SIR,-May I. who had a similar experience to that of "Catechist." offer a few suggestions gathered from my own attempts (and mistakes) in trying to " put over" Catholic teaching within a limited time to an unenthusiastic Sunday class.
I. In the first place, the job is to get them interested, no matter how, and here an interesting story is of more worth than an hour's " teachbig the Catechism." Also to be remembered is the fact that. before your class can take an interest in what you arc going to say, they Must like you and to make them like you, you have to be interested in them as persons, in their hobbies and background, so that you can talk their language and tell them the plain truths of the Faith in terms that they can understand.
2. Try to make the hour's instruction something to be looked forward to. Here 1 would suggest that the atmosphere of the class-room should be avoided. Why should not a ramble down a country lane, in which one could point out the working of an Almighty Creator, for example, impress the idea of God on a child's mind ? The appropriate question and answer in the Catechism could be learnt by heart (and discussed, if possible) at the end of the walk.
3. The essential truths or the Faith, such as the Fall of Man, the Redemption by Our Lord. etc., can be told as stories and talked about, before the Catechism is learned.
each lesson could terminate with a reading from a hook like Ceeily Hallack's Adventure of the Amethyst, which makes religion a living and personal thing. Also the children should be asked to look up incidents in the Gospels, etc. for themselves during the week so that the teaching given them at the lesson is kept before their minds,
As an example the older boys, after a lesson on the Divinity of Our Lord, could be told to find out how many times in the Gospels Our Lord spoke of His Divine origin, the boy that found the most references could receive a small prize, and so on.
Definitely, I would say to "Catechist," it is worth it, even if only one boy in the class is influenced by what he learned there. I prepared a small group of London evacuees for 1st Communion with, 1 believe, a certain measure of success, although 1 had had no previous experience in the matter. "Catechist " is right in saying that the Love of Christ rather than a set of meaningless formulas should be instilled into
the children. But that is a thing that cannot be learned from any book or teacher.
Sta.---How 1 ympath i se with
your correspondent " Cathechist." who is trying to teach a class of boys without any training Does he or she know that this can quite easily be remedied by taking the correspondence course run by Our Lady's Catechists ?
There is no set time for completing the course-it took me about a year. All particulars are obtainable from the Hon. Secretary, Miss Bate. I la Kensington Court, W.8.
Since the war a great number of useful and inexpensive booklets have been published or reprinted for
Catholic teachers. Duckett's bookshop in the Strand has a special department for these, which I visit periodically and where I constantly find helpful material for my 'class.
Most of all I am sure it is vital to share one's own religious life and experience with the children. Cultivate the habit of mind of regarding them as one with you in the Mystical Body. (Jo to Holy Communion at the times when they do. Let them see you making your thanksgiving afterwards. Let them find you making visit's during the week, or saying your rosary. Religion is more often caught than taught !
SIR.-in reply to C Catechist " may I sympathise with him and assure him that there is an Association which attempts to deal with his problem, vie. Our Lady's Catechists. Some of our members are trained, but the majority are. like himself, amateurs. often teaching on Sundays in parishes where there are no Catholic schools.
M. M. BATE. Hon. Secretary, Our Lady's Catechists, I Is Kensington Court. London W.8.