I’ve been thinking more about Bella playing with the modelling clay and her retelling of the Easter story. It really gets to the heart of what the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is about. I tend to get so caught up in the details and the externals that I often forget the heart of the educational method. Montessori is designed always for an institutional, classroom setting and it can be so hard to sort out what only makes sense in a classroom verses what makes sense in a home environment, to find the principle at the heart of the method and to apply it with a very different sort of method.
So the heart of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is the idea that play is a child’s way of meditating on the Gospel. When a child has had the Gospel proclaimed to her, and then she proceeds to retell it in her own words to act it out with any sort of materials, she engaged in active meditation on the Word that she has received. It really is a sort of lectio divina. When she acts out the story, her imagination is fully engaged. She is truly entering into the story and becoming a participant in it rather than a passive listener. In her play she is, in fact, entering into conversation with God. It is a form of prayer.
And in fact for Bella it even became a form of evangelization as she retold the story to her younger sister. Bella herself was a herald of the Gospel, exercising her prophetic calling.
From what I understand the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as it is formally taught puts a great deal of emphasis on the materials being of a certain type, of a certain quality. And in a classroom setting that most certainly makes sense. But the more I ponder the more I question how much that can and should translate in a home setting. We have very limited financial resources, I have very limited time I can dedicate to the production of catechetical materials, and we have very limited storage space. But as I saw yesterday, Bella is quite capable of improvising on her own when given a very little nudge.
I think it may well be time for me to revisit the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, to re-read Sofia Cavaletti’s book and to ponder how exactly we are going to proceed with Bella’s (and Sophie’s and Ben’s) religious instruction.
I am already seeing that my once a week daily Mass is not only an opportunity for me to receive nourishment for myself; but also for me to have a chance for me to give each of my children one-on-one attention and one-on-one instruction. What an amazing gift!