From the Mouths of Babes
By Marilena Berardinelli
One of the great gifts of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the lives of its catechists is the reminder that the great teacher is not the catechist, but God and that the catechist listens to God alongside the child. As such, the catechist and child learn about and experience God together. The children in our atriums have revealed to my fellow catechists and I much about the love of God, Jesus and most certainly the Holy Spirit. Today I share with you three moments from our time with the children, in the hopes that the children’s openness to and perceiving of the Holy Spirit may inspire in you the same awe and wonder it did in them and us.
1—After presenting the Annunciation to the children preparing for First Communion, the catechist invited the children to ponder Jesus’ divine nature, by wondering together how it was that this unmarried young girl had come to be pregnant. An eight- year old autistic child shouted, “epiclesis”. At first instinct the catechist was tempted to correct the child, but with pause realized that the child was not mistaken. Epiclesis is the gesture in the Mass that communicates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine, transforming them into the body and blood of Jesus. This young child (who we often, mistakenly, thought wasn’t even listening) was able to reconcile the coming of the Holy Spirit to Mary some 2000 years ago as the same Spirit he had experienced at Mass in the breaking of the bread.
2—A four-year old child was working with a material recounting the story of Jesus’ birth. When the catechist looked over, the child had placed in the manger not the baby Jesus, but had gone to the Annunciation material on the nearby shelf and taken the flame (symbol the Holy Spirit) and placed it in the manger. A passing observer may have pointed to the baby Jesus that lay to the wayside, but the catechist saw in the child’s meditation what even she had often failed to recognize.
3—The parish’s ministry with JK/SK students concludes with the CGS presentation of Pentecost. Following this presentation, the catechist asked the children who they recognized in the action of the wind and fire. A child raised his hand and confidently replied, “God”. The classroom teacher (interrupting) corrected him with a quick “no”. When the catechist pointed out that the child’s response was indeed true, that God was present among the apostles that day and in that moment we call God “Holy Spirit”, the teacher stood in silent amazement and the child smiled a great (and holy) smile!
Happy Pentecost to all the children in our parish and to all our parishioners who desire “to change and be like children so that they too will enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 18.2)
- Acts 2.1-11
- Psalm 104
- 1 Corinthians 12.3b-7, 12-13
- John 20.19-23