Frustrated efforts to teach her children
Sir,-I have just read with joy and yet with a sense of heart. break your article by Fr. Patrick Rorke, SJ, " Give children back to their parents."
1 have five children-soon it will be six. The first two were prepared for Communion at school and hospital. and the third began preparing at school when she was seven. The younger child was a little over four years old. At this time I read a C.T.S. pamphlet, written by a nun. encouraging parents to prepare children for Holy Communion as early as they could discern and believe in Christ's presence; even before they could make their fist Confession: this nun quoted Pope Pius X and his successors in urging the idea.
" How wonderful," I thought. Perhaps I could prepare my little son. who like all the children has known and been told about Christ's presence at Mass, Sunday by Sunday. and •is certainly of no less. though probably no more than average intelligence.
I felt terribly inadequate, hut I got one or two C.T.S. booklets and decided participation in the Act of the Mass was the best preparation for Holy Communion and together we set off. I hoped that he and the elder girl might receive our Lord together and we, as a family, might join them at our parish church, since the school was in a different parish. I received the school's permission, where he would later attend, to do this.
Then I asked our parish priest to see the lad. and consent to bringing our Lord to him.
My efforts had apparently been all in vain. I believe he thought me a crank and I ended up feeling like one.
Now my son is seven. The Communion classes at school have begun. The teacher tells my mother she is so worried-it's such a responsibility-about 40 children to prepare. Some of them Mile to school hardly knowing how to make the sign of the Cross or say a single prayer. My son has had to he away for throe weeks with measles. " Oh dear," sighs the teucher, " at this rate you will never be prepared to make your first Communion."
But your article gives me fresh heart. 1 really had given up all interest in preparing or even helping to prepare the boy. But the Easter holidays are coming.I can start again and we can join in all the family-praying and doing small things for God to help my lad receive Him well. and we can all go with him; whether at his church near the school. or in this parish, I don't yet know.
French Catholic Experience
Sir,--The article by Father Rorke. S.J.. would be wholeheartedly endorsed by many excellent French Catholics. whose parental practice is precisely this.
I have heard French people argue on similar lines. In fact, a French friend of mine-a glorious Catholic--received all her religious instruction from her parents and What's more lived it out-even when surrounded by pagan influences. Her secular education was largely received in her country front Freethinkers, and later in college where she trained for her professional work. her colleagues were mostly such. yet. she lived and died a grand Catholic.
Gretta Mckeogh 75, South Road,
Hayvvards Heath, Sussex.
Christian Family Life Training
Sir,-In view 'of the support given to Miss Cabill's thesis by the article of Fr. Rorke and still more by the weighty testimony of Canon Hunt, who writes from long experience as a Religious Inspector, we can, perhaps, look forward hopefully to more serious attempts being made to institute training for Christian family life.
H. 0. Waterhouse, S.J.
St. Francis Xavier's, Salisbury Street, Liverpool 3.
Hymn to St. Joseph
Sir,-Fr. Basset is hard to please if he cannot sing Hail, Holy Joseph. Hail with conviction. But if something still more stirring is required, let me recommend ' Dear Husband of Mary " (Old Westminster, I74), sung to the noble Welsh tune " St. Denio." (Songs of Praise, 535; Church Hymnal. 154).
F. H. D.
Sir,-I think the two letters you published last week. and the article by Miss Cahill which inspired them, the best yet on the subject of the leakage.
It has always seemed to me that the common practice of herding the children together in the front benches, under the eye of the teacher at the Children's Mass. is a great mistake, and one which reaches its melancholy culmination at what should he a supremely family occasion, that of First Communion.
Here is a practical way in which the change. advocated in Miss Cahill's final paragraph. could be begun. Let us have family groups at First Communions,. instead of Icing regimented lines of children, carefully segregated as to sex.
Can we not also abolish group attendance at Mass, at least in so far as it entails children leaving their parents at the church door, to sit with the school group.
The child permanently " orphaned " at Mass is not an easy problem (though something might be done along the lines of " adoption "), but let us not on his account encourage the separation of more fortunate children from their parents in church.
Hathaway. Torra Road, Neath. Glam.
Want to Learn Properly!'
Sir,-Congratulations on printing Miss Cahill's and Father Rorke, S.J.'s, articles on teaching religion. I think parents leave the child's instruction to the school, because they feel themselves inadequate (in this age of specialisation). They imagine that they could only give the child a " second best " preparation for his first Communion.
The children think so, too! Our
daughter Ill) said: No fear! I want to learn properly!" when 1 suggested we might teach her religion instead of the school doing so!
Couldn't there he classes for parents of First-Communicants? Suitable books, prayers and catechisms could be discussed and the parents told what doctrines the child must understand before receiving Communion. 1 think this step would restore the parents' selfconfidence.
Anne Burden Charlton Lodge, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
A Mother's Experience
Sir,-I was very interested in Miss Cahill's article on religious training of children-I feel so strongly that the parents, especially the mothers. should do their part. I always found that my children. when young. loved to hear a little of the Gospel read to them at night before they went to sleep.
1 also used to sing some of Mrs. Alexander's hymns for children to them, which they loved-especially "There is a green hill far away and All things bright and beautiful " and " Once in royal David's city."
It is said that the late Cardinal Logue helped Mrs. Alexander to compose these exquisite hymns, she was the wife of the protestant bishop of Armagh. I can never forget when one Good Friday I read to my children-they were about nine and ten years-the story of the Crucifixion from the Gospel. They were so thrilled and impressed, they seemed as if they could not get over it-the cruelty and sadness of it. Both my children went all through the late war in the Services and kept very good and indeed made some conversions.
Sir,-Your correspondent " Ralph Pennicott " speaks of 'our courage, of a "storm " about to break, and his own fear of putting his signature to his views.
The sulsiect is the improvement necessary in our teaching of religion to the young so as to make them practising Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
If there are priests who dare not contribute their considered views on the cducatiOn of our children for fear of their Christian brethren or the pastors of the Church, how will they have the courage, if ever the need arises. to stand up to a completely hostile and alien power?
C. M. Cheke 4, Beatrice Court, Wembley.