Monday, May 23, 2016

Catching up post: Our Last Supper Paraliturgy on Palm Sunday

Hi everyone,

I'm catching up with some blog updates that I missed earlier in the year.  Want to share as much information and photos as possible with our parents!

This post is about our Last Supper Paraliturgy, which we held with the children on Palm Sunday (March 20, 2016). 

We (parents, children, catechists and junior helpers) met in our room number 1, outside the PAR, and each child was given a name tag that listed the name of  one of Jesus' disciples.  They will play the role of Jesus' disciples at our Last Supper Paraliturgy later.  Each child also collected the paper hand "palms" they made last week, which will they will carry during our procession.  Father Gabriel blessed the palms in the PAR and all of the congregation began processing out of the PAR, around the school building and into the narthex of the church.  Our group followed the rest of the congregation in the procession.  Here are a few photos of the children getting ready for the procession, and then processing out of the PAR and into the church. (Remember, the names you see are NOT the children's actual names, but the name of the disciple they will play during our paraliturgy.)

 Here are the children processing outside.

 After we left the parents in the church, we went back down to the atrium and sang songs, while I worked with our junior helpers to practice for our Last Supper paraliturgy.  We set up room 3 with a low table covered with a white tablecloth, and a side table held a paten, matzo bread, chalice, grape juice, candles, and crucifix.  The room was dark except for one lamp -- was trying to recreate the atmosphere that it might have been in the Cenacle, where Jesus held the last supper. 

After the junior helpers had rehearsed their parts, we brought all the children into room 3 and I explained to the children what they saw in the room and what they were about to see.   Then our junior helpers acted out the Last Supper:

- Lizzie and Jenny were our narrators, telling the story
- Patrick was Jesus
- Calista and Maria were Peter and John
- Anna was an additional helper (Mary Magdalene)

Lizzie and Jenny shared how Jesus (played by Patrick) called Peter and John (Calista and Maria), and asked them to find the special room and prepare it for their special meal.  So Peter and John went to the far side of the room and set up the table with the paten, matzo, chalice, grape juice and towel.  Then they returned to Jesus, and Lizzie and Jenny told how in the evening Jesus and his followers returned to the special room.  They moved to the table, then I invited the children to sit around the table too.   Jesus said "This is My Body" and the paten with matzo was passed around.  Each child broke off a small piece and handed it to the next child until everyone had a piece.  Then Jesus said "This is My Blood" and sipped from the chalice filled with grape juice, then demonstrated how to use the towel to wipe it off before passing it on to the next person.  And it was passed around to every child.  They had the option to sip or just pretend to sip, wipe it off and then pass it on. 

After this, Jesus, Peter and John and Mary Magdalene left singing "Amen".  Then I said to the children.  "So Jesus celebrated this special meal with his followers and friends, and then went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  But the story wasn't over then.  The next day, He died."  (I put a crucifix on the table where Jesus was sitting.)  But that isn't the end of the story, because in three days He rose from the dead."  (I light two candles and put them on the table near the crucifix.)   I gave them a few minutes to ponder this and to watch the flame of the candles, and then we sang "Amen" and processed into the other room for snack time.

I wish I had photos of this!  Perhaps next year.  I hesitate to take photos during the paraliturgy as it may distract the children from the solemn, meditative environment. But perhaps I can capture some photos with the children around the low table after the event next year.

 It was such a wonderful experience -- the children's intense concentration during the "This is My Body" and "This is My Blood," and their quietness as they passed around the bread and wine to share with each other.     When they see this in church, it will now begin to mean much more to them.   The careful way they held the paten and sipped from the chalice -- they've seen all of you do that many times when you go to communion!   This is such a deeply moving experience.  Even our antsy kids sit still during most of this paraliturgy!

And THANK YOU to our junior helpers -- Lizzie, Jenny, Patrick, Maria, Calista and Anna -- who did a MARVELOUS job acting out this special last supper that Jesus held with his apostles!   (Parents of junior helpers -- will you give your children my HUGE thanks and let them know how proud I am of them.  They really made this moment real for the children!)

Afterwards, I asked a few children if we should do this every year, and they enthusiastically said "YES!"   Please feel free to drop me a note with anything your child shares about this paraliturgy, and if you feel it affected them in a deep way.  Sometimes it may not be obvious at first, but with time...