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Importance of Child Catechesis

posted Jun 29, 2017, 11:09 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 29, 2017, 11:09 PM ]
'Children are God's apostles, day by day, sent forth to preach Love, Hope and Peace.' This quotation by the American romantic poet James Russell Lowell puts the value of children in simple but profound words. But who is the child? Do we really know the child's world in today's day and age? 

Often, we hear it said that the children of today have changed, compared to children in the past. We need to realise that children have not changed; rather, what has changed is childhood. Today, childhood is marred by several negative forces that could destroy children and hamper their growth in so many ways. Children are being robbed of their innocence and childhood. To reach out to the child of today with the Good News of Jesus, we need to first have a correct understanding of what the child of today faces. What are the things that influence the child and his/her thinking? 

An atmosphere where information is available, almost unfiltered and instantaneous, results in a sort of numbing of the senses. Children could grow up seeing humans as objects to be used, and not as God's creations. This could also lead towards children being indifferent to the sacrifice of Jesus. 

Due to all this, the child today grows up to be a non-relational person who is stressed at home, at school and even at Church, resulting in children having anger issues, anxiety problems, and even depression. 

But even this child of the twenty-first century is very special to God. The Bible tells us that children are a reward from God (Psalm 127:3). We all know that children are easily influenced and directed, they are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. These arrows need to be sharpened, aimed and released in the direction of Jesus, so to say. It depends on us how, and with what, we want to influence our children. The question we need to ask ourselves is, "Are we influencing our children with things that will counter the influences of the world? Are we influencing them with Christ?" 

The faith of the child is precious. It could put our faith to shame. A child's faith is also vulnerable. Children need help with their faith. Children were very precious to Jesus (Mk 10:16; Mt 19:13-14). Jesus warns us that we are not to hinder young children. If we hinder them when they are at an impressionable age, they may not want to come to Christ later, when they are mature enough to appropriate the Faith themselves. We need to ask ourselves if we are, in any way, becoming an obstacle to children approaching Jesus. 

The first responsibility to bring the children to Jesus lies with the parents and family. The miracle of the Incarnation too took place in a human family, and this fact itself tells us how important the reality called 'family' is. The family has always been God's primary conduit to display His glory. Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the Law of Christ and His Church? On Faith Formation Sunday, it would be good for parents to reflect on this promise they made to the Church and to God on the day of their wedding. Bringing up the child in faith does not just mean ensuring the child is baptised, or that he/she is sent to a Catholic school and for Sunday school. The true meaning of the promise is to accompany the child on their faith journey. To be involved in their faith life actively. To set examples for them to follow. 

For numerous reasons today, more than in the past, the child demands full respect and help in his/her spiritual and human growth. Those who have given life to children and have enriched them with the gift of Baptism have the duty to continually nourish it. The children of today will be the disciples of tomorrow, the Church of tomorrow. 

Fr Vincent D'Cruz