Mass is rich with tradition and meaning. As you teach your students about the
celebration of the Holy and Divine Liturgy, emphasize the importance of
outwardly reflecting the truths we hold internally. This shows a respectful
attitude toward the Eucharistic presence at Mass. For some students, this
information will be completely new; for others, it may be a way to fine-tune
what they already know.
the formation of deliberate, sincere, reverent, and prayerful habits by role
playing and reviewing the following behaviors with your students.
Make the Sign of the Cross
students know this prayer which honors the Trinity, but perhaps it is said
absentmindedly. Students can get confused about which shoulder to touch during
which part of the prayer, or they may use the wrong hand for this self-blessing.
and end classroom prayers with this simple blessing, saying it slowly and
deliberately as students trace themselves with the cross. Students whose left
hands are their dominant hands should be instructed to use their right hands. Watch
your students and repeat the prayer as a group when correction is necessary.
Bless with Holy Water
water fonts placed at the entrance doors of the church are a reminder of our
purification from sin in Baptism. Have students form a circle around a bowl of holy
water on a table. Instruct students to approach the bowl, to dip the tips of
the fingers on their right hands into the bowl, and to make the Sign of the
Cross, blessing themselves. Invite students to reflect on the sanctifying grace
they received through the waters of Baptism.
is a sign of reverence used anytime the Eucharist is present in the tabernacle,
in a monstrance, or at Communion. If students do not receive Communion, they can
still show reverence for the Real Presence with a bow. Practice bowing. Have
students stand with their legs together, hands folded in prayer, and bend
slightly (bow) at the waist.
students what it means to genuflect
(bend the knees, one knee touching the ground). Then ask where they direct their
attention when they genuflect. Many will think they direct their attention
toward the crucifix. However, their attention should be directed toward the
tabernacle, which holds the Blessed Sacrament. If there is no tabernacle, one
should bow toward the altar.
is also an opportune time to review the lit candle lantern that signifies
Christ’s presence. On the board, draw a simple picture of a tabernacle and have
students practice genuflecting.
clothing should be worn in the presence of the Eucharist. Soiled, sloppy, or revealing
clothes are inappropriate and distracting.
out photos of different outfits from catalogs and have students discuss which
outfits are suitable for different kinds of activities. Have students decide which
outfits are appropriate to wear to Mass. (With older students, this topic can transition
easily into a discussion about vanity and modesty.)
Arriving and Leaving
and exiting the church can be distracting to others who are seeking quiet
prayer. Encourage students to take care of their needs for the bathroom or
refreshments (such as water) before Mass begins.
students that Mass isn’t over until the priest has left the altar and has
walked down the aisle to the back of church and the concluding song is finished.
Emphasize this point by asking students to recall a wedding they attended. Did
they leave the church before the bride and the groom left? It is appropriate to
extend this same kind of respect to the priest.
Sandra Hoolihan is a catechist at Espiritu
Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, FL. She has volunteered in religious
education programs for over nine years.