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
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)