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Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Training by Doing, Children and the Whole Church



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Especially in the month of November, when we remember all the departed, can we teach our children about the Mystical Body of Christ. Once they realize how important each action and prayer is to the Whole Church, and matters of social justice, too, we can teach them how to be charitable to our neighbors. In this pedagogy, we find great guidelines for parents to show charity in speech and action, so the child can imitate.


If the saints and souls in Purgatory are often on our lips, so that they are household names, our children will grow up with a sense of familiarity with them. It will then be easy for us to put into practice in our homes the great doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. We are all united in Christ: the saints — the Church Triumphant; the souls in Purgatory — the Church Suffering; and we fighting soldiers on earth — the Church Militant.

If the children are familiar with this great doctrine of the union of us all in one Body of which Christ is the Head, then they will more easily prove equal to the future that faces them in the twentieth century.

Social Justice — The Children's Problem

No one doubts that a terrible struggle is going on and gathering force between different forms of society. Strikes, labor troubles, panics and depressions, unemployment, misunderstandings between capital and labor, — make up the ordinary news of our times. The children of today must settle these difficulties a few years hence.

The Holy Father and all wise people tell us that there is only one way to a peaceful settlement of that strife. Each man must respect every other man and treat him as his brother in Christ; each man must gaze across the maze of trouble to the other man, and looking into his eyes, recognize him as another member of the Mystical Body.

Our children may solve the coming class struggle without warfare, if we train them now to understand that the Second Commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," is a definite order from God Himself and not a poetic fancy.

Pedagogy — Training by Doing

What shall we do, then, to train the children to love their "neighbors"?

  1. Insist that each child respect the belongings of his brothers and sisters and little friends.
  2. Instruct the child to show kindness and consideration to servants, "help" of any kind, elevator men, salesmen at the door, shopkeepers and beggars. In small ways, train the child to practice this perfectly definite commandment. We give a few illustrations: a. See that the child says "Please" and "Thank you" to servants and "help" and elevator men. b. Never allow the door to be slammed in the face of a salesman. Explain to the child that though you do not buy the article offered you of course treat the man civilly and patiently, even if he is very trying and rudely persistent. Explain to the child that the man has to earn his living in a very difficult way. c. In shops, say a pleasant word to the salesman or saleslady and tell the child that you make a point of doing so, because he or she is probably very tired standing and waiting on all kinds of people. d. If you are going' to give something to a beggar, hand it to the child to give. Thus early he learns how to help others. In these and many other small ways we can help the children to form habits of looking upon strangers as their neighbors.
  3. Never allow a child to speak unkindly to a person of another race, whether white or black or yellow.
  4. Restrain yourself from violent and critical talk about other nations. In these days of head-lined newspapers, people's emotions are swayed by propaganda. A good plan is to say, "I wonder what the Holy Father thinks about this. He hears all sides of the question."

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938