May 6, 2009

the last day

This school year I've had the absolute pleasure of tutoring a girl in her catechism classes. The whole experience has been very eye-opening, teaching me things and reaffirming some old beliefs.

Teaching me that 6th graders are a lot of fun and the amount of responsibility, intelligence, kindness and fortitude that can be found in one is quite impressive.
Reaffirming that if all students were as good as my tutee is I would have gone into teaching, but they're not so I stayed out of the education department in college.

Teaching me the history of the Divided Kingdom, Samaritans and the prophets.
Reaffirming the knowledge that when we teach the faith we learn it better, but it's impact is even greater when we whole-heartedly believe and live it.

My goal with this girl has been to present a lot of information, hoping that when she hears it again in the future she will be reminded of a lesson we had. I don't think it's important for a 6th grader to remember all the details of the life of Jeremiah, but I do think it's important that when a reading of his comes up at Mass she remembers that the Jews really hated him because of the hard message he was preaching, but he preached it anyway because that's what God wanted of him.

Another goal has been to build her confidence in how to use the Bible. Where are the Gospels, the Psalms, the prophets and the epistles located? How do you use the footnotes? How do you look up further explanations in the Catechism? I think this part is so incredibly important that many times we didn't use the book provided by the parish. Why read a generic summary when the actual words are so much more powerful, captivating and fruitful?

Also, we covered the Liturgical Seasons - a lot. When I was a kid I never knew why the priest wore green for awhile and then switched to purple. But I want her to observe and embrace the Church's calendar, doing so helps us live and understand our faith.

We began each session with a prayer, rote or off the top of our head. And every day we closed by reading a psalm. My hope is that when she doesn't know what or how to pray she'll feel comfortable relying on someone else's words to help her.

Finally, the most important fact that I reiterated over and over again is that God always provides and He is always faithful. If she can carry that with her throughout the rest of her life, hopefully she'll never despair.

Our last class featured a Jeopardy review game power point. I was so impressed with how well she did. Example: she remembered that Solomon had the Temple built and, while she couldn't remember what the Ark of the Covenant was called, she remembered where it was located in the Temple and what it contained. I don't think I knew any of that in middle school. (or high school or even college)

Our final event will be a field trip to the Brothers of St. John in June. She's never met a religious before and we'll be joining the brothers for Office, Mass and lunch. I'm so excited about it (and glad that of the options I gave her she picked monks!)

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