Lesson planning in a Catholic school is not always the easiest task that the modern Catholic teacher faces. How can they ensure that what they are putting together will be truly and authentically Catholic. The good news is that there is one essential filter that will always help the modern Catholic teacher get it right.
At the very heart of all Catholic education is the crucial mission of revealing Jesus to young people. Catholic schools don’t simply exist to get kids into college, make people ‘nice’ or give parents a break for a few hours per day. They exist as a central arm of the missionary activity. In short, the exist to make Jesus known and loved.
One of the very first documents from Pope John Paul II was Catechesi Tradendae or as it is also known “Catechesis In Our Time.’ It was a response to the fourth synod of Bishops and grew out of the work of the Second Vatican Council and also the work of Pope Paul VI. In paragraph five of Catechesi Tradendae, John Paul II makes the important point that catechesis (Catholic education) does not simply exist to out people ‘in touch; with Jesus but rather ‘in communion’ or ‘in intimacy’ with him. Our schools exist to help young people truly encounter Jesus in a way that they would want to have a life-long relationship with Him.
This idea is beautifully captured by something written by the brilliant Catholic apologist Frank Sheed way back in 1953. He stated:
“The indispensable minimum is the Catholics coming out of our schools should emerge with a tremendous devotion to Christ, our Lord with and awareness of Him and a considerable knowledge of His life and personality, and desire to increase that knowledge; if they have got that they are all right; even if they have got nothing else, they are still all right, they will come to very little harm. But if they have not, all other excellences don’t do them a great deal of good.”
In today’s short video I offer a simple idea that I first heard from Professor Bolster who lectures at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He suggested that our lessons plans or presentations should always begin with the words, “What does this have to do with Jesus?”
His idea was that we need in whatever way is possible to reveal Jesus in our teaching. How can each lesson, each class, each activity or event in our school community reveal something about Jesus. If we began to use this filter on all our teaching and pastoral interactions then we might see a gradual and yet profound change in our school culture.
At the very heart of all authentic catechesis is a person. The person of Jesus. A christocentric Catholic school is an authentic Catholic school. A christocentric school however does not simply magically create itself. It is the result of individual Catholic teachers asking themselves the constant question, “What does this have to do with Jesus?”
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