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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent

This week in the atrium we celebrated the second week of Advent with a procession. What is a procession?  It reflects the procession of the priest, lector, altar servers and ministers during the entrance hymn of the Mass. The children line up on a special line taped on the floor from the door to our prayer table. Each child holds an item that will be placed on the prayer table: the prayer cloth, the Bible, the Good Shepherd statue, some flowers, a prayer card, etc. Once all the children are in line and are quiet we slowly and reverently walk to the prayer table while singing a simple song. Each child places his/her object on the prayer table and then sits around it. 
The line taped onto the atrium floor.
Processions require a few things of the children: walking carefully in a line while holding an object, refraining from speaking out, waiting for their turn as the children each place an object on the table and then waiting quietly on the carpet until everyone is seated. Of course we expect the five year olds to have more ability than the three year olds!

Processions also prepare the students for something special. Today we celebrated Advent with the purple cloth (purple is for preparation) and lit two candles in our Advent wreath. During Advent we present the children with scripture from the prophet Isaiah: 

         The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Before reading the scripture we talk about Advent and that we are preparing for a special feast: Christmas! We talk about how hard it is to wait for something so special. We explain that the Bible tells us that God's chosen people also had to wait. God sent them people called prophets to help the people learn how to wait and to tell them what they were waiting for. 

After reading the scripture we talked about what it is like to be in the dark. This always elicits lots of stories from the children! We wondered what light the people of Israel were waiting for. Usually they know it is Jesus. They often remember the verse from the Bible where Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." 

We also talked about what it is like to listen for God's voice like the prophets did. We talked about how God will often talk to us when we are quiet. We remembered that listening requires us to stop talking, to sit still and to keep our ears open!

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What you can do at home: make an Advent wreath for the prayer table and light the candles each night. You could also put the Advent wreath on the dinner table and light the candles during your family meal. It takes a LONG time for Christmas to come for the young child. Watching the candles burn down help them understand the passage of time. Encourage your family to take 30 seconds (or 15, or 10!) to be silent and to listen. Ask what each family member heard during the silence. Make a game of silence and see if your child can increase his silent time by 5 seconds each day. Make sure you play this silence game only when your child is willing. Don't use it when your children are loud and running around, you will all be frustrated and the magic will be lost. Most of all, take time to slow down this Advent season and spend time with your loved ones listening to music, reading books and just being together.