Sunday, December 21, 2008

`My busy time of year` Part 1 (Take 2)

Well I think I`ve been to all the Nativity plays I was expecting to go to (four). Apart from these, this time of year is not that much different in terms of what I do. A highlight this week was a question and answer session with Year 4 at St Stephen`s Primary School, Longbenton, about the Mass. I had loaned the headteacher a DVD of Fr Stan Fortuna talking about the Mass. Above is a YouTube clip. It was watched by Years 4,5 and 6. I was surprised as I thought it might be ok for Year 6 at a pinch but it went down very well indeed with all those who saw it. In fact the reports coming back were so enthusiastic that I decided to show it to our altar servers who also enjoyed it, as did a couple of their parents who watched it with them and who suggested that I should show it to the parents of the First Holy Communion class.

Our head, Mr Fallon, said the children had lots of questions arising from the DVD. This, in a school were at most one third are Catholic. So I went to talk to the children of Year 4 for half an hour and found they had written eight pages of questions. They were very good questions. Among some I remember were `Why does the priest drop a particle of the host into the chalice before Communion?`, `Where does the Bible come from?`, `What does the colour purple signify in the liturgy?`, `Why can`t priests marry?` and many more. I mention this in the light of a recent episcopal statement that children don`t understand talk of sin and salvation and have to be engaged to talk about the environment instead. Well there certainly seems plenty of interest in purely religious matters among Year 4 at St Stephen`s school. I`d like to talk to Years 5 and 6 next term too. I may also see if we can show it at St Mary`s too.

This is the second version of this post. I`ve copied the comments from the old post below.`

UPDATE: I`VE CRACKED IT!!. I see I need to post the code into the edit Html box rather than just rely on the publish this to blog option.Hurrah!!


Anonymous said...

Oh well done Fr Michael!

& no mention of leaving water in kettles!

Anonymous said...

Looking back on it, I wonder how on earth we learned about sin and salvation when I was a child. Our religious instruction (if it's all right to call it that) certainly didn't include lectures on not over filling kettles, etc. Of course, "saving the planet" wasn't a fashionable topic in those days.

It doesn't do to expect too little of children. They are capable of understanding a great deal. Father's post seems to bear out my own experience.

I would add : it doesn't do to patronise youth, either. They are quick to spot it, and they resent it, and then you have lost them. No, a middle aged trendy does not make a good teacher, I'm afraid.

What's the best way to handle middle aged trendies ? Why, flatly contradict them, I suppose, but I'd be interested to know what other commenters would do.

Anonymous said...

Peter - "Of course, "saving the planet" wasn't a fashionable topic in those days." Perhaps if it was, our environmental situation wouldn't be so dire now.

PeterHWright said...

Ah, good !

A most useful comment from Madame Evangelista.

Oh yes, I could't agree more about cleaning up the environment. But then it's not exactly a new idea, is it ?

The first modern Public Health Act was enacted in 1875 in an effort to clean up filthy urban conditions. The Public Health Act of 1936 went much further. Presumably, more would have been done sooner, but for the intervention of World War II. The Clean Air Act of 1956 was in response to the "killer" smogs of 1952, followed by further legislation in 1968. Even the "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign dates back to 1955.

But none of this was accompanied by the modern slogan "save the planet" (which is a more nebulous concept and is an area where scientists, environmentalists, and even national governments, disagree as to cause and effect).

As children we learned that greed, and waste, and causing litter were at best very bad habits which could lead to worse. I can see how the young mind could make the connection here with sin. That is because there IS a connection.

I can see how this early understanding leads to the adult understanding that man is the steward of the Earth's resources, and must therefore exercise his stewardship responsibly. (I wonder if men ever will ?)

But I honestly can't see the connection between saving the planet and saving our souls. I don't think I could come to an understanding of the latter from the former (always supposing I understood the former). The one is not even an analogy for the other. In fact, it's a different question.

It is a matter of fact that saving the soul is an urgent necessity, and the Church teaches, and has taught down the centuries, precisely what we must do, and what we must not do, to attain salvation.

On the other hand, "saving the planet" isn't a precise science. It isn't even an established fact that the planet can be saved, or even that the global environment is (yet) in dire need, although I would agree the signs are not good.

But the spiritual is different from the temporal. The eternal is different from the transitory (although I don't mean to say the two are not linked). We have to discern that difference.

Therefore, arent we using the word "salvation" in an entirely different context (and even with a different meaning) ?

I just wondered.

gemoftheocean said...

God in Heaven. Another hippy priest! Can't they save the explanations for before Mass or after Mass instead of DURING Mass? And and as long as he's going to show them the three signs of cross on the forehead, lips, and breast he may as well tell them about assenting to the gospel with one's mind, proclaiming it on one's lips and believing it in one's heart. Why do half the job?!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Karen, you are hard to please. I thought the OF was your thing and you had grave problems with the EF!
Fr Stan Fortuna is giving a commentary. Would it have been better if he had had another priest to say the Mass while he spoke? The use of a commentator at the OF Mass is mentioned in the GIRM. Here`s an article about reining them in:

Anonymous said...

I, like Gem, am a little uncomfortable with the great commentary being part of an actual Mass; I think it would have been better to have the comentary illustrating the actions of various parts of the Mass - outside of the Mass.

I know that Fr Fortuna is totally orthodox but I once heard him give a homily that so razzed the kids listening that I wondered how they would come down to earth for the rest of the Mass. Once again the talk could have been better given outside the context of the Mass.