We each carry a cross with us – one that is literally part of our body and that we show St. Philip’s children when we teach them the sign of the cross. Touch your forehead, your breastbone, your left shoulder, your right, and then put your fist on your breastbone again, and you have one of the most powerful images of God and Christ — and your belovedness — with you all the time.
We as adults often think of the Eucharist as words — the bible readings, the sermon. But there is so much more to be seen even than heard.
When Jonah and Rhonda bring their hands down over the chalice and paten they are inviting the Holy Spirit to inhabit our bread and wine. (By the way, that’s called epiclesis. Yeah, I didn’t know that before becoming a catechist either). When Jill pours out the wine and then puts a drop of water in it, she is not only preparing our Communion, she is telling us that Christ surrounds us. When they hold the cup and paten up, it signals our gratitude to God for the incredible gifts we are given.
In the Atrium, children practice these same gestures and preparations using a model altar, small chalices, patens, and cruets. After the catechist demonstrates one of these works for the child, they can continue to work with it themselves and ponder the meaning and what these signs tell us.
Our sanctuary altar is set with the white fair linen, the chalice, the paten, and the candles that remind of us of the light of Christ not just in church but in our Atriums and daily life — and children set our Atrium model Altar in the same way. They learn that when we pass the peace, we are really wishing the peace that only God can give to our neighbor, whether we know them or not because we are one with them because we share one bread, one cup.
Children learns seasons change, and we change colors with them. Purple for preparation (Advent and Lent), white for celebration (Christmas and Easter) and green for growing time. Red is for Pentecost.
We do lessons to help children enter into the signs of the mass because they are as important as the words.
One of the reasons my kids and I love sitting in the second pew during 11 o’clock service is because we get to watch Leto and Clark sign the prayers and the creed, and their beautiful gestures bring even more meaning to those words. And also so we can see the Altar and gestures. We encourage your family to take a front and center seat as well so your children can help tell you more about the gestures Jill, Rhonda, and Jonah do to deepen the words of our liturgy because they have done them themselves in Atrium.