Mrs. Sylviane, professor of religion
CHILDREN PRAY …
The testimony written by the primary school religion teacher at the N.D. Institute of Charleroi appeared in the “Revue des paroisses” of the deanery of Charleroi. What simplicity in children’s prayer. (This account is shared by Sr. Cécile Jordan).
At the Institut Notre-Dame de Charleroi Ville-Basse, it has become a moment that many children are waiting for – between five and a good fifty. On Monday, at noon, a time of prayer is proposed for the primaries. Very quickly, we recognize the regulars. But there are also those who come for the first time, those who are passing through because it is cold outside, those who are of other faiths… but all have this respect and this desire to recognize each other in the other. The pandemic had forced the cessation of these meetings. The children, every week, asked: “Can we pray today?”, “When do we go downstairs?”, “Can we pray?”, “Can we go to prayer in secret? We will say nothing to anyone! »… So, what was not the joy for them to see on the board “Monday of prayer, go to 1 pm in the courtyard” and to actually hear the bell that rings the reminder for the distracted. These are the cries of joy, the reunion, the resumption of THEIR Monday !!! We go down to a small room at the end of the courtyard, there are benches for the language course, but also the church chairs that remind us that we have our place in the school. The little ritual of the beginning begins: we put a white tablecloth, the crucifix, the bell, the flowers, the Bible, and the candle.
We light the candle, silence is made, those who want to make a sign of the cross with Madame to say hello to God. We thank the Lord for welcoming us and a biblical passage is read. The exchanges are often very rich, those who want to express themselves on what they have understood, what affects them. There is a moment of silence to let the Word act and resonate, and then we offer prayer intentions cut off by a small chorus. Already the alarm on the phone sounds and everyone knows that it will be necessary to close the meeting. Those who want to stand and gather in a circle around the improvised altar to say the Prayer Our Father, or simply to listen and be there, others sit in silence. We also often sing a Hail Mary. The sign of the cross closes our celebration. During this whole moment, the children are free to go and write prayer intentions that will be read at St. Anthony’s Church on Wednesday morning. These prayers are much appreciated by the regulars of the church, delighted to share the joys and sorrows, laughter and difficulties of children so sincere in their messages to God.
Seeing the “prayer book” is already happiness, discovering the simple words, but sometimes so deep or full of pain, is a very moving moment.
The children return to their ranks, for some soothed, for others still moved or eyes wet with tears, but happy to have been there, and to have an extra star on their loyalty card that they are proud to show in the courtyard, with their teacher, with the principal or their family when they return.
YES, the children pray. And here are some testimonials:
- I like to pray because that way I can talk to God.
- I like to pray because at home I don’t know, I don’t have time. Here I know I can.
- To pray is to speak to God. Sometimes I do it when I’m alone because I don’t want to be laughed at.
- I need to pray that God will protect my family.
- I want to pray because there are poor people on the street who don’t have food, and that’s not fair. So I sometimes give my snack.
- My parents watch TV and I saw that there is war. So I ask God to stop all this and put love in the hearts of leaders and soldiers.
- I’m sad that my parents are arguing, so I pray that God will tell my parents to make peace.
- My grandma is dead; so I pray to God that she is very close to him and that I can talk to him.
- My grandfathers died. So I pray to talk to them because they are close to God and God listens to all prayers.
There are so many! But some children who confided asked not to repeat what they said because it is personal and only God (and Madam) can hear and understand. And believe me, they cash in and continue to laugh to the whole world. But when we give them the opportunity to lay down their burden, we discover behind the scenes, strength, faith, love, forgiveness, generosity,… who inhabit them. Yes, children pray. And we?…