"Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best--if you like, it 'works' best--when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God."
-C. S. Lewis
Liturgical worship has often been objectionable to people unfamiliar with structured worship because they see it as too repetitive. However, repetition is the point liturgical worship.
Regarding the language of common prayer, liturgical English is necessarily different from everyday language. There are words in the liturgy with a long history of theological meaning that cannot be translated into modern English. If a word is unfamiliar, look it up in a dictionary. It will help you learn the faith. Liturgical English retains the “thees” and “thous” because they are poetic, reverent and more precise than “you.” The body of Christ is “given for thee,” meaning the particular individual. While it is not necessary or desirable to use liturgical English in personal prayer, it is highly desirable and appropriate to retain a majestic, reverent and theologically accurate language for liturgical prayer. Liturgical English reflects the “beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9) and has the capacity to lift the heart, mind and soul to God in worship.
The Holy Eucharist is also celebrated in All Souls Chapel on occasions when attendance of less than eight is expected. On days when more than eight are expected, St. Mary's Chapel is utilized.
On Christian Education
"If we want to help the child draw nearer to God, we should with patience and courage seek to go always closer to the vital nucleus of things. This requires study and prayer. The children themselves will be our teachers if we know how to observe them."
-Dr. Sofia Cavaletti
An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, and all the more so when that relationship is between God and the Child. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw near to God. The catechist's role is to prepare the environment and to make presentations that "call forth" the child's response rather than "pour in" information. They listen with the child and together ask, "God, who are you? How do you love us?" The adult is a co-wonderer with the child as they together enjoy meditating on the questions generated by the Scriptures with the prepared environment as a developmental aid.
The prepared environment contains materials that are models of things used in the Church's worship such as an Altar, Bibles, sacramental vessels and adornments in the various liturgical colors, etc. The environment also contains materials relating to the proclamation of the faith such as parables, prophecies, geography of Israel, and the life of Christ. You may wonder how these materials help in the Christian formation of our children and youth.
Consider this, if an adult hears a beautiful passage from the Holy Bible, the adult might take the Bible, find the passage, and read it slowly again and again. He or she might think deeply about the words and perhaps speak to God in prayer of thanksgiving and hope. But a little child, too young to read, needs another way. In the atrium the child can ponder a biblical passage or a prayer from the liturgy of the Church by taking the material for that text and working with it – placing figures of sheep in the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd, setting figures of the Apostles around a Last Supper table, or preparing a small altar with the furnishings used at the Eucharist.
Older children who do read often copy parables from the Holy Bible, lay in order written prayers from the rite of Holy Baptism, or label a long line showing the history of the Kingdom of God. The trained catechist makes presentations to the child using these materials. The presentations are chosen to convey the essentials of the faith in a manner appropriate to the child's development. The child is then invited to internalize and respond to the presentation by working with the materials themselves.
The catechist does not give answers or impart information. The catechist presents the reality and asks questions. The catechist assists in the child's own discovery of the meaning.
The motto of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is "Help me fall in love with God by myself." It is our mission to allow our children to do just that. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is divided into three levels. Level I is age 3-6, Level II is age 6-9, and Level III is age 9-12 .
In Level I the controlling image is Christ the Good Shepherd who loves his sheep and gives everything he is for them.The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and calls them by their name. The child comes to discover who the Shepherd is (Jesus) and who the sheep are (us). What stands behind all this is the first moment of the covenant, the moment of gift.
Level I remains focused on this moment of gift with the aim of children coming to a deep enjoyment of it. The enjoyment of the gift of God's own self to the child is the foundation of further religious insight and moral development.
Level II continues the reflection on the moment of gift and begins to awaken in the child the question of their personal response. The controlling image is Christ the True Vine, and the History of the Kingdom of God. The child begins to discover the vast cosmic history of God's plan of salvation and that they have something to contribute to it. Moral sensitivity/awareness begins here and grows with the presentations of Jesus' Maxims, Moral Parables, and Reconciliation. The child's desire to carry out the requests of the Good Shepherd naturally flow from the relationship of loving trust that was established in Level I.
Level III carries the human response further. The controlling image is the Plan of God as worked out in the Bible and human history. The child begins to deal with the advance of the Kingdom and people's opposition to it. The paradigm of Creation-Redemption-Return of Christ guides a more thorough exploration of Scripture, particularly the Old Testament.
Prior to beginning Level I, children two years of age participate in a Primary Level where they are exposed to the fine and gross motor skills needed in Level I as well as beginning exposure to Bible stories.
Throughout all levels, the child encounters the essentials of the Christian Faith. Levels I, II, and III include presentations on the Sacraments, the Bible, Geography, Infancy and Passion Narratives, Prophecies, Parables, Maxims in a manner developmentally appropriate. The presentations increase in detail and sophistication as the child matures. However, the role of the catechist as a facilitator of the child's own discovery of the meaning of these things for themselves remains throughout. Both the child and the catechist find their faith nourished in this process.