Gianna Gobbi, one of the founders of CGS, referred to the adult’s role in the Atrium as “listening to God with the children.” Indeed, the catechist is not the teacher. Our role is to be the matchmaker between God and the child and then to let the True Teacher, the Holy Spirit, take over. The experience of the adult in the Atrium becomes one of awe and wonder, too. We catechists are so often humbled and enriched by what we hear with the children. Together we ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?”
A catechist was reading the account of Jesus’ birth and the adoration of the shepherds, and a 3-year-old girl gently moved the figures as she listened. When she heard that Jesus was born, she placed the baby in the manger and brought Mary and Joseph close, like a typical nativity scene. However, when the catechist read that the shepherds came to adore him, the little girl moved Mary and Joseph out to the sides. She paused, looking at them, and said, “They have to make room for the shepherds.” The catechist was silent, reflecting on these words. She thought about how selfless Mary and Joseph had been. They spent a lifetime “moving aside” so that others could have Jesus. The catechist took this reflection with her during her own prayer time over the next several days, pondering this mystery. She now has an entirely new way of looking at nativity scenes.
Maria Montessori said, “If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely New Child, whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.”
The international CGS community has put forth a new concept intimately connected to Montessori’s: the New Adult. In the Atrium, we adults are renewed; we too have ‘astonishing characteristics’ emerge. We are drawn ever closer to our Good Shepherd and we “follow him for [we] know his voice.” The children have helped us to listen.