Saturday, May 28, 2016

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year C
Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time


Comforting the bereaved

Points to note

Coming so quickly after the past Easter season, this reading puts us back in touch with the theme of new life.

Death can be a touchy subject for many and there are some who thinks that we should not burden children with such sombre concepts that even adults find difficulties with.  As such, touching on the subject of bereavement may be suitable only for the older ones.  However, even small children may grasp the idea of loss, particularly when they have lost a beloved pet.  Where we have children in the group, even if only one, who have encountered loss, whether of a person or a pet, we can with sensitivity encourage the children to share the event.  Keep the questions from the other children under control as sometimes questions asked out of ignorance can be hurtful or confusing.

Once we have taken the discussion as far as we can, move on to the subject of new life and the reunion we all look forward to our loved ones.


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
A great prophet has appeared among us;
God has visited his people



Explain that Jesus has just begun his final journey to Jerusalem.  In the previous Sunday, he has just healed the servant of the centurion.

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

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Lk 7:11-17)
Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.


(This part can be used to start off the discussion but move onto the topic of new life if he discussion gets difficult.)

Have anyone ever had a pet who died? Let them describe the event.  Gently lead them on to also describe how they felt about the loss.  Ask how long were they upset for and how they got over their upset.  Explain the period when they were upset over the loss of their pet is called bereavement and all people go through the stage.  Some people take longer to get through it and others go through it rather quickly.

Has anyone ever been to a funeral?  Many would not have but they could have attended a wake or something similar.  Discuss how the atmosphere was like at a funeral or a wake.  It is interesting that at a wake, people tend to start off being sombre but after the prayers people tend to lighten up at the fellowship, (except maybe the immediate family or other close relative/friend) unless the loss was sudden and unexpected.  Explain that this is the period of bereavement.  Different people take different periods of time to go through this period.

New life
Discuss the gospel story and who met the funeral procession as they were on the way to the funeral?  Discuss what Jesus did when he met the funeral procession.  Why?  Can we remember some promise of Jesus about new life?  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  So, how many people did he raise from the dead?  The man in this story, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus and himself.

Is Jesus still going around raising people from the dead?  No.  So how does he now keep this promise about new life?  Well, we can either wait for the resurrection of the dead at the end of time.  Or we can pray for our beloved that they may enter heaven quickly.  Those who do enter heaven can then enjoy new life with those whom they have loved and have gone ahead of them.  We too can join them eventually, but only if we hold on to the promise of Jesus and show the new life that we get to everyone.

Discuss how we show we have new life to other people.  By giving, loving, etc.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Year C
Second Sunday after Pentecost


We are fed together at the table of God

Points to note

A parallel with the family at home can be suggested here as often as possible.  In Asian cultures, it is said that the family that eats together stays together.  Stress that as a family, God’s family too, must eat together to stay together.

Be sensitive to children who may not yet be of age for communion.  Try not to say ‘eat’.  ‘Have a meal’ may be better.  Babies may be there at a meal with the rest of the family but may not be eating.

Take care that no child with an absent parent feels alienated from discussions.  Where a parent is absent due to work, reassurance that the temporary absence does not invalidate a family may be necessary.  Where a parent is absent for marital reasons, stress that the family is a unit of people who love each other and in that sense, a family under a single parent is just as complete a family as any other.  But, please don’t bring up the subject.  Only treat it if a child mentions it.


Explain that Jesus had wanted to be alone with his disciples but the large crowd wouldn’t let them be alone.  The crowd was huge, five thousand men plus their families.  Get them to imagine what a crowd that would be.  Our church could take in a thousand -- Imagine five times the number!  And, that’s only men alone.

The Lord be with you.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
(Lk 9:11-17)
Jesus made everybody welcome and talked to them about God; and he cured those who were sick.

It was late in the afternoon when the Apostles came to him and said, “Send the people away so that they can go into the villages and farms around here to find food and a place to sleep; for we are in a lonely place.”  He replied, “Can’t you give them something to eat yourselves?”  But they said, “We have only five loaves and two fishes.  We will have to go and buy food for all these people ourselves.” There were about five thousand men.  But he said to his disciples, “Get them to sit in groups of fifty.”  They did so and made them all sit down.  Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven and blessed them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to give to the crowd.  They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


Who has got a big family?  Do you eat together often?  When?

Get them talking about their family.  Ask about the occasions when they eat together.  Do they like to eat with their family?  Why?  Explain that in our culture, eating is very important and eating together is even more important.  We prefer to eat with people we like.  Sometimes, if we refuse to eat with anyone, it is a sign that we don’t like them.

What is this other family we belong to?  Do we have a meal together as well?  When?  Where?

Remember that the mass is not ‘like a meal’.  It is a meal.  Draw the parallels between the mass and the meal.  There is a table with a tablecloth on it.  The people try to gather round the table.  They only succeed in getting everyone round the table if there are not too many people.  There is food on the table.  The priest washes his hands before preparing the meal.  We say ‘grace’ before the meal to thank God for the food before we start and we thank God after we finish.

Draw parallels between the meal at home and the meal at mass.

In the Church, to take communion with someone else is a very deep sign of unity with that person.  We say we are in communion with that person.  The use of the same word in both contexts is significant.  That is why the Church does not allow non-Catholics to receive communion as to do so would be to recognise them as Catholics, with all the accompanying implications as to faith, morals, principles, way of life, and fundamentally, identity as a people.  Even in cases where a Christian is close to us in faith, except in dire need, communion will be denied.  This is not to say that our Christianity is exclusive.  We just don’t want our oneness to be diluted.

For me, a magical moment happens when I receive communion, particularly from a person I don’t know at a parish I have never been to.  The Eucharistic Minister raises up the communion and say “Body of Christ” and I reply “Amen”, which means “I agree” (please take note: not “I believe”).

At one level I am agreeing to the fact that this is the Body of Christ that I am receiving.  But at another level, I am also agreeing to the fact that the Eucharistic Minister and I are part of the same Body of Christ.  And at that moment, a truth dawns that two persons who have never met and who may never meet again are part of the same family, bound by the same faith in the same belief in the same God.  And at that moment, wherever I am in the world, I am home.  That to me is the meaning of communion and the meaning of the Body of Christ.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Trinity Sunday

Year C
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity



Points to note

Learning is a continuous process and we never stop learning.  It is important to stress the fact that we continue to learn about Jesus through our parents and our catechists.  Even grown-ups continue to learn about Jesus through the Church.  Actually, even the Pope.

As it is Trinity Sunday, the stress is also that whatever that is taught by the Spirit about the Father is the same as what Jesus taught.

Try to say “Holy Spirit” instead of just “Spirit” as the latter has connotations for some children that can be a little distracting, while the former is a proper name to many children.


Opening dialogue
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All:   Amen.

A simple Sign of the Cross is made to start the mass, but you should explain its significance.  The early Christians used the sign of the cross to bless themselves during the liturgy, and to show that they are Christians at other times.  We don’t really know if they use it as a secret sign known only to themselves during the persecution, but it is an intriguing thought.
Children also like the idea that as our hands move to the different parts of our body when signing ourselves, we are also making a silent prayer with our hands: God, grant us wisdom (head), love (chest), and strength (shoulders).

Explain to the children that the Apostles were very sad because Jesus had just told them that he was going to leave them.  Ask how they feel if a favourite teacher was to be leaving their school.  Would they like their replacement teacher to be just as nice?

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.


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

Again, it may help explaining about the other Sign of the Cross that we use before hearing the Gospel (separately from the above explanation).  This one is a little more ancient and being more discreet, was more likely to have been used as a secret sign if there was one.  It survives a lot more in the liturgies than the more conventional one.  For instance, the priest traces the cross on the forehead of the baby or catechumen during the Liturgy of Baptism.

Again, children like the idea of a prayer.  So: As we hear your word. let us think good thoughts (head), say good words (lips), and feel love (chest).

(Jn 16:12-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I still have many things to say to you
but you would not be able to understand them now
But when the Holy Spirit comes
he will teach you the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking about himself
but will teach what he has learnt from the Father;
and he will tell you about the things to come.
He will glorify me
since all he teaches you
will be from what I teach;
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I have said:
All he teaches you will be the same as what I have taught

This is the Gospel of the Lord


What is a mystery?

In the early Church, a mystery is a hidden truth that is revealed only to the elect, i.e., baptised Christians.  A catechumen is initiated into the mystery in a rite of initiation lasting years, during which the faith will be gradually revealed go him.  At the end of his formation, he will be baptised and is said to have entered into the mystery.  Even after that, though the newly baptised continue to be further initiated into the faith and will finally enter fully into the faith on meeting his Creator face to face.

Explain to the children that God is like a mystery to us and we learn about him gradually through the people around us and through talking to him in prayers.

Is Jesus still around to teach us?  Be careful!  Jesus isn’t dead on the Cross.  He has gone to heaven to prepare a house for us.  But he has asked the Holy Spirit to continue to teach us about himself.  Stress that whatever the Holy Spirit teaches is the same as what Jesus taught. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016


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 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.

It will be wonderful if you could research how Christianity came to your town, region our country or how your people and ancestors came to be converted.  That would be your story to tell.  I feel it is important for everyone to be able to tell the story of their people and I hope Christianity is an important enough a defining feature of your people (like for the Irish) that it becomes part of your folklore how your people became Christians.  

Seventh Sunday in Easter

Year C
Seventh Sunday in Easter


Praying for others

Points to note

This week follows on from the Ascension.  This Sunday’s session should then take this as the context.  

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 not used to it (i.e, unfortunately, many Catholic children are thus) 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 others 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.


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.


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 17:20-27)
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

“Holy Father,
I pray not only for these, but also for those
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you.
so that the world will know that it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you love me.
I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.”

This is the Gospel of the Lord


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.  Do 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 should 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.  You or another child could write it on the board if there is one and it is not too disruptive (i.e. ensure you have all the writing materials ready and you are positioned near the board).  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 pray that you would say yourself.  Repeat for petitional prayers and, if time permits, adoration prayers.