Last night, I had a surprisingly good experience teaching the Roman Missal changes to ALL of the children in the religious education program at Most Holy Redeemer parish in Evergreen Park, IL, where I serve as a catechist. Here are the details:
- I did the presentation twice: first session (5:30 – 6:45 pm) for 1st – 4th graders and their parents (about 250 total, kids and parents); 2nd session (7:00 – 8:15 pm) for 5th – 8th graders and their parents (about 150 total). Catechists, of course, were present as well to sit with their groups and parents in attendance sat with their kids as well.
- I used the Come and See DVD (Loyola Press) showing the “Your Role at Mass” segments (Liturgy of the Word, 11 mins; Liturgy of the Eucharist, 12 mins), pausing the DVD every few minutes to discuss what we were learning about the Mass and our role in it and pointing out the new words we’ll be using come the First Sunday of Advent.
- I also used the “Your Role at Mass Leader Guide” (to view sample pages, click on the following: p 6-7; p 8-9; ) which contains a script to discuss the video segments and also directs the leader to pause the DVD at various points. Given the limited time I had, I did adapt from the Leader Guide, picking and choosing which points to discuss.
- The kids and their parents had copies of a pew card from Liturgy Training Publications which came in very handy for leading them through the various parts of the Mass and for praying with some of the new texts.
- With the younger kids, I introduced the evening by leading them in a very brief “Simon Says” type activity to show the power of words and how words can lead us into action.
- With the older kids, I asked who had a memorial dedicated this past weekend in Washington, D. C. (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) and what words he was famous for (“I have a dream”). I asked for other examples of famous people who spoke great words and they volunteered JFK (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”) and FDR (“The only thing we have to fear…”) I used that to point out the power of words to move our hearts and minds.
- I was very surprised and impressed with the behavior of the kids and their level of involvement. As I paused the DVD and asked questions, throughout the whole evening, I got eager responses. I think it helped that we were pausing every 3-4 minutes to talk and that I invited them to stand every once and a while to recite one of the prayers from the Mass card.
- Believe it or not, one young man in the older group almost figured out what consubstantial means! He took the word apart and said it means “to put side by side” or to “put together.” I congratulated him for such an educated guess and explained that it means that Jesus is the same “substance” as God and that he is not just a nice man but truly God…the SAME!
- Kids and parents seemed most intrigued by the following:
- the word liturgy meaning work of the people and how going to Mass is NOT like going to the movies or a play where we passively watch but rather we have an important role and work to do.
- why we genuflect (I talked about how subjects did so to show respect for royalty)
- why we use “Catholic sign language” like striking our breast (over our heart) during the Confiteor, signing ourselves with the Cross on our forehead, lips, and heart before the Gospel (a first grader actually demonstrated this for the group!), and bowing during the Creed.
- Why we say so/sing many things 3 times, e.g. Lord have mercy; through my fault; Alleluia, Holy, Great Amen, Lamb of God. I explained that we do that for emphasis such as if your parents give you a wonderful gift and you say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
- The words consubstantial and incarnate in the Creed. With the older kids, we talked about the word incarnate and I asked them to look at the root word – carne – and what a carnivore is or what chili con carne is and talked about how another word for meat is flesh and how Jesus really and truly became flesh like us. They laughed when I told them they will never again be able to eat chili con carne without thinking of the Incarnation!
- how the word hosts in the Sanctus refers to armies of angels – they loved that!
- what the word Behold means (an 8th grader volunteered, “Look at this!”)
- how we are quoting Scripture when we say, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” saying the words of the Roman centurion.
I can’t say enough about how well-behaved the kids were, a tribute to them (I told them that), their parents and catechists, and the DRE, Arlene, who was out last night recovering from surgery – our prayers go out to her and word is that all went well. Not to exaggerate about the kids’ behavior, of course…there were kids who engaged in chatter with peers but the catechists were right on top of things. I was just impressed with their level of attention and engagement. A lot of credit also goes to the Come and See DVD for being so down to earth and informative…made my job a lot easier!