In our last update, we discussed how we introduce the child to the life of the Atrium through Exercises in Practical Life. Again, these "exercises" help the young child grow accustomed to the Atrium environment, but also help them in meeting needs for their development--gross and fine motor skills, grace and courtesy, and concentration to name a few.
A few weeks into the Atrium sessions, we begin to introduce the children to the Liturgical life of the Church. When I have observed children as they begin to discover the richness of this life, they are captivated. We begin with a presentation on the Liturgical Colors where we have four chasubles (the top garment that the priest wears at Mass) in the four Liturgical colors that we see during the Liturgical year--purple, green, white, and red.
We talk about how each color has a meaning--purple is for preparation, white is for celebration, green is for growing time, and red is for Pentecost and feasts of Great Love!
Then, we learn and sing a song to help us remember the colors:
After the Liturgical colors, we introduce the "Model Altar" where the children learn the names (nomenclature) of the articles (items) used at Mass. This gives the child the language (remember that we are in a sensitive period for learning language) for what is going on at Mass. They learn words like "chalice," "paten," "crucifix," etc. We then light two real candles when the Altar is set and wonder together about this great feast that Jesus invites us to each week (or even every day!). When we light the candles we proclaim "Christ has died! Christ has Risen!"
These two presentations lay the ground work for other work in the Atrium and most importantly, for the child's participation at Mass.
When you go to Mass with your child, here are some questions you can ask them:
1) What color do you see Father wearing today?
2) I wonder what that color means....
3) Do you see any familiar objects on the Altar table today?
4) Do a scavenger hunt with your child: Can you find...the crucifix? The chalice? The paten? The candles? How many candles do you see?
In our Good Shepherd,