Friday, 2 March 2012

'Catholics' Part 2 - jury's out.....I think

Having read A Reluctant Sinner's excellent post on this programme I almost threw in the towel and walked away from it. All that Dylan Parry writes about is true and it's convinced me that I am nothing more than an obdurate curmudgeon who cannot see good in anything post Vatican II.

Last night's episode, number two in the series, looked at young children being schooled for their First Holy Communion.

It showed priest. teachers and parishioners all working together with the same aim in mind.
Good. What's to criticise?

Well, it did not set the world on fire as Catholic teaching, even, primary Catholic teaching should do.

It may be unfair to make too strong a case here as, of course, we were only privy to snippets of their catechesis but I recall from my own preparation at the age of seven, that it took place over a lengthy period of time and it was not based on questions and answers but rather a pictorial serial covering the birth to death life of Christ. We children laboriously and punctiliously, coloured in drawings of each stage and, if I remember correctly, each stage had a caption that prompted our basic graphics. It brought back the old educators' saying "Tell me and I shall forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand".
I think that my class understood much of what we were taught.

The priest was a good representation of a country pastor, ministering to a scattered flock despite obvious leg problems requiring that he travelled around his parish by what used to be called quaintly, an invalid carriage. He was pretty fast on those rural Lancashire lanes and he was an endearing character.

The only issue that I might raise (leaving to one side the fact that he adheres to a very liberal wing of HMC) is the comment that he made regarding reception of Holy Communion under both kinds.

He commented that it was "better" to receive the Eucharist under the appearances of both bread and wine rather than just bread.
 At that point I had to be resuscitated after swallowing my tongue!

From the producers point of view I feel that this second documentary was not much better than the first. It did not leave me with any conviction that those children would still be Catholics ten years hence.

It flitted too much and the background piano music was distracting but I did not miss the "naughty camera" bit where it moved from the children receiving the Host from the priest to the breakfast party afterwards and crisps being rammed into mouths.

Marks out of ten?  Maybe a six.

But then I am a curmudgeon.
BTW - no need to comment on my last sentence!


  1. I went through a year’s preparation for First Holy Communion. Started of at age 7 (1st Grade class) and received at age 8 (2nd Grade class). Rote learning prayers in Latin, Q & A and class activities. Lenten promises were not of the giving up sweets or telly sort. We did not have those in my boarding school. It was more of keeping kind thoughts for and helping others. 40 days of fish as well. We disliked fish and were taught to "offer it up". The nuns in my school also devoted a considerable amount of lesson on the Sacrament of Confession. One thing I wished the fly-on-the-wall could have shown more of that aspect of the children’s preparation for First Holy Communion. The obligatory character for reception of the Eucharist cannot be stressed enough as whilst Catholics of all ages come up for Holy Communion at Mass, it is not the same with the queue for Confession.

    I still rate the show a 10 because even under time constraints, it showed admirable pastoral, school and family collaboration. I actually managed to pick up pointers on catechetical methods being that I am currently pursuing an MCC out of love for my grandchildren who have a strong desire to be taught well about their Catholic faith.

    God bless.

    P.S. My daughter and her family are well, Thank you. Recent complaint raised was about diesel costs at Pembrokeshire.

  2. Richard,
    Maybe I am wrong-but, did I hear the Teachers/Catechists referring to the Precious Blood as wine? If so this appalling catechesis! However, my hearing might be gone as well as my brain also!

    God Bless,


  3. I thought it was quite shocking and was more like brain washing and surely you can take the children to the stations of the cross and use traditional meditations rather than saying to a six year old imagine the nails going in that was never done in my very traditional catholic childhood it was left to your own imagination to see it this reflects the modern obession in re lessons to over explain everything and it fails did you see the girl snatch the host from the priest clearly the creepy instruction from the lay catechists didn't make any impression and that was the strange part listening to the childrens prayer showed that

  4. Although I found myself wincing at one or two points I could not help but warm to all of the individuals, both children and adults, appearing in the programme. It did, however, partly illustrate one of the most questionable things that has appeared to have happened in respect of sacramental preparation throughout England and Wales in recent years. I refer to the involvement of parish catechists as distinct from professional teachers. It seems to me to rather beg the question of why have Catholic schools/teachers and not use them?

  5. Thank you all. Anonymous, believe me, children are not traumatised by issues relating to the crucifixion, provided they are related properly.

    Patricius, you have a good point. What I found absent from the situation was the input of a good nun. They used to provide a "bridge" between laity and priests and were a figure of authority for children.
    Catechists may be schooled in the faith (if a rather liberal form of it) but, for the most part they have had no teacher training and that is a flaw in the system.

    1. I agree absolutely. I remember my own preparation for First Communion (1962). Most was done by our class teacher- I can vaguely recall a diagram of the Mass as two sets of steps, going up and coming down), special folders in which we wrote and drew and also a slide show preparing us for first Confession showing the effect of venial sins on a heart-shaped soul! We then had a couple of sessions with a lovely nun (NOT the dragon-like Headmistress)who gave us a taste of unconsecrated altar breads.
      Parish catechists vary. I have not met any I would describe as "liberal"- just not terribly well educated in the faith. Sometimes, however, they are retired teachers of the old school and therefore possibly the best. All I saw and heard in the programme was orthodox- although someone slipped up on showing the children the correct manner of receiving in the hand. (Hopefully, though, in a few years time we may all return to the traditional manner.)

  6. Anonymous - I might take you a little more seriously if you could spell. But, maybe not!

  7. Sorry, not the Anonymous published above, the one that I deleted. A good reason not to be anonymous.