Friday, April 27, 2007

Why Do We Need Prayer?

During a conversation with a group of 9-12-year-olds about intercessions and petition, a catechist asked, "Why, if God loves us as you have said, and knows us and knows what we need AND how to give it to us--why then do we need to pray for ourselves and one another?" (The catechist was very honestly asking this question of the students, because she said it had puzzled her for years.)
Ursula, age 10, said, "If I give you the gift of my pencil--(and here she held out her pencil to the catechist)--the gift is not complete until you take it. That's what prayer is: taking the gift God is holding out to you."

Who in our world needs the light?

These words of 9-12 year old children reflect both their global awareness and that the light of Christ illuminates moral questions. For older children, the Risen life we celebrate during this season of Easter extends to all people and all concerns:

During the bombing of Yugoslavia a catechist asked a group of 9-12 year olds, "Who in our world needs the light?" A fourth grade girl, Dana, answered, " The Serbian people need the light so they can stop. The Albanian people need the light so they can hope."

Friday, April 20, 2007

It doesn't matter how big the darkness is, it can't put out the light.

This is a conversation between two young boys, about the power of the Resurrection.

Xavier, 6: See that candle? (the Paschal Candle) It's Jesus and God. There's at least 50,000 darkness out here and only one light. And that light challenged the darkness and won.

Scott, 5: When Jesus was killed on the cross, his light got snuffed. But when he rose, it was like his light lit up a pile of firewood--and the light was MUCH stronger. Everyone was amazed!

Xavier: It doesn't matter how big the darkness is, it can't put out the light. But even one little candle can light up this dark room.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Hidden Treasure

(Ed. Note: So much of the child's understanding of God remains unspoken. Big revelations may come to them, but the outward signs of these new understandings might be small. We have to remain attentive and observant to get a glimpse of what the child might be contemplating about who God is.

Below is a story from our database about one small sign a catechist found in her atrium, which points to a lovely synthesis a child created. The materials described here are small so a child can use them to meditate on the Biblical passages they represent. In this case, a child took part of the material from one text and integrated it into another - enriching our understanding of both.)

When a catechist in a 6-9 atrium came into the atrium on Monday morning, she found that a child has left out the Last Supper material.

When she took a closer look, she saw that the child had gathered the disciples around the table, and placed on the table a "treasure box" (a material we sometimes use when presenting the parable of the Hidden Treasure). When she opened the box, the catechist discovered the child had placed the tiny paten and bread inside.

The love from the cross drives the darkness away

In this picture, a young 4-5 year old child has drawn a manger near the center of the page, surrounded by darkness. The cross appears to be rising out of the manger. The love from the cross drives the darkness away.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Welcome to Listening to the Child with the Center for Children and Theology!

Children have a deep relationship with God, rich in love and profound joy. They know God, even before God's name is spoken to them. God dwells in the heart of the child. The spirituality of the child has so much to teach us as adults, yet often we are in too much of a hurry to truly listen.
With this blog, we at the Center for Children and Theology invite you to listen for God with children. For over twenty years, we have collected theological reflections, artwork and prayers of children, generally in response to their work in the Montessori based religious formation program called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
With the first few posts, we offer excerpts from DoubleClose: The Young Child's Knowledge of God written by our director Catherine Maresca. These posts will include her own reflections from DoubleClose on the gift the child is offering us. We hope that you will add your own reflections as a comment in each post, so that this blog will become a discussion of what the spirituality of childhood is teaching us about the nature of God. Use Catherine's reflections in these first few posts as you guide.

"Thank you, Lord Jesus. He laid down his life for the sheep."

This post is again taken from DoubleClose: The Young Child's Knowledge of God by Catherine Maresca. Please feel free to add you own reflections/thoughts.

After coming home from church, Kevin, age four, sang this line again and again: "Thank you, Lord Jesus. He laid down his life for the sheep."

Theological Reflection
gift as priceless as one's life is breathtaking. As we mature, layers of meaning and detail are added to our understanding of the crucifixion. Our response may be a mixture of horror, guilt, and indebtedness along with gratitude and love. Jesus does not want us to be horrified. He gave us a celebratory meal as the way of remembering the gift of his life. He does not want us to be guilty. He said to his followers, "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own" (John 10:18). And he does not want us to be indebted. He laid down his life to free us from evil, not to enslave us in debt. The breathtaking gift of Jesus' life is a free gift, so that we "may have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). And so, we can rejoice with Kevin and sing from our hearts, "Thank you Lord Jesus. He laid down his life for the sheep."

Monday, April 2, 2007

God put a Band-Aid on Him?

The following is an excerpt from Catherine Maresca's book, DoubleClose: The Young Child's Knowledge of God. In Catherine's book, Part One explores the characteristics of young children, their potential for a rich relationship with God, and how young children know God and communicate that knowledge to observant adults. Part Two features responses of young children to the Bible or the liturgy, followed by a reflection that nurtures the reader's own relationship with God. This posting is from Part Two of the book. All names of children were changed, unless they are Catherine's own children.

We invite you to add your own reflections to this child's response, using the comments space below this post.

Henry, age four, was working at the model altar with Rob, his catechist. When he lit the candles Rob announced, "Christ has died. Christ is risen." Henry's next remark focused on the death of Jesus. So Rob said again, "He rose from the dead." Henry was quiet and then asked, "God put a Band-aid on him?"

Theological Reflection
For the young child, a Band-aid is a sign of healing and comfort. Children with a small hurt of any kind often ask for a Band-aid, and then return happily to their activities, confident that their injury is now in good hands. With a more significant cut, children have begun to witness with wonder that under a Band-aid a cut becomes new skin in a few days.
Here Henry applies this amazing phenonmenon to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Death, the ultimate injury, is transformed into the ultimate healing: new, risen life. This power of God's to transform death into life, sickness into health, sadness into joy, is present every day of our lives, not only at the time of our death. God's "Band-aid" can bless each lif. Every injury can be brought to God for comfort, for healing and even for transformation into something new when confidently left in God's good hands. Where do you need God's "Band-aid?"