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A Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

What Is in Your Church?

In today’s fast-paced world, filled with distractions and constant demands for our attention, it’s increasingly challenging for youth to find moments of true peace and connection, especially in their spiritual lives. This lesson plan is designed to address this challenge directly, guiding young individuals through a reflection on the nature of their participation in Mass. It seeks to explore the fundamental question: “Is the church a place where they meet God, or has it become something else?”

By drawing parallels between everyday experiences of feeling undervalued or ignored, such as a friend being distracted on their phone, and how we might inadvertently treat our time with God, this lesson aims to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the Mass as a sacred encounter.

Using the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2:13-25, the lesson highlights the importance of reverence and focus during Mass, emphasizing the church as a holy place meant for prayer and communion with God, not merely another venue for the distractions of daily life.

Through practical suggestions and reflective questions, participants will be encouraged to consider how they can make their time at church a truly sacred time, different from any other aspect of their lives. This plan not only aims to enhance the youth’s engagement during Mass but also fosters a more meaningful and personal relationship with God.

Opening Game for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Sacred Space Scavenger Hunt

Objective: To prepare youth for the lesson on participation at Mass by creating an engaging and reflective activity that emphasizes the sacredness of the church space and the importance of mindful presence.

Materials Needed:

  • List of items or features commonly found in a church (e.g., altar, crucifix, baptismal font, statue of Mary, candle, hymnal, etc.)
  • Paper and pens for each team
  • Prizes for the winning team (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Divide the youth into small teams, giving each team a list of items or features to find within the church or designated area. Ensure that the items on the list are easily accessible and do not disrupt any church activities.
  2. Explain that the goal is to find and quietly reflect at each item on the list. At each location, they should spend a moment considering its significance in the context of the Mass and their personal faith.
  3. Assign a specific reflection question for each item found. For example, at the altar, the question might be, “Why is the altar central to the Mass?” Teams write brief reflections or answers to these questions.
  4. Set a Time Limit for the scavenger hunt, ensuring there’s enough time for reflection without rushing.
  5. Gather everyone back together and have teams share one or two insights from their reflections. This encourages sharing and deepening their understanding of the church’s sacred space.
  6. Conclude with a brief discussion on how recognizing the significance of these sacred items can enhance our participation in Mass.

Debrief and Transition

Alright, everyone, let’s gather back. I hope you all enjoyed our scavenger hunt. It’s fascinating to see how each item in our church has a story, a purpose, and a way to bring us closer to God. Reflecting on these sacred objects helps us understand the beauty and depth of our faith, especially when we come together to celebrate the Mass.

Now, think about this: every part of our church is carefully designed to help us focus on God. But what happens when distractions creep in? What happens when, instead of focusing on these sacred elements, our minds wander off to our phones, our worries, or the plans we have after Mass?

This brings us to an important moment in the Bible, where Jesus shows us what it means to respect and honor a sacred space. We’re about to read from the Gospel of John, chapter 2, verses 13-25. In this passage, Jesus enters the temple and finds it filled with people selling animals and exchanging money – activities that distracted from the temple’s true purpose as a house of prayer.

As we read this scripture, I want you to think about two things: First, why was Jesus so passionate about keeping the temple a sacred space? And second, how can we apply Jesus’ desire for a sacred space to our own behavior during Mass?

Let’s dive into the reading and see what Jesus’ actions in the temple can teach us about participation at Mass and respecting our church as a holy place.

Scripture Reading for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Read John 2:13-25 – The Cleansing of the Temple (Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year B)

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.

At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”

But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

Discussion for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Imagine you invite a friend over. You have some snacks ready. You have chosen a movie to watch or some games to play. You are looking forward to spending some time with your friend.

Your friend arrives late. The whole time he is there he is looking at his phone. He doesn’t seem to appreciate your preparations at all. Suddenly he gets ups, says “I’m bored”, and leaves.

  • How does your friend’s behavior make you feel?
  • What might you do differently next time you want to do something with this friend?
  • Do you think this might impact your relationship with your friend?

In this gospel, Jesus tells us what the temple is supposed to be – a house of prayer. But the temple has been turned into a noisy place, full of distractions. There are animals being bought and sold. There are people exchanging currency, and cheating people in the process.

So instead of being a place to spend time with God, the temple has become a place full of worldly concerns. People there are doing what they want to do instead of considering the real purpose of the temple as a place of prayer.

In some ways we can have the same problem when we go to Mass. Instead of being focused on encountering Jesus in the Eucharist, we are distracted by the things of this world. Just like the friend we invited over, we are looking at our phones. Or we are bored and looking forward to our opportunity to escape.

Church is a holy place. And Mass is the intersection of heaven and earth. We meet God there. So we should not casually treat it the way we treat other places in the world.

  • So what are some things we can do to make our time at church a sacred time in a holy place, different than any other time or place in our lives?

First, turn off the cell phone. Don’t put it on silent or buzz. Turn it off altogether and resist the temptation to turn it on. Better yet, leave it in the car. There is nothing so important that it can’t wait until you have left church to deal with it.

Then stop thinking about how long Mass is or what you want to do when you leave. Be present. It is very difficult to encounter God when we are thinking about what we want to do next. Be in the moment.

Pay attention to the words. Try to hear them in a new way. Listen to the music. Does anything catch your attention? When it does, decide if the thought is leading you closer to God. If it is, then stay with it. If it is just a distraction, try to put it out of your mind.

What if you can’t get rid of whatever distraction is bothering you? Maybe you are anxious about a test which is coming up. Or perhaps you had a conversation with a friend which upset you. If you can’t rid yourself of the distraction, then turn off the conversation with yourself about it. Instead, talk to Jesus. Ask him for advice. Say to him, “What is the most loving thing I can do in this situation?” This is very different than just thinking about it on your own and you might be surprised where it leads you.

If all else fails, offer the distraction to God. Say to God, “I can’t get this out of my mind. I know I shouldn’t be obsessed with it but it won’t go away. Please help me in my weakness. I offer this distraction to you. Please find a way to use it for your glory.” In that way, you have turned your distraction into a prayer.

  • Have you ever tried any of these methods? Did it help you become more engaged in Mass?
  • Which of these would you like to try?

So the next time you are are Mass, remember that this is a holy time and place. Don’t bring things of the world into church unless you intend to offer them to God in prayer.

Small Group Reflection Questions for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

As part of the lesson plan on participation at Mass, small group discussions play a crucial role in facilitating deeper understanding and personal reflection among youth. Here are some reflection questions designed to guide these discussions:

  • Have you ever felt like the friend who was distracted by their phone during a gathering? What was going through your mind at that time?
  • Can you recall a time when you felt distracted during Mass? What were the distractions, and how did they affect your ability to connect with the service?
  • What does the concept of “sacred space” mean to you? Can you think of a place, other than church, that feels sacred to you, and why?
  • How does treating the church as a sacred space change your behavior or mindset during Mass?
  • What emotions do you think Jesus felt when he saw the temple turned into a marketplace? Why?
  • How can we apply Jesus’ actions in the temple to our own behaviors and attitudes during Mass?
  • Of the strategies mentioned to enhance participation at Mass (turning off cell phones, being present, listening actively), which do you think would be most effective for you? Why?
  • Have you ever tried to turn a distraction into a prayer or a conversation with God? Share your experience and whether it helped you feel more engaged.
  • How do you think improving individual participation at Mass can affect the wider community or congregation?
  • What role can you play in encouraging others to see the Mass as a sacred time and place?
  • Based on today’s discussion, what is one change you commit to making to enhance your participation at Mass?
  • How can our group support each other in making these changes a reality?

Encourage participants to listen actively and respectfully to each other’s responses, fostering an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences. This reflective discussion aims not only to deepen understanding but also to inspire practical steps towards more meaningful participation at Mass.

Challenge for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

This week, I challenge you to transform your Mass experience into something truly special. First, make a conscious decision to leave your phone behind or turn it off before entering the church. This simple act can make a big difference in helping you stay present.

As you sit in the pew, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re about to enter into a sacred time and place. Try to clear your mind of the day’s worries and distractions. Focus on being fully present, listening intently to the readings, and actively participating in the prayers and songs.

If you find yourself getting distracted, gently guide your thoughts back to the Mass or turn those distractions into a conversation with God. Ask Him to help you focus or to show you how these distractions can be offered up to Him.

Let’s see how changing our approach to Mass can deepen our connection with God and each other. Share your experiences next time we meet!

Prayer for the Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Son and the grace to participate in the Holy Mass. Guide our hearts and minds to be fully present in this sacred mystery. Help us to lay aside all distractions, focusing solely on You. May our participation be a true encounter with Your love, transforming us and drawing us closer to You. Grant us the wisdom to see Mass not just as a routine, but as a precious moment with You. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

More Resources for Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Themes for Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

  • The Sacredness of Mass: Understanding the Mass as a holy encounter between heaven and earth.
  • Distractions in Worship: Identifying and addressing common distractions that detract from full participation in the Mass.
  • Presence and Engagement: Strategies for being fully present and engaged during Mass.
  • The Role of the Eucharist: Exploring the significance of the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life.
  • Practical Steps for Participation: Offering practical advice for active participation in Mass, such as turning off cell phones and focusing on the liturgy.
  • The Importance of Community: Recognizing the communal aspect of Mass and our part in the Body of Christ.
  • Reflection and Prayer: Encouraging personal reflection and prayer as means to deepen one’s connection with God during Mass.
  • Offering Distractions to God: Learning to offer distractions and concerns to God as a form of prayer.
  • Spiritual Growth: Viewing participation in Mass as a pathway to spiritual growth and deeper relationship with God.
  • Living the Liturgy Beyond Mass: Encouraging youth to carry the grace and teachings from Mass into their daily lives.

Background Material for Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

The concept of “full, active, and conscious participation” in the Mass is central to understanding the liturgical life of the Catholic Church. This principle, highlighted by the Second Vatican Council, calls for the faithful to engage deeply and fully in the liturgy, recognizing it as the source and summit of Christian life.

Sacred Scripture and Participation in Mass

In 1 Corinthians 14:26, St. Paul emphasizes the communal and participatory nature of Christian worship: “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” This passage underscores the importance of active engagement in worship, not as passive spectators but as contributors to the edification of the body of Christ.

The Gospel of John (4:23-24) also speaks to the nature of true worship: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” This calls for a deep, interior participation that transcends mere physical presence or ritual action, inviting worshippers to engage with God on a profound and personal level.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) further illuminates this concept, particularly in paragraphs 1071-1075, which discuss the liturgy as the work of Christ and the Church. It states, “The liturgy is also a participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, all Christian prayer finds its source and goal” (CCC 1073). This participation is not only a call to engage in the rituals of the Mass but to enter into the very prayer of Christ himself.

Moreover, the CCC emphasizes that this participation should be “full, because it is the whole being that enters into communion with God,” and “active, because it engages the faithful in the divine life through the celebration of the sacraments” (CCC 1074). This holistic approach to participation includes understanding the readings, responding in prayer and song, receiving the Eucharist with reverence, and allowing the Mass to transform one’s life.

Practical Implications for Participation

Full, active, and conscious participation means more than just physical attendance; it involves engaging the mind, heart, and spirit in the liturgy. It calls for preparation before Mass, such as reading the Scriptures to be proclaimed, and a disposition of openness to the action of the Holy Spirit. During Mass, it involves singing, responding, listening attentively, and praying earnestly. It also means applying the graces and lessons of the Mass in daily life, recognizing that the liturgy extends beyond the church walls into every aspect of our existence.

The challenge of truly participating in the Mass is an invitation to deepen our relationship with God and to live more fully as disciples of Christ. It is a call to enter into the mystery of the Eucharist, to offer ourselves alongside the bread and wine, transforming our entire lives into a spiritual offering pleasing to God.

In fostering full, active, and conscious participation, the Church seeks to nurture a faithful that is deeply connected to the liturgical life, understanding the Mass not just as an obligation but as a vital source of spiritual nourishment and growth. This approach to the Mass invites us into a deeper communion with Christ and with each other, embodying the Church’s mission to be a sacrament of unity and love in the world.

Music Suggestions for Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

Youth Ministry Lesson Plans

More Youth Ministry Lesson Plans and Reflections

This lesson plan on enhancing participation at Mass is part of a broader collection designed to engage Catholic youth in a deeper exploration of their faith. Each lesson, including this one, addresses key aspects of Catholic teachings, liturgy, and spirituality, encouraging young people to live out their faith more fully in daily life. By focusing on practical and reflective approaches to common challenges, such as distractions during Mass, this collection aims to nurture a more profound understanding and appreciation of the Catholic tradition. Together, these plans form a comprehensive curriculum that supports the spiritual growth and development of young Catholics, fostering a lifelong journey of faith and discipleship.

Frequently Asked Questions for Lesson Plan on Participation in Mass

What is the goal of this lesson plan on participation at Mass?

The goal of the lesson plan is to encourage youth to reflect on their presence and engagement during Mass. It aims to help them recognize the church as a sacred space where they meet God, emphasizing the importance of full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy.

How can this lesson plan help improve participation at Mass among youth?

This lesson plan provides practical strategies and reflections that address common distractions and challenges faced by young people today. By drawing parallels with everyday situations, it helps youth understand the significance of their actions and attitudes during Mass, fostering a more meaningful and participatory experience.

What are some key activities included in the lesson plan to enhance participation at Mass?

Key activities include reflective questions related to personal experiences of feeling ignored or distracted, an examination of the Gospel story of Jesus cleansing the temple, and practical suggestions for engaging more deeply with the Mass. These activities are designed to prompt personal reflection and discussion, leading to a greater awareness of the sacredness of the Mass.

Can this lesson plan be adapted for different age groups within the youth category?

Yes, the lesson plan is versatile and can be adapted to suit various age groups within the youth category. The reflective questions and activities can be adjusted to match the developmental stage and spiritual maturity of the participants, making it relevant for both younger adolescents and older teens.

How does the lesson plan propose to deal with distractions during Mass?

The lesson plan offers several strategies for dealing with distractions, such as turning off cell phones, being present in the moment, paying attention to the words and music, and, if distractions persist, turning them into a form of prayer by offering them to God. These suggestions aim to help youth cultivate a more focused and prayerful attitude during Mass.

What does the lesson plan suggest doing if someone cannot rid themselves of distractions during Mass?

If someone cannot rid themselves of distractions, the lesson plan suggests engaging in a conversation with Jesus about the distraction, asking for guidance, or offering the distraction to God as a prayer. This approach transforms the distraction into an opportunity for deeper engagement with God during Mass.

How often should the concepts from this lesson plan be revisited with youth groups?

Revisiting the concepts from this lesson plan regularly can be beneficial, especially as part of ongoing catechesis on the liturgy and sacraments. Consider incorporating these reflections and strategies into retreats, youth group meetings, or preparation sessions for sacraments like Confirmation to reinforce the importance of active participation at Mass.

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