Sunday, October 9, 2011

Create a Sacred (but Touchable) Space to Train Happy Hearts

The other day when I was cleaning, I found this picture, which had fallen behind a piece of furniture.

 It is my eldest son’s drawing of Mary carrying Jesus to be presented at the temple.

Finding this piece of art work made me smile – not only because it warms my heart that my son chose to create an interpretation of the sacred moment of the Presentation, but also because, when I discovered this drawing peeking out from a hidden corner, it reminded me that faith keeps growing in my children even when it, too, seems hidden.  Yes, even when my young ones are doing anything but acting like little saints as I try to attend to the mundane chores of homekeeping, they are still growing in faith.  God’s love is always at work within them.  It just sometimes hides more than others…  In fact, the same could be said for their mom!

Liturgical Tables

One tool we use in our home to help teach about our faith is a Liturgical Table. 

Now, this may sound fancy, but, trust me, our Liturgical Table displays are usually quite simple and hands on.  They begin with a storybook or discussion about a particular feast day, seasonal faith celebration or monthly devotion.  Then, we select a cloth as a base and add a few decorations, such as props, art work, natural materials or books.  Nothing fancy, but always something that both reminds us of our faith while making is concrete for the kids.

Without a doubt, young children learn by creating, doing, touching and seeing.  They also learn through repetition.   Liturgical Tables offer them a way to key into all of this.  They help with the creation of them.  Daily, they see them and are allowed to manipulate them.  Season to season and year to year, themes repeat and knowledge grows.

Process Not Product

With young children, I truly believe a key to making Liturgical Tables work is to keep them accessible.  For while beauty is important and sacred spaces that are for looking, not touching, can be, too, young children tend to focus on (and learn best from!) the joy of process over product.

Our table from last month was an example of process over product.

Since September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, that was what we dedicated our table to.  Over breakfast, I talked to the children about Our Lady and her sorrows.

Then, we chose a purple cloth, which reminded us of the sorrow of Lent.  (Repetition of symbolism and concepts coming in there!).  Atop it, we put the lovely hand-painted Mater Dolorosa that we won at Catholic Icing, courtesy of St. Luke’s Brush, on top of a pedestal covered in a dark blue scarf we used for another feast day about our lady (Our Lady of Altagracia).

Later, we colored pictures of the seven sorrows or Mary which we had printed offline.

Then, my son decided to create his own renditions of Mary’s sorrows and took it upon himself to add these to the table.

Finally, my two oldest children decided to place a doll at the table to represent Jesus, who Mary was united with – and happy to be so – in Heaven.

Do you create Liturgical Tables of other scared, yet touchable spaces in your home?  Please share about it.  Include a link to a photo if you can.

As always,please share your thoughts and questions in the comments and stop back next Sunday to join in on this ongoing discussion of how we might work together on Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation for Young Children.  And, please, if you'd like to guest post one Sunday, just ask!


Anonymous said...

It is amazing how all the smallest of action creates the biggest impact. I think you must know of the Good Shepherd Religious Education program. Both your simple ideas concerning and the Good Shepherd program stress how to live as Catholics results in blessing for all of us. Sandra

Martianne said...

Thank you! I have heard of the Good Shepherd and would love, love, love to be able to participate fully in it, but there is no program near us and I cannot afford to be trained to start one, so I do my best to offer what I can of it to my kids within my resources.


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