Posted December 30th, 2019 by CLMrf and filed in View From the Pew

By Robert Fontana

sad little girlIt is the Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family.  There are parents here with small   children.  Once again the parish misses the opportunity to draw these little cherubs into the     drama of the Mass. Children, from little ones to teens, who are not coloring or playing with toys,  are bored.  Nothing is directed to them.  It is completely an adult-oriented experience  – obscure hymns are sung interspersed with familiar carols; a lovely chant for the Psalm response; a good enough homily on imperfect families and a proper “fear of the Lord;” the Mass itself with three long readings, spoken creed, and a long Eucharistic prayer, and prayers prayed with no reference to children.  No child is a cantor, lector, musician, or usher (though one is an altar server).

The only moment in the Mass that engages children is the sign of peace.  Really?

And we want children to grow up believing that the Eucharist is the center of Catholic life?  Well, it is not happening.  Our failure to direct the Mass towards children is one of the problems.  If one-fourth of people attending Mass were hearing-impaired or Spanish-speaking, would we not provide interpreters so that they could understand what was going on?  Look around!  Children make up a sizable group at our Sunday Masses, and few clergy or liturgy committees are prepared to speak to them.  What to do?  Here are my thoughts; PLEASE SHARE YOURS WITH ME.  I’LL PRINT THEM!

* Celebrate the children being at church by inviting all children in attendance to join the entrance procession.  Also, have the children bring up canned foods for St. Vincent de Paul during the Offertory Procession (canned food can be provided if necessary).

* Some parishes do a “Liturgy of the Word for Children” in which the children are escorted out of the church to another room to have the Scriptures read and taught at their level by a catechist.  They return to the assembly during the Offertory.

mass with children* Priest presiders must learn how to talk to children and draw them into the Mass. A wise old Mexican bishop said, “When I speak to children, everyone listens.  When I speak to the adults, I lose the children and some of the adults.”  Include our young members in the opening and closing comments.  Use the Eucharistic prayer for children.  If there is no Liturgy of the Word for Children then address the homily them!  Speak in a way that they will understand, and use props if necessary.  And if the priest/deacon preacher is not very good at this bring in a lay person who is to assist.

* The choir / music leader should have a repertoire of children’s songs, some of which include hand motions.  Children love to sing with their entire bodies.

* Teach the children the hand motions to one part of the Mass, such as the Lamb of God.  Have them stand up in place and lead this prayer for the assembly.  This would draw them into the Mass.

* Include children as ministers in the Mass: confirmed youth as Eucharistic ministers; others interspersed with adults as lectors, acolytes, ushers, and greeters.

* One priest I know invites the children to come up to the altar at the end of Mass so that he can give them a blessing with baptismal water (holy water).

DSCF0465Children are the Church NOW, and not simply the future Church.  Sunday Mass is their primary class of   religious instruction.  If Mass has no connection to their lives, the message to them is that the Catholic faith has no connection to their lives.

We are boring our children out of the Church. We can and must do better.

Please post your thoughts on how we might include children in the Mass.


Celebrate Children on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus

feast of the presentationThe Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, Candlemas, is a wonderful time to kick off a new inclusion of children in the Sunday Liturgy.  Make this a “bring your children/grandchildren to church day.”

Use some of the suggestions above.  Have a children’s parade with balloons and banners (rather than a procession) to welcome the children in the assembly.

Keep the nativity set up until Feb 2.  During the homily, have the children process with the priest to the nativity set to gather the Christ child and bring him to the baptismal font to rededicate all the children to God.  Give them a good blessing with baptismal water!  Include a parish baptism of a baby if possible.

May all the children know they are absolutely loved and welcomed.  They are the Church…NOW!