Sunday, May 31, 2015

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Year B

Corpus Christi


The four actions of the mass

Points to note

On the same feast day in Year A, we touched on the concept of the Body of Christ.  This year we discuss what happens at mass.  The mass is laden with symbolisms that often escape us.  As Catholics, we often grow up not knowing what happens at mass.  Perhaps, today, we share with the children about the little bit of the mass that they attend.  This is best done by preparing them to be alert at mass for some of the details that we share with them.  I will leave it up to you how you wish to explain.


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven,
says the Lord.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.


Explain that this story happened at the night before Jesus was to be killed.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 14: 12-16, 22-26)
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”  So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water.  Follow him and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?”  He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared.  Make the preparations for us there.”  The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating, he took some bread, and when he has said the blessing, he broke it and gave it to them.  “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many.  I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


The mass has two parts.  We celebrate the first part of the mass, the Celebration (the proper word here would, of course, be Liturgy) of the Word, away from the rest of the church and we rejoin them for the Celebration of the Eucharist.  The word Eucharist here could refer to the bread to be eaten or it could refer to the mass itself.  The word comes from an ancient Greek word which means thanksgiving.

When we join in the Church for the mass, it is at the point of the presentation of gifts.  You may wish to use the accompanying guide for material on the mass to explain to the children.

Children need something more visual than doctrines and historical context, interesting though they may be.  I would suggest hanging your session on the

·            presentation of gifts: get them to imagine what it was like in the old days when people brought the produce of their farms for mass.  If you have time, discuss what kind of gifts would Jesus like us to bring to the altar.  Emphasise on spiritual gifts.

·            washing of hands:  we wash our hands before a meal.  The Eucharist is a meal, a spiritual meal. What kind of washing should we have before this spiritual meal?

·            four liturgical actions (v 22)

i.          take: Jesus took some bread and (the priest takes the bread at the presentation of gifts)
ii.         bless: when he has said the blessing, (the priest blesses the bread at the Eucharistic Prayer)
iii.       broke: he broke it and (the priest breaks the bread after the Lamb of God)
iv.        gave: gave it to them (the priest gives out communion to the ministers of the Eucharist)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trinity Sunday

Year B

Trinity Sunday


Baptising in the name of the Holy Trinity

Points to note

Easter season has just finished and we are not back into the ordinary season of the liturgical year.  The readings will remain with the Gospel according to St Mark, with a few exceptions like in this week, until the end of the liturgical year.

If you do wish to go into the intricacies of the Trinity, this will be in the leaflet for Year A.

In this reading, the injunction from Jesus calls on the Apostles, the first bishops to baptise in the name of the Trinity.  Names are very important to the ancients.  That is why important people in the Bible had their names changed by God at critical times of their lives:  Abraham; Jacob; Peter.  The Bible also emphasises naming of persons and often gives the meaning of the names. 

In the ancient world, the authority to give or to change someone’s name confers a certain power and ownership of the namer (is this the right word?) over the named.  Therefore, to be baptised in the name of the Trinity would seal the Trinity’s ownership over us.

This would also be an opportunity to share everyone’s names in the group.  You may want to have a book of names to give meaning to names.


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit the God who is, who was, and who is to come.

Explain that this story took place after Jesus rose from the dead and just before he ascended into heaven.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
(Mt 28: 16-20)
The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them.  When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.  Jesus came up and spoke to them.  He said, “All authority has in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.  And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Does anyone remember their baptism?  Some of the children may have been baptism as children and not babies while some others may have witnessed a baptism.  Get them to talk about the more salient happenings during the baptism.

There is one point in the celebration where the baby is brought up to the priest for the baptism itself.  Before the baptism, the priest asks the parents for the name of the baby.  This will be a good opportunity to go through the room and ask every child what his or her parents said.  Do it slowly with respect and holiness when they say their names as the ritual of naming can be a solemn affair.

Point out that when their parents called out their names, it was the first time that the Christian community heard their name and the Christian community accepted that name by welcoming the baby into the Church through baptism.

Explain that the choice of names and their meanings are very important.  That is why in the ancient world, people chose the names of their children because of the meaning and not just because they sounded nice.  No one would have wanted their parents to name them Porky for instance!!  If you have a book of names, you may wish to go search out the meaning of names of each child.

Explain also that sometimes, people are named after someone famous, someone the parents like or respect a lot.  It could be a film star, a world leader, or a family member.  Ask if any of the children know if they have been named after someone. 

When parents named a child after someone, they hope that the child will take on the qualities of that person.  Guess what the parents would want their daughter to grow up to be if they have named her Britney?  Catholics like to name their children after saints in hope that they will grow up to be like the saint.

When we are baptised, we are all baptised with two names:  the name that our parents gave us and the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  We are all baptised using the name of Christ.  After our baptism, people call us Christians and expect us to be like the person that we were named after:  Jesus.  So, being named and being baptised in the Catholic Church is a responsibility.  Discuss how we should respond to this responsibility.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Year A, B, C
Pentecost Sunday


Birthday of the Church

Points to note

For this Sunday, the Gospel is not used and the more vivid story of the descent of the Holy Spirit from the Acts of the Apostles is used instead.

The emphasis is on a beginning of the Church.  It is from the day of Pentecost that the mission of the Church began.  Armed with the Holy Spirit, the Church now had the courage to take Christ’s message to the world.  It is important to convey this to the children.

As such, this feastday is sometimes known as the birthday of the Church.  This may be something that can be played up as birthday is something that children identify with.  Discussions, I feel, should go beyond birthdays.

Stories of missionaries may be used.  Perhaps, the stories of the apostles as used in Easter 2 could kick off the story telling.



As the Gospel is not read, the Acclamation is omitted.  Being the birthday of the Church, we could welcome the reading with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Church instead (make sure you get approval from your parish priest before hand).

The Lord be with you.
All:   And with your spirit.

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Ac 2: 1-11)
When Pentecost day came round, the apostles had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language.  They were amazed and astonished.  “Surely”, they said, “all these men speaking are Galileans?  How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?  Iranians and Syrians; people from Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, Egypt and Libya; as well as visitors from Rome - Jews and converts alike - Greeks and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.

This is the Word of the Lord


Has anybody just celebrated a birthday?  Or been to a birthday party?  Discuss what is a birthday, and that it happens once a year and it celebrates an event that took place once before on the same day.  Explain that that first birthday is a beginning of a life.

Do you know that the Church has a birthday?  Do you know which day?  Discuss that the Church also has a beginning.  Discuss the story of Pentecost.  Emphasise the fear the apostles had after the resurrection and contrast it with the courage they had after Pentecost.  Explain that after Pentecost, the apostles went out to preach the Gospel to all the people all over the world.  You may wish to revisit some of the stories of where the apostles went.  The following stories are not biblical:

The apostles drew lots to see where they would go.  Peter went to Rome and became the first bishop of Rome.  Once, when he was running away to escape from soldiers, he saw Jesus walking the other direction.  When he asked Jesus where he was going, Jesus replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified again.  Peter was so ashamed of himself that he ran ahead of Jesus and was arrested.  He told the soldiers that he should be crucified upside-down as he was not worthy to be crucified upright like Jesus.

Thomas was chosen to go to India.  He didn’t want to because it was so far away.  Jesus visited him in a dream, but still he told Jesus, “Anywhere Lord but India”.  The next morning, Jesus was at the harbour and asked the captain of a ship if he needed a slave, pointing out to him Thomas.  The captain called Thomas over and asked him if Jesus was his master.  When Thomas said yes, the captain said he had bought him and Thomas was going to India.  Thomas went and made many Christians there.

Of all the apostles, only John lived to an old age but in exile in the island of Patmos.  Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Greece.  James was martyred in Spain and Matthew in Ethiopia.  Philip was crucified in Turkey.  Bartholomew was whipped to death in Armenia.  Simon and Jude were killed for the faith in Persia.

St Paul, according to the Acts of the Apostles, made four missionary journeys.  He probably made more, one of which was to Rome where he was martyred. 

You may also wish to discuss stories of the great missionary saints.  It is recommended that this be limited to the saints known to the children.  A good example would be St Francis Xavier, who brought the message of Christ to Goa in India, Melaka and to Japan, where he baptised thousands.

In addition there are thousands of other people who may not be saints, but are devout nevertheless and have brought the Gospel to all the places of the world.   These people are called missionaries.  Discuss those who the children may know personally.

St Francis Xavier is famous in Asia and is the patron saints of missionaries.  He was a Spaniard, who left his family, home, country, and all things familiar to him to a faraway place to tell people about Jesus.  Get the children to imagine having to do that and go to a place where they did not know anyone, know the language, the costumes, the customs, the food, to do something which people could kill you for.  St Francis went to India, then Malaysia, and then Japan.  Along the way, he made many people Christians.  He wanted to teach the Chinese people about Jesus but he died near Macau, before he could set foot into China.

St Francis Xavier and many other missionaries made many sacrifices so that people could become Christians.  It was because of their sacrifices that we are now Christians.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Year B
Seventh Sunday of Easter


Goodbye gifts
Praying for others

Points to note

This week follows on from the Ascension.  This Sunday’s session should then take this as the context.   Although the priestly prayer of Jesus in this reading takes place before crucifixion, he nevertheless is praying for the time that he will be going away.  It was his parting prayer for his friends whom he will have to leave behind when the Passion commences.

It is easy to refer the children to the goodbyes they have gone through and concentrate on how they express these goodbyes.



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.

Gospel Acclamation

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn 17: 11-19)
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
“Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them, I kept those you have given me true to your name.
I have kept watch over them and not one was lost,
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you and while I am still in this world
I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself
So that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


Have you ever had a relative or friend who came from abroad to stay with your family for a while?  Let the children talk about who and what they did while they were here.

Can you tell us what did you do when they went away?  Say goodbye.  Begin to draw them out into the various ways people have a farewell:  perhaps, a dinner, a trip to somewhere fun, a shopping trip to buy something somebody wanted, etc.

Explain that in the reading, Jesus was going away.  Explain the Ascension and that the Apostles, who will be left bereft again the second time.  (Sometimes, when someone we like goes away unexpectedly, we get even more upset when they come back and go away again the second time.).  Discuss how the Apostles felt.

Explain that he was planning to send the Holy Spirit to be a comforter to Apostles.  He told them that the Holy Spirit will give them strength and courage to carry out his command for them to go and make disciples of all nations.  Discuss how they felt.

Maybe the Apostles were a little disappointed.  Jesus’ command to go out and baptise everyone was a bit of a difficult task and all they got was the promise of the Holy Spirit, which they probably didn’t know what it was (remember, this was before they received and knew the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day ten days after the Ascension).  But wasn’t the Holy Spirit such a great gift that it fulfilled all of Jesus’ promises and more.

Sometimes, when we get a gift that we did not understand, we put it aside.  Much later, we discover what the gift can do and we become a lot more appreciative, praising the wisdom of the person who gave us such a gift.  Sometimes, life is like that and we learn to treasure every gift we get, whether we think at that time it was useful or not.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Year B

Sixth Sunday of Easter



Points to note

As mentioned in the leaflet for Easter 3, this is the destination of the four-week journey that John is leading us.  You may wish to read that leaflet to set this Sunday in context.

Some time ago, the Church changed the name of the Thursday in Holy Week from Maundy Thursday to Holy Thursday.  I always feel that we lost a little something in this change.  As a result, many Catholics today incorrectly assume Thursday of Holy Week as the celebration of the Last Supper.  That is actually celebrated on Corpus Christi.  In truth, the word Maundy comes from a Latin word, mandatum, which means command.  Maundy Thursday is, therefore, the Night of the Great Commandment.  Liturgically, the commandment here refers to the commandment to wash each other’s feet.  Hence, the reading for Holy Thursday.

But, there is another commandment, the one mentioned in this Sunday’s reading.  The one, according to John, Jesus gave to his disciples on the Thursday before he died.  In the other Gospel accounts, Jesus was asked to choose the greatest among the existing Jewish commandments.  To John, however, Jesus was not referring to existing Jewish commandments.  This is my commandment:  this is the one and only time that Jesus gave us his commandment:  Love one another as I have loved you.  There is a lot in this reading and you may want to reflect on it before you share with the children.

When discussing the concept of love, it is easy to lose focus and end up with very broad ideas instead.  It is critical to anchor the discussions on very concrete examples of action and the daily life events that children understand.  If possible, end up with commitments from the children on how they should make real in their lives what they have heard in the readings.


Explain to the children that John was probably the youngest of the Twelve Apostles; the only one not to be martyred and that he lived to a ripe old age.  In the Gospel he wrote, he always referred to himself as the beloved disciple.  So, this must really very much be someone who have felt the loving power of Jesus and knows he is loved by God.  The story goes that when he was teaching his own disciples at the end of his life, he was asked by one of them why he always talked to them about love and nothing else.  John stared out into the distance for a while and replied, “Because there is nothing else … but love … love … and love.”

Explain that this teaching took place at the Last Supper on the night before Jesus was crucified.  Explain that Jesus wanted to leave a gift to his disciples before he leaves them the next day.

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

The Lord be with you.
All:   And with your spirit.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All:   Glory to you O Lord
 (Jn 15: 9-17)

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends, if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants anymore,
because a servant does not know his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me, no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.
And then the Father will give you anything you ask in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Has anyone ever made a birthday card or a Mother’s Day/Father’s Day card for Mom or Dad?  Did they like it?  Did they like it more than one that was bought in the shops?  Why?  Because the one you made was made with love, and love is the greatest gift of all!!

What other gifts of love have you given, received or heard of?  Allow examples from as many children as possible.  Gently identify in each example, there is a sacrifice.  Someone had to sacrifice some time & effort to make a card for Mom/Dad.

Discuss the greatest gift from Jesus and the sacrifice he made.  Discuss why he did so.

Remember we discussed in the past few weeks about obeying and following Jesus?  How had people in the past followed Jesus’ example of loving and sacrificing?  Martyrs of the past gave up their lives to tell others about Jesus, to stand up for what they believed in or, simply, to help someone else.  

Text Box: Fr Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan monk who was imprisoned by the Nazis.  When some food was stolen in the prison camp and no one owned up, the camp commandant chose ten men at random to be executed.  One of them broke down and asked not to be killed as he has children and family.  Fr Kolbe stepped forward and offered to die in his place.  Fr Kolbe was shot and is canonised today.
Of course, we need not all die to show our love for others.  Priests and nuns give up their lives to join the ministries of the Church.  Lots of people give up days, months or years of their lives to help the needy in other countries (eg., with people suffering from Ebola), in hospitals, orphanages or the like.  Even giving up a few minutes to listen to a friend in trouble may sometimes be sacrifice enough.  And provided it is done in love, God will accept it as a gift to be cherished.

End with each child, if possible, giving an example of how he or she may sacrifice in obedience to Jesus’ commandment.