Did you know that God has sent you a personal invitation to learn your faith anew? Did you know that God has given you a second chance to internalize your faith and attached a tool with which to learn it?
Where? How? you ask. Those children entering your religious education classes, they are God’s personal invitation to learn your faith all over again and, this time, to internalize it. The tool is the liturgical calendar which begins its new cycle this first Sunday of Advent.
In Quas Primas, an Encyclical on the Feast of Christ the King written in 1925, Pope Pius XI instructed us to focus on the new liturgical year as a teaching tool to touch both the mind and heart of our youth. There’s a lot I could highlight and tip my cursor at, but the part I’m especially focused on is this excerpt:
(21) “For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church (emphasis mine). Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year—in fact, forever. The church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.”
It goes on, of course, but this is the main flux. What a great read. You can read it at the EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p11prima.htm
I love this! I love that Pope Pius XI confirmed my 21st century mothering and pedagogy instincts though separated by time and space. He agreed that the feasts of the Church do indeed reach all people and affects both mind and heart! Can children be taught in any other way?
He tells us that most of the faithful are not “the more learned” but are, in fact, “only a few” and we are assured that:
“For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church.”
This sentence alone directs the steps of parents and educators in teaching the Catholic faith to children. Take a child’s hand and walk through the “annual celebration” of fasting and feasting, of suffering and redemption, of life and death.
We belong to a Church which invites and welcomes the little children towards the altar of God. That the Church has given us such a beautiful, rich, eventful tool—the liturgical calendar—to focus on and plan our feasting around, speaks to our creative side…the side we share with God the creator.
To reach a child’s heart, one must have a heart which speaks to the child. Look at the church’s liturgical calendar. It’s the clay God has given you to mold into something beautiful this church year.
That the Pontiff agrees that we should focus on these feasts within our homes and churches makes me almost giddy. It makes me want to be a child again. A Catholic child in the 21st century!