The Roman Catholic Parish for Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, UK
THE CHILDREN'S LITURGY OF THE WORD
Our Church is dedicated to St Joseph
The GOOD NEWS is it is God speaking to us today through the words in the Bible and we want to pass this onto our children in a way they can understand.
It is NOT Bible study or an RE lesson. We don't need to be experts. We can safely leave that to the Holy Spirit.
How can we PREPARE to do a liturgy with our children?
The desire to pass on the Gospel to our children comes from God. Remember our homes are Holy places because God is always with us. So, despite any mess and problems, we pray for guidance expecting to get some!
Tell the children what is going to happen for the next 10 to 15 mins. (This may be a shorter time for some families but it helps if children know what is expected of them.)
Get them involved in sitting comfortably around a focal point. This could simply be a table with a bible and a candle reminding us of Jesus, the Light of the World. Add anything related to the reading that will engage their imaginations.
Toys can join in but encourage them all to sit quietly...this is not play time but an encounter with the Word of God.
How do we DO the Liturgy of the Word?
The aim is to proclaim the Gospel, that is to read the story from the Bible so our children HEAR it.
This is the heart of the liturgy and is enough if nothing else is possible. God's word alone has the power to touch us. There are links provided below to help find the daily readings.
With a bit of cooperation this can be expanded.
The liturgy team are now publishing a brief weekly newsletter message on the Gospel. So consulting the current week's Newsletter will also help.
The children may be able to remember some of the prayers we usually sing or sign.
Set out below is the liturgy plan we use in our Parish
Begin with the SIGN of the CROSS
Teach the children to make the Sign of the Cross and to say the words if they do not know them
The sign of the Cross reminds us of Jesus's love for us and that God loves us
We begin by saying 'Sorry' for when we have done something deliberately wrong.
We then follow this with the GLORIA (except in Lent or Advent)
Use the "Glory be..." prayer or other Trinity based prayer
Explain that this prayer was sung by Angels when Baby Jesus was born
Leading up to the Gospel
Introduce the Gospel very simply as "This is something that happened when Jesus was on Earth", or "Jesus wants to teach us something".
Sometimes it helps to set the scene to help children use their imaginations to picture the scene where the Gospel story happened.
We usually stand and sing an ACCLAMATION ("Listen to the word of God")
Make the sign of the cross on our head, our lips and our heart. (We want God to be in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts)
Read the Gospel
Gospel accounts aimed at children are available but are only suitable for very young children
Don't be afraid to use the one we hear at Mass adapting it as necessary for your children. Our role is not to censor the Word of God but to proclaim it and then help the children understand the message.
Very occasionally the Gospel message is an adult message that children don't need. In this case use more appropriate scripture from the First, Second Readings or Psalms.
This is where you can ask the children to recap the story, check they understand something from it, talk about how this might work in their lives today etc.
Ending the Liturgy
We end the liturgy with a PRAYER.
This could be a simple Hail Mary/Our Father or prayers written by the children on issues they care about. A clear end means they know it is over.
End with the SIGN of the CROSS
USEFUL LINKS (PLEASE CONTACT THE CHILDREN'S LITURGY TEAM IF YOU FIND OTHER LINKS TO SHARE)
Parents may also be interested in subscribing to 'Bible Alive', a Catholic scripture magazine which draws its direction from the liturgical cycle. (Subscription £29.99 p.a.)
If you are interested please click this link Alive Publishing and you can order a free trial if preferred