GUIDED MEDITATIONS FOR CHILD CATECHUMENS
Sydney Ann Merritt
Paper, $25.95
160 pages, 5" 8"
ISBN 0-89390-475-9


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These guided meditations can help children make sense of the rites of Christian initiation — and connect their personal experiences to the Jesus story. Each of the 44 meditations is connected to one or more of the catechumenal rites. They are tested and easy to use. You get a guided meditation script that you can use “as is” or adapt, discussion questions and suggestions for music that will enhance the children’s experience. Topical and scriptural indices make this resource useful for other occasions as well.

About the Author

Sydney Ann Merritt has been involved in catechetical ministry for more than 40 years. She has been a director of religious education, a youth minister, a retreat leader and a Gospel drama director. Outside of parish circles, she is a court-appointed special advocate for children and recently was cited as one of the best in the country. She has contributed to the religious-education curriculum Celebrating the Lectionary and is the author of Guided Meditations for Children and Guided Meditations for Teens.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Introduction to Meditation: The Meeting Place

Part 1: Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate

1. We Begin Our Journey of Faith
Gen 12:1–4a

2. We Have Found the Messiah
Jn 1:35–42

Part 2: Period of the Catechumenate

Notes on Meditations During the Period of the Catechumenate

3. Invitation to a Wedding
Jn 2:1–12

4. Jesus Calls Your Name
Mt 4:12–23; Mk 1:14–20

5. Finding Happiness with Jesus
Mt 5:1–12

6. Do This in Memory of Me
Mt 26:26–29; Mk 14:22–25; Lk 22:17–20

7. Our Healing God
Mk 10:46–52

8. John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Mt 3:1–12; Mk 1:1–8; Mk 13:33–37

9. A Morning with Mary
Mt 1:18–25; Lk 1:26–38

10. In the Still of the Night
Lk 2:1–16

11. A Voice over the Water
Mt 3:11–17; Mk 1:7–11; Lk 3:15–16,21–22

12. Who Is Jesus Christ?

13. A Light in the Midst of Darkness
Mt 5:14–16

Part 3: Period of Purification and Enlightenment

Notes on Meditations During the Period of Purification and Enlightenment

14. Blessing of God’s Children

15. Away from Me, Satan
Mt 4:1–11; Mk 1:12–15; Luke 4:1–13

16. The Cloak of God
Mk 9:2–10; Lk 9:28–36a

17. Parable of the Lost Sheep
Lk 15:1–7

18. Wells of Wonder, Wells of Hope
Jn 4:5–15,19–30

19. Heal My Spirit, Lord
John 9:1–41

20. Welcome Home, My Child
Lk 15:11–32

21. The Death and Life of Lazarus
John 11:1–44

22. Hail to the King!
Lk 22:14–23,56

23. The Gentle Touch of Jesus
Jn 13:1–17

24. Prayer in the Garden
Mk 14:32–42

25. The Gift of Forgiveness
Mt 26:69–75

26. A Reflection of Life Everlasting
Luke 23:24–49

27. Ephphatha! Be Opened!
Mk 7:31–37

28. In the Beginning
Gen 1:1–2:2 (Easter Vigil Reading 1)

29. Do Not Be Afraid!
Gen 22:1–18 (Easter Vigil Reading 2)

30. My Name Is Jehovah
Ex 14:15–15:1 (Easter Vigil Reading 3)

31. A Love Letter
Isa 54:10 (Easter Vigil Reading 4)

32. Step into the Light
Isa 55:1–11 (Easter Vigil Reading 5)

33. Pleasing Father God
Bar 3:9–4:4 (Easter Vigil Reading 6)

34. A New Heart, A New Spirit
Ez 36:16–28 (Easter Vigil Reading 7)

35. Live in the Newness of Life
Rom 6:3–11 (Easter Vigil Epistle Reading)

36. He Is Risen!
Mt 28:1–10 (A); Mk 16:1–8 (B); Lk 24:1–12 (C)

Part 4: Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy

37. Your Touch Is Enough; I Believe!
Jn 20:19–31

38. A Walk in Faith
Lk 24:13–31

39. Shepherd Me, O God
Jn 10:1–10; Jn 10:11–18; Jn 10:27–30

40. The Vine and the Branches
Jn 14:1–12 (A); Jn 15:1–17 (B); Jn 13,31–33,34–35 (C)

41. I Will Come Back to You
Jn 14:23–29

42. As God Sent Me, I Send You into the World
Jn 17:1–11,11–19,20–26

43. The Breath of Life
Jn 20:19–23

Music Resources


Following is the introduction to Guided Meditations for Child Catechumens. All rights reserved. Copyright © Resource Publications, Inc.

Introduction: Teaching Children To Experience Jesus Through Prayer

The meditations presented in this book are an effective method of teaching children how to experience Jesus within themselves—in their minds and hearts. The meditations follow through the entire catechumenate process, including mystagogy. You will also find meditations based on catechumenate lesson plans as well as the lectionary. The book speaks to the spiritual lives of children beginning their own journey of faith, teaching them to establish a place in their imaginations where they can be with Jesus in the privacy of their hearts. Meditations evoke a child’s vivid imagination, leading them to their own experience of Jesus and spirituality. The children are led into a Gospel scene, where they will encounter the Lord through touch, feel, love, and prayer. They will “hear” the brush of angel’s wings, experience the wonderment and joy on the day of Pentecost, and “feel” the chill of the water as they step into the Jordan River with Jesus.

The meditations can be merged into any catechumenate program. For those using Celebrating the Lectionary from Resource Publications, Inc., the meditations can be incorporated into the weekly lesson plan as an alternate activity or used as introductions or conclusions to a unit. The book will outline the process for each meditation. Catechists and parents will be directed to read very slowly with slight pauses to allow the children time to visualize and feel the scene. Pauses will be indicated by (#.). Following each meditation, a quiet time is indicated. Allow 30 seconds or until the children become restless. Above all, don’t be discouraged if your first attempts do not evoke immediate success. In time, the children will learn to trust this method of prayer.

Family or class discussion questions will follow each meditation. The book does not suggest inviting the children to share their own experience of the meditation. This should remain a personal time with Jesus. However, if a child volunteers to share his or her experience, you will find that it stimulates the discussion time.

Suggestions

Teaching children to experience Jesus through prayer should be rewarding spiritually for the catechist as well as the children. Begin with “The Meeting Place.” This will create a place in their imagination to meet Jesus. The following few simple suggestions will help insure your success.

Reflection

Before presenting a meditation, take a few minutes for personal reflection on the Gospel scene. What images quicken your imagination? Ask yourself, “What is Jesus saying to me?”

Practice

To help you become more comfortable with this form of prayer, practice reading the meditation aloud slowly just as you will be doing with the children. You may choose to use a tape recorder to record and play back the meditation, listening for pauses and voice inflection. Are you speaking too softly or too quickly? Are you pausing long enough? Remember to: Read slowly with a slight pause where indicated (#.). Longer pauses should go no more than 30 to 45 seconds, or until you notice the children becoming restless.

Avoid speaking in a monotone. Change your voice to emphasize a change in character or scene.

Music

Background music is very important. It sets the tone. You will find music suggestions at the beginning of each meditation. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own favorite instrumentals. The soft strumming of a guitar or melodious tones of a piano are also helpful.

Space

Allow time to create an atmosphere of prayer for the children. Lower the lights or pull the shades. Candlelight is helpful. Place an open Bible and small candle in a prominent space. Will the children have room to find a comfortable position during the meditation? Some children may prefer to sit in their own seat or on the floor rather than lying on the floor. Floor pillows or carpet squares are a great way of indicating private space.

Gospel Presentation and Prayer Format

Encourage spontaneous prayer during prayer services. How God must love the honesty and directness of a child. When reading from the Bible, try using more than one reader, telling the story in several voices. Dramatize as much as possible. A child will long remember a story that he or she took an active part in. Make sure as many children as possible have parts, even if that means you have to have talking or moving “rocks,” “trees,” or “flowers.” Invite the children to put the story into modern times. Do not be afraid to be inventive. God’s word has stood the test of time and is meant for all of us to understand.

Echo Format in Reading of the Word as well as for Traditional Prayers

Invite two or three participants to echo (repeat) the last three or four words of each verse or line of a prayer. Above all, remember that you cannot “ruin” a prayer. Here are a few examples to try:

Leader: Our Father, who art in heaven
First echo: Who art in heaven
Second echo: Who art in heaven

Leader: Hallowed be thy name
First echo: Holy is thy name
Second echo: Holy is thy name

Or:

Leader: Glory be to the Father
First echo: To the Father
Second echo: To the Father

Leader: And to the Son
First echo: And to the Son
Second echo: To the Son

Divide the room into two sections, asking each one to echo the verse or line in order. The effect involves each child in creating a meaningful prayer experience.

Do not become discouraged if your first attempts are not what you hoped for. Each child will take home his or her visit with Jesus within his or her own heart and mind. Good luck!