“I have called you by your name; you are mine.” (Is. 43:1)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jer. 31:3)
“You were exceedingly beautiful with the dignity of a ‘queen.’ You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfect as it was because of my splendor, which I had bestowed on you.” (Ez. 16:14)
“You are my work of art” (Eph. 2:10)
3. The Lenten-Easter Cycle In the Lenten readings, children can learn about God’s plan for the redemption of the human race by bringing to life Old Testament types of Christ: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Elias, and Jonah. Participating in daily Mass, making the Stations of the Cross, and doing good works give them the experience of imitating Jesus with a full understanding of Lent. All of which culminate in the Easter proclamation: Christ is risen! Indeed, he is risen!” Christ’s Resurrection triumphs over suffering and death.
4. The Time after Pentecost The autumnal season features Hallowe’en, once celebrated as All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints’- and All Souls’ Day. Sadly, in 1955, the celebration of All Hallows Eve was stricken from the Church calendar. To counter pagan spectacles on October 31st, young people bring together a celebration of All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. They find “success stories” from the Judeo-Christian heritage which include: kings and queens, biblical heroes, Indian and American saints, teen-age saints, founders of religious orders, and modern-day martyrs who have suffered for their faith. Children dress up like the saint of their choice which may include their own sainted grandparents. Instead of trick or treating, they, with adult guidance, process near the parish to sacralize the meaning of October 31st. November closes in the spirit of thanksgiving, and the end of the liturgical year is fittingly celebrated with the feast of Christ the King.
5. Early Christian and Liturgical Art contains a treasure chest of beautiful symbols used during the church year. Early Christian art forms fascinate our young people. The vine and the branches, the lamb, images of a man, lion, ox, eagle, the fish, the chi-rho, and the Jerusalem Cross—all these are shortcuts for teaching the various aspects of the paschal mystery. The cross assumes special importance. Children sign themselves to praise the Holy Trinity, to reverence the cross, and to sign their bodies as sacred temples of God.
6. The Holy Trinity When words pale in the face of a mystery of faith, when boundaries of reason strain credulity, we turn to the sacred arts. We do this not to explain the faith but to proclaim its truth in affective and non-verbal ways. The Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18), painted by the Russian monk, Andrei Rublev (d1430), depicts a visual representation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity through the Old Testament story of Abraham and Sarah. The icon offers deep satisfaction because, through its vibrant colors, form, and symbol, the truth of the central mystery of the faith is etched in our corporate memory. This work of art places itself at the service of faith and depicts the mystery of the Holy Trinity in a profound, beautiful, and convincing way.
Forming Young Disciples of the Lord
Secular time fails to offer what the year of grace gives abundantly, if liturgical celebration is done with care, attention and devotion, with love, beauty, truth, and goodness. Living the Church’s year of grace forms our young people into joyful disciples of the Lord. They “come and follow,” and they “go and announce the good news.” The Church speaks through these words of Gertrude von Le Fort (d 1971):
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Come, my children in the world, come and be my witnesses:
I need every mouth that still prays,
I need every hand that still traces the sign of the holy Cross!
For the day is heavy with storms of temptation—
There are many along the word who no more find their way home:
You must be light to light their way,