Letter from Fr. Allen: Kids at Mass - February 7, 2019



Dear Friends,

There was a bit of a kerfuffle on Twitter last week (it's what Twitter is for) regarding an article by a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who argued that young children shouldn't be in Mass, because they can't understand what's going on - especially the homily - and they make noise, which makes it harder both the preach and to hear the homily.

This is not a point of view I'm at all sympathetic with. The Mass is about Jesus. Jesus present with us in the blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood is what Mass is for. And Jesus said to his disciples, "suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." The Mass is for children (and all the rest of us, too).

I know that on some Sundays some of the little ones in our midst are particularly vocal, but for me - well, to be honest, first of all, I hardly ever notice it. Really. But sometimes I do, and sometimes parents will apologize after Mass because their children, they felt, were excessively loud. But for me, the sound of children crying, shouting, and singing in our pews is the sound of life, of growth, of God's abundant blessing on our little newborn community of Catholics. It fills me with gratitude.

Of course we want our children to grow and mature in their understanding of and participation in the Mass, but parents, who know their children best, are the ones best to determine how that happens. Ashley has generally sat up in the galleries with our children (who are of course impeccably well behaved), and I know a lot of art gets created up there during the homily. Other parents find their children engage better when they sit right up front and can watch the action around the altar. Some may do better where they can see the choir and organ. Some little ones need to be walked around, some taken outside to let a little steam out. Whatever! 

So this is simply meant to be a word a of encouragement and gratitude - to all of you, and not least to the little ones who perfect our praise with their coos and shouts. Keep it up!

[Here] you will see an article by Notre Dame theologian Timothy O'Malley, "Mass is for Kids," written in response to the Twitter kerfuffle, and which lays out a "kid friendly" theology of the liturgy and of our liturgical life together. I urge you to click through to read the whole thing. You will find your own experience of the liturgy enriched, and you will also notice it tracks well with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model of children's formation we embrace at Corpus Christi.

God bless you,
Fr Allen

The Liturgy is for (Little) Kids

written by Timothy P. O'Malley for Church Life Journal
published on January 31, 2019

The Liturgy Is for (Little) Kids

"The young child is looking at the altar because the young child is always looking, perceiving, and imitating. No, the young child is not able to comprehend the sermon that is given or the particular meaning of the opening collect or why there is a pelican or Lamb on the altar. But the young child is discovering in the act of Eucharistic worship according to his or her capacity that this act really matters. The child perceives the facial features of adults, who are ideally engaged in contemplative wonder at the Eucharistic mystery. They hear the reverberant notes of the organ and they see and smell incense. They are learning the very meaning of what it means to be a liturgical creature even as they sleep in their mother’s or father’s arms during the Eucharistic liturgy."  Read the whole thing!