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Children at Mass

Is there such a thing as a Children’s Mass? While some parishes do Masses geared more toward children, the very nature of our liturgy is one of community. Early Christians welcomed children into their liturgical celebrations as part of a vibrant community celebrating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Children were led to grow in their faith as they participated along with the adult community. Of course, children do not have the same understanding of liturgy that adults have. “In fact, even in daily life children do not always understand their experiences with adults…It cannot therefore be expected of the liturgy that everything must always be intelligible to them.” Directory for Masses With Children – Introduction #2.
Obviously, though, a challenge remains about how to actively involve our children in the Mass. What can parents do? Prepare for Mass by talking about what will happen there. Help your child make the Sign of the Cross with holy water on entering the church. Show them how to genuflect, giving honor to God. Sit near the front. Help them find the prayers and songs, and encourage them to pray and sing along. Have them put some of their own money in the collection basket. Be ready to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Assist them in offering a handshake of peace to those around them, and at Communion time, let them come forward with you—if they have not yet received Holy Eucharist—to get a blessing. If they are receiving Communion, remind them how to fold their hands and prepare to receive Jesus and to take time to really talk to him when they return to their pews. Stay until the end of Mass; leaving early says there is something more important than what you are doing right now. (There really isn’t!). In the end, while bringing your children to Mass can be challenging at times, what you get out of Mass is the joy of passing your faith on to them. That’s what you signed up for when you became a Catholic parent.