The First Steps in Evangelizing Cradle Catholic Kids

baptism treasure1 The First Steps in Evangelizing Cradle Catholic Kids[This is a part of the Fundamentals of Effective Catechesis series]

Imagine you knew someone living in complete poverty.

They don’t even know where their next meal is coming from.

Then, you found out they inherited a huge fortune!

Now imagine they didn’t understand a thing about money and didn’t care about going to get that fortune.

How would you convince them to get their inheritance?

Would you explain the Dow Jones to them? No, you would tell them the benefits! They wouldn’t be hungry anymore. They could buy a place to live. Also, you would make sure they knew how to get it.

That’s the reality for your Cradle Catholic students. Baptized as infants, they have a gift of inestimable value. However, they have no concept of what that means. How do you convince them to care? They need to be evangelized.

Help them accept God’s invitation and then RSVP

Evangelization is making your students aware of their awesome calling from God. Aware of the great gift of union with Christ.

First, your students need to know God has given them a personal invitation in Baptism. And, they should understand that God is waiting for a response to his invitation.

When you get an invitation to a party, often it has an RSVP. What’s does that mean? They require a response.

God wants a response to his invitation…hopefully in the positive. But until he gets it, he won’t act in your soul. He respects your free will too much for that.

That positive RSVP to God’s invitation is faith. And faith is not merely intellectual belief. It is a desire to have God become an active part of your life. It is a desire to be with God forever in heaven. And, it is the willingness to take the steps necessary to develop a relationship with God by keeping his commandments.

Direct your teaching toward willing faith

From the very beginning, you must stress that faith is a willingness to follow God. Awakening and deepening this willing faith should be a high priority. Really, we should see catechesis as development of faith.

It’s not merely saying you believe but showing it. The best way to show this is through prayer. Not just rote prayer, although that’s not bad. But prayer that emphasizes this willing faith.

What does this look like?

  • Thanking God for his great gift of love
  • Declaring a willingness to follow Christ
  • Asking God for the grace and strength to actually live this way

Catechetical Takeaway

Before we teach them anything, or perhaps simultaneously, we need to make our students aware of the magnificent gift they have in Christ. They won’t respond to the technical aspects of the Faith at this point. You need them to understand the benefits of life in Christ.

Going back to the opening analogy, you don’t explain the economy to get your friend interested in his money. You tell him what he can buy or that he doesn’t have to be hungry anymore. When you make it something to be desired, that is evangelization.

After that, faith and its practice through prayer are the first steps toward full maturity in Christ–the flowering of baptismal grace.

How do you make your students aware of their calling in Christ? Do you direct your teaching toward faith and prayer? Let me know by leaving a comment! 

This is part of the Fundamentals of Effective Catechesis series.  I’m laying out the basics of the catechetical system I learned at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Be sure to check out the other posts.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Marc Cardaronella

Parish DRE by day, blogger by night. I'm passionate about figuring out the most effective ways to transmit the Catholic Faith and spread Christ's Gospel to the world. Join me? Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and for the catechetical ramblings of the day.

Comments

  1. This was my first year as a religious ed teacher and we did a lot on vocations and how you discover what yours is. I talked a lot about how our desires and passions can help us to know what God’s plan for us is, and while I did emphasize the importance of prayer, it’s something that I am going to focus on more next year.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      That’s great that you focused on vocations in your class. I need to do more of that. I think it’s part of our job as religious educators to get our students thinking about their vocations and what they’re called to. It’s fundamental to their happiness. Ideally it should be done in the home, but often it’s not so the RE class is a great place for it too.

      I agree that our passions and desires can help us know God’s plan for our lives. I wrote a post on something similar to that a few months ago. Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/hsVAng.

      I’m just starting to get into praying with kids but it’s something I want to do more of as well. I hope to be writing more about what I discover.

      Thanks for the comments!

  2. Superb analogy!! God knows I have been this ignorant person a number of times in my life.

    During the last retreat at which I spoke, I gave my talk to a room full of wealthy cradle Catholics who were mostly going through the motions of Confirmation. I wanted to shake them and tell them how unimportant certain things in their lives where (Sperrys, the perfect haircut, having a cute boyfriend etc). The best I could do was to treat them with love, to engaged with them without worrying about looking “dorky” (funny how that fear survives high school sometimes), ad try to be an example of someone who is learning what a fantastic treasure it is to believe in the Catholic faith.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      I have to say that I’ve been that ignorant person too!

      I feel your pain in talking to the Confirmation students. It’s hard to get over feeling dorky with them isn’t it? ;-)

      That’s exactly the crowd I’m talking about too! It can be difficult to make an impact when you only see them once. That’s where building a relationship and earning the right to be heard really makes the difference. Sometimes, in that situation, all you can do is be a witness to what you now know. But that’s really something though. Don’t underestimate it!

      I think that’s what you guys are doing so well as the Brightmaidens! You’re really laying out there on difficult subjects and being witnesses! That is powerful and awesome!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great post! It’s all about making them aware of treasure they didn’t know they had . . . and making them want it, get excited about it! I think the best way I know to share the benefits is by sharing stories from my life of the difference that faith makes. I remember when I was a teen, that’s what impressed me most — when the teachers and priests shared personal stories of faith.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Thank you Marcellino! I completely agree! Telling those personal stories of how the faith has changed your life and *is changing* your life are best way to awaken that faith in kids.

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