Life In The Atrium
In the atrium, we are led by the children's desires for relationship with God/Jesus and to know what is going on during the Mass. Areas of interest include practical life, geography, articles of the Mass, Baptism, Prophecies of the Child, Infancy Narratives, Paschal Narratives, and Kingdom Parables. For the older children, the atria also include materials on moral formation, Salvation History and the Sacraments. We celebrate seasons as the Church does, drawing our presentations from the Scriptures most engaging to the children.
One of the books that guides our catechesis is "Listening to God with Children" by Gianna Gobbi. This approach allows the children to come to their own realizations and answers in their own time. The child who begins as a 3-year-old tends to absorb the Word of God with great delight at the words themselves and the pictures they bring to mind. In the second year, the child begins to connect parables to the liturgy. In the third year, this child may begin to create artwork demonstrating the unique understanding that resides in the heart of the child.
For questions regarding CGS Level I or Level II Formation, please contact Mary Ellen at 337-774-2614, or email her below.
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As the child's capacities for exploration and socialization expand during the Level II years, the connections made at Level I are deepened and broadened. The Kingdom of God, which had been introduced through parable and liturgical symbol, is now seen in its historical context. God is encountered as the Giver of gifts and initiator of the covenant relationship. The child's emergent moral sensitivities are nurtured as he considers his responses to God's invitations.
These themes are explored even more deeply with 9-12-year-olds, who look at the rise and fall of nations and cultures as part of the plan of God. They spend considerable time thinking about their roles in that plan. In-depth Old Testament work is complemented by detailed study of the Gospels. Both are enriched by delving more deeply into the Sacraments. In these ways, the themes and methods of Level I - especially respect for the call of the child's personal journey and his membership in a loving community - continue to shape the child's growing spirituality.
During an atrium session, the catechist presents material to the children, for instance, proclaiming the words from Isaiah 9:1: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Together with the children, the catechist discusses what it is like to be in darkness, how we feel when we see the light, what Isaiah might have meant when he said the people walked in darkness, what this light might be. It is the children themselves who eventually make connections between the light Isaiah proclaimed and the light given to each child at Baptism, the candles on the altar, the darkness that descended upon Jesus' death, the light of the Resurrection, and so on. Children are invited to work with any and all materials which have been presented to them.
Through CGS, children are given language for prayer, language to describe the Mass, opportunities to imitate/re-create what they've seen in Mass, exposure to Scripture, a time and place for developing their own spiritual life and much more.