Have you ever heard the saying, “Good teachers borrow, but great teachers steal?” This saying comes to mind as I reflect on the different ways we can help the children in our classes understand the Mass. My DRE had recently invited a guest speaker to come to our parish and give a presentation on how to teach the kids about the Mass. Since I am, at best, someone who aspires to be a good teacher, I borrowed his ideas to craft a lesson on the Mass. You may want to borrow or “steal” these ideas to use in your own classroom.
I divided my students into four groups, and each group was given a different scenario. The first group was asked to imagine being welcomed to an inviting celebration. The second group was asked to imagine being read a gripping bedtime story. The third group was asked to imagine eating a wonderful feast. The last group was asked to imagine the departure of a dear friend with whom they had been enjoying a play date. Each group was then asked to explain their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to their specific scenario. One person in the group was designated to take notes on a sheet of paper.
This exercise got off to a slow start, but with a little prompting, the students became engrossed in the imaginative details of their experiences. They revealed stories from their lives. Once the groups seemed to exhaust their topics (but before they lost focus), I summoned them all to sit on the floor. I then let them in on a treasured secret: those four scenarios—being welcomed, listening to stories, partaking in a meal, and leaving a joyful visit—were brought together at every Mass. I explained how the welcoming celebration was the Introductory Rites. The Liturgy of the Word and the homily are the greatest bedtime stories ever told: they reveal God’s loving relationship with us and his promises for us. The inviting meal was the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and this meal is better than any other food because it is truly Jesus Christ who sustains us in this life for all eternity. Lastly, I explained the dismissal as our charge to go back to our now-transformed lives outside the walls of the church. This dismissal was bittersweet, but filled with hope: instead of saying goodbye to our “friend,” the living Jesus remains with us in the tabernacles of our being.
Love for the Mass is a learned process. This love is based on understanding the many signs and meanings of what transpires at Mass, especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our Christian lives. This activity’s format can be adapted for various age groups and is a great way to see the Mass in a new light. I am excited to use it again, but I might branch it out over several classes since it’s crucial information for our First Communicants.
As catechists, we must remember that we are not alone in our ministry. We should always feel encouraged to borrow ideas from one another. What ideas might we borrow from you? How do you inspire your classes to love the Mass?