Children and the Mass by Jennifer Gladen
“DO WE HAVE TO?” That is the usual response when I tell the kids it is time to go to Sunday Mass. Every time I hear that, my heart drops. Can’t they appreciate the beauty of the Mass? Then I remind myself. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties when I fully appreciated the beauty of the Catholic Mass. Though I’ve attended Catholic School my whole life and loved God in my own way, I missed out on the wonderful liturgy we share as a community. I attended Mass, but my heart wasn’t in it.
Then one Holy Thursday I was in church. The songs were beautiful and all at once everything clicked for me. We were in Jesus’ presence. I looked around to all He went through for us. Then another thought hit me. Many Catholic children, including mine, tend to have a hard time enjoying the Mass.
For them, it’s more time that they have to sit still and listen. I didn’t want my children to waste one more Mass and ignore their relationship with God. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Every week we go through the “DO WE HAVE TO?” song and dance. If there was just a way I could get them to sit and listen.
After some thinking I’ve come up with a few ideas. The first thing I decided to do was sit as far up front as we could. I would point out and explain what the priest was doing and why he says that looong prayer before Communion. Last year my daughter and I both joined the choir. But the one trick that got them to really pay attention? I reminded them how Holy Jesus’ name is and that we should really bow our heads when ever we hear His name.
Pretty soon, I noticed the children bowing their heads when they heard Jesus’ name. While we still often go through the “DO WE HAVE TO?” dance, these tactics helped get them to listen. Only after they listen will they fully appreciate the Mass.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Gladen