade, either inside or outside a church, in which clergy and the faithful travel a path giving thanks, praise, and worship to God.  The Blessed Sacrament is typically displayed in a monstrance and carried by a priest or deacon under a canopy.

First Friday Devotions - This is the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the first Fridays of nine consecutive months.  It is derived from the revelations of Christ to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Eucharistic Congress - Less common, but these still happen occasionally.  A Eucharistic Congress is a large public assembly of Catholics with the intention of promoting a greater devotion to our Lord in the Eucharist.  This type of celebration includes Mass, periods of Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction, and lectures on the Blessed Sacrament.  There have been about 50 international congresses since the first one in France in 1881.

This postcard shows the outdoor altar built for the Ninth National Eucharistic Congress in Minnesota, 1941. More than 100,000 people attended the closing ceremonies at the State Fair Grounds, despite the pouring rain!

From Today’s Mailbag:

March 22, 2012

We had a question from a DRE today about the Modeling Dough With A Surprise activity from the upcoming classroom lesson:

I was wondering if you knew how much the “Modeling Dough With a Surprise” makes.  And will the colors bleed through if it is made the day before?

I know I’ve made it before in the past, but couldn’t remember the details so I decided to try it out.  With sincere apologies to food bloggers everywhere, here are my results.

Use a whisk or mixer to beat out all the lumps before you begin to heat it. You'll be surprised at how fast the whole process goes!

In literally 1-2 minutes my dough was too thick to stir any more. At that point, just remove it from the heat and wait a couple minutes for it to cool.

I got 17 two-ounce balls of dough from one recipe. These are big enough for little hands to knead and a good size to hide the surprise. Of course you can always make the balls a little bigger if you have a smaller class.


  • The salt will help preserve the dough so there’s really no danger of it molding for quite a while.
  • It does make it dry out quickly though.  As soon as the dough is cool enough to handle, divide it into portions, add the surprise, and seal it into little plastic bags, squeezing out as much air as possible.
  • You can easily make them a day or two ahead of time.  As long as the food coloring is close to the center, it shouldn’t bleed out.  Especially if you only use the recommended 1-2 drops per ball.

Prayer Table Art for March

February 26, 2012
Moses with the Ten Commandments

I’d like to suggest this piece as the decoration for your prayer table this month.  Not only is it the classroom topic for March, but it compliments our recent Home Lesson study of Old Testament stories and the Commandments are an excellent thing to think about during Lent.

This work was painted almost 400 years ago by Philippe de Champaigne and can be found at the Web Gallery of Art.

Remembering the basics

February 2, 2012

One of our distance parishes will begin this month’s lesson on the Sacrament of the Sick by reviewing the basics with this poster:

And will then fill out that teaching as they move through the lesson:

It’s always a great idea to start with the most basic concept and expand on it.  In a classroom setting, students are coming in with all sorts of experience and skill differences, and in your homes you may be teaching kids of different ages all together.  By starting at “the beginning,” even briefly, you’re connecting concepts and making sure the most important information is being reviewed regularly.

Thanks Jill, for sharing your great idea!

“An awesome mission”

January 31, 2012

Thank you so much to this DRE from a distance parish for her reminder of what’s at stake when passing on the Faith the the next generation.

I can’t believe I am in my 6th year of Family Formation!  It has been an awesome mission with it’s many blessings and sometimes painful issues to deal with.  I don’t think you ever quit fighting the devil when you have something so good as Family Formation.


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