- Europe english
The values of grandmothers
Interview with Father Luc Mellet (France) on the CCEE survey
The family, the school, the parish: the European survey promoted by CCEE on the state of Catechesis in Europe shows that "Christian initiation should be conceived as an integrating part of the life of the youth and of their relations". The results of the survey (approximately 4 thousand people from 11 European countries were interviewed) were presented at the opening of the XII European Congress for Catechesis, ongoing until May 10 and attended by some 70 participants, including bishops and directors of the national offices and bodies responsible for catechesis within the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe. Sir Europe interviewed father Luc Mellet, head of the National Service for Catechesis.
Once more, the family seems to play a crucial role…
"The family is where fundamental life education take place, but in the case of Christian initiation it becomes also a place of interaction, where each family member, parents, children, and siblings alike bear personal witness. In this framework grandmothers play an increasingly important role as they are increasingly perceived as critical to the children’s religious education within family environment. Grandmothers invite their grandchildren to pray, to attend Mass, to make presents during Christian holidays. In a word, grandmothers are a link connecting families’ Christian tradition".
Is it because grandmothers represents an old generation, linked to a Christian identity from a bygone era?
"Indeed grandmothers are probably viewed as the living witnesses of an olden Christian identity which people are seeking today. In this framework, grandmothers are the witnesses of values".
Is the family experiencing a crisis today? If there is no family, how can faith be communicated?
"In an situation whereby the family is understood in a different way compared to the past, at a time when this institution is going through a crisis, nothing takes away family importance and value. Parents are often led to make a first step towards faith by their children. This happens when children are invited in the parish to learn catechism or by Christian associations and movements. While conducting our survey we learned about parents who decided to marry in the Church following their children’s request. The family is going through a crisis. It’s true. And this is why the survey highlights the importance of other areas. In particular, there emerges the importance of friends, especially during adolescence, a time when young people yearn to be independent and distance themselves from the family. To this regard, the survey shows that adolescents feel isolated and are confronted with difficulties because they are perceived as different from their circle of friends. When a Christian child is isolated, and has no friends with whom he can share his faith, it’s very hard for him to go on".
But Christians in Europe must get used to living in a minority situation…
"The survey isn’t a statement. It simply records the way in which people experience their faith. Indeed, in a situation where Christian faith is a minority, it will be ever more important to acknowledge that God is disappearing from our everyday spheres of life. This implies that in our commitment for Christian initiation, we will have to re-learn to talk of the presence of God among us and the presence of a God that acts in today’s society. The living God is the ultimate goal of our commitment for the new evangelization and for Christian initiation".
It often happens that courses are scarcely attractive, at times even boring…
"The situation varies from one country to the next so it would be wrong to generalize. Having said this, the survey shows that when speaking about religion in an impersonal way, in a merely informative way, or when the teachers are unable to involve them, the youth’s attention drifts and they distance themselves. We must make sure that religion courses and the religious proposal aren’t only cultural proposals or information on Christian religious tenets, but rather living proposals that must be welcomed. It is not a catechesis of information but a catechesis that calls us to be involved in the act of faith. Obviously it is an appeal that must be motivated but we should never lose track of the fact that faith is a gift from God, and that it certainly doesn’t depend on us. Our sole duty is not to be experts but witnesses".
What can be said to children who in this period prepare for the first communion?
"You are living a stage of a journey. It’s a phase in the history of our relationship with God that never ends. We have a lifetime to deepen and develop it. It’s a journey of research and knowledge that will last a whole lifetime. You will undertake this journey with other Christians in the parish, in the community, in the movements. You will never be l alone: the Church is always with you. It is worthwhile making this experience since if we decide to live in this ecclesial dynamics, we will discover that the expectations hidden inside us and our infinite yearning to live can be fulfilled, and our humanity shall grow".