AT THE TABLE OF THE WORD. GUIDELINES FOR THE CHILDREN S LITURGY OF THE WORD Old St. Joseph Church Philadelphia, Pa

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1 AT THE TABLE OF THE WORD GUIDELINES FOR THE CHILDREN S LITURGY OF THE WORD Old St. Joseph Church Philadelphia, Pa

2 2 THE MINISTRY OF CHILDREN S LITURGY OF THE WORD Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark: 10:13-14 What is Children's Liturgy of the Word? It is the Liturgy of the Word suitably adapted to make it relevant to the lives and experiences of young children. It gives them the opportunity to understand the Gospel message and participate in the Eucharistic celebration at their own level. Where does it take place? The children celebrate the Liturgy of the Word in Barbelin Hall for younger children and in the Drexel Parlor for older children. The leaders are responsible for preparing the space and making sure that everything is in the right place before the beginning of Mass, and for rearranging the space if necessary. When does it take place? The children should be present at the beginning of the Mass until the end of the Introductory Rites, when the priest invites them to leave for their own celebration. They are brought back into the assembly immediately after the Prayers of the Faithful by the leader. Who leads the Liturgy of the Word for Children? Adult leaders lead the children's liturgy of the Word. Actually, all that is required to lead is a desire to help children take a more active part in the celebration of their faith. Training is available for teenagers and adults. All leaders must submit to a background check and participate in Archdiocesan guidelines for Protecting God s Children. How does one become a leader for the Liturgy of the Word for Children? If you would be interested in serving as a leader, contact Peggy Connolly, Coordinator for CLOW at (215) or via at

3 3 LITURGICAL GUIDELINES The Introduction to the Lectionary for Masses with Children explains that the fullest reality of the Sunday liturgical assembly is adults and children together. It is important that adequate attention be given to the children's presence. Separate celebrations can lead to a diminished sense of participation for children in the liturgical assembly. 1 The Church recognizes however, that sometimes because of children's inability to participate or to understand what happens and what is proclaimed, it will be appropriate to celebrate liturgies of the word with them in a place apart from the main Sunday assembly. 2 These guidelines are offered to assist adult leaders in their preparation. They are primarily for adult leaders who minister to children enrolled in the primary and intermediate grade levels, the age level intended for use of the Lectionary for Masses with Children. These separate liturgies of the word are not catechetical classes; neither do they replace catechetical formation for children. They are a counterpart to the main assembly's liturgy of the word. As ritual prayer the liturgy celebrates the Word of God in narrative and song, makes it visible in gesture and symbol and culminates in the celebration of the eucharist. 3 It is advisable that those responsible for developing separate liturgies of the word with children read and reflect on both the Directory for Masses with Children and the Introduction to the Lectionary for Masses with Children. Outline 1. Dismissal from the Assembly 2. Welcome 3. Proclamation of the Word 4. Reflection on the Word 5. Celebration of the Word 6. General Intercessions 7. Return to the Assembly 1. Dismissal from the Assembly The children participate in the introductory rites of the Mass with the entire assembly. After the opening prayer the dismissal of the children from the assembly takes place. The presiding priest may call the children and their leaders to come forward and invite them to celebrate the word. He then presents the Lectionary to the one who will preside over the liturgy of the word with the children and formally dismiss them with the following or similar words:

4 4 A. Receive this book of readings and proclaim God's word faithfully to the children entrusted to your care. B. My dear children, you will now go to hear God's word, to praise God in song, and to reflect on the wonderful things God has done for us. We will await your return so that together we may celebrate the eucharist. 4 The leaders and children then process to the place of celebration carrying the Lectionary. The younger children are led to Barbelin Hall, which has been suitably appointed for the celebration of the Word. The older children are led to the Drexel Parlor. 2. Welcome The children should be welcomed by their adult leaders with words or gestures which help them to feel at ease. A sung acclamation, sign of the cross or short prayer may be said at this time to focus the children's attention. The essential goal of this brief re-gathering is to enable them to listen to the Word of God which is about to be proclaimed. Mindful of our belief in Christ's presence the children should welcome the proclamation of the word in some ritual manner, such as: * with a prayerful silence; * with a procession of the Lectionary to the place of proclamation; The actions should be simple and appropriate to the age and development of the children. 3. Proclamation of the Word As far as is possible, the readings assigned from the Lectionary for Masses with Children should be used. No other English lectionary for Masses with children has been approved for dioceses in the United States. The Directory for Masses with Children, indicates, if three or even two readings on Sundays or weekdays can be understood by children only with difficulty, it is permissible to read two or only one of them, but the reading of the gospel should never be omitted.6 Scripture readings should be proclaimed in a slow, clear, expressive manner. Visuals may be used to enrich the listening experience, but the Mass is not an historical re-enactment of the events of salvation history and care should be taken not to give the impression that the liturgy of the word is a play.

5 5 This is not to say that dramatic elements may not be used, e.g., the readings may at times be divided into parts distributed among the children; however, the use of costumes, etc. is more appropriate in the context of other celebrations or services. 7 Readers should be selected based on their competence. It should not be presumed that children proclaim the Word of God in these celebrations. Some younger children are able to read the Scriptures competently, but the witness of older children, teenagers, or adults, ministering graciously and reverently to young children engaged in liturgical prayer, is more conducive to the children's growing reverence for the Word of God, than the peer ministry of embarrassed or ill-prepared children. 8 The responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation are integral to the celebration of the liturgy of the word. The responsorial psalms of the Lectionary for Masses with Children have been adapted to encourage the singing of these texts. Normally the psalm is sung by a cantor with the children singing the refrain. Responsorial psalm settings and gospel acclamations composed specifically for children's liturgies of the word may be used, or it may be preferable to use the same musical settings as the assembly. The objective in choosing music is that it enables the children to express their faith. The gospel acclamation, the Alleluia, (or other appropriate acclamation during the Lenten Season), is always sung. If the Alleluia cannot be sung it is omitted. Before the gospel is proclaimed it is appropriate for the children to gesture the sign of the cross on their forehead, lips, and heart. They may accompany this by the words, May the Word of God be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. 4. Reflection on the Word Following the proclamation of the Word of God, the adult leader guides the children in applying the Scripture's message to their own lives. Although some underscoring of the passage's main elements may be appropriate, this reflection should not take the form of repeating the Scripture in the leader s own words. The age level, attention span, and cognitive development of the children should be considered in preparing the reflection. The use of visuals will keep the children s attention. Questions which draw out the children s own responses and suggestions for the application of the Scripture to daily living will open the children to new insights and prayerful reflection on the Christian life. If the group is small a dialogue format may be used.

6 6 5. Celebration of the Word Separate liturgies of the word provide an opportunity for active participation of children growing in the faith of their parents. Activities which engage children to celebrate the word should appeal to their sensory abilities and acquaint them with the symbols common to worship when the Church gathers. Integrating the following is encouraged: * music and song to highlight the Scripture texts and messages; * incense to appeal to their sense of smell; * candles to appeal to their sense of sight; * gestures and postures of reverence to appeal to their sense of touch; * processions, dance, or silence to help them interpret the mood of the Scripture passages. 6. The General Intercessions The general intercessions, often called prayers of the faithful, are to be included in separate liturgies of the word with children to acquaint them with the custom and obligation of the baptized to pray for the needs of others. The sequence of intentions should be: * for the needs of the Church; * for public officials and the salvation of the world; * for those oppressed by any need; * for the local community. The general intercessions are prepared in advance or with the guidance of the adult leaders the children may make their own spontaneous intentions. A sung response can foster participation.

7 7 8. Return to the Assembly As the liturgy of the word with children comes to a close, one of the adult leaders should observe the assembly to assess where they have progressed in their order of worship. If the adults are still engaged in their celebration of the liturgy of the word, the children should be guided in song or another prayer activity. When the assembly has completed the general intercessions the children should return in procession by way of the center aisle to the places where their parents are seated. 1 Lectionary for Masses with Children: Introduction, n Directory for Masses with Children, n LMCIn, n LMCIn, n LMCIn, n DMC, n LMCIn, n LMCIn, n. 23.

8 8 RITUAL OUTLINE FOR THE CHILDREN S LITURGY OF THE WORD 1. Calling the children forth (After the Opening Prayer the presider invites the children to come forward. The adult leaders immediately move down the center aisle to receive the book. This necessitates that the leaders be in the back of the church or close to the center aisle. Parents lead the children immediately to the center aisle. 2. Blessing and Dismissal (Once the presider has given the blessing the children follow the adult leaders holding the lectionary down the center aisle. The older children follow the adult leader across the front pews through the side door near the confessional. The younger children follow the adult leader down the center aisle and through the side doors toward Barbelin Hall. A dismissal antiphon is sung by the assembly as the children depart.) 3. Gathering Music (As the leader and children approach the worship space* music is being played either by one of the adult leaders or musicians or by an appropriate CD. The children are encouraged to join in the singing as they gather around the table of the word.) 4. Welcome and Introduction (The adult leader introduces themselves and then welcomes any new children.) 5. Questioning (The adult leader then asks the question Do you know why we are here? It is important that this question be posed each week to help the children gain an understanding of the purpose for this special gathering which takes place a part from their parents and other adult members of the assembly.) 6. Opening Prayer (The leader offers a brief opening prayer) 7. Introduction to the readings (The leader provides a very brief introduction to the readings of the day) 8. First Reading (the first reading is proclaimed by the adult leader) 9. Responsorial Psalm (The psalm is led by one of the parish musicians or another adult leader. Consult Christopher Walker s resource for Psalms for Children ) 10. Introduction to the Gospel (The leader provides a brief introduction to the gospel of the day.)

9 9 11. Gospel Acclamation (A parish musicians or one of the adult leaders leads the children in the singing of the gospel acclamation [Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ during the season of lent]) 12. Reflection on the readings (The adult leader provides a short reflection on the readings of the day. Usually the focus is on the gospel but should never be limited to the gospel only. Leaders may include an activity or some level of interaction with the children in order to keep their attention and to help bring home the key message.) 13. General Intercessions (The final part of the liturgy includes the offering of prayers of intercessions. The adult leader provides a brief introduction to the prayer, and then offers several intercessions. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal provides this basic outline for the content of these prayers: a) For the church and its leaders b) For the nation, governments, and world leaders c) For the local faith community d) For the sick e) For those who have died Following these intentions the adult leaders offers a concluding prayer. 14. Return to Church (Following the intercessions the children are reminded to return to the main church quietly and in an orderly manner.) *At each worship site the environment includes a small table draped with a hanging depicting the color of the current liturgical season. A book stand is placed on the table where the lectionary will be placed upon arrival to the space and after the proclamation of the Word. Next to the table at each site is a candle stand with holder. The candle is lit before the children arrive.

10 10 PROCEDURAL GUIDE Schedules are distributed via every two months. Should you misplace your schedule during this term, please request a replacement from, Peggy Connolly, Coordinator for CLOW. By participating in this ministry you have made a commitment to the community. We ask that you approach your ministry with, respect, reverence, and responsibility. If you are not able to make your assigned date or time, we ask that you take the responsibility for securing a replacement. A list of CLOW leaders with their phone numbers has been provided. Please contact Peggy Connolly for a replacement, only after you have had difficulty in finding a replacement yourself. Please arrive in the sacristy no later than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled Mass. Please check with the presider or the Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Music, Norm Gouin to see if there are any ritual changes or special events planned for the Mass.

11 11 CHILDREN S LITURGY OF THE WORD RESOURCE LIST SUNDAY BOOK OF READINGS THE LECTIONARY ADAPTED FOR CHILDREN and SUNDAY LEADER GUIDE (Treehaus Communications) GATHER THE CHILDREN by Mary Catherine Berglund (the Pastoral Press) LIVING WORD! LIVING WATER! by Susan Sayers (Twenty third Publications) CELEBRATING THE GOSPELS (Liguori Press) FOCUS THE WORD by Susan Sayers (Kevin Mayhew LTD)

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