Finding Scripture in the Mass
Every week at Mass, we listen as Sacred Scripture is proclaimed to the Church. Then, later on in every week during faith formation or religious education classes, we teach young people using the very same stories and words from Scripture.
But for many kids, it may not completely connect that the Scripture they read in class every week isn’t just the same Scripture that they hear during the Liturgy of the Word, it’s the foundation for our celebration of the Mass!
Sacred Scripture is filled with an unending richness, and this same richness has been given to us in the Sacraments, not as two separate pieces of our faith, but as one singular belief and one thorough, complete sacrifice of praise.
Why make the connection?
Showing kids how the Scripture they’re being taught each week builds the structure and substance of the Mass is an excellent way to help them discover the depth and interconnectivity of the faith.
For many people (not just children), it’s easy to separate what is found in Scripture, the Mass, and our daily lives into wholly segmented categories, boxes that sit closed until we’re ready to open them. By connecting God’s Word in Scripture to the worship and wonder found in the Mass, we turn our faith into a garden, allowing the different blooms of wisdom found across different practices to pollinate and grow ever more fruitful.
By helping kids understand, we set them up for a life of flourishing faith, and we show them how each part of their faith can be connected to each other and to their own lives as a whole! Showing the connectedness of the faith shows kids that they can bring their faith to life, each and every day.
The Liturgy of the Word
The clearest place to find Scripture in Mass is in the Liturgy of the Word, where the words of the Bible are proclaimed aloud for the congregation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Mass begins with the Liturgy of the Word for this reason: “the Holy Spirit first recalls the meaning of the salvation event to the liturgical assembly by giving life to the Word of God, which is proclaimed so that it may be received and lived.”
The obvious connection for kids is that the Scripture they study is the same Scripture they hear on Sundays, but the deeper connection that can be made here is that the Scriptures, both in study and in their proclamation, serve to help us receive Christ into our hearts and to live our faith in our lives.
The Liturgy of the Word serves as a preparation for the assembly, calling to mind the prior events and stories that invite us into deeper contemplation of the Eucharist we’re about to receive.
In a similar way, studying Scripture outside of Mass is how we prepare our hearts to receive God and to allow Him to pour His graces on us.
In both forms, Scripture prepares us to welcome the Word into our hearts, both in the spoken and studied Word of Scripture and in the Incarnate Word in the Eucharist!
How to make it actionable for kids:
Encourage kids to prepare for Sunday Mass by reading the selected Scripture passages ahead of time. Give them a set of simple questions to ponder as they read, and have them call to mind how they can apply the readings to their own lives; how they can receive God’s Word into their hearts! Then, when they go to Mass on Sunday, they’ll hear Scripture that they already recognize, connecting them more to the Sacred Liturgy happening before them!
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
“The Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body.” (CCC 103)
Connecting the Eucharist with Scriptures can feel like a daunting task at first. Indeed, many of the words of the Eucharistic Prayers are found only in bits and pieces scattered through the vast writings of Sacred Scripture and Tradition, which doesn’t lend itself to easy connection in a child’s lesson.
However, there are some key points that can help you bridge Scripture and the Eucharist as two presentations of God’s Eternal Word, spoken in language in the Bible and given entirely in a physical sense in Christ.
One way to make the connection easy to spot is to point out a few specific segments of the Liturgy of the Eucharist: the re-presentation of the Last Supper at the Consecration, and then the prayer and response that comes after the Lamb of God.
In the Eucharist, the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; and John 13:1-30) is re-presented to us, and the words of Jesus are said over the bread and wine at the moment of Consecration: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it. For this is my body which will be given up for you.”
Later, when the Body and Blood are elevated together, the priest will say the words spoken by John the Baptist in John 1:29: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Soon after, the congregation responds with a modified form of Luke 7:6, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
These moments are powerful segments of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the Word of God given in Scripture is proclaimed in unity with the Incarnate Word present in the Holy Sacrament!
How to make it actionable for kids:
Dive into the Gospels! The Liturgy of the Eucharist is rich with the revelation given by Christ, from the words we use to the very act of celebrating the Eucharist itself, and there’s no better way to help children understand the connection quite like simply exploring the Gospels. The passages listed above (The Last Supper, The Baptism of Christ, and the Healing of the Centurion’s Servant) are all excellent places to begin.
Once you’ve helped them to read these stories, ask them to pay attention to where they show up in the Mass. The context they’ll receive from the larger narrative of the Gospels combined with the recognition of their place in the liturgy will build a foundation on which they can explore the Gospels in their fullness.