By: Fr Tom Grufferty
'Symbols of Faith' by Diana Klein from Redemptorist Publications £15.95
The visual has had a significant part in Christianity especially since the great Renaissance paintings. 'Symbols of Faith' is a delightful publication aimed at parents, priests and catechists for faith formation and sacramental preparation for those with learning difficulties.
The material in the book and on the CD acknowledges the wide variety of possibilities for breaking open the Good News for people who communicate differently. For one thing faith can grow and flourish by the use of all the senses.
The entire contents of this book are summed up in a true story. A priest new to the Parish noticed a teenage boy with Down's syndrome coming up for a blessing at Holy Communion time while his mother received the host. The Priest asked the mother why the boy did not receive only to be told that he could not fully understand the significance of the real presence of Jesus. The new priest tried to prepare the boy for his first Holy Communion but he was not sure he was getting anywhere. He decided that the teenager should make his make his First Holy Communion on a given Sunday. Mother and son came up to Holy Communion, the boy received the Host first, and with all eyes on him, he took the Host, broke in two and gave half to his mother. They consumed the Host together. What an extraordinary visual catecheses for that community.
This book is worth it for that profound story alone but there are many sublime insights from page 1 to page 190. The use of space, colour, sounds, silence and pictures lead the participants into a special place where prayer begins and blossoms. I loved the section called 'Symbolic Catechesis' for the simple fact that it gives one an opportunity and permission to let the symbols speak for themselves. The variety of suggestions contained in this book dovetails with what Pope Francis says about disabilities in Amoris Laetitia …"the family can discover, together with the Christian community, new approaches, new ways of acting, a different way of understanding…by welcoming and caring for the mystery of frailty of human life. People with disabilities are a gift for the family…."Par 48
An extra special addition to the book is a CD which provides additional resources including activity sheets to complement the sessions. I cannot recommend this book enough especially for those engaged with the special needs of others. It is written by somebody who has a keen awareness of what is involved with very special people.
Fr Tom Grufferty is parish priest at Immaculate Conception & St. Joseph's Christchurch - www.avonstourpastoralarea.org.
See also: ICN 19 October 2017 Book launch: Encounters of Evangelisation www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33632