Whether you are in a Catholic school or a CCD session, opening with prayer is essential. The Catechism also distinguishes between the following expressions of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer (CCC, 2700-2724). The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the following forms of prayer: blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise (CCC, 2623-2649). Prayers of petition and intercession will be most comfortable for young people, so try to give them new and deeper opportunities for prayer that extend beyond vocal prayer into meditation and even contemplation. Consider the following suggestions for prayers to start your class:
Vocal prayer is any mental or verbal prayer given to God.
- Singing praise and worship with hand gestures (believe me, the kids love this at all ages)
- Reciting traditional Catholic prayers together like the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Divine Praises, Angelus, Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition, etc.
- Reciting prayers written by saints
- The Divine Office
- Requests for intercessions from the saints and Mary
Meditation is the quest of the mind to seek understanding and respond to the Lord’s call.
- Journaling about one’s day or in response to a question
- Silent reflection
- Scripture reflection
- Music reflection
- Reflection on traditional Catholic prayers (see above for examples)
- Reflection on a poem or book
- Reflect on writings of the spiritual fathers
- Focusing on holy icons or other works of art
- Examination of conscience
- Lectio divina
- The Rosary
- Chaplet of the Divine Mercy
- Stations of the Cross
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, contemplation is the humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in union with the Son.
- Silent reflection as personal time with God
- Centering prayer (focus on one holy word such as “Jesus” or “Lord”)
Contemplative prayer in a classroom setting is no easy task. It requires more than a simple invitation and opportunity. It is not something one does “only when one has time” (CCC, 2710). If you encourage a personal relationship between your students and God and set an example of a humble life of prayer, then you may be setting the stage for the students to take on contemplative prayer in their own lives in the future.
What other ways have you begun class or a catechetical session?
Copyright 2010 Jared Dees