Monday, 5 November 2007

Get the Message?

Above: Giotto showing the catechists of the first Catholic Evidence Guild limbering up

'We would sum up then the ideal platform qualifications as simplicity and clearness to the utmost degree; eloquence on the leash; gentleness without weakness; and an unswerving determination to maintain the moral ascendancy which belongs to the Catholic Church.'

I've just been reading Maisie Ward's definitive definition of the Catholic Evidence Guild. It's really an excellent definition of being a Catholic teacher. I recommend it.

This summer I was privileged to meet Mrs Daphne McLeod, who I expect is known to many of you. She was trained as a Guild Speaker. It was interesting to hear her say that in the current climate the Guild could not be really relaunched. The reason? Because of the likelihood that Catholics in the crowd would publically dissent from the orthodox teaching of the speaker; and that would cause scandal. I wonder if she's right. I understand the Evidence Guild still exists?

I posted below on the virtue of simplicity. The purpose of the teacher is to communicate truth; and that means not beating the hearer into submission, or impressing them with learning so that they think 'this person is so clever they must be right' (if that were only so!). Rather, it means speaking clearly so that the truth that exists within us becomes a truth that exists them.

The first Evidence Guild meeting, says Maisie Ward, occured after Pentecost: 'The Bible tells us that at the first Evidence Guild meeting, the speakers had a most mixed audience, yet every man understood them'. She continues:

This simplicity involves: (a) treating one point at a time; (b) arranging the subject matter clearly; (c) keeping the lecture to 20 minutes at most; (d) using very simple words. Such words as "finite," "creatures," "impeccability," and a thousand more mean nothing to a crowd. Words of one syllable (if very common) are desirable!

I won't go on because you can read the article yourself if you want. I've a couple of resources to share:

First, Mrs McLeod has a series of downloads on how to teach the faith to children. This is especially useful because it focuses on technique, which is what we teachers need (all Catholics should possess the knowledge already!). Not quite as slick as a Fr Z podcazt but very worthy of attention.

Second, here is a fascinating document: the Catholic Evidence Training Outlines. Really useful. Here is the contents page:


The Problem Of Guild Training

Technical Lectures
—1. General Outlook of a Catholic Street-Corner Apologist
—2. How to Develop your Ideas
—3. How to Handle a Crowd
—4. Questions and Interjections
—5. On Forestalling Objections in the Course of your Speech
—6. Chairmanship
—7. Class-Taking
—8. Practice Night
—9. Thoughts for Senior Speakers

Course I For Junior Speakers

—1. The Church Founded by Christ a Visible Body
—2. The Church a Supernatural Fact
—3. The Church and the Bible
—4. The Bible in the Church
—5. The Rule of Faith
—6. Bible Reading in the Church
—7. Marks of the Church (in general)
—8. Unity and Catholicity
—9. Apostolicity
—10. Holiness
—11. Supremacy of the Pope
—12. Infallibility

—1. The Supernatural Life
—2. Prayer
—3. The Sacramental Principle
—4. The Mass
—5. The Blessed Eucharist
—6. The Priesthood
—7. The Catholic Moral System
—8. Marriage
—9. Our Lady and the Saints
—10. Our Lady
—11. Purgatory
—12. The Externals of Worship

Course II For Senior Speakers
—1. Indifference
—2. Faith and Reason
—3. Revelation
—4. Authenticity of the Gospels: External Evidence
—5. Authenticity of the Gospels: Internal Evidence
—6. Inspiration
—7. The Trinity
—8. The Theology of the Incarnation
—9. The Incarnation:—(1) Is it a Possibility?;—(2) Universal Views
—10. The Divinity of Christ
—11. Christ a Unique Figure "Focusing Prophecy and Radiating Miracle"
—12. Christ as Teacher and Revealer
—13. What did Christ Claim?
—14. Prophecy. (In Proof of Christ's Claims.)
—15. Miracles. (In Proof of Christ's Claims.)
—16. The Resurrection. (In Proof of Christ's Claims.)
—17. The Fall and Original Sin
—18. The Redemption

—1. Development of Doctrine
—2. The Church and Judaism (1)
—3. The Church and Judaism (2)
—4. The Church and Paganism
—5. Comparative Religion
—6. St. Paul and his Epistles
—7. The Church, Christ's Mystical Body— (in St. Paul's Epistles and Today)
—8. The Church and the Early Heresies
—9. Grace and the Heresy of Early Protestantism
—10. Heaven and Hell and the Heresy of Later Protestantism

—1. Existence of God—Introductory
—2. Existence of God—Argument from Design
—3. Existence of God—Argument from Contingency
—4. Materialism and Pantheism
—5. Problem of Evil—Questions on Lectures 1-5
—6. The Human Soul
—7. The Soul a Simple Spiritual Substance
—8. Free-Will
—9. Immortality

Course III Specimen Historical Lectures
—1. Julian the Apostate
—2. Hermits
—3. Mahomedanism
—4. Persecution
—5. St. Peter Claver and the Slaves

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