The start of another liturgical year is a good time to remind of participation in the Sunday Mass. Here Fr Roger Paponette, parish priest, San Raphael shares on rituals before and after Mass.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.
For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (LG 11, CCC 1324, PO 5)
This authoritative text reminds us of the prime importance of the Mass. Everything we do as Christian families must lead us to the Mass as well as our ministries, prayers and blessings at home or anywhere else, must be sustained and inspired by the Eucharist. We must, therefore, always prepare ourselves appropriately for the celebration of the Eucharist.
As a family, we prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus who feeds and sustains us in love so that we can become true Christians. In doing so, we discover that each member of every family must bring themselves as well as their cares and intentions to the Mass.
We must be already prepared for the Word of God to speak within us and to remind us of His awesome presence. In this way, no Mass could ever be boring or unimportant because, each person, each family, has some measure of responsibility for the most important activity of our Christian life.
Ritual for Mass preparation
Example of opening prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your gracious love for our family.
Send Your Holy Spirit upon us as we prepare for uniting ourselves to Your Son in the sacred sacrifice of the Mass. Grant us grace so that we may open our hearts to Your Word and the message You have for our family.
May we bring our own concerns and cares for each other and those who are in need to each Mass for Your sure help.
In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
All sit in silence for a minute. Then the reading for the coming Sunday is read clearly and, in a manner, that all can hear.
After the first reading, all must stay still for a short moment.
At the second reading, each person must listen, within their heart for a word or a phrase from the text that somehow touches them or remains or holds their attention.
Another moment of silence is observed with that word or phrase in their minds
A prayer is now said: ‘Lord, speak to us Your family’. Someone now reads the text a third time and we allow the Lord to speak within our hearts.
Whoever leads the ritual then asks each person to share one minute of what they heard the Lord saying to them.
After everyone has shared, the leader then asks a few questions for each member to ponder on:
How is the Lord affirming our family?
What is He saying we have done or should do for each other?
Can we think of anyone who really needs to hear this message within our family?
What about our neighbours, how is the Lord challenging us regarding our neighbours/friends/those in need?
The leader then asks each person to think of one very personal concern/worry/or something they really feel joyful about. That will be brought to Mass as the family’s offering before the altar this coming Sunday.
Each member of the family can either write their intentions either together or if personal, for themselves as a reminder to offer these intentions at Mass.
After this, a moment of spontaneous prayer follows.
Prayer of the faithful
The leader then asks for three intercessory prayers for the upcoming Mass.
These prayers must be firstly:
The ritual ends with a closing prayer in these or similar words:
God our Father, Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ asked us to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of what He has done for us out of Love.
Help us to always embrace His love for us and for others. Help us to live as a family in such a way, that His love becomes the first and most important value in our lives and may all whom we encounter experience His love through us.
We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son and our Lord,
All answer: Amen
And let’s celebrate after Mass
For example, the relaxed gathering of parents and children can be an opportunity not only to listen to one another but also to share a few formative and more reflective moments. Even in lay life, when possible, why not make provision for special times of prayer —especially the solemn celebration of Vespers, for example—or moments of catechesis, which on the eve of Sunday or on Sunday afternoon might prepare for or complete the gift of the Eucharist in people’s hearts?’ (52, Dies Domini).
Even after the Sunday Mass, the family is called to celebrate each Sunday with Joy and Solemnity.
Sunday lunch or dinner can take on a special significance for the life of the family as it can incorporate easy tasks in which all can be involved.
The young or youths can be called to prepare the desserts (homemade ice cream etc) or generally share in the preparation of the family meal.
Once all are gathered around the table or dining place, the head of the household can begin with the Sign of the Cross in which all respond Amen.
A spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over the food and the gathering is said like this:
Father in Heaven, we give You thanks on this day of resurrection. We are grateful for all Your generous gifts You have showered upon us.
We ask Your blessings and protection on us gathered here today and we ask in a special way Your blessings over this food which You have provided. Help us to love and appreciate everything and everyone You have given to us. Amen.
During the meal, each person can be given the opportunity to give thanks for something that was joyful, wonderful, and good which they received from God during the week.
The leader then opens a discussion on any word from the homily that day that was meaningful or which touched them in a special way.
After lunch/dinner, a psalm can be read. Each member of the family should take turns reading the selected Psalm. For example (Ps 34,138,145 etc)
Lunch/dinner is closed with a little prayer:
Father, Lord of life. We give You thanks from our heart for all You have given to us. We ask for the inspiration and courage to live in gratitude for all Your blessings. Continue to nourish us in body, mind and spirit in Your service. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen