• Br. Allen

The Ideological Foundation of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Updated: Oct 21

All teaching systems are formed by one's understanding of the mind of the pupil and how he or she learns. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd proposes a radically new teaching method built on the understanding of the child from the view of Maria Montessori. An examination of the writings of Mary Montessori reveal that she was influenced by eastern mysticism and concepts of learning which have been condemned by the writings of the popes.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd discourages the teacher from teaching. It presupposes that students will learn the material on their own. However, if material is not being taught, and children have less developed cognitive abilities than adults, how does CGS expect the students to learn. The answer is found in the writings of Maria Montessori, which are the ideological foundation for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

"With this aim in mind, the catechist embraces Maria Montessori’s vision of the human being and thus the attitude of the adult regarding the child; and prepares an environment called the atrium, which aids the development of the religious life." https://www.cgsusa.org/discover/the-cgs-method-past/the-32-points-of-reflection/

Maria Montessori believed that religion is not something that needs to be passed down or learned through sacred writings. Rather, faith is deep within every person and intuitively gives access to an understanding of religion. Religion is not learned; it is discovered from within.

“We must remember that religion is a universal sentiment which is inside everybody and has been inside every person since the beginning of the world. It is not something which we must give to the child". Maria Montessori, The child, society and the The Child, Society and the World: Unpublished Speeches and Writings

Maria Montessori's idea of learning religion was condemned by Pope Pius X as an error of Modernism, which he also stated is the synthesis of all heresies.

"Should anyone ask how it is that this need of the divine which man experiences within himself grows up into a religion, the Modernists reply thus... In presence of this unknowable, whether it is outside man and beyond the visible world of nature, or lies hidden within in the subconsciousness, the need of the divine, according to the principles of Fideism, excites in a soul with a propensity towards religion a certain special sentiment, without any previous advertence of the mind: and this sentiment possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the reality of the divine, and in a way unites man with God. It is this sentiment to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this it is which they consider the beginning of religion." Pascendi Dominici Gregis

The pope firmly taught that religion is not learned as a sentiment from within, but must be taught and handed on. His condemnations use the same wording and terminology as Maria Montessori.

"However, this Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the Modernist: the positive side of it consists in what they call vital immanence... But when Natural theology has been destroyed, the road to revelation closed through the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. Hence the principle of religious immanence is formulated. Moreover, the first actuation, so to say, of every vital phenomenon, and religion, as has been said, belongs to this category, is due to a certain necessity or impulsion; but it has its origin, speaking more particularly of life, in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sentiment... It is this sentiment to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this it is which they consider the beginning of religion." Pascendi Dominici Gregis

The founders of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd held the same Modernist positions of Maria Montessori.

"She works from the theological assumption that Catechesis offers children the opportunity to relate to God whom "they innately know and perceive." It is not a "catechesis of definition but a catechesis of invitation" ." https://www.biola.edu/talbot/ce20/database/sofia-cavalletti

Maria Montessori was heavily involved in theosophy and wrote a plethora of articles for the Theosophy Society Journal in India, where she spent the last years of her life. Thus a look into the life of Maria Montessori reveals that she was not a faithful follower of Catholicism, but one who dabbled in the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky.