Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After reading the Adoration of the Wise Men scripture booklet with Nadia, age 4, I wondered why this baby was so special. She responded, “because he’ll bring peace to the world.” She asked to sing, “This Little Light.” When I wondered what the light was that we sang about, she responded, “God.”

"...goodwill to all"

The catechist had just read, "...good will to all men" when Theo's eyes got large with awe and he turned from the figures to the child next to him named Will and said, "You were there when baby Jesus was born?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

This is Jesus and this is his Light

This is Jesus and this is his light. And this is Mary and she's very happy. And this is Joseph and the shepherd with his stick. And this is the angel." by Olivia, age 5

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Everything is so humble!"

We were meditating on the Nativity and the visit of the shepherds in the elementary atrium. Suddenly, Isabela (age 6) blurts out, “It's all so humble! The baby, Mary, the manger, the shepherds … everything is so humble!” This was said in a most heartfelt way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

During a group presentation on the Nativity, Uri age 5 was reluctant to join the presentation, but drew this picture nearby.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Say a joyful Noise

Kieran, 5, made a prayer book during the atrium session to bring to bed with him every night.
p. 1 "This is Jesus.
My prayer is that Jesus is with us."
(Picture of Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem.)

p. 2 "This is Mary and Jesus.
Say a joyful noise."
(Picture of Mary and Jesus in the stable.)

p. 3 "This is Joseph.
Thank you for Jesus."
(no picture)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Let every little heart prepare our room"

From Talia's mother:
We sang a lot at home and Talia loved singing Christmas carols the year she was three. 'Joy to the World" was such a favorite that for a couple weeks we added it to her bedtime lullabies. However she insisted on a word change as follows: instead of "Let every heart prepare him room", she (and we) would sing, "Let every little heart prepare our room." I thought perhaps it was sung this way in her atrium at school, but apparently not. It says a lot to me about her feeling at "home" and claiming space (collectively) at school..."little" hearts are important, and "our" room is special.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"The People who Walked in Darkness"

After giving a lesson on the Nativity, I asked the children, "What do you think the shepherds said when they saw Jesus?" Elijah, age 3, answered, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Natalie, age 3, said that if she was a shepherd who came to see Jesus, she would sing a song to Him.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's suppose to be real

Tara, age eight, during a parish Christmas pageant rehearsal:"It's not supposed to be cute, it's supposed to be real."
She refused to participate but arranged to read her own prayer at the end of the pageant which included a reference to Jesus, the True Vine.
Tara is an outspoken child and loves to perform. To refuse to be in the pageant indicates very strong feelings.

Friday, November 19, 2010

We need to be grateful

A group of 9-12-year-0ld children were reflecting on the parable on the Workers in the Vineyard. Judith immediately said, "We need to be grateful for what we have, and not be jealous of others. Like the children in Haiti (referring to children in an orphanage we were collecting clothing and raising money for) are grateful for food and probably not jealous of us."
The context of discussing plans to help the Haitian children immediately before the lesson nudged Judith into a more immediate, or current, understanding of the parable.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A kindergarten aged child shared this reflection with her mother: "Mommy, have you ever had a thought like, if you combined all of the words in the world into a word or a sentence, it might say something like God's name?"  A few minutes later, she added that "or if you combined all of the pictures of things in the world -like the houses and the cars and the street and everything on the whole earth and even inside the earth - maybe you could look at it and it would be a picture of God or heaven."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Where is the Kingdom of God?

There was a lengthy discussion of the Kingdom of God and just WHERE it was. This took place mainly between two boys of the second grade. This was the outcome:
Nicholas, 8: It's like each one of us has a part of God in us - like a piece of puzzle. When we put ourselves together, we see god.

Bradley, 8: Yeah! It's like Legos; you have all these separate legos and no directions. But when you start getting them TOGETHER, you get a new creation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The whole universe!

The catechist was presenting the gestures of peace and breaking of the bread from Mass to a group of 9-year olds. A low round table covered with a white cloth held a plate (model paten) and unbroken bread (model host). After reflecting on the gesture of peace, the catechist invited everyone to stand around the table holding hands. He remarked, “Our standing like this is a way of representing the unity of the peace we experience from Christ. Is this peace just here in our atrium or our own church?”

Several children immediately replied, “No, it’s over the whole world.” Blaine exclaimed, “The whole universe!” Chris wordlessly brought a model of the sun and solar system and placed it beside the prayer table. (He brought this model from the Montessori classroom connected to our atrium).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It makes us grow - like the seed

During a presentation of parable of the leaven with a 6-9 group I asked, "Do you think the kingdom changes anything in the world?
Felice, 6, answered, "It changes us."
"It makes us grow - like the seed."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Leaven Grows

When doing the work exploring the parable of The Leaven, Janie, age 7, prepared two bowls of flour mixed with water. One bowl contained yeast, and the other did not. Janie said, ”The Leaven rose like Jesus going to the Kingdom of Heaven.” After doing The Leaven work again later, she enjoyed a new meditation work using clay and formed a table with the bread on it. She said “The leaven grows and the Kingdom of Heaven grows and my bones grow.” She also wondered about heaven, “If it had towns for all the people and each town had a grain of leaven, it would use the hair and skin of God and everything would grow and be made of God.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beth sat in the doorway watching the Fettuccia work in the hall. She said, pointing to the candle lit beside the Bible, "That's my birthday candle" and, pointing to the long ribbon, "That is my birthday present." Then she wrote,
" I (heart) God he is cool.
And he is watching us
I believe in him
he is ril (sic) "real"
he made me
he is mageic."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Fettuccia is a 50-meter long ribbon that gives the elementary child an impression of the vastness and unity of the kingdom of God. The following responses were offered during this presentation to the children:

Una (6): “God gave us the gift of the whole world. What gift can we give to God?”
Catechist: “What could we give him?”
Una: “Gold.”
Catechist: “Gold. Could we give Him anything else.”
Una, then the other children: “Our love. Our kindnesses, gold, (other responses).”

Towards the end of the ribbon, a figure of a human being and a hand represent the first human beings, created in God’s image. Nolan (6), while reflecting on the figure of the human being and the hand, remarked “We help God create!”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God is Great

Kent, age 7, did The Gifts work, and explained that his favorite gifts were those on outer space and the fragrances. He illustrated a Kingdom of God Gifts booklet saying “God is great. He prepared for us.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oscar, age 8, was at home with his mother. She was creating a flyer on connecting the atrium, home, and church for families. Oscar shared some of his ideas:
1. Light a candle at dinner and think/talk about comparisons with light
and Jesus.
2. Say Grace at every meal. Think about God's gift to us and us saying
thank you. Think about how we can say grace always. (Silently at a friends
house or at school). If you didn't say grace you wouldn't be saying thank you to
Jesus for the wonderful food.
3. For older group: At church - listen to the words the priest is saying
and "connect all the parts together in your mind".
4. For older group: Notice all the symbols of light in the church (ie.
sunlight shining through the window onto the cross, because that to me is
like God shining in upon us during mass - and sometimes you can even see
a shadow of Jesus from the cross within the sunrays and that is Jesus and
God together as they are together, - shining down upon us.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tricia, age 6 drew a four page booklet:

Page 1 - smiling Jesus on the cross
Page 2 - chalice
Page 3 - paten
Page 4 - Altar, chalice, paten, candles. She referred to the last drawing as "The Last Supper".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God made the sun, Jesus makes it shine!

The small group was around the altar. A child prayed "Thank you for making the sun."
Wanda responded "God made the sun, Jesus makes it shine!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Listening sooo carefully

In a conversation with 5-year-old, I asked: "How do we know when the Gospel is read in church?"
Kyle: Because I am listening sooo carefully to hear what Jesus wants me to do.
(The answer I had been expecting was, "Because the big gold book gets carried down the aisle.")

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Working alone with altar material, with the paten and chalice in place, Bryan turned toward the center of atruim and called out, "It's almost dinner time." When the altar was "set", he called out to all, "Dinnertime!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Diana had come back to the atrium for her second year. She had prepared the altar many times but had never had the Last Supper presentation. One day in the fall she sat for a long time gazing at a 2-dimensional wooden model of the Last Supper - a work of art kept near the material on the shelf. The cup and plate were crude looking rather like a wooden knob and a flat chip. I (the catechist) went and sat quietly beside her for a while. I touched the cup and plate and said, "They are like the chalice and paten." She looked at me and said intensely, "They are the chalice and paten."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Editor's Note: In our database, I found these two children's responses to a presentation on the altar. Both are from the same atrium, and I couldn't resist posting them together. The first is from this past year. The second is from 15 years ago. Both children were three at the time.

As I was reviewing with a small group the names of the items at the altar, I held up and named the lectionary and Belle, age 3, exclaimed, "Jesus is present in the lectionary. It is the word!"
After preparing the altar Beverly began to "read" from the lectionary and said, "Jesus is in there." Later I found her standing behind the lecturn "reading" and singing, "The Kingdom of God."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

That's Where we Put the Bread!

As I was reviewing with a small group the names of the items at the altar, Blaine, age 4, pointed to the paten and exclaimed, "That's where we put the bread!" He then pointed to the ciborium and said "And here too!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jesus is with us

Felice, age 4, prepared the model altar, asked the catechist to light the candles, and then stood at the lecturn singing to her own tune the following words for about five minutes:

Alleluia (repeated many times).
You make me so happy (repeated many times).
Alleluia (repeated many times).

Jesus is with us (sung once as a proclamation).
Alleluia (repeated many times).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

During our introduction to the atrium with a group of 3-6 year-old children, we gathered outside of the atrium, and we called each child by name to enter the atrium. After a short introduction to the prayer table, we broke up to decorate folders & name tags. John, age 4, who had never seen the atrium, could not concentrate on the folder. He walked to the center of the room, quietly gazing at the liturgy shelf , altar/sacristy, prayer table, baptism, etc. Then he took a deep sigh and said " oh this is so beautiful I can hardly stand it."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look! Jesus is everywhere here!

A catechist told the story of a 3-year-old's first day in the Atrium.
Rosanne practically danced outside of the Atrium, in the courtyard. It was finally her turn to come to the Atrium! She had been coming with her mother, watching her older brother Devin enter the atrium, for three years. Finally, she would hear her own name called! Rosanne was the first to offer to model a "quiet walk", to whisper her name using "quiet talking", and was very eager to name the items she saw on the prayer table. When I asked what she saw, she said, "I see Jesus, holding a lamb." How amazing to me that children intuitively know Jesus is our Good Shepherd. And as we walked through the environment, quietly taking in all that we could with just our eyes, she stopped before some artwork of the Good Shepherd, which hung on the walls near our Mass area. "Look! Jesus is everywhere here!" Another year is underway.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We're IN the Kingdom

I had gathered a group of children to give the presentation of the Hidden Treasure. I had been giving "Kingdom" presentations over the past few weeks. I had noticed Cole, age 5, watching as I gave each presentation to other groups: Mustard Seed, Pearl, Seed. (Cole and this group had already had all these presentations in previous years.) He was also looking intently each week at the mustard seed and wheat seed.
As I gathered the group and told them that we were going to read another Parable about the kingdom, Cole said, "I've been thinking--Is the Kingdom like---the world?" I responded, "Let's read the new parable and see what Jesus says."
I proceeded to read the Scripture. When I brought out the material, a picture of a field and a small treasure box, Cole stood up, looked at his friends in the group, and said in a very confident and excited voice, "I knew it! Guys we're IN the Kingdom."

Catechist Impressions:
As I look back on this incident, I am so glad that I did not respond initially to Cole's question, because affirming his initial question would have robbed him of the joy of his own discovery and response.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God was just trying to get his attention

A catechist presented the Kingdom Parable of the Hidden treasure to a group of five 5-year-olds.

During the meditation on the parable, and the discussion following the solemn reading, Lillian raised her hand to be called on. Then, slowly and thoughtfully, with her eyes looking upward, she said, "I was thinking about that treasure. Maybe God sent angels to bury that treasure in the field. But the treasure's not the thing--the field is the thing. And when the man saw the treasure, he knew how valuable the whole kingdom would be. God was just trying to get his attention with the treasure."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We are the Pearls

A five-year-old was in the Atrium for her first year.
After the lesson on the parable of The Pearl of Great Price I asked what the children thought that Jesus might want us to know about the kingdom? She said, "I think we are the pearls and Jesus is the merchant who gives everything to have us?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

After the presentation on the Kingdom of God and the Hidden Treasure, I wondered what the treasure could be. Harrison, age 4, responded, “Pearls.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Pearl of Great Price

This picture is a 5-year-old girl's illustration of the Pearl of Great Price

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What could the treasure be?

The catechist was giving a lesson centered on Jesus' parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a treasure hidden in a field (Mt. 13:44)." Noting that Jesus didn't say what was in that treasure, the catechist posed the question: "I wonder what the treasure could be?" The group of 3-6 year-old children answered in turn: "Gold...A bright shining light...the Word...Yep, the book the Shepherd wrote...The Lord...I know it's Jesus...the Cross...A mustard seed...God's hat!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In us!

Excerpt from DoubleClose: The Young Child's Knowledge of God, by our director, Catherine Maresca:
I was in a group of children that included five-year-old Harry. We were speaking about the mustard seed as an image of the kingdom of God. I asked the children to think of other places where this power of God exists. Harry immediately said with a big smile, "In us!" The other children listed various animals and plants, and Harry repeated, "In us!" The others continued with their ideas and Harry announced a third time, "In us!"
Theological Reflection:
Young children are small and vulnerable. But they are actively working to be strong. As infants, they are often moving their legs and arms to prepare them for crawling and walking. When they start to walk, they like to carry the heaviest bag that they can find. By age five, a good race across a field is exhilarating for them. Harry rejoices that this parable affirms the power within him and his growing strength. It connects his life to God's life, his strength to God's power.
God's life is just as present within in us all. A life that grows from small to large, and from weak to strong. In us! A life that reflects God's love. In us! A life that joins us to God, to one another, and to all of creation. In us!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jesus is Everybody's Color

During the reflection on the mustard seed, Wendy (age 5) said, "The power of God makes the seed grow." Later the skin color of Jesus came up. She said, "Jesus is everybody's color."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dylan, age 3, met me at the door when I opened the atrium and asked to work with the Mustard Seed. As we read the scripture together, he repeatedly pointed to the photo of the mustard tree, and said “Look how big!” His eyes seemed to be shining with joy as he listened. When we finished, he asked to sing a song about the Mustard Seed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How is God's Kingdom like a Mustard Seed?

Q. How is God's kingdom like a mustard seed?
Jillian, age 5: It's like Jesus who started as a tiny baby and grew and grew - big in love.
Kyle, age 5: It's just small when it starts. And then the love spreads out and grows.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh God, this werl needs to be com

This moment from a 6-9 atrium was sent to us from a catechist whose school uses the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd:

One of my favorite moments came when I was in the atrium by myself, cleaning and straightening after a delightful and chaotic Sunday morning, in which the children had planned a lovely prayer service. Left on the prayer table was a small slip of paper, no bigger than 1 square inch. It read:
"O God, this werl needs to be com."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God, give peace to the people

Keith (age 8) wrote this prayer for an Epiphany celebration at his school. It was written a few months after September 11, during the war in Afghanistan.

"God, give peace to the people.
God, please give peace to the whole world.
God, please fill the hearts of people with joy and peace."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do not be afraid for he is near

Another prayer from Julie, written in her missal when she was 8:

He is our place of rest.
His power is in us.
He is our shield.
He helps us in making peace.
The kingdom of God is all around.

Do not be afraid for he is near. (surrounded by crosses and lit candles)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A wonderful thing will happen

Julie, age 8, wrote this prayer and decorated the border:
Perhaps tomorrow
Perhaps in five years
Maybe thirteen centuries
A wonderful thing will happen
The people, men and women,
shall drink the water of Baptism
And God will be all in all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Plan of God

Jane, grade 5, drew this after the History of the Jewish People lesson to represent her understanding of Jewish/Christian relationships in Sacred History. It shows our common past, our separate paths at this time, and our common future - united in the kingdom of God.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kristina's illustration of parousia. She wrote "World Peace" surrounded by the continents of the world.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


With today's offering, we introduce a series of responses from children about the time of parousia. Parousia is a Greek word that means "the coming." St. Paul used it in his letters to indicate the time of the fullness of the kingdom of God that Jesus and the prophets before him spoke of frequently. We pray for the parousia with the words, "thy kingdom come" in the Lord's Prayer. We hope for the parousia as a time of peace, healing, justice and abundance, a time when there will be no more war, sickness, injustice, or death. When introduced to children at about the age of six, they anticipate its coming with great joy, especially in the face of present wars, poverty, and injustice. -Catherine Maresca

In her public Montessori classroom at age 9, Lizzy's teacher drew a circle on the board around the words "more people." She then asked the class about the effects of more people in the world. As they answered she drew more circles, connected with lines to the first one, with their answers inside them. These answers included "more pollution", "more cars," "more wars." Finally Lizzy raised her hand and said, "There is a time of parousia when all that stuff will be gone."


Tessa, age 13, drew the Earth, from the beginning until parousia. In parousia, the people are bathed in light.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Creation, Redemption, and Parousia

After a presentation on the Mystery of Faith-Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again - Oliver, age 9, drew symbols for Christ has Died, Christ is Risen, and Christ will come again on separate pieces of paper, then made the words of the prayer, also on separate pieces of paper. After laying them out in order he added labels for the three times of Sacred History - "Creation, Redemption, and Parousia" - and placed them along the top.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jesus can break into a million pieces

(Excerpt from a discussion between two 5 year old boys)
Tyler: Jesus can break into a million pieces, so He can go into everyone's heart.
Simon: Doesn't he get weak? If He's into a million pieces...
Tyler: No! He's as strong as ever. Each piece is all of Him.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jesus' Heart was Broken in Two

After a presentation on the Breaking of the Bread during Eucharist, as five-year-old said,
"Jesus' heart was broken in two. Then he shared it with everybody. Not just one or two people. EVERYBODY."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Jesus in My Heart'

Putting my 5-year-old granddaughter Faith to bed after a story and prayer I said, "God bless you." Faith replied, "You don't have to bless me, I have Jesus in my heart." Age 5

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God is everywhere

Lara, age 8, was outside with her mother after school. She started raising her arms and saying, "Thank you, God. Praise the Lord," and then bowing.
She said to her mother, "You know, Mom, God is everywhere, in everything, so it doesn't matter where you bow."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The candle is a bright light....

Five 9-12-year-old children wrote this psalm as a group:

"The candle is a bright light
It guides me through dark periods of my life.
The light gives me great thoughts.
The darkness shades me from the world.
Why do I like the light?
It shields me from the dark and gives me hope.
The light builds life within me.
It's my connection with God."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Moses and the Light

Kyle, age 10, drew an illustration of Moses. He included the words, "In him there is no darkness at all. The night and day are both alike."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To the left is the original drawing of Pentecost done when the child was 3 years 9 months. This original drawing was lost along with a book full of many of her atrium drawings. In her great distress, the child began to meticulously recreate every drawing from memory. This recreation of the original, shown to the right, was drawn when the child was 5 years 9 months. The original book was eventually found.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

During a review of Good Shepherd presentation at the beginning of the new school year:
Q: "What do you already know about the Good Shepherd?"
Kate, age 6: A long time before Jesus was on the earth, the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. God and Moses did plagues on Pharoah and the Egyptians, and the worst one was the Death Angel. The Death Angel flew over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, but all the first born sons of the Egyptians died. Even Pharoah's own son. But when Jesus came to earth and lived out love, and died on the cross and rose up on Easter, the Death Angel lost his power forever."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sing for Love and Pray for Peace

Kiaran, age 7, wrote this on the day of the Pentecost celebration, shortly after his First Communion:

Sing for love and pray for peace.
God in heaven has prepared a room for me.
The goal of heaven is mine.
Sing for love, and pray for peace.
You can't see Jesus in a blink of an eye, but he is around you and me all the time.
Oh, oh, h, oh, sing for love and pray for peace.
Pentecost is the day I love
a day of coming of the spirit's love.
Pentecost we celebrate as the birthday of the church.
Pentecost is the day of love
and the gentle coming of the dove.
Pentecost is the day the holy spirit came from above.
Tongues of fire came raining down on the birthday of the church.
Send me off, send me off to where I need to go.
Send me off, my life is the road that takes me where I need to go.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God can speak our language

Bethany, age 8: "When we get baptized, we start learning about God. And we're just babies! Our parents take us to church and we CAN UNDERSTAND THINGS!! We can understand things without anybody telling us because GOD is telling us. God can speak our language. And when we sleep, God sends angels into our dreams."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Language of God

After reading Acts 2, 1-11 with a group of 9-year olds, the catechist asked, "How could people from so many different places all understand the apostles?"

Noah replied, "Because when you speak with God there is only one language, and they were all speaking the language of God."

The catechist asked, "Is there any other time we know of when all people will be speaking the 'one language of God?'"

The children replied, "Parousia." "Perhaps we have here a preview--a foretaste--of what Parousia will be like," mused the catechist.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No one can take us out of Jesus!

During the lesson on preparing the chalice at Mass in her atrium of 6-9-year-old children, the catechist said: "The wine represents Jesus." She pours a full cruet into chalice, then continues, "The water represents you and me." She stops again and pours one drop of water into the wine. "Now, what could this mean for us?"

Silence descended among the children as they stared at what had just happened. Then they burst out: "We're inside Jesus...We disappear; we're gone...Yes...No, we're still us...We become Jesus...No one can take us out of Jesus!"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

God made things to help us

Evan, age 7, was working with The Gifts (a material exploring the many gifts of God to humankind in creation and sacred history) and commented, “God made things to help us. God welcomes us when we use his gifts for good, not bad.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thea's Prayer

("She" refers to the Spirit)

When She leaves on the wind like the ocean tide retreating, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She calls on the breeze like a whisper in my ear, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She hears my plea like the lambs a calling, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She keeps my love like the last leaf hanging on, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She lays down Her life like the shepherd does for a sheep, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She know I'm safe like the mother bird and her little chicks, Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.
When She is free like a box without a lid, Then Lord let me go free to be with her in heaven.

--written by Thea, age 12

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Gate is open

At the First communion Mass Fr. Joe asked the children what it means to receive/eat the bread and wine. Kenneth, age 7, answered, "It means the gate is open."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alleluia! Alleluia!

The 3-6 year-old child's relationship with God is marked by deep affection and joy. The following is a story of a 4-year-old girl, reflecting this great love:

Francesca prepared the model altar, asked the catechist to light the candles, and then stood at the lectern singing to her own tune the following words for about five minutes:

Alleluia (repeated many times).
You make me so happy (repeated many times).
Alleluia (repeated many times).

Jesus is with us (sung once as a proclamation).
Alleluia (repeated many times).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Run, run, run, run to the Good Shepherd

Penelope, age 4, and Josie, age 3, were receiving the presentation on the Good Shepherd. When I wondered who the sheep are, Josie replied, “Penelope.” In conversation they decided that all the white sheep were Josie, and all the gray sheep were Penelope, and the brown sheep were their catechist. Another child asked if the sheep would run away. Josie responded, “they would run, run, run, run to the” -- and she picked up the figure of the Good Shepherd.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why do we need prayer?

During a conversation with a group of 9-12-year-old children 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, as 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."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No one can kill God

Fatima, age 6, was receiving the presentation on the City of Jerusalem. When her catechist moved the stone away from the entrance of the tomb and said, “He is risen,“ Fatima explained, “ ’Cause no one can kill God.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Good Shepherd goes on a Picnic

Taryn, who had just turned 6, worked with the Good Shepherd material. She moved the sheep out of the fold, then moved the Good Shepherd back into the fold. She told the adult, "He's taking them on a picnic." Adult: "And he has left them outside the fold?" Taryn: "He has gone to get them something to eat...He is bringing them bread and wine." She moved the Good Shepherd to each sheep in turn.

(This atrium did not have the Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd material which links the Good Shepherd with the Eucharist. Taryn had never seen nor heard any talk connecting the Good Shepherd to Eucharist, but made the connection herself.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Light Shines On!

"The Light Shines on in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it."
Under the world "Satan" is saying, "I can never get them."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Liturgy of the Light

At our Montessori school which includes the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I was preparing a 3-6-year-old classroom for our Liturgy of the Light. I explained, "The whole school will gather together in a room that will be a little dark. The Baptismal candle will be there, and one-by-one, each child's name will be called. You will receive a candle as you hear the words, 'Receive the Light of Christ.' And in the darkness, you will see the light from your candles fill the room." A 5-year-old shouted with joy, "YES! Because the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

God put a Band-Aid on Him?

The following story and theological reflection is taken from Catherine Maresca's book, DoubleClose: The Young Child's Knowledge of God.

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 phenomenon 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 life. 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?"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Would Lay Down My Life for the Sheep

Katherine drew a picture of Jesus in a casket. The right thought bubble contains sheep. The second thought bubble says, "I love them."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In her drawing, Madeline, age 7, included a synthesis of several elements. To the left of the cross is the merchant from the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. To the right is a joyous figure with the wine and bread from the Last Supper. The cross, she said, is for resurrection.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It doesn't matter how big the darkness is

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

“Jesus asked them to be nice and they put him on the cross.”

Caleb, age 4, was working with the Last Supper material in the atrium. He asked, “Why was Jesus on the cross?” I wondered why with him. Caleb replied, “Jesus asked them to be nice and they put him on the cross.”

Another day in the atrium, Caleb had traced the chasubles (vestment in one of five colors that reflect the season of the church year) and explained to me that the meditation time had been “nice”. He explained, “I talked to Jesus. He died.” I asked Caleb what happened after Jesus died, and he replied, “He rose!”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Table Where Everyone Can Eat

During children's chapel, which takes place in the Level One atrium, we read the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). After our discussion a six-year-old child went to get the Last Supper material and told us all "This is a table where everyone can eat." (The child had seen the last Supper material the previous spring.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eucharistic Presence

Daniella, age 5, was familiar with a material representing the parable of the Good Shepherd. It had figures of a shepherd and ten sheep she could move in and out of a sheepfold. Next, she received a presentation which uses the image of the Good Shepherd to introduce the Eucharistic Presence. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls the sheep around a small altar. Then bread and wine replaces the shepherd, because Jesus is present in the bread and wine, not the statue. Finally the sheep are replaced with people. The words of the Last Supper are repeated, and the catechist says, "With these words, Jesus feeds the sheep with himself in the bread and in the wine." After the presentation, she worked with the material for over an hour, and drew this picture.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Filled with Love

Leaving the communion table at church, seven-year-old Anna said to her mom, Wendy, "That was good." Her mom responded, "Jesus bread is always good." Anna replied, "That's because it's filled with love. And the yeast is the kingdom of heaven growing bigger and bigger and bigger until it's as big as the whole world."

Monday, March 1, 2010

A 3-year old insisted her mother come into the bathroom while she took her bath. She asked her mother to kneel down. The daughter took the wash cloth, wrung it out and placed it on the side of the bathtub. She took a plastic fish and stood it upon its tail and placed two bath toy cups on each side. She then filled them with water. The girl asked her mother to fold her hands and to help her say these words: "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Caleb and Henry, both age 4, and Naomi, age 3, were discussing with me the sheep wool placed under the Peace Bowl in our Atrium. I asked what the wool reminded them about God. Naomi said it reminds us to be quiet so we can listen to God. Henry said it reminds us that the Good Shepherd watches the sheep and that Jesus died and that the sheep reminds us that we are good boys and girls. Caleb said that is reminds us that Jesus died, rose again, and will come back to earth.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jesus is the son of God.
He is the dwelling of the Lord,
Who was not even defeated by the powers of death.
He sits upon the mighty throne of eternal holiness,
And cannot be taken down from it.
Healer of the sick, giver to the poor,
And rightful son of man.
May all the rightful people of earth praise his exalted name.
by Kimble, age 10

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love and Prayer

During a conversation with second graders about intercession and petition I 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?" (I was very honestly asking this question of the students, because it has puzzled me for years!)

"We pray because we need to hear ourselves say how much we love someone."

Another added "Yes, it helps when someone is loving us with prayer. We get to hear that they love us."

Someone else said, "And God gets to hear it, too."

Monday, February 8, 2010

During a conversation with kindergartners about intercession and petition I 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?" (I was very honestly asking this question of the students, because it has puzzled me for years!)

One answered, "We pray because we need something from God: love."

Monday, February 1, 2010

During a presentation with a kindergarten class of the Pearl of Great Price I asked, "Why would Jesus be telling us this story?" Violet answered, "I think I know. Jesus was telling us that we're going to get to give everything for the Pearl of Heaven. " I asked her what the pearl of heaven was. She answered, "God's love." I really enjoyed her choice of words: We're going to GET TO GIVE EVERYTHING--like it will be a privilege, and not a chore. It was illuminating.

Monday, January 18, 2010

He helps us in making peace

A personal prayer from Julie's (8) missal:

He is our place of rest.
His power is in us.
He is our shield.
He helps us in making peace.
The kingdom of God is all around.

Do not be afraid for he is near. (surrounded by crosses and lit candles)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Wedding Banquet

I was giving the presentation of The Wedding Banquet to a group of 6-9-year-olds. I told them to listen carefully so they could tell me what Jesus was trying to tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven. They listened intently. So intently, that one little fellow said when I had finished, that he needed to hear it again. He also asked me exactly what "binding hand and foot" really meant. So we went through the whole presentation again. Then we thought about it. They were very good at figuring out what Jesus meant. However, the little fellow still looked very concerned. Finally, he asked me if we could add another figure to the story. The figure of a queen. Intrigued by his thought pattern, I asked why. He was very clear. "Well, you see, if there had been a queen, she'd have given the fellow who showed up without a wedding robe a second chance."

Monday, January 4, 2010

During a "review" of Good Shepherd presentation at the beginning of the new school year;
Q: What do you already know about the Good Shepherd?"
Ben: "The Good Shepherd was Jesus. When Jesus decided to leave heaven and come down to earth, the angels held his power for him. And on the day when he went down under the water to get baptized, those angels brought him down his power and sprinkled it all through him like glitter, because they knew he would need his power now."