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Resources for Family Mass

Orla Walsh is a Deputy Principal in

St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, Co Louth

Email walshorla@icloud.com

 

4 December • Matthew 3:1-12

 

Theme: The Courage of John

Sacred Space: Honey, sandals, coarse fabric, graphics of wilderness

Homily

This Sunday’s Gospel tells us about Jesus’ cousin, John. He was called John the Baptist because he baptised before Jesus did, in fact later on John actually baptises Jesus. John was the person who prepared the way for Jesus. He was really excited about Jesus and was not keeping his excitement to himself! John was obviously a man of courage and conviction; he was on a mission to tell people that Jesus the Saviour was coming. He worked fast as he had little time and wanted to spread his news far and wide. John caused a stir, he ruffled feathers. As we prepare our Santa lists and Christmas dinners, we need to find the courage to really meet John. We should work to hear his words, to listen with grace and mindfulness. John has a message far more important than who wants what presents, or who will visit whom. John asks us to prepare for the coming of Christ in our hearts and minds for all time.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord God, we thank you for sending John. Let us allow him to wake us up when we fall asleep and allow the busyness of Christmas to blur the real meaning of the birth of Jesus.

2.  Holy Spirit, empower us with your love as we work for peace and equity during this Advent time.

3.  Gracious God, we pray for those who hunger and thirst for justice, for those who give of themselves and don’t count the cost. Help us to be more like John this Advent.

 

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11 December • Matthew 11:2-11


Theme: Be Confident in Your Faith

Sacred Space: Graphics of darkness, question marks, doubt

Homily

This Sunday’s Gospel gives us much comfort. John the Baptist is imprisoned, is in despair, questions himself and sends out a message to Jesus. So how does this offer us any comfort? We see that such a dedicated follower of Jesus, such a man of huge faith, could have doubts and questions about life. John goes so far as to send out a message to Jesus questioning what was going on. In response, Jesus didn’t send the messengers back to reassure John. Jesus asked John’s friends to open their eyes and look around them, to see what he was doing and see the answers to John’s questions.

 

When we are confused and questioning our faith, we must fill our heart with the evidence of the life Jesus led. This will give us the strength to stay strong and continue to follow God our Saviour.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Loving God, we ask for your reassuring love to wash over us as we rush through the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Help us to have eyes that really see and ears that really hear.

2.  Gentle God, we thank you for all the wonderful people of faith in our lives, who support and share your love with us on a daily basis.

3.  Merciful God, we pray for Pope Francis and his health. May he continue to be a strong voice for your love here on earth.

 

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18 December • Matthew 1:18-24


Theme: Difficult Decisions

Sacred Space: Crossroads, Signposts …

Homily

In this Sunday’s Gospel we see how Joseph is faced with a very difficult decision. His heart is broken as he discovers that Mary, the woman he loves so much, is expecting a baby. Even though he does not understand how this could have happened, he trusts his faith and listens to the angel sent from God to guide him. Here Joseph shows us how strong his faith really was. Imagine if you were put into a truly difficult situation, how hard would it be to pray about it and trust your faith to show you the way to deal with the issue. We must always listen to God’s love in our lives, be aware of God calling us to greater things. This Gospel helps us greatly, it shows us that no matter how difficult a problem may appear, we can, with God’s grace, overcome it. I must ask myself, how ready am I to listen to God’s spirit leading me in my life?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord God, help me to be sensitive and aware of your guiding light in my life. Help me to deal with life’s difficulties bathed in the light of your love.

2.  Gentle God, thank you for affording me the chance to grow in faith. Thank you for gifting me with a family who care to celebrate my faith with me.

3.  Merciful God, may my love for you burn brightly in my daily life and never be hidden away because of current trends or lack of courage on my part.

 

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25 December • John 1:1-18


Theme: The Light of the World

Sacred Space: Jesus in the Manger

Homily

The light of Jesus shines in the darkness. We are blessed with this holy day of Christmas. Once again we have the opportunity to be filled up with the beautiful bright light of the baby Jesus in our hearts. As we plan for the new year, we might also like to plan that the light of the world finds a new space in our hearts and minds; that it dwells in our lives and is evident on a daily basis. The light of Christ has come into the world and continues to be in the world in and through each of us. This Christmas Day and indeed every day, let your light shine brightly.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Lord, for the new year, help me to allow your light shine in and through my relationships and daily life.

2.  Loving Jesus, thank you for your unconditional love, together we work to share it today and every day.

3.  Saving God, let us have the courage to be bright lights of hope, let us be a loving community as we embark on our New Year of light and love for each other.

 

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1 January 2017 • Luke 2:16-21


Theme: Our Blessed Mother

Sacred Space: Mother and child symbols.

Homily

This Sunday’s Gospel is about how we begin the new year, how we begin our way of living this year. We do this deeply nestled in the arms of our mother, Mary. This is a day where we can take some time to think about one of the most beautiful relationships to ever exit, that between a mother and her child. How a mother’s instinct causes her to wake up at night, and hand out forgiveness and love on an unconditional basis, supporting her child through life no matter what storm is faced. With any mother and child there are unspoken agreements, a shared love that is always present. When we look at the Mother of God and her son, Jesus, we are assured of an eternal hope that spurs us on and helps us stand firm and stay focussed on what is great in our relationship with our mothers.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  God of love, be with us in times of sorrow and sadness and help us to recognise you in our suffering.

2.  Prince of peace, bless us with a calm heart and a supportive voice for the pain of others.

3.  Mary our Mother, we give thanks for your boundless mothering love. May it nestle in our hearts always.

 

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8 January 2017 • Matthew 3:13-17

 

Theme: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Sacred Space: Confirmation Symbols

Homily

Today’s Gospel is about the Baptism of Jesus. There is something really important about this Gospel that you need to know. When preparing for Confirmation the students in 6th class will learn that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and fill them with courage and strength for their Christian journey as adults. This is not the first time the Holy Spirit is poured out for us. The Holy Spirit was first poured out for each one of us at our Baptism. When Jesus was baptised the Holy Spirit came upon him like a dove and God said that he was really pleased with his Son, Jesus. The same thing happens to each one of us when we are baptised. The Holy Spirit pours into our hearts and spirit and fills us with the courage and the strength to lead good and loving lives.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  Gracious God, we come to you filled with courage and strength. Enable us to have the strength that we always need as we navigate the storms and choppy waters in our lives.

2.  Holy Spirit, we ask that we are always courageous enough to respond to your guiding light.

3.  Saving God, we thank you for our community of prayers. Gathered together we can do so much for the world.

 

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15 January 2017 • John 1:29-34


Theme: Doing the Groundwork

Sacred Space: Rocks, earth, garden tools

Homily

This Sunday’s Gospel is telling us about Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. We know that John came to tell us all about Jesus and how we needed to prepare in a special way for Jesus. John was a strong and very significant man of faith; he did much of the groundwork for Jesus. Take for example when we want to plant a seed, we need to prepare the earth. When the earth is dug up, watered and fed it is ready for the seeds to be planted. Jesus was happy to work with the ground (the people) that John had prepared, and so Jesus planted his seeds of faith, hope and love as he embarked on his mission. Just as it is difficult to break rock and solid ground to prepare for planting, John was called to break open the ground for Jesus. He prepared the people for Jesus’ message and prepared our hearts that we would be ready to allow Jesus’ love to grow in our hearts.

 

Prayer of the Faithful


1.  God of Love, look at our efforts to love you and live your love. Sometimes we falter, sometime we fail. Help us to get back on track as often as we fall away.

2.  God of Mercy, forgive us our trespasses and grant us the grace to forgive others and let go of any wrongdoings against us.

3.  God of Light, let us be beams of your light and love throughout the world.

 

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22 January 2017 • Matthew 4:12-23


Theme: Community

Sacred Space: Gathered hands, community spirit, links in a chain

Homily

This Sunday’s Gospel has three distinct part to it. The first is that Jesus is the light of the world and the fulfilment of Hebrew Testament prophecies. The second is a call to total conversion to live in the light of Christ; and the third explores early responses to this call. Jesus called his disciples around him in the same way as he calls us into community today. We are not isolated units of faith. Together we are stronger. Jesus is not asking us to fit God’s love into our lives but rather to fit ourselves into God’s vision of life. In doing this, we are responding to Jesus and his invitation to follow him in a very real and authentic way.

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  God our Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to show us the way of life. We stand shoulder to shoulder as we pray today, together as a community of faith.

2.  Loving Jesus, we ask you to continue to call us especially when we are weak and lukewarm in our response to your love.

3.  Spirit of Goodness, wash over us with your guiding light and empower us to become all that we are called to be in this life and in the eternal Kingdom of God.

 

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29 January 2017 • Matthew 5:1-12


Theme: The Be-Attitudes

Sacred Space: Symbols of Poverty and Love.

Homily

In today’s Gospel we are told many times that those who seem to be the most unfortunate in this world are actually the ones who are deeply and especially blessed by God. God will look after the grief stricken and the poorest of the poor in an abundant way. Does this turn my worldly values on their heads? What has my bucket list and my wish list got to do with this? Do I place too much value on such things?

 

One can surely understand how those who are poor or suffering might have given up on God. But today Jesus tells in the strongest of ways that God will never give up on those who are low and filled with pain and suffering. Furthermore, Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God belongs to those people. This message is strong and very powerful for our faith, Jesus urges us to have the right attitude. The great commandment of Jesus is to ‘love one another’. This is what Jesus asked us to do in order to build the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught us a set of attitudes that we should have in order to ‘be’ in the Kingdom of God, the Beatitudes (Be-attitudes), and they are blessed by God, acting as a guide for us. The Beatitudes show us how to ‘be’ authentic people of faith who spread love and work for equity and justice across the planet. Maybe we might add this to our daily wish list?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

1.  God of Love, enable us.

2.  God of Strength, empower us.

3.  God of Justice, enlighten us.

 

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