The Gestures Altar is a favorite material in the Level I and II Atria. Pondering the idea that gestures/movements have meaning, looking at one moment of the Mass in isolation, and linking individual prayers together to see the beauty and unity of the Mass all seem to factor into the children’s love of this station. Several years ago the 9-12 year olds who shared space with the Level I and II children were dissatisfied with the simplicity of the materials and “demanded” that a corporal, burse, pall, and purificator be added to the chalice and paten made of precious metal. Their concern came from their knowledge and experience of these items as sacristans, and they felt it was unacceptable for the young children to think the items of the altar only included the paten and chalice. It was hard to argue with their reasoning and so now even the 3-year-olds learn to “Dress the Altar” and “Dress the Chalice” before pondering any of the Gestures lifted up through this material.
After pondering several gestures, this child “Dresses the Chalice.”
The corporal is folded and put in the burse.
The purificator is placed over the chalice.
The pall is placed on top of the paten and covered by the burse.
The paten is set over the purificator.
After checking his work, the “Dressed Chalice” is returned to the shelf for the next child!
In pondering the Gestures of the Mass with the children, they have shared the following…
After Preparing the Chalice by combining a cruet filled with wine and a tiny drop of water, two extended day (kindergarten) children said…
“I think the water is the sheep and the wine is the Good Shepherd.”
“No! The water is us! Jesus is the wine and the water is us!”
Pondering the same gesture, a four-year-old said, “He did it in remembering of us.”
And this same four-year-old, when asked what the priest might be praying through the Gesture of Epiclesis said, “He’s saying, ‘Come stay with us, Jesus!’”
Here is an extended day child beginning his work at the Gestures Altar by preparing the chalice…