- Prayer and Worship
- Beliefs and Teachings
- Issues and Action
- Catholic Giving
- About USCCB
The first purpose of the opening movement of each session is to establish a sense of welcome and hospitality. The second purpose is to begin the session with the child's human experience, i.e. the child's "story." A Bible should be enthroned prominently in the room. Gather around the Word for prayer.
Begin by using the image of table: "Who has a place at the table of life?" Ask the children to close their eyes and imagine a grand dinner table which has been set for a feast. Give them quiet time to imagine the picture in their minds, or you could ask them to draw a picture of who is around their table.
Allow time for the children to name and describe the people who are present at their table. Next, ask the children if anyone has room at their table for strangers, for a person who is hungry, for people who are thirsty or sick?
Jesus tells us that we are to welcome those who are strangers, feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. And, Jesus says even more! Let's pray then listen to a gospel reading.
Let us pray.
Good and caring Father, you give us all that we have. Spirit of Compassion, help us to share what we have with others. Help us to work to end poverty and promote justice and peace by speaking up for those in need in our community, our nation, and our world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Students are seated. Catechist takes Bible from enthronement and proclaims reading. Be sure reading is marked in advance.
Proclaim the reading (Matthew 25:31-46):
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew…
After the reading a brief period of silence follows. Then, the catechist asks the children these or similar questions:
After the children's initial response, read the reading again.
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew…
The catechist makes a transition from reflection on the Scripture to discussion on the teaching of the Church.
Jesus had a special love for people who were hungry or thirsty or sick or in prison. He had a special love for the poor and the weak. The Church continues the teachings of Jesus. The Church teaches that we must help those who are poor and weak.
Poor people have a special place in the Church. The bishops write: "While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern" (Faithful Citizenship, no. 50). We should put the needs of the poor first.
[Note: If the students have questions about why we care especially for those who are poor and vulnerable (don't we care for all God's children?), it may help to ask them to imagine a parent walking with two children along a beach. If one child gets swept into the surf, will the parent treat both children the same? Or, for children who may not have experienced a beach: If a parent is walking with two children on the sidewalk and one falls and skins his knee and is bleeding, will the parent treat both children the same? No, the parent responds in special ways to the child whose needs are greatest, even though the parent loves both children. In the same way, our brothers and sisters whose needs are greatest, those who are poor and vulnerable, have a special claim on our concern and attention.]
The Church also tells us that when we care for the poor we are being not just good disciples, but good citizens. The leaders of our cities, towns and country must also show concern for the poor (Faithful Citizenship, no. 47).
The Bible and the teachings of the Church tell us we must put our love into action. This means we must do something to help the poor (Faithful Citizenship no. 51).
After the discussion, talk with the children about the concrete steps they can take to care for the poor. As a group, develop a plan for how your class will put the needs of the poor first. Here are a few examples:
Return to the adult gathering or return to the prayer circle. Recall the table image used in the opening exercise. Bring the children together and quiet them for prayer.
Ask them to remember the table that they pictured in their minds earlier.
Remember the people who were there.
Remember the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the poor who were not there at first. Picture them now at your table.Let us pray.
By accepting this message, you will be leaving the website of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This link is provided
solely for the user's convenience. By providing this link, the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops assumes no responsibility for,
nor does it necessarily endorse, the website, its content, or