This particular journey into the Christian life started in France. A few teachers, anxious to satisfy the thirst for God expressed by some children (4-5 year olds), were seeking how to best nourish the faith of these children. They drew from the teachings of Fr Marie-Eugene de l’Enfant-Jesus (Carmelite, founder of the Institute Notre Dame de Vie), who constantly said that “children are capable of God…we must offer them the fundamental experience of knowing and loving God”. In 1966, he said:
“The mission of the Church is to be faithful to Christ, to show the face of Christ, to carry on the relationship that Jesus had begun with humanity, the dialogue that God has opened with humanity since its creation.
We find the history of the relationship of God with humanity in Holy Scripture. This is not simply past history, but it is ever-continuing history. God continues to be in relationship with humanity through the Holy Spirit and through Christ Jesus, under the action of the Holy Spirit.
We understand these relationships of God with humanity through the historical accounts, but they must be personally lived and experienced from inside in order to be fully understood.
What does God ask of us? He asks for our gift of self, for our commitment.Through this faith-commitment, we enter into the dynamic of mercy, we enter into the history of the people of God, we become pilgrims, and we belong to the people of God through faith.
To be a Christian includes an assent to a set of truths and includes attendance at Mass on Sundays; it is also more than these. To be a Christian is to be committed, to have givenoneself through a living and personal response to the mercy of God who gives himself. The Christian enters into a history of love, a history of mercy: this is the new Pentecost!
We must proclaim the history of the divine mercies to the children, the history of theinteraction of the Holy Spirit with humanity. Everything is steeped in love!”
For the children to experience the love of God, we had to help them enter into a relationship with God and to teach them how to find God ever more within the depths of their being, through prayer. This initiation nurtured their growth in grace as well as their natural growth. Year after year, it awakened in the children a love for God and for others. They expressed an ever deeper thirst to know and love Jesus. We then had to nourish this new life of faith through a full and systematic catechesis, adapted to their age.
As the new pedagogy of faith developed, the Church’s magisterial texts identified, confirmed and enriched its fundamental inspiration. These texts were, in particular, Catechesi tradendae (CT), the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC).
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