Pastor's Corner

2011 05-29 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Written by:

May 29, 2011

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

In the 1950’s, she was a lay-scripture scholar at a time when Catholic scholarship was mostly that of the ordained or the vowed religious variety. She was a linguist, reading the revealed sacred scriptures in the languages of revelation…Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic. This laywoman, Sofia Cavalletti, lived not in the Vatican but in a working class neighborhood of Rome and was a friendly face to all of her neighbors.

One day, a concerned mother from the neighborhood came to Sofia and asked Sofia to help her with her children. This mother…like our mothers and fathers…wanted her children to learn about God, about God’s love, about God’s Son and His Church. This concerned mother came to her neighbor, the household scripture scholar, and asked her…please help me… teach my children. Problem was, Sofia had never taught in this way. She was a scholar, and lived in the world of scholarship; but she was a neighbor and a woman of faith, and so she told the concerned mother that she would do her best.

So the children came to Sofia’s apartment (she lives there still); and without any real sense of what would happen, but trusting in the beauty and power of the sacred scriptures, Sofia sat with the children, and slowly…in a thoughtful and contemplative way…Sofia began to read from the first line of the revealed Word of God. She began to read from the Book of Genesis. And…Sofia was amazed at what she saw. The children listened…really listened. They quit their squirming and fidgeting. They became quiet…and they listened….and they were affected by this attentive listening and this living Word.

After this first session, Sofia went to talk to her parish priest about the amazing session she had experienced with the children of that concerned mother. The parish priest told Sofia about a new movement just catching on, the Montessori Method, a new method of teaching children — one that focused on the children’s experience of learning, especially their experience of their inner-world (their minds, their consciences). Sofia met a woman familiar with this new Montessori Method, and the two of them…Sofia and Gianna Gobbi…began a work that became the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Now, switch gears to present day in Johns Creek. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd lives at Saint Brigid. A “CGS” Atrium…a room designed for the sacred work of our children’s catechesis…is part of our Day School, and Bonnie Jacoby offers the CGS to some of our little ones. Mary Delfino, Kim Sansone, Diane Fletcher, Leslie Genske, Susan Dorner, Janice Givens and others at Saint Brigid have worked to make this extraordinary gift of God known to our parish’s moms and dads. I am hoping to build on the foundation laid by these devoted and talented parishioners.

Please know this: I am convinced that the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a gift of God…a gift of God that is urgently needed in our time…here and now at Saint Brigid. I am in “CGS formation”, being trained in this unique way of Catechesis. I will travel to Chicago in July, to further my own training. Two of our moms have signed up for a new class in this extraordinary CGS experience, to begin in August of this year; and I hope and pray that many of you will consider joining this Level One training…for your own spiritual good and for the sake of our children.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is shaped by this fundamental insight, first seen by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi some sixty years ago: young children…three and four and five year olds…have a capacity to enter into the mystery and majesty of the Presence of the Lord…through the proclaimed Word of God and through the Divine Liturgy, holy Mass; and all children up to the teenage years, find themselves attracted to the silence and the contemplative beauty of this way of catechesis.

I hope and pray that I have peeked your interest in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Take a moment and Google it. You will be amazed at how this quiet and contemplative catechesis will transform our children…offering them the joy of silent work, single-minded work. In the over-extended and over-committed world most of us live in, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offers us a way out of the chaos…and into the light and love of the Good Shepherd, who cares for his sheep, and seeks out those that have lost their way. As He says…come and see.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam

2011 06-05
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