Bringing Reverence Back: A Crucial Mission for Catholic Educators

Jonathan Doyle Global Catholic Speaker

In this episode of the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast, Jonathan Doyle delves into the vital role of reverence in Catholic education, urging listeners to ponder its significance in the liturgical context. Reflecting on personal experiences and observations, Jonathan emphasizes the need for fostering reverence, silence, and stillness among students, guiding them to honor the sanctity of God’s presence within the Church. Join Jonathan in exploring the missionary task of Catholic educators and the importance of instilling a profound sense of awe and respect in the hearts of young learners. Let’s together contemplate ways to deepen reverence and reverence among future generations.

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    Welcome Aboard

    Hey there, my friend, Jonathan Doyle with you once again. Welcome aboard to the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast. It is good to be with you. I’m pleased to be here. I’m so honored to have a few moments of your time to share my passion for catholic education with you and your special role within Catholic education, changing the world one student at a time.

    Friends, today I’m going to go off the reservation a bit, and I would love to get your feedback and what I want to share. I would love to know if you agree or disagree with me. I guess you could message me on Instagram: @jdoylespeaks. You can go to the website: And whatever this podcast is titled, if you go to the blog page on the website, you’ll find a text version of this. And then we have our comment section there. So go look for that and leave a comment if it’s helpful.

    The Importance of Reverence in Catholic Education

    Catholic Students Praying - Reverence lays the foundation for a meaningful Catholic education, nurturing students' spiritual growth
    Reverence lays the foundation for a meaningful Catholic education, fostering students' spiritual growth

    I want to talk to you about reverence and I guess the role that we play in Catholic education is that of Catholic teachers and Catholic leaders in helping our students internalize the practice of reverence, particularly in a liturgical context. I’m recording this about a week after Holy Week. I ended up going to my local cathedral where I can attend a beautiful service there. The 3:00 PM solemn service and look, I am what I am. I love solemnity, I love the beautiful history and traditions of the church, I just love beautiful churches, I love silence, I love reverence.

    I’m thinking about it as I talk to you. I was there when I attended the NCA convention of Catholic teachers in St. Louis, we flew into New York for a week or so before, I remember just walking the streets of Manhattan. This is pre-COVID, and there are just so many incredible churches. The beauty of the altar rails, I remember sitting in one church and thinking to myself. There was so much art in the church, there was so much statuary, there was literally stuff everywhere. And there was not a section where you could turn your head and not see something. And I’m going to sit there, thinking. How did they dial this in so it all just works.

    If you stuffed a room full of paintings and all sorts of stuff, unless you were just a genius at interior decor, eventually you’d be like, there’s too much here. Recently, I was speaking in St. Louis again. I went to the Basilica in St. Louis, which has the largest mosaic in the world. And just a love for stillness and reverence.

    Reflections on Liturgical Practices

    Serene Church Interior - Reflecting on liturgical practices prompts contemplation on the essence of reverence within religious services
    Contemplating liturgical practices prompts reflection on the essence of reverence in religious services

    So I go along to the three o’clock service, and there’s these people, I’m sitting in the second row, and there’s these people in front who kept talking all the time. I don’t know how to say this nicely, but just in and out of one lady’s, in and out of a handbag every few seconds, checking the phone. It ended up that she actually had a role in the service. She was doing one of the lectionary roles. So this wasn’t somebody who obviously knew nothing about the Catholic Church. I was just stunned.

    Normally, what happens at this point is that I think it’s me. Maybe God really is inviting you to tolerance. I’m just sitting there trying to focus on the liturgy and the Lord, and this woman is driving me crazy. The husband’s doing the same and this other woman who is with them is doing the same. I’ve just felt so vindicated because my mother was actually there too. My mother’s in her eighties, she’s the sweetest and nicest. Hi mum. If you’re listening. She lost her mind. My mother was just so angry at this behavior.

    You might be listening to me thinking, Jonathan, you got to relax. What you are going to hear, it’s good that people came. I don’t know what to say at this point. Do I agree with that? Here’s what I think, what I came away with was this sense of, I am here to focus on the great God of the cosmos. Yes, I know that Jesus is as close to us as Augustine said, as we are to ourselves. We’re closer to us than we are to ourselves. I know that Jesus is completely loving and compassionate. But we often wonder, have we lost a sense of the grandeur and awe.

    "In terms of liturgy, reverence is the appropriate response to our final realization of exactly what is happening. Awe and silence seems wholly fitting."

    I remember it was the Good Friday service, the liturgy of the Eucharist is a bridge. But I remember the archbishop holding up the host, and behold the lamb of God. This woman is talking to a friend. I’m just thinking. This is how my brain works. I get very analytical. What has happened is that this person has no idea of the appropriate, comportment and behavior that are appropriate to this place.

    The Concept of Reverence in Faith Traditions

    Group of People Praying inside church - Catholic educators teach reverence and proper conduct, guiding youth to honor God
    Catholic educators teach reverence and proper conduct, guiding youth to honor God

    One of the ways I’ve tried to raise my children, they’ll joke with you if you’ve asked them; they’ll laugh out loud because it’s a mantra. I always told my children to behave in the right place and at the right time. You could even add it for the right reasons. None of us get it perfectly all the time, but I’m like, what has happened?

    I wonder if other faith traditions put up with that. If you were in a mosque for a solemn service, would they just roll with that? I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t been to a mosque, not for a solemn service.

    So I’m curious as to what you think and what I’m going to offer in this podcast.  I just believe that there’s such a crucial missionary task present for Catholic educators at the moment. I wonder if this is one of the things we could do, would be to really help a generation of young people really love reverence and know how to conduct themselves in the right place at the right time. And to enter the house of God. in a way that honors who God really is.

    Challenges and Opportunities in Catholic Education

    Old and New Church - Architectural changes in Catholic education: challenges and reverence opportunities
    Architectural changes in Catholic education: challenges and reverence opportunities

    I often wonder if, for many years, I have been ranting to anyone who listens about the state of the palace’s architecture post-Vatican two. So part of that Vatican two gig was that the Pilgrim people of God gathered around the Eucharistic table. So, of course, the architecture changed a lot, and we’ve got these semicircular churches where we all have to stare at each other. I wonder if we lost some of the reverence.

    Often with altar rails, I remember in New York, I was thinking about what I would say to people. Look, one of the things the altar rails did, it was communication. The altar rails were telling us something, the altar rails were saying God is there. There’s something extraordinary happening just behind these rails. And we come no further.

    Now, I know he can get all sorts of theology people, but God’s closer to us, and I get it, but I just wonder. I just want to offer you these reflections, and I’d be interested to know what you think because when I was teaching, I would constantly try to inculcate silence, stillness, and quietness. Helping students get a sense of reverence. That’s all I want to share with you today.

    Call to Action and Conclusion

    Jonathan Doyle addresses the crowd at St. Louis Convention Centre
    Jonathan Doyle addresses the crowd at St. Louis Convention Centre

    Please, my dear friends, consider this. Consider how you can bring greater reverence and teach a generation to love reverence and silence, and to conduct themselves with reverence and awe in the presence of the living God inside our churches, because for whatever reason, a whole bunch of people yesterday, sorry, last week at the solemn service just had not had that formation.

    So I leave it in your hands to prayerfully consider. Send me a message to say, Jonathan, I don’t agree. If you do agree, I’d love for you to share this with people and help me just get people thinking about it.

    God bless you. My friends, everything’s on the website:, Instagram: @jdoylespeaks. Let me know what you think. This has been the Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. You and I are going to talk again tomorrow.

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    Jonathan Doyle


    I’m on a mission to liberate the potential of the incredible people that make up your organisation, school, or business.

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