It’s been a joy to return to the Atrium after a summer full of “growing time,” one of the names we use to describe the long season after Pentecost. Our 3-6 year olds arrive full of news and new abilities. And if one observes those experienced children returning to the Atrium, one sees them moving from work to work, savoring and remembering what each lesson contains.
Yesterday was such a day, but it also demonstrated once again the deep theological ground our young “essentialists” can cover. Listen in on the statements made as I gathered with three of our returning children around our model altar. They already know the names of all the items we set on this table. Now they are ready to say these things when we pause and reflect:
“God doesn’t like bullies.” “Bullies killed Jesus.” “Some people don’t believe in Jesus.” “The devil killed Jesus.” “The devil would fall down flat if he saw Jesus.” And one I consider quite intriguing, “God doesn’t like strangers.” All this was early in our morning together. We ended by considering the prayer card another child chose:
We believe in God the Father, We believe in God the Son, We believe in God the Spirit; God is Three, and God is One.
Thus we concluded with thoughts about the Trinitarian mystery.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd approach provides and supplies the Atrium to be a place of worship and experience as well as teaching and learning. Children and adults slow down and think together about Bible, Liturgy and Sacraments. The words and questions children share are never cute material for an “Out of the Mouth of Babes” retelling. Instead, they represent the deep theology children carry and that for which they long: true answers to real world questions. In school or down the road they meet bullies. People do mean things. Why do they do mean things? Children discover we live in a world where many “don’t believe in Jesus.” And for safety’s sake, today’s children repeatedly hear what to do, or what not to do with “strangers.” It must be natural for them to wonder with so much attention paid to this topic, what does God think about strangers? What would you say?
The catechist, parent, priest or friend of the child has the privilege and responsibility to listen and consider what children say, what thoughts lie behind, and what truths of our faith might be brought to the situation. What a gift. As we return to the Atrium and our life together with God there, pray for us. We are blessed to be together again. Amen!