Scripture proclaims: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:10). This passage has special meaning for Catholics because we prepare, remember, celebrate, and live “time” each year through the lens of the liturgical year, the annual cycle that celebrates the Paschal Mystery and God’s loving plan for the salvation of all people through Jesus Christ.
Teaching students about the seasons and celebrations of the liturgical year is an important responsibility for all catechists. We can do this in a variety of ways.
• Set aside one lesson each year to overview the liturgical year. With older students, display a poster that illustrates the Church year. With younger students, draw a circle on the chalkboard or a poster as you explain the major seasons and mark them on the circle. Point out that the major seasons of the year are Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, the Easter Triduum, and the Easter Season. Explain to older students that we celebrate two periods of Ordinary Time; the first after the Christmas Season, and the second after the Easter Season. Point out that the liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent. Work with the class to clarify what and how the Church celebrates during the different seasons.
• Visit the parish church with your class to point out signs and symbols of the Church year. For example, note the presence of the paschal candle and explain that a new paschal candle is lighted each year at the Easter Vigil. Take the children into the sacristy and show them the vestments worn by the priest. Work with them to match the colors of the vestments to the different Church seasons. As the year unfolds, remind the students of the signs and symbols you explored during your church visit.
• Throughout the liturgical year, decorate your classroom prayer space with colors and symbols that represent each season. During Advent, center your prayer around the Advent wreath; during Lent, make the crucifix the focus of prayer; during the Easter Season, pray with signs of new life—blessed water, eggs, flowers, and so forth.
• Incorporate the lectionary into your lessons throughout the Church year. Set aside time to read the Sunday Gospel and to discuss it with the class. Help the students make the connection between the Word of God, the Church season, and their lives.
Preparing for and celebrating the liturgical year is a joyful way of helping students experience God’s love and Christ’s presence throughout the year. As a catechist, capitalize on these opportunities to walk with the Lord!