From a reader:
We recently moved to a new area, where the parish encourages children to leave Mass after the Gloria for a ‘liturgy’ and returns them after the intercessions. I have not permitted my children to leave Mass, but when I’ve expressed concern the answer is “Well, the bishops have approved it, and children don’t understand the gospel so this helps them get more out of Mass.” My ‘spidey sense’ is tingling on this one. Help???
I have heard of this sort of thing, but I have no experience with it. I believe the thought behind having children go out, and in the some places even adult catechumens, is inspired by the ancient, and I mean ancient, practice of having the non-baptised leave the church before the Eucharistic part of Mass began. There was and still is a distinction made about the “Mass of the Catechumens” (the readings, etc.) and the “Mass of the Faithful” (Creed and all that follows). Doing this today, however, strikes me as a kind of archeologizing of process of conversion.
Since in the case above I don’t know whether the “children” involved have made their first Holy Communion or not, I don’t know what to say. If they have made their First Communion, I really don’t see why they should be sent out.
Also, I really don’t like that whole “get more out of Mass” argument. This is very shifty ground. “Get more” what? “Get more” in what sense? Are they being trained to think of Mass is a didactic moment? Are they being taught that the important thing to attend to at Mass is that which can be easily understood? Does their removal from Mass weaken or reinforce a sense of the importance of the sacrifical dimension of the Mass of the Faithful?
At this point I invite those who have experience with this sort of thing to chime in.