From the St. Thomas Aquinas/St. John's Church Religious Education Program, East Lansing, Michigan
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
THE HOLY TRINITY - First Grade Lesson
We have had wonderful experiences presenting the idea of the Holy Trinity to first graders. It is not presented in many first grade texts, but we have found, that like many difficult concepts, young children can begin to grasp them at their own level. And, they can begin to build on the ideas.
So, in our presentation we use some of the typical materials - we tell the children about St. Patrick and share his image of the Trinity as being akin to a shamrock. The book pictured here, "3 in 1" does a beautiful job of relating the Trinity to an apple - skin, flesh and seeds.
We also provide some more concrete examples for the children to see. For example, we give them a treat - and look how Kool Aid - water. drink mix. sugar - has something to say about the Trinity. An even simpler vision of "Trinity" are the crackers they shared. A triangle is an ancient image of the Trinity.
When we revisit this concept with our seventh graders we show them a number of different artistic renditions of this abstract concept and challenge them to come up with their own. (We also serve them Rice Krispie Treats - made of that great trio of ingredients: butter, marshmallows and Rice Krispies)
One of the more beautiful visions of "Trinity" presented in this lesson is that of three candles.... This is presented two ways - first as three candles in one candleholder. The other are three lit candles, all making one flame:
For homework, we challenge parents to try this little "spiritual experiment" at home. Put an ice cube in a baggie, and place the baggie in the microwave for a few seconds. In a short time you can open the door and there will be an image of the Trinity before you:
Water - in the form of the solid ice cube - not completely melted, the liquid water from the melting ice cube, and steam which has visibly expanded the baggie.....
As children get older we challenge them to say how these images that we and others concoct are like, and differ from the truth of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.... something we can begin to understand, but, as mere humans, can never completely understand.