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BC_C21_Win04h 1/16/04 2:57 PM Page 1 C21 Resources a s e r v i c e o f b o s t o n c o l l e g e winter 2004 David Turnley/Corbis When Children Reach for God Handing on the faith can be a two-way street by julie donovan massey t was a quiet Saturday morning. I cuddled on the couch with one of our daughters as we looked at the small book of children’s Bible stories. We examined the stories of Moses and Noah and Jonah. Each page held a brief text accompanied by a powerful illustration. Soon enough we arrived at a page that quoted Jesus saying, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mk. 10:14). The image beside these words was lovely, serene. It depicted a sunny day with just a few clouds. We saw Jesus seated on a rock under a tree, children I gazing at him with fond reverence. But before I could become lost in the painter’s skillful strokes, one of my children yanked the book from her sister’s hand as another child spilled a container of juice on the newly scrubbed kitchen floor. Ah yes, real life with children! So I sighed and admitted that our children are not sitting quietly anywhere, much less gazing reverently into the Redeemer’s eyes. But despite the fact that they cannot touch Jesus, I know they experience a vibrant relationship with God. On a good day, I hear what the children have to teach me. First Lesson: Joyful Noise Our two-year-old daughter, Bridget, is fond of the simple family ritual of grace before meals. She first encountered the familiar tune “The Lord Is Good to Me” in the loving home of her day care provider. Now she re- quests that prayerful song by calling out “apple seed!” each evening. And she is right that we should daily thank the Lord “for giving me the things I in this issue Catechesis, Culture and Conflict e live in a popular culture of disbelief and, too often, cynicism. Thus, handing on the faith to those who come after us is a gift of great value and a core duty and challenge that come with membership in the Catholic Church. It is also an act of faith, for, as Thomas Groome makes clear in his article in this issue, it is only a lived faith that sinks its roots and spreads surely among future generations. Before the recent evidence that sexual abuse of minors was a reality among priests yet often swept under the rug by the hierarchy, and before all the pain and questioning it caused, young Catholics and many adults were looking more critically at the institutional authority of the Church and were less willing to take at face value what it teaches. While the crisis has not made this challenge any easier, there is not the least reason to be less confident about the truth and appeal of the Good News that the Church embodies. The question is not the message, but how the people of the Church can be better messengers of Catholicism. That is the focus of this third issue of C21 Resources, and the third focus as well of the Boston College initiative, the Church in the 21st Century. When religious education is mentioned, teaching may be the first thing to come to mind. The articles in this issue would have us recognize the importance of listening as well. Listening to those who question the Church’s teachings does not mean dumbing down or relativizing the message of the catechism. It does mean, however, establishing a relationship and authentic connection with the listener. In many cases, that is the best channel, over time, through which to hand on the faith. –The Editors W boston college | c 21 resources | winter 2 0 0 4 1

2004 Spring, When Children Reach for God

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