The Journey to Easter, Teaching Guide has been further developed and updated to assist you in your ministry of journeying with your children and families. Values and virtues and lives of the saints have been added. Values and Virtues naturally flow out of any well taught religious education lesson. However, it is important to note that the nature of the learning with regard to values and virtues is fundamentally formative whereas some aspects of faith is knowledge acquisition such as the catechism material. The focus of this new programme is a marriage of both types of development – knowledge acquisition and formation. Knowledge acquisition should lead to faith formation.
Knowledge Acquisition and Formation
Knowledge acquisition can take place by presentation of academic material. Formation, however, requires exposure to the environment, people and experiences that embody the value or virtue. One can write an entire essay on caring and not be a caring person, which reveals that one has knowledge of caring but has not developed the virtue of caring.
A virtue is a behaviour that one exhibits in all scenarios. For example, if one has the virtue of being helpful, one will be helpful in good moods and in bad moods, in all environments, in one’s comfort zone and out of one’s comfort zone, to people who affect you positively as well as to people who affect you negatively. Our goal in Catholic Education must be to form virtuous people who experience life to the full in Jesus Christ and who will help others experience life to the full.
Religious Education seeks to help children to know God, to relate to God as someone who is interested in them, who cares about them, who knows them by name. We want them to know God as someone who gave them the gift of life, who is interested in their well-being and who sustains the gift of life in them. If we want to help children relate to God, we need to show them how to communicate with God. Therefore, in any religious education programme, prayer should be given a central place.
The Teacher/Facilitator, Environment, Witness, Systematic Methodology
The atmosphere of the learning environment is very important for the personal and moral growth of the children. An atmosphere of love, respect for others, forgiveness and responsibility contributes to the children’s self-confidence and develops their capacity to relate well with others.
It is important that the teacher/facilitator serve as a model and an example. No teaching guide can take the place of the personal witness of the teacher. The children are influenced by the teacher/facilitator’s attitude and reactions towards others.
The lessons on the children’s relationships with other people are also important for their moral formation. Children gradually become aware that respect and love for others is not separate from their relationship with God, especially if they see their parents and teachers live these values and virtues as part of their own response to God.
Faith of Parents
Faith of parents makes so profound an impact on their children that there is no adequate substitute for parental involvement in their child’s formation. Parents have the privilege and responsibility to nurture the life of faith in their children. They are the first and primary educators of their children in the faith. As such, every school and parish should initiate conversations with parents.
As part of all the programmes, six discussion topics are encouraged and their format is clearly outlined in various books produced by the Catechetical Office. These topics are:
1) Self-Esteem in the Family – A focus on Gifts and Talents, Family Life, Atmosphere, Language, Hurtful Language, Correction.
2) Baptism: Sacrament of belonging
3) Peace and Family life – A focus on Conflicts, Communication, Decision Making, the Environment, Attitudes
4) The Sacrament of Reconciliation
5) Faith Filled Families – A focus on Personal Faith, Gratitude, Family Rituals, Spiritual Needs, Role Models.
6) The Eucharist: Bread for the Journey
Parents are strongly encouraged to take part in these when they are offered in the parish or schools.
The Revised Edition
The revised edition is packed with helpful aids. Included are:
1) The lives of 10 popular saints.
2) All the basic prayers of our Church.
3) Important Scripture passages which help children see the unity between tradition and scripture
4) A glossary of terms well explained – fundamental to learning
5) The Liturgical Year and Liturgical Reference
6) Synoptic Scripture reference for parables and miracles. These make use of bible material easily accessible.
7) Each lesson uses the shared praxis method and highlights the values and virtues of the lessons. This method helps the learner to assimilate the material in the mind, embody it in their hearts and act out of it. This type of learning forms by leading to conversion in behaviour.
The Catechetical Office continues to invite catechists, teachers, parents and the wider faith community to explore all our publications. It is important that we build our Church, the Body of Christ through informed decision-making that will help us to live as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic people. Through such a witness we will all play our part in promoting the reign of God and bringing God’s Kingdom to fulfilment.