Images of sacred art, live music and a filmed re-enactment of the Last Supper are part of a compelling archdiocesan program that teaches young Catholics to see each of the four principal parts of the Mass as a personal invitation from God asking his children to come ever closer to him in friendship.
“(The children learn that) the Mass is actually Jesus speakingto them, inviting them into his love, into his mystery,” said Todd Amick, whose Office of Evangelization and Eucharistic Renewal created the Keynote software program entitled “The Mass: A Personal Invitation from Jesus Himself.”
“If love is a gift of self, and if Jesus is giving us himself in the Mass, he’s inviting us to enter into relationship; each part of the Mass is a ‘come to me,’” Amick said.
Amick and his assistant, Tony Laux, teach the program by defining the four parts of the Mass and the accompanying grace – or gift – that each part offers us:
• Introductory Rites: “Jesus, I’m sorry.”
In this part of the Mass, the faithful are told that because Jesus has invited us into closeness with him, if we fall short of his expectations, we can “take that hurt and give it back to him,” just as we can seek forgiveness if we have hurt someone in our earthly family.
“If we don’t love him the way we’re supposed to, God will forgive us for that,” said Amick, who in addition to teaching the basics of sin and forgiveness, offers a brief survey of the Ten Commandments – with a twist.
“The Ten Commandments are very important, but they are ‘no’s,’” he said. “If we listen to the two big yes’es Jesus gives – ‘Love the Lord with your whole heart, mind, spirit and strength,’ and ‘Love your neighbor as
yourself,’ then all
those no’s go away.”
Catholic singer-songwriter Lorraine Hess, who is on hand throughout the program, leads the children in the singing of “Return to God,” which tells of the conversion of heart people receive through God’s forgiveness.
• Liturgy of the Word: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
This part of the program delves into the Liturgy of the Word’s chronological progression from the Old Testament (or the old covenant) to the New Testament. In short, God was faithful to us 2,000 years ago, is faithful to us now, and will be faithful to us in the future.
Amick and Laux deliberately tailor each program to cover the specific readings of the students’ next school Mass. Difficult vocabulary words and place names are explained and art depicting the given feast, liturgical season and evangelist is incorporated. The team also tries to speak with the pastor to see what images he will be using in his next homily.
“We walk them through (the readings) to help them enter into the story, to be able to appreciate that God’s family plan is really our family plan, that this is ourstory,” Amick said.
“Once they’ve prepared for the readings, they have that resonance, they have that connection.”
• Liturgy of the Eucharist: “Jesus, I love you.”
In this portion, students learn to see Eucharist as the ultimate gift of self. An age-appropriate re-enactment of the Last Supper is screened, with the actors speaking in Christ’s native language of Aramaic. The film, which hints at Christ’s death on the cross, is shown “so that (children) can see the paschal mystery – the passion, death and resurrection of Christ – and the Mass, which is the representation of that paschal mystery, as one reality,” Amick notes. “The Prayer of St. Ignatius” is also sung: “Soul of Christ sanctify me; Body of Christ save me; Blood of Christ inebriate me.”
• Concluding Rite: “Jesus, I’ll follow you.”
In the final part of the Mass, students learn that “the mysteries that were visible in Christ have passed invisibly to the Church.” In other words, it is up to each of us carry on his works of love.
“We meet each age group where they are. There’s no one-size-fits-all,” said Amick, whose office also has created programs on the Mass targeting teens, parents, teachers and parish groups.
“If all we do as teachers or as parents is lead our young people to Christ and then get out of the way, then we’ve done incredible work,” Amick said. “And as Catholics we have the Mass to be able to do that!”
For more information, call Amick’s office at 482-8010.