The gesture which is presented to the children after The Preparation of the Chalice in the Atrium is The Epiclesis. This is the moment where Father lowers both hands over the gifts of bread and wine (and water!) which have been prepared. Beginning at the age of three, we ponder this gesture in the Atrium. The children often begin by saying this gesture is a "blessing," and, through their personal repetition of this gesture in the Atrium, they come to recognize that it is the moment when Father asks God to send the Holy Spirit to make the bread and wine (and water!) into Jesus. It is the moment in which we receive the greatest of gifts, Jesus Christ, God Himself. In the Atrium there are several works which support or parallel our pondering of this gesture. One is the Cenacle, where we recall Jesus' words at the Last Supper, the first time He showed the Apostles how He would remain with them after His death and resurrection. The second is a work called The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd, where we help the children recognize that the Church is the place where the Good Shepherd calls His sheep to feed them with the best food and best drink, feeding them with Himself.
The Eucharistic Presence of the Good Shepherd.
This illustration was done by a 1st year elementary child. He worked for three Atrium sessions to copy all of the words of the elementary gestures booklet entitled: "The Eucharistic Presence: Epiclesis and the Account of the Last Supper." During these weeks he also received the presentation on La Fettuccia, a long ribbon which shows the "vastness" of Salvation History, from Creation, through Redemption, and looking forward toward Parousia. This illustration, done on the back page of his booklet, shows a synthesis of these presentations. The blue and brown strip show the part of the ribbon which represents Creation. We also see the world and the Church, to the right. Jesus' light, representing the moment of Redemption, is shining out of creation onto the world and the Church. On the left, the dove is the Holy Spirit, who was present in creation and is also present today, particularly in the moment of Epiclesis. Under that image is, again, the cross shining the light of Jesus. At the bottom left is an image of the crucifixion with water and blood pouring out as the water and wine are added to the chalice before the moment of Epiclesis. The light surrounding the image of crucifixion shows that the Light is always stronger, even in moments of great darkness. The Epiclesis is the moment in which God gives us the greatest of gifts, Jesus. What a beautiful illustration of the fullness of this great moment!
Lead Catechist for The Way of the Shepherd and CGS Formation Leader