There are a plethora of readings and booklets that can help a person enter into the Advent season. One particular meditation, titled, “Give Me a Joyful Faith,” comes from “Praying through Advent with the Saints,” edited by All Saints Press.
“Lord, let my faith be joyful and give peace and gladness to my spirit, and dispose it for prayer with God and conversation with others, so that the inner bliss of its fortunate possession may shine forth in sacred and secular conversations, Amen.” It is attributed to Pope St. Paul VI.
This quote exudes the goals that Angela Bean, third grade catechist at Sacred Heart in Warsaw, has for her students. “I have two main goals I desire for them; to see the joy that having a relationship with Jesus brings to their lives and to see God’s love for them pouring out through me. If they can grasp these two things, I feel their desire to know Jesus in a personal way will grow,” she said.
Bean and her husband, Taylor, have been married for nine years and have three children, Nora, age 6, and 3-year-old twins, Aubrey and Leah. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Ball State University and taught at an alternative school for several years.
“I grew up at Sacred Heart,” said Angela. “I’ve known our religious education director, Cathy Smith, since I was 6 years old. When she was looking for a catechist five years ago and asked if I would like to teach, I said yes. I was eager to get back in the classroom, and of course I couldn’t say no to Cathy!”
“I enjoy teaching the third grade; they are excited to be in class and eager to learn,” she said. “To keep them engaged for our hour-and-10-minute class on Sundays, I assign jobs. We have a prayer leader, board eraser, cross-off-agenda person, door person, pass-out-papers-and-supplies person, and of course a treat-pass-out person. I found by assigning classroom duties, the behavior expectations are met without resistance,” explained Angela.
Each week, Angela’s 19 students come eager to learn Bible stories and lessons from their textbooks. “Often, the students think they are too little to do God’s work. But through the Bible stories they discover that even doing small things helps build up the kingdom.”
When Angela first started teaching, her then-3-year-old daughter Nora would come to class with her and sit quietly in the back of the room — unless Mom was giving a quiz or asking questions. Then “she would blurt out the answers,” said Angela.
“When the twins came along, I was asked if I was going to stop teaching. I said, ‘Of course not, this is a special time for me to share my faith with my students.’ I also feel that if people see that I can teach with having three little ones, perhaps they might be willing to give of their time.”
Angela takes time daily to nourish her own faith journey as well. “I like to read reflections from Bishop (Robert) Barron, especially during the Advent season. Earlier in the year, I also participated in a Cursillo weekend, and it changed my life. The time I continue to spend with these women help me focus on my piety and making decisions with God’s plan in mind, not my own whims of the day.
“I recognize the Holy Spirit more in my life and feel on fire for God. I to know it spills over in my classroom, especially during this time of the year. It’s exciting to share the joy and anticipation of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord with my students.”
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