Monday, February 22, 2010

Rote is Good ... Till the Nickel Drops

Although I see that Elizabeth Scalia has beat me to it, I planned earlier today to post on this.

I have heard a friend and mentor of mine speak about the perils of rote memorization, as in the Baltimore Catechism. Of course, I've also heard him tell of a young monk who had doubts and his novice master told him to keep repeating the Creed till it became part of him.

Father "Z" makes a point with which I am in full agreement. The bogeyman of "memorization" in modern educational theory needs to be exorcized.

Once upon a time I was called in to a hospital where a man in in his last
minutes. He had a hard death. The old man’s daughter, fallen away,
was very bitter, very angry and she unloaded on God by unloading on me.

I tried to impress on her that he had lived a good life in an earthly way and now
his life would continue, but in another and better way.

She was having nothing of it. She was focused on the bad experience as he was dying.

She eventually fumed "Why did your God do this to him? Make any of us at all if this is what happens?"

I responded: "Why did God make you?"

She paused. The light bulb went on."God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

"Someone had taken the time to drill that into her, and it was still there.

What had been buried for decades, memorized as a child long before she could "understand" what it meant, was there and ready for her in the moment she needed it.

Yes, I am in favor of children memorizing things..More>>

As a former Prot pastor, I have stood at the hospital bed-side of a near-comatose woman. A nurse looked at me smugly and said, "She can't hear you." I began the Our Father, and the outwardly senseless woman chimed right in and prayed along with me. The nurse picked her jaw up out of a bed pan and left the room.

Memorization of the great words of the Faith from Mother Church are gems of great price we can help give our spiritual children, "understood" or not. They will become even more valuable the older they get.

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