“ Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.”
Acts of the Apostles 16:14
Domestic Church Arise!
We believe the most valuable service that we can offer during this time is to help families pray with their children at home and so continue to assist children and adults live a common religious experience in which the religious values of childhood, primarily those values of contemplation and enjoyment of God are celebrated. This page it to support children parents and families at home and catechists in their communities and parishes and schools. We are adding to it weekly (sometimes daily)!
For the 3-6 year old child:
- Look around the house for items that remind one of new life, or the color white, which is the color of the great feast of Easter, the color of Light
- Pray a litany of thanks by listing gifts of the day.
- Take time in silence to draw about God or about a favorite work from the Atrium.
- Make a set of Prayer Cards and/or Scripture Cards for your home. See a list of recommendations in Resources below.
For the 6-12 year old child:
- Look around the house for items that remind one of new life, or the color white, which is the color of the great feast of Easter, the color of Light.
- Make a set of Maxims for your home. These Scriptures can be learned by heart, looked up in the bible, used as an examination of conscience, etc. See the full list of Maxims in Resources below.
- Find a place outside where you can sit for 10-15 minutes and journal about what you notice. What gifts is God giving you through the beauty of this day?
- Plan and lead weekly family prayer. (For 9-12 year old children, see Resources below.)
- Choose one work you remember from the Atrium and describe or draw it. Why do you remember this material? How was it a gift to you? How is it a gift to you today?
- Create a handwritten journal recording the events, activities, emotions, and gifts of each day. What Scripture did you ponder? What Maxim did you work on living well? How did you listen for and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd?
- With your family, gather for silence, to read Scripture, and to sing.
- Make a set of Prayer Cards and/or Scripture Cards for your home. See a list of recommendations below for both the 6-9 year old child and the 9-12 year old child.
Resources for Families from Liturgy Training Publications in both English and en español
- Daily Prayer
- Children and Family Prayer
- Liturgy of the Hours
- Living Word for Teens
- Reflections on Sunday Scriptures
- Free Virtual Conversations and Retreats
Opportunities for our catechists, from our catechists:
For the families of the children you serve:
- Pray for each child by name. If you have multiple sessions that comprise many children, you may have to divide this out over several days. Let families know they are being prayed for by name at least once a week.
- As families acclimate to the prayer table, they can also ask their child if they have any favorite stories from the Bible. They may enjoy reading these together. See a list of recommendations in Resources below.
- Take a few minutes to call your parents, check-in with them, ask them how they are doing, can we pray for you, do you need help finding resources, etc.
- Practice your observation skills. Find a place outside where you can sit for 10-15 minutes and journal about what you notice. Make note of what gifts God gave you through the beauty of this day.
- Children love mail! Send a short, handwritten note or postcard to the children.
A word about offering Atrium Presentations electronically:
Please remember that giving children presentations online is not the same as when they are offered to children in person. These are moments that we cannot in any way “realize” electronically. In the atrium the presentation the catechist offers children is an announcement, a proclamation of the Christian message. While it is a brief moment: the rest of the atrium time allows children to absorb the message internally through the work of their hands. The material we use in a presentation is not a “didactic material” and therefore, it isn’t designed for the adult as a teacher’s aid. The children would see the material associated with the message but cannot immediately use it with their own hands which is key to allowing them to absorb the message it conveys. What we can do is find some time to contact them and remember with them (not remind them) that we are united in the love of the Good Shepherd. What we can do is support the Domestic Church in their shared prayer life at home which is at the heart of our mission and purpose.
Examples of Letters to Families
- Parent Letter about Seeds: Letter from Heather McColl Morgan, May 20, 2020 – NEW
- A small postcard
- A note for families
- A Lenten letter for families with all three Levels of children
- For Level 3 Children
- Letter To St. Cat Level III Children Lent April 5, 2020
- Letter to St. Patrick’s Atrium Families April 8, 2020
You can find these playlists that hold multiple videos:
- Revisit the 2014 Celebration of the New Child and New Adult, we have a playlist of all the keynote speakers
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Symposia and the University of Notre Dame
Micki Hill demonstrates the creation of a family prayer space at home.
Family Prayer Tables courtesy of Saint Gerard Majella Church. The Song, “Be Still and Know” is by scripture-lullabies.com and is used with permission.
Catechist and Formation Leader Marty O’Bryan shares “Blessings to the King” for Palm Sunday
Catechist Clare Heinrich shares a favorite Alleluia from when she was a child in the atrium.
Domestic Church Arise! Families share thier Easter prayer tables and celebrations.
We see the schools and businesses closing and going online to keep as many people at home as possible What shall be done when an atrium closes for this pandemic? Could this be an opportunity to live our purpose in a new way! Our purpose to assist the involvement of children and adults in a common religious experience in which the religious values of childhood, primarily those values of contemplation and enjoyment of God, are predominant. While this happens in the atrium environment, could we take some time to focus on another very important environment, the “domestic church.” The term “Domestic Church” refers to the family, the smallest body of gathered believers in Christ. Though recovered only recently, the term dates back to the first century AD. The Greek word ecclesiola referred to “little church.” The early Church understood that the home was fertile ground for discipleship, sanctification, and holiness.
Within the life of the family, this “domestic church,” we find the first and privileged place of evangelization. Here the first experience of the Christian community is lived. Here the parents are “the first heralds of the faith” (LG, #11). Here is the fundamental environment where a “sense of God’s loving presence is awakened and faith in Jesus confessed, encouraged and lived.” (GDC 177) It is important, therefore, that we help parents with their responsibility to nourish their child’s faith during this time when we are facing COVID-19. How can we help parents understand and care for the spirituality of their children very seriously, recognizing that in the faith life of children, great care must be given so that they may be nurtured for a life lived in communion and solidarity with God and His people.
Let me share with you a moment of life within the domestic church of a family in my parish. Nate has just celebrated his First Reconciliation. He walks toward his mother who waits for him at the Baptismal Font where she, once again, vests him in a white garment as she did on the day of his baptism. They hug each other closely and return to their family. His mom whispers to him : “Nate what did you feel?” He answered right away with his beautiful, brown eyes wide open in amazement: “I felt the Holy Spirit!!!! “ Nate kneels and continues to pray. At the end of the celebration, as the family readies to leave, Nate, still in his white garment, stands before his mother and places his hands on her knees, then on her legs and then around her body. She catches his hands and asks :”Hey hey, what are you doing?” He says again with his enchanting, resplendent smile and eyes wide open. “I am giving you, all around you, some of the light of Christ that I have with me.” Nate knows deeply that he is a child of the Light! And he shares this with his family freely. Nate’s mom sees how we can witness what she calls this “astounding encounter” between God and the child. May we not forget the meeting of these two mysteries in this moment in time, remembering that there is so much that happens in the other 9,960 minutes of the child’s life outside of the atrium and within the life of the family.
Please consult your state and local government and public health authorities for the most up-to-date information about conditions in your immediate area.