Friday, March 6, 2009

Paying Attention to Jesus

A catechist recently complained to me that his students don't seem to remember Catholic doctrine from one year to the next. His 7th grade students don't seem interested, he can't get them to pay attention or retain what he's teaching them in religion class. It's a frustration many catechists have especially those teaching junior high school students. He was so frustrated that I told him to try something totally different. I suggested he show them the movie, Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zeffirelli, in short segments and then discuss it afterwards. It's an excellent movie, about the life of Christ, they could learn a lot from it. We have to try to "connect" students to Jesus and make his teachings come alive. As the Bishops' documents state, we should be putting children (and adults) in communion with Jesus Christ. I believe if we get them interested in Jesus, then they'll want to learn more and they'll pay attention.
At a religion workshop I attended this week titled, "Discipleship and Service", the presenter showed the DVD "Rich," one in a series of short movies called the Nooma series. I had never heard of them before, probably because they are produced by a Christian organization. They are short films, concise and to the point, each one about 10-15 minutes long. Rob Bell is the speaker and he's good. I just ordered my own copy of Nooma # 13, which is titled, "Rich." Rob Bell talks frankly about how blessed Americans are, how much we take for granted and how much we have compared to other people in the world. I've heard some of the statistics before but I never realized that only 8% of the people in the world own cars. This DVD really makes you think about how much we have and how it's our responsibility as Christians to care for others. It would be good to show this during Lent and use it as a motivator for service projects. Catholics are very charitable but we could do more and those of us who can should. 
In these horrific economic times we're living through, Americans are hurting too. During Lent I pray we can be the hands of Christ and reach out to those suffering right in our own neighborhoods. Little gestures of caring mean so much when people are in despair. 

Whoever confers benefits will be amply enriched and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.   (Proverbs 11:25)

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.  Mother Teresa