We have been reviewing the steps of the ecclesial method used in the Image of God series. The next step of the ecclesial method is the Proclamation. I think this step is the most misunderstood and the most often skipped Let me explain what a Proclamation is. It is a statement of the heart of the lesson. For example, if the lesson is on the Trinity, the Proclamation could be “There are three Persons in one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit”.
A Proclamation should be short, concise, and easy to remember. Most importantly, it is not read but joyfully announced from the heart with confidence by the teacher. It should be visually present before the students on the board, on handouts, etc. It should be constantly reinforced throughout the lesson.
In the Image of God series, sample proclamations are given in each lesson, but you can certainly create your own. Proclamations can be taken from the lesson. Choose a sentence (or two) that contains the essence of the lesson. Proclamations can be taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church or from the YOUCAT. Look up the topic in the index and choose a sentence from the paragraph(s) suggested. Proclamation can also come from Scripture. Choose a sentence from the Scripture reading suggested in the lesson.
To help the Proclamation come alive and help the students remember it, have them copy the Proclamation from the board. Younger students can practice their printing skills and older students their cursive writing skills. Have the students decorate the paper. Have the students do this for each lesson Proclamation. Collect the papers after each lesson and keep them on file for the students. At the end of the year, have students make a cover and staple all the papers together in lesson order. This gives the students a great reminder of all they have learned about their Faith.
In Sacred Scripture there are many instances where we are instructed “to proclaim” God’s Word, the kingdom of God, etc. Colossians 1:28 tells us, “Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.” This Proclamation step gives us the opportunity to proclaim the Good News and to teach our students that they may mature in their knowledge of the Faith.
Have you ever had an activity in a lesson go very wrong? Have you ever lost the attention of the class while you looked for a Bible reference? Have you ever had difficulty settling down a class so you could begin a lesson? I think these situations and others like it have happened to all of us.
In my previous blog, I mentioned the five steps in Ecclesial Methodology. (See the archives if you missed it) The five steps are Preparation, Proclamation, Explanation, Application, and Celebration. As you might have guessed, I would like to talk about the first step – Preparation.
I like to think of this step as having two parts – one for the teacher (catechist or parent) and the other for the students. For those presenting the lesson, this step is crucial. One can never be over prepared! The first action I suggest is to read the ENTIRE lesson – teacher manual and student text. Know what is coming. Is there a Bible or Catechism reference suggested? Find it and mark it so you can open the book at the reference to eliminate fumbling and page turning. Is there an activity suggested in the student text? Complete it yourself. Will it need further explanations? I am sure you get the idea. The more prepared you are, that is, the better you know the lesson, the smoother the presentation.
The second part to the Preparation step involves the students. How do we help them transition from previous activities to an openness to the Holy Spirit and a receptivity to the truth of God’s Word? Music can be an important part of this transition. Softly play a recording of an appropriate hymn, chanting, or a favorite children’s song in order to create a feeling of peace and calm.
In addition to the music, activity sheets can be used to help introduce the students to the topic of the lesson. In the younger grade these could be coloring sheets with pictures that have something to do with the lesson. With older students, worksheets with vocabulary from the lesson or with a topic referred to in the lesson. Whatever the type of activity sheet you choose, it should be distributed and waiting on the students desks to avoid the busyness that handing out paper can create.
The Preparation step can help us be a more confident and organized catechist. After all, isn’t it our goal to create an atmosphere where our students can be open and receptive to God’s Word?