Sometimes Parishioners complain that they are tired of coming into a church in which social conversations are carried on in such a loud voice that they find it difficult to concentrate on their prayers.
As with most things it’s a matter of the proper balance. Sometimes we do forget that the purpose of our gathering is to worship God. Sometimes the chatter is carried too far. However, we also need to remember that we come to Mass to worship together, not as isolated individuals each praying our own set of prayers. There is a time for quiet, individual prayer but that is not the purpose of our Sunday Mass. The ritual of the Mass is, and always has been, the celebration of a meal and so we gather as the family of God. Therefore we need to remember that whatever we do is done together. It is appropriate that we take time for one another as we gather. We greet one another and we recognize that the church is first and foremost a gathering of God’s people. Often enough we find the Lord in the Eucharist that we receive and in the Word that we hear. It is also important to discover God’s presence in the people who have gathered in his name.
As we consider our own individual families, we remember that God has given us another family—our parish family. We should be able to think of this family as having a friendly face. It should be a gathering of God’s people that is filled with a welcoming spirit. Our expressed concern for one another, our hospitality as we gather, the way we respond and sing and pray as one are all signs that remind us that we are one family of God united in Jesus our Brother. We share our history together in the hearing of God’s word in Scripture. We share faith as we sing and pray together. We share together in the meal that is God’s gift of God’s own Son.
As we begin the new academic year, we focus on our parish families. We are looking forward to having the children back at their catechetical sessions, and the parents, hopefully refreshed from their vacations, ready to take on a new school year. As catechists we encourage family prayer together, so that the prayer which is experienced in liturgy is not the only prayer that is part of the families’ lives.
Teach parents how to introduce prayer in their families with children of all ages, from infants to teens. Praying with Your Children is a practical and easy to use book that will make parents comfortable with family prayer.
Family Prayers and Activities contains reproducible pages for every week of the year. Send them home with the school or catechetical children, or insert them in the bulletin. This will give parents a structure in which to pray and teach about the faith in a fun way. There are discussion questions and activities which can be used for all ages.
Family Advent-ures can be purchased for each family to use during Advent. This is a fun and meaningful way to celebrate the Advent season and prepare for Christmas. It can be used as part of the Advent wreath ceremony. It will make Advent a special season in itself. The children will look forward to each day’s “advent-ure.”
Comments on the use of a symbolic candle at weddings from Deacon Dominick D. Azzara: Deacon Dominick advises against adding any symbolism to the wedding rite that is not in the ritual. He says, “If someone is visiting the parish, they would have no idea what the candle was for.” He recommends returning to announcing the banns of marriage so the parishioners would have that opportunity to pray for the engaged couples, and then to include the names of the newly married couples in the prayers of the faithful at the weekend Masses.
Please send me suggestions from your parish ideas and solutions, and I’ll include them in next month’s Ministry Resource Update.
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LITURGICAL BITS & BYTES
Caroline M. Thomas
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