CGS is an approach to religious formation that serves children from birth to age 12 and is deeply rooted in Scripture and Liturgy as well as the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori. Special catechetical materials aid the child's contemplation of the mystery of God, and the prepared environment, called an Atrium, nurtures the religious life of the child.
Together, the catechist and the child listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and reflect on the essential themes of our faith which nurture the child's:
Need to love and to be loved
Capacity to enjoy the presence of God in his/her life
Need to celebrate this relationship
The 3 to 6 year old child has a particular capacity to receive and enjoy the love of our Good Shepherd. In the Level 1 atrium, the love of God is especially experienced through Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen. Physical materials concretize the life of Jesus and His teachings about his kingdom and aid the child's contemplation of these great mysteries.
For the youngest child, the parable of the Good Shepherd is key to their relationship with God. In this parable, Jesus announces He is the Good Shepherd who calls His sheep by name. His sheep respond by knowing His voice and following Him.
The child also enjoys pondering the mystery of the Eucharist, the greatest gift of love, through first learning the names of the sacred articles used at mass and then through a pondering of the most important gestures of the Liturgy.
Finally, the child is drawn to contemplating the great gift he/she received at his Baptism: the life of the resurrected Christ that marked him as forever belonging to Christ the Good Shepherd as well as the many signs and gestures of this great sacrament, including that of the white garment.
While continuing to ponder the essential mysteries presented in Level 1, the elementary age child has new capacities: an ability to understand space and time. Thus, the child of this age begins to ponder the vastness and unity of history as the plan of God to bring all of creation to a sharing in the fullness of His life. And, they wonder at the multitude of gifts that have been given by the Father from Creation through Redemption, that continue to be given to us now, and will continue to be given till the time of Parousia when God will be all in all.
At this age, the parable of the True Vine resonates best with the child as he/she seeks to answer the question "Who are you, Lord?": "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit... As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." This parable answers the child's need to deepen his/her relationship with God, with family, and with the larger community.
Moral parables and maxims (short sayings of Jesus) from Scripture help the older child begin to answer their new question of: "How can I respond to the love and gifts that I have been given?"
And, the Level 2 child continues to ponder the many gifts of the liturgy through contemplating additional prayers and gestures, and beginning to see the parts of the mass as one great, unified, and ordered prayer comprised of many smaller prayers.
The child ages 9 to 12 delights in reflecting on salvation history, God's plan to bring all of creation to a sharing in the fullness of His life. Continuing to ponder the greatness and the multitude of gifts, the child of this age begins to recognize that he/she is called to collaborate with God. The child asks not only "What is the kingdom of God?" but also "What is my place in the kingdom of God? Do I too have a role to which I am called?"
Materials on the prophets of the Old Testament, the miracles of Jesus, typology, and expanded presentations on Scripture and Liturgy all help the Level 3 child to continue to deepen their relationship with God.