Today marked the first day I ‘taught’ Catechism class. I say ‘taught’ because I don’t believe that I’m there as much as to teach as it is to witness to these children how joyful a life lead in the knowledge of being loved by God is.
We had a great time today playing the ‘alliteration name game’ so we could get to know each other. I was, of course, Animated Ann. We had Deadly Don, Mischievous Miguel, Keen Ken, Rough Russel, Mysterious Marie, Just Joanna, Terrific Tab, Cheerful Cristal, Tough Trisha, Joyful Joanna, Jolly Joanna, Loud Lorraine, Grateful Gabriel, Naughty Nicole, Ambitious Annabelle, Boyish Bryan, Brave Brendan, Runaway Raphael, Gracious Gabriel, Active Anthony and Jovial Joel.
The kids took a little while to warm up, but soon they were helping to suggest alliterations for one another, not all of which were er… appropriate. But I was just glad that there was soon laughter and sniggers filling the room.
As I looked around the room at the faces of these 12/13 year old children, I couldn’t help noticing the differences in their faces. Some were open and happy, some sullen and dark, some painfully shy, some bored and mutinous, and some just look blank. I took great pleasure in prodding, teasing and joking them into smiles before the end of the hour and I hope they brought a little of the positive energy we had generated together back home.
Looking at these children, I can’t help wondering – how many of them come from unhappy homes? How many of them feel rejected and put down by their parents? How many are neglected? How many have a sibling favoured over them? How many are lonely? How many hate the way they look and feel ashamed about themselves? How many are struggling in school and have people tell them they are stupid?
How many of them know just how beautiful and precious they are in God’s eyes?
So many Catholic youths are lukewarm in their faith and nonchalant about church. It is too easy to blame them for not trying or their parents and catechists for not teaching them how to be ‘good Catholics’. But I know, that if these children could experience God’s love in their lives, especially at this difficult time of adolescence, they will only desire to get to know God and their faith better.
Learning doctrine or even scripture without the understanding of being loved is empty. It would be learning the form of the Christian faith without having the substance. Even if they could memorize the entire Bible or understand the most difficult doctrinal tenets of the Church, they would know nothing of the true meaning of being a Christian – what it means to be the beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and sisters and brothers in Christ.
As our brother St. Paul says,
Though I command languages both human and angelic – if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains – if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned – if I am without love, it will do me no good whatsoever.
As it is, these remain: faith hope and love, and the greatest of them is love. – 1 Cor 13: 1-3, 13.