Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.

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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 10:25am | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

The only tomatoes left here are hard and green, and they would hurt! I am not throwing them, for sure!

But, Anne, here are my big issues with what you describe, no matter how well it works (and please know that I am not familiar with your particular situation, and it might not fit into the scenes I describe at all...I am just posting my "vision" of the possible problems with children's liturgies):

*It makes Mass something that it is not intended to be--a time when children are separated from their families.

*Christ wanted the children with Him, and when the apostles tried to shuffle the children away so they would not be a bother, He told them to bring the children to Him in no uncertain terms.

*Removing children tells the children that the Mass is not for them. It's too hard, too serious, too grown-up. I think that lowering our expectations provides children with an excuse to remain immature. Now, I am not saying that all children can behave well in Mass (I have one who still struggles!!), but if we set the standard so low, and let them know when they are young that they might be excused, can you imagine the teens complaining that they never had to attend the whole Mass when they were little, so why should they go now?

*As I looked for specific guidelines in the GIRM on children's liturgy (and found none, but I am still looking), I came across many parish websites with photos of their children's liturgies. With a few exceptions, I see a bunch of kids in a room with a woman reading the readings for the day...including the Gospel reading, one would assume. Since it is clear that the Gospel, during Mass, must be read by a priest or deacon, a breach of this sort brings the children's liturgy most clearly outside of Mass. Or, as my orthodox brain is reminding me, it seems like a way for less-orthodox-minded people in the church to plant a seed in the minds of the children: "Why can't a woman read the Gospel, or even become a priest?" After all, if it can be done for them when they are little, why not when they are adults?

*We keep children in Mass with us for the same reason we often read aloud from books that are too advanced: We hope they will pick up something that will help them later. This is surely the most secular of reasons to keep a child in Mass, but it's true. If a child hears the Gospel read, and follows along, and hears a homily on that reading that is geared for adults, he will glean something that will make a faith-connection as he grows.

*Honestly, unless you are in that room, do you have any idea what they are being taught? I would want to know. I have heard too many well-meaning catechists say the most unorthodox things to kids...not to mention the less-trained who are simply ignorant (through no fault of their own), and share their ignorance.

OK. Those are my fears. Fortunately, I have never been to such a Mass. Don attended one in New Mexico last year. He said that there was much clapping as the children returned and presented their crafts as offerings at the altar. But what happens after Mass? Do the kids take their offerings back?

Beyond all this, we have the GIRM--General Instruction of the Roman Missal. The GIRM clearly outlines the Mass, as it must be celebrated. Innovation is outside the GIRM. I understand that there is some room for modification by the Ordinary of the diocese, but, as I see in my travels, the Order of the Mass is so greatly abused that it seems that the GIRM is ignored. A children's liturgy is just another example of liturgical abuse.

God Bless!
MacBeth in NY
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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 10:40am | IP Logged Quote 8kids4me

I think every parish here in Rochester has a children's liturgy. We rarely go to that Mass(we attend Sat. night, and older dd sings at that one), but on the rare occasions we have, my girls stay with me. They were occasionally disruptive, but no one seems to notice. We sit as close to the front as possible so they can see what is going on. I know we have a nursery as well, but I'm not sure anyone uses it. I see plenty of babies at all the Masses.

Cindy B, mama to 8 great kids, and 5 grandbabies!
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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 4:11pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

Yep, our "Family Mass" is as described above, except that instead of clapping as the children exit, the congregation is asked to raise their hand over the children and sing a song of blessing. Sigh.

In addition to other concerns, be very concerned about the division that different "Masses" cause within parishes. (Sorry, I know many of you have heard this song and dance from me before...) Because our parish is so heavily retiree, it is down right hostile for families to attend the other Masses. "Why aren't you at the Family Mass?" "Why aren't you at the Teen Mass?" I wish I were kidding.

We do the best we can in our given circumstances. The only Mass our children are currently allowed to altar serve or lector at (yes you read that correctly) is at the Family Mass. Yep, grown retired men are altar servers at the other Masses. (Good news, though, Aiden has been invited to serve at Daily Mass...a baby step victory!) So...we sit up front, keep our children with us, fold our hands at all times, discuss our concerns honestly with our children and close our eyes and pray for a gentle heart. This isn't ideal, but our parish is moving in the right direction, change takes time and hope springs eternal.


Angie Mc
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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 7:22pm | IP Logged Quote ALmom

We blithely ignore all this at our parish. Yes, one local parish invited kids out from age 5 to 5th grade and people would walk by our pew and see all our kids not budging. One child made a comment, glad I'm 6th grade now cause I don't have to worry. Our current parish invites them out and yes, yes to all MacBeth's complaints. It is always a woman who reads the gospel - and it is a dumbed down version from the Children's Lectionary. The children leave after the Gloria (through a door behind the altar area and are running from all directions to catch up with the lady leader who is processing with the Children's lectionary - though the children never quite make it into a procession of any sort). This is better than our other parish where kids were literally running from all over and going out any number of doors - amazing none got left behind. They are supposed to return right after the Creed - but what generally happens is that the kids begin drifting in during the prayer, and through the first part of the Eucharistic prayer. Everyone is climbing over everyone else all during the prayers. (Of course, this isn't much different than normal behaviour at Mass anyways as the children wander in and out all during Mass - even in the middle of consecration and they run then too coming and going and after Mass, they are running all over the altar area as well as the church). My children have literally cried because they couldn't concentrate to pray. I wonder if the idea that this is all Ok is fostered by this wandering to and from Mass for the children's church stuff. Yes,they do have silly little papers and are discussing with parents as the Eucharistic prayer and sometimes even the Consecration is being prayed. Evidently the teens and adults involved seem about as clueless as the kids about proper Mass behaviour. We've sat in front of teenagers talking with their parents for the entire Eucharistic prayer!

At our previous parish, the children's church was done at every Mass (except the life -teen Mass which we never ever would attend unless it was the only Mass in the entire 3 hour region) once per month so we couldn't avoid it entirely. At this parish, the early AM Mass is generally left alone so that is the one we attend.

A seperate issue are the Children's Liturgies which is an entire Mass. This is permitted on an experimental basis with certain restrictions, has its own texts, and rubrics, etc. I know it is allowed - but I hate it.
A lot of the daily Masses, all school Masses and Masses geared to kids use the children's lectionary (which allows for a lot more innovation like plays for the homily and other such, supposedly - they also have a dumbed down, imo, Eucharistic prayer (words of consecration are there). The few times we accidently hit a school daily Mass, my kids were so upset by the change in the Eucharistic prayer and were not even sure we were at a valid Mass until they finally heard the words of Consecration.. The children's lectionary is supposed to be used only when the vast majority of those in attendance are under the age of reason (prior to 1st Communion). Permission is granted on an experimental basis (I don't particularly care for anyone experimenting with our children). This means it really should not be used for school Masses, for First Communion Mass (yes, that has been done here and one of the reasons we always ask for First Communion at another time), etc. Now, I've gotten so befuddled because they keep skipping around as to when the daily Mass is a school Mass and we keep hitting the one and my dc don't care to go to our parish for daily Mass anymore because of it. The main reason given for allowing this is for an opportunity to gear things to the children so they can understand better. I don't see any evidence here that this experiment has been much of a success. I kindly decline to be a part of it.

No tomatoes at anyone with better experiences - but I do agree with others who say even done well it is not something we would like at all.

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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 10:26pm | IP Logged Quote mom2mpr

You ladies have enlightened me, a lot.
I do still have some learning to do--never heard of GIRM and will check into it. We are always learning and this is part of my journey-to have people direct me to more resources to learn the faith.
I have lots of comments to make but can't think of a way to make them in this environment without them being taken as defensive--or the wrong way.
The one thing I need to say is:
I try to make sure that ds learns the "right" things but in reality, he might get "wrong" information from anyone--could be a priest, me, a neighbor, his father, grandpa, a friend;gosh, we don't all know everything. We do the best we can and I don't have the feeling anyone leading these Childrens Liturgies are out to teach our children incorrectly. There is reverence and respect, and if it was like some of the scenarios you all mention my kid would not be there either.
Thank you all for the great discussion and information (and not throwing tomatoes
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Posted: Oct 17 2006 at 11:33pm | IP Logged Quote teachingmom

rm4mrfrus wrote:
And is there some movement to not call it CCD anymore or is that just another weird thing in my diocese/parish? We do not participate in CCD and never really have so I don't know if I just missed a change in wording or what. But again it irks me to ask a kid about CCD and have them say "what?". Even some of the adults don't recognize the term.

I don't know the exact history of this. But I do know that I grew up with the term CCD in the 70's and 80's. When I became a DRE/Youth Minister in the 90's, the term was no longer being used. Even in my pretty orthodox diocese (Arlington), the term "Religious Education" is universally used now. I don't think it's a bad thing at all. But I did have to get used to using the newer term.

And for what it's worth, my parish has a Children's Liturgy of the Word during one particular Mass during the school year. This is not the "Children's Church" you described. The children leave only for the Liturgy of the Word and come back without being disruptive and are present for the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist. I believe they listen to the readings and gospel and have a short lesson. Yes, it bothers me too that a lay person reads the gospel. It's not the fact that it might be a woman reading the gospel that bothers me. It's the fact that it is not a priest or deacon.

But, my pastor is VERY orthodox. He does his homework and wouldn't do anything that wasn't liturgically approved. That said, my family chooses not to participate for the same reasons that many of you here have outlined. Personally, I wish my parish didn't have this option. But I just wanted to throw my parish experience out there to show that it's not only "liberal" parishes that have Children's Liturgy of the Word.

~Irene (Mom to 6 girls, ages 7-19)
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