Simplifying & Experiencing the Core Gospel Message at CGS
Because of the richness of our Catholic faith, the essential elements of the Gospel can be hard to discern among our plentiful devotions, complex theological arguments and intricate liturgical celebrations.
In order to help Catholics rediscover this central message, the Diocese of Green Bay has outlined the core proclamation of the Gospel (also called the kerygma) in 5 simple steps: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Salvation and Re-Creation.
These points of the gospel are also lifted up in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd through developmentally targeted presentations that invite even the youngest children to encounter, contemplate and interiorize the Christian faith.
1) Creation: God is love and has created me for relationship with Him.
From the earliest age, children have a relationship with God, especially if they have been baptized. With the proper environment and encouragement a child can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
We proclaim small, bite-sized scriptures and then offer them materials to repeat the scripture passage through visual, auditory and hands-on application. We offer them models of what they see in the Mass and in the Sacraments and teach them the gestures, prayers and meanings of the essential moments of these liturgical rites.
At an age when children can comprehend time, the History of the Kingdom of God material is laid out before them, presenting the history of the universe and the creation of matter and biological life as great gifts from God to mankind.
In this work and in the History of the Gifts material, we marvel together about the variety and majesty of the minerals, metals and rocks, plants and spices, animals and humans that God created. We also place these gifts within the context of the entire Gospel, contemplating the redemption found in Jesus, our individual call to cooperate with God, and the second-coming of Christ (the Parousia) when God will be all-in-all.
2) Fall: I have broken my relationship with God by my sin.
Around the time when a child develops a sense of right and wrong, we begin to share the moral teachings of Jesus. In the Summary of the Law, Jesus declares “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22: 35-37).
We then delve into the maxims of Jesus—short, pithy saying about how we are to live in the kingdom of God. The children reflect on Jesus’ admonishment to “be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48), to “love your enemies” (Mt 5:44), to “let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no,’ (Mt 5:37) and to think about the repercussions of knowing that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19).
Children think about the high bar that Jesus sets for us and they think about what the world would look like if everyone lived according to God’s law. When they hear about Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches, they reflect on how well their branch is remaining on Jesus’ vine and what sins might be pulling them away from God.
3) Redemption: Jesus restores my relationship with God through His life, death and resurrection.
The incarnation of God in the person of Jesus is celebrated in the atrium through a plethora of materials aimed at placing the biblical stories in their proper historical and geographical context.
Through a series of manipulative maps we look at the actual places in Israel where Jesus lived, taught, performed miracles, died and rose again. We also ponder the ancient prophecies of men who lived hundreds of years before the coming of Christ and how they were fulfilled in the person of Jesus.
We contemplate how Jesus’ life and death brings us into a deep communion with God. We look at the parables of Jesus as the good shepherd who calls his sheep by name, searches for them when they get lost and lays down his life for them when the wolf comes.
4) Salvation: Jesus invites me to trust Him, to turn from sin, and to give my life to Him.
In first grade we invite the children to begin listening for Jesus’ call to the Eucharistic table.
As they learn about the Last Supper and contemplate the moments of the Mass, they also discern if the Holy Spirit is pulling them toward the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Eucharist. In the course of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade, children deeply ponder the Lord who is present in the Eucharist.
When they are ready, they are the ones who say “yes” to this great gift, coming forward willingly for Reconciliation and then joyfully to the celebration of the Lord’s supper. We pray that they continue to listen to God’s voice and say “yes” wherever he calls them.
5) Re-Creation: Jesus has poured the Holy Spirit into my heart to bring me to new life in His Church and sends us (the Church) on mission so that others can experience new life.
The children in the atrium not only work with the scriptures of Pentecost, learning about the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles, but also live out a smaller version of the church so that they are prepared to take up their mission in the world as they grow.
After reading from the Book of Acts and thinking about how the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles, bishops and priests to tell the world about Jesus, the children learn about their own Baptism and the Holy Spirit who lives in them. They contemplate Mary’s “yes” in agreeing to be the mother of God, Joseph’s “yes” in protecting the holy child during the flight to Egypt and their own place in the history of God’s kingdom as they choose to say “yes” or “no” to God each day.
The children also live out a kind of preparation for taking on the responsibility of caring for the church as they learn to care for the environment of the atrium (cleaning, polishing wood and metal objects, watering plants), as they help each other, and as they pray together (even putting together communal prayer services and leading the prayers).
Bring It Home: The Kerygma at Home
The atrium is a place where children are immersed in the Kerygma—the proclamation of the Gospel. As they grow in the life of the Church, may they always hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him wherever he leads.
Families can keep this immersion going at home with some of the resources below.
Proclaiming the Gospel for Kids
Proclaiming the Kerygma to Children & Youth at Home from Burning Hearts Disciples
Kerygma Resources for Adults from Burning Hearts Disciples
Encounter: Discovering Jesus (Grades K-2) from Diocese of Green Bay
Encounter: Discovering Jesus (Middle School) from Diocese of Green Bay
Tools for Teaching the Kerygma for Kids
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