I have been and always will be an advocate for integrating a “language of mystery” into our faith formation sessions—using signs, symbols, rituals, music, movement, silence, and so on to deepen our awareness of the mysterious presence of Christ in our midst. The following idea flows from that commitment but also has value as a practical, pedagogical tool to enhance the experience of reading from a textbook.
I have written before about the role of textbooks in faith formation. While they are crucial, they are not the be-all-and-end-all of a lesson, and a session should never consist solely of reading from a textbook from the start of class to the end. However, for those segments of your lesson when you are leading young people through a textbook, it can be helpful to liven things up a little by using an old youth ministry trick of tossing a foam ball to the young person who is to read the next section of the text. The idea I’d like to share with you is a variation of that and one that can add to the sacredness of your session.
My suggestion is to acquire a mini-lantern with a flameless LED tea light candle (Do a Web search to find several options.) and to present it to the young person whose turn it is to read aloud, thus signifying that he or she is holding the light of Christ while reading. When the young person is finished reading the section, she or he can pass it along to another participant, thus symbolizing how we are to spread the light of Christ to others. The lantern can also be held by anyone who comes forward to proclaim a Scripture reading, to lead prayer, or to share a prayer intention. When it is not being used, it can sit on the prayer table next to the open Bible as a reminder of the light of Christ in our midst.
The image of a lantern is especially significant in two ways: it recalls the Scripture passage, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105), as well as the story of St. Marcellin Champagnat (founder of the Marist Brothers) who, when trapped in a blizzard with a companion and nearing exhaustion and certain death, prayed the Memorare only to see almost immediately a man carrying a lantern from a farmhouse a short distance away where they found refuge.
May the light of Christ continue to burn brightly in your faith formation setting!
Included in every session opener of Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts 2021, Scripture is also highlighted in the With My Family pages and is the focus of Scripture posters and BLMs.