Riley will be joining his friends in this journey to prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation. We weren't really sure how this would all play out for Riley but a few months ago I chatted with Sister Pascalina who leads this for our church and she was quite excited. She had been researching adaptive tools to help make this real for Riley. When the time came for classes to begin this fall I still wasn't so sure how we would make this something that was meaningful to Riley. I was greeted by Sister Margarite and Sister Paschalina at the first meeting and they were so excited their smiles were huge. They had a plan and were hopeful that I agreed that it was a good one. They wanted Riley to experience this process by engaging in the Catechises of the Good Shepherd instead of the traditional classes the 2nd graders would be sitting through. So you ask what is that???
Offered to children ages 3 to 6, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd addresses the profound religious intuition of younger children. The work of the Catechesis has spread to 37 countries in the world and throughout the United States. The 3-6 year old child is particularly sensitive to receiving and enjoying the most essential elements of our faith—the proclamation of God’s love especially experienced through Jesus the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen.
Children enter a prepared environment called an “Atrium”, where they encounter the love of the Good Shepherd. Based on Montessori learning methods, children are invited to use the various works provided in the Atrium to encounter the Good Shepherd on their own. An atrium is a quiet and peaceful place, one that will help the children to pray and ponder the deep mysteries of the Faith.
Riley will be able to explore and learn with a hands on approach that lets him set the pace. It think it will be perfect. It means that we go weekly instead of every other week like the other kiddos but I've done more stressful things than sit in a church for an hour a week. Its funny how the quiet building can bring a calm about you. Tonight was the 3rd week and Riley is settling in nicely. It is a seriously quiet room. They all speak in very quiet voices and all of the children are so quiet. Its amazing!
They have also found so great adapted tools to help as well. This will be a learning experience for all of us. I'm guessing at some point I'm going to have to admit that I haven't been to confession since I did my first back in the day. Forgive me Father for I have sinned...
Riley will join the regular class for a few lessons and to practice before the actual events. I'm thinking the Sisters are going to need to prepare Father as well. Thankfully he loves Riley and will be patient with him.
I think the best part of all of this is that they are so excited for Riley to be part of the group and to ensure he experiences it all in way that is meaningful to him.
"Though you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned,
you have revealed them to the childlike."
And just in case you thought the entire experience was peaceful and as a little reward for reading to the end. You'll love to know that as we were leaving Riley went ahead with Rex and when I got to the car I couldn't find them. I went over the playground and assumed I'd find them but I was wrong. I went back only to have Rex tell me Riley had snuck into the church and was hiding. When I arrived he was up by the alter at the lectern flipping pages of the bible "reading" a story about the Shepard and his sheep. It was super sweet but seriously... only Riley. I have often wondered if letting him take a dip in the baptismal font that he so badly wants to play would be an all bad idea. Is swimming in Holy water the step before an exorcism?