The Mass - a retreat
To investigate the Mass as a celebration and a way
of giving thanks
Bibles, hymn books, vestments, chalice, altar
cruets, altar breads etc.
videos on Mass, Communion, priesthood
paper, scissors, glue etc.
bread, grapes, cups
Mass questionnaire, Mass wordsearch,
Holy cards, background music tape
Any, or near Easter
This retreat takes a whole school day. It is best
done with one class at a time and in a small place of worship if
possible, e.g. a local chapel or small church with a hall attached
It is mostly teacher-led, with lots of discussion and
The script below is not meant to be read word-for-word, but rather used
as a guide
Do all of the sections below, or choose ones to fit the time you have
Sections a-c would probably fit into a morning and d-g into the
Be sensitive about children who do not go to Mass. They may go after
It can be adapted for services of other denominations
Summary of activities for the day
1) Children investigate and discuss their attitudes to Mass - use
questionnaire plus discussion.
2) Compare/relate Mass to Last Supper and other modern celebrations.
3) Examine objects used during Mass, e.g.. vestments, chalice etc.
Different colours for different seasons. Use actual objects and
wordsearch and videos.
4) Individual or group work on an aspect of Mass. Explain. Display.
5) Have a bread/grape meal/celebration (see other assembly script
'Friends - a retreat'). Include Bible readings, hymns.
6) Silent reflection.
7)Give holy card as a souvenir of the day.
Introduce the theme of the day.
Originally it was called 'The breaking of bread'.
Now it is sometimes called the Eucharist, from the Greek word for
Jesus said, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the world."
Also, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I shall be
During Mass, the priest says, "The Lord be with you."
We give thanks for this.
Mass can be divided into nine parts:
1) Being sorry - "Lord have mercy."
2) Listening - a reading from before Jesus was born, a psalm he used to
pray and a reading about after he died - then the Gospel (good news
spoken by Jesus) - "This is the word of the Lord." "Thanks be to God."
"Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ."
3) Caring - prayers of the faithful - "Lord graciously hear us."
4) Giving - preparing the gifts, money, time - "Blessed be God for
ever." Jesus gave more than we give - "Christ has died... "
5) Thanking - thank God for gifts, especially Jesus - "It is right to
give him thanks and praise." "This is my body which will be given up
for you" = the centre of the Mass. Consecration. Bell.
6) Making peace - "Peace be with you" = first words of risen Christ to
7) Talking - praying e.g. "Lord, I am not worthy... " "Our Father... "
8) Celebrating - risen Christ - alleluia = praise God - meal.
9) Dismissal - "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." "Thanks be to
Another way of dividing up the stages of a Mass:
A = adore
L = love
T = thanks
A = ask
R = resolve
Think of times when bread/wine/meals are mentioned in the Bible.
Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that
comes from the mouth of God." We need the word and the bread. We
receive both at Mass.
Jesus said, "Do this in memory of me."
b) Children's attitude to Mass.
Children complete a printed questionnaire as below:
QUESTIONNAIRE - THE MASS
You do not have to put your name on this, unless you want to.
1. How often do you go to Mass? Remember to include school Masses.
Once a day, once a week, once a month, less than once a month, only at
2. Why do you go to Mass? Give all the reasons you can think of.
3. Have you been to Masses which included extra special events, e.g.. a
baptism, a wedding, a funeral service, First Holy Communion,
Confirmation, Ordination, others?
4. Which did you enjoy? Why?
5. When you go to a church for Mass, why do you choose that particular
6. Which parts of the Mass do you like best?
Singing, praying quietly, praying aloud, receiving Communion, playing
music, reading to the congregation, giving money, taking part in the
Offertory procession, meeting friends, seeing the priest, the sign of
peace, listening to Bible readings, the vestments, candles, flowers,
peace, other parts?
7. How do you feel before you go to Mass?
8. How do you feel after it?
9. If you could change something about the Mass, what would it be? You
can mention more than one thing.
10. How is Mass like the Last Supper?
11. The Mass is a celebration. Discuss this with your neighbour, e.g.
What is a celebration? How do people look when celebrating?
When celebrating, do you let other people do all the work, or do you
contribute something you are able to do? What other celebrations are
there? (e.g.. birthday parties). What do most celebrations contain?
the children have completed the questionnaire collect them. Read
through the answers quickly and use some as discussion starters.
Then relate Mass to the Last Supper. How are they the same? e.g.
Jesus/priest, apostles/congregation, bread and wine/Communion etc.
At this point, use the Bible. There are also some useful worksheets in
the books from the Palm Tree Press e.g. 'Instant Art for...' and the
'Colortext Colour-in leaflets' by S. C. B. Services. Alternatively, use
some of the Bible colouring sheets available on the internet.
Relate Mass/Last Supper to modern celebrations e.g. birthday parties,
wedding receptions. They all give thanks for something/someone.
Find references to bread/wine/meals in the Bible.
If you have a hymn book, or Missal, with the words for Mass, look to
see which words are repeated, e.g. peace, thanks etc.
c) Examine vestments and objects used during Mass.
If you have Masses in schools, you probably have
all or some of the following items.
Dress a child in a priest's vestments. Look at the shape and size of
each. Colours? (The colours are used at different times of the year.)
Note Roman style of clothing. Why?
Allow the children to handle the bell, chalice, unconsecrated host etc.
There are a number of useful books for this section, e.g. 'The Church
Book' by Anne Farncombe and 'Directory on Children's Masses' from the
Catholic Truth Society. You may have relevant videos in school.
You could also make up a wordsearch using vocabulary to do with the
items looked at in this section. There is a free downloadable program
at the worksheetfactory.com for compiling wordsearches using any vocabulary.
The work done by each child during the day could be put into a simple
card folder decorated by the child.
d) Group work on the Mass.
Divide the class into groups. Each group carries out one of the
activities below and later reports back to the whole class. It is best
to give each group just their task, not a sheet with all the tasks on.
Music could be played quietly in the background at this stage.
You have 2 tasks. You may want to divide your group into 2 - or you may
Look through the hymn book/Missal. Copy out carefully and decorate some
words which tell us about the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus, i.e.. Jesus did
not leave us when he died on the cross, but he is still with us.
Choose someone to hold up your work to the class and someone to read
Copy out the prayer below. Fill in the missing letter at the beginning
of each line - in colour and decorative - the letters spell a sentence.
Do this large enough for the class to see.
Choose someone to hold up and read out to the class.
-ake and eat
- am with you.
-eek and you will find.
-n faith we come. In
-ilence we adore.
-ost holy Lord,
-our people kneel
you to be fed.
-pen our hearts and minds to
-iscover the riches of
-our saving presence.
missing letters spell 'This is my body.'
You need a Bible with references.
Think of the times when Jesus shared a meal with others. How many can
you think of? Make a list.
Look up these Bible references about meals. Were the meals: a snack, a
religious ceremony, a barbecue, a picnic, a rich man's supper, a homely
meal, or a wedding feast?
John 2: 1-10 John 21: 9-12
Mark 6: 39-44 Mark 10: 38-42
Matthew 26: 17-29 Matthew 8: 15
Luke 6: 1
Luke 5: 29
Luke 7: 36
Write about one of these stories. Decorate. Choose someone to read it
Make a list of the foods mentioned in the above stories.
Draw a large picture of a priest wearing vestments.
Name each vestment.
Write what you can remember about vestments e.g.. colours, Romans.
Choose someone to explain the picture to the class.
Draw a chart showing the objects used during Mass. Name them.
Make a list beforehand, so you don't leave any out. Choose someone to
explain the chart to the class.
Make up a play about the Last Supper - to show the class. Use your
Bible. Try to make the characters speak, not just mime.
Make up a play, to show the class, about two old men who were in the
last war. They meet once a week to talk about their memories. This
makes them happy - except when they think about their best friend who
died in the war. They meet in a restaurant.
Why do you think they enjoy these meetings? Does this play remind you
You need : 2 old men, a waiter, a narrator.
Each person sketch in detail one object used during Mass. Name it. Show
pictures to class.
Prepare the room for a bread/grape meal. (Table, plates, candle, bread,
Choose a hymn for the class to sing.
Write one or more prayers about what we have done today. Choose someone
to read them.
Draw a large picture of bread and grapes, to display.
Copy : This is my body. This is my blood. Do this in memory of me.
Does the story of the ten lepers tell you anything about people and
their attitude to Mass?
Have the bread/grape meal, like the early
Christians' love feasts (agapes).
f) Silent Reflection.
Allow a few minutes of quiet reflection.
g) Holy Card.
Give each child a relevant holy card, as a
souvenir of their day. These can be bought in church repositories.