If you dip into the Catholic Mommy blogosphere, you don't have to read very far before you hear someone mention the problem of toddlers at Mass. Not that toddlers at Mass is a bad thing--quite the contrary! But an hour is a long time for a little person to remain quietly perched on a pew. And when a toddler starts to chatter, whine, dance up the aisle, or drop her books in the loudest way possible, an hour becomes quite a long time for her parents too!
When Maria is in a restless mood, our best recourse is to give her a pen and some paper to scribble on. During one service last winter, as I watched Maria scrawl away with a ballpoint, marking each page of the notebook I had given her, I began thinking it would be nice to provide a little structure and inspiration for her Mass-time artwork. Why not find some coloring book pages specifically for Mass time? It's never too early to start children interacting with beautiful images, correct?
There are some gorgeous coloring books out there, like this Angels Coloring Book in the iconographic style and these nice Dover Stained Glass coloring books. I hope to pick them up some day--but we're not in an $8 coloring book stage of life. We don't want to throw "pearls before
My search for free coloring book pages on bible or Church themes didn't turn up much.* After seeing a tutorial on how to turn photographs into coloring book pages using photo editing software, I tried doing to same with photos of religious art. After a few hours spent cleaning up images in Photoshop with dissappointing results, I decided it would be more rewarding and more personal to make my own drawings. The result is a little book with five depictions of angels.
I had a lot of fun working on the coloring book. This was in no small part because, as I was working on it, I was reading G.K Chesterton's A Short History of England. It's impossible to read Chesterton without some of his enthusiasm for the Middle Ages rubbing off on you. So I tried to give the angels some of the solemn gaiety of medieval art. Now, I'm just a house wife with an itch to make things and this coloring book is just a little project---pages for three-year-olds to scribble on--but it's still exhilarating to place it in the sweeping landscape of Art and History, and to think that it was motivated by the same Faith that built cathedrals.
Speaking of Faith, the book is dedicated to Gracie and Sheldon Wright. These two wonderful munchkins became our godchildren this past weekend. We feel a profound joy that we're now bound in this way to the remarkable Wrights! Perhaps these pages will be part of their happy memories of attending Mass during their youth--I sure hope so!
Here, in honor of Gracie's and Sheldon's entry into the Church, is My Little Mass Coloring Book: ANGELS. (Please feel free to print, copy, distribute, etc.)
*It really wasn't much of a search. I've since found this beautiful coloring book at an Orthodox educational site. I'm sure there's a lot more great stuff out there!