Every year I struggle with whether or not to ask child catechumens to come during their Christmas vacation for dismissal sessions on Sunday morning during Mass. By this time of year, the families usually need a break and my family often goes out of town over Christmas. It’s easier just to not meet during Christmas. It’s easier to not be committed during Christmas. It’s easier for everyone to just be on vacation.
Do we take a break from discipleship?
But, then I start thinking about what that teaches child catechumens. Does it teach them that Catholics don’t go to church when school is not in session? That disciples of Jesus are on vacation during Christmas? That it’s okay to skip Mass and the Scripture readings aren’t that important for us to discuss anyway?Of course, we don’t want to give child catechumens any of those messages.
What should we do on Christmas day?
Furthermore, this year (2011) is even more complicated because Christmas is on Sunday. Do we do a dismissal session (also known as breaking open the word) on Christmas? Even though I am urging you to do dismissal sessions during Christmas vacation, I have to admit that we don’t do dismissal on Christmas. Please, comment in the box below and let us know if you do dismissal on Christmas! We’d love to hear about your experience. Instead, here is what I recommend for the Christmas season with child catechumens.
- Give catechumenal families a reflection and discussion guide for the readings of Nativity. In this way, even though you don’t do dismissal on Christmas, the child catechumens can talk about the readings with their family.
- If Christmas is not on Sunday, I urge you do the dismissal on the Sunday after Christmas. This is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The readings are so great for kids! Don’t miss the opportunity to reflect upon these readings with your child catechumens. The characters and the messages are riveting – especially for kids.
- The magi, Herod, and Joseph’s dream to take the family to Egypt (Year A).
- Sarah gives birth to Isaac; Simeon, Anna and the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple (Year B).
- Hannah and Samuel; boy Jesus found in the temple (Year C).
- Give a little Christmas gift. I like to give the child catechumens a little gift on the Sunday after Christmas. A tiny Nativity set is my favorite.
- Do dismissal on the first Sunday in January. It’ll be the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God or Epiphany. Again, these readings are especially engaging for young catechumens and carry significant messages for disciples-in-training.
- You don’t need to have a catechetical session after the dismissal session. Celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, do the dismissal session, end with a blessing of catechumens and go home.
Don’t be a slave to the school calendar
Overall, I simply want to encourage you to do dismissal during Christmas vacation. Don’t get caught in the school year calendar that says kids are on vacation during Christmas. Sure, it’s true they are on vacation. But, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a 24-7 commitment. And, our Sunday worship is part of that commitment. By doing dismissal with catechumens during the Christmas season, we help to reinforce the Catholic Christian way of life.