The Princess is in a mixed 5th/6th class and, as a consequence is experiencing confirmation preparation a year early [she’ll get to do it again next year when she actually makes her confirmation which does not fill me with delight, but, small school: advantages and disadvantages]. For confirmation, children get to pick a confirmation name and this is all very exciting.
Me: What kind of names are the children in your class picking?
Her: Well, D, has chosen Razor.
Me: Razor as in razor blade?
Me: What did the teacher say?
Her: There is no St. Razor.
They are also doing lots of religion. Herself said to me that the she, the two atheist children and the Protestant child have been told that they are to stop answering questions put to the class. I was very indignant until she explained that they had been answering all the questions and the teacher wanted to give other children a chance. To no avail according to herself as, confirmation class or no, none of them seem to know anything about the Bible or catechism or indeed religion. Catholics, we’re not great on knowing the details of our religion; we’re more broad brush people.
When the teacher put the 10 commandments on the board and asked whether anyone knew them. No one, except for the foursome, did. Is this not a little surprising? The teacher explained them to the class [more necessary in an Irish medium school, I suppose]. “How did she get on with adultery?” I asked. “She stopped before she got there and said we’d come back to it tomorrow, but, I don’t think she will,” she said sagely. I suppose, if they can cover even 5 of the 10 commandments it will be a triumph given the low base from which they started. And to think that for my confirmation [or, possibly, even my communion – it’s all a bit of a blur now] I knew a little yellow catechism off by heart [Did anyone else have this catechism?]. We were told that if we didn’t we wouldn’t be allowed to make our confirmations. I now suspect that was a lie. We were told that the previous year a child had failed to answer the question “Who is God?*” correctly [as in word for word from the catechism] when the parish priest visited and she had not been allowed to make her confirmation. This [false, I now realise] tale was much discussed and focussed our minds on accurate memorisation.
*God is our father in heaven, the most wonderful person ever.
My experience of Catechism class when I was at School (catholic primary in England in 1970s) was very similar – I guess I must have been taught the 10 Commandments but apart from the key ones – stealing, killing etc. I would until very recently have been hard pushed to name them all which does strike me as a little odd in retrospect (of couse I might simply have not been paying proper attention….). Now that I am actually teaching such a class myself, I can perhaps appreciate more some of the challenges my teachers faced – the 6th Commandment certainly requires careful thought when dealing with 9/10 year olds but other areas are also fraught with risks of mishap – who knew that there were (at least) two different versions of the Stations of the Cross for example?
In my time, the catechism (which admittedly cost more than a penny by then), was, as I recall it at least, an insipid compromise colour somewhere between De Valera green and Blessed Virgin blue. But God had no false PC modesty about being our father in heaven, the creator and lord of all things. Several of those nouns were probably capitalised to boot.
Alsafa, I was always under the impression that English Catholics, as a minority were better or certainly better informed Catholics. Another illusion bites the dust. Really, there are two or more versions of the Stations? Who knew? Well, primary teachers clearly.
Roger, I think mine might have been a special Cork catechism. I imagine that you are hardly surprised.
That catechism was brown, Mrs. Waffle, though the writing on the front cover was indeed yellow. Issued by the diocese of Cork under Bishop Lucey and known to all as, well, The Brown Catechism.
I dunno , i’d be a lot happier if we didn’t have to waste our time with all of this in school! Wouldn’t it be much better to spend all of this time on Maths or Science or History or anything else! Id only we had some real choice about it in Ireland.
My confirmation question burned into my brain from 6th class -1989
Why do we pray to God ?
To be said in a sing song robotic voice:
“To ask for his help , blessing and forgiveness and that he will lead us safely into his heavenly home ”
– Phew I answered it correctly and then got to wear one of the most embarrassing outfits of my life to celebrate the sacrament 🙂
Did you wear maroon velvet M? If not, then you cannot compete in the embarrassing outfits stakes.
MC, brilliantly remembered on catechism. V impressed.