This is the last article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass.
The word Mass comes from “missa est” (Latin for “it is sent”). The dismissal formula variations in the Roman Missal are meaningful.
- “Go forth, the Mass is ended.”
- “Go in peace.”
- “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
- “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
These convey a clear sense of mission. The command “Go” is what we respond to, not just the fact Mass is over. Our “Thanks be to God” is quite simply our acceptance of the mission Christ gave us—to spread the Gospel in word and deed out in the world in every situation we face in daily life. Disciples of Christ should be distinguished by how they live that mission.
How do we teach children and youth the missional meaning of “Go”? It’s more than just “get out of here,” but implies intention and purpose. We have been gathered, fed by Word and sacrament, and are sent out into the world to proclaim the Good News. Why? Because if we have participated well, we have been changed, refreshed, and re-inspired to serve others in Christ’s name. More than that, we have been called to infuse the world with his vision of the Reign of God.
Help Younger Children Hear What Jesus Asks
By making obvious connections to the liturgy, catechists can help younger children to connect what Jesus asks of us in Scripture stories to their mission in the world. When teaching how Jesus wants us to treat others, don’t forget to talk explicitly about how we are sent out from every Mass to do what Jesus wants. Jesus expects us to live what he taught every day of the week.
Use music. There are many songs about accepting Christ’s mission in the world. An easy one for younger children is “Here I Am, Lord.” Another that younger ones like is “Lead Me, Lord.” Connect song texts to Scripture and the words of dismissal at Mass, and children will start to understand the connections between the Mass, their lives, and what Jesus asks.
Older Students Can Claim the Mission as Their Own
Catechists can keep reinforcing those connections as students get older by adding more songs and texts as a “hook” to hang the idea of mission on; “Go Make a Difference” is certainly one that works. Use that famous quote from John Henry Newman: “God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do Him some definite service…” Or use the powerful words of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Go forth and set the world on fire.” Better yet, try dismissing young people from class using the formulas from the Missal.
If catechists make a consistent effort, young people will start to realize that service projects and acts of kindness they do during the week are connected to being sent forth from Mass to glorify the Lord by their lives.
Read the first seven articles in the series:
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 1: Silence and Reverence
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 2: Song and Praise
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 3: Listening to the Word
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 4: Intercessory Prayer
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 5: Sacrifice
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 6: Real Presence
Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 7: Thankfulness
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