How is Jesus real to you? Listen in on a conversation between a catechist and a boy named Avery:
Avery: Only grown-ups think Jesus is real. Kids don't think Jesus is real.
Catechist: Jesus IS real.
Avery: He's not real anymore.
Catechist: Do you mean Jesus doesn't seem real because he's not walking around on earth?
Avery (shaking his head): He's real in our HEARTS! OUR HEARTS!
I'm thinking about when Jesus rose. I know he died. I think he rose in our hearts.
What is Avery saying?
Last month, I grieved the deaths of a young man I had taught, and Sister Evelyn, a dear friend and colleague. Both had already touched me with their lives, their kindness, and their joy. It will take me some time to say, with Avery, “I think they rose in our hearts.” As they died and rise with Jesus, they rise in the hearts of those who have known and loved them.
We are in need of good, accessible theology for both adults and children for every time and place. “Good” theology we have come to understand as essential and deeply rooted in both Bible and liturgy. “Accessible” addresses the question of our method. Following Maria Montessori’s lead, Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi embodied each Catechesis of the Good Shepherd lesson in a hands-on material that would allow the children to reflect on its meaning for themselves, in their own time and place.
And bit by bit, in conversations like the one above, and hundreds of pieces of art, children claim their right to a seat at the theological table with the assurance of their own deep relationship with God.
How is Jesus REAL to us?
We began the Center for Children and Theology twenty-two years ago to continue the reflective observation of children begun by Sofia and Gianna—-observation which guides us in seeking the best theology of the church for children, and the best theology of children for the church.
I’m excited to tell you about what form this work is taking for the Center and for me this year. With your help, we continue to find ways to offer resources and wisdom rooted in our work with children in the atriums of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This includes:
- A gathering of wisdom from many catechists at Weaving Our Gifts, a Conference of Catechists in Hartford, Connecticut in October.
- Publishing Occasional Papers, CCT in Context, and other resources to assist catechists’ work with children.
- A new book, Silence in the Shadow of Speech, by Hélène Lubienska de Lenval. This small book, written by a French contemplative who worked with Maria Montessori, explores the nature and nurture of silence in young children.
While we budget each project to pay for itself over time, your response to our appeals helps us to develop and publish new resources, and to keep the costs of our courses and conferences as low as possible. Catechists’ budgets are stretched thin, and so is ours.
Your support will allow us to:
Provide financial aid at Weaving Our Gifts, pay for the printing of our books and resources, maintain our website to promote the ongoing exchange of ideas, and supply information about the impact of disabilities, race, denomination, adoption, and more on the children we serve, develop materials for older children seeking interfaith understanding and preparing to take their place in world.
Please take the time to donate online at www.cctheo.org, to setup a monthly gift, or to make a contribution using the enclosed, stamped, envelope.