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Recommendations for good school Liturgy

Jesus is the Liturgy

 There is a danger, especially in the school setting, of the over-secularisation of Liturgy.

While it is to be recommended that we always be creative and endeavour to capture the imagination of the young, we still have the primary responsibility to make of our liturgies a truly prayerful event.

Our Eucharistic celebrations must reach the hearts of the faithful who are entitled to come in touch with the sacred. They must leave in His power not in their own.

The following are some recommendations that aim to safeguard the school liturgy while at the same time achieving a joyful and meaningful celebration in the school, for the whole school community.

  1. Catechise well before your school liturgy. In class develop the theme in imaginative ways. This will stimulate the young imagination and the Liturgy will be far more meaningful on the day. Achieve a well-worked and integrated theme.
  2. Maximise student participation but don’t over cook the turkey.
  3. Many schools have limited physical resources and need to adapt Assembly Halls and Gymnasia. See this as an opportunity to demonstrate how all of our lives can be divinised. We can literally make a sacred space out of the most ordinary place.
  4. Endeavour to achieve a sense of the sacred. We are on holy ground when celebrating a Eucharist.
  5. It is of great advantage and benefit if the priest is interested and interesting. This is not to undermine any priest who agrees to offer up the holy mass. But in the context of a Youth Mass it is a great help to reach them where they are at.
  6. Music is a ministry in itself: try and choose music that will, at all times, support the sacred action on the altar. There is no need to hold back on energy and joy as the occasion requires. There is a great wealth now of liturgical music written with young people in mind. Students need to be reminded that it is not a ‘gig’. It is not a performance. It is prayer through music. ‘They who sing pray twice’. St. Augustine.
  7. The school Eucharist is an opportunity for tapping into, and celebrating, the God-given talents of the school community. Don’t be afraid to invite the students to compose their own songs/poems/reflections. They will not let you down. Neither be afraid to hold editorial authority over these submissions. It is all for the glory of God and therefore all efforts must be fitting of the Eucharistic celebration.
  8. ICT has given us the powerful tool to be creative. Images, along with digital sound and the words of hymns can be instantaneously projected throughout the church/hall/gym. It is also a way of utilising the young ICT specialist. Remember, it must complement and not compete with the Eucharistic action.
  9. Whole school liturgies are just that, whole school events. In other words, a culture of whole school cooperation and involvement should prevail. The responsibility for a well run, well disciplined event is everybody’s. It is an opportunity for Christian leadership and Christian discipleship. Many schools can be commended in this regard.
  10. The readings are often the weakest aspect of a liturgy. It is best, not only to elect a reader with a reputation for good diction, but also to provide an opportunity to practice using the microphone. Expect the reader to reflect on the reading. After all, the Word is life giving. In the same vein a good sound system adds, in no small way, to a good liturgy. But even this cannot do miracles if the voice using the microphone is not clear.
  11. Evaluate your school liturgy a few days later when things have settled. A lot of energy goes into such an event, oftentimes a public event. The questions I always ask is; ‘Did we achieve a sense of the Holy?’ ‘Did people come closer to God today as a result of our mass?’
  12. Finally, though it is work, it is also the Eucharist, so try and give yourselves over to the event in as much as you can. You, as teacher, must try to be the disciple you are invited to be at the mass. It is not always easy. The students can learn from and imitate your own disposition as people of faith.

Jesus is the Liturgy.