The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Children's Catechesis: Offering to Children the Gift of Prayer

Authored by Lani Bogart in Issue #8.1 of Catechetical Review

“Prayer is first of all a gift from God; in fact, in every one of the baptized, ‘the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words’ (Rom 8:26).” [1]

Our habit as Catholics is to begin our prayers with the Sign of the Cross—itself a gift we’ve received from Christ and the Church. By this ancient sign, we ground our prayer in the Holy Trinity, who was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Because prayer is a gift, our work as catechists isn’t so much to teach children their prayers as it is to help them discover for themselves the gift of prayer and how they can receive it more fully.

Sofia Cavalletti, catechist and co-founder of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, cautions that adults ought not “impose our own prayer guidelines on children. We risk leading them on a path that is not theirs. We risk extinguishing the spontaneous expression of their relationship with God and give rise to the idea that when we pray, we say certain fixed things, without necessarily adhering to them within ourselves. We could separate prayer from life in children.[2]

Ms. Cavalletti identifies a problem I have observed in my interactions with Catholic school children through the years. Having memorized their prayers and attended liturgies without having encountered Jesus Christ as the incarnation of God’s intimate love for them, they often perceive prayer, indeed the entire subject of religion, as boring. In my experience, this contrasts with the openness of the children in our parish religious education programs who come with little or no instruction on prayer. They are more likely to be curious about who Jesus is and how they can know him.

Notes

 

[1] Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Directory for Catechesis (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2020), 86.

[2] Sofia Cavalletti, The Religious Potential of the Child (Oak Park, IL: Archdiocese of Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 1992), 120 (emphasis mine).

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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