I can remember distinct moments in my life when I have been wowed. In some way, all of them are connected to a sense of vastness that made me recognize my smallness, my earthly finitude—from the vistas of mountains in Switzerland to cathedrals with spires that reach toward heaven. These moments inspire a sense of wonder and awe within our souls, allowing us to recognize just how mighty, how powerful, how big God really is. It can give us a healthy respect for our Creator, helping us become humble in the way we see ourselves.
Even in the eight short years I have been teaching, the culture has changed so much. I have noticed that there is a lot less that captivates my students. That gift of wonder appears to remain latent because we are trying to compete with a culture that tells our children that the latest and greatest is what people need in order to be happy. We can’t appreciate the iPhone we have because the next model is already out. And while technology is certainly a gift, having immediate answers to everything at our fingertips all the time can take away the process of wondering.
Discovering answers requires minimal work, and so, nothing remains veiled or hidden—students don’t need to practice patience to learn what they want to know. I realize this struggle exists across disciplines, but it seems to have an even more pointed effect on catechesis. When the core of our very faith is a mystery—the mystery of the Triune God—cultivating a desire to dive deeper is essential. That dive takes effort and motivation and work beyond a Google search, and thus, we lose students’ interest. And growing in a relationship with God certainly requires effort. That gift of wonder and awe guides our souls in the desire to enter into that mystery, to make an effort to know God, and also to realize that some of him and his plan will always remain a mystery to us.
All of the mysteries of our faith should naturally inspire wonder in us. But since this isn’t always the case for our students, we must find aspects of our faith that can help foster within them a sense of awe. The most effective of these that I have found are eucharistic miracles.