A New School Year: Forgiveness, Love, and Peace

Kick off the school year with this prayer service.

by Jean Grant

Preparation: The theme “Teaching about God’s Gift of Forgiveness” comes to us from the guidelines of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for Catechetical Sunday, September 21, 2014. Forgiveness, as a gift, springs from the font of Baptism. With our hearts open to forgiveness, we keep the Word of Jesus alive and give witness to our faith expressed in the Gospel. Brainstorm to select symbols to illustrate this theme. Collect objects to represent 1) forgiveness/Reconciliation, 2) Baptism, 3) peace/love, and 4) faith. Choose four students to bring the symbols forward during prayer. (Symbol suggestions: cross, heart, flower, water, purple stole, Bible, etc.) A spinner activity is provided on page 58 of this issue, which can be created and held by each student during the prayer service.

Leader: Forgiveness as a gift was given to us from Jesus. He forgave those who crucified him and sinners he met during his ministry, and he left the Sacrament of Reconciliation for us as a special grace toward salvation. His priests continue to take his place on earth with us and forgive our sins.

All: (Luke 15:7) “I tell you there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Leader: Jesus, baptized by John the Baptist, taught us the importance of this Sacrament. Before returning to heaven after the Resurrection, Jesus again urged use of Baptism to evangelize and make followers full members of the Church.

All: (Matthew 28:19-20) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Leader: We strive to keep love in our hearts for our neighbors around the globe. If we misunderstand them, we must pray for open minds, healing words, and patience. Virtues must replace anger and hatred.

All: (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things.”

Leader: Faith is like a tiny mustard seed. If it is protected and nurtured, it will grow and grow. If we hold stories of Jesus and his ministry on earth as loving signs to direct us along the road of life, we will form a bond with Jesus and one day achieve the goal of eternal life with the Father.

All: (Mark 4:30-32) “And he said, ‘With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Leader: Dear Jesus, we now close with the prayer taught by you on the Mount. We are your loving children and pledge ourselves to your service for the salvation of mankind.

All: Pray the Our Father together.

Source: Today’s Catholic Teacher, August/September 2014