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SPRED

fuchdioceseof Chicaeo DEVELOPMENT


SPECIALRELiGiOUS
2956 SouthLoweAve.Chicago,Illinois 60616
312-842-1039 www.spred.org

October2016 Volume91 Number2

St.Augustinewrotea shorttextto a deaconof Carthageon CatechizingtheUniearned.* Thetext


was divided into 27 chaptersand 55 numberedparagraphs.He dividesthe materialinto two
sections:1. The Theoryof Catechesis (15 paragraphs)and2.The Practiceof Catechesis(40
paragaphs).In paragaph4, he citesthat Christcameto manifestandto teachGod'slove for us.
In paragraph10, he writes of the problemof adaptingto the capacitiesandlimitationsof his

AF
audience.Thesetwo paragraphs becamethe springboardfor Spred.

It wasFr.EucharistPaulhusandFr.JeanMesnywho broughtall this downto earthfor us by citing


that our taskwith personswith intellectualanddevelopmentaldisabilitieswasto create
\9/ 1. a senseof the sacred
2. a senseof Christ
3. a theologalsense( a living faith,hopeandcharity)
4. a senseofthe chinch.

Thesenseofthe sacredis the startingline. PaulClaudeloncewroteto a frien{ " thereligiouscrisis


ofthe nineteenthandtwentiethcenturieswasnot - perhapsaboveall - a crisisof intelligence...it
wasrathera crisisof a badlynourishedimagination." I believeyou do not haveto hunt far for the
lack ofpersonalfaith,it cansimplybe the consequence of a lackof a senseofthe sacred.Sr.Beatrix
Medina*asks,whatarethe characteristics ofthe sacred?Sheofflersthreeexamples:

1.Aperceptionofthe "whoIly Other" in anurmervingrelationship


with an admirablerealitywhich evokesmystery leadingto evergreater
admiration.

2. Withthis encounter,
therecomesa quiverof fearbecauseof a felt
presence,a formidablepower,anuncontolableenergyandinaccessible
purity,evokinga sentimentofweakness,littlenessandhumility.

3. Whencethe origrnof a fonnidableattaction, fascinatingusbecause


this presenceseduces
us in a strangefashion.

Beforethis reality,therearisesthe desirefor an ilvocation, an appeal,acrythatwill becomea


DESIRE prayer. We developour capacityfor admiration,a love for beaufy- itself. Maslow saysthat the
aestethicperceptionto be true,mustbe free,naive.* It is non-possessive,expressingadmiration
ratherthanneed. It hasno end.It growsratherthandisappears.
The findings of JeanPiagetandErik Erikson showthatin the first two or threeyearsof life, the
chiid is not consciousof self. In theembryothe child is partof the mother'sbodyandwholly
dependenton her. ln earlyinfancythe child's psycheis to a largeextentpartof the mother's
psyche,andsoonitwill bepartof thefather'spsycheaswell. It is thebeginningofthe genesis
of suchthingsastrust,wonder,awe,A senseof identity,intimacy andautonomyb.g* assteps
to religiousexperiencein eithera f,rll or lesscompletesense.

JamesFowler,when speakingofthe faith developmentof the four to eightyearold says:

Meaningis madeandtrustestablishedintuitivelyard by imitation.


Knowing is primarily by intuition andfaith is formedby imitation of
the moods,example,andactionsofthe visiblehumanfaith of significant
others,primarily parents.Affectivity dominates.Knowing andfeeling
arefused.Thelocusof authorityis in parentsandprimaryadults.*

JeanPiagetwould call this thepre-operationalstateof development.Duringthistime,theuseof


objectsbecomeoperative,especiallyin the developmentof languageandplay. The abilityto
operatewith objectsis itself ach-ieved
throughthe internaLtzattonofmotor action. Playis an
importanttaskat this point cognitivelyto "conquerthe object." Thereis thephenomenonof
egocentrismwhereevery.thing tendsto centeron the child's own activity. This mentalityis a
prisonerof the child's own viewpoint.This too is a time whenthe childhasa never-endiog
seriesof 'why' questions,alongwith thetendencyto conceivethingsasliving andendowed
with intentions.

Most of our friendsarelockedinto the stagesof developmentprior to or in concreteopera-


tionalthought.Th.y maybeblockedfrom Piaget'sstageof fonnal operational thought,i.e.the
capacityfor abstractthought.
YeLsomewithAutism breakthrough.Thereis still a lot for all of
usto learn.

Martin Buber,the greatJewishtheologian,wrote that "in the beginningtherewastherelation."


It is a magnificentdefinitionofthe Tiinity which constitutes
thearchegpeof ourhumanrelations.
It is relationthat makesus a 'person'. We are a personin relationto another.That is why
Martin Bubercouldsay"Al1truelife is ameeting."

/ In this effort of Spred,it is still importantto keepadultfaith asthenoml; we are asinterestedin


I
II thefaith ofthe catechistsaswel1asthecatechumens intermsofreligiousexperience orthe sense
I ofthe sacred.Frankly,we areail catechumens, gropingour way inthe darknessof anxieties,
I disappointnents, joys, thehighsandlows of life anddeath.
\ \
\
Relatingto a storyin the aduitpreparationsessionreleasesour imagination,it letsour humanity
takewing, it becomesa mirror of our own fumbling self,if we let it. It becomesow own story.
Ifwe reallyiistento ourselves,thepastretums.We canrespondasan adultto thetrail thatleads
to a recognitionof our commonalitywith others,to how litwgy, trueritual is actualrzed,how
scriptureis speakingto us now,andfinally how Jesusrelatesto us atthis moment.Wemeethim.
And thenwe rejoice. "Eucharistia"is the Greektranslationof the Hebrew"Berakoth." The
Englishtranslationlimps andhascometo mean merely gratitude,i.e.thankingGod for a
particularfavor. It is thus limitedto a gift received(ego-centric).WhereasEucharistiaand
'mirabilia
Berakothexpressa proclamation,a confessionofthe wonderfii works of God,the
Dei', theGodwho revealshimself in a freegtft of himself. And we immerseourselvesand
expressourselvesin anappropriatemusicalresponse.

I havebeena followerofPierre Charles*for manyyears.He writes:

"'Wearequick to divide the world of ideasfrom that of things, andto believethat


ideasaregeat andnoblewhereasthingsa.recommonandvulgar...yetall around
ushostsof silentmessengers leadus without effortbypathsof love to theholy
snringsofpeace....Water,wood,fishes,the momingdew,clothes,andflowers,
perfumesandpearls,the wind whistling past,the breadon the table,thejug, chair
androof - all thesethingshavebeensanctified,loadedwith blessings,anddivine
inspirationof theWord."

The samedynamicis true in the preparationphaseof a sessionwith our friendsof all ages,
the 6 yearold, the 13yearold, the 40 year old. The adult catechistrelatesto a ftiend by
modelingconcentration on anactivity. Concentrationis beingfocusedin suchawaythatit is
'other'. Itborderson amomentintimethatis, shalll say,'sacred.'It is attractive. Thefriend
too would like to enterthat samezonethroughactivity. I believethat our friendsandourselves
areoperatingonthesamelevel. It is ameetingof imaginations.

Whenwe arein theactualcatechesis, the leadercatechistbringsthegroupsattentionto a given


momentof time,perhapsthroughan object. The leaderis doingwhat eachadulthasdonein
thepriorpreparationsession, nudgtngmemoryby way of story.Whetherusingpictures,events,
whateverit is,it is anactioncommenswatewith the memoryof all present;it is anevocationof
somethingcommonto all. When we aresufficientlyboundtogether,we go down the same
path,thesameliturgical,scripturaltrail. The messageof Jesusis the salne,asis themusic.

'agape'.We sharefood with glassware,


And then,asin thepreparationsessionwe havean
tightedcandles,clothnapkins.It is akin to a liturgical meal. Everyonejoinsin thesettingofthe
'berakoth'andcatchup on what is happeningwith our friendsat
table. We singour grace,ow
home,at school.Weendtheeveninggatheredin a circleto sing"ShalomO My Friends."

The experienceis breathing.We havenothingto do with its presence. It is wholly not orus.We
did not askfor breath;but we cannotexistwithout it. It is a gift. The Spirit is a gift, dwelling
within eachof us: the Fatherfor the lncarnateSon, the love of the Son for the Father.A
comminglingof loveinhabitsus. SomedaytheFatherwill takethis grfi backto Himselfandwe
wili all drownin his love. A11our friends,includingourselves, needthis senseofthe sacred.

Rev.JamesH. McCarthy
Director,Spred- Chicago
OF TIIE
*Liber De Catechizandis P.
Rudibusby St.Augustine,translatedandannotatedby Rev.Joseph
ChristopherPh.D,NewmanPress,Westminster,Maryland,1946
*Unpublishedmanuscriptby the lateSisterBeatrixMedin4 S.H. SACRED
*"ReligtousExperienceasa GoalofReligiousEducation"BrendanCarmody,S.J.Lumen
Vitae.Nov. 198i
*The PrayerofAll Thines,PierreCharles,HerderandHerder,NY 1963
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