Monday, November 25, 2013

Science and Faith

God the Geometer imageWhile exploring our options with the History of the Kingdom of God material (how much science? how much faith? what is our focus here? what about the fact that the Catholic Church allows the Faithful to discern for themselves the age of the earth, not dictating it as a matter of faith ---- yet how many CGS formation leaders insist (because of that very teaching/allowance of the Church) on keeping the billions of years of evolution - when there are many Catholics who, um, believe the Bible.

I don't know who is right - who is wrong - who is prideful - who is humble.... What I do know is that if the Church leaves it open, then it is NOT for us to teach one way is wrong or another way is right.

What I also know is that we, as a modern world, are in a BIG MESS.

I chanced upon this article, that shows that 'knowledge' as translated in the Bible could have been translated as 'science'.
Who You Know is More Important than What You Know

And reiterates something I already knew (the Church teaches this too) - there canNOT be conflict between science and faith - because science comes from the Creator! Science is the study of HIS Creation - so as long as we are looking at the evidence without attempting to twist it to mean what it doesn't, there's no conflict here!

Now, if we could just leave out the "billions" and "millions" of years references in all the Kingdom of God material, so that it truly teaches the FAITH and doesn't suggest to children that their scientist parents who believe in 6-day Creation are nutties (yes, I know some children in this very situation), we'll be doing well.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Three Branches of Our Church

The Church has three branches, all waiting for the moment of Parousia:

  • Church Militant (us here on earth)
  • Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory)
  • Church Triumphant (those souls who have already attained the Beatific Vision)
Each branch has particular roles and particular responsibilities. 

A small group of girls discussed this very topic last month.

And this month (actually on November 1st and 2nd ;) ), the Church lives it out very consciously.

The funny thing is - we Catholics don't fear cemeteries at night - we RELISH them!

Not much to see - it was DARK!!!

Candles were placed on the headstones or front of them; and each site was blessed with holy water. This work was done by the members of our parish - the Church Militant - the members of the Faithful here on earth. Following All Saints Mass (in thanksgiving for and honor of those who have attained the Beatific Vision and provided us examples here on earth), the cemetery can be visited in honor of All Souls (November 2nd - all those who have gone before us, including those we don't know are in heaven yet or in purgatory (and we pray they are not elsewhere)).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chicken Nuggets in the Atrium ??? Yes - and Butterflies too!

If the reality of a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium is to aid the children in connecting with the Holy Spirit, providing the essentials and the depth and lots of time for nurturing that relationship....

then we have a God with one seriously *awesome* sense of humor. 

The atriums I have the privilege to be the catechist of tend to bring out the weirdness in all of us:
(some of the following samples are not necessarily "weird" as much as "what typical non-atrium child even has the opportunity to THINK of this stuff?" and/or are definitely out of the usual for the particular child at hand)

adapting a presentation: the people have turned their backs on God
they go to Reconciliation and come back to the Eucharist

replacing the History of the Gifts - with FOOD

The Bible is SO our favorite book ever! 

chilling with the Bible

spending hours, VOLUNTARILY, copying Scripture

squeezing level 3 legs under a level 2 table - OWWW!!!
(but they refuse to adjust their positions)

1st chance these L3 girls get = mad dash for the miniature altar

caught in action! Setting up the gestures work

still torturing themselves with the too-low table

what is SO funny about the Origin of the Liturgy of the Word !?

general antics
begging for a photo op
they were trying to hide their joy ;) 

yeah, we carry flames
a lot

yelling at the camera - and dancing by the baptism shelf

do NOT take photo-taking too seriously ;)
because seriously, that would be SO boring! 

atrium is NOT complete without the CHICKEN DANCE!

because we can
they have 5 photos of variations on this pose
so they could get JUST the right one. 

Our God IS indeed an awesome God
but really - how many times do we need to SING it ;)
(in another atrium group, it is "All God's Critters"

Internalizing the Atrium:
if you can't walk on the line yet, eating is definitely the next best thing

nap on the large prayer table
(he's not really napping - but he wants us to believe he is)

the Mommy-"HUH"-look
us adults use these a LOT in the atrium

so what prompted the "Huh" look?
the merchant knew how to use his head ;) 

he is SO capable of smiling
he was smiling before the photo
he was smiling after the photo
he even gave me permission to take his photo
But do NOT smile! ;) 

making butterflies
(I heard these are actually centipedes?)

we're never sure what she's doing... any moment

beautifully bright!

the butterfly sprouted more wings!!!

panting for the Life of Christ

just because she can

L3 children taking off with the catechist's camera...
and taking VERY cool photos!

roly-polies in the atrium!

singing 'Blunt the Knives' and 'Under the Lonely Mountain'
while creating an altar scene.
Sure, they're connected. Really.
Altar - Mountain
damaging the dishes - Jesus changing Passover
Yeah. Sure.
Longing for, even fight for, HOME.
That one I can buy. 

Explaining why a sheep was crying
(one of the sheep has a gray spot under his eye - it looks like a tear)
the explanation got pretty elaborate and I don't recall enough details
to be coherent - it included being lost and found though!
And he was OH so serious about it! 

Ta-DAH! Our beautiful prayer table! 
singing silent opera on the line
(because the line is silent)

tight-rope walking! 

So with all this FANTASTIC personality, how could I possibly even bat an eye at, much less question, the fact that the BOYS (just the boys - not the girls) walk around the atrium with our Bread from "The Story of a Bread" - silently and seriously processing around the room with it held in two hands like it is Jesus Himself being taken for the Sacrifice. When asked, no matter the actual question asked, the only answer they will give while the Bread is in their hands is a very quiet, "It's a chicken nugget."

what they typically do:
hold it
and walk around
serious faces
They call it a chicken nugget.

Yes, I'll be adding some wheat grain parts - gluing and polyurethaning.

But really. A chicken nugget. I'm not just batting an eye - I'm batting them both - multiple times.
A chicken nugget.
And they're SERIOUS.

Well, maybe not just SO serious: 
on display for this post
Catechist: What is it boys?
Boys: It's BREAD!
Catechist: Good answer! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mystery of the Mass

towards the people
I have children of both forms of the Western Rite:
(the Eastern Rite has the Divine Liturgy)

TLM - currently referred to as the "extraordinary form" which is actually a historical misnomer, in that there are two main Masses: High Mass and Low Mass - High Mass is the ordinary form, Low Mass is the extraordinary form

Novus Order (NO - currently referred to as the "ordinary form" - but it was designed based off the Low Mass of the TLM - so a form of the extraordinary form...).

The children don't care about semantics. They just want the facts. So I present a quick intro to both forms of the Mass in all the atriums I lead; and in atriums where I know I have children of both forms, we really get into exploration of both.

When I present such materials, I present both forms (overview-only if I have no children from the other form in any particular atrium).

Of course, in the Novus Ordo, the priests CAN (and are actually rubrically encouraged to) face ad-orientem:
     facing the East - towards the sunrise - towards Christ our Light - bringing the people to Christ as the shepherd the priest is for us, his flock

Most Novus Ordo priests don't face ad orientem - instead choosing to focus on the communal aspect of our Church and face the people. Ok.

I show both to the children. Until 3rd grade, they tend to be good with it. After 3rd grade, hostilities arise and we work through those issues towards a place of respect.

But I don't understand the hostilities in some of the children. With ONE exception in the last 8 years, it has been Novus Ordo children with the hostilities; the TLM children quietly and respectfully accept the NO presentation and choose to work on the TLM materials or simply find other work to do in their free time. Now, to be fair, most of the NO children, when introduced to the idea of a difference in the TLM form, just accept it and choose to work with their own Mass form.

towards Christ
I had one boy last year, whose parents have never discussed the TLM Mass - have no hostilities one way or another (don't even know that much about it anyway and certainly wouldn't judge) - VERY strongly tell me that the priest facing away from the people is wrong; even if he's leading us to Jesus, he should be facing us so that we can see everything he does. He was quite angry when I quietly and with genuine interest suggested there may be more to the story that we could discuss (he refused to discuss).

Which is an interesting insight. There is certainly comfort in knowing what our leaders are doing. And while God lets us know what He is doing - we certainly don't understand it (the great Mystery of our Faith) - and we certainly don't "see" everything He does even in our own lives when we are hurt or suffering and can't see what God is doing to guide us to the path He has laid for us.

So does the Liturgy have to be "all things known to us" - or can we have some mystery? We explore these mysteries in the atrium from the child's earliest days - yet we leave the atrium 9 years later without fully understanding them - because we are not meant to fully understand. Only to appreciate - and to accept.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Eucharistic Presence BECOMES Reconciliation

Mostly letting the photos tell the sequence, I'll point out that I have children of both forms of the Mass: Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo.

Here is a beautiful example of how the children lead the work, when it is something they have explored on so many levels over previous years and months:

First things first: the children did not want to put away the local people. They too belong to the Church - if Jesus came to give Himself to ALL peoples of ALL times and ALL places - well, then we need all the people out. The children even pointed out: there will be ONE flock and ONE shepherd.

2 sheep (then changed to people) are placed behind
the altar - as the altar servers (Novus Ordo)
(yes, only boys were used because the children
with the server idea are TLM children familiar with NO -
only boys are used in the TLM - and some NO)
The third figure might be an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. 

Then we adjusted for the Traditional Latin Mass
(or an ad orientem Novus Ordo)

Some people are facing away from God.
They have sinned and refused to accept God's gifts.
(on an adult note: those of us in sin should consider
these children's words - and not receive when knowingly
NOT in a state of grace...)

The children announced that these people need RECONCILIATION!
So they go to Reconciliation and now they return to Jesus. 

As they return, the seem to be arranging themselves more neatly...
orderly fashion...
God is a God of Order - not chaos.....

And so the people have returned to the Sacrament of the Eucharist:
both  the SOURCE
and the SUMMIT
of our Faith

Sing Alleluia!!!!

What have the children NOT taught me in this lesson? I stick with the essentials - and look where they GO!