This is the second article in a series about liturgical catechesis.
We know the importance of becoming a “liturgical catechist.” But how do you integrate liturgy and catechesis in practice? You can begin by observing the marks of the liturgy—the sights, sounds, and movements of the Mass—with an eye toward how they can be adapted to the classroom.
Pay particular attention to how the Mass is celebrated throughout the liturgical year. What are the colors of each season? What symbols are used and what songs are sung? How is the sanctuary lit? How is it decorated? Where is the Paschal candle located? You can set up your classroom to follow what you see at the Mass.
Create a dedicated prayer space that is decorated for the season, mirroring what is seen in the sanctuary. Enthrone a Bible on a stand of some sort, its pages open to the Gospel reading from the previous Sunday. Have a candle nearby and place a bowl filled with holy water nearby. Dim the lights before you pray. If your room has a prayer area that is separate from the learning area, consider lighting only the prayer area when the class in gathered there. Use seasonal colors for prayer spaces. Bring in objects—both those that are obviously religious in nature and those that are less so—that communicate the meaning of the season. For example, display photos of deceased relatives during November, echoing your parish altarcita, or altar of the dead, if your parish has one. Use an Advent wreath during Advent. Sing or use recordings of seasonal songs.
Also pay attention to the ways we pray at Mass. How do the people and the ministers move? How do they speak? What verbal formulas are used? What gestures do we make? Include these movements, words, and gestures in your classroom prayers.
When leading prayer, move deliberately and with reverence. Encourage processions to the prayer space. When praying, speak slowly and with meaning. Include different types of prayer: praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. Use words and gestures from Mass; start with the Sign of the Cross and the words “Let us pray.” End with words from the liturgy: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
Finally, proclaim the Word of God in the classroom with the same reverence found at Mass. Hold the Bible high when moving from the place where it is enthroned to where it is read. Introduce the Gospel reading with the words, “A reading from the holy Gospel according to . . .” Encourage students to stand, bless themselves with the Sign of the Cross on their forehead, lips, and chest, and say “Glory to you, O Lord” after the introduction. After the reading say, “The Gospel of the Lord,” and invite students to respond, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.”
Being a liturgical catechist requires awareness. When you intentionally observe the sights, sounds, and movements of the liturgy and bring them into your classroom, you help children connect to what truly makes us Catholic.
Read the first article in the series: Why Become a Liturgical Catechist?