Exploring our calling as followers of Jesus

This month we are half way through the Do This in Memory programme

Recently while searching for something in my family home I came across a document I had never seen before; my Baptism certificate. I also discovered the date of my Baptism, May 26, 1962. I was excited to see that date in print forthe first time and I was reminded of an old priest in our diocese who celebrated every year on the anniversary of his Baptism. In fact Fr Barney never celebrated his birthday or even his ordination anniversary. For him it was his Baptism that was most important. Barney believed that his dignity as a Christian came through his Baptism and there was nothing more important to him than that. He also believed that his primary call or vocation in life was to live out his Baptism as a child of God.


This month we are half way through the Do This in Memory programme and it seems appropriate that Jesus’ invitation in the Gospel of the Third Sunday of the Year is to ‘Come with me’. That is the invitation which was first offered to all of us on the day we were baptised.


The homily for the Do This in Memory Mass seeks to reflect with the children about Jesus’ calling of his first apostles, the two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, and James and John. The children will already have been introduced to the apostles’ names in school and may even have learned a song with all the names in it! Having established the notion of being called by Jesus the homilist will try to make a connection with the children’s Baptism and that it is at our Baptism that we are called by Jesus for the first time to follow him. That call continues throughout our lives and it is renewed at particular times in our lives. For the children the call, first heard at Baptism, is renewed in a special way this year as they prepare for their First Eucharist and First Penance.

Half way through the Do this in Memory Programme also might be a good time to think back on the promises which were publicly made by both the children and parents at the enrolment Mass in late September or early October. Parents might be encouraged to look back over those promises in the Thumb book and discuss them with the children.

Speaking of Thumb, it is very difficult for us to know how well it is being used as part of the programme. Thumb was intended to help parents help their children learn and understand a little more about the mass itself.

Each month Thumb focuses on a different part of the Mass and in chapter five it continues a discussion on the Liturgy of the Word which began last month. There is a particular emphasis this month on the importance of the Gospel proclaimed at Mass.

The Gospel

The Gospel is the most important part of the Liturgy of the Word because it tells us stories of Jesus speaking directly with his friends and those who came to listen to him teach and preach. The centre pages of Thumb are really a missal for the children and they might be encouraged to bring it to Mass so that they can follow it a little better. The missal even has little icons showing at what parts of the Mass we sit stand or kneel! The third section of Thumb called KidStuff contains some worksheets for the children to fill in. One of the criticisms of the book is that some children are tempted to fill in all the pages in one sitting! Children will be children but each month the KidStuff pages reflect on the theme of the Mass they have just attended.

This month includes a word search on the names of the 12 apostles. Used to its full potential, Thumb is really a very helpful way of introducing the children to the Mass and parents may find it refreshes and deepens their understanding as well.

Back to this month’s Do This in Memory Mass, the children are asked either to bring a little bottle of water to be blessed or an empty bottle which will be filled from a container in the church.

There is definitely something in the Catholic mentality that when something is given out in church there is added interest! This applies to ashes on Ash Wednesday, palms on Palm Sunday and I even noticed a queue of people coming up to take home straw out of the crib! The same applies on this Sunday when there is holy water on offer! More than any words the little bottle of water reminds the children of the first time they were brought into the church to be baptised. Fr Barney would be very happy!