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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - Level 1 Catechist Training at Saint Patrick - Saint Anthony Church
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by Lisa Orchen

Subject:        Gestures of the Mass


Title:               Epiclesis


Age:               3+


Sources:       Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass; RPC, pp. 82-90; GS&C, p. 68; MM, pp. 64-65;

                        Living Liturgy, pp. 27-30, 88-101;  CCC, nos. 1104-1107, 1325, 1333, 1367,

                        1377, 1410, 1413, 1548; SPSA September 2007


Liturgical Time:       Any, often during Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent 

or during Easter season


Doctrinal Content:

1.      Through the words and gestures invoking the Holy Spirit, the priest, on behalf of the assembly, asks God to send the gift of the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine.

2.      Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

3.      The mass is the culmination of the many gifts God gives to humankind;  our response in thanksgiving is a sign of our covenantal relationship with God..


Direct Aims:

1.      To demonstrate the gesture/visible prayer of invocation of the Holy Spirit.

2.      To explore the prayer of epiclesis and deepen understanding of the gesture.


Indirect Aims:

1.      To prepare for future gestures of the mass presentations and Eucharistic work.

2.      To prepare for other work relating to the action of the Holy Spirit.

3.      To foster wonder and awe of the Holy Spirit.

4.      To assist prayer.

5.      To encourage greater participation in the liturgy.

6.      To proclaim that the power of the Holy Spirit transforms all gathered at Eucharist into the Body of Christ.

7.      To foster the recognition of this gesture in other settings & sacraments:  baptism, confirmation, blessings, anointing of the sick, reconciliation, etc.

8.      To lift up the Trinitarian nature of God.

9.      To enhance our ability to live the sacred covenant.

10.  To aid control of movement.


Description of Materials

1.      Simple paten (could be glass) with paper communion host

2.      Clear glass chalice

3.      a white cloth to suggest an altar cloth

4.      Gestures Table  (a lightweight child-sized table dedicated to gesture work)

5.      Prayer Booklet with orange cover, see MM

6.      a stand to (eventually) hold all 5 gesture booklets




1.      Gather children in a semi-circle around the Gestures Table.



1.      “What are some of the things that are used every time there is a mass”  Discuss with children.  (chalice, paten, bread, wine, candles, altar cloth.)

2.      “So these things are used every single time we gather for Eucharist.”

3.      “There are also things that the priest says and does at every mass.  Some of these are called gestures.”

4.      “Do you know what a gesture is?” 

5.      With index finger, do gesture for “come here” without words.  “What did I ask you to do?”  (come here)

6.      With index finger, do gesture for “shhhh, be quiet” without words.  What did I ask you to do?”  (be quiet)

7.      “Gestures are ways of saying something without words.  During mass there are gestures that are always used – so important that they can’t be left out.”

8.      “Today we are going to learn a gesture called ‘epiclesis.’


Prepare Gesture Table

Put altar cloth on top of Gestures Table.  Place chalice and paten in center of table.


Present Gesture

1.      “Watch what the priest does.”

2.      Stand up behind Gestures Table.  Lift both hands up to ceiling.  Lower back to the table, above the chalice and paten

3.      “I’ll do it again.”

4.      Repeat gesture.


            Reflection on Gesture

1.      “Where did my hands go”   (up high.)

2.      “Where did my hands end?”  (over bread and wine)

3.      “Who do we think of on high?”  (God, discuss with children)

4.      “With this gesture the priest is asking God to send a gift into the bread and wine.  Can we see that gift we ask God to send into the bread and wine?”   (discuss with children)

5.      “What could that gift be?” (discuss with children, power, love)

6.      “There is a name we sometimes use for God’s gift, power, love.  We call it the Holy Spirit.” 

7.      “God’s spirit is powerful.  Things happen.  We ask the Holy Spirit to come to the Bread and Wine.  When the Holy Spirit comes, things change.  At mass the Bread and Wine change so that Jesus can be really present with us.”

8.      “Would you like to do that gesture?  You can go do it.”  (Have children repeat gesture over Gestures Table.)



Children’s Responses:      (possible response could be silence)

1.      Sing a song - “Amen” or “Alleluia”


When Children are 4-5 years

1.      Ask child to set up for the Epiclesis Prayer – chalice, paten, altar cloth on Gestures Table.

2.      “Would someone like to do the gesture of epiclesis where we ask God to send the Holy Spirit over the bread and wine?”  (work with a child until they do the gesture)

3.      “Would you like to do it again while I read the prayer the priest says when he does this gesture?”  (Read prayer from prayer card as child does gesture)

4.      “And so Father, we bring you these gifts, we ask you to make them holy by the power of your spirit, that they may become the Body and Blood of your Son, Jesus Christ.”

5.      “Let’s think about this prayer so we can understand even more.”   (read prayer again)

6.      “Who are we talking to in this prayer?” (discuss with children, father)

7.      “What gifts are we bringing to God?  (discuss with children, bread and wine)

8.      “We ask that you make them holy – what does it mean to be holy?”  (discuss with children, perhaps ‘full of God’)

9.      “How could something be made holy?”  (discuss with children.)

10.  We ask that you make them holy by the power of your Holy Spirit.  Did you hear what the bread and wine will become when God’s spirit is upon them?  (discuss with children, the body and blood of Jesus Christ – so that Jesus can really be with us, right where we are.)

11.  What can we say to God about that?”  (discuss with children, thank you)

12.  There is a song that says, “Thank You God.”  (teach and sing with children.)


Restoration of the Material:

1.      Put chalice, paten and altar cloth back on shelf on Gestures Table.


Children’s Work with the Materials:

1.      Repeating the gesture

2.      Reading the prayer

3.      Copying the prayer

4.      Original artwork

5.      Doing the gestures at the altar


Children’s Responses (notable things the children say or do):


CGS Level 1 Catechist Training