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
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
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
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.