Lovely Sunday

Lovely Sunday

A very hot day here, got up to the mid nineties at least. We went to look at a house this afternoon and while we were on the way, Dom’s brother called to invite us to a poolside gathering. Didn’t have to think twice about that.

I spent most of the afternoon inside by the air conditioner with Sophia who was quite fussy and couldn’t sleep and wanted to do some marathon nursing, not that I blame her in that heat. But it was a great time for all of us. There were I think six families and probably about 30 kids running around. Bella had a great time even if she didn’t get a nap, Dom got to talk to the nephews and even I got in a bit of socializing. Sophia worked on her charming smile and had several of the girls wrapped around her cute little fingers. I thought I’d have to fight them to get her back. (Potential babysitters if we’re able to move down that way!)

I got to practice some of my mom skills, helping feed a bunch of kids and helping out with a few minor accidents.

Looks like we’re in for a heat wave. Supposed to be in the nineties the next few days. Ugh.

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  • It would be interesting to know what the original Italian says, it might be more the translator’s bias than Cavaletti’s. I was also wondering if it had been watered down for an American audience. Glad it’s not just me.

    I agree that Mass is not the time to learn about the Mass and I’m glad to know there is no reenactment, I was rather getting that impression from some of the descriptions of the children at work. I’m reassured, but still not really comfortable with the idea of models.

  • I tread lightly here, because this series of posts is the first I’ve heard of CGS, so my knowledge is scant.

    But I wanted to offer my thoughts on the language issue both of you have mentioned.

    I VERY humbly offer that yes…this might be the case of scrutinizing things too closely….or maybe it’s more fair to say it’s being overly cautious due to the lack of reverence we experience from so many corners today.

    In the first statement in question, they preface ‘bread and wine’ with the word consecrated, and the entire context has that phrase ‘consecrated bread and wine’ preceded by a sentence in which they say the bread and wine has been transformed.

    I don�t even think it�s inaccurate in the theological sense to refer to it in those terms (consecrated bread and wine�that�s what they are after all�consecrated bread and wine = body and blood of Christ), and the entire context of the paragraph seems to make it clear that have a complety orthodox view in mind.

    With regard to Jenn�s point out that in one video they used the phrase�
    �Jesus is not present under the signs of bread and wine�

    If I am reading this correctly, they said Jesus is present under the signs of bread and wine (though I confess I could be misreading what�s being said).  If that is what was claimed, this is a phrase that is not only totally orthodox and accurate, but found throughout the Catechism and sources like the Catholic Encyclopedia. 

    To use the word sign is not to say that the underlying reality is not ALSO present.  The understanding of sacrament is that it is a sign which communicates what it signifies.

    Sacraments are not MERELY signs, but they are signs�

    ��The seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body�.� (CCC 774)

    �The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.� (CCC 1131)

    �Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by�(CCC 1378)

    ��In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us,210 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:� (CCC 1380)

    The more I read the section in the CCC and the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Eucharist, not only do I not think there is anything troublesome about their language, but I think it’s likely they they pulled both phrases right out of church documents.

    Just my 2 cents. grin

  • By the way…you mentioned bridging the gap between what they offer and how it applies to homeschoolers (we are homeschooling as well).  I wonder if anyone has done the leg work to make that translation from Montessori classroom to home school? 

    Hmmm…I am off to start looking.  If anyone knows of any such resources, please share.

  • Melanie, I know when I first looked at the “Mass kits” I thought they were awfully expensive…then when I started adding it all up, and compared it to what we’ve paid for in-parish religious ed (not parochial school, but CGS and other classes at the parish) programs for our five children, I realized that for the same cost as a year or two of classes, I could have all the materials at home FOREVER.  Of course, I “rob Peter to pay Paul” in my head over a lot of things, so that could just be my rationalization to buy such beautiful materials, since we’re now homeschooling for CGS, too!

    Steve, someone mentioned Moira Farrell on a previous thread, don’t know if you saw that…she has created books with scripts and presentations of the CGS-type lessons for use at home…I think the website is Our Father’s House or something like that, where they can be ordered, along with lots of the “Mass kit” type materials.

  • Melanie, I meant to thank you back at Chapter 1 for posting this series. I don’t have the book and I’m very much appreciating the opportunity to read such a thorough overview.

  • Oops, I meant to type Jesus Is present, no NOT in there! I’m sorry about that.

    I know it’s not isolated to have translation issues, as I’m thinking of all the ICEL translations. GRRRR. I think the underlying concern from many of the materials from CGS is that the organization says they are ecumenical. In that definition with the materials there seems to be a downplay of our true Catholic faith.

    My own training is from Catholic trainers from a group called MCCI (Montessori Catholic Catechetical Institute) who want to make sure the Catholic faith is presented wholly, and the Montessori theory is side by side in the training. And these small phrasing issues are important, to make sure we are talking transubstantiation and not what Lutherans or Episcopalians believe. This is the heart of our Faith and if this gets watered down, even in small ways, we lose the focus. So yes, seemingly picayune, but pivotal, IMHO.

  • “Sloppy language or sloppy thinking here? The priest actually raises the Body and Blood at this point, not the bread and wine. Am I nitpicking? This bugs me.”

    It bugs me, too. I’m finishing up my Level I training this week, week-long session. This is one of the areas that I’m trying to work out in my mind. Many times the material from CGS blurs that teaching of the true Presence in the Eucharist. We watched a GREAT new DVD yesterday, but you have to be aware of some of the language and correct. Jesus is not present under the signs of bread and wine, which is what the video said.

    I hope to have some questions answered. I’m wondering was the original intent of Cavalletti watered down a bit in the US, since it’s so Catholic in her original intention? Is this a weak translation from the Italian for the Americans?

    When I asked yesterday, the actual CGS national organization (in US) is “ecumenical”. Not sure what that exactly means in context of the Catechesis.

    But then the question comes, don’t I want something uniquely Catholic? Isn’t that my aim? Other denomations can use the work, but shouldn’t it be unapologetically and inherently Catholic at the source?

    “Here’s where I start to get a bit uncomfortable. The models of the altar, the chalice and paten, the vestments. I understand the theory: “the character of this work is sensorial and therefore responds to the child’s needs.” And yet it feels to me much too close of an imitation. “

    What is stressed over and over again is that these are models. And in the first few years altar work is nomenclature work. It’s a very reverent approach, but there’s NO reenactment of the Mass, just familiarity of the sacred vessels and sacred Liturgy.

    Mass is not a time to learn about the Mass. Having familiarity with the Mass helps the child participate more readily. And I’ve found it the case.

  • Re: altar, etc.

    I think this is something that makes our generation uncomfortable, yes. But previous generations were pretty sure that kids would spontaneously play Mass, just as they spontaneously play School, Garage Mechanic, Airplane Trip, Concert, or any other real-world experience that impresses kids. For a boy to be particularly fond of playing Mass and to beg for his mom to make him play vestments—that was a fair sign he was going to be a priest. So kids were much aided and abetted in playing Mass.

    What’s weird is that the spontaneous play is being made non-spontaneous. (Although, to be fair, it’s usually one older kid who has the idea to play School and chivvies the others into going along.)

  • Melanie, it’s amazing how I have your same gut feeling about this. I have to thank you for trying to put it in words, and the more you write, the more I recognize my own thinking. There’s something that makes me say, as you do, that I’ll never teach my children about the Mass using models. What you said about avoiding too much familiarity, about the risk of losing the sense of sacredness, it rings true to me, too.
    Our children, though quite young (2 1/2 yo boy and 19 month girl), just love to “play Mass” at home, in an amazingly spontaneous way: they hold cups and give each other (and us, too) “Body of Christ”, they lift up a cup and make the sound of a ringing bell, they shake hands saying “Peace”, they hold up sticks and imitate the procession at the beginning of the Mass, when the priest walks down the aisle preceded by altar boys carrying the Crucifix and candles. We are not in the least disturbed by this, we’re actually quite amazed that they can remember things so well. We just joke about hoping our little girl never becomes an advocate for ordaining women wink Of course we let her play this way – she’s just innocently sharing a favorite “game” with her best friend, her brother, and as usual, she loves imitating whatever he does. We also like that they seem to feel Mass is an important part of our lives, or at least something interesting enough to be “replicated” at home wink
    As far as teaching them about the Mass (when they are older), I am a bookish person, so I naturally think “There must be a good book about this, with beautiful pictures and reproductions of chalices, vestments, etc.” What could be wrong about using just a book instead of models, I wonder?
    Also, I am not convinced that Mass would be the wrong time to do some teaching, at least while the children are still young – for instance, right now it’s something I do to help my children behave: if they’re too antsy, or start making noise, I pick them up and point out what is going on at the altar (easy things like “Now the priest is saying a special prayer”, “It’s almost time for the Sign of Peace”, etc) Granted, this is not really “teaching”, I am just trying to form a habit of paying close attention to what is going on in front of us, to the gestures and prayers – to the liturgy in a word.
    Of course, I wouldn’t do this with older children. I wonder if it would be a good idea to watch a Mass on tv (does EWTN do this?) That way, you can feel free to talk and explain – and close-ups can do a good job of showing what the celebrant is doing. Just an idea about an alternative to “models” at home.

  • Maureen,

    I’m still working on pinning down exactly what bothers me here. I wouldn’t at all be bothered by kids spontaneously playing Mass. Like you say, the lack of spontaneity is an odd element.

    I think another element that bugs me is specifically the way such realistic looking “models” as I’ve seen in catalogues might be confusing to children. I suppose I have a sense that the vessels and vestments used in Mass should have an aura of sacred, holy, set apart about them. The idea of too much familiarity makes me squirmy and uncomfortable.

    And yet I also have a clear sense that knowing the proper names for them and understanding their uses can help draw a child into the Mass and make it more accessible. And I understand that children often learn best through touch and imaginative play. All the explanations are logical and makes sense, but I still get an odd feeling in my gut that I can’t explain away.

  • Melanie, could your “squirmy feeling” be because you have girls and it seems weird to have them “playing Mass”?  Maybe it’s because my four oldest are boys that I’m not “weirded out” by it?  Just a thought that popped into my head, and one I could totally relate to when I think of my daughter pretending to “re-enact” Mass…