Beginnings are always exciting. This is especially true as the school year or the new catechetical year begins. There are new possibilities, new things to learn, new people to meet. The beginning of school can also be full of anxiety and questions.
“What if I don’t make good grades?”
“What if I don’t like the teacher?”
“What if the other kids don’t like me?”
The beautiful thing about being Catholic is that we don’t have to experience these uncertain situations alone. We have someone who gives us strength, guidance, and peace whenever we need it — the Holy Spirit. This is an often-overlooked aspect of Christian spirituality. Our religion is not just about rules; it’s about real help the Father gives us in time of need. All we have to do is ask.
Sign of the Cross
Leader: Holy Spirit, you came to the Church at Pentecost to be our helper and guide. You gave the apostles power to overcome fear, go forward with confidence, and accomplish their mission. We ask that you be with us now as we begin this new school year. Give
us courage as we meet new people and learn new things. Help us perform to the best of our abilities. Strengthen us as we continue formation for our own life’s mission.
Here are two songs you can use. Both speak of invoking the Holy Spirit and asking for his help. The first is from Catholic artist Audrey Assad and has a more traditional feel. The second is a lively and quite well-known praise and worship song from Christian artist Francesca Battistelli. Links to YouTube videos are provided. You can play these from a computer connected to a projector and speakers or from your phone. Students can sing along or just listen. I included a video for each song with lyrics. You might have a harder time getting your older students to sing. Just remember, if you want kids to sing … play it
■ “Spirit of the Living God” — Audrey Assad (Video with lyrics: CATmag.us/2JFgrNK)
■ “Holy Spirit” — Francesca Battistelli (Video with lyrics: CATmag.us/2sQeE1V)
Psalm 34:1-10, 15-18
With older students, try reciting the psalm in chorus. Divide the room into two groups. Have each group alternate reading a paragraph of the psalm out loud. After each paragraph, have the whole class recite the antiphon out loud. For younger students, read the psalm while they recite the antiphon (the way you would at Mass). It might also be helpful to use a child-friendly translation such as the Good News Translation.
Antiphon: Seek the Lord and he will answer you.
Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
For older students, have one of them read the passage aloud. Again, for younger students,
consider using a child-friendly translation.
Hand each student a blank slip of paper. Have them write answers to these two questions:
◗ What are you most worried about in the coming year?
◗ What do you most want to achieve in the coming year?
For younger students, have them think about the answers silently to themselves. Have each student fold the slip of paper and place it in a jar next to you at the front of the
class. Explain that these are petitions they’re offering to the Holy Spirit for the coming school year. As they place the slip of paper in the jar, give them another slip of paper that reads:
You are a child of God!
“And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you…Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when
he asks for fish?… How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ( Luke 11:9, 11, 13b.)
Leader: Holy Spirit, you are the Paraclete, the Advocate, who comes alongside us to comfort and guide. Strengthen us as we enter this new school year. Give us peace about the things that worry us most, and help us to accomplish what we desire most. We
trust that you are always with us. Remind us to remain open to your inspiration, ask for your guidance, and choose in accordance with your will. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Marc Cardaronella, MA, is director of the Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He is the author of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick and blogs at MarcCardaronella.com.
This article was published in Catechist magazine, September 2018
Photo Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock