Friday, 18 February 2011

The bravest route

My own experience of the new catechetics/religion did not happen until I went to Grammar School in 1972 - in my case to St Michael's College in Leeds. Earlier, during my years at Infant School, and even well into Junior school I had benefitted from traditional religious instruction. This was probably because my teachers had not been sent to attend courses on the new stuff, or were not ready to implement it, or because they had decided to keep teaching the Catholic Faith instead. I was also Confirmed when I was 8, and again prepared in a traditional way for this Sacrament. So, together with the whole background of Catholicism which I was growing up in, from family and parish, I emerged as a young teenager, untramelled by the new religion.
The Infant and Junior schools which I attended were later to adopt, in the early 70s, along with all other Primary schools in the Diocese, the "Veritas" RE scheme. Looking back, it is hard to imagine what lunacy drove the decision to inplement this Scheme, and in so doing to exchange the teaching of the Mysteries of Christ's life for reflections on pebbles and flowers.
At St Michael's College, where we were taught that Jesus wasn't God, and were subjected to coffee-table class Masses, I cannot now remember if a particular Scheme was followed. Certainly, I passed through High School long before "Here I am" or "Weaving the Web" were foisted upon RE departments. However, it was clear that the Catholic background in which I was brought up had instilled the Faith in me to such a degree, that the nonsense I was exposed to at St Michael's washed over me without gaining a foothold. And that, emerging from High School as a late teenager, I was eager to really deepen my undertanding and experience of the Catholic Faith. This I did as a "grace-led" project untill at the age of 21 I heard a call to be a Priest.
I sense that my experience holds two important ingredients for today's context. First, the Faith is planted and nurtured at home, rather than at school. Secondly, that the age to really form young people in living the Christian life (and of course this varies according to the individual) is precisely when they are emerging into young adulthood. Of course, the question of a person embracing the Catholic Faith concerns the whole vision which God has for a person's life, which we are all called to put ourselves in tune with.

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