Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
Readings for October 30, 2016, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time:
- Wisdom 11: 22–12:2
- 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
- Luke 19:1-10
“We ask you, brothers and sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed . . . by a ‘spirit.’” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2a)
God does not want us to be afraid of the world where the saints live with God.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
1. Talk about Halloween.
Find out if anyone is afraid of the costumes and the trick-or-treaters who come to their doors.
Suggest that there is another way to celebrate Halloween: as the holy night before a special feast day celebration to remember all the saints.
Bring several pumpkins to class and materials to decorate them as various saints. Read saints’ stories to the children—especially those of the best known, best loved saints, like Francis, Nicholas, Thérèse of Lisieux, Patrick, or patron saints of the parish or the children.
2. Have a pumpkin parade.
After the stories, let the children choose several favorites and “dress up” the pumpkins to look like them. They can also make masks for themselves, depicting any saint they want to be.
Have a Halloween parade around the classroom, carrying the pumpkins and wearing the masks. End with a prayer asking the saints to bless the children and keep them safe from harm.
Teaching with Intermediate Grades:
1. Talk about life after death.
Since this is the week of Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day, and because the second reading this Sunday exhorts believers not to fear the coming of Jesus, talk to the students about the beliefs our Church has regarding life after death.
Explain that “Halloween” is “Hallowed Eve,” or “holy eve,” referring to the night before All Saints’ Day. November 1 is a special day of remembering all the saints who are with God.
Invite children to talk about their favorite saints. Tell stories about your own favorite saints.
2. Remember those who have died.
November 2 is a special day for remembering all people who have died. We pray that their souls are with God.
Have any children lost someone they love during this past year? Do they ever pray for the soul of this loved one? Do they feel this person still prays for and cares about them?
Lead the children in a prayer for all people who have died recently, especially naming people the children know.
Teaching with Secondary Grades:
1. Discuss the “life beyond.”
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day celebrate our belief in a life beyond the life we know.
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2, and describe the first half as an exhortation to be saints. The second part refers to the Second Coming of Jesus, which the first Christians expected in their lifetime.
Thinking the world would end was a scary thought. Discuss with your students their own beliefs about what happens at the end of life.
What is their idea of heaven? What is their experience of relating to someone they love who has died?
2. Pray together.
Give the students a period of quiet time to be in touch with their own spirit and with the communion of saints.
Play soft instrumental music, and invite students to pray to a favorite saint or to pray for a deceased loved one.
After, students may volunteer to share this experience with each other, or you may ask them to write about it in their journals.