Turning Heads…Literally – Use of Video at Reconciliation Prayer Service

Projector LensThings turned out very nicely with the use of video at our Lenten Reconciliation Prayer Service last evening. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post (Tonight, I’m the Tech Guy!), I coordinated the use of video for 5 different moments of our Lenten Reconciliation Prayer Service last evening, including images of “Stories of Hope” from Operation Rice Bowl, opening and closing songs, a video examination of conscience and a Powerpoint reflection of images of Jesus while children went to confession.

The video screen was to the right of the sanctuary, where the piano is located. As we welcomed everyone to sing the opening song, Hosea – Come Back to Me, all heads turned to lock onto the video screen and the assembly sang very nicely (the sound from the video was amplified through the church sound system). The same was true for the closing song, Amazing Grace, and the video examination of conscience (which I also “narrated”). These moments most certainly enhanced the prayer.

Showing the images of the “Stories of Hope” from Operation Rice Bowl (as the stories were read aloud) was moderately successful only because the narrator was on the far left side of the sanctuary so there was a great distance between the narrator and the images being shown on the screen off to the right. Even so, it helped for the young people to visualize the people they will be helping through Operation Rice Bowl.

Showing the Images of Jesus Powerpoint (accompanied by instrumental music) as the children went to confession was more successful with the 4th graders during the 1st session than it was with the 6th graders during the 2nd session. It gave the children something they could focus on as they waited either to go to confession or for the others to finish. However, few seemed to avail themselves of this opportunity and they ignored it, still tending  to see this stretch of time (usually about 20-25 mins) as a time to chat with their friends. We space them out so there are only 3 per row and the catechists as well as the DRE walk about trying to keep them quiet however they still see this time simply as a lull and an opportunity to chat (albeit quietly, but still chatting). It almost seems to me that, during the time when confessions are being heard, children need to focus on a task – perhaps looking up a few Scripture passages and prayerfully answering some reflection questions. And perhaps, as they do so, they need to be seated one per row so they have less opportunity to mingle. Suggestions? Thoughts? Stories from your own experience?

[picture courstesy of Michael Porter via Compfight]

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13 Responses to “Turning Heads…Literally – Use of Video at Reconciliation Prayer Service”

  1. Martha Says:

    In the past few years, after the children (grades 3-6) have received the sacrament, we have given them a small booklet, “The Way of the Cross for Children” (also “The Way of the Cross for Young Christians”). Then we instruct them to physically walk the way of the cross, stopping at each station around the church to read the pages in the booklet. The priests have agreed that this makes a good penance and it keeps the kids occupied and eliminates the chattiness.

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  2. Jean Says:

    thanks for the inspiration. i love the video idea, now I need to make it work! Not to be a nit-picker, but “Hosea” is by Gregory Norbet out of Weston Priory in Vermont, not John Michael Talbot.

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  3. Deborah Swift Says:

    Congratulations on the good results. As far as the chatting, at our church when kids and grownups have to wait, we sing hymns while waiting in the pews and listen while waiting standing. My 7-th grade daughter suggests bringing catechism lessons to work on, or reading, or inventing a quiet game. It could be that the more you work on separating the kids from one another, the more they’ll resist.

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  4. Frank Koob Says:

    Joe
    About seating.

    We do 4 per pew (long pews) and leave one blank in between each row.

    We also experiment with “things to do” while waiting.

    Our kids do not see the separation as discipline, but rather an opportunity for quiet time.

    The best was last Monday when we had 12 2nd graders for First Reconciliation. They sat with their parents.

    We had two priests with confessions open face in the sanctuary. The kids watched their classmates as they made their confessions.

    By the way, our older kids would rather go to the confessional. Is that true for others?

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    • Joe Says:

      Thanks, Frank. Good suggestions. One of my 6th graders was asking about the confessional box on Monday and said she wishes she could go there for confession!

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    • Jean Says:

      It has been a little bit of a surprise to us, but we have found over the past couple of years, even the younger students would just as soon go “behind the screen” rather than face-to-face and would rather have some sort of physical barrier between them and the rest of the congregation. We have used divider screens, banners on poles and existing furniture so they don’t feel so exposed. Father has said that the quality of confessions has improved – meaning the children seem more thoughtful and willing to confess more than one thing. The anonymity seems to help them relax – and our pastor is very relaxed and welcoming anyway.

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  5. Frank Koob Says:

    A suggestion I have not tried: Why not use the blank waiting time for guided meditation?

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    • Joe Says:

      I’d be concerned about the voice of the person leading the reflection interfering with the priests’ ability to hear confessions. It depends on the logistics of the gathering space.

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  6. Joe Says:

    Theresa writes:

    Joe, this sounds amazing!
    I chuckled about the kids being restless and talking in church in spite of your best efforts! I am totally with you on the one kid per pew thing! We run into similar problems with parents talking during our First Penance services! Tasks are good, I will give that idea more thought. I would have thought the powerpoint would have helped. Years ago, a nun suggested that we pray the rosary during confessions. I thought it was a good idea, but in both parishes that I was in, the pastor squelched it.

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  7. Joe Says:

    Patricia writes:

    We too have reconciliation in the Lenten season for all of our faith formation students.
    The children go to their classrooms as usual. The parish priests find another nearby classroom, and a few students at a time wait at the door of a known confessor. My fifth graders willingly get up from their desks for the sacrament of reconciliation.
    Patricia Russo

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