Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Method for Teaching the Sacred Liturgy

Photos by OC-Travel
With the steady patience of a mother and father, the spirit of the Christian worshipper must be taught in the household of the Church to kids from the earliest age.  This is a lifelong intellectual pursuit that begins ideally in pre-school.  Those redeemed by the blood of Christ include little children and they, too, share in the priesthood of Christ.  By their very baptism they "participate" in the liturgy.  With unsurpassed clarity Catholic parents and teachers of this present age must deliberately introduce their children - our most precious cargo - to their fullest liturgical inheritance.  This includes the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  The enormous value of the treasury of the Latin and Greek Churches makes this subject far superior to all other subjects and artistic expressions.  Like I have always said: "If kids are not taught sacred liturgy they will not learn sacred liturgy."  Thanks be to God for this new teaching method that is sensitive to the needs of children, presenting with great clarity the subject matter treated through words, colors, songs, props, repetition and play. 

The All Saints FSSP homeschool co-op in Minnesota is offering a unique version of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd teaching method that has been tailored for the Traditional Latin Mass.  I must say how impressed I am with the intelligent and well thought out child-sized furniture and materials.  Kudos to the moms who teach this.  This is a wonderful program that encourages the child's actuosa participatio, "active participation," an expression used in not a few discourses and documents of the Roman Pontiffs, most notably Pius X, Pius XI, Pius XII, and Vatican Council II, always referenced with the identical substantial significance.  This interior and exterior participation corresponds to the distribution of roles in the celebration of Mass with three groups working together: first, the clergy at the altar.  Second the choir, organist and instrumentalists.  Third, the faithful, including children.  The Church has always taught that this participation is first and foremost a conscientious, fruitful, internal and communal participation, by right of the Christian's baptism.  It can also include external actions.  For children, the best form of active participation is to listen with inward, absorbing activity.

Catholics must be reminded that religious motivations, including love for the sacred liturgy and liturgical arts, is something that in large part is culturally determined in the family.  While previous Catholic generations have lived on cultural capital from a past generation, there has been a definitive break in society.  The past fifty years since the cultural revolution we have mostly failed to counteract this depletion, until now.  Unfortunately, in the 1960's effective liturgical catechesis was junked by avant-gardists in favor of more "modern" approaches that were turned out by the wrong people.

In short, while the baby boomers grew up on feast, they gifted their kids with famine.  The homeschool revolution plays a crucial role as a sort of Counter-Reformation in fixing this problem with the restoration of Catholic culture.  The truth is the EF is the ox of Catholic culture in the West; without it we have no means of bearing and transmitting worship culture to our kids.  The deluge of change in the sixties presented itself under the aegis of the encyclopedic confidence of all things modern, thereby adding an appalling slide to the general decline of knowledge.  In some ways the Novus Ordo Missae, which followed the rout of the notion that change is virtue, came up short.  It swore allegiance to all things modern and was taken as an emergent species that in some ways proved a foolish pretension with a mock greatness in so far as it failed to pass on the faith and created a generation of pseudo-Catholics that despise and subvert or do not believe in true Catholic teaching. 

Let us rejoice in these new teaching initiatives, however experimental, and laud the creative teachers and moms behind the scenes.  Special thanks to Anne Schneiderjan of TAC, whom I am told helped create this fabulous version of the CGS teaching method.  A successful teaching pedagogy, which I might add, was originally created by Maria Montessori with the Extraordinary Form in mind.  The EF Mass was the only Mass Maria would have known and and for which she wrote her books and lectured (which were later modified to accommodate the NO Missae, failing to respect the integrity of the author's conception and context).  Those who are involved in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd can take their lead from this example, bringing to life one of the most potent network of symbols in the world, a perfect basis for the catechesis of children.  Great job, ladies!

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