October 2 is the feast of the Guardian Angels and families have been studying angels with their September Home Lessons. This is the perfect month to have an angel on your prayer table. The one in the photo is printed from the Web Gallery of Art‘s collection. I love how the angel is helping the boy keep his eyes fixed on the light and not on the darkness surrounding him. The demon fleeing the scene is a nice reminder that “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) You also might want to check out this piece, and many of you already own a print of a guardian angel leading the children across the dangerous bridge. That one would work as well.
Use a green cloth for Ordinary Time. I bought the runner in the photo at a dollar store.
I chose to sprinkle a few autumn leaves around the table because the classroom lessons begin by drawing a connection between the secular calendar/seasonal changes and the Liturgical Calendar. This is just a subtle way to illustrate that connection.
I always recommend lighting a candle when your lesson begins and having a student blow it out when you’re all done. It’s a reflection of what happens in liturgy and it’s a simple tradition that can signify the beginning and end of your time together. Of course, we want you to use prudence with this practice. An unsteady taper candle in a room full of active kids is never a good idea, but a votive safely tucked into a glass holder will probably work for you.
The little bowl on the table has about an inch or so of holy water in it. I know of a catechist who would begin each class time with the children sitting in a circle. She would pass the bowl around and each child would dip their finger in, make the Sign of the Cross, and pass it to the next child. The first time I saw it, the hurry-up-and-get-to-the-lesson grown up in me thought it seemed like a tedious waste of the little time they had together, but what really happened was a rather brilliant time of transition. It was a very peaceful activity. The children had to concentrate so they didn’t spill. They each had a brief moment where their small act of faith was the focus of the room. By the time the water had made it’s round everyone had moved away from the busy-ness and distraction they came in with and they were ready to hear what the catechist had to teach. Well worth the 60 seconds it took!
A couple more housekeeping things: The photo frame is just a clear acrylic free-standing frame available in a variety of sizes from office supply or discount stores. These are so easy to use because you just slide the art in the side – no assembly required! And finally, if you don’t have a convenient table in your room for a prayer space, consider buying a plastic storage box. You can keep your prayer table things in it from month to month and it can be covered with a cloth and used for the actual table during your class time.