Vox Pastoris

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Level I Presentation Descriptions: Nomenclature for Life in the Church

The presentations under the subject of Nomenclature for Life in the Church seek to introduce the children to some of the vocabulary of our Catholic liturgical life. They are usually given in the first few weeks of the atrium year. The primary objective of each of the eight presentations in this category is to isolate terms that the children will encounter in their life in the Church. The children are then able to enter more meaningfully into the life of worship they enjoy with their family. These presentations also prepare the children for later work in the atrium.

There are eight presentations under the subject of Nomenclature:

  1. Altar I – Basic Articles
  2. Altar II – Jesus Present in Word and the Tabernacle
  3. Altar III – Remaining Articles
  4. Liturgical Colors
  5. Liturgical Calendar
  6. Vestments of the Priest
  7. Sign of the Cross
  8. Genuflection

There are three presentations relating to the articles of the Mass: Altar I – Basic Articles, Altar II – Jesus Present in Word and the Tabernacle, and Altar III – Remaining Articles. In Altar I, the catechist shows the children a model altar, altar cloth, crucifix, candles, paten, and chalice and explains the significance of each object. The children are then free to set up the altar on their own and enjoy the beauty of the table that the Lord calls us to. At the children’s request, the catechist will light the candles, and the children can extinguish them when they are ready.

In Altar II, the children are introduced to the tabernacle as the special safe place where the bread that has become Jesus is kept after the Mass. The catechist shows the children a model tabernacle (with lock and key), ciborium, and sanctuary lamp. The children are also shown a model lectionary and lectern; they learn that Jesus is also present in the Mass when the Scriptures are read. The children can then work with these additional materials on their own.

In Altar III, the children are shown remaining articles of the Mass that are used in their parish, such as the Roman Missal, book stand, bell, corporal, pall, purificator, chalice veil, lavabo bowl, lavabo towel, and cruets. The catechist explains the significance and use of each object in turn. The children are also shown how to make the chalice stack.

Two presentations serve to introduce the children to the liturgical calendar: Liturgical Colors and Liturgical Calendar. In Liturgical Colors, the catechist introduces the idea that the church has seasons centered around the two great celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Each season has a color associated with it, and the priest wears a garment called a chasuble in the color of the season. The children are shown four model chasubles (set up on chasuble stands) in the primary liturgical colors: white for celebration (Christmas and Easter), purple for preparation before the celebration (Advent and Lent), green for the growing time after the celebration (Ordinary Time), and red for the feast of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). The children are then invited to set the chasubles up on their own.

In Liturgical Calendar, the children are invited to enter more deeply into the details of our liturgical year. The catechist shares a wooden model of the liturgical year, shown as a circle with different sections representing Advent, Christmas, the shorter period of Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and the longer period of Ordinary Time. Each wooden square in the circle of the calendar represents one Sunday of the year. As the children work with the calendar, they are able to internalize the progression of the liturgical seasons throughout the year. (As an interesting side note, the orientation of the calendar is counterclockwise to show that God’s time is not our time.)

In addition to learning about the chasubles in Liturgical Colors, the children learn more names for the special clothing that the priest wears for the Mass in the presentation called Vestments of the Priest. They learn to set up a figure with models of the alb, stole, cincture, and chasuble worn by the priest.

The final two presentations under the subject of Nomenclature involve gestures that the children will encounter frequently in church: Sign of the Cross and Genuflection. In Sign of the Cross, the catechist explains how the cross, the sign of Jesus, is very dear to people all over the world. We can put this sign very close to us whenever we would like to be close to Jesus. She then demonstrates the sign of the cross in silence by tracing it on her body. When the children are ready, she shares the prayer that accompanies the sign of the cross, the prayer that has God’s name: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Finally, the two are put together: gesture and prayer.

In Genuflection, the catechist explains that when we enter a church, Jesus is there in the tabernacle. We have a special way to greet Him that uses our whole body and shows our respect for the King of Kings. She then demonstrates the act of genuflection (right knee all the way to the ground) and invites the children to practice the gesture.

For further reading about nomenclature presentations, see pages 90-94 of The Religious Potential of the Child and pages 68-69 of The Good Shepherd and the Child.

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