Vox Pastoris

following the Shepherd's voice

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Level I Presentation Descriptions: Celebrations

There are four structured celebrations in the Level I atrium year in harmony with the liturgical calendar:

  1. Advent
  2. Christmas/Epiphany
  3. The Liturgy of the Light (Easter)
  4. Pentecost

The beginning of the season of Advent is marked with a procession into the atrium. The children carry the purple prayer table cloth, the Bible, the Advent wreath with its four candles, and any other appropriate article. They usually sing "Prepare Now a Way for the Lord." The prayer table cloth is changed from green to purple, the prayer table is prepared, and the first candle of the Advent wreath is lit. The catechist will usually present a Messianic Prophecy as part of the celebration.

Christmas and Epiphany are celebrated by changing the prayer table cloth to white, singing, and remembering the Infancy Narratives that the children have been listening to.

In the Easter celebration of the Liturgy of the Light, we gather an entire community to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord. Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi discovered that the scriptural image of Jesus as light is particularly potent and fruitful for the religious life of the young child. It is no surprise, then, that atria all over the world use the Liturgy of the Light to celebrate Easter. As a community, we process into the dark atrium space with the lit atrium Paschal candle at the front. Appropriate Scripture texts are read by the children. The Exsultet is sung as the light is shared with all of the atrium children via their individual candles. The candles are left burning around the Paschal candle as songs are sung.

The Pentecost celebration comes at the very end of the atrium year. The text from Acts 2 is presented to the children in the session before the celebration. During the celebration, the catechist presents the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) one at a time while lighting seven red candles one at a time. The gifts are explained in a few essential words. Then the children and their family members are given the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit for one of the gifts. Their individual candle is lit from the appropriate red candle as a sign of the gift given from above.

For further reading about the place of celebrations in the life of the Level I atrium, see The Religious Potential of the Child, pages 116-119 and 132-135, and The Good Shepherd and the Child, pages 31, 69, 75-76, and 96-98.

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