A Positive Answer
Sir,-After the petulance of some of your correspondents on Catechism Reform, it was refreshing to read the article " An Examination of Methods and Conscience." It is indeed encouraging to find, at last. somebody who believes that religion is " caught " rather than " taught." In this connection, I suggest that Fr. Ryan, in his letter, misses, the fundamental point when he depends for success on technique and couples the classroom with the pulpit.
I would claim that the cure for our present " dry-rot " (or " leakage ") is to he found in your own article, " The Liturgy, the Workshop and the World." The primary need, then, would be schools where Christianity is lived. not only in the customary way, but also in Christian harmony. and in the bearing of each other's burdens. Secondly, the children should do more than tack on religious practices to a secular life. When priest and teacher provide a Christcentred family. where self is lost in service-then, the children who see Christ so manifested will certainly be drawn to him. If Fr. Ryan's " National Scheme " attempts this revolution I hope to be an accomplice.
Catholic teachers are suffering many frustrations. They know that neither driving, nor cajolery. nor " tricks of the trade " will bring the sap into dead wood. Many feel that a more radical solution is needed, and I. for one, would welcome the new kind of cooperation between priest and layman which is exemplified in the French experiments.
SIR,-NOW that attention has been focused on the question, Does or does not the Catechism hinder children's religion; and has or has not school-teaching anything to do with adolescents jumping out of Peter's boat, would it not he a good moment to make concrete Fr. Geary's statement that there have been " highly successful efforts towards the reform of religious teaching already established in many dioceses in the last twenty years "? If in many, why not in all, since he calls them " highly successful "? especially as the alternative seems to be child overboard.
A good start could be made by equipping every school and every training college with the splendid set of Sower books. The " Sower Scheme " is official in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and I daresay elsewhere I am not behind the scenes. People who don't know these hooks should buy the latest one-The Abbreviated Catechism with Explanations, by Fr. F. H. Drinkwater (Preface by the Archbishop of Bir mingham). It is the Faith. not in slow motion but in quick explanations in ordinary sensible language, hut it needs a better title. (If only our Faith-in-tabloid-form had not this awful name, teaching it would be easier. When I first became aware of the Catholic Church. in 1916, the word Catechism. and the structure and language it promised. made me refuse so much as to open it, I read St. Francis of Sales and the .Summa instead, and have always been thankful that I have an instinct about hooks.) If people not just leachers and priests-buy this abbreviated Surnma of Dr. Drinkwater's they will value It for itself; and will find on the hack a list of most of the other Sower hooks. It costs 2s. 6d. from Burns and Oates.
[Correspondents are referred to the article on page 4 for a broad and highly topical as.sessment of this problem and Rs ideal solution. It is con
densed from the Osserva tore Romano.-Eorroe, C.H. I