In her novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker, through the character Celie, reminds us that life is not a matter of hurrying about doing good deeds to earn God’s approval. Life is, rather, taking time to notice, appreciate, and praise God for the gifts he has provided for our enjoyment.
Sometimes we can get so absorbed in our responsibilities that we take ourselves too seriously. It is then, if we take the time to notice, that God sends us a reminder to “lighten up.” Because catechists are privileged to engage young children in matters that are important and even sacred, misunderstandings and mis-statements are bound to occur. Some are humorous, some are tender, and some are profound.
Here are a few anecdotes that you might enjoy. If you have a short story that you would like to share, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enter “Encouraging Stories” in the subject line. Be sure to give us your full name and the parish, city, and state in which you are working. To protect your privacy, your last name will not appear on the site with your contribution.
A pastoral associate remembers when she was growing up in St. Symphorosa parish in Chicago and how she and her classmates struggled to memorize passages from the catechism. One day Johnny was called upon to answer the question, “Who is God?” Johnny must not have been listening carefully when he was being drilled on the right answer (God is the supreme being who created all things), because he stood next to his desk and nervously blurted, “God is the string bean who created all things.”
A first-grade catechist at Mary, Seat of Wisdom parish in Park Ridge, Illinois, invited the children to voice their special intentions during morning prayer. A little girl asked that everyone pray for the family of ducks that had made her backyard their home. “I know they’re a family,” said the little girl, “because there’s a male and an e-mail and their baby.”
A catechist spent an entire class session extolling the wonderful season of Lent. It was only when he asked the students for suggestions of things they could do for Lent that he realized they all thought he had been talking about lint.
Happy Birthday, Jesus!
A catechist stood before her fifth grade class and asked them to name the holy days of the church’s year. The parish director of religious education happened to be visiting the classroom that day. They got through all of them, but for some reason could not think of Christmas.
Finally the DRE said, “Children, what is Jesus’ birthday?” After a few seconds, Maggie in the first row raised her hand. The catechist called on her. “Margaret?”
“Every day” Maggie said, “is Jesus’ birthday, because Jesus is in all of us, and every day is someone’s birthday.”