Saturday, May 20, 2017

Seventh Sunday in Easter

Year A 
Seventh Sunday of Easter


Images

Praying for others


Points to note

The reading this Sunday forms part of the priestly prayer of Jesus.  It is therefore an opportunity for us as imitators of Christ, to learn to pray as he did. 

It is not easy to teach praying.  A certain spontaneity is required and that is one ingredient that is not easy to teach. 

Children also often feel shy to pray in public.  Ensure that no child is pressured to say a prayer.  Encourage by all means but remember there is a thin line between encouraging and pressuring.  It is however essential to make each child feel a part of the prayers.  If the child is not ready to pray aloud, ensure his or her petitions are incorporated into the prayers said. 

One reason for the reluctance could be that the child is unfamiliar with praying.  An atmosphere of a community at prayer helps overcome this.  It is encouraging for a child to see his or her peers pray.  It may therefore be advisable to leave those reluctant to pray to the last, if they are still willing to pray.  Where there are two or more children who are good friends but are reluctant to pray, encourage the other to pray immediately after one has made or agreed to make a prayer.

Another reason for the reluctance is a fear of not knowing how to pray.  Keep the framework of the prayer simple and reduce protocol to a minimum.  Emphasise that, as God is our father, we should speak to him like we speak to our fathers at home.  Strip out all unnecessary ritualism and identify prayer firmly as an everyday occurrence.


Liturgy

Explain to the children that Ascension Thursday was celebrated last Thursday.  Ascension Thursday is forty days after Easter.  After Ascension, there are ten more days to Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit sent by God descended on the Apostles.  There were ten days therefore when the disciples were without Jesus and without the Holy Spirit.  This, therefore, is the period of preparation for Pentecost.

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy.
Alleluia!

Reading
Explain to the children that at the end of the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for his disciples.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Jn 17: 1-11)
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
     “Father, the time has come:
     glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you;
     and, through the power over all mankind that you have given me,
     let me give eternal life to all those you have put in my care.
     And eternal life is to know you, the only true God,
     and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
     I have glorified you on earth
     and finished the work that you have given me to do.
     Now, it is time for you to glorify me
     with the glory that I had with you before the world was made.
     I have made you known
     to the men who left their homes to follow me.
     They were yours and you gave them to me,
     and they have kept your word.
     Now at last they know that all you have given me
     comes indeed from you;
     for I have taught them all you gave to me,
     and they have truly learnt this, that I come from you,
     and have believed that it was you who sent me.
     I pray for them; I am not praying for the world,
     but for those you have given me, because they belong to you:
     all I have is yours and all you have is mine, in them I am glorified.
     I am not in the world any longer,
     but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.”

     This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion

Does anyone know any prayers?  When do we say those prayers?  Discuss the various settings of prayer:  at mass; at home; at the dinner table; anywhere where the need arises.  Jesus said where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be there.  Therefore, Jesus is there when Christians get together to pray.  Discuss about family prayers.  Does any of the children participate in them?  If willing, encourage them to discuss what happens at their family prayers.


Discuss the four types of prayers:  praising prayers (adoration), sorry prayers (penitential), asking prayers (petitional) and thank you prayers (thanksgiving).  Discuss examples of such prayers.  The first three can be found in the Our Father.  Emphasise that if they don’t know prayers, they could make them up.

Explain that you would like to invite the children to a prayer session now.  Start with thanksgiving prayers, then petitional and lastly adoration.  It is not advisable to attempt penitential prayers unless this is an intimate group and the children have all been specifically prepared for it. 

See if anyone is willing to say a prayer.  For those reluctant, ask them what they would like to pray for.  Let those who were willing, to say their prayers.  After they have finished, ask again if any of the others would like to say a prayer.  For those still reluctant, incorporate their requests and ideas into a prayer that you could say yourself.  Repeat for petitional prayers and, if time permits, adoration prayers.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sixth Sunday in Easter

Year A

Sixth Sunday of Easter



Images

Holy spirit


Points to note

This Sunday’s reading is an opportunity to introduce the sacrament of confirmation.  This is especially relevant to those who have already received Holy Communion and for whom, Confirmation is the last sacrament of initiation yet to be received.

It is not recommended to go too much in depth into the sacrament itself as that will anticipate the preparation for the sacrament.  The reading itself concentrates on Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, emphasising the fact that the promise was made in love.

Avoid getting too entangled in the reading itself, as it can be a rather confusing one on a single read through.  To go through the reading to ensure proper understanding of it is outside the time scope of this Liturgy of the Word.  The reading should be a backdrop to the themes to be discussed.  Nevertheless, sufficient attention must be given to the reading to accord it the importance and respect it deserves as the Word of God.

 

Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Jesus said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.”
Alleluia!

Reading

Explain to the children that at the Last Supper, Jesus has just prophesied the treachery of Judas and the denials of Peter.  The apostles were disheartened and Jesus was quick to console them.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Jn 14: 15-21)
Jesus said to his disciples:
     “If you love me you will keep my commandments; 
     I shall ask the Father,
     and he will give you another Friend to be with you for ever,
     it is the Spirit of truth whom other people can never receive
     since they do not see or know him, but you know him,
     because he is with you, he is in you.
     I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.
     In a short time I will no longer be here;
     but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
     On that day you will understand that I am with my Father
     and you with me and I with you.
     Anybody who receives my commandment and keeps them
     will be one who loves me,
     and anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father,
     and I shall love him and stay with him.”

This is the Word of the Lord


Discussion

Have you ever had a visit from an uncle or aunt from far away?  Sometimes, they give presents before going away.  Discuss the presents they may give.  Sometimes it is a present that is of use to us.  Sometimes it is a present to console us when we are sad that they are leaving.  Sometimes it is a present that will remind us of them.  Sometimes they leave us their address so that we could write to them.

The original Greek word that I have translated as ‘Friend’ in the reading does not translate well into English.  It refers to the Holy Spirit and various versions of the Bible translate it differently.  The most common translation is ‘counsellor’ while the Catholic Missal renders it as ‘advocate’.  Other translations include ‘comforter’ and ‘intercessor’.  In truth, the Greek word means all these and probably a little more.  Quite appropriately therefore, the gift Jesus left us cannot be adequately expressed in the English language.


Explain that Jesus, too, left a gift to his disciples, the Holy Spirit.  Explain the nature of the gift in the light of what was discussed on presents by the departing uncles and aunts.  The present is of use to us:  the Holy Spirit will help us and advise us.  The present will comfort us.  The present will remind us of Jesus.  The present will enable us to contact God:  he is our intercessor.

There is one time in the life of a Catholic Christian that he celebrates receiving this gift from Jesus.  We call that Confirmation.  Explain that only baptised Catholics aged 15 and above may receive the sacrament of Confirmation.  Ask if any of the children has seen such a celebration.  Describe what happens:  the bishop places oil on the forehead of the confirmant and lays his hands on the head of the confirmant.  The bishop then prays that the Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmant.  Upon confirmation, the confirmant becomes a full member of the Church and may now, among other things, seek to be ordained, be a godparent and be married in the Church.

If there is time, discuss the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and respect for the Lord.