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Comments on Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

We have heard on occasion about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and I found the program in a catalog today. If you have any experience with this program could you please provide input? Is it orthodox? Does it really teach the Faith? One of my concerns is that I found it in the Liturgical Training Publication catalog. LTP has never been known for its orthodoxy so seeing it there makes me wary.

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74 comments
Gia
Gia

The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation made it easy to find out what the Church has always taught about creation. Seven day creation dates to the Fathers of the Church, so that type of literalism was not something new, it's quite old. Skimming through the list below, Cavalletti's History of the Golden Thread corresponds with none of the Church teachings below. So if your not adding to your curriculum the children are missing important teachings. What Does the Catholic Church Teach about Origins?  God created everything “in its whole substance” from nothing (ex nihilo) in the beginning. (Lateran IV; Vatican Council I)  Genesis does not contain purified myths. (Pontifical Biblical Commission 19091)  Genesis contains real history—it gives an account of things that really happened. (Pius XII)  Adam and Eve were real human beings—the first parents of all mankind. (Pius XII)  Polygenism (many “first parents”) contradicts Scripture and Tradition and is condemned. (Pius XII; 1994 Catechism, 360, footnote 226: Tobit 8:6—the “one ancestor” referred to in this Catechism could only be Adam.)  The “beginning” of the world included the creation of all things, the creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall (Jesus Christ [Mark 10:6]; Pope Innocent III; Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus).  The body of Eve was specially created from a portion of Adam’s body (Leo XIII). She could not have originated via evolution.  Various senses are employed in the Bible, but the literal obvious sense must be believed unless reason dictates or necessity requires (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus). · Adam and Eve were created upon an earthly paradise and would not have known death if they had remained obedient (Pius XII).  After their disobedience of God, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. But the Second Person of the Trinity would subsequently pay the ransom for fallen man (Nicene Creed).  Original Sin is a flawed condition inherited from Adam and Eve (Council of Trent).  The Universe suffers in travail ever since the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve. (Romans 8, Vatican Council I).  We must believe any interpretation of Scripture that the Fathers taught unanimously on a matter of faith or morals (Council of Trent and Vatican Council I).  All the Fathers who wrote on the subject believed that the Creation days were no longer than 24-hour-days. (Consensus of the Fathers of the Church)  The work of Creation was finished by the close of Day Six, and nothing completely new has since been created—except for each human rational soul at conception (Vatican Council I)  St. Peter and Christ Himself in the New Testament confirmed the global Flood of Noah. It covered all the then high mountains and destroyed all land dwelling creatures except eight human beings and all kinds of non-human creatures aboard the Ark (Unam Sanctam, 1302)  The historical existence of Noah’s Ark is regarded as most important in typology, as central to Redemption. (1566 Catechism of the Council of Trent)  Evolution must not be taught as fact, but instead the pros and cons of evolution must be taught. (Pius XII, Humani Generis)  Investigation into human “evolution” was allowed in 1950, but Pope Pius XII feared that an acceptance of evolutionism might adversely affect doctrinal beliefs. For more information contact: The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation

Kris Graunke
Kris Graunke

I have used Catechesis of of the Good Shepherd with young children in various settings. What it does is to allow children to develope a relationship with Jesus of their own, and to experience a loving community in the process. There is nothing about it which is against an orthodox understanding of the faith, but it is not a "question and answer" approach. It is hands-on and interactive. It allows children to ask their own questions and make their own declarations of faith. Pope John Paul II, when visiting an atrium in Rome, commented that he had heard the most eloquent sermon ever preached when a young boy told him about the "Good Shepherd."

Jessica - Keys of the Universe
Jessica - Keys of the Universe

Greetings! Just to update everyone: the Fettuccia and other history presentations have been updated to remove all references to specific amounts of time. Now they are to be presented in such a way that 7-day creation is possible as well as long-term evolution. Remember too that the Catholic church has NOT make a dogmatic statement on evolution or 7-day creation or any combination or anything in between. Each of us are free to believe as our own reason and conscience allow. HOWEVER I have always firmly believed that these sorts of discussions are NOT appropriate in the level 2 atrium. Stick with the theology. In level 3 it can be lightly discussed, but this whole topic of conversation is much more appropriate for high school. The one thing that irks me about CGS is not so much the program as the National Association - they don't listen to us "minions" (despite some of us having master degrees in theology, associates and bachelor's degrees in child development, master degrees in Montessori education) when we say we want evolution OUT of it; but as soon as a nun (with all due respect) with the same or usually fewer qualifications mentions she wants it out, it's out. Weird. And a friend of mine says: cult-like. I LOVE CGS. I am working towards being a formation leader myself; but I hope to counteract the cult-like tendencies that the organization has put into place - and emphasis the beauty of the atrium experience itself.

seraphima
seraphima

Friends, Since I am Orthodox, and not Roman Catholic, I'll have to leave the details of some of these dogmatic points to others. For consideration, though, I wanted to say that we in our atria do not associate the ribs on the Fettuccia with a specific period of time. Nor do we have the hominid on our charts or ribbon. Rather, we reflect with the children on the vastness of God's creative work, on the mystery of its unfolding, and of the immense love from which it sprung. We do address the fact that they will hear different opinions: "Some people say that God created instantaneously; some say that God created in seven literal days as we know them; some say that God created over billions of years." All these things may come to them through their schools, their friends, or their families. But no one can say for sure how God did it, because no one was there but God. So instead of focusing the child's attention on a particular vision of how creation unfolded, we focus their attention on God's great love, which desired to create, and on the power and beauty God shows through that work. We have had no issues by taking this approach.

Beate
Beate

My 16 yo daughter has been my assistant in a level 1 atrium for the past two years. When she entered a very traditional and orthodox confirmation program at a different parish this past fall, she was surprised at how much she had learned along with the 3 - 6 year old children ;-) Her confirmation leaders soon found that she often had a greater depth of understanding the tenets of Catholic teaching than the more traditionally educated teens in her class. She has spent exactly one year in traditional ccd many years ago and at home our method of catechesis involved casual reading and conversation. Yes, many people who enter formation are lacking in their own catechesis. Formation is a great start, but hopefully will leave the catechist thirsting for more. I've found that The Great Adventure Bible studies and the Scott Hahn books do a great job in validating and further explaining Sofia's methodology. Each presentation has a doctrinal point. Those in level one go hand in hand with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I've found myself questioning the wording of a doctrinal point, I have always found validation either in the Catechism, papal encyclicals, or in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. Since it is a catechesis that isn't handed down in a curriculum, there is of course the chance that it could become misconstrued by a misguided catechist. However, that can happen in traditional catechesis as well. As far as evolution, it isn't something that is taught in the atrium. Personally, I love the time line and found no disconnect between it and the writings of Pope JPII and Pope Benedict the XVI. Perhaps reading Pope Benedict's books on the subject might be beneficial ;-)

Liz
Liz

Skimming through the comments from writers, the CGS Montessori style teaching is viewed in numerous ways. From absolutely orthodox to new age, I find the wide divergence in comments interesting. I will share my research with no intent to disparage those who warmly embrace the program, but to illuminate information I feel is important if discerning this method for your Catholic Church catechists program. Oddly, my thoughts vacillated as others when I trained for the program. Struck by the hands on visual presentations, I felt this style wonderful in capturing the attention of the youth. Detail and attention to the materials presented, were well thought out. The view of the room and its physical content, divert one from noticing the fundamental Catholic material which is lacking. The theistic- evolutionary time line, poorly detailed sacramental work, and minimal traditional Catholic material was troubling and when questioned, was passed over and never discussed on several occasions. With no answer to my questions and primarily glowing comments about the CGS on line, I did my home work and read in detail all I could find. Maria Montessori was “Catholic” but when reading her life story she was not the traditional Catholic many trust and believe her teachings to be . “ Nourishing the Spiritual Embryo: The Educational Vision of Maria Montessori," will open your eyes to the culmination of her teaching philosophy and theories which she blends and implements into the Montessori teaching principles. “ Her faith was not merely sectarian it was a transcendental, mystical spiritually ....with “oriental” elements in her thinking. Read information from the Theosophical Society, this appears to be where she adapts the idea of a child learning their own faith, come to God by myself, and adults standing by with no interference. This idea is rooted in Hinduism. As a parent, I never allowed my child to create his own concept of moral or religious ideas. Following moral behavior depends not just on doing what is good, but to know the difference between good and bad. Knowledge that goes through the senses must be supplied by reason and intellect. It is incompetent for parents and trusted educators to teach truth and knowledge to our children. Correct knowledge is learned not infused on its own as Montessori and Cavalletti proclaim, based on Theosophical thinking. Researching both Cavalletti and Montessori's mentors,Teilhard De Chardin's work permeates both Montessori and CGS teaching theories and presentation material in class rooms. De Chardin's radical evolutionary teachings were banned during Vatican I and is sadly embraced by many through the Catholic teaching spectrum today. Nina and Inga noted important time line information, Adam& Eve, Trinity, Angles, grace, Noah ect. missing, this is no mistake on part of Cavalletti, who is defiling traditional Catholic teaching on creation. Evolution dismisses the above stories and “History of the Golden Thread” Cavalletti chpt 9- 16 reveals De Chardin's theories , that creation and the corresponding stories are literary genre, (not real) hence the hominid on the time line with other time line materials promote evolution not creation. Another major theological error of “no original sin” promoted by Cavalletti influences all of what is taught in CGS and does not end at the time line. These few thoughts only touch on the errors too many to numerate here, which violate the teachings of the Catholic Church. The ecumenical flair and push of CGS “The Religious Potential of the Child” chpt. 14 grieves my soul. Missing from the program are vital Catholic doctrine, which will never be taught to our Catholic children I believe it is with intentional intent for it to be omitted, for it follows the evolution theory not Catholic doctrine. Cavalletti's writings are seeped in Jewish history and mingled with Church Father theories to give the feel of authentic Catholic teaching. May I suggest and evening of research on Montessori's (Cosmic Education) and De Chardin's theories on evolution and faith and then read Cavalletti's HGT book and you will become aware of the coupling of faith, earthly matter and spiritually in the writing. (Mans spiritual being and earth connected.) CGS, presents with much eye catching material but remains deficient in Catholic doctrine essential to prepare strong faithful Catholic children. What is orthodox teaching? Many adult catechists, prior to CGS training, know little about Catholic teaching, which leads them to view the manipulative material as orthodox along with other CGS teaching agenda . Some presentations are well done and on target with Catholic doctrine in CGS. Other Catholic subjects are missing and must be taught to complete authentic Catholic teachings. My friends in Christ, please research this information and if you see valid points in my discussion, make adjustments in your program, give our children authentic Catholicism. It is with great sadness that many unknowing Catholics embrace this program, which plants the seed of evolution and the underpinnings which go with it. We are accountable before God and judgment will follow for those who teach error which lead others from the truth of Christs teachings, sins of commission and omission reside in the CGS program and must be addressed. May the CGS not become a sheep in wolfs clothing, denying the authentic tenets of Catholicism. May God lead you to a spirit of wisdom and right thinking. May God's Blessing be with you and the children you faithfully teach our faith.

Kristine H. Graunke
Kristine H. Graunke

This is the most wonderful approach I have found in communicating the Faith to children. It gives young children the essentials needed for them to form their own relationship with Jesus, and it roots older children (6--9) in the love of Christ which continues to nurture them as they expand their horizons and explore Scripture, Creation and the Liturgies of the Church.

Marion
Marion

Children's choirs often wear robes and I don't think anyone thinks they are blurring masculine and feminine. The main purpose of the robe (as I understand it) is to remind children of their baptismal garment. It also provides a uniform look and minimizes the differences between rich and poor. Especially for girls, the cost of a dress can be a significant expense for the family. Competition can get out of hand. Until fairly recently (mid '70s) school children in Europe wore smocks over their clothes until about the age of 10- one reason was to protect the clothes- the other to minimize class differences. These smocks were worn by both boys and girls. I have Greek and French relatives who have told me about them. I wouldn't be surprised if this was part if the original idea in using robes for first communion.

Nina Evans
Nina Evans

Dear Inga, I was comforted to know there are other people who share concerns about the Good Shepherd program. After reading my first e-mail, I hope people read a sense of frustration and not anger with the Good Shepherd and material. Seraphima, suggested that our parish Good Shepherd catechists visit local Good Shepherd atrium's. We were fortunate to visit two atrium's with in a 50 mile radius. Each atrium had it's own feel, with their hand made materials, which is the beauty of the program. Both atrium's followed the program without much variation to the lessons. One program was preparing for the First Communion retreat much like Sofia's in Rome, lasting 2 days with the children returning home with their parents at night. The priests and parents of that parish did object to the children wearing white robes instead of the traditional suit/dress. They felt the neutral, unisex robes removed the importance distinction that male and female are different. Some felt the robes represented a masculine priestly quality, and women will not be priest and this part of the Good Shepherd tradition was not appropriate and send the wrong message. I thought his was interesting because the church has female altar girls who also wear white robes like the male servers. I'm not sure what the difference between wearing the robe at First Communion vs serving at Mass on Sunday. I enjoyed visiting the atrium's, but still have questions on what can be added to the Good Shepherd material. I have also come across Sofia's ideas on not presenting negative ideas to level one and two. She feels this interferes with the bonding between the child and God. I am also reading and learning to be more effective presenting the material as Sophia did instilling wonderment in the child. Good luck to you also, I wish you much success with your Good Shepherd program. Seraphima, could you please give a brief description of what you add for Communion prep and the retreat. Your sounds wonderful. Thanks

Inga
Inga

Nina, I came across this site with some of the concerns about GS which you share. I have also returned the the Catholic Church and desire to teach the children our faith which has existed since the beginning of the Church. You question an ecumenical tone to the GS. I also wonder about this issue and continue with my reading for the answers. I find it interesting that you mention sanctifying grace, as this idea gave me a great love for the sacraments and their ability to give us our divine nature needed for salvation. The time lime does not mention Adam and Eve , grace or sin and this seems to be the logical time to insert the beginning discussion of grace and sin. From my reading Sophia felt the the children needed to focus on their relationship with God and the love he has for them, and not to be focused on sin or negative themes at an early age. Perhaps this is why these issues are omitted form the GS lessons at level 2. The previous readers noted Trinity, grace and other subjects taught in the lower grades are moved to level 3. Could the omission of these issues sanctifying grace , types of sins which are mostly Catholic teachings, give you the feel of ecumenicism? Yes, our parents were taught from the Baltimore Catechism and these issues where taught 1st and 2nd grade. It seems Sophia felt it was more beneficial to develop the relationship a child has with God and omit issues which could interfere with that relationship. I have needed to rethink my old way of teaching, many people thought the old school of teaching taught facts, but lacked in the child forming a relationship with God. I do like the focus of forming a relationship with God, and I still feel it is necessary to instill and early seed of moral development. The new parenting of today is weak on moral development, to minimize this I feel is a mistake. I will continue to read and find a way to bring these to issues together when teaching. Wishing you success as your GS program moves forward. May God's Blessings be with your and all who brings Gods words to our children.

Nina
Nina

Dear Seraphima, Thank you for responding to my questions about the GS program. I am looking into some of your suggestions for next year. Reading the various comments above, catechists have included subjects which they feel the program lacked. I felt the program was unmovable in content and am pleased to see including teachings which we feel is necessary is appropriate. Peace & Grace, Nina

seraphima
seraphima

Dear Nina, The description you give sounds like a local interpretation of the work. There are many denominations that use CGS, but they all adapt it to their unique theologies. If ecumenism is prominent in the theology of your leadership or your region, this could be reflected in your catechists. In our Orthodox atria, we are presenting Orthodoxy, not ecumenism. We never had the hominid on our Sacred History chart. Our study of Adam and Eve did not reflect the idea that this is only allegory. There are allegorical truths to be apprehended there, and in this way we bring the moral elements of the account into our own lives, but its "both/and." The account is both allegorical and reality, and therein is the paradox linking it to many things of the faith...redemption being chief among them: Christ is BOTH God AND man; Theotokos is BOTH mother AND virgin, etc. Re: sacramental prep, I know some very serious and thriving Catholic communities that use CGS and feel it is the most profound sacramental formation. One parish I know has about 500 kids, and some of those parents have come out of attending their children's sacramental prep with tears streaming down their faces because they themselves never had what CGS is offering their kids. Same thing is happening here at St Athanasius Orthodox Church. Talk about returning to the faith.... I would suggest connecting with your priests about your concerns, and talking to the catechists. Perhaps they would be willing to bring in some veterans from among the Catholic Formation Leaders to give a refresher or to talk through what you feel is lacking. You may also want to just do a Google search for other Catholic churches using CGS and read about how they are using it. Or better yet, go for an observation while the children are in session. It may help broaden your understanding. It may be worth noting that what occurs in one parish may not always be indicative of the fullness of the work, and that to judge the entire work by observation of only one parish's interpretation is certainly limited and could be unfair. In Christ's love, Seraphima

Catherine Varkas
Catherine Varkas

Orthodox Christian Montessori Education, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Orthodox Church Immersion course at Hellenic College June 6 - 17, 2011 Lodging and meal plans are available for twenty people. This course will be presented from an Orthodox Christian tradition. This is an "official" course of the national CGS association, with a certified formation leader. In addition this course is offered by a nationally accredited Montessori teacher training center which ensures authentic Montessori methods will be presented. Also, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese will grant a certificate of completion to those participants who complete the course. For more information visit the following website or contact: http://www.orthodoxcatechesis.org/ Orthodox Christian Montessori Education catherinevarkas@gmail.com

Nina Evans
Nina Evans

We began the GS program in our church last year. There are some Level 2 works in the GS that are great, but several major concerns for me in the curriculum. The original hominid teaching is troublesome. The underlying evolution theory is anti Christian/Catholic. Our Catholic trainer informed our group Adam and Eve were just a story, is this why no mention of them in the time line? Yes, I am aware it was removed, but how did Sophia, the Jewish/ Catholic scholar identify the idea as a necessary teaching originally? Where does sanctifying grace, a truly Catholic idea fit in or even just grace, never discussed. This is an essential teaching for sacramental formation. GS program is very weak in sacramental formation, we are teaching our children outside the program, they have received little GS in order to adequately prepare them for First Communion/first confession. As a Catholic who left the faith, and returned, it is my desire to teach children true Catholicism. On my return to the church, I have spent much time studying and learning our Catholic history and teachings. The ecumenical tone of GS teachings weakens our faith placing it on the same playing field as other faiths. Why maintain Catholicism if all faiths are on equal par. We were taught that we are the one holy Catholic Apostolic Church, the Catholic Church. Why is this seed not placed in the heart of our children? I want to like the GS program, but feel something is not right. Am I the only person with concerns about the program? Nina

seraphima
seraphima

Official courses in CGS are listed on the National Association website: www.cgsusa.org. As the only Orthodox Christian Formation Leader at this time, I can say that much about CGS as it stands that is in line with Eastern Orthodoxy theology.

Catherine Varkas
Catherine Varkas

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Orthodox Church or Orthodox Christian Montessori Education immersion course this summer at Hellenic College, June 6 - 17, 2010 all Doctrinal Content, direct and indirect aims, liturgical gestures, baptism, the Divine Liturgy, and the Divine Eucharist will be presented from an Orthodox tradition. Please visit the website for more information; http://www.orthodoxcatechesis.org or visit the following website to join the blog for Orthodox Christian Montessori Education: http://www.montessoriteachercenter.com

Terry
Terry

My Antiochian Orthodox parish is implementing CGS for the first time this year! We were trained by another orthodox christian who is a formation leader for CGS. We find it very compatible with orthodox teaching and where its needed are making orthodox changes. I am finding it not only a godly program for the children, it is benefiiting me as well!

catherine varkas
catherine varkas

Orthodox Catechesis of The Good Shepherd varkas1@gate.net for more information “Exploring new methods of handing forward the Orthodox Christian Faith and Way of life to the next generation has become more and more important. Once teachers are exposed to the theory of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd,they should see immediately important connections and synergies with Orthodox Christianity, from its liturgical and sacramental emphasis to its deep person-centered approach to spirituality. While CGS has been practiced for more than 60 years in other Christian communities, Orthodox religious educators are beginning to see its potential and have begun to adopt it in their parishes. With proper training in the theory and method of CGS, which this program offers, an exciting new dimension for orthodox Christian Religious Education is now available.”   --Anton C. Vrame, Ph.D. Director, Department of Religious Education Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Deborah
Deborah

I am trained in level one and taught for several years there. Now I'm 1/2 way through level two and have worked for a year in level 2. While I have no real concerns for the level one atrium, the level two has several works centered around theistic evolution where man evolves from a hominid and asks "who made me?" There is no mention of sin or Adam and Eve, or "trinity" or "grace" and children are taught that there was billions of years of creation and then humans and then the time of redemption. They are not taught that creation was beautiful and that the first humans were in full communion with God which was lost with sin. These are big holes in the program- and the evolutionary works will be a red flag to Orthodox Bishops who want catechists to only teach the deposit of faith and not exceed our boundaries.

Rita
Rita

I have worked with CCS for 3 1/2 years, when I homeschooled my youngest daughter. It took me a while to get with the program because I did not completely understand it. I felt blessed every time I went to Atrium and experienced the richness of the child discovering God and making those connections with their faith. The Holy Spirit moves in the Atrium, we just need to get out of His Way!

George Pritchard
George Pritchard

Reading over these comments. It might be worthwhile to take a moment and read comments on what the children have to say. Some of these are at http://cctheo.blogspot.com/ I am particularly impressed at the understanding of Eucharist that is nurtured by CGS. Of course, this is second nature to catechist. We have almost a prime directive in our presentations. It is "greater participation in the liturgy."

Genevieve
Genevieve

I have been doing the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (Level 1 - ages 3-6) for about 7 years - for many years in a Byzantine Catholic parish, and for this past year full-time in a Catholic Montessori school. I can agree whole-heartedly with much of what was said before about how beautiful, reverent, and Christ-centered it is. I am constantly in awe of the work that the Holy Spirit does in the souls of these little ones, how much they love Christ, and the depth of knowledge that they come away with, even if they only are able to experience a Level 1 Atrium. (Levels 2 and 3 are incredible in terms of the Scriptural and Liturgical depth they go into. I remember learning some of these things in college level theology classes, with teachers like Scott Hahn!) I can also understand the concerns that orthodox Catholics may have about it. While Sofia Cavaletti and Gianna Gobbi were themselves devout Catholics, there are many non-Catholics throughout the world who have adapted the method and content of the program to the theology of their denomination, or Catholics with perhaps a different theological viewpoint who have done the same. This is not intrinsic to the program itself, which is authentically Catholic and faithful to the teachings of the Church, but it may cause many to question its orthodoxy. I know my mom and I had this concern when we took the training course many years ago from an episcopalian trainer, and were given the presentations on the Eucharist with episcopalian eucharistic theology (Christ is present in the bread and the wine). But we finally realized that this was not the CGS itself, and that we simply needed to adjust the wording back to something reflective of Catholic theology. However, for orthodox Catholics wishing to be formed in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I would recommend that they carefully discern which training course to take, as you will receive a very different presentation and perspective depending on who the trainer is. I can highly recommend the following courses: The Montessori Catechetical and Cultural Center: http://www.montessori-mcci.org/formationcourses.html CGS training courses offered for graduate credit at the Christendom Grad School, either in Front Royal, VA in the summers, or throughout the school year in the DC area: http://www.christendom.edu/grad/acad/offering.shtml God bless you all!

Jen
Jen

Meg ~ I have not taught CGS before, but am a certified Early Childhood and Lower Elementary Montessori teacher. It is not uncommon for students to have difficulty articulating what they've learned in their Montessori classroom. In reflecting on this, I think it's largely due to the lack of emphasis placed on a student's ability to regurgitate "what the book (or teacher) says." I encourage you to observe an atrium or Montessori classroom (as I encourage my students' parents to do as well) to SEE that learning is occurring, however. Students are engrossed in their activities, are often able to present lessons to other students (a good sign of mastering a topic!) and can often make connections among seemingly-dissimilar topics at an early age. However... they may not be able to sit down an put into words exactly what they know about sentence structure, geography, etc. The Montessori method doesn't always "measure up" when judged with the type of question-and-answer formats most of us remember from grade school. But my experience is that learning -- deep learning -- happens. I've had students who could never pass a "test" on a certain topic come up to me after class and say, "Can I sing you a song?" ...and they've composed a song all about what we learned, putting it in their own words and even making it rhyme. They don't know it, but they just answered the standard essay question, "Please put blah-blah-blah in your own words, in a paragraph of at least 300 words."

Joann
Joann

I attend an Episcopalian church which has been using the catechesis program for almost 21 years. We Episcopalians and Lutherans and several other faiths are crazy about this program. I've always thought it a shame that many Catholic churchs disdain this absolute gem of their own creation. Catechesis in our church starts with 3 year olds and goes through 10 year olds, who then go into a junior high program. We now have almost 70 children in our total program (catechesis, junior and senior high) and we are not a big church. Our original 3 year olds are now in their mid twenties. Two of them are now catechesis teachers. One is a youth minister at another church. Many of the others are still members of our church: children raised in the catechesis program don't leave the church, unlike the pre-catechesis crowd which show up once or twice a year when forced to by parents. That alone should be a reason to use it. Yes, the catechesis program requires good, dedicated teachers who have attended a lot of training sessions. Catechesis teaching is not for someone looking for a 6-month ministry. We are blessed to have many fine teachers who are also national trainers. It also requires a lot of dedication to build and stock the atriums. Although you can build a fine catechesis program on a budget, we have easily spent in the mid 6 figures on ours when you include building new rooms and walls in the basement. The bottom line is that the catechesis proof is in the pudding. It attracts new members, builds the church and raises children well-grounded in the Christian faith. If the program has any draw-back, it is that it does not encourage any of the traditional memorizations. If you want your child to learn the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd psalm, the Nicenean creed, you need to supplement at home.

George Pritchard
George Pritchard

No atrium nearby? Talk to your pastor. He may be willing to assist you with parish resources. Check with your diocesan Religious Education office. Browse to the Association of the Good Shepherd website for a national list of courses offerings and session dates. Ask for help in pioneering a local progam and in getting funding. Consider personally enrolling in a training course. You will find all of the psychological and spiritual support you need in starting an atrium. The training is engaging. It teaches by lesson example and focuses doctrinal content on the child's level of understanding. A primary aim is to promote greater participation in the liturgy. Persons come from all over to attend training. They are of all ages and backgrounds. Course sessions(4) tend to go from Friday to Sunday during the school year, and five to eight days in the summer. The training may be concentrated for a longer period or be spread out across the year. The certicate is based on clock hours attended. Every minute invested is worthwhile. Training often provides time for materials manufacture for the prepaed environment, the Atrium.

Beate
Beate

Hi Meg, All too often my own dc won't be able to tell me what they learned, as so much is intrinsic and might not show for years. That has certainly been the case for my 9 yo. In level two, the children will put together all the parts of the Mass which they have begun to learn about in Level 1. They work with a Mass chart and can note that the Mystery of Faith is the central element of the Mass. They learn parts of the Eucharistic prayer and will put together their own Missal. They learn about the History of the Kingdom which they will expound on in Level 3. Emphasis is given to the many gifts our Creator has given us. Also, there are central scriptures for the preparation of reconcilliation - meditations on the true vine, the Forgiving Father, the Found Coin and the Found Sheep. I'm not sure if your diocese is implementing the sacramental prep that Sofia recommends, often we are limited by time constraints and parish traditions. The sacraments are introduced slowly and in small, significant steps - the children are given "rich food, but little of it." Don't hesitate to speak to your child's catechist about your concerns and do observe in the atrium :-)

Meg
Meg

Can anyone tell me what content the CGS DOES include for 2nd graders preparation for Reconciliation and 1st Communion? While I support this more affective and experiential approach, I am becoming alarmed because my 2nd grader cannot tell me anything they have discussed or done in regard to the upcoming sacraments. 1st Communion is only 2 months away. My daughter tells me religion is her favorite class which delights me, but there are some basic essential meanings about these sacraments I want her to have, and I just don't know if she is going to get them. It needn't be in a purely cognitive heady form, but does need to be covered in some fashion. Please can someone respond?

catechist-in-training
catechist-in-training

To Jeannie Ballard, Christ the King in Ann Arbor has an active Level 1 Atrium. I heard some of their catechists are planning on taking Level 2 training.

Katie Press
Katie Press

Stumbled across this post through a google search and am glad the conversation is still somewhat active. A few points of response... Jeannie Ballard, try doing a search on the National Association website: www.cgsusa.org for atria near you. I know there are some in the Diocese of Saginaw. I'm not sure about the center of the state. Cecilia Beck, I purchased my "Child in the Church" just a few months ago from "The Catholic Shop" (catholicshoponline.com) for a reasonable $16.65 (not including shipping). It's a brand-new, paperback copy. I was very pleased. My own personal experience with CGS has been nothing but wonderful. I've worked in as a catechist in two parishes, a preschool, and an elementary school. I'm trained in all three levels (ages 3-12) having taught Levels I and III most extensively. I agree with the previous statement that sacramental prep (particularly for reconciliation) is deepened in Level III. I too have had the experience of teaching children whose parents fall on every end of the spectrum of the Catholic faith. One website I would also recommend is the only Masters Program in the US that compliments CGS training. It might be a huge asset for your parish catechist, truly. www.ai.edu/goodshepherd

Cecilia Beck
Cecilia Beck

Anyone wanting more information about the Cathechesis of the Good Shepherd should get a hold of Maria Montessori's book "The Child in the Church" edited by E.M. Standing, a follower of the Dottoressa. I do not know if this book is still published, but it will be worthwhile to have. I have a copy and have tried to find more copies with no luck. If anyone knows where we can get them..please let me know.

Jeannie Ballard
Jeannie Ballard

My Son who is now preparing for his 1st Communion was fortunate enough to be a part of this program: the Catechesis of the Good Shephard. at the pre-school level. I cannot say enough about it. It was wonderful. since then we have moved and I wish my 4 yr old daughter could participate in it but the parish we are in has never even heard of it. If I could find a nearby parish that had an Atrium I would drive her there. How do I go about finding one? We are in Fenton Michigan, Diocese of Lansing. Is there some kind of list of Parishes who offer this program?

George Pritchard
George Pritchard

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a dynamic faith-filled program. It educates children to trust and hope in Jesus and the Church. It is very present in the Cleveland Diocese. Like Cathy, I recommend that you personally observe an atrium in operation. You will find reverent children who come to link scripture and liturgy to a growing understanding of their own position within the faith-filled community.

gtsecc
gtsecc

" there is frighteningly little emphasis laid on the necessity of teaching children the Christian doctrine thoroughly. I was saddened to note that in preparation for reception of the Sacraments, very little emphasis was laid on the necessary doctrine required to receive them. I was particularly appalled at how poorly the children were prepared to make a good Confession. There was no mention made of mortal sin, venial sin, the five points necessary to make a good Confession, proper examination of conscience, the Ten Commandments, or why Our Lord came to this earth to die on the Cross and what our sins cost Him. It was all “let’s all be happy and feel good”. You have only had the training for level 1 and 2, which goes up to age 8. Level 3 goes to age 11 and covers those things you are worried about. If you only got "let's be happy and feel good," out of the training, I think you missed something - how I don't know.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I am a trained Montessori teacher (Association Montessori Internationale) for both primary (3-6 yr. olds) and elementary (6-12 yr. olds) and also trained in Levels 1 and 2 in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. In addition, I am a homeschooling mother currently using Seton Home Study and Kolbe Academy materials for my children as well as my Montessori background. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program is excellent -- under certain conditions. The materials are wonderful and have such marvelous potential to nourish the interior spiritual life. I myself started an Atrium (our name for the area or space devoted to catechetical activities) in our church which is dedicated to the extraordinary form of the Roman Liturgy under the auspicies of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). I am not currently operating it now because my own growing family commitments make it too difficult, but we had outstanding success with it, not the least of which was a number of children who received their First Holy Communion at age six because they were so well prepared spiritually due to the formation received in the Level 1 Atrium. Having said that, duty obligates me to say that if you take the catechetical formation courses, there is frighteningly little emphasis laid on the necessity of teaching children the Christian doctrine thoroughly. I was saddened to note that in preparation for reception of the Sacraments, very little emphasis was laid on the necessary doctrine required to receive them. I was particularly appalled at how poorly the children were prepared to make a good Confession. There was no mention made of mortal sin, venial sin, the five points necessary to make a good Confession, proper examination of conscience, the Ten Commandments, or why Our Lord came to this earth to die on the Cross and what our sins cost Him. It was all "let's all be happy and feel good". The best way to use the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is to modify the dialogue in the lessons to be sure the essential element gets through and be sure the children are well-drilled in their Baltimore Catechism. The combination of a modified CGS and the Baltimore Catechism is unbeatable in my opinion; the former provides reflection, thought and a deep spiritual life while the latter provides the solid foundation in the truths of the Faith. I have already seen several adults who received nothing but CGS in liberal parish settings as children, and they have left the Catholic Church. Is it the fault of the parents, the liberal parish, the catechists, or the method? This is a question which, unfortunately, has no clear-cut answer. However, it is a good idea to investigate further into the possible root causes and try to come to solutions. Trained Montessorians, trained catechists and all parents and teachers need to always think about what will best meet the end of their work. Each methodology is only that: a methodology. Some are excellent, like CGS and Montessori, and need only to be taught by people who are willing to modify the method in order to be sure that essentials are not left out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of purists in the Montessori field who consider it heresy to vary one jot from the prescribed norm and consequently imperil our children as a result. My advice: choose carefully and observe the instructor. Don't be afraid to ask questions or bring your concerns to the teacher. If you have concerns after talking to them, don't put your children in the program.

Fr. David
Fr. David

According to a segment in FIRST THINGS a few years ago, Fr. Henri Nouwen apparently acknowledged that he struggled with same sex attractions. This is not the same as saying he was "gay"--which is a socio-political, ideological identity. It is important to note that the article pointed out that Nouwen courageously defended the Church's teaching on homosexuality at a cost and that he lived a chaste life. As to CGS, orthodox Catholics should be happy to supplement strongly cognitive and directive catechetical approaches with intuitive and affective approaches that have appeal to children and those whose personalities have a bias in favor of the "experiential." Why? As long as orthodoxy is not endangered and can be successfully wedded to such methods, it is better to have such means at our disposal so as to help keep them within the fold, least such individuals feel restles and wander off in search of "something more" only to fall into the clutches of misguided liberals who currently dominate the market for all things "touchy-feely". In a society with a cultural bias that values intuition and imagination over reason and truth, faithful Catholics should not let orthodoxy be boxed in by stereotypes. We need to be able to demonstrate that orthodoxy is not some limited option for emotionally-constricted logical types only, but that orthodox Christianity is universally valid regardless of personality type and is, in fact, especially favorable for developing full, well-integrated individuals and communities, morally, spiritually, psychologically, socially, aesthetically, etc. More concretely, if you have a particularly sensitive, inquisitive child, do you really want to leave his "right-brain" unnurtured to the point that he may later become vulnerable to heterodoxy because his childhood experience of conservative Christianity felt like a strait jacket? We are Catholics, not fundamentalists. We are not are not afraid of new ideas or of the capacity of emotion that God gave us. So, don't shy away from CGS and its potential without compelling reasons. If necessary, baptize it and steal the thunder from the pagans and heretics! If it is already valid, graced with truth, then why let it fall into the hands of New Agers and let it become associated with them? Be pro-active, not merely defensive, in your orthodoxy if you really love the Church and believe that her mission is to claim and re-claim all things for Christ. Plant the flag!

Jessica
Jessica

Based on this list of teachings, I find that in level 3 of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (where we study creation and the flood in depth, through typology) - there is nothing to be ADDED to what I am teaching. My only angst is that there is still too much of an emphasis on the possibility of evolution - thus I actually REMOVE statements and words in order to leave the door open. What has happened is that because we were told by the Pope (someone please tell me which one) that we can choose to believe in 7-24-hour-day creation or an evolutionist creation so long as we believe that Adam and Eve were infused with a rational soul, then we are still within church teaching. Thus, despite the recommended "fixes" to some of the evolutionary stuffy, there are still hints here and there. Easy enough to correct within my own atrium spaces, but frustrating none-the-less. Unfortunately, right now, our Church as a whole does not seem strong enough on the teachings of the Early Church Fathers, in regards to many matters (headcoverings on ladies, 7-day creation, among other topics).

Beate
Beate

Yes Seraphina, I can relate to that. We don't count the grains either and were taught not to during formation. I think the problem for some is that the timeline does inherently imply a longer period than six 24 hour days. Interestingly enough, that type of literalism is really a fairly new thing. Pope Benedict reminds us of the importance of seeing Creation as part of God's cosmic plan, which CGS teaches perfectly :-)

Beate
Beate

Oops, I also wanted to add, if you're worried about orthodoxy, consider going through CGS formation :-) And for anyone who wants to fall in love with scripture and liturgy - who wants to find how the two are inseparably linked, become a catechist! Personally, I've always loved the Mass, but becoming a catechist has been the impetus for entering into it even more deeply. When I was a kid, Easter Vigil was just oh so long - now I can't wait for it to begin - all 5 hours of it at our parish! My kids also love the Liturgy of the Light they've experienced in the atrium :-)

Bernadette
Bernadette

Liz, thanks for your comments. As a level 3-6 catechist I think that the program is wonderful, and really plants the seeds for love of God. My children have attended and I can particularly see how it really helped settle one daughter's strong and oft challenging character (who attended from 3-6 years) into an animated but settled child with a love of God that seems to have grown much without my influence. Of course, I don't know what she would have been like without CGS, (hopefully the same!) but the individual experience of God that is unique to CGS is I believe a fundamental contributor. That being said, your comments are most valuable and it is extremely important - imperative, in fact, to give the other side of the coin - authentic Catholic doctrine true to the teaching and magesterium of the Church. Then the child can have the best of the individual relationship with God that CGS allows and nourishes but which is also backed up with an understanding and belief in God through doctrine and dogma, which will direct the soul further along than the content of CGS has the scope to do - especially in later years. The first without the second can lead to a faith that changes with individual interpretation, the second without the first can lead to a dry, intellectual faith that may just come tumbling down in time of challenge or trial, and which God intends (I think!) as this only the very beginning of His vision for us. As for the rest of your research, I know not what the true intention of Montessori nor Cavaletti and acknowledge the dangers of De Chardin’s teachings, it is certainly worth investigating and being very aware of, but the ideal I think is both CGS and knowledge and practice of the faith in all her precepts. I suppose in this way it's best being both a parent and catechist able to offer one thing at the atrium and supplement the rest at home. But I will finish with one more thing; the experiential aspect of the atrium coupled with the mystery and attraction of many of the works and liturgical celebrations can help feed the child's automatic attraction to the spiritual, and if directed correctly (as outlined above) may just decrease the danger of children getting caught up by esoterism/occult in later years as the current trends of the Harry Potter, Twlilight and myriad influences in media and literature are spewing out. But carefully carefully we go!

Gianna
Gianna

Thank you Liz for your insightful writing. I was dismayed then the theistic evolutionary time line was presented in the Level 2 CGS formation classes. Beate, you stated that evolution was not taught in your atrium. If you covered any part of the time line you entered into theistic evolution. If you read through the “History of the Kingdom of God, Unity and Vastness of the History”, page 3 describes “a being, a little like us, which began to distinguish itself, but it was still very rough and of small intelligence. Then much more time passed before these things became truly human.” The narrative continues as mans intellect evolves enough to allow him to work with his hands. The Fettuccia Ribbon represents 1000 years for each rib and as you describe the story of creation as the ribbon is unrolled ,the children hear about how God prepared the earth before mans arrival. I do not object to this information, but the content focuses on materials of the earth and not the spiritual dimension tied with the story of creation. “Montessori's View of Cosmic Education” by Mary Hayes details Montessori's Cosmic Plan, Cosmic Vision and Cosmic Education which is adapted by Cavalletti and found in all of Sofia Cavalletti's books. On page 13 Teilhard de Chardin's name in mentioned, but I am not familiar with his writings to know how much of her thinking and teaching he inspired. It was noted how clever Montessori was bridging religion and science together, by focusing in detail on the scientific aspects of matter “the order and harmony of the universe will be maintained through the correlation of the cosmic tasks of all the agents of creation.” Sure corresponds with style of GS reading material. Religion and matter are interconnected, a theistic evolution concept. A discussion comparing and contrasting various church fathers or laboriously sighting the variations between Vatican 1 & 2 Papal Encyclical literature seems futile, as ones mind has already decided if the marriage of evolution and religion is valid. Perhaps exploring the effect and change in traditional Catholic teaching, when mixing Catholicism and theistic evolution together is a better gauge of it's effect on Catholic teaching. Previously mentioned, from other GS catechist, was the missing traditional creation stories Trinity, original sin, grace. These concepts are mentioned in Sofia's writing , but not as I learned them in what I called traditional Catholic teaching. It is clearly written in Sofia's writing “adam “ was not one man, but one of many who eventually evolved into an intelligent being. She writes that original sin as a questionable concept since no other account of original sin exists in biblical writing. Faith without original sin causes baptism to lose its traditional meaning it becomes an initiation into a community. What happens to the Catholic dogma of Mary conceived without original sin? Personal sin, sanctifying grace and the supernatural loses credence along with the redemption of man through Christ. The evolution time line changes Christ from God-Man the redeemer to someone who initiated a natural evolutionary process. CGS has implemented wonderful visual material to aid children in their learning process. I enjoy teaching our children the rubrics of the Mass and wish I could have learned Mass same way in my youth. The children love the pin maps and geography material, and the prayer service has assisted the children in prayerful thinking. As I went through GS training, I found it to be ecumenical in it's presentations and lacking in specific Catholic traditional teaching . After reading RPC , I realize that is is her intent to present the material in an ecumenical fashion and join to Christians through the common bonds of salvation history, and scripture. This creates an ecumenical not traditional Catholicism tone for learning. When theistic evolution and religion are mixed, traditional Catholicism changes, for the ideology of evolution is a chain reaction which alters all of Catholic teaching . Theistic evolution is a “religion” unto it own. No longer are we created in the Likeness and Image of God the most basic Catholic or Christian teaching and remains as vital instruction for our youth. I did not feel Liz was advocating against the GS program, but felt some traditional Catholics would not want to include ideas of evolution in their faith formation material and add to the course study important Catholic teachings. Thank you Liz for your information. You may be connecting the dots for many people who are confused with the content of CGS materials. Your comments gave me the courage to add to a discussion which has weighed on my heart for some time.

Gianna
Gianna

Thank you Liz for your insightful writing. I was dismayed then the theistic evolutionary time line was presented in the Level 2 CGS formation classes. Beate, you stated that evolution was not taught in your atrium. but if you covered any part of the time line you entered into theistic evolution. If you read through the “History of the Kingdom of God, Unity and Vastness of the History”, page 3 describes “a being, a little like us, which began to distinguish itself, but it was still very rough and of small intelligence. Then much more time passed before these things became truly human.” The narrative continues as mans intellect evolves enough to allow him to work with his hands. The Fettuccia Ribbon represents 1000 years for each rib and as you describe the story of creation as the ribbon is unrolled, the children hear about how God prepared the earth before mans arrival. I do not object to this information but the content focuses on materials of the earth and not the spiritual dimension tied with the story of creation. “Montessori's View of Cosmic Education” by Mary Hayes details Montessori's Cosmic Plan, Cosmic Vision and Cosmic Education which is adapted by Cavalletti and found in all of Sofia Cavalletti's books. On page 13 Teilhard de Chardin's name in mentioned, but I am not familiar with his writings to know how much of her thinking and teaching he inspired. It was noted how clever Montessori was bridging religion and science together, by focusing in detail on the scientific aspects of matter “the order and harmony of the universe will be maintained through the correlation of the cosmic tasks of all the agents of creation.” Sure corresponds with style of GS reading material. Religion and matter are interconnected, a theistic evolution concept. A discussion comparing and contrasting various church fathers or laboriously sighting the variations between Vatican 1 & 2 Papal Encyclical literature seems futile, as ones mind has already decided if the marriage of evolution and religion is valid. Perhaps exploring the effect and change in traditional Catholic teaching, when mixing Catholicism and theistic evolution together is a better gauge of it's effect on Catholic teaching. Previously mentioned, from other GS catechist, was the missing traditional creation stories Trinity, original sin, grace etc... . These concepts are mentioned in Sofia's writing , but not as I learned them in what I called traditional Catholic teaching. It is clearly written in Sofia's writing" adam " was not one man, but one of many who eventually evolved into an intelligent being. She views original sin as a questionable concept since no other account of original sin exists in biblical writing. Faith without original sin causes baptism to lose its traditional meaning, it becomes an initiation into a community. What happens to the Catholic dogma of Mary conceived without original sin? Personal sin, sanctifying grace and the supernatural loses credence along with the redemption of man through Christ. The evolution time line changes Christ from God-Man the redeemer to someone who initiated a natural evolutionary process. CGS has implemented wonderful visual material to aid children in their learning process. I enjoy teaching our children the rubrics of the Mass and wish I could have learned Mass same way in my youth. The children love the pin maps and geography material, and the prayer service has assisted the children in prayerful thinking. As I went through GS training, I found it to be ecumenical in it's presentations and lacking in specific Catholic traditional teaching . After reading RPC , I realize that is is her intent to present the material in an ecumenical fashion and join to Christians through the common bonds of salvation history, and scripture. This creates an ecumenical not traditional Catholicism tone for learning. When theistic evolution and religion are mixed traditional Catholicism changes, for the ideology of evolution is a chain reaction which alters all of Catholic teaching . Theistic evolution is a religion unto it own. No longer are we created in the Likeness and Image of God ,the most basic Catholic or Christian teaching as this concept does not fit with theistic evolution. If you change the current GS time line and add the missing traditional Catholic material, various teachings would be taught different or included in the program, again this Catholic material no longer fits together with the ideas of theistic evolution. I did not feel Liz was advocating against the GS program, but felt some traditional Catholics would not want included ideas of evolution their faith formation material. I feel the addition of theistic evolution and the presentation of material in an ecumenical (religion neutral) way misses the mark of solid Catholic teaching if no additional material is added to the curriculum. Thank you Liz for coming forward with your information, you gave me the courage to add to a discussion which has weighed on my heart for some time.

Liz
Liz

Please excuse my error in the above writing . I placed the word incompetent in place of the correct word incumbent for parents and trusted educators to teach truth and knowledge to our children. Correct knowledge is learned not infused on its own as Montessori and Cavalletti proclaim, based on Theosophical thinking. Respectfully Liz

seraphima
seraphima

Dear Nina, Sorry to be slow in responding. Somehow I don't think I received the notification that a new comment had been posted. Our retreat begins five weeks prior with a Preparatory Series. These are evening sessions held in a home. We serve a meal for the children and the parent who has accompanied them. Then we gather the children together close to the fireplace and catechist, with the parents seated behind. The series presentations vary according to tradition. In the RC the fifth meditation is on the Centurian's Servant, since this is a significant moment in your liturgy. The Episcopalians do different things according to their tradition. One thing we have done in our Eastern Orthodox parish is a presentation called the Synthesis of the Gifts, which takes a well-known and much beloved LII presentation (Sacred History and the Gifts of the Kingdom) and connects it to The Gifts we receive in the Divine Liturgy. This connects with specific words the priests/deacons use during the service. It has been very powerful for the children and their parents. These evening sessions happen IN ADDITION to the regular sessions, which have been held on Saturday afternoons prior to Vespers or Sunday mornings before Liturgy (kids come to one session per week, not both). Then for the 2-day retreat, the kids are out of school Friday all day and we meet from 9-5, and repeat that schedule on Saturday. We have two play breaks and of course a lunch break each day. We structure the time differently each year based on feedback from the children and families the year before. The thing that needs the most time is the self-examination booklet work and the preparations for the prayer service recalling baptism. Re: white garments, we give the choice of a tunic or a shawl, since many women and girls in our tradition cover their heads in prayer. This has worked well. They only wear them at the retreat and prayer service, not into the Sunday liturgy. Some indicators in the nave on Sunday are the candles the children made, flower arrangements, special commemorations, a big announcement in the bulletin, and a full banquet spread for the community at coffee hour hosted by the RE department and retreat families. We have many beautiful handworks that engage the children. They wish the retreat could go one forever. It would really help to go back to Sofia's four-day model, so that there was more time for each activity. The days are just SOOOO full with only a two-day model. But this is where we are right now, and we are making it work as beautifully as we can. The fruit has been good, and gets better each time thanks to the response of the children helping us refine it. Please feel free to email me if you have more specific questions that I haven't addressed here: seraphima@stathanasius.org.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

The difficulty is that Level 3 is a bit tardy for the essentials that must be known for reception of Penance and Holy Eucharist. It is essential that children know how to make a good Confession. Level 3 hasn't been available to me because it isn't offered in my area, but it perhaps is possible that some Level 3 material should be offered earlier.

Angelina
Angelina

Elizabeth, I agree completely, but have a hard time knowing how to incorporate the Baltimore Catechism into the CGS method. I was wondering if you have any lesson plans that you would be willing to share? Please, email me at angelina.willard@gmail.com if you would be willing to discuss the methods you used in your atrium.

Jessica
Jessica

On the Fettuccia, I emphasize the work of God, rather than the length of time. However, there are still formation leaders who haven't changed how they present it; or they refuse to change it. Very sad. Otherwise devout Catholics not staying open to all that the Church herself keeps open.

Margaret
Margaret

We have reworked the timeline and fettucia on our Atrium: Creation/Creation of Man (who is different because he has an immortal soul, not because he possess an opposable thumb), the Fall, Redemption/Incarnation (the central point in history), and the Parousia. The emphasis on the "vastness of creation" is somewhat unsettling and lends itself to focusing on evolutionary ideas -- not God's loving creation, the creation of man in His own image and the Redemption. It is certainly not necessary to tell the children that each rib of the ribbon represents one thousand years -- why would anyone say that when we don't know and it is very much aside from the point. It is possible to impart a good deal of Catholic doctrine when presenting the various works. Atrium is a concept that, in my opinion, can be well-adapted to faithful Catholicsm -- the children learn much about the Bible and salvation history. They become familar with the life of Our Lord, His parables and teachings, the geography of his land and places he went -- I thinks this helps develop a devotion to the humanity of Christ which is important for prayer. The work they do with the materials helps to develop mental prayer -- entering into the scenes and thinking about what Our Lord did and said. Work well done with love for God and offered to God goes on in the Atrium -- this is training for life. The children learn the Mass well -- and more.

Mary
Mary

For First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion preparation, we give the children in our atrium a text and family/parent guide to use at home. This is the same text that we use in our Faith Formation program. We also have an opportunity for the pastor to talk with all the 2nd graders (FF and Atrium) prior to the sacraments. They visit the Reconciliation, role play the sacrament, etc.

Mary
Mary

sorry, meant to write "visit the Reconciliation room,"

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