An 83 year old Catholic grandfather offers his suggestions for consideration by school children, their parents and Catholic school teachers, “as the minutes that follow Holy Communion are the most precious we have in our lives.”
Number One: Give thanks to God
- For the gift of life: God brought us into the world for a reason. To love and serve Him all the days of our life and to be with Him forever in Heaven.
- For the gift of our Faith: Not everyone has been given this precious gift. Always remember our Catholic Faith is a gift from God Himself.
- For the gift of our parents, family and friends: We give thanks to God for the family support we have been given, for taking every good care of us when we were very young, and for the friends we have around us.
- For the shelter we have been given: A roof over our heads – the comfort of a bed at night – food on the table every day. Many millions around the world do not have access to these basic needs.
- For good health in mind and body: For the ability to hear, to speak, to walk, to run, to be able to observe God’s creation on land, the sky and sea. To be able to play with friends, to engage in sporting activities. If the need arises, we have ready access to hospital and medical care. So many children in other countries are not so fortunate.
- For our homeland here in Australia: There are countries around the world which have been devastated by civil war, persistent fighting and violence, leading to families fleeing for their safety. Thousands of children do not survive due to lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. Some are kidnapped and sold into slavery. Many children today are barely alive in ghettos as displaced persons or refugees. Millions of children go hungry and then have to face up to the cheerless chill of homeless nights. One percent of the world’s population own half the world’s wealth. So many work for less than a dollar a day. We should stop and think how lucky we are to live in Australia! How often do we thank God for our good fortune?
- For our education: To be able to attend a very good school conducted by dedicated teachers. We can read and write, a skill denied to millions around the world as they have no school to go to. We have opportunities to increase our knowledge and so qualify to enter university and other places of advanced education, which in turn can lead to employment opportunities and so be able to support our own families when we are adults. In many places around the world, such opportunities are simply not available.
Number two: Sorry for sin
Ask Jesus for forgiveness, for the times we may have disappointed Him.
- Have I been disrespectful to my parents?
- Have I been selfish?
- Have I lived God as I should have?
- Have I failed to thank God for all the good things in my life?
- Have I neglected my prayers?
- Have I been dishonest, untruthful?
- Have I hurt the feelings of others?
- Have I missed Sunday Mass through my own fault?
Number three: Prayers for the deceased
It is very important to remember our loved ones, family and friends who have died. And do not forget to pray for the holy souls in Purgatory. November is the month of holy souls.
Prayer is the best way to assist those who have died, as the Church teaches us “that it is a holy and wholesome time to pray for the dead.” Every time you receive Holy Communion pray for those who have died.
Number four: Seeking God’s help
From time to time all of us have worries or concerns. Jesus always encourages us to seek His help.
Tell Jesus that you love Him, that you need His helping hand with upsets, troubles or anxieties in your life. You may be worried about schoolwork, upcoming examinations, family or friends that are sick or facing surgery in hospital, or family and friends that cannot find employment. There can be many reasons why you need God’s help.
Don’t forget to pray for our Pope, our Archbishop and your parish priest as they need a lot of God’s help. All of us have a duty to pray for more priests, as without the priest, there can be no Mass, Eucharist, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Sacrament of the sick.
Aim to develop a life-long friendship with Jesus because He will guide you and help you to make the right decisions and become better people. Ask God to teach you how to share what you have with those in need.
Jesus hears all our prayers. He knows what is best for us.
Children: Why you should love the Mass
The Mass is Heaven on Earth. Why do I say that? Because it is during the Mass that we receive the most wonderful gift of all – Jesus Christ Himself. The same Jesus who was born in a stable in Bethlehem, died on the cross for all of us and rose from the dead.
Children and prayer
When you say your prayers, talk to God as you normally would to a friend. After all, he is your best friend – for life!
When you genuflect in Church, do it correctly. The knees should reach the ground unless prevented by injury. Making the Sign of the Cross is itself a prayer, so do it slowly and correctly, not just a waving of the arm.
We all have a Guardian Angel to watch over us through life, however short or long that may be:
“Oh angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen”
Children do have a role in a Parish!
Christ said “Let the little children come to me…”
The bond between what is happening in a Catholic school and what happens at the Sunday Eucharist should be as strong as possible.
Some views have been expressed that you have to entertain children in order to engage them during Mass. I do not agree. The way to engage children when they attend Mass is to help them encounter Christ, by experiencing this work in the various ministries of the Parish. For example, invite the children to:
- Become altar servers, and thus experience:
- Preparing the Altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, and so learn liturgical colours and procedures
- Lighting the Altar candles and preparing the gifts for the offertory procession
- Assisting the priest at the most significant liturgical moments during the Mass: a) the offerings by the priest of the bread and wine, which are to be consecrated, b) the liturgical washing of the priest’s hands in anticipation of raising up the bread and wine, which is to become the Body and Blood of Christ, c) at that solemn moment – the Consecration – the Altar servers ring the bells, acknowledging the Holy Presence.
- Or, as a member of the congregation during Mass:
- Taking part in the Offertory procession with family members
- Assisting with the music
- Assisting with the Welcome Ministry. Everyone is able to say “welcome” with a smile
- Following first Communion, eligible to begin as readers of the Word of God and recital of the prayers of the faithful
- Upon reaching 16 years of age, invitation to become Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and other duties such as assisting with the training of new Altar servers.
The end result? A sense of belonging to a Catholic community is achieved.
All of us, young and old, are called upon to be involved in the life and mission of the Church.
Even children can be modern-day missionaries to each other and to their family.
Children can respond much better if their presence is acknowledged during Mass.
And the final word is from Pope Francis – “Children must be the heart of any Parish.”
To older children, parents and teachers
God Himself said, “Keep holy the Sabbath day.” It is a commandment of the Church that we attend Mass on the Sunday (or on the evening of the preceding day) and on the other holy days of obligation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has confirmed that to miss Mass through one’s own fault is a serious sin. One of the reasons for this commandment was to remind us that every good thing comes from the Hand of God. How important is this reminder today?
There are 168 hours in every week. Surely God is not asking too much of us to devote one of those hours to be present at the celebration of the Eucharist?
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
How often does it happen that we pass a church without entering? Why are we so indifferent to making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament? My parents and teachers encouraged me to never walk past an open church without making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, be it ever so brief.
The Lord is waiting for us! The real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle has always been the object of immense reverence and respect by the saints.
Blessed Pope Paul VI (soon to be a Saint) wrote:
“Perhaps one of the reasons why we do not visit Our Lord more often is that we feel He is passive in the Blessed Sacrament. Nothing seems to happen! But we are mistaken. Christ is not inactive in the Blessed Sacrament. His presence is dynamic! He acts upon us, renewing our faith, enlightening our minds, giving us courage to carry out our daily tasks…”
Parents should be encouraged to take their children into the Church, even for a brief visit. The significance of the Red Lamp on the Sanctuary should also be explained. Children will remember these visits, as I do from my earliest years.
Science tries to find ways to add years to our life, but it is only through Jesus that we add life to our years.
Bob Hope, a famous film star, wrote, “My idea of Christmas is very simple – loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas?”
Winston Churchill, famous allied war leader, said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
A dapper young man was telling his friends in the pub how financially well off he was. He had real estate, shares and money in the bank. His future was assured. An older man sitting nearby with a beer said, “I have something you will never have”. The young man said with a smirk, “What’s that?” to which the older man replied, “Enough.”
A homeless person’s heart beats just as ours. Appreciate everything – especially your friends.
There are many people who really are poor. There are others who only think they are.
Millions are trapped in a terrible limbo – unsafe at home and unwanted anywhere else.
Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.
Food is the most basic of human needs, yet despite the fact that the world produces enough food for every one of its people, still almost one billion people go to bed hungry every single night.
Greg Glass is a parishioner at St Martha’s Church in Strathfield.