Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Cenacle

This morning in the atrium I presented the work that is called The Cenacle. Cenacle means upper room and this work tells the story of the Last Supper. I do not present this lesson at circle time the way I do many others but invite all the children who wish to come and hear it. This morning all of our children wanted to take part. 

During the lesson we invite the children to listen to some words Jesus spoke for the first time, "This is my body, this is my blood." Their eyes lit up at this because they've heard these words before, at Mass! I asked if they've ever seen a table like this one- with a white cloth, two candles, a beautiful cup and plate. Of course, it's like the altar! 

A few of the children knew that after this meal Jesus was arrested and condemned to die. Of course we also know he rose again on Easter. The special lessons we use during Lent are so wonderful. They really help to bring the story of Jesus alive not only to the children, but to me, too! I often think about all our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials while I'm listening to the scripture passages during Holy Week. They have really enhanced my understanding and I hope the children will carry these lessons with them through the years as they grow.

What you can do: Sit up close to the front of the church during Mass and invite your young child to try and see the items they are learning about in the atrium. See if they can find the Paschal candle, the altar cloth, the candles, the paten and chalice. Before or after Mass look for the tabernacle and the sanctuary candle. Show your children that all Jesus' disciples and painted along both sides of St. Mary's. Often by giving them things to look for in the church or moments that they may recognize during Mass helps them to sit a little quieter and gives them something to focus on.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Baptism II

Our Paschal candle, baptismal font, shell and cloth.

An example of the white garment worn during baptism

I always love to see what the children choose to do when they first enter the classroom. Some will immediately begin talking to me, some will look for a friend and others immediately go to a certain work. This morning we had two girls in early and we were talking about Valentine's Day and that St. Valentine was a real person. They were both excited about handing out Valentine's to their school friends this week.

At the end of the day we had another lesson about baptism. We remembered our lesson from last week (if you didn't read about it click here). I relit the Paschal candle when we talked about Jesus being born and bringing his light into the world. We remembered that he told us "I am the light of the world" and that he is the Good Shepherd who leads his sheep (us). We then snuffed the candle to remember that on Good Friday he died but joyfully relit the candle to remember that on Easter Sunday he rose again. His light will never go out!

I reminded the children that at their baptism they received the light of Christ and that it will never go out in them. Today we talked about other gifts that are given at baptism. I showed the children the baptismal font and used my fist to represent a baby's head. I used the shell to pour the water over my fist to show how the water is used. I then told the children that the priest (and, we always say Father Leo at these times because for many of them, he is the only priest they know!) says some special words while he pours the water. He says, "Beth, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Most of the children could say the words with me.

We did not have time for all the children to get a turn but we let one of our friends whose birthday was today (Happy 4th, Charlotte!) have a turn. This work will now be available for them to use every time they come to the atrium. 

What you can do at home: If you have not already, get out some photos of your child's baptism and look at them together. Show them the St. Mary's Paschal candle and the big baptismal font before or after Mass.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


This morning we talked about baptism. When speaking about baptism most of us probably think about water. In our program we begin the discussion about baptism by talking about light. Generally this lesson is given during Easter but we are only in the atrium for a few weeks after Easter and I have always felt this area of our classroom was overlooked so I decided to give the first lesson this week. I have to admit I did not look at today's readings ahead of time and was thrilled to see that light was a huge part of the readings for today. Doesn't the Holy Spirit work in fabulous ways! 

So, what did we do? During circle instead of sitting around the prayer table we sat in our baptism corner. Most of the children could not remember seeing a baptism and, of course, they don't remember their own. One did say she thought they were going to a bath-tism soon! So first I showed them our beautiful paschal candle. We remembered that Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." and that long before Jesus was born, Isaiah the prophet told us "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." We remembered that at Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus, when his light entered the world. At this point I lit the candle.  We remembered that on Good Friday, Jesus died on the cross. I snuffed the candle. But, with great joy, we also know that on Easter, Jesus rose from the dead and I relit the candle. 

I asked if they thought Jesus kept his light to himself. Of course they said no! I explained that it is at baptism that the children received the light of Christ. I then had each child come up to the paschal candle and I lit a candle from the large one and gave it to the child while saying, "The Light of Christ." Each child held the candle for a few seconds and then placed it around the paschal candle. 

When they were all lit we turned out the lights to see how brightly our candles lit the room. Although we had to snuff out our candles (the children LOVE to do this) we remembered that the light of Christ can not be snuffed out and lives on in us!

What you can do at home: Show your child pictures of his/her baptism. Get out their baptismal garment and the candle they were given. Celebrate their baptismal day each year by lighting the candle and having a special meal together. It is said that if you light the candle each year on their baptism day it will be close to burned down by the time they are ready for Confirmation. When you are at Mass, point out the large Paschal candle and baptismal font at the front of the church. Walk up before or after Mass to get a good look. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017


It was glorious to be back in the atrium with the children after having two weeks away. I always find the children have a renewed sense of calm and purpose in January. Of course they were also excited to tell me about the snow that fell yesterday!

Today is the Feast of Epiphany and so I presented the Adoration of the Magi to the children. This is the same reading that was given at Mass. It is a bit long and so I shorten it to just talk about the Magi coming from the East, following the star and giving the gifts to Jesus. It is enough for the children. At a later date I may talk with some of the older children about the full story with Herod if I think they are ready. 

For today, the crux of the story was joyful for us. I hope your Epiphany is also a joy filled one.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


It was good to be back in the atrium after two weeks away. We had a very small class this morning but, as always, everyone was very busy! I was able to give a lesson on our wooden Liturgical Calendar. The change of a liturgical season is always a great time for this lesson and I was glad to have time to sit with several of the children to learn about it.

At circle the children noticed we had four extra candles on the prayer table. We talked about the change from a green cloth to a purple one and that we are now in the season of Advent. Of course the children are super excited for Christmas to come! We talked about the three purple candles and one rose candle as a way to count down the Sundays until Christmas. We also talked about just how hard it is to wait for something you are excited about.

We then introduced the first prophecy (which you can see above). I told the children that God's chosen people who lived in the land of Israel (which we have been learning about since the beginning of the year) also had to wait a long time. They had people who were great listeners called prophets to tell them about God's plan. One such man is Isaiah. At this point all the children with a friend named Isaiah had to tell us about it! 

We listened carefully to the Bible verse to hear what the people were waiting for: A great light! Of course the children know that this light is Jesus! 

As the weeks progress towards Christmas the children will become more and more excited about the big day! There are generally more lessons to give than I have time for including a few other prophecies and all the Infancy Narratives. As always, I will listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and the needs of your children each Sunday to determine what lessons to present. All is joy!

Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Music in the Atruim

A painting of the Good Shepherd from the Roman catacombs.
In the atrium we have a few songs that we sing often. Some of them are songs that we sing together at circle, some are songs that relate to a particular work. Here are the lyrics to a few of them. Many of them also include hand motions. Perhaps your child will show you.

Our Circle Song:

I see the love of God in you.
The light of Christ come shining through.
And I am blessed to be with you.
O, holy child of God.

The Liturgical Color Song:

Purple and green and red and white
Are the colors of the year.
Purple and green and red and white
Remind us of the Light.
Purple's for preparation, white is for celebration
Green is for a growing time,
Red is for Pentecost
Purple and green and red and white
Are the colors of the year.
Purple and green and red and white
Remind us of the light.

Holy Ground (when we talk about the Land of Israel and the three cities of Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem):

This is holy ground.
God's given us holy ground.
God is in this place
And so this ground is holy. (2x)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Liturgical Colors and other Tales from the Atrium

Many of our students have worked with the Liturgical Colors this year. The top picture shows the work the children can do with the small chasubles and the the bottom work shows an art work that you may have seen your children bring home. Click here for more information about this beautiful work. 

This year our class does such an amazing job at working that I don't want to interrupt them to have circle. The 3-6 year old child is in a period of building him/herself as an individual. They often aren't ready for group lessons and so we do most of our work individually. I do my best to touch base with each child throughout the morning and to show them new things they may not have worked on before.

Today I worked individually with children on the Liturgical Colors lesson and and extension that adds the clothing the priest wears under his chasuble, the altar work, preparing the cruets and the chalice, lavabo (the hand washing of the priest), an altar gluing work, flower arranging, the nativity story and many more.

The joy of our work in this program is that we can see what draws the children and focus on their interests. Although they are often working individually, there is so much talking and caring for one another. They never cease to amaze me.

I hope you all enjoy this lovely, warm Sunday.