Vestments – pointing the way to Jesus

Posted October 27, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Parent's Perspective, Sue's Suggestions

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We’ll get to vestments in a minute, but first I think a little groundwork might be helpful.

Why is it that only an ordained Catholic priest can preside at Mass?  The short answer is that Jesus set it up that way; you can read about it in various places in the New Testament (Luke 22:19 and John 20:21-23, to start with).  Jesus gave the apostles the power to lead and teach, to celebrate Eucharist, and to forgive sins.  The apostles passed that power, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders (ordination) on to the first bishops who passed it on down an unbroken line to your bishop today.  Before long, the church grew and grew to the point where these bishops needed help, so priests and deacons were ordained to do specific jobs under the authority of their local bishop.

Jesus is the true and only high priest, and is the source of all priesthood.  Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, it is Christ himself who is now present as a priest performs a sacrament.  For example, your confession is being spoken to Jesus and it is Jesus who forgives your sins.  In another example consider this; any person could say the prayers of the Mass, but transubstantiation only takes place when an ordained priest says them.  Ordination gives a priest the power and authority to act in the place and person of Christ himself!


Now on to today’s related topic.

Since your priest is very aware of the reality of Christ’s presence in his ministry, even a simple action like getting dressed for Mass is an opportunity for prayer.  Before he begins putting on vestments, he washes his hands and prays that Jesus will give him the grace of purity.  He puts on his alb and prays that through the grace of his Baptism that he will be wholly devoted to Jesus.  While tying on his cincture (the cord tied around his waist) he prays that Jesus will strengthen him with the virtue of chastity.  The stole is a signal that he’s “on duty” and ready to officiate at a Sacrament.  While putting it on, he prays that Jesus will make him worthy of this awesome job.  And finally, he puts on a chasuble which covers everything else.  This is a symbol of charity (love) and, as he puts it on, your priest prays that all he does is covered by the love of Jesus.  A very common version of this prayer is this Vesting Prayer.  You can learn more about the meaning of the vestment pieces as you read through it, and since many of them are included with your priest paper doll, you can read while your child dresses Father for Mass.

Completed Paper Doll Example

And for grown-ups who want to learn more, I recommend this short piece on liturgical vestment from the Vatican’s web site.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Younger Family Formation Students

Posted October 26, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Parent's Perspective, Sue's Suggestions

Tags: , ,

Now that you’ve done a couple lessons in our first official month, it’s a good time to check in and issue some reminders, especially if this is your first year with Family Formation.  Some of these things apply to students of all ages, but if you are teaching younger kids you may find these suggestions to be particularly useful.

Be prepared.

  1.  Read through the lesson ahead of time and edit for your needs.  To begin with, each Home Lesson has a section labeled “for older saints.”  You can automatically assume that those topics are at a slightly more advanced subject matter, at a somewhat deeper level (appropriate for 3rd grade and older).  We absolutely want you to read the entire lesson as you prepare, but this may be one section you save to teach next time around.  (This is a good place to remind you thatFamily Formation lessons rotate on a three year cycle.  The lessons you’re doing with your 1st grader this year will come around again when he’s a 4th grader.)
  2. You’ll also want to consider your child’s learning style.  Younger students tend to be very concrete thinkers who see things at face value.  For example, in the lessons you just did on the Mass, your 5th grader can understand the big picture of flow and order, but your kindergartner just needs to know that this is something you do every Sunday and we meet Jesus there.  Seeing her parents paying attention and praying is the best concrete reinforcement for this lesson.
  3. Have your supplies ready to go before you call everyone together to begin.  Imagine your 5-year-old as having an Attention Span Countdown Clock on his head.  Do you really want to spend some of that precious time searching your office for a scissor and the right colored crayons?

Consider their skills and prepare stuff you know will be frustrating to them.

  1. Next week’s Vessels and Vestments lesson is a perfect example.  If you know the cutting will be too difficult or too time consuming for your squirmy 1st grader, cut and assemble those pieces before the lesson begins so you can spend more time talking about the Mass and less time in a melt-down over cutting on the lines.

Watch the time.

  1. If experience is telling you that 15 minutes is the amount of time you can hold your little one’s attention, simply plan your lesson for that long.  The advantage of this is that you can fit a 15 minute lesson in just about anywhere!clock
  2. You may want to consider breaking a longer lesson up into two times per week.
  3. There may be elements you can use in your bedtime routine.
  4. You may want to re-play popular games at another time to reinforce what you’ve learned.
  5. The whole point of Family Formation is to make passing on the Faith an integral part of your family life.  If setting aside an hour each week isn’t working for you, try some of these ideas to figure out another format.

Lesson Notes: Vessels and Vestments

Posted October 25, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions


This week, we’re going to learn about all the stuff that goes with the Mass.  Special clothes, furniture, dishes, a special place – all serve to set apart this most holy celebration and send a message to pay attention because something different is going on here!  All of these things have a particular design and history and purpose and that is what this lesson is all about.  Also, these things tend to be beautiful because we want to give glory to God.  Only our best gifts are even close to good enough!


The activity is contained on all those over-sized card stock sheets that came with the lesson, namely, the 3-D Holy Mass Set.  If you only have younger kids, there will be a fair amount of preparation for you to do before lesson time, but I promise it’s worth it!  Even though assembling this activity is too difficult for any but the most precise cutters and folders, it really is great for your very young students to manipulate the pieces as you teach and (added bonus) it is the same scale as your priest paper doll.

Famed educational innovator Maria Montessori is often quoted as saying  “Play is the work of a child.”  This principle is so evident as you see your kids learning more about the Mass as they “play Mass” with these pieces.  As I was assembling the altar for our October bulletin board, a parent came into the office and commented, “I’m so glad this is coming around again!  Our set from 3 years ago was so worn out that I finally just threw it away.”  And you just may find something like this.


Lesson Notes: The Liturgy of the Eucharist

Posted October 18, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions


This week, we’re going to finish up our study of the holy Mass continuing with whatever focus you began last week, and I just want to add a couple things:

This is the ideal time, if you have a strong preference (or even a moderate one, I suppose), to share why you receive the Eucharist in your hand or on your tongue.  Both are acceptable, but whichever you choose should be done with highest reverence, being mindful of just Who you are receiving.  Share your personal devotion with your kids by taking advantage of this teachable moment.

hand tongue


Also, once your kids have finished going through their My Holy Mass Book, encourage them to bring it with to Mass!  Older kids can keep track through the words and younger ones can do it by looking at the pictures – either way, keeping track of what’s going on in the liturgy by using a missal like this can be a very effective way to focus on the Mass in a new light.

Leading with Beauty

Posted October 15, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

Art for November Prayer Tables

This month’s topic is a new lesson on the Creed and since I haven’t been able to find any art on that exact topic, we’re going to expand it just a little with a piece that focuses on the Holy Trinity.  Both of the creeds we typically use (Nicene and Apostles’) are intensely structured around the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, each devoting a section to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in that order.

This work by Albrecht Durer was completed in 1511 as an altarpiece for a church.  (How great would it be to contemplate this every time you went to Mass!)  The Persons of the Trinity are the focus, framed by clouds and angels.  On the left are the heavenly martyrs led by the Queen of heaven, herself.  On the right are Old Testament Saints, led by John the Baptist.  Spanning the painting, but still above the clouds, are all the rest of us: priests, nuns, lay people, etc., and at the very bottom we see the artist still on earth.

It’s very easy to look at this painting, with it’s clear vision of heavenly realities and recite, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”  “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God …”  “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life …”

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

And Church of Saint Paul catechists: the offer still stands – if you want to use my prayer table art suggestions as a teaching piece during your classroom prayer time, I’ll be glad to print a copy for you IF you email me ahead of time with the request.  (If you ask at the last minute though, it’s not likely to be possible.  I hope that doesn’t sound grumpy!)

The Holy Mass – pointing the way to Jesus

Posted October 14, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Parent's Perspective

I’m using the title because it follows the pattern of my Heart of Catechesis posts, but to say that the Mass points us to Jesus is grossly inadequate.  Jesus is way more than an incidental that happens each Sunday, He’s the source of all grace, the sacrifice that is offered, the One offering the sacrifice, the teacher, the center, the author, the mediator … we could go on and on!

All About Jesus logo

Having said that, there are some specific ways that Christ is traditionally recognized to be present in the Mass:

  • First, and most important, Jesus is “present” in the Eucharist.  More precisely, he is the Eucharist; body, blood, soul and divinity.  We can’t see it, but with the words of consecration Jesus promises that it happens.
  • He’s also present in the priest.  It’s kind of a similar situation where we see one thing, but there’s a greater reality behind it.  What we see is our familiar priest, but through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we know that Jesus has given this man the power and authority to act in His name.
  • Jesus is present in the Word that is proclaimed every time scripture is read.
  • Jesus is also present in each and every baptized person.  Combine this with the promise that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” and there’s double reason to recognize the presence of Jesus in the people who are at Mass.

One really good illustration of these ways Christ is present at Mass happens when incense is used.  Among other things, incense is used as a sign of honor for that which is sacred (and nothing is more sacred than Jesus!).  Next time you’re at a Mass with incense, notice some of the times it’s used:

The bread and wine that will soon be the Eucharist are incensed.

The bread and wine that will soon be Jesus truly present in the Eucharist are incensed.

The priest, acting in the person of Christ, is incensed.

The priest, acting in the person of Christ, is incensed.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1)  Christ, truly present in Scripture, in honored with incense.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”
(John 1:1)
Christ, truly present in Scripture, in honored with incense.

And finally, we all stand as the presence of Jesus within each of us is honored with incense.

And finally, we all stand as the presence of Jesus within each of us is honored with incense.

Lesson Notes: The Liturgy of the Word

Posted October 13, 2014 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions


The Holy Mass is our overall theme of the year and you’re really seeing that upfront, here at the beginning.  It was the theme of our October Classroom Lessons, the theme of our Challenge this year, and the theme of all of our October Home Lessons.

It’s the source and summit, the most perfect form of prayer*, the sum and summary of our faith.  The Mass is the center of Catholic liturgical prayer, because it recalls and re-enacts the greatest event of history and of Christian faith: the paschal mystery – the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.**  At the Mass, Jesus our savior is continually re-presenting His perfect sacrifice to God the Father, not only on behalf of the whole world, but of sinful, unworthy me!  (and you, and every other individual)  Every time we assist at Mass*** we unite ourselves with the liturgy that is constantly happening in heaven, and are practicing for the day when we can be part of that eternal worship face to face!  No matter what you understand about the Mass – there’s always more to learn.  And no matter how much you love and appreciate the Mass – it’s just a fraction of the devotion that is really deserved.

definitionOn the most basic level, the Mass is one prayer with two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  We’re going to divide the lessons in the same way over the next two weeks, so we can devote a little more time to each before your kid’s attention span gives out.

I can think of a few different directions for your study, depending on the age and needs of your kids.

  1. First, and most obvious, is to go through the parts of the Mass learning more about the the order and the meaning of each.  This was the focus of the Classroom Lessons and you would do well to reinforce it at home.  Part of the Classroom Lesson for your K, 1st, or 3rd grader included lots of movement as they practiced all the stand/sit/kneel, the Sign of the Cross, genuflecting, and of course, this month’s memory verse of tracing small crosses on their forehead, lips and heart before the Gospel reading.  Not only does this give valuable practice but it’s a good way to get the wiggles out.
  2. Second, for those who are older or already very familiar with the parts of the Mass, is to actually think about the meaning.  Your child’s copy of My Holy Mass Book aids in this goal in all the places provided to write personal reflections.  (Jesus forgive me these faults; I give you glory and praise for these things; This is what I learned from today’s readings, etc.)  You may also want to share parts of the extra piece entitled Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Mass.  It’s intended for parents, but would be very appropriate reading for teens or anyone who just wants to learn more.
  3. And finally, if you think this is all over the head of your youngest saints, you may want to just focus on appropriate behavior and preparation for Mass.  You’ll find some help with this on the inside cover of the My Holy Mass Book, and on the green sheets entitled The Paulines Go To Holy Mass.  These skills are the foundation of it all, so start here if that’s what works best for you!

NEXT WEEK:  The Liturgy of the Eucharist!


  • *Pope Paul VI
  • ** Alan Schreck, Basics of the Faith
  • *** Baltimore Catechism, 363-364 to learn more about the the concept of “assisting” at Mass


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