Setting up a prayer center in the faith-formation classroom is a key element in establishing an environment of prayer. The visual reminders of our Catholic faith invite young people to remember to quiet themselves in the presence of the holy. While we all know that God is everywhere and we can pray at any time, a dedicated prayer center is a special place where young people can gather in the presence of God.
But beyond the prayer table or corner, a catechist can make the classroom environment reinforce the faith lesson. From the arrangement of the chairs to the display of religious items, there are many things you can do to make your classroom a sacred space for your group. Of course, if you are sharing a classroom, you may have limited options for furniture arrangement* or wall displays.
1. Bring in the saints.
Recognize the saint of the day by writing the saint’s name on the board or displaying a Catholic calendar that you can reference for the liturgical feasts. Many parishes hand out religious calendars at the turn of the year, so it’s easy to know who is remembered each day. Perhaps invoke the saint’s intercession during prayer time and share a brief story about the saint as part of the lesson.
2. Display religious art.
Even catechists who share a classroom and cannot leave permanent displays in the learning space can display religious art to capture the imagination of young people. The Art Prints that accompany the Finding God series are on large easels that can be placed on a spare desk when in use and then stored flat between sessions. Posters that come with your textbook can be hung with magnets on different magnetic surfaces found in the average classroom. Vary the artwork you display to match different themes through the year.
3. Have Catholic books on hand.
In addition to the open Bible you probably have enthroned in the prayer center, a set of Bibles for classroom use is helpful, as are extra copies of the textbook for students who may have forgotten their book that week. But you may also want to keep a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for occasional reference when questions arise. That shows students that you know where to look up questions about what Catholics believe, and they might be able to use the Catechism for their own reference too. Books on the lives of the saints can help if you recognize the saint of the day or choose to dig deeper into the story of a saint referenced in your text. Catholic prayer books are also good additions to the classroom to show the variety of prayer styles available to us as Catholics.
4. Place sacramentals in the room.
Sacramentals may be something to add to your prayer table seasonally, such as laying out a rosary during October or May. Display holy cards or saints medals during November when we remember All Saints and All Souls. Holy water would be good to have during a lesson on the sacraments. These tangible reminders of our faith foster our devotions that ultimately bring us closer to Christ.
These four ideas for enhancing your classroom environment can make any classroom or meeting room a sacred space. How do you create a sacred space in your classroom?
*Always remember to move back in place anything you move during your session, and leave the room as you found it.