As we are all over the world being asked to go into exile from our normal day to day business. We are asked to only have contact with those in our households, our families. We are asked to look at what is essential and do that, buy that. What a great opportunity God has provided us with in the Lent of 2020. Just as Jesus was called into the desert before the major part of his life’s’ work commenced, we are called to go into a different desert also, a desert of suffering and pain (for some physical others spiritual and others emotional). Many have been asked to stay away from things we hold very dear such as Mass.
God has been speaking
to me about all of this in some songs.
I recall a song I learned many years ago by a group called The Dameans, “Pause a While”
Pause a while, pause a while In the humdrum of the city and behind a cloister wall In the early morning and when shadows start to fall See creation bending to the maker of it all And all we have to do is pause a while
We were made to build the earth and share it with each other All of us together at the work of Christ our brother
Tho’ the troubles of the world may tempt you to despair
Look around just
one more time and you’ll see Christ is there
in ev’ry valley, ev’ry running brook
Bear the mark of
Love’s design for those who learn to look
promised long ago moves just where he will;
In this high-speed,
neon world, somehow he’s moving still
ev’ry kind, must shatter into dust;
Nothing done is
nothing won where we can’t dare to trust
I noticed as these lyrics floated in my mind that God was calling on his people all over the world to Pause Awhile, to stop and listen to just be still. As we pause, all of creation is being renewed, life is returning to places we have neglected or damaged by our busy lifestyles. The smog is lifting in some places, wildlife is returning to city areas. https://twitter.com/ikaveri/status/1239660248207589383
With our children in the atrium, we finished a little early with the Liturgy of Light. We recalled Jesus sharing his light with us all and asking us to share it also with others. The light will grow so bright, that the sun will be dimmed. All of the darkness will be chased away. We sang some songs that reminded me of God’s plan to bring his life and light to all people, everywhere.
Christ Be Our Light (Bernadette Farrell)
Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to You.
Make us Your own, Your holy people
Light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.
Longing for peace, our world is troubled
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.
Shine Jesus Shine (Graham Kendrick)
light of Your love is shining
midst of the darkness shining
of the world shine upon us
Set us free
by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me,
shine on me
shine, Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Spirit blaze, Set our hearts on fire
flow, Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Your word Lord and let there be light
Lord I come to Your awesome presence From the shadows into Your radiance By the blood I may enter Your brightness Search me try me consume all my darkness Shine on me, shine on me
As we gaze on Your kingly brightness So our faces display Your likeness Ever changing from glory to glory Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story Shine on me, shine on me
Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord (Donald Fishel) Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to
the risen Lord,
alleluia, give praise to His name.
Jesus is Lord of all the
He is the King of creation.
Spread the good news o’er all
Jesus has died and has risen.
We have been crucified with
Now we shall live forever.
God has proclaimed the just
Life for all men, alleluia!
As I sang and
pondered these words, I was amazed at how clear the message for me was. “Do
not worry, my light is stronger than the darkness, my life is stronger than
Pause a while and soak in his light so that when the time comes you will rise radiant in his splendor to shine and fill the earth. It is the desert before the ministry. The darkness that is overcome by the light.
This pause, now, becomes
a time of great hope and renewal for all of creation. I am filled with joy and
In the Catechesis of the Good
Shepherd, especially with the 3-6-year-old, we do not dwell on Jesus’ suffering
and death. Instead we always link his death to his resurrection. Many of the works
allow a time to recall that Jesus life was stronger than death and we remember
that whenever we light candles, and most especially the Paschal candle in the
Baptism Area. The light of the risen Christ is given to each one of us on the
day we are Baptised.
There are, however, a few
works that are particularly relevant to this Lenten season and in particular to
the Paschal Narratives which we encounter during Holy Week. In the atrium of
the youngest children, we recall the words of the Last Supper, where Jesus said,
“This is my body, this is my blood”, in a work we call the Cenacle. The Cenacle
is the name for the Upper Room where Jesus met with his disciples to celebrate
the feast of the Passover. The children enjoy preparing the small table as the
Apostles did on that day. They sit and consider the words of Jesus and the
events that unfold after this time. We pause briefly to consider Jesus’ death
on the cross. Then we move on to light candles to recall the resurrection.
After all everyone dies, but only Jesus conquered death.
Another work in the atrium
which allows us to consider the last days of Jesus is the City of Jerusalem. This
is a model of what Jerusalem may have looked like during the time of Jesus. It
is a walled city and the most prominent building is also walled, the Temple. This
geography material allows the children to imagine the sort of place Jerusalem
was., but its primary purpose is to recall the last days of Jesus. The children
consider the places and events that occur in Jerusalem beginning with the Last Supper
in the Cenacle and moving to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and
was later arrested.
We recall that Jesus was
taken to the house of Caiphas, the high priest. He was put on trial there. Next,
we move to the place where Pilate, the Roman Governor lived, the Tower of
Antonia. Those who arrested Jesus, told Pilate that Jesus said he was the King
of the Jews. Pilot decided that Jesus should be sent to Herod, the Jewish king.
We continue the meditation; in
the morning, he was taken to Herod’s palace. Herod did not have the power to do
anything to Jesus, so he was sent back to Pilot. Jesus returned to the Tower of
Antonia to be sentenced by Pilot. There he was condemned to die. He was given a
cross and taken outside the walls to a hill called Calvary.
This is where he died. But
that is not the end of the story.
His friends buried him in a
cave, a tomb never used before, and a big stone was placed at the entrance. It
was in a garden. This was still not the end.
It was the Sabbath day so
they would not prepare his body, they needed to wait until the next day to do
Always looking forward we recount
the events leading up to that first Easter morning.
The next day some women came
back to prepare Jesus body for burial, they planned to anoint it with special
oils and perfumes. Then wrap it in a special way, as was their custom. They
were worried about how they would be able to move the stone away.
When they got there the stone
had already been rolled away. An angel was there, and he said, “Jesus is not
here, he is risen!”
At this point we again light a
candle and proclaim, Jesus is the light that is stronger than death, a light
that can never go out. He is not here. He is risen. The women ran to tell the
We too can think about our
response to Jesus resurrection. Will we also run to tell others the good news?
We may conclude our
preparation for the great feast of Easter with a celebration of the Liturgy of
Light. This is taken from the prayers of the Easter Vigil and once again we use
light to represent the Risen Jesus. A light that continues to spread as we
allow it to shine out from each one of us to the whole world.
As we draw near the Great
Feast of Easter, may you also receive this light anew and may it shine forth to
all you encounter and draw people to him who came to make us completely one
In the atrium we introduce
the children to the liturgical year firstly by looking at the colours of the
liturgical seasons. Children in level 1 are introduced to the colours for
Preparation (purple), getting ready for a feast. The feasts of Christmas and
Easter and their seasons are white. Ordinary time (green) is introduced as the
growing time, a time to allow the “food of the feast” to nurture our growing
relationship with God. The other colour (red) is for the Holy Spirit and the feast
As children progress
through the atrium we look at a circular liturgical calendar. This highlights
the cyclical nature of the liturgical year. The calendar has a small prism for
each Sunday of the year (ours also includes an extra prism to represent
Christmas Day as that does not always fall on a Sunday). Essentially this work
is a puzzle that the children pull apart and reconstruct. However, this
provides time for the children to reflect and notice different elements of our
liturgical cycle. Little facts such as Easter is longer than Lent. Ordinary Time
is very long, why would that be?
There are also things
to research further such as Easter is not always on the same date so how do we
know when it will happen? The numbers of the Sundays in Ordinary Time don’t
match the number of prisms, why would that be? When we attend daily Mass the
priest sometimes wears other colours, why?
The calendar is just a
starting point for discoveries about life in the church.
Many adults make
observations too such as the calendar does not progress in a clockwise
direction. Why would we have it going counter-clockwise? Could it be that God’s
time is different to our time?
As we approach the
three main feasts of our church year, Easter, Christmas and Pentecost, we celebrate
with the children. These celebrations are not just parties with gifts and food.
They are solemn celebrations looking at what the event is. With the children we
enter into the special time that we are celebrating. At Easter, this may take the
form of a re-enactment of the Last Supper and/or a Liturgy of Light
celebration. Prior to that, during Lent, we bury the “Alleluia” and save the
word for the special day when we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. During
Pentecost we meditate on the gift of the Holy Spirit and consider what those
gifts mean for us in our lives and how we can call on those gifts to help us
build God’s kingdom. During the Christmas Celebration we often have a lead up
during advent culminating in recalling Jesus being incarnate and also longing
for him to come again. Due to our long Summer break, this often happens a few
weeks prior to Christmas Day. Our CGS friends living in the Northern Hemisphere
will also celebrate the feast of Epiphany, recognising the gift given for all
Parents may be able to
foster a sense of the liturgical year in their homes by preparing for the
children a small table for prayer. Provide cloths in each of the 4 liturgical
colours that the children can place on the table according to the season. Add a
candle and perhaps a small statue of the Good Shepherd, the Holy Family etc.
Children enjoy spending time in quiet prayer or communal prayer, including
songs and hand made prayer cards. Ideas for short phrases can be taken from
words used in the Mass such as “Amen”, “Alleluia”, “Thanks be to God”, “Holy,
holy, holy”, “Thy kingdom come”. Other ideas can be found in the book “The Good
Shepherd and the Child a Joyful Journey”.
Leaving everything behind, stripped bare of all of the past and, like the legendary phoenix, from the ashes will rise a new beginning, a new life. Our Australian bushland knows this story, it is the story of each new generation, and it is part of God’s plan. We are called to walk through the fire and cover ourselves with ashes, a sigh that we know that we began as a speck and will one day return to the earth in our mortal body. Yet like the seed with so much hidden potential, that requires the heat of the fire to crack open, we too have hope that within us that part that is slowly being formed will seize hold of the potential and rise to new life.
So, we gather and place ash upon our heads and remember we are dust, we are sinners who although undeserving to have Him enter under our roof, know that by His word we are made whole.
Walking in the desert it is lonely, peaceful, barren yet full of life. It is where the prophets go to hear the voice of God. It is where Jesus went to prepare for his ministry. It is a place where the interruptions are those forced on us by our own thoughts. The temptations are mostly distractions from our real purpose. The hunger and thirst are nothing compared to our pride and earthly desires for recognition, for love, for possessions and good health. All are mirages when compared with the mission to which we are called; to deny ourselves and come follow Him; to see the place where He lives.
Forty days, a little over a month, seems like a drop in the ocean of our life. Some say that it takes forty days to change a habit. Is this forty days for us to recreate ourselves, to reform who we are, to make ourselves something closer to that which we are called to be?
Lent means spring, the season of new life of unrestrained growth. We celebrate it in autumn, the season of letting the last season’s growth fall away to prepare the earth for the next season of growth. Both symbolise putting off the old and taking on the new. Both seasons are vital for the survival of the ecosystem. It can be a springboard for us to change, a catalyst for us to take on something we have been holding back from. It can be a time to spring clean our lives in order to make room for The Life.
Our liturgical cycle refers to the readings and celebrations we have throughout the church year. The word Liturgy means the work of the people. This is the work we do as a community when we come together to celebrate the Mass.
Did you know that prior to the second Vatican Council the Church had only two readings for each Mass (these were a reading from the Epistles and the Gospel, readings from the Old Testament were rarely used), on a one year cycle? The same readings were used each year. Since Vatican II, each Sunday Mass has three readings have been used, one from the Old Testament (except after Easter where NT readings are used), the Second from the New Testament Epistles and the Gospel. These were used over a three year cycle. The intention was to expose the congregation to more of the Biblical texts. The weekday readings would also be expanded to a two year cycle with two readings at each Mass.
To figure out which year we are in, here’s a little trick; if the year is divisible by 3 then you are in year C. The years cycle alphabetically. In Year A the primary Gospel is that of Matthew, year B the Gospel is primarily Mark and year C it is Luke. The Gospel of John is proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the three years. For the weekdays Year 1 are the odd years, Year 2 the even.
The Liturgical Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent and concludes with the Feast of Christ the King. Like any calendar it celebrates special occasions or feasts and has seasons. The six seasons emphasis different parts of the life of Jesus. They are: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter Triduum (three events – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday), Easter, Ordinary Time. Each season is highlighted by using particular colours.
In the atrium of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd we highlight for the children three major feasts: Easter, Christmas and Pentecost. We celebrate the way God interacts with people through these great events.
We mark the passing of seasons through the use of liturgical colours on our prayer table and in some of the atrium works. We talk about the seasons through the liturgical colours. Purple (used in lent and advent) is for preparing for the feast to come. White, the colour we use at Baptism, the colour of the light, is for the great feasts of celebration (Easter and Christmas). Green, the colour of new leaves of growing things, is for the Ordinary Time, that long time between feasts where thewoders of Jesus sit within us and grow and form us. And red the colour of fire, the flame of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. One of the songs the children love to sing to hep them remember the colours and what they mean has these words:
We meditate specifically on the church liturgical cycle using the Liturgical Calendar. The calendar is circular, as it represents that the years continue in a pattern that repeats. The calendar is read in an anticlockwise direction, to remind us that this is not the same time we live in, it is not like a clock, but it is different. It is God’s time.