Saturday, October 6, 2018

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LSW

children

Year B

Twenty-eighth Ordinary Sunday 



Imagery

Sacrifice


Points to note

Although this may seem quite a vivid narrative, the concepts that underlie it are a little advanced.  They revolve around the idea of possessions.  Some younger children have very weak grasp of the concepts of personal possessions.  They tend to be the ones who would be more willing to share rather than hoard.  As such, care may need to be taken to avoid introducing an alien concept to them, especially one that may weaken the sharing instincts.  Facilitators would need to be alert to such situations and adapt the session accordingly.


Liturgy

Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Blessed are you, Father. Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Jesus has just welcomed the little children into the kingdom of God while he was on the way to Jerusalem, as we saw in last Sunday’s reading.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk10: 17-30)
Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments:  You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must lie; You must not cheat; Honour your mother and father.”  And he said to him, “Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.”  Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, “There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”  The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, “My children,” he said to them, “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were more astonished than ever. “In that case,” they said to one another, “who can be saved?”  Jesus gazed at them.  “For men,” he said, “it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussions

What is your most prized possession?  Get each child to describe the most valuable thing that they have.  Try to limit them to more tangible possessions and leave out the intangibles like love, etc. They can include people as the most valuable thing that they have, such as parents and families.

Does anyone have the right to ask you to give up your most prized possession?  Would you? Discuss what the children would do if they were asked to do this, extending the discussion to whatever will make them give up the most prized possession. Maybe, that depends on:
·    who asked them:parent; priest; God?
·    how they were asked: nicely; not given a choice?
·    for how long do they to give it up: a short while; forever?
·    for what it would be used: given to one more in need than them?
·     what the most prized possession was:can they get a replacement?

Discuss the idea of sacrifice that Jesus wanted in the reading.  What does sacrifice mean?  Basically, a sacrifice would be something you give up.  Describe various types of sacrifices - fasting, etc.  Would it be a sacrifice if you were to give up something you didn’t like?  Would it be a bigger sacrifice to give up something you cherish very much, like your most prized possession?

Why did Jesus wanted his disciples to give up so much?  Was it easy to give up their possessions and families to follow him?  Do people still do such things today?  Discuss about the priests and religious who have given up things. For instance, Jesuit fathers (or any other religious groups, monks and sisters) do not own anything by themselves. Everything they have is in the name of their Order or Congregation (that is the group or society that they belong to). If they were to earn anything, say by teaching, they would need to give everything they earn to the Jesuit community. They would of course get some pocket money to spend each month.

We do not all of course need to make such a sacrifice.  Discuss the little sacrifices that we can make.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

LSW

children

Year B

Twenty-seventh Ordinary Sunday 



Images

Welcoming the family


Points to note


This week’s reading has two parts.  As the first part (vv 2-12) deal with divorce, you may wish to leave it out and just have the second part read.  The second part (vv13-16) is the favourite children’s story of Jesus blessing the little children.  In a way we can interpret a common strand through both seemingly different parts:  the family.

The focus on this reading is welcoming a member of the family, like a new baby. Which raises a question: when does a baby become a member of the family?  The ancients believe that the soul of a baby waits at the opening of the womb to inhabit the baby at birth, and there is a supply of souls waiting for babies to be born.

Scripture, however, tells us that we are made in the image of God and that God is love.  We are, therefore, created out of love.  I believe that a baby’s soul is created out of two persons' love, when they started to love each other and to prepare for the coming of the baby.  That will be before the baby is born and may even be before the baby is conceived.

So, we existed when we were first loved.  We joined our family at home when our parents made a place in their hearts for us.



Liturgy

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Your word is truth, O Lord,
make us holy with the truth
Alleluia!

Gospel
Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, which is a long way from Galilee.  He stops along the way every now and then to rest.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk10: 2-16)
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them.  The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessings.

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Dialogue

How many of us have younger brothers or sisters?  Those who have none, may think about how their older brothers and sisters related to them.  Or younger cousins or friends.

What did your parents do to prepare for the baby’s coming?  Did you get involved in the preparations?  I always find the reaction of older children to the coming of younger ones interesting to observe: the uncertainty, the jealousy; the fascination; the ‘now I am a big boy/girl’ syndrome.  You may get some of that in your discussions.

Those without younger siblings may talk about the preparations that their parents or elder siblings did for them.  Sometimes, parents or older siblings may tell them about it.  Those who are an only child may talk about preparations for the coming of younger cousins.

Discuss about the fact that we belong to two families:  God’s family and our family at home.  How does somebody join God’s family?  Baptism.  Discuss what happened when someone is baptised.  Draw out from those who remembered their baptism or those who remembered witnessing someone’s baptism.

When people are baptised, they are welcomed into the Church.  The welcoming is done by the community at large.  So, it is not just the parties and the family and friends at home.

What do we need to do to prepare for a baptism?  How do we welcome a new member of the Church?  Explain that there are classes to go to.  Get children who have attended any Rite of Initiation of Children, or RCIC, to share what they have attended.  At the RCIC and the corresponding RCIA for adults, the beliefs and the practices of the Church are explained to the children.  They are also introduced to other Church members, especially those in their communities and BECs so that they can join in the life of the community.

Also important in welcoming is the role of the godparents.  Get the children to talk about their godparents.  Even people who are baptised as adults have godparents. Officially, in the Church, they are called sponsors. Their role is twofold: (i) they stand in for the parents if anything happens to the parents; and (ii) they ensure that their godchildren are brought up well in the faith and are faithful to God. Sponsors of adults who are baptised also introduce them to other Catholics and ensure that they are happy, comfortable and faithful in their Catholic lives.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B

Twenty-sixth Ordinary Sunday 



Images

Tolerance
Different people


Points to note

The word Catholic means universal.  It refers to the Church that is the Church of all peoples and in all nations.  It refers to a Church where people could speak different languages and be of different races but bound together by a common faith.  The most evident expression of this catholicity is seen in the masses held in international conferences of Catholic bishops or leaders.

In many countries. Catholic masses are often in many different languages to cater for different language communities or migrants.  Sometimes, you get many languages in a single mass as different communities attend that same mass.  Masses like that remind me of the catholicity of the Church.

Our expression of catholicity is more than just in language, but also in our tolerance of different ways of praying.  Greek Catholics in Eastern Europe and Maronite Catholics in Lebanon, for instance, owe the same allegiance to the Pope but have masses that are very different. Even within Roman Catholicism, there are very different ways of prayer:  a Charismatic renewal prayer session and a Latin language Tridetine mass are poles apart in atmosphere but neither can deny the Catholicism of the other.


Liturgy

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Your words are truth, O Lord,
consecrate us in the  truth.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus dealt with those who were arguing about who was the greatest of the disciples, while they were on the way to Jerusalem.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk9: 38-43, 45, 47-48)
John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw a man who was not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us, we tried to stop him.”  But Jesus said, “You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us.

“If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.

“But if anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck.  And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out.  And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fires go out.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Discussion

What languages do we speak at home?  List the languages used.  Highlight especially the more unusual languages encountered.  Are we able to say that just because some people do not speak the same language that we speak, God does not listen to them? Discuss if God is limited to one language or one race.

Emphasise that most of us are different in one respect or another. Some of us are quiet and some of us are exuberant.  Discuss if God prefers one type of people to another.  Discuss the difference between the apostles.  See if any of the children can identify the type of persons they are. There is no right or wrong answer to this one but draw out the impression the children have of the personalities of the apostles from the stories they know.  For instance, I think Peter is brash, John is young, Thomas is tough, Andrew is trusting.  Discuss if God loves any of them more than others.

Go through the first part of the reading again and discuss the impressions of the apostles:  they went to another town and found other people casting out devils, when they thought that they and only they, being the friends of Jesus are able to do that. Did Jesus think that they were right to think in that way?

Discuss the implications of what Jesus said.  Are we able to say that just because some other people are different from us, God loves them less?  What about different ways of praying?  Discuss the different ways of praying that we encounter in the church:  youth masses, prayer meetings, rosaries, charismatic, etc. Can we say that any of them is better than the others?

Discuss also people who do not belong to our church.  Are those people in Assumption parish any better than us or any worse than us?  We all still belong to the Catholic Church worldwide.  Explain the meaning of the word Catholic.

What about those Christians who are not Catholics?  Are they any less Christian than we are just because they are not Catholics?  What about those who are not Christians?  Are non-Christians bad people just because they are not baptised?

In this age of Ecumenism, we have to redefine the limits of tolerance. It will be too advanced for the children to go into the intricacies of it all, but we aim to impart on the children that they are other ways of being praying to our God, and for Christians, many ways of expressing our Christianity.  That God loves us all even if we are different.


Say Amen
When you go up for communion, the communion minister says "Body of Christ" and you say "Amen" (which means 'I agree', not 'I believe'), have you ever thought about what exactly it is that you are agreeing to?  Yes, at one level, we are agreeing that the piece of bread is now the body of Christ.  But at another level, we are also agreeing to the two of us in that dialogue are in the same Body of Christ.  And for me something magical happens: two persons who never met and didn't know each other suddenly becomes one family, bound in the same faith by Jesus Christ, in whose body they were part of.  And so, I know wherever I am in the world, I say Amen and I know I am home.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B
Twenty-fourth Ordinary Sunday


Images

 

The Pope and his election


Points to note

 

There is a board inside the Westminster Catholic Cathedral in London, which lists down the names of all the Popes and next to them, the list of the leading bishops in England at that time.  There are two ideas here that are important.  Each bishop is consecrated a bishop by another bishop, who has been consecrated by another bishop, who has been consecrated by another bishop, and so on, until you reach a bishop, who has been consecrated by one of the Apostles. This is known as the Apostolic Succession, the principle that every Catholic bishop traces his lineage back to the Apostles and we have the list of bishops to prove it.  Every diocese in the world keeps such a list of its own line of bishops.  This list that traces back to the Apostles is our proof that what our bishops teach is the same as what the Apostles, and Jesus, taught.

The other is one of communion.  Every Catholic owes allegiance to his or her local bishop.  We are said to be in communion with our bishop.  Each bishop is in turn in communion with the Pope. Therefore, each Catholic is communion with each other through his or her communion with the local bishop who is in communion with other bishops through his communion with the Pope.

In Year A, we discuss the structure of the Church while, in Year B, we explain how the Pope is elected and, in Year C, we discuss the Apostolic Succession.  You can refer to the leaflet for Sunday 21 Year A for the structure of the Church.


Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
no one can come to the Father except through me.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that Jesus is travelling around some areas outside of Israel on the way to Jerusalem and has reached a place where people there worship many other gods.  So, with so many gods around, Jesus wants to know who his disciples think he is.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 8:27-35)
Jesus and his disciples left for the village round Caesarea Philippi.  On the way he put this question to his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”  And they told him.  “John the Baptist.” They said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.” But you, “he asked, “who do you say I am?”  Peter spoke up and said to him, “You are the Christ.”  And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him.  But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan!  Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Who is the head of the Church?  Jesus.  Explain that Jesus does not want to take care of the entire Church by himself and so he has a lot of people to help him.  He has the Pope to help him.  The Pope helps Jesus to take care of all Catholics throughout the world, all 1.1 billion of us.  The Pope wears white and lives in Rome.  He has a huge church called St Peter’s Basilica.  This is because the first Pope was St Peter.

The Pope could not possibly take care of all Catholics, too.  So he has over 3,000 bishops to help him.  Most of these bishops take care of an area called a diocese.  Some dioceses are larger than others and are called archdioceses.  Bishops wear purple.  Find out which areas/regions/districts your diocese covers and how many Catholics are there in it.  Ask the children if they know the name fo the bishop and where his church is (ie., the cathedral).

Even our bishop needs help to take care of so many Catholics.  So, there are over [find out how many priests there are in your diocese] priests to help him.  There are 400,000 priests helping bishops throughout the world.  Many of these priests help take care of a parish. Priests normally wear black except in hot countries.  Introduce the name of your parish and how many parishioners there are.  All these information can be obtained from your church office and diocesan directory.

Sometimes, priests may have religious brothers and sisters (not siblings at home) to help them do God’s work.  These brothers and sisters run schools, orphanages and hospitals or they may do other work like praying for us in monasteries.  There are about one million of them throughout the world.

Explain how the Pope is elected.  When a Pope dies, cardinals from all over the world meet in St Peter’s Basilica within three weeks to vote for the next Pope.  Cardinals are very important bishops who represent almost every country in the world.  Many of the cardinals run dioceses all over the world while others act like ministers in the Vatican government.  Only cardinals below the age of 80 may vote and there can only be a maximum of 120 of such voting cardinals at any one time.  Cardinals wear red.

When a Pope dies, the cardinal who heads the Pope’s household staff, known as the camerlengo, calls out the Pope’s baptismal name three times.  He also taps the forehead of the dead Pope with a silver hammer.  This will confirm the Pope’s death.  The body of the Pope is taken away to be embalmed so that it could last until the funeral and the dead Pope’s apartment is sealed up.  The ring of the Pope will be smashed up to prevent anyone using the ring as a seal for any official documents.

The eligible cardinals are locked up (literally!!) in the Vatican for duration of the conclave to elect the Pope.  No one or any communication is allowed in or out and the cardinals are only allowed doctors for those who need one.  Food goes in and out through a window.  They will hold voting sessions twice a day with very strict rules as to how the voting should be conducted.  If no candidate gets a majority, the voting papers are burnt with powder to give black smoke.  If the voting is successful, the papers are burnt to give white smoke.

The new Pope will be asked if he consent to be Pope and then asked what name he will adopt as Pope. He will then put on one of the three sets of new papal vestments (S/M/L) and is introduced to the world.  He will also be given a new papal ring with the insignia of a fisherman as he is now a successor of St Peter, who was a fisherman.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B
Twenty-third Ordinary Sunday


Images

 

People of impaired abilities


Points to note

 

To be politically correct, we talk of people with impaired abilities instead of handicapped. Whatever label we apply, however, we seem sadly to be faced with a potential embarrassing situation: we have to deal with and embrace them in the name of Jesus.  

We now live in a world where it is possible for everyone to be beautiful and successful. We propagate such ideas that it is a virtue to achieve beauty and success while those who do not achieve them are losers.  As such, we have largely been taught to avoid such losers in fear that we may be end up likewise.  It is possible therefore we may have children today who may not have met anyone who is handicapped.  If they have, it is very likely that the experience has not been presented to the child as a positive one.

We may not be able to reverse the years and the all-pervasive nature of society’s and perhaps, even the family’s conditioning of the child but if we can introduce the idea that there is an alternative view towards viewing the handicapped as undesired, I think we have succeeded.



Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom,
and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Jesus has just left Galilee and is travelling through some places outside of Israel on his way to Jerusalem.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 7:31-37)
Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region.  And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him.  He took him aside in private, away from the crows, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle.  Then looking up to heaven, he sighed; and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. “He has done all things well,” they said, “he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


Who are the key people in the story?  Jesus; the deaf man; and the bunch of people who brought the deaf man to Jesus, (the ‘They’).  Discuss how they felt:  the They, Jesus and the deaf man.  Why did Theybring the deaf man to Jesus?  Maybe it is to make fun of him, maybe it is to sincerely help him.  But notice that Jesus took him aside in private: maybe Jesus knows the intentions of Theyand wanted to spare the deaf man from Them.

Discuss how do the children feel when they meet a deaf man?  It is good to just let the discussion flow.  Do not be judgemental about their responses, whether we view their responses as positive or not.  Let Jesus be the judge.

How did the deaf man react?  We don’t really know how did the deaf man react?  How would you think a deaf man would react if there is such a crowd?  Remember that many may have been taught to stay out of society’s way.  Wouldn’t they be fearful, embarrassed over the commotion, intimidated by other people’s initiatives?  Ask the children how they would feel if they are the deaf man in such a situation.  Again, do not be judgemental about what we view to be positive or negative responses.

How did Jesus react to the deaf man?  It is hard to tell from the reading how Jesus felt. Maybe, he felt pity, maybe he felt that there was something that needs to be done.  Maybe, he felt that They need to be taught the right way to treating deaf people.  Whatever it is, we know what he did: he healed the deaf man.

Discuss how the children think Jesus wanted They to handle the deaf man.  Discuss how Jesus would want the children to deal with deaf and other handicapped people. Contrast this with what the children’s responses were earlier.  While we should encourage the positive responses, do not shame the negative ones. Explain that society does not generally treat handicapped people well and Jesus may want us, as Christians, to teach society how he wants handicapped people to be treated.

Are handicapped people helpless people who need our help all the time? Look at the list of handicapped people below and I think we need their help to inspire our lives more than they need our help:

·           Stevie Wonder is blind
·           The world’s leading percussionist, Evelyn Glennie is deaf!  She attends concerts, plays in orchestra and as soloist, gives interviews without hearing a sound!
·           Helen Keller was born blind and deaf.  She eventually learned to talk and use a typewriter.  Try to imagine how it is like to learn if you can’t hear or see.
·           Alexander Graham Bell thought his telephone invention was not good enough and would never have released it if it wasn’t for his wife, who though deaf, insisted that he did.

Do you know any similar inspiring handicapped people?

Have you noticed things that we take for granted:

·           When you meet a blind person for a second time, he or she would know how high to put out his or her hand to shake yours?
·           A deaf person can tell whether you are actually speaking or only moving your lips?
·           A blind person standing by the road side in an unfamiliar place seems to know where the bus stop is, even without being told?

Do you have any similar stories to share?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B
Twenty-second Ordinary Sunday


Images

 

Washing


Points to note

 

We have just finished the series on the Eucharist that ran for the last five Sundays.  While this reading is not about the Eucharist, it is related in the sense that we need to wash up before a meal and the Eucharist is a meal.

We can therefore begin the session with a throwback on what we did the last five Sundays.  If there has been a break, you may need to amend your introduction accordingly.


Liturgy


Acclamation

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: 
you have the message of eternal life.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Explain that Jesus is completing his journey through his home region of Galilee after having just completed many miracles and teaching many people.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.  For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning to the marketplace they never eat without first sprinkling themselves.  There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?”  He answered, “It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service, 
while their hearts are far from me.  
The worship they offer me is worthless, 
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.”

He called the people to him again and said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy slander, pride, folly.  All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Discussion


You may wish to introduce by referring to the discussions on the Eucharist we had the last few Sundays.

What is the one thing that you must do before you eat?  Well, there is saying grace and washing your hands.  Put the saying grace aside for a while.

Why do you need to wash your hands?  Highlight that other then the obvious hygiene reason, there is also the emotional and social element.  Many people feel better if we were to sit at the dining table when we are clean.  That is why people ‘freshen up’ before dinner. Some people even prefer to bathe before a proper dinner.  There is also the social angle:  would you like to sit to eat with somebody whose hands have not been cleaned, or who stinks badly because he has not washed after a football game?

Explain that saying grace, is also a way of cleaning: just as we wash to clean our hands before eating we also clean our souls by saying grace.  But because it is a physical meal, we do more physical washing than spiritual washing to prepare for it.

If the Eucharist is a meal like we have been talking about these last few weeks, do we also need to wash up for mass?  Well, there is the physical side:  we do try our best to arrive at church clean on Sundays.  Some people even dress up well for mass.  Hence the term, Sunday best, which has largely fallen into disuse of late (please don’t look at me when you say that to the kids).

But just as we do more physical washing than spiritual washing before a physical meal, we do more spiritual washing than physical washing before the spiritual meal, the Eucharist.  How do we do spiritual washing?  Noticed the little tiny containers of water at the church entrances?  Well, that is holy water that we bless and cleanse ourselves with before we enter the spiritually clean place for the spiritual meal.  This holy water has been blessed at the Easter midnight mass.

Explain that that is the public aspect of the cleansing that we share with everyone else.  Ask the children what else we could do.  There is a private and (partly) private aspect to the cleansing.  The private aspect is when we

·           say our prayers before mass, either at home or after we turn up at church; and
·           read the readings in the missal at home so we understand the mass when we attend it, etc.

And just like there is a social angle to washing up at home before the meal, there is social angle to washing up before mass. Would we be clean when we arrive at mass if we have been fighting with our brothers and sisters, or we have been naughty or disobedient, etc?

That is why we have the confessions before the mass.  This is the (partly) private cleansing we do before mass.  In this, we confess our serious wrongs that we have done and ask God for forgiveness and the priest will give us the sign that God has forgiven us.

If there is time, you can also note that just as those at home washes their hands before preparing our food, those at church also cleanse themselves before assisting as mass.  They have a group prayer and will also do their own prayer at home.