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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION                      365

of perfume and beauty to the plants which were maturing to pro-
vide the fruit which would some day serve as material for the
Eucharistic Sacrament. The children continued to play in the
other part of the field; they made buildings with bricks, dug ditches,,
made paved roads, ran about, played ball, whilst all around them
the flowers added gaiety to their games. Along with the joy of
play there was intermingled the deeper emotion of watching day
by day the marvels of growing life.

At last there began to appear in the grain-field long parallel
lines of little green plants; the green things grew and lengthened,,
arousing great interest in the children. Then even the dry roots-
began to send forth pale foliage. The children stood around in
groups and watched it all. Some of them were chosen to dis-
infect the vines, as protection against Peronospora (fungi). When
the grapes made their wonderful appearance, they were covered
up in little bags made of white gauze, to protect them from insects.

It was decided to organize for the opening and closing of the
scholastic year two outdoor festivals, one corresponding to the
grain-harvest, the other to the grape-harvest. It was thought that
the festivals might be made joyous with rustic music drawn from
primitive instruments and with folk-songs, some of which, very
old and full of harmony, have been used as sacred hymns in the
Church.

These notes about our experiment in religious education repre-
sent only one attempt, but already they show the practical
possibility of introducing religion into the life of the little child,,
as a rich fount of joy and uplift.

The experiment in religious education was ultimately abolished
in our Children's Houses, because it referred solely to Catholic
religious education, in which it is possible to make the preparation
active by means of movements of the body and of objects, that is-
* material'; whilst that cannot be done with other religions which
are quite abstract.

Nevertheless much was prepared and even written. I may
mention the books, / Bambini viventi nella Chlesa (The Child