The Gatekeeper
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Level III 
February 28, 2012 - Level 3, Issue 11
In This Issue
The Big Picture
Who Is to Blame?
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
Dear CGS Level III Parent,  
The Good Shepherd

We began a study of Genesis Chapter 3 (commonly known as the story of sin or "the fall") last week and will continue the study this week. Please do read this e-news to get some insight into what we are studying and why, but also into some of the interesting discussions and perspectives. This can be a perplexing topic for anyone - children or adults - and it may be helpful to your child if you are aware of the types of thoughts or questions that might be swirling through your child's mind.


I hope families have developed ways to take advantage of Lent as an opportunity for positive life changes. During Lent we are invited to pray, fast, and give alms in a special way, a way that changes us and moves us closer to God. We particularly encourage parents to attend the Family Formation Workshops being offered on Lenten Sundays, 10:30-11:45AM. A small group met to discuss home prayer last Sunday, and I think those attending got some useful tips and insights for introducing meaningful, attainable, and sustainable prayer at home. This Sunday's topics are centered on Maria Montessori's ideas on the work of the child. How can we as parents help children balance and derive meaning from the work they do, be it homework, home responsibilities (chores), or even watching a movie? Please join the discussion this Sunday, March 4th, 10:30-11:45AM in the Religious Education Center.



   Lina Hilko, Editor

The Big Picture

Last week and this, Level III is studying Chapter 3 of Genesis. This is the story of humanity's disobedience of God's command and the consequences of disobedience - in a nutshell, a study of sin.


It is helpful to understand the big picture of our curriculum over the past couple months. Because we aren't studying sin just for sin's sake, nor to "feel bad" or "feel guilty." In fact, the intent of the overall curriculum is to educate toward hope: we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Kingdom of God!


We began January with a two-part study of the two Creation accounts preserved in the Bible (Genesis chapters 1 and 2). We have repeatedly stated that these are not science texts. People from the beginning of their intelligent consciousness, from all cultures and parts of the Earth, have looked around and wondered, "How did all this come to be? Who has done all this for us?" The Creation accounts in the Bible are a response: crafted long, long ago; handed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years; and finally written down by the Hebrew people into the book called Genesis. The people who wrote it lived (and live now) in a special relationship with God called covenant, and so the accounts reflect the abundant gifts from God to humanity.


We followed the two Creation studies with two weeks on the miracles of Jesus. When Jesus lived on this earth - when he walked and talked and breathed just like us - many people asked him about the Kingdom of God, what is it like. Jesus responded through his words (the parables) and his actions (the miracles) so people could see glimpses of the Kingdom. Words and actions have shown us glimpses of the Kingdom throughout history: certainly through the parables and miracles of Jesus; but even before that through the words and actions of the prophets; and even today through Jesus' words and actions planted within our hearts through listening to God's Word, celebrating liturgy, and receiving the sacraments.


As a result of our miracle studies, we can list some things that the Kingdom of God is, such as no death; resurrection; complete forgiveness; no pain, suffering, disease, or disability; equal distribution of resources leading to satisfaction; etc. And through the studies, we can see what the Kingdom is not, such as death; suffering; inequality; hunger; disease; etc.


As we consider what the Kingdom of God is and is not, we begin to question, as people throughout history have also questioned: Why is Creation, which began so perfectly and beautifully through God's goodness, power, and gift, so imperfect, so "messed up" at times? Why do bad things happen?


This brings us to our study these two weeks. Genesis Chapter 3 provides a response, spoken for a long time and then written down by the Hebrew people, which is not a science text, but rather uses metaphors to help us envision the disobedience by humanity of God's command and the consequences of that disobedience.


The consequences are broad and deep. They affect the serpent, woman, and man, certainly, but they also affect the very earth, which changes from


Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food .... (Gen 2:9)



Cursed is the ground because of you! ... Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you ....  

(Gen 3:17-18)


Ultimately, the consequence is discord amongst all elements of Creation and distance between God and humans, whose relationship in the beginning was so very close, immanent.


Now, this would be a rather depressing ending to a lengthy study unless we ask a further question: Is that the end of the story? Does God discard Creation as a failed project at the end of Genesis Chapter 3? Our faith answers a resounding, "No!"


So, our entire study for six sessions begins by providing two rails, as for a train:

  • Creation: a beautiful time of harmony and love in which God creates humans as privileged creatures and puts before them all the wonderful gifts He has created; and
  • Parousia, the time when God will be all in all: a time marking the fulfillment of God's plan to bring all people, all things, all of creation into the full enjoyment of God in a cosmic communion of love.

Though we can readily see that the world does not embody perfect love, we live in hope as we travel a faithful journey guided by these strong rails of Creation and Parousia.


Who Is to Blame?

Last week, there was much discussion in each Atrium on the topic of blame, particularly after reading Genesis 3:8-13. We read of a lot of finger-pointing in the scripture text. Level III children had a healthy debate on who was to blame: the serpent? God? the woman? the man? (That was roughly the order uncovered by Thursday's kids - don't know how it exactly unfolded on Tuesday and Sunday.) There were some very insightful comments and questions, and the discussion didn't necessarily end in a neatly wrapped-up manner. It was encouraging to see the children engage and to let them pursue various avenues of debate.


Parents are encouraged to read these first three chapters of Genesis and think through these questions themselves.

This week the children will think more about the consequences of humanity's disobedience of God's command. They will think about key relationships in the beginning (Genesis chapters 1 and 2) and after disobedience (Genesis chapter 3), for example the relationship of God and humans; humans and the earth or animals; and man and woman.


This exercise is not simply about identifying breaks in relationship. The hope would be to begin to connect - whether consciously or subconsciously - our life choices and actions with our call to repair these broken relationships. For instance, if we give to World Wildlife Fund to support conservation, we are actually helping to mend one of these broken relationships, which then ultimately moves us closer to the fulfillment of God's Plan.


You may be interested to learn that our new teen program, the EDGE, is currently studying the very same scripture. This is a first step toward their thinking about what it means to respect our bodies and, down the road, enter into respectful intimate relationships. We know that there are many examples in pop culture, as well as everyday life, which exemplify broken relationships. Our faith ultimately helps guide us toward mending that brokenness by making healthy relationship choices. These aren't topics we discuss in Level III, but as your child moves on to the EDGE program in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, they will remember this groundwork they have done now. On that note, you may be interested in attending the Lenten Family Formation Workshop on Sunday, March 18th, which will be about preparing to parent a teen.
Please feel free to contact Kate Lynch, St. Teresa's Director of Religious Education (, or Lina Hilko, newsletter editor (, if you have questions or comments about this information.