Archive for the ‘Catechist's Corner’ category

Art for February Prayer Tables

January 13, 2016

This month, classrooms will be taking a look at various aspects of the sacrament of Reconciliation.  The older kids are reviewing the mechanics of going to confession, and all ages are learning about God’s mercy and His very personal care for each of us.  The classic illustration is that of the Good Shepherd who guides and protects us.

Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:3-7

Because it is such a perfect picture of what happens whenever we receive the sacrament of Reconciliation (February’s topic), this is the image I’ve chosen to have on my prayer table this month.

good-shepherd

I can’t tell you much about this particular version except the obvious (it’s a German mosiac), but it’s generally pleasant and I love the tender relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd.  It reminds me of images of Jesus and the children.

jesus-with-children-jesus-33135828-490-600

The words, Ich bin der gute hirt(e), are from John 10:14 making everything crystal clear for those of us who have not yet made the connections on the Jesus=Good Shepherd analogy.

Whichever grade level you’re teaching, it’s well worth your time to convey the truths of this parable: that you are His and Jesus will never let you go.  You can never stray so far that He won’t come looking for you.  The details vary a little, depending on the age of your students, but the message is constant.

You can find a large version of the Good Shepherd mosaic here.

UPDATE: I found another version without the German inscription here.  (It’s a very large file – print a poster if you’d like!)

good_shepherd_-_grabmal-_christus_als_guter_hirte_03c

Related reading for poetry fans (A little Francis Thompson):

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

 

Marriage: The most challenging (and rewarding) team-building activity ever!

January 5, 2016

Yesterday, one of our classroom catechists wanted to demonstrate just how important teamwork is in a marriage so she had her students test out this piece of fun.

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There were all sorts of challenges: One kid’s rope was a little shorter.  One couldn’t quite keep in step.  One was frustrated with her team mate.  At the same time, it was very satisfying to work together successfully.  You hardly even need an imagination to see the analogies to marriage!

It’s a bit of a project but you can find directions for building your own here.  (Skip to the end for a demonstration of how it works.)

Leading with Beauty: Mary – God’s Masterpiece

April 17, 2015

May is the traditional month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and it happens to be the topic for classroom lessons this month so including your favorite statue or other image of her is an obvious focus for your classroom prayer table.  Mary is one of the most popular subjects in all of art history so you’ll have no trouble finding something you like.

I chose this one simply because it’s a favorite of mine.  I love the work of Fra Angelico and the Annunciation is my favorite Mystery of the Rosary and all the gold tones in this piece remind me of the glory of Easter, so out of thousands of choices this is the one I pick for this month.

I love her humility and youth, but I especially love the fact that her finger is holding her place in the book.  I know, I know – that’s probably not the most compelling thing about this image but it’s such a great human touch and reminds me of a few things.

Traditional images of the Annunciation show that Mary was studying and praying when Gabriel suddenly showed up for his visit.  She didn’t have an appointment for an angel to drop in an ask her to be the Mother of God, so seeing her pictured this way just implies that study and prayer were a typical, routine part of her life.  (Lovely Example #1)  It also seems to me that she is expecting God to work in her life and is waiting and to see what today brings. (That expectation is Lovely Example #2 to me.)  This expectation means she’s ready to respond (“Be it done unto me according to Your word!”).  She doesn’t have to clear her schedule or finish up something before responding.  Anyway, those are a few of my rambling thoughts about the Annunciation.  (I have lots more, but it’s time to hit the Publish button and get on to some other work.)

One more thing – the other part of this work can be found here.  It’s not known if they were originally part of an altarpiece or if these two faces were cut from a larger work, but they clearly belong together.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Leading with Beauty: Kneeling Before the Majesty of God

March 10, 2015

This month’s topic is Kneeling Before the Majesty of God and while I could recommend any number of paintings which feature God in all His heavenly glory, I think I’ll go with this one featuring his hidden earthly glory instead.

This is Saint Norbert worshiping Our Lord, truly present in this ornate monstrance.  Norbert was a worldly man who had a very dramatic conversion story and went on to found a religious order that continues to this day.  One of the other things Saint Norbert is known for is defending the Eucharist against heresy and disbelief, and one of his attributes* is to be pictured with a monstrance.

I think the value this piece would hold on a classroom prayer table is this:

  • Norbert’s obvious devotion.  His posture, focus, position of his hands – all are expressions of love for He who is before him.
  • The beauty of this particular monstrance.  We offer our best to God, and some craftsman (and this artist, Marten Pepijn), certainly did that, also as a sign of their devotion to God.
  • And finally, there are details you can cover such as:
    • What is a monstrance? (A sacred vessel with a glass opening through which the Sacred Host can be seen.  From a Latin word meaning to show.)
    • Why is that lamp burning just to the right of the monstrance?  (That is a sanctuary lamp, required by canon law to be lit wherever the Blessed Sacrament – consecrated hosts – are reserved, to remind believers of their sacred presence.)
    • Where can we find the Eucharist in our church?  (Answers vary slightly with each church, but it would be most typical to find the Blessed Sacrament reserved in your church’s tabernacle and in an Adoration Chapel.)  Make sure your students know where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in your church and remind them of the proper signs of devotion and respect.  (genuflecting, sign of the cross, reverent behavior, etc.)
    • How can we find where the Eucharist is another Catholic church? (Look for the sanctuary lamp to point the way.)

*In art, an attribute is an object that identifies someone, most commonly referring to objects held by saints.  (e.g. Saint Peter is often identified as holding keys, Saint Joseph by carpenter tools and a staff with lilies, etc.)

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Thanks to the Web Gallery of Art for their truly remarkable collection of sacred art!

Leading with Beauty: The Ten Commandments

February 12, 2015

The classroom topic for March is the Ten Commandments and this work by Philippe de Champaigne (1648 AD) would be a perfect piece for classroom prayer tables.

The interesting thing about this piece is that everything is so clear; almost photograph-like!  Moses looks like someone you’d meet in real life and the tablet is clear enough to easily read.  That sends the message that reading/knowing the Commandments is every bit as valuable as the beauty of the art itself.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Leading with Beauty: Vocations

December 10, 2014

So many beautiful pictures of those in a religious vocation!

If you’re interested in classic pieces of art, try one of these for your prayer table this month.

This is such a gentle, trusting scene.

She looks like the very picture of serenity to me!

It might be nicer in this case, though, to use some photos.  I’m not sure you could find a better “advertisement” for the joy of a religious vocation than photos like these:

There are many photos online of men and women living in community, dedicating their lives to serving God with joy!  (And isn’t that the most beautiful “art” of all?)

Church of Saint Paul catechists, if you want to use my prayer table art suggestions as a teaching piece during your classroom prayer time, I’ll be glad to print a copy for you IF you email me ahead of time with the request.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Leading with Beauty

November 12, 2014

Art for December Prayer Tables

This month’s topic is another new Classroom Lesson, this time on Baptism and Confirmation and the profound connections between the two.  For this month’s piece of recommended prayer table art, I’m going with this work by Pietro Longhi entitled The Baptism.  Baptism is the foundation of the Christian life and is a sacrament that all of your students will have experienced.

It’s very easy to be drawn into this happy scene!  Almost all eyes are focused on the beautiful drama being enacted near the center as the infant is beginning her life in Christ.  The woman on the right, behind the pillar, doesn’t seem to be part of the family, but she can’t resist witnessing this wonderful event and the acolyte in the front is looking out at all of us, inviting us to join in as well!

Church of Saint Paul catechists, if you want to use my prayer table art suggestions as a teaching piece during your classroom prayer time, I’ll be glad to print a copy for you IF you email me ahead of time with the request.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.


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