When Mary the Mother of God was a young girl she learned about God by listening to the Scriptures. She would have been asked to remember what she heard. Back in those early times, before the printing press, faith stories were always memorized word for word and passed on from generation to generation. That is how students learned.
Can you picture the early days of the Church, as young people sat around a teacher and repeated the answers to questions? I imagine their eagerness to recite the exact words that were shared with them. And in doing this, the words became a part of them…as if the words were blood running through their veins!
For centuries, parents, educators and faith teachers recognized the absolute necessity for memorization even when printed words were available. When you know the answers to basic questions like, “Why did God make you?” the answer will pop into your mind when you are depressed or in crisis. The blood of truth rushes to the wound to cleanse it and bring healing antibodies.
Unfortunately, in our modern area, memorizing is no longer a common practice.
Yet in some places it is making a comeback. I write a column for Catechist magazine called Learning by Heart. People, around the country, are responding. We are asking students to memorize basic ideas such as “What is a Sacrament?” along with some helpful Bible verses.
With my catechism students in third grade I asked them to learn some of these things. A few people grumble about this expectation. However, all our students are doing it! They rise to the occasion when given the opportunity!
A Memorizing Game
To assist in this effort, we created a game in our third grade class to make it entertaining! Memorizing can be fun. Using a soft beach ball, we “throw the answers” around the room. Understanding and memory begins to grow.
For example, I ask the students, “Why did God make you?” One child catches the ball, and answers “to know Him;” she throws it to another student who says “to love Him;” another says “to serve Him.” We go around the room playing catch and shouting out these words.
The next step is to put the answer together. I tell them they must answer with, “God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him…” I tell it to them once. The first person to get the ball struggles to repeat what I have said. But soon, as the ball is passed from one student to another, the complete answer comes out loud and clear. “God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”
We have tried the ball game to memorize several questions. We have also set some answers to music. In the Catechist magazine our technique is to present visual puzzles to use as triggers for memorizing.
For active young children, using creative ways like this help them to remember. When we sing, draw, or throw the ball, the children laugh.
They remember! And the blood of truth courses through their veins!
Copyright 2014, Judith Costello