Friday, March 21, 2014

Kids Wanna Know

The next few posts link to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

Too Catechetical for Words

We had 28 class meetings on this year's Wednesday Night Sunday School schedule. Since New Year's we've lost two days to snow, plus about another 1/2 class to other events. The later in the year I lose classtime, the harder it is to compensate. I don't talk faster because we already move at the Speed of Comprehension. What I do instead is prioritize and eliminate, like Frederick the Great.

Two evenings ago we covered the Resurrection through the Ascension.  We use a handout showing an image of the Anastasis, and a Supper at Emmaus by Rembrandt. In covering the Anastasis, for reasons of time I didn't translate a couple of Greek abbreviations in the picture, although I did explain the Greek word Anastasis, and show the kids how to pronounce the letters. Then we moved on.

After class one of the kids asks, what do these two things mean, i.e., the IC and XC.


See, what I leave out is exactly what someone wants to know. I go over the squiggies and the letters. In moments like this when a child wants to know something particular, I always want to answer the question directly, but than add a bit that points to the bigger picture. So I say a bit about words on ikons, and also write on the board similar squiggied-letters that often appear in Mary-ikons: MP and ThY, which abbreviate Μητηρ Θεού MITIR ThEOU, Mother [of] God. It was a nice little lesson.

Now, this isn't just a chance to for a child to take away something extra; it's also a chance to involve the parents. Next week I'll give her a prayer card like this one:


Is has MR-ThY and also IC-XC. Thanks to reader Moonshadow, I understand that to the left and right are the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Greek says O AP M  (The ARchangel Michael) and O AP G (The ARchangel Gabriel). I'll write the translations on the back. I'll also get her to tell me what the angels are holding, and why they matter (they're a few of the Instruments of the Passion). I'm confident she'll know the cross and the spear. But what's that other thing? I blew it up for a closer look, and I think it's the sponge on the hyssop stick. She already knows what it is, it's just not easy to recognize. I expect to give her hints, e.g. "I thirst." I'll conclude by saying she oughta show her parents what she's learned and impress the heck out of them.

In this business you never know when or where stuff will grow. Just throw the seeds, you won't run out.

If I had all the time in the world, a whole class could be spent on this single image: its visual catechesis, Queen of Heaven, King of Heaven, Mother of God, Fully God, Fully Man, Immaculate Conception, Crucifixion, angels, the Greek words, all of which allude to Scripture and of course the Big Catholic Picture.

For those who want to know more about cryptic Greek on ikons, here's an old post about John the Baptist.

12 comments:

Moonshadow said...

I don't know what the ones over the angels mean.


The mu and the gamma lead me to believe the angels are Michael and Gabriel.

I had a student ask about the tetragrammaton being printed "LORD" in English OTs. So I clipped out the relevant paragraph from a Bible preface and gave it to her. She hasn't returned to class since.

Moonshadow said...

I want to say that the woman in the resurrection icon is Mary Magdalene (John 20:17) because even though the BVM often wears red in Orthodox iconography (a color I prefer to blue, personally), she isn't described as being present at a resurrection appearance.

Christian LeBlanc said...

Ah- this Anastasis is Jesus having descended into Hell/Sheol/ Hades. So those are all "dead" people getting first dibs on going to Heaven.

Wow! Michael and Gabriel! You must wonder if I can look at angels with an M and a G over their heads and figure out anything at all. Thanks.

Christian LeBlanc said...

"She hasn't returned to class since."

No good deed goes unpunished.

We cover the YHWH-LORD thing in class each year.

Christian LeBlanc said...

OK, so I bet the Greek is O AP M and O AP G, that is The AR(changel)Michael and The AR(changel)Gabriel. I may update the post, but you get the credit.

Moonshadow said...

So those are all "dead" people

I do see one dead person, one brown corpse, wrapped in cloths and bound with rope neck and feet. Somewhat gruesome.

But Mary isn't dead. I'm sticking with John 20:17 regarding her posture.

Christian LeBlanc said...

This is not a picture of Jesus exiting the Tomb on Easter Sunday. It's a picture of The Harrowing of Hell.

"By the expression 'He descended into Hell', the Apostles' Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil 'who has the power of death' (Hebrews 2:14). In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened Heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him." The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christian LeBlanc said...

http://lent.goarch.org/holy_pascha/learn/

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/christs-descent-into-hell-icon-explanation/

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Resurrection

Moonshadow said...

I'll read those and I'm sure you're right.

Usually the Harrowing of Hell pictures Adam and Eve looking really, really dead. The figures with Christ here just don't look like Adam and Eve to me - they are too much alive looking.

Christian LeBlanc said...

A Google image search on "harrowing of hell" will show how much variation there is in how it's depicted.

Scott Lyons said...

I've often been tempted to teach a year of faith formation around iconography. Perhaps I should simply seek to better incorporate them.

Christian LeBlanc said...

There's a lot of stuff I do on the fly that I maybe could reorganize into something bigger, like ikons, saints, & sacred art, but in 6th grade I already have my salvation history theme. Then within that theme I fit in the other stuff as it applies. 'Course by the time we've spent 20 minutes on an ikon, the kids are ready for something else.