|The St Catherines Trust|
for Traditional Catholic Education
Traditio et Veritas
Friday 28th to Sunday 30th March 2008
This is the third year that the St Catherine's Trust has held a Family Retreat, which we run in addition to our Summer School for children. In recent years there have been a number of other Retreats which use the Traditional Mass, either in England or from England, based in a monastery on the Continent, but there is nothing large-scale which can accommodate families with small children. This year we had 152 people all told, up from 121 last year and 100 in 2006, from Easter Friday afternoon to Low Sunday lunchtime.
The inspiration for the Family Retreat is the Easter Retreats at the big English monasteries, which have been going in some cases for many decades. Ampleforth, Downside and until recently Worth Abbey all let in hundreds of people for three or four days over the Triduum, when their schools are on holiday. With some activities laid on for children, parents can attend the spiritual talks, and of course everyone can participate in the liturgy. Clearly there was a gap in the market for something along these lines with the Traditional Mass, and although it would be difficult to call the necessary priests, servers and singers away over the Triduum, we can do it either over the weekend of Passion Sunday (as we did, with the later Easter, in 2006) or Low Sunday (as we did last year and this).
The inspiration for the Family Retreat is the Easter Retreats at The St Catherine's Trust Family Retreats have each year been led by Fr Andrew Southwell; this year we were privileged to have Fr Thomas Crean OP to assist him, especially in hearing confessions. Fr Crean also celebrated the Sung Mass on the Sunday. With two priests we were able to have Low Mass before breakfast as well as Sung Mass later in the day (before lunch), and on the Saturday Fr Crean celebrated Low Mass in the Traditional Dominican Rite.
In addition to Sung Mass on each of the three days, we had Sung Compline on the Friday and Saturday, and Sung Vespers on the Saturday, as well as public Rosary each day, and spiritual conferences from Fr Southwell and Fr Crean. The children, divided into two age-groups, also had talks from Fr Southwell, and other talks and activities.
On the Saturday evening we had a fascinating talk from a visiting speaker, Mrs Daphne MacLeod, about how to teach the faith to one's children. Mrs MacLeod, the redoubtable Chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, was a teacher in Catholic schools, and latterly a headmistress, over her long career, and told us about the training she had received before the 'New Catechetics' were introduced after Vatican II, both as a teacher and as a member of the Catholic Evidence Guild under Frank Sheed. The claim is frequently made that it is impossible to introduce complex doctrines, like the Trinity, to children, but Mrs MacLeod explained that in the old days not only did they think it perfectly possible but they were actually trained in the appropriate techniques. In the case of the Trinity this included St Augustine's famous analogy of the Mind, its Knowledge of itself and the Love between the Mind and its Knowledge. Traditional Catholic catechetics was not stopped because it didn't work, or because it failed to produce Catholics who maintained their practice of the faith, or vocations, but because of a rejection of the doctrines it was successfully imparting to the young. An article by Mrs MacLeod on how the New Catechetics were introduced can be read here; her new book 'Will Your Grandchildren be Catholic?' can be bought from Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
Our 2009 Family Retreat will be held at Ardlingly College from Friday 27th March to Sunday 29th March 2009. Click here for an application form in PDF format. Please print this out, complete it and send it to us.