Having just celebrated the Liturgy of the Light, the Atrium’s most solemn celebration of the year, where the one Risen Light of Christ spreads to many as each child receives a candle lit from the Paschal Candle, the youngest children are led to an encounter with the moment they themselves were first invited into the family of God. Receiving the Sacrament of Baptism marks the moment when the Risen Life and Light of Jesus is placed deep within each individual, shown by being clothed in a white garment in order to depict on the outside the new Light filling the soul on the inside. The experience of light casting out darkness is illustrated in a particularly beautiful way through the handing out of individual candles which are then enjoyed by those receiving them. Often they return to the Baptism Area throughout the year in order to have more extended time of pondering this beautiful gift. Extensions such as a Baptism collage and drawing and decorating their own Easter Candle also help them to continuing enjoying their Baptism. This year the youngest children sang many songs of joy as they sat with their candles which reminded them of the gift of the Light!
In the words of the children…
– “Thank you, Jesus!” (Four-year-old girl)
– “It’s so bright!” (Five-year-old girl)
– “It’s like a pathway of light to the Light of Jesus!” (Six-year-old boy)
– “You can keep the garment clean by being nice. If you had no marks on it when you die that would be so beautiful!” (Six-year-old boy)
As the children grow, the work of the Baptism area grows with them. The water, Word, and oils are introduced as well as the gestures (actions/movements of the priest).
Upon entering the Level II or Lower Elementary Atrium, all of these gifts are placed in the order in which they are received through the Rite of Baptism and the children, after laying out the cards representing these moments in order, use them to recall the Rite in groups of two or three at a time, reading shortened versions of the prayers of the priest. Some children even choose to write and illustrate their own Baptism Missal!
While the Level II Rite of Baptism work only lifts up the most essential moments of the Sacrament, the Level III or Upper Elementary material is composed of each and every prayer of the Rite of Baptism. This series of Baptism presentations is just one example of how the Atrium helps the children move from the most essential elements of our faith to the beautiful, expanded whole so that they might broaden their experience and understanding as they grow!