“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 18:3)
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19:14)
The Atrium (plural: Atria) provides an age-appropriate atmosphere of personal retreat, offering a rich sensorial experience of scripture and liturgy for children as a passage to prayer and personal encounter with the Good Shepherd.
As adults we often meditate through reading a passage of scripture and then allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through this.
In the Atrium, the child meditates on specific portions of scripture and liturgy by using materials as meditation aids. Through moving the figures of the Good Shepherd and sheep or pouring the wine into a chalice and reflecting on the meaning behind this gesture, he is able to enter deeply into the life of Jesus and the liturgy of the Mass.
There in this form of meditation, he meets God.
As adults, we learn to respect this personal relationship between God and the child. In the Atrium, the only Teacher is Christ. The catechist does not teach, but takes on the role of an unworthy servant of the Gospel, providing a service to the children (such as proclaiming the Word and asking questions to aid reflection). The children and the adult together adopt a receptive, listening stance, remain open to the Word of God, and contemplate the wonder of his infinite love.
Older children deepen their early experience of this love-relationship by copying and illustrating the parables they love, by immersing themselves in the prayers and rites of the Church and reflecting on how God has showered love on mankind from the start of time – from Creation and Redemption through to the awaited Parousia.
The Atrium is first and foremost a place of community prayer and worship for children (and their catechists), as opposed to a place of study. It is a place for retreat; a place where “work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer"; a place to fall in love and to grow an intimate relationship with Jesus.
The Atrium is a place of encounter between God and his beloved. In the atrium, the Good Shepherd comes to love us. The Living Flame of Love sets us ablaze – adult and child alike – with the fire of Divine Love, a love which burns away the trials of life through the fire of His Presence, a love which stoops down into our nothingness and transforms even this nothingness into FIRE.