Now in the new translation of the Roman Missal!
Under the pressure of secularization and the influence of consumerism, the Catholic Church today cannot assume that the faith will be automatically transmitted to the next generation. “Second Spring Catechesis,” partly inspired by the groundbreaking work of Sophia Cavaletti, is an application of the fundamental principle of the new evangelization: the intimate association of truth and goodness with beauty. This implies a vital role not only for intelligence and will, but for imagination in religious formation. The Vatican has called for an “evangelization through beauty”, since this – especially the beauty of holiness in the lives of the saints – is the main way in which modern people can still relate to the Christian tradition and grasp its meaning for them.
The first challenge was getting children to relate to the central act of worship, the Mass. There are numerous resources for first communion preparation, but there is still a pressing need for something which unpacks the symbolic and supernatural meaning of the Mass itself in a form that is visually accessible to younger children. This perceived need has led to the creation of an illustrated guide to the Mass for children aged 5 to 9, published by Second Spring in Oxford and distributed by Thomas More College in North America, which has been eagerly and warmly received by parishes and parents throughout the English-speaking world. A Spanish edition is now in preparation.
Second Spring Catechesis looks simple, since it takes the form, for example, of a series of coloring books, not normally regarded as artistically significant. But it involves taking the child, and the child’s sensibility and culture, much more seriously than most other forms of catechesis have done. This seems to be part of the reason for its effectiveness: it opens windows in the child’s imagination through which the vision of the faith can be transmitted, or (to vary the metaphor) it prepares the ground and plants the seeds for a later, more intellectual appreciation of the faith in the child’s mind. The challenging activity of coloring delicate pictures serves to engage the child in a more personal way with the symbolism and beauty of the images. The images themselves subliminally suggest levels of meaning, and connections between Bible and Liturgy, in a way that nourishes the child’s sense of mystery and of the sacred – essential for the healthy development of the life of faith and prayer through the difficult years of adolescence that lie ahead.
Catechesis often neglects the cultural dimension of the Faith, but as John Paul II never tired of saying, “The synthesis between culture and faith is not just a demand of culture, but also of faith…. A faith which does not become culture is a faith which has not been fully received, not thoroughly thought through, not faithfully lived out.”
These resources are one of the many ways scholars at Thomas More College endeavor to share the fruits of the Catholic tradition with a broader audience.