One of the things we notice when reading the Gospels is that Jesus had a great desire to ‘heal’. Mark gives us, at the beginning of his Gospel, stories of Jesus healing. Each story highlights a different aspect of what healing means. For some it is a liberation from something evil, for others it is forgiveness. Luke’s Gospel is definitely a Gospel of compassion. We see Jesus at work with his people. Many needed healing in body, mind and spirit and Jesus provided this.
In our Catholic Schools today we have students from many countries, students of many colours and students of many different religions. Sometimes our backgrounds unite us, other times they divide us. In the world we are divided into university graduates or tradesmen, workers or unemployed, young and old, wealthy and poor. Some are popular and others feel inadequate; we have different levels of faith and of love of God. Our past experience of hurt and happiness, of failure and success, of home and of love, all make us what we are. In the Catholic faith, the Sacrament of Penance is a sacrament not only of forgiveness, but of healing divisions.
For students not taking part in the private reconciliation at the end of the service, they can still be reconciled with each other and their God during the anointing service.
Setting the scene
Use a space that is conducive to peaceful reconciliation. Lighting could be subdued while keeping in mind health and safety.
You could have a purple cloth on the floor in front of the altar or sacred space you are using. Crumple the cloth a little so that it is imperfect. A pair of old scuffed shoes could be set to the side of the cloth ad a brand new pair of shoes near the centre of the cloth.
Oil has been used for generations as a source of healing – aromatherapy today has become popular and effective source of healing and comfort. Include a jar of oil on the cloth and perhaps an oil burner with a healing essential oil to fragrance the prayer space on an appropriate safe spot in the room.
A slip of paper with the following words for each person taking part:
We pray for you …..and ask that God blesses you and keeps you, strengthens you in trials, comforts you in pain and fills you with a sense of his unending love.
1. One lighted candle on the altar or table
2. Two unlit candles
3. Bowl of water
4. A copy of 'Fix You' by Coldplay (with lyrics) available on Youtube
5. Students for readings and prayers.
All: We pray Lord, that we may know ourselves and open ourselves honestly to you. We ask you for the courage to face what is not good in ourselves and the honesty to accept the gift of your forgiveness. Be with us Lord in the Spirit of reconciliation and in the forgiveness of Jesus, our Son, who died and rose from death for our sins. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Reading from St Paul to the Colossians – Col 3:12-15
Reader: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
This is the word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.
Student takes a taper and lights one of the unlit candles from the main candle and says:
Lord Jesus, be our light. Be the light of forgiveness and of healing, be the light of goodness in each person help each of us to see the light of God, given by you in your life, death and resurrection, in everyone here. Be our light, Amen.
Second student takes a taper and lights the other unlit candle from the main candle and says:
Holy Spirit burn away the selfishness within us, enlighten us, each of us here,so that we can see the resentments and the grudges, the bitterness and the hollowness in our lives. Enlighten us, so that we can see ourselves, our goodness and our sin; encourage us in your warmth that we can allow the selfishness to be burned away in the light and the joy of your love for us. Be the light of our lives and fix us. Amen.
Examination Of Conscience
Reader: Imagine yourself in a place that you like: maybe at the beach, in the mountains, at a river, or somewhere where you can be alone. Picture that for a while … the different things you see, the air on your face, the sounds you can hear … relax …be at peace…in the presence of God …and of Christ. Let Him be with you in that place, sitting down beside you. Tell Him what is only between you and Him. Be as honest as you can. What’s painful in our life: the people you hurt even if you don’t mean to, the people you might use. Hear him say, ‘I do not condemn you’. Then rest for a while with Him. Relax in the friendship and forgiveness of Christ.
Reader: As a symbol of our belief that each and every one of us is gifted by the Holy Spirit, we are going to anoint each other with oil and say the following prayer. Oil is used in the sacrament for the sick as a symbol of healing and in Confirmation as a symbol of our dignity as Christians. The anointing will be done on the hand and will draw a cross. The first person will anoint the person to their right and this will be done as a chain reaction till it reaches the end.
We pray for you …..and ask that God blesses you and keeps you, strengthens you in trials, comforts you in pain and fills you with a sense of his unending love. (Play the song 'Fix You' from Coldplay.)
Reader: Lord we all long for harmony between ourselves, our nation and its peoples and for better understanding and openness amongst people of differing faiths and an end to terrorism and wars. Global peace cannot happen without peace in our own hearts, our homes, our schools and our workplaces. Let us now take some time to reflect on the Peace Prayer of St Francis. Although written many centuries ago, it is just as relevant for us today.
We will divide our group in two – A on the left and B on the right.
Reader: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
A: Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
B: Where there is injury, pardon’
A: Where there is doubt, faith;
B: Where there is despair, hope;
A: Where there is darkness, light
B: And where there is sadness, joy.
A: O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
B: To be understood, as to understand,
A: To be loved as to love;
B: For it is in giving that we receive,
A: It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
B: And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Reader: In a spirit of peace and reconciliation let us offer one another a sign of peace.
Student brings in the bowl of water and carries it to the centre of the group or to the front of the room.
Reader: ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.' John 4:13-14
Reader: Father, you have cleansed us of sin and division; you have invited us to a new life of freedom. May this water be a reminder of our baptism, when you made us your children; may it unite us in the love which flows all our lives from you and may it spread and sprinkle this love among us.
Reader or Leader sprinkles the water over the students as a reminder of the blessing of our baptism.
Lord, the grace of your forgiveness and we accept this with thanks.
May the forgiveness of your love which reaches into our depths be the forgiveness which flows from us to others who need forgiveness from us.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
If a Priest is available students could attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation when the paraliturgy is complete.
Photos: Roman Boed; CreativeCommon License