The Trinity is a beautiful mystery that cannot be fully explained or understood through human language, which makes it a challenge to communicate to children when we rely on words in our catechesis. The early Christians came to know God as trinitarian through their lived experiences of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can help children to identify their own experiences of the Persons of the Trinity and therefore come to a deeper understanding of this mystery.
The Father: Creator and Provider
We can incorporate prayer to the Father into lessons on creation, praising and thanking God for this amazing and diverse gift, by going on a prayer walk around the grounds of our church or doing visio divina with images of creation or lectio divina with the creation stories in Genesis. Children could bring in a picture of their backyard or nature scenery from a vacation to share.
Another idea for understanding God’s role as Father is to break down the prayer line by line when we pray the Our Father. For example, the words, “Thy will be done,” point to God’s perfect plan for each of us. “Give us this day our daily bread” speaks to God as our provider, who will care for our needs. And “forgive us our trespasses” reminds us of God’s limitless mercy as a loving Father. Ask children where they experience these ideas in their daily lives.
The Son: Savior and Friend
Jesus gives us such an amazing gift of being physically present in the Eucharist, so we should offer the experience of celebrating the Mass to children as much as possible in our programs. We can also take our children into the church to pray in front of the tabernacle.
Work with the catechetical leader to ask the priest to expose the Eucharist for a class time of Adoration. It does not need to be a full holy hour; for children it could be a holy five or ten minutes, and it does not need to be completely silent! Reflections are often given during holy hour, so don’t be afraid to guide children through Adoration, leaving time for silence as well. We can prepare our children for this encounter by practicing short experiences of meditative prayer and presenting a Scripture passage of a loving image of Jesus, such as the Good Shepherd, to help them focus. Remind the children that they can call on Jesus any time they need to, as he is both Savior and friend.
The Holy Spirit: Advocate and Guide
When we teach lessons about Baptism and Confirmation, we can pray to the Holy Spirit, asking for a strengthening of the gifts given us so that they may bear fruit. We can pray through our actions, using our gifts to do a service project. Teaching children the simple words, “Come, Holy Spirit,” is a powerful reminder that we can call on our Advocate any time we need help. It is helpful to model this prayer in the moment when a child reveals a struggle or worry.
We can also give children an experience of charismatic prayer in the Spirit by incorporating praise and worship music into our class time. Choose simple, repetitive songs that children can easily learn. Play music softly as children work on an activity, or sing and dance loudly together in prayer!
As children share their faith lives with us, we can point out how the Persons of the Trinity are working together for their salvation. Instead of being afraid of the Trinity because of its incomprehensibility, let us encourage children in loving this mystery with a sense of wonder through their lived experiences.