On the Spot’ aims to highlight some of the complex positions, questions and comments experienced by Catechists, teachers and parents. It tries to outline the knowledge necessary to be faithful to Church teaching and which will best help those we teach who call us to account for the hope that is in us. [cf I Peter 3:15] This time we look at how we can most effectively use questioning to draw those we teach and catechise closer to the person of Jesus.
The children in the youngest class of the local Catholic school had been learning about the time Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem when he was twelve years old, and how Mary and Joseph searched for him with great anxiety until they found him in the Temple. The main focus during this session was on the question, ‘How do you think Jesus felt when he was lost in the Temple?’ The five year olds huddled closer to each other, one or two of them still sucking their fingers and twiddling their hair for comfort. They knew how they would have felt, lost and alone in a big town with their mothers nowhere to be seen.
This, and similar questions posed by some catechetical materials, may spring from the best of intentions. There can be a tendency to assume that children and young people - and also those new to the faith - will be anxious about, or unable to grasp doctrine. For this reason, it is sometimes proposed that all catechesis must begin the person's 'experience', with ‘where the person is.’ This can lead to a very subjective, emotionally-based perception of the faith, and does not clearly reflect the pedagogy of God who came down to where we are in the person of his Son Jesus and made a gradual revelation to us through him.