I love the excitement, expectation, and joy that is abundant in my class as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. As we get ready for Christmas with crafts and cookies, I also prepare my students for Christmas Mass. Many of my students do not regularly go to Mass, and they aren’t familiar with the Order of the Mass. I find that everyone benefits from a review of what happens at Mass before attending with their families on Christmas.
I love using the My Picture Missal app (available from Loyola Press on iTunes for iPad). The app allows students to follow along with the Mass. Engaging images show whether the congregation is sitting, standing, or kneeling. The app also includes words to the Sign of the Cross, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. My students enjoy clicking through the slides, and I pause every few pages to review each part of the Mass with them.
Loyola Press also created a great floor puzzle that shows the Order of the Mass. Each piece shows a part of the Mass, and the pieces fit together in the proper order. I use it with all of my students in early elementary school. Once the puzzle has been assembled, we discuss each piece as we walk down the line. I especially like how the background color of the pieces corresponds to the different parts of the liturgy. It gives students a great visual for things that happen in the Liturgy of the Word versus the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Most textbooks include a chapter or more on the Order of the Mass. You may find a short activity that you could use to review with your students, such as a matching game, a fill-in-the-blank exercise, or a booklet that students can piece together and bring with them to Mass. Depending on the age of the students I’m working with, I will either challenge them to do the activity before we discuss the Order of the Mass (which gives me a sense of their background knowledge), or I will review the Order of Mass before asking the students to do the activity (which shows how much they retained from the lesson).
If I am short on time, I will, at the very least, quickly review the protocol for receiving Holy Communion. Children who don’t attend Mass regularly may not remember how to hold their hands or show that they have not yet received their First Holy Communion. After a short review, everyone feels more comfortable with how they are to approach the altar.
The sight of a full church on Christmas is a wonderful gift. It is beautiful to see the Body of Christ come together to welcome our Lord into the world. Helping our students understand what is happening during the Mass will help them feel included and engaged. Our students are members of the community; let us invite them into the mystery of the Mass and help them experience one of the greatest moments of our lives as Catholics.