One of the blessings for my ministry is being able to directly interact with families who have small children regularly. Young children from birth want to learn about God’s love and have the capacity to respond to God’s love and God’s call to be a missionary disciple. It's part of what is knitted into each of us, the need for the created to grow closer to the creator. I have been able to see this at the earliest stages through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). This program is a hands-on, one on one experience of the Bible and the Mass where children move independently through a special space called the “Atrium” and work with materials that they choose. It emphasizes quiet contemplation and "the enjoyment of God”, and through this, I have seen more clearly the idea of how we are all called to accompaniment in a real and present way for our children and one another.
As a lay-minister, I am as susceptible as anyone in looking for the next best or ready-made way to connect people into the Catholic faith. However what CGS has taught me is that the encouragement of faith is that of accompaniment, which just like in music is the simple act of enhancing the work that has already begun. In this case, we are building on what started in the sacrament of Baptism, allowing the small child to encounter God. Through this, I have learned a lesson that not only applies to the smallest of children but all. That is that faith can’t be purchased or bottled.
In our post-modernist society, it’s easy to forget that not everything comes ready-produced. A relationship with God takes time and work, in GCS the children do work that at times might seem very physical (washing tables or pouring water) but it allows them to respond to God in their way and time. In the atrium, I must allow God and God’s relationship with each child matter more than a schedule, lesson plan or curriculum. The freedom must be central, and I protect this through accompaniment which allows faith and truth to grow.
For the adult, this has manifested in coming to a place of being able to occupy silence and finding the potential of all work to serve a purpose. In the atrium this happens along with the child, however, it's crucial to also create those spaces for ourselves and to find people to accompany us on the journey. We must allow the space to become like a child and be open to the possibilities this allows.
Victoria Wejko is Mrs. Cayuga County