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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 4, 1988     The Message
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November 4, 1988

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November 4, 1988 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 3 RCIC Teaching children who are preparing to ceh;l00rate sacrament of initiation By LISA PROVOST Special to the Message At Christmas time about five years ago, my children were given a lovely book of Aesop's Fables. The book is truly a treasure. The format and art- work are beautiful; the stories are well-written and timeless. Reading the book to my children as they have grown has been an interesting ex- perience. In the beginning, they did not care much for anything but the beautiful pictures• We would leaf through the book together and they liked to talk about what they saw. Sometimes they would even tell me a story to go with the pic- tures that were there. If I tried to read the words that were writ- ten in the book to them, they quickly lost interest and wished to go on to something else. As they grew, however, they came to realize that there were stories to be heard. Since the stories were written long ago, the characters and details often sounded strange to our modern ears. Yet each story had a sim- ple story line that the children enjoyed hearing. Often they would want to read several fables at one sitting• When we came to the last line, the "moral" of the story, however, their faces would often look puzzled or they would shrug their shoulders as I finished reading• It was clear by their reaction that those lines added nothing to their enjoyment of the story. It was an unwanted and even confusing part of the book to them. Rarely did they remark about it. We simply stopped reading or went on to the next fable. A new page has recently been written in our family history with this book. Several weeks ago I was reading a fable to my two younger children as they were going to bed. As I was finishing the story and reading the moral, I happened to glance up at my oldest son who had just entered the room. As my son heard me read the moral • . . he smiled. For the first time in five years, I had the satisfac- tion of knowing that one of the children had understood -- and even enjoyed -- the moral of the story. I could not have adequately explained to my six year old why my 11 year old had smiled if we had tried. Somewhere be- tween six and 11 the ability to hear, listen and understand the .story had changed. Just as l would have lost the interest of a preschooler in demanding that they listen to the words and not enjoy the beautiful drawings, so I would have lost my six year old if I had decided that the moral was the really important part of the story. Given ade- quate time, the insight to the moral would come and be en- joyed, as my 11 year old had said with a simple smile. It takes guts to offer a lifetime warranty. Electronic ignition svsteYt' zk,st|res rdiable / oper,|tion ever.v time the thermostat calls for he:|t Direct vent design bring, s cleaxl air into o )lllbust ioll chamlSe|; prevents COl'l )sivc qa)rs flonl lbrming Only Conafortmaker's new Super High EfficienQ, gas furnace has the guts to be the best. That's wl W it.has one of the best warranties: a limited lifetime warran W on both heat exchangers anda five-vear limited warranty on all other par's. Its:super:effi:ient design v : , . "2 ' '=a Lrl... tt ,/k.,.L lUIIIdLI7 dltllltO., • I II :mz,rm', ............. =,= ...... CALL THE, HEATING.&AIR coNDITIONING"IEER IN YOUR AREA IOR MORE INFORMATION : , ".. .  ....... ,-y .- .: , ,, .,. . . :" Distributed by " " 00i'STAT ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS, ' : L.: ...... me 00VANSWaE IN %812,425-4337 ' Certainly there are times when we must teach our children• Not all of life is ex- periential or self-revealing. In- struction offers us a disciplined way of encountering subjects that we might overlook or neglect. We must realize, however, as the people of God that "faith is unteachable. Faith is a relationship; it is formed by God and each individual per- son. We can, and in fact are called, to teach theology to our children, but faith and theology are two different things. A child preparing to celebrate a sacra- ment is preparing for an ex- perience that only makes sense in the context of faith, and faith is not an activity that belongs only in the mind. It is first and foremost an experience that happens in its own grace-filled time when hearts, as well as minds, are open and ready to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord." As the hungry newborn learns that it will be fed, as the child badly cut learns that the hurt will heal, as the terrified child lost and alone is found and comforted, so the child can come to look at the beauty of the world, hear the stories of God's love in the Scriptures, and smile at the presence of God in the story of their life. We adults must learn to give faith and love, Scripture and Divine Revelation their time to be experienced in the lives of children coming to faith. The Rite of Christian Initia- tion is demanding a conversion of those of us who are called to nourish the faith of children. Having spent the past five years as Director of Religious Educa- tion, it is not easy to look at changing the methods that I have been taught and have used for tutoring and teaching children who are preparing to celebrate the Sacraments of In- itiation for the first time. The RCIC workshop As of Sept. 1, 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults became the nor- mative process for bringing adults and children of catechetical age (children who have reached the age of reason, or around seven years old) into theChurch. It applies primarily to children and adults who have never been baptized; it has great implications for how we prepare anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacraments. A workshop on "The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults adapted for Children" is scheduled at the Catholic Center, Evansville, Saturday, Nov. question I found myself con- fronted with this past summer was if, in fact, I believe the basic assumption stated in the Rite that "such children are capable of receiving and nurtur- ing a personal faith and of recognizing an obligation in conscience." (Paragraph 252, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.) If I truly believe this state- ment, I must recognize and change my sacramental process from one that is primarily in- structional to one that in- tegrates catechetical instruction into spiritual formation and direction, knowing that this may not conform well to tradi- tional nine month school calendars. The first and most essential conversion that must happen is in us and in our hearts. When we plant a seed, we give it light, nourishment, the right environment . .. and time. So must we learn to do the same with faith. Faith is on God's time -- it grows in God's garden. We must learn to be gardeners who are patient and believe that it is our role to sup- port God's movement as God softens, reshapes and re-forms hearts. As it took five years of reading Aesop's Fables to see genuine insight on the part of one of my children, so it may 'take years for us to see signs of faith growing in the lives of our children. The Rite tells us to give them time. We explore with each child the wonderful gift of life and of creation. We read Scripture together and hear the story of God and God's people. We listen as each child tells us where and how God is present in the story of each of their lives. And at some point, given the time and the ex- perience, the child will find cause to give God thanks and praise in personal prayer. planned Nov., 12 12, 1988, from 9 a.m. to noon. The workshop, is,in ...... tended for anyone who works with the sacramental preparation of children. Giving the workshop are Father William Traylor, pastor of St. Agnes Church, Evansville, and member of the diocesan RCIA:stng committee: Lisa Pr6vost, director of religious, educa- tion, St. Benedict Church, and member of the diocesan RCIA steering committee; and by Father Scan Hoppe, O:S.B., associate pastor, St. Benedict Church, and member of the parish RCIA team. i :For information on 4 t[ , * -::;, + :_c i a.a. •  , , +,  " Father Davad' Reck, Vocations Office,! • • ,, • .: 4200-5536 Ext. 111