Learning about baptism

Sometimes late on Saturday nights, I have moments of doubt.  I wonder if all the time, effort, paper, planning, supply gathering, and teenager bribing (my teenagers AND Jean’s AND Danielle’s 🙂 ) that it takes to make my Sunday School class a success is worth it. 

But then by 10:30 on Sunday morning, my faith has been completely renewed and I start looking forward to the next lesson already.

Each year, it becomes more obvious that due to the diverse backgrounds and needs of my students that taking a purely textbook approach to catechesis just isn’t effective.  Long ago, I committed to including at least one hands-on component to each class.  This year, we’ve reduced our reliance on our textbook to less than one quarter of our time… I’ve learned that when the kids need a book, it works better for them to make their own.

Have you ever noticed that the people in church who most NEED to be able to see what’s going on – the children – can’t ever actually SEE what’s going on?  Every year that I’ve had one of my own babies, I’ve asked Father to allow my students to come up and sit in front of the first pew during our baby’s baptism so that they can actually participate.  Since I’m obviously can’t do that anymore, we recruited one of George’s baby dolls as a substitute.

Each child got to take turns being a parent or a godparent.  I loved overhearing their answers to the questions that “Father Sam” asked them.  One small group decided all on their own that the reason we want to wash the original sin from our souls is so that there would be more room for more grace.  That’s all it took to show me that my Saturdays of preparation might actually be worth it.

Then each student got to baptize the baby themselves.  Saying the words… pouring the water… touching the oil… I am certain that these audible and visible signs of our faith are now firmly planted in my students’ minds and hearts.

We’re never going to be allowed to abandon our textbook entirely, but I think I’m OK with that.   I can’t see our parish adopting Catechesis of the Good Shepherd … even if I were in a position to volunteer to manage the whole thing (and don’t you dare think of mentioning to Dixon that such an idea even occured to me!!!)  But there’s no reason I can’t incorporate as much hands-on, homeschooling mama, teaching to the heart of the child learning as I want to into each and every lesson.

And if I ever grow weary of the time and planning and paper and supply gathering and teenager bribing, I just need to think about the joy in our students’ bright eyes as they lit the candle, poured the water, held the baby doll… I think perhaps it brought a little more grace into everybody’s soul this week.

8 thoughts on “Learning about baptism

  1. Elizabeth, I teach Sunday School as well, Kindergarten and have the same “doubts” too, but God sends me friends like you and I realize how important this “hour” is….planning and all!

    What a special “hands on” teacher you are and thanks for inspiring me to
    “think outside the box”. (Can’t wait to plan this week’s lesson now!)

    I can’t begin to tell you all the lessons you are teaching those precious children…with or without textbooks! Makes me want to join your class!!

    Love and hugs!

  2. Oh, my goodness….this is so inspiring! Our Church *does* have Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (we call it “Atrium”), but we’ve never done such a fine job as this!

    Congratulations to you, Elizabeth. What you’re teaching these children will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

    God bless,

    Renee Francoise……homeschooling in Cary

  3. Beautiful!
    Last week we did our MRS. BUTTERWORTH IS A SINNER exercise. I went to Monday’s session with both classes and then Tuesday’s session with my own class.

    One year I taught 3rd grade instead of 2nd. I had all my 2nd graders plus one more. One class we were talking about St. Philip & the Ethiopian. The student whom I did not have as a 2nd grader could not believe that the Ethiopian was baptized on the spot with river water. The students whom I had taught the year before were THRILLED to teach the other student that Anyone can baptize another at Any Time, as long as he/she has water. (Does spit count if you have NO other water?) It really cheered my heart that my students had learned so well about Baptism even if some other lessons did not penetrate their hearts quite so thoroughly.

    Love & hugs from RI

    Ps – I have a non-Xn friend who is searching. Please say a prayer for her.

  4. I love this hands-on method of teaching about Baptism! Just lovely. At my church, our priest always invites all of the children to come gather around the font during Baptisms, and they love being able to be so close, to bear witness from inches away. It is so important.

    Peace and prayers …

  5. This entry so touched me. As someone who is trying to get Catechesis of the Good Shepherd into our diocese, I love what you are doing. You don’t need an atrium to begin. You are doing just what needs to be done for the children. If you ever need any materials, tracing packets, or want a materials manual, let me know. If you send me your email, I can send you pictures of the atrium I set up at our diocesan offices. We have about 45 people in level 1 training in just a year. It will grow in its own time. I pray for you daily.

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