As I continue to study for my teaching certification, I frequently find that my eyes have wandered off my textbook, wondering how these ideas, theories, and methods apply to catechesis and the classroom of the Church.
Specifically, I was studying a unit on learning styles — how students prefer to explore information, complete tasks, and gain knowledge. My first thought was very basic: What are some ways we can incorporate all these very necessary and valid topics for education into our youth ministry programs? Sacramental preparation classes? General religious education? There are so many possibilities for creativity in the classroom, and the Church has a wealth of teaching that our youth need to know!
Then, I realized that the Church has known this all along. She’s brilliant in that fact, knowing that our universality is not just about ethnicity, language, culture, or geography. It’s about age, education, mental development, learning ability, and all the inbetween pieces like intelligences and learning styles.
Our Church is made for learning!
Everything we do is meant to draw us into knowing Christ more fully and developing a relationship with Him. Without learning and knowing about our faith, the Church, and God Himself, we lose focus.
The Church is for visual learners. She sought great artists to create work that illustrates the magnificence and glory of God. She gave stained glass windows to the illiterate and to the world. She taught the parables and doctrines of the Church through glass, sculpture, and paint. She allows us the privilege of owning the written Word; to look at it, study it, and live it. She built towering cathedrals and churches that pointed us upward and expressed our desire for heaven. She fills our spaces of worship with beauty: embellishments, adornments, intricate detail, and precious metals. She encourages us with images of the Saints and humbles us with images of our crucified Lord. She uses symbols to communicate mysteries. Her beloved religious wear clothes, collars, and habits. As we watch candles flicker, incense rise, and see the Eucharist lifted high, we understand.
The Church is for auditory learners. She proclaims the Word of God with conviction and authority. She asks Her shepherds to preach and teach, delivering homilies so we will hear the Truth. She brought brilliant musicians and composers to the mission of creating music for the Church. She has a rich tradition of hymns and chanting, yet she embraces music of all kinds. She encourages us to speak and respond, to voice our beliefs and convictions: we confess, we profess, we believe.
The Church is for kinaesthetic learners. She draws us into an understanding of our entire selves as reflections of Love and Truth. She affirms our physicality, she gives glory to the body, and she validates the Goodness of touching, feeling, doing, and experiencing. She wants us to kneel, sit, and stand. She asks that we make the Sign of the Cross, beat our breast, and genuflect. She doesn’t care if our hands are folded together, outstretched before us, raised in prayer, or grasped together; she only wants us to experience and pray with our whole body, our entire self. She leads us to receive the Holy Spirit, who has every power to allow us to enter into and experience worship: we tremble, we get inexplicable chills, we feel the presence of God, we speak in tongues and rest in the Spirit. She wraps us in action in every Sacrament: we enter a confessional, we approach the altar, we walk down the aisle, we are anointed and hands are laid, we are immersed in water, we put on a veil, we lay prostrate. Most incredibly, we open our hands to receive and consume the physical Body and Blood of Christ.
We see, we hear, and we experience.
Jesus meant for His Church to be for all. He established it as a place for all, for every need and want, to come to learn and know. How beautiful is the Bride of Christ!!
stay tuned for another entry about some ideas for incorporating teaching styles into catechesis…