TO CONSIDER just one part of Fr Plaoid Croney's wide ranging letter (August 13), of course his friend is quite right — prayer is rarely taught well in Catholic schools. But then I think it rarely was.
There is often a temptation to hark back to a supposed golden age when things were done differently and, by definition, better. But I was taught to pray, as I suspect many Christians are taught to pray, firstly by my parents praying with me.
One's prayer life is built on a knowledge, understanding and experience of the love of God. The first can, and with all due respect to Fr Placid Croney's friend, usually is taught in schools.
The second can be groped towards and most of us will spend all our lives doing just that — groping.
But the third can only be realised on the basis of a human loving relationship. This is usually a oneto-one matter and the foundations are, for most people, in the love of our parents and family.
Schools are unlikely for the majority of people to provide the right environment for this necessary initial experience, although of course there are individual
exceptions to this I am sure.
What schools can do is provide opportunities for the practice of prayer so that each student's individual prayer life can grow and develop.
And really this is the most important aspect of prayer. Because without opportunities to experience prayer, students can be told about prayer endlessly but it will all mean nothing.
It is my experience that schools try very hard to provide these opportunities but, as with every other aspect of the Faith, they can only build upon the foundations laid down by loving, caring parents or guardians.
That is where the real work is done. Without this, teachers can talk about prayer, about its necessity, what it is, what it means etc but it will remain just that — talk.
With the right background, with families praying and continuing to pray together, with parishes praying together, then the opportunities provided by the schools will be means of growth and development. But they cannot do it on their own — and they never did.