Academic Mass

The Academic Mass is traditionally celebrated as a Red Mass (a Mass of the Holy Spirit with red vestments) at the beginning of the school year.

It marks the Ascensio Scholarum (the promotion of students from one year group or class to the next), a characteristic feature of Jesuit schools from the beginning, now universal in education systems of all kinds.

In Jesuit schools, it is traditional to have the solemn prayer of Dedication of Studies at the Academic Mass (or alternatively on a feast of Our Lady in the first term). A new prayer has been written to reflect the Jesuit Pupil Profile. Our Lady is also traditionally invoked in the Dedication of Studies as she is towards the end of this prayer. If it can be done, it is a powerful symbol to have the whole pupil body read the prayer together rather than just the priest. If it is read in this way, it is good to print the prayer in sense lines as it is set out here - in this way everybody keeps more or less together.
Prayer of Dedication of Studies

Suggestions for Celebrating the Academic Mass

  1. Have an introduction which gathers the school community together and articulates the purpose of this celebration.
  2. Have a procession in which symbols of the school's life and work are brought up to the altar (either at the beginning of the Mass or with the bread and wine at the offertory procession).
  3. Include a prayer of Dedication of Studies in the liturgy.
  4. Make sure that each sector of the school community has some explicit role in the liturgy: pupils of different ages (head boy/girl, a new pupil), teachers, support staff, a governor, the head teacher, the chaplain.

Mass Texts

The Mass texts might be chosen from any of the three votive Masses of the Holy Spirit (Roman Missal p.1404), or from the Mass at the Beginning of the Civil Year (p.1352), or from the Mass for the Sanctification of Human Labour (p.1353), or from a combination of these. All are likely to need adaptation.

Some texts are suggested below, including unofficial alternatives which are offered in the spirit of adaptation for Masses with children (cf. Directory on Masses with Children n.50-51).

Many schools have the custom of bringing up symbols of school work and life, either at the beginning of the Mass or at the offertory. Some alternative prayers to accompany this are also suggested.

Please adapt these prayers according to circumstances, and perhaps especially for primary age children.

Mass texts in Word format

Opening Prayer
(from Mass at the Beginning of the Civil Year)

O God,
who are without beginning or end,
the source of all creation,
grant us so to live this new [school] year,
whose beginning we dedicate to you,
that we may abound in good things
and be resplendent with works of holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternative Opening Prayer

as we gather at the beginning of this new school year,
we ask you to send your Holy Spirit among us:
the Spirit of knowledge and wisdom,
that we may be guided and enlightened in our studies;
the Spirit of good judgement,
that we may make good choices and strong friendships;
the Spirit of courage,
that we may stand up for what is right
and be confident to make the best of new opportunities.
May our lives together this year be filled with your Spirit,
as we follow the way of your Son, Jesus Christ;
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternative Prayers for the Presentation of Gifts

[as symbols of work and study are offered]
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation,
who gather us together as a community in the name of Jesus, your Son.
Today we bring symbols of the work we will do this year:
may we discover more about your universe,
about the peoples who inhabit the world,
and about ourselves,
finding you in all things.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.

[as work of sport, play, creative art and leisure are offered]
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation,
who through your goodness give us health and friendship,
and the enjoyment of life.
May we always use our talents to bring joy to others
and glory to your name.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.

[as symbols of school charities, service activities, and other groups are offered]
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
who call us to be men and women for others,
and to work for a world of peace and justice.
May our minds and hearts,
commit us to works of charity and service,
making us signs of the love of Jesus Christ for his people everywhere.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.

[as the bread and wine are offered]
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received the bread and wine we offer you,
work of human hands and fruit of the vine:
it will become for us the bread of life and our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed be God for ever.

Offertory Prayer
(from Mass of Holy Spirit)

May the fire of the Spirit, O Lord,
sanctify the sacrificial gifts offered in your sight
just as it enkindled the hearts of the disciples of your Son,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

(from Mass of Holy Spirit)

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For you bestow gifts suited to every season
and guide the governing of your Church in wonderful ways.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
you come unfailingly to her aid,
so that with a heart always subject to you
she may never fail to seek your help in time of trouble
nor cease to give you thanks in time of joy,
through Christ our Lord.
And so, in company with the choirs of angels,
we praise you, and with joy we proclaim:
Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Prayer after Communion
(from Mass of Holy Spirit)

Lord our God,
who have been please to nourish us with heavenly food,
pour, we pray, the delights of your Spirit
into the recesses of our heart,
that what we have devoutly received in time,
we may possess as a gift for eternity.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Alternative Prayer after Communion

in this eucharist you give us food for our spirits
and blessings for our lives.
In everything we do this year
may we be mindful of the good you call us to do,
the school community of faith, hope and love, you call us to build,
and the studies by which we become more learned and wise,
for your greater glory.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Suggested Readings

1 Peter 4:10-11 (good stewards responsible for different graces . . . for God's glory)
1 Corinthians 3:9-13, 16 (let each takes care how he builds . . . you are God's temple)
1 corinthians 12:31-13:13 (I am going to show you a better way . . . the greatest of these is love)
Matthew 25:14-30 (parable of the talents)

See readings for the beginning of the civil year (Lectionary Vol.III p.623) and for the blessing of man's labour (Lectionary Vol.III p.635) for more ideas.

Bidding Prayers

Let us pray for [name of school]. May it be a community of learning, growth and peace where each person is respected, encouraged, and celebrated as a son or daughter of God our Father.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us pray for all those called to be teachers of the young. May we/they live our vocation with integrity and care; committed to deepening our own learning, and practised in the art of teaching our pupils.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us pray for the pupils and families of our school community. May each pass through this coming year with the blessing and protection of God our Father; may each one grow in the image and likeness of the God of love; and may those in particular difficulty or need be especially blessed.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us pray for all those who are denied education. May those who, though war and strife, poverty or social prejudice, are prevented from attending school and receiving the education through which we grow into adulthood, be blessed and civil leaders made aware of their obligations.
Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.


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