Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives
by Catherine Maresca
There is little need to point out the lack of peace at every level of human society. From the family, to local communities, to national and international relations, as well as our relationship with creation itself, there is a dire need today to imbue our lives with nonviolent love. This was modeled and taught by Jesus, and is at the heart of the gift we nurture in children in the atrium.
In my experience, children come to us with a heart wide open to all others, to God, and to creation itself. Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence is received without struggle by them, since it affirms the communion they perceive and in which we all live, that is so deeply disturbed by violence. Like the quality of great love between children and God, there is a certain natural match between them in their nonviolent love of all. This gift of the children is given to us adults if we but listen to them. We hope to protect against the dissipation of this gift by society’s models and teaching that some are not of equal value, some should be harmed, some do not belong with us. We avoid weakening their sense of that communion and love with compromises in our teaching and example. So our work as catechists is to nurture the child’s sense of communion, giving them the images and signs of our tradition that communicate Gospel Nonviolence as we, too, listen.
The Light is lit: Gospel Nonviolence is present in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The drive and tendency to live by that Light is strong in children. The Montessori method offers us a nonviolent way to be with children. The CGS presentations offer us age-appropriate scriptural and liturgical evidence of Jesus’ Nonviolent way. The essential message of Nonviolence, often overlooked, is uncovered. And the neurobiology of the human being now helps us to know and serve the child with even more clarity. These four woven strands work together towards living and sharing merciful Christ-like love, Gospel Nonviolence, with children. Our work is nothing short of the work to nurture the Gospel gift of living and loving mercifully.
This year, CCTheo will have two important offerings to help us, as catechists, be mindful of how we nurture this gift. Over the next six months, we will publish four short Occasional Papers by Peg Burns on Living the Light: Gospel Nonviolence in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The themes to be explored will be the Montessori Method, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Gospel Nonviolence, and Neurobiology. In addition Peg will be present at Weaving Our Gifts with an array of materials she has been developing over the last 25 years to offer Gospel Nonviolence to children ages six and up. She will hold two discussions during the breakout sessions of WOG: “Jesus’ Way of Peace Embedded in CGS Presentations” (with Catherine Maresca), and “Saints, Martyrs and Spiritual Lights, Nonviolence of Early Christianity.”
Peg Burns has been developing her materials, similar to Montessori and catechesis materials, with her husband Greg Kerbawy, since 1982. She enjoys leading discussions on Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence, promoting a new awareness of the original Way. Please join us at Weaving Our Gifts, , and watch for Peg’s Occasional Papers to brighten the Light of Gospel Nonviolence among us.
As I was writing this post, we learned of the events in Charleston. It serves as another important reminder to recommit to gospel nonviolence. We join with all those praying for the families of those murdered, as well as joining with all those who grieve this violence in our midst.