Struggling with the petitions at Mass? This will help you create petitions for students in all grades.
By Jean Grant
Petitions in the Liturgy of the Mass give us an opportunity to ask God’s blessing and mercy upon our needs and concerns. Below are points to consider to involve your students in creating them and ultimately give students ownership in a meaningful liturgy.
Students work as a class in brainstorming topics to be included and ranking them by priority.
Next, in small groups, students work together to write each petition, read them aloud for the small group, and polish them.
Small groups report to the class and the teacher about what they have written. The teacher chooses a student to read a petition at the Mass.
Petitions are an excellent way to teach how to read aloud in Church with a microphone and read with feeling to “Proclaim the Word of God.” As students show mastery of those skills, they could progress to reading the Responsorial Psalm, the larger readings, and Meditations. Excellent reading students should be selected to read the readings of the day with feeling and comprehension.
Preparation would involve several practices including at home, in the classroom, and in Church with the microphone. Names of people and places should be checked so that they will not be mispronounced. Do not close out this opportunity for other students who have a great desire to proclaim the Word of God. Ultimately, the key to success is the result of repeated practice (both at home and at school) with careful direction by the teacher.
If your school pairs up classes (such as 7th Grade with Kindergarten), the older buddies could work with their younger counterpart to help them gain confidence and honor God. Send home a copy of the petition, or reading, at least a week prior to the date of the liturgy as also an invitation to parents to attend. Involve as many of your students in the parts of the Mass on the Liturgy Planning Sheet so that the celebrant will be aware who will be participating in helping.
Assess those students who are desperately eager to shine, and practice repeatedly in Church. Even the best of readers may “freeze” in this public situation. Hopefully the class preparing the Mass and the teacher will be close by, and the teacher can discreetly join the reader to restore confidence.
In composing petitions, the wording should match the grades present and comprehension level. Be flexible and willing to change one troublesome word during practice. Make sure the students that are reading know the meaning of the words and what the readings are all about. Students should not rush. Suggested petitions are in priority:
- Pray for leaders of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church—Our Pope, leaders of our Diocese, our Pastor, Associates, and Deacons (especially understanding others and displaying tolerance.)
- Pray for world leaders—Our President Governors, Congress, State and local government representatives (especially efforts to thwart terrorism, right to life, and global needs and concerns.)
- Pray for regions of our country—(especially those struggling from flooding, natural disasters, homeless families, and drought.)
- Pray for those parishioners/members of the school/parish community suffering from terminal or serious illness—(especially a classmate, grandparents, parents, relatives.)
- Pray in thanksgiving for the blessings of God for those in need.—Just like we need to beg for help, and we rejoice in a positive answer to our prayers, we should not be like the nine lepers who never came back to thank Jesus for curing them of leprosy.
- Leave the last petition open-ended for those needs deep in our hearts that we care most about. Give a moment of silence to give everyone a chance to let the congregation think before we rush to continue.
Jean Grant is a retired teacher from St. Charles, Missouri.