Session 15: Walk through the Mass

Exploring the Sacred Liturgy

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.  -1 Corinthians 11:23-30

This week we are going to explore the Catholic Mass. Tying in the sacrament of the Eucharist and its role as the focus of Mass was covered in our previous sessions. To recap: Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. His last Passover meal was the first Mass. Jesus offered Himself freely as the perfect Sacrifice to the Father for our sins on Good Friday. At every Mass, we are made present at Calvary through the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus on the altar.

This week we want to look at the rituals of the Mass. I would approach this material with a focus on what we see and what we do. I suggest you take the approach of seeing the Mass through the eyes of children. During Mass the rituals of movement may be the most memorable to them: standing, sitting, kneeling, and crossing ourselves. Connecting the movements to the timing and purpose for those actions to occur are important features to understanding the ritual of Mass.  While the children may not have fully understand the purpose of those movements we can now help them see the connections. Our bodily postures during Mass correlate with what is happening spiritually. When we Sit – this is when we are most ready to listen and receive the Word. When we Stand – we are in the posture of 1.) prayer originating back to the Jewish tradition 2.) respect and 3.) a position of being more capable of active participation. When we Kneel – this posture demonstrates respect, prayer and adoration.

There are FOUR parts to the Mass:

  1. Introductory Rites: Prepare us to hear and receive the Word.
  2. Liturgy of the Word: God speaks to each one of us individually.
  3. Liturgy of the Eucharist: The heart and soul of the Mass. The priest, in the Person of Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, consecrates bread and wine, and Christ is made present. WE are then made present to Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.
  4. Concluding Rites: We are sent out with a charge and a commission to spread the Gospel. “Go forth” for we have received Him and can now begin our work of bringing Him to others.

The words of Scripture are all through each part of the Mass. Along with the words from Scripture we are in different postures during the Mass corresponding to the level of participation we need to fulfill. For the children let’s just look at the Liturgy of the Word to consider how and what we are doing in our posture helps us participate in the Mass. First Reading – (sitting and listening) we hear from the Old Testament for most of the year. Psalm – (sitting and often we are responding {singing} in unison, some Masses this is just read by the lector and we remain silent) helps us meditate on the readings. Second Reading – (sitting and listening) from the New Testament letters Gospel – (standing, small sign of the cross listening, note to children we are listening and showing respect.) the highpoint of the Liturgy of the Word and receives special signs of honor and reverence. Homily – (sitting and listening) the lessons of the Word of God are applied to our lives to help us grow in holiness. Creed – (standing and responding in unison) we renew our baptismal promises. Prayers of the Faithful – (standing and responding in unison) we intercede with God on behalf of the whole Church.

When teaching in a classroom setting this is the lesson where I bring in a Mass kit. (I made my own kit years ago. You can see this post by Catholic Icing or this post on Joyful Catholic Families to see how to make your own.) This child friendly teaching kit is set out on the table where the class was able to see and explore some of the things used during the Mass. We talk about the order of the Mass as observed at church by discussing what role the pieces of the kit have at the Mass. After the lesson the children were welcome to freely explore the pieces and ask questions. One way to try this approach at home is to print out pictures of the pieces and lay them out on the table. Let your child explore them and ask about the role it has during Mass. You can also lay these pictures out on the table while your child watches a video.

Explaining the Catholic Mass

Read: We recommend reading or watching the narrated version of this book: The Weight of a Mass, by Josephine Nobisso. This book has been used by many teachers in the CCD program when teaching children about the Mass. For the older kids read the Eucharistic Prayer I (EP 1 Column). For our saints the watching the narrated version of Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan and illustrated by Helen Cann.

Watch: What Are the Parts of the Mass? Watch the video Altaration with your child to see some of the up close actions we observe during the Mass. For the younger children The Mass: A Life Giving Prayer a Brother Francis episode is available on Formed.org. Another video, as suggested from session 12 is The Eucharist for Little Children also available on Formed.org.

Prayer of the Week: Nicene Creed, Our Father

Saints of the Week: On February 1st is the feast day of St. Brigid who is the Patron Saint of Ireland, midwives, newborn babies, Irish nuns, and blacksmiths. St. Brigid was a Disciple of St. Patrick, he baptized her family. You can read more about St. Brigid’s Feast Day. Many people celebrate her feast day by making a St. Brigid cross. Keith had his 7th grade class make some last year and we made some at home with the children by using construction paper. Traditionally rushes are used to weave the cross. We found an interesting video showing how to make a St. Brigid cross in the traditional way. This past Sunday (January 31, 2021) many parishes offered the blessing of the throats in honor of St. Blaise. His Feast day is on February 3rd. He is the Patron Saint of throat illnesses, animals, wool combers, and wool trading. St. Blaise was a healer and then became a “physician of souls” this is why we have the tradition of blessing our throats for illnesses.

Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: There is no craft for this week. Color The Four Parts of the Mass coloring sheet. Practice the Grace Before Meals prayer. Practice the Morning Offering Prayer. Your child should now know the following prayers: Sign of the Cross, Angel of God, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and the Our Father. Watch: The Mass: A Life Giving Prayer with your child.

Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: pages 53-55. Complete Spirit of Truth pages 80-83. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. Color The Four Parts of the Mass coloring sheet. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep practicing these every night. Check your email for the First Communion Mass sign-up. First Communions will be done in small groups during weekly Masses. Watch: The Mass: A Life Giving Prayer with your child.

Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 27 pages 172-175. Have your child complete the Four Parts of the Mass Worksheet using slides 9-16 for their answers. Have your child do The Table of the Lord Worksheet. Use Articles Used at Mass to help complete the worksheet. Have your child fill out the Things We See At Mass Worksheet. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep working on memorizing the Apostles’ Creed. For the older students (6-8th) these are some viewing suggestions Who Says the Mass is Boring? and Scientific Evidence of Eucharistic Miracles with your child to hear what multiple scientists have discovered in their studies of consecrated hosts that have literally changed to human heart tissue. (9 minutes).

Family Activity Ideas: While we are learning about the Mass there are a few things you can do during Mass with your children. Teaching your child to say “Jesus I adore you!” at the moment of consecration. Help them listen for when the bells ring and learn those are the moments when we are especially called to adore Jesus. We also recommend that the children begin to commit the Centurion’s prayer to memory. Simply Catholic has a good post on What is the Priest Wearing? that includes an info graphic.

Activity Ideas: For the younger children, take this scavenger hunt with you to Mass and encourage them to find these objects at Mass. There is also a Mass Bingo game created by Joyful Catholic Families that can be used to help keep kids busy. When you return home share the bingo sheets and ask the children when/where did they see the objects on the bingo cards. An alternative to the bingo game is the Mass I Found It! Or maybe try the Come Celebrate! printable booklet to take with you to Mass. They also have a Priest Paper doll set that can be printed out to help you teach your children about vestments and the Liturgical Year. Catholic Icing has put together a good post Catholic Mass Crafts and Activities for Kids that has many more ideas.

St. Brigid crosses can be made in many ways. The traditional way of making the cross is by using rushes. You can watch this gentleman show you how to tie together rushes in this video St. Brigid’s Cross tutorial. This version from Colorful Crafts uses straw. (substitute drinking straws and make one at home!) This version uses pipe cleaners and looks like a lot of fun. And a version made from card stock weight paper. (Written instructions can be found here.) For your artists there is Catholic Icing’s tutorial on how to draw a St. Brigid’s Cross.

For St. Blaise Shower of Roses has a neat idea on how to make some candle cookies. They look really easy to make. Another way can be found here. Kendra Tierney has a good post on Celebrating Candlemas and St. Blaise in the Home.

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