Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Communal Prayer for Level 3

Communal Prayer is such a beautiful experience for everyone involved.
Sample for level 2-3 combined

The children prepare a special prayer time for the other children in the atrium. It is supposed to set up so that children MAY come if they like but do not have to. Thus far, I've not had a child NOT come. ;)

This is not a material that is handed to us in formation; only suggestions and ideas.

The children in the local level 2 atrium have been working on a form of communal prayer for the last couple of years. The main catechist is striving to keep it simple and straight-forward, so that the children can just get right into it, without a lot of fanfare. As each level 2 trained person has come in with different ideas, and worked through different suggestions, the simple format is what the children and the main catechist keep going back to. She has a paper for them to fill out with the options - they do not have to use every blank. They fill out their paper with their selected Scripture passages, songs, and the like; and they do it. It is so beautiful to see! (I've only seen them once, but continue to hear how wonderful it went other times).

Now, last year's 3rd graders are my 4th graders; my 5th and 6th graders have never worked with it.

And I am preparing the materials for our level 3 atrium.

I LIKE that simple format, but I also like the idea that each atrium has it different - so that as the children get older, they learn more than one way to do things.

I wanted to put this material together 2 years ago, but it is has been sitting. Sitting on prayer, sitting on observation, sitting on contemplation; just sitting and waiting patiently for just the right moment.

Another sample of level 2-3 combined
The children in my combined level 2-3 atrium -- some of them have been in that atrium space before and knew the working of the materials there, so they have been planning prayer times and teaching the new children how to use the material.

This is NOT a work to be underestimated; or overcomplicated. We want it accessible.

And I have been inspired to follow the recommendation of many in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: as much as possible to connect it with the Liturgy of the Hours - next to the Mass itself, the Liturgy of the Hours is the greatest prayer we have in our Church; and it has a LONG history, extending back to the history of the Jewish people.

What a fine connection for the level 3 children who are delving into the history of Worship in Israel, the history of the Jewish People, typology, the origin of the Liturgy of the Word and so much more.

So that is what I have done. Spent 2 long nights organizing it, writing an introductory booklet for the children; simplifying, simplifying, simplifying - to get just the right amount of essentiality and richness.

So, after many long sleepless hours, I have the format ready. I combined the various "hours" in the Liturgy of the Hours, to find the overall pattern. I have then chinked here and there in search of the essential for the children, and prepared the introductory booklet to explain what is communal prayer, what is Liturgy of the Hours, what are the parts we will use, and how to use the material, along with a one page guide for the planning itself. I want them to know the history and the connection to the church - not just that "this is something we do in the atrium" - WHY do we do it in the atrium?

Now to fill in the pieces ;) That part will go more quickly since I have the framework. I will prepare a packet of cards for each "part" that the children can select (they do NOT need to use every part; and they can add their own options to the few I will provide - in fact, I WANT them to add to the material - to enrich it - to make it their own - so it both feeds and is fed by the life of the community) - sample Psalm cards to choose from; sample Scripture passages that correspond with a couple of feast days; and lots of blank cards for them to make their own.

These cards may not have the full text; but they will also have access to larger song charts; the Bibles and hymnals in the atrium; and other resources as they see fit.

Above all else, I want this work to be THEIRS.

So all of this work - and I will place it in the atrium, give an introduction; then observe. How is it working? How is it feeding their prayer lives? How does it need to be changed?

Many times, the children will make the changes themselves ;)

THEY know what is most essential!

1 comment:

  1. Jessica, I love reading your posts. I've just discovered this older post and I'm dying to get more details about the framework, etc for your Level 3 communal prayer. It sounds so beautiful and I'd love to try this format in my Level 3 atrium.