Vestments and liturgical colours

The vestment sets in the atrium have a dual purpose. The chasubles by themselves teach the liturgical colours, and the set as a whole teaches what the priest wears, why, and the prayers that go with them. Our sets are finally finished and we’re just waiting on the standing hangers for the chasubles and the figure for the full set.

Amice, alb, and cincture. We got our pattern for the vestments from here. It took a bit of thinking to put everything together but we got there :)

Amice, alb, and cincture. We got our pattern for the vestments from here. It took a bit of thinking to put everything together but we got there 🙂

Chasubles and stoles. Still trying to figure out exactly where the stoles are supposed to be kept (separate or with the chasubles). It's going to be wonderful having our trainer have a look at what we've done when she arrives next weekend, to clear up confusions and give us some tips! We have just re-entered Ordinary time, or the time of growth, signified by green. It seems that only the four main colours are used in the atrium, for the sake of simplicity.

Chasubles and stoles. Still trying to figure out exactly where the stoles are supposed to be kept (separate or with the chasubles). It’s going to be wonderful having our trainer have a look at what we’ve done when she arrives next weekend, to clear up confusions and give us some tips!
We have just re-entered Ordinary time, or the time of growth, signified by green.

The other marker of liturgical time in the atrium is the prayer table, which carries a cloth of the colour corresponding to the liturgical season in which the children are meeting. It seems that only the four main colours are used in the atrium, for the sake of simplicity, so on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, when the priest wears rose, the atrium will use the colour of the season – purple. We haven’t yet worked out exactly how it works when the colour of the day is different to the season, for example if a solemnity falls on a Sunday of Ordinary Time. So many details!

Our prayer table. We still need a Bible on a stand or cushion.

Our prayer table. We still need a Bible on a stand or cushion.

This is part of our liturgical calendar, showing the Sundays of the year. More detailed information here.

This is part of our liturgical calendar, showing the Sundays of the year. More detailed information here.

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Biblical geography

In order to have an idea of what part of the world Jesus came from, there is a small geography area in the atrium. This consists of a globe, a topographical map, and a puzzle map of the different regions (both maps as of Jesus’ time, not modern day).

A simple "sandpaper" globe delineating only land and sea. We will put a mark for Israel and one for Hamilton.

A simple “sandpaper” globe delineating only land and sea. We will put a mark for Israel and one for Hamilton.

Our topographical map is not quite finished, but close enough. The three markers are for Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth. Ours is very modest compared to what it could be - see here for an ideal one - but will serve its purpose.

Our topographical map is not quite finished, but close enough. The three markers are for Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth. Ours is very modest compared to what it could be – see here for an ideal one – but will serve its purpose.

Puzzle map of the regions of Israel at the time of Jesus. Unfortunately by the time we found a picture showing exactly where the sea should be, there was too much of it (there should be more land between the brown piece and the sea), but it's close enough. The children will learn the names of each region.

Puzzle map of the regions of Israel at the time of Jesus. Unfortunately by the time we found a picture showing exactly where the sea should be, there was too much of it (there should be more land between the brown piece and the sea), but it’s close enough. The children will learn the names of each region from a control chart and have access to maps they can colour and label.

Setting up the atrium

It’s going to take a while to find the ideal set up for the atrium, and probably things will change a bit as we add new materials in throughout the year also. Here’s an overview of where we’re at currently. See other posts for more detail on various sections.

Current view from the other end of the room.

Current view from the other end of the room.

In the centre of the photo is the art area. Space to do tracing, with coloured pencils, pencils, paper, religious pictures, scissors, and pasting sets.

In the centre of the photo is the art area. Space to do tracing, with coloured pencils, pencils, paper, religious pictures, scissors, and pasting sets. (It’s not quite finished).

The practical life shelf is just about done. From L-R - top - spare polishing cloths and other cleany things, brass polishing, candle care, pouring with funnel, dry pouring, wet pouring, clean up cloths. Bottom - plant care, flower arranging, handwashing (just missing a bowl).

The practical life shelf is just about done. From L-R – top – spare polishing cloths and other cleany things, brass polishing, candle care, pouring with funnel, dry pouring, wet pouring, clean up cloths. Bottom – plant care, flower arranging, handwashing (just missing a bowl).

Added to the Baptism corner - a jug to fill up the bowl we still need; a shell for pouring and a white garment in the basket. The flax mats are for working on the floor.

The Baptism corner – Baptismal font and a jug to fill up the bowl inside the font (which we still need); a shell for pouring and a white garment in the basket. The flax mats are for working on the floor.

Bit of an overview.

Bit of an overview. We have a variety of different sizes for table and chairs – because we got them from all over – but it’s actually quite handy since there will be a variety of sizes of children in the atrium.

And for those curious about what the rest of the room looks like. It's used for Sunday school, meetings, and suchlike. We're nervously hoping any children are well supervised!

And for those curious about what the rest of the room looks like. It’s used for Sunday school, meetings, and suchlike. We’re nervously hoping any children are well supervised!

The Altar and Baptism corners

One of the main aspects of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd programme is learning through the senses. Small children learn best by doing; they are experimental learners.

This is also true of learning about the sacraments in the atrium. A sacrament can be defined as an outward sign of an inward grace. Tangible objects, actions, and words, are used to transform interiorly. We cannot see the transformation, but through the eyes of faith we can recognise it.

Of the seven sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist are those which a small child will come most often into contact with and they are the two which are focussed on in the 3-6 atrium.

Obviously the children can’t go around baptising people or joining in with the words of Consecration, so how can small children learn about these sacraments through doing?

The answer is through replicas of the real thing, with which the children can ponder the mystery behind the outward sign by “going through the motions”, at their own pace.

Each atrium has an altar corner or area with all the articles required for Mass – mini altar, mini tabernacle, mini lectern, a sacristy cabinet to hold the chalice, paten, candles etc, and a set of vestments.

We were blessed to have a very generous carpenter build the wooden articles for us.

This the altar on a base with the tabernacle hiding behind and the sacristy cabinet behind that. To the right are the lectern and (on the edge) the baptismal font. For scale, a curious 5yo on the left.

This is the altar, on a base, with the tabernacle hiding behind it and the sacristy cabinet behind that. To the right are the lectern and the baptismal font. For scale, a curious 5yo on the left.

Inside the sacristy cabinet. There is a spot assigned for each article used for the Mass and a drawer to hold chasubles.

Inside the sacristy cabinet. There is a spot assigned for each article used in the Mass and a drawer to hold chasubles.

This is the tabernacle. It was the only article we didn't have instructions for and I think the carpenter did an excellent job designing it.

This is the tabernacle. It was the only article we didn’t have instructions for and I think the carpenter did an excellent job designing it.

There is also a corner assigned to the Sacrament of Baptism.

We will place a bowl in the hole. When the work is being used, the bowl will be filled with water and emptied afterwards.

We will place a bowl in the hole. When the work is being used, the bowl will be filled with water and emptied afterwards.

The font.

The font.

As well as the font, there will be a Paschal Candle (child sized) and all the other articles required for a baptism. On the wall will be a chart with all the articles and their names, and the children will be introduced to them and then be able to use them to ponder what Baptism is all about.

There will be a similar chart for the altar area, and the children will be introduced to those articles also before being able to use them independently.

Tracing and collage activities and free drawing will also be available as another way the children can engage with the subject matter.

These items will be present in the atrium very soon. As they are not toys and must be handled with care, and ideally only used by those involved with the atrium, you are welcome to admire them but we asked that they are not touched.

Setting up

Over the last few months, we have been meeting regularly to organise everything that is involved with setting up the atrium and organising the training. We’re finally starting to be able to see concrete fruits of our labours as sets of works become complete or near completion. Below are some (not very good, I’m afraid) pictures of things that are almost ready to go into the atrium.

To keep the focus on the materials, we've opted to paint all the furniture white.

To keep the focus on the materials, we’ve opted to paint all the furniture white.

Almost finished - mini alb and white chasuble. They lie on the prayer table with the white cloth. There will be a chasuble (and prayer table cloth) in each liturgical colour, and full set of mini vestments.

Almost finished – mini alb and white chasuble. They lie on the prayer table with the white cloth. There will be a chasuble (and prayer table cloth) in each liturgical colour, and full set of mini vestments.

Pouring and tweezing practical life works. These help develop fine motor skills and the pouring works prepare the child to move onto altar works such as preparing the cruets and preparing the chalice.

Pouring and tweezing practical life works. These help develop fine motor skills and the pouring works prepare the child to move onto altar works such as preparing the cruets and preparing the chalice.

Sets not yet complete - handwashing, flower arranging, plant care.

Sets not yet complete – handwashing, flower arranging, plant care.

Also not all complete - polishing set, candle care set. And for keeping things tidy, spare handtowels, a child sized dustpan and brush, and a rubbish bin.

Also not all complete – polishing set, candle care set. And for keeping things tidy, spare handtowels, a child sized dustpan and brush, and a rubbish bin.

 

The atrium

The atrium in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a place of calm and serenity where the children (and catechesists) can focus on getting to know God.

Ideally, the environment – materials, furniture, flooring – is created from natural materials, though this is not always possible.

The room should also be used only as an atrium, for practical purposes obvious when you see how much is involved; again not always possible.

The room we will be using is not ideal, but we are very grateful for it nonetheless, and will communicate with the others who use it to make sure we can all inhabit the space effectively and with respect for the needs of each group.

We hope to have most things set up by mid January – feel free to go upstairs to have a peek at our progress, but we do ask that nothing is touched as we have (and still will) put an extraordinary amount of work into it!

I’m not keen on filching pictures from other atria’s sites, so this post will remain pictureless until we have one of our own to put up. However, to give you an idea of what is involved, do visit this page – it’s a great visual introduction to what is inside an atrium: http://fromthesheepfold.blogspot.co.nz/2011/09/tour-of-atrium-room.html