Due to unsafe temperatures and slick roads, I'm cancelling Catechesis of the Good Shepherd today. Please stay safe and warm!
When we return on Sunday, January 8, 2017, I'll give the presentation I had planned for today: the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. If you have time today, could you read the Bible passage about this and discuss it with your children? You can find it in the passage in Luke 1:29-45 (NAB with Revised Psalms and Revised New Testament) which is linked here on the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website. (Full URL: http://www.usccb.org/bible/luke/1:26.
When I give the presentation to the children, I light a candle, read the presentation, and then sit quietly for a few minutes. Then, I bring out the materials: a mini diorama of Elizabeth's house, a figure of Mary and another of Elizabeth. Then I read the passage again, moving the figures into the diorama while I read the passage. Afterwards, I ask the children a number of "wondering" questions, like:
"I wonder how Elizabeth felt when she saw Mary?" or
"I wonder how Elizabeth felt when she heard Mary's voice?"
"I wonder how Mary felt when Elizabeth greeted her?"
"What do you think Elizabeth was "filled" with?
"What did Elizabeth know about Mary?"
"Do you remember the name Elizabeth used for Mary's baby?"
"What did Elizabeth's baby do when she heard Mary's voice?"
I will then look at the diorama quietly for a few minutes, then ask the children if they have anything they would want to say to Mary, if they were there.
We might sing a song (like a simplified version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel), then I'll have a child extinguish the candle with the snuffer. Then I'll invite them to use the materials whenever they would like.
I might also invite them to draw or write something in their journal about Mary's visit to Elizabeth, or I'll have some tracing sheets they can use on our light table. Some of them want to color a picture, so sometimes I'll have coloring sheets like this and this available to them.
Soon I'll post a photo of our Visitation diorama! I purchased a plain wooden building from a woodworker. A wonderful parishioner, Terri Cascarano, stained it for me, and even made a little cushion for the mattress on the small bed. Thank you so much, Terri!
Keep an eye on the Facebook page. In the church, we are now celebrating the "Golden Nights" by praying one of the "O'Antiphons" every night from December 17 to December 23. There are some wonderful ways that you can share this beautiful tradition with your children. I'll share those ideas in a series of posts on our "Seeking the Shepherd" Facebook page.
May your last week of Advent be filled with "waiting in joyful hope!"