QUAERITUR: ad libbing during Masses with children

From a priest:

I am an associate pastor and am charged with celebrating Masses in our elementary schools. For these Masses, the pastor has taken the liberty to modify the prayers (collect, prayer over the offerings, post communion prayer) and the Scripture readings in order to put them in what he calls a “child-friendly” format “so that the children will understand better”.  [The cunning ol’ ‘let’s make Mass a didactic moment’ ploy.] Whenever I approach him discreetly concerning my apprehensions, he always says, “Much leeway is allowed in Masses for children“.

Do you know of any specific instructions from the CDWS or other Roman congregations that authorise the priest to modify texts of the liturgy ad libitum in the case of Masses celebrated for young children? I have found nothing to this effect.

My pastor’s directives are obliging me to go against my conscience, since I am a firm believer of “Say the black, do the red,” [Excellent.] even in the case of Masses with young children. Am I being too rigid here?

Thank you for your excellent ministry via your blog, Father. I will offer tonight’s Compline for your intentions.

Unfortunately, the Directory for Masses with Children appears to still be in effect.  That said, the adaptions permitted in this directory do not go as far as your pastor thinks.

The modification of texts permitted in article 51 of the directory don’t seem to permit  ad libitum freestyle – the liturgical interpretive dance, as it were.  Sadly, it does permit a bit of latitude.

The exhortations of the Directory to help the children to grow up and understand “adult” language are often lost in the excitement of being able to ad lib.

I am pretty sure that most readers here who grew up Catholic in the dark times of the 80’s and 90’s will tell you that dumbing down the prayers is silly.  An expert whom I consulted when preparing this response quipped:

“Any liturgy that was dumbed down for us kiddies ended up being a topic of derision on the playground after lunch. The ‘cool’ adults weren’t the ones that talked down to us, but the ones that treated us and our expanding intellects respectfully.”

My own experience of apprehending difficult language as a child was founded on the reception of LPs of Shakespeare plays when I was 7 years old.  I had no idea what they were talking about at first, but I was fascinated by what I heard.  After a while, I could follow pretty well.  That was pretty good preparation for Talk Like Shakespeare Day, as it turns out, which is coming up soon.

Apropos dumbing down the language of worship and Shakespeare, a few years ago for the aforementioned Day, I jotted this, which I share.  You will recognize the dramatis personae as being involved with the preparation of tne new, corrected translation now happily in force:

[Enter ICEL translator, Bp. Trautman, Archbp. Roche, minions]

A word most horrid to mine ear, my Lord.
Damnéd word, unspeakable, unspoken.
How come we now this madness to propose?
“ineffable” in translations new?
Wouldst fleer at faithful Joe and Catholic Mary?
Wouldst mock? Wouldst challenge them to think?
Wouldst cause dull clerks in pulpits high
to make the bepew’d dullards sit and stare?
Trout do so, and all unwary fish
when hookéd up from forth their lazing stream.
They gape upon the bank for lack of dew!
Thick they are, unlearn’d in things liturgic.
[Aside] As His Grace of Erie be, fisher dour and cunning.
It is a thing to fleer and scorn.
Fie! Fie!
Villian, cur, mongrel! Dumb it down!
Hearst thou my meaning, sirrah, further down?
Must I come the situation to explain,
and in dynamic rendering tear one new?
“Ineffable”, archaic and toooo haaarrrd
shall come nor under roof, nor pages smudge.
Our bindings shall not see its like this time.
O tomes, our tomes most profitable.
Most dear.
I get the point, and swear, by all that’s dear
my office for to keep and thee obey
that word repugnant to thine ear
shall come not books to mar or ambo stain.
Let no faithful sheep ensorcel’d be
by words arcane or ever, forfend, thoughts.
Fear not, good my Lord of Leeds. But let us haste.
That word “ineffable”, as dew,
Shall sully not approvéd versions new.

[Exeunt omnes]

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dnicoll says:

    My son at 10 discovered Shakespeare in the original, and cannot understand why anyone would want to dumb down language like that. A straw poll if his compatriots proved that they preferred the old language – they liked the rhythm, the ‘flowery-ness’ of it, the poetry, the musicality of it. Leading my son to exclaim “how can anyone live without Shakespeare?”

    The liturgy is beautiful – and children love beautiful things. If anything, INCREASE the pomp. Give them bells and smells. They’ll thank you for it.

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    Father, that was brilliant.

  3. wmeyer says:

    The exhortations of the Directory to help the children to grow up and understand “adult” language are often lost in the excitement of being able to ad lib.

    I don’t get it. I would think that for a priest, the excitement would (and should) be in “saying the black and doing the red”, in following centuries of tradition. Moreover, I think that, were I a priest, I would be apprehensive to the point of immobility, should I consider introducing my own little embellishments.

    What part of “rite” is being misunderstood?

  4. Peggy R says:

    Masses with parish school children are those with the most liturgical abuses I have ever seen.

  5. pookiesmom says:

    Don’t recall any ‘dumbed-down’ Latin Masses as a child in the 50s and early 60s–we attended a holy sacrifice of the Mass that was the same for everyone! Nor did we expect a different Mass…and the rest as they say is “history”. Didn’t know we had such a great thing til we lost it. Our 6 kids all attended the children’s Masses in their parochial school experience and often felt Father was talking down to them or that the songs were silly.

  6. plemmen says:

    Thou doth makest me snorf Mystic Monk coffee through my nose … a venial sin to your tally! (for coffee abuse of course)

  7. Choirmaster says:


    I see your point, but I wonder what the reality of the situation is. Consider a priest that shares your sentiments. What other forces are acting on his motives to “say the black” rather than make it “meeeeeaningful” to the people?

    At a time, now long since past, I actually was a Choirmaster employed in a mainstream Catholic parish. In discussing with the Pastor (more or less a “say the black” kind of guy) the reasons why he, ordinarily so down-to-earth, would promote–much less tolerate–the terrible General Intercessions and children’s pageantry and all he gave a very unsettling answer! Apparently, the minions and spies of the Chancery Vicars (not to mention the lay busybodies) would apply political pressure if they got reports that he was doing nothing more than “saying the black and doing the red”. That is, he was working almost on an “ad libitum” quota! If the General Intercessions at his parish were not sappy and topical enough, or if he did not make little asides and changes to the words to make things meaningful and relevant (to the non-existant and disengaged children, no doubt), he would be firmly ensconced as a life-long nursing-home chaplain.

    That’s just one side, of course. The other is that a priest with a “say the black” attitude probably would have never made it through the seminary.

  8. wmeyer says:


    Silly me. And here I thought the real concern should be with the souls of those in the pews, not the ego of the priest.

    I realize too well the damage done since the Council–I was in high school during its work, and in college when the Latin Mass was from the churches untimely torn. But 40+ years on, it’s astonishing how little has been learned by those who were determined to experiment. Much like their fellows in the government, and especially in education, there seems never to be a thought of reverting to what was in place before an experiment failed. Nooooo, but on to the next bold idea, however foul.

  9. Bryan Boyle says:

    When I was a kid (that seems so long ago, but not really…), the pastor of St. Peter’s in New Brunswick NJ was a stately, very proper Monsignor, who did not ‘dumb down’ the Mass or talk down to us somewhat rowdy altar boys. He maintained his dignity at all times, and expected us to do the same, never coming ‘down to our level’, but expected us to emulate as much as we could his example of service at the altar. And I don’t know one server (or member of the parish, for that matter, even after all these years…) who did not respect him.

    Kids need adults to ACT like adults…they already know, innately, that that’s what they will become, and so they want to know how to be adult themselves. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…and kids, believe it or not, since they are so open to growth, are able to distinguish between someone who is sincere and someone who is acting like something they’re not and being condescending towards them in an attempt to ‘fit in’.

    So…imho, if we want them to grow in their faith…it really does not do any good to dumb it down, does it?

  10. Alice says:

    I think that one of two things should happen in the Latin Church for the good of the liturgy: Either require that all parish priests be married with several small children at the time of ordination or give mothers of small children veto power over any proposed changes to the liturgy. Priests and sisters just don’t understand how much easier it is to keep children occupied with chanting and incense and beautiful vestments and the like! Prostrations are nice too, but I’ll take genuflecting for the Incarnatus est and the Signs of the Cross at the end Gloria and Creed, just to keep with Latin tradition.

  11. lucy says:

    Satan has done a bang up job using God’s priests and nuns and lay folk. Thanks be to God, things are changing…

  12. AnnAsher says:

    This problem of dumbing things down for children is a plague in the Church and in American Education.

  13. persyn says:

    Loved the parting touch. Exeunt omnes. Brought back drama class from oh, so long ago.

  14. Choirmaster says:

    @wmeyer: LOL! Silly you! But, seriously, these Vicars in my diocese are very scary. The priest I was referring to was a rather “new” priest and on his firs assignment as Pastor. But it’s not just the young and/or new priests, it’s all priests in the diocese. They are all beaten-down and broken men! Our last bishop really did a number on them and the whole situation cries out for vengeance and reparation. When I look at it like that, it’s very easy to forgive them.

    That bishop has since moved on to a more auspicious diocese and a pretty red hat, and by my account continues to abuse and neglect his priests in the most scandalous ways.

  15. wmeyer says:

    @Choirmaster: My bad. I make my living using logic, and keep wanting to apply it to life. I’m certainly old enough to know better.

  16. inara says:

    This immediately came to mind:

    St Anthony being at one time at Rimini, where there were a great number of heretics, and wishing to lead them by the light of faith into the way of truth, preached to them for several days, and reasoned with them on the faith of Christ and on the Holy Scriptures. They not only resisted his words, but were hardened and obstinate, refusing to listen to him.

    At last St Anthony, inspired by God, went down to the sea-shore, where the river runs into the sea, and having placed himself on a bank between the river and the sea, he began to speak to the fishes as if the Lord had sent him to preach to them, and said: “Listen to the word of God, O ye fishes of the sea and of the river, seeing that the faithless heretics refuse to do so.”

    No sooner had he spoken these words than suddenly so great a multitude of fishes, both small and great, approached the bank on which he stood, that never before had so many been seen in the sea or the river. All kept their heads out of the water, and seemed to be looking attentively on St Anthony’s face; all were ranged in perfect order and most peacefully, the smaller ones in front near the bank, after them came those a little bigger, and last of all, were the water was deeper, the largest.

    At these words the fish began to open their mouths, and bow their heads, endeavouring as much as was in their power to express their reverence and show forth their praise.

    St Anthony, seeing the reverence of the fish towards their Creator, rejoiced greatly in spirit, and said with a loud voice: “Blessed be the eternal God; for the fishes of the sea honour him more than men without faith, and animals without reason listen to his word with greater attention than sinful heretics.”

  17. Widukind says:

    Fr. Z.: excellent dialogue. Shall we see more of this ilk from time to time?

    The dumber you make the language, the dimmer you make the hearer.

    This past Christmas, for my nieces and nephews I put together a 40-some
    page lexicon of different words, having come across them in my reading
    and study, and which I thought ought to be shared for their beauty and for
    their wit. Needless to say, this gift was a hit, escpecially for the lower grade
    students among them. They had fun pronouncing them, tossing them about
    as epitaths, and discovering new meanings. The one word that became a
    niece’s most favored was “carbuncle”. She was using it days after Christmas.

  18. Chatto says:

    A little unfair to my Bishop (not Archbishop!), don’t you think, Father? After all, he is the President of the same ICEL which has just rendered the new translation so many of us a grateful for. Did this translation happen in spite of him? If so, you should tell the Liverpudlians, many of whom (including my Mum’s parish priest) are dreading the prospect of having such a liturgical conservative as their next Archbishop.

  19. priests wife says:

    IMHO- NO ‘dumbing down’ for the kids BUT priests can make sure that their homily is not overly long- not babyish- but a bit more organized- bulletpoint style to keep his points very clear

    in a parish school, kids can be prepared by practicing the music before hand…and I might be overly traditional here- how about some of the girls helping arrange flowers for the altar, clean before (boys organize books, etc afterwards), etc, etc- any true participation that isn’t a distraction to the celebration of the Mass

  20. BobP says:

    I don’t see the bid deal. Any English in the Mass has already dumbed it down. [Hmmm….] And if you can’t follow the English, get a dictionary. Or go online and search for all that archaic stuff.

  21. PhilipNeri says:

    The battle against liturgical abuses in Masses for children was lost before it began. You simply cannot convince teachers/parents/aides that the kids should assist at a regular no-dumb stuff Mass. Believe me, I’ve tried. All I got was incredulous glares and condescending sighs, “But, Father, we’ve been doing [insert goofy abuse here] for 20 years under four pastors!!!” Thanks, former pastors.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  22. Peggy R says:

    I the 70s, I was in grade school. The novus ordo, such as it was, was celebrated by the book, often chanted by the pastor, already a gray-haired man. We prayed the confiteor as well. Our school masses were 5 days a week, no homily. No offertory music or responsorial music, but processional, communion and recessional hymns yes. These were 30-40 minute masses. Everything was by the book until a fairly young priest was assigned as Assoc Pastor. He had ideas of guitars at mass, each class having a separate special mass by itself once a month, all gathering around the altar for the eucharistic prayer, handholding for Lord’s prayer. But, I was there for only a couple years of that. N.O according to Hoyle is my primary childhood memory. Then I came back to our diocese as an adult–no daily masses, all guitar and bongos, hand-holding, lots of music, weird additions here and there. I was subject to a skit by the principal and some teachers in lieu of a homily; once an ode to MLK after communion. I don’t fight the battle. It is good our children are in public school. I avoid school masses. I am one for whom just a by the book N.O. would be satisfying–though I do appreciate the EF as well, of course.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    A couple years ago at Christmas (the 6 PM Children’s Mass) we reverted from the Lectionary for Children to the standard lectionary. At least in the case of Christmas, the standard lectionary reading was much easier to understand. So for me that cast a pale of doubt on the Children’s Lectionary. We are still using it for CLW, but I don’t know if I’m a true believer in the Children’s Lectionary anymore. (Maybe the children’s lectionary was another money-maker for the liturgical book publishers, not unlike the current printings of the Vox Clara 2010 text.)

    Assuming we had a viable translation of scripture for the lectionary (assuming a lot) I would rather imprint in the minds of the very young the same words that they will be hearing twenty years down the road.

    I don’t think the language of the bible is so difficult that it needs to be simplified for children.

    Of course this was a much more viable sentiment when the lectionary conformed to a scholarly acceptable translation (such as the NAB prior to whatever it is we have now).

    Generally what we do here is we have CLW at one of the three masses each weekend through the academic year, so most of the children ages 4 through 8 have an opportunity occasionally for CLW, but they usually are with the entire community, so they have a little bit of both and are not deprived of either. Seems like a good balance.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    We are in complete agreement! When I was an itty-bitty, the purpose of Sunday School was to lead us through any hard bits, and we were all quite proud of being able to explain the hard words.
    And arguably, since I was Episcopalian a half-century ago and they were still using Cranmer’s 17th-century prayerbook at the time, it was much harder for us then.

  25. To the unnamed vicar…

    My advice is to be humble and mild, and pray the prayers in the Missal as they are. Your pastor can say what he likes, but he cannot make you alter the prayers in the Missal. But if he really is insisting, then it behooves you to be as mild as possible. I don’t know the status of the Eucharistic Prayers for Children; if they are allowed, you aren’t acting against conscience if you use them; but you aren’t out of line if you decline to use them. My advice is to use the 2nd or 3rd prayer, and pray it slowly. (Actually, I think the Roman Canon is best for children, because it has so many interesting things happening during it: curious names and more physical movement. The children have more interesting things to see and hear in it.)

    As far as the readings…if the pastor is arranging for alternate readings…that is a problem. There is a children’s lectionary which is approved, perhaps you can “compromise” with that–in which case you can have a clear conscience in using it.

    My point is, that while you may–in your own judgment–find fault with these options, you are not doing wrong by deferring to your pastor, or to higher authorities, on some matters. When you are a pastor, then you can exercise your authority and say, “it will be as follows….”

  26. Father Z:

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed your Shakespearean pericope. I laughed till I cried. Thank you! [You are numbered among the most intelligent of men.]

  27. NoTambourines says:

    I’m pleased to say this posting actually brings back fond memories of some great homilies I heard in my Catholic school (As one priest ended a homily I still think about decades later: “Whatever you’re doing, if you’re not doing it to get to Heaven, you’re wasting your time.”). We did do the gather-round-the-altar thing in younger grades, and I think it was more of a distraction to look around rather than focus on the altar.

    I often have to catch a school Mass these days to fulfill Mass attendance on a Holy Day, and I rather enjoy those homilies. I figure God has His reasons that I’m hearing a particular homily at a particular Mass.

    Fr. Martin Fox mentioned the Roman Canon above, and it’s true. I’ve inherited from my dad (once an altar boy in the ’40s and ’50s) a delight in hearing “Linus, Cletus, Clement, and Sixtus.” There’s also education that takes place through internalizing repeated hearings of the Eucharistic Prayer — reason #19736 for a good, solid translation.

  28. jhayes says:

    “My advice is to be humble and mild, and pray the prayers in the Missal as they are. Your pastor can say what he likes, but he cannot make you alter the prayers in the Missal.”

    The Directory for Masses with Children goes into quite a lot of detail about differences between the normal Mass and a Mass attended primarily by children. There are 55 sections to the Directory, so I have quoted just a few below.

    In addition to these, see Sections 38 to 54 for modifications to the parts of the Mass

    22. The principles of active and conscious participation are in a sense even more significant for Masses celebrated with children. Every effort should therefore be made to increase this participation and to make it more intense. For this reason as many children as possible should have special parts in the celebration: for example,; preparing the place and the altar (see no. 29), acting as cantor (see no. 24), singing in a choir, playing musical instruments (see no. 32), proclaiming the readings (see nos. 24 and 47), responding during the homily (see no. 48), reciting the intentions of the general intercessions, bringing the gifts to the altar, and performing similar activities in accord with the usage of various peoples (see no. 34).

    To encourage participation, it will sometimes be helpful to have several additions, for example, the insertion of motives for giving thanks before the priest begins the dialogue of the preface.

    In all this, it should be kept in mind that external activities will be fruitless and even harmful if they do not serve the internal participation of the children. Thus religious silence has its importance even in Masses with children (see no. 37). The children should not be allowed to forget that all the forms of participation reach their high point in Eucharistic Communion, when the body and blood of Christ are received as spiritual nourishment. [21]

    23. It is the responsibility of the priest who celebrates with children to make the celebration festive, familial, and meditative. [22] Even more than in Masses with adults, the priest is the one to create this kind of attitude, which depends on his personal preparation and his manner of acting and speaking with others.

    The priest should be concerned above all about the dignity, clarity, and simplicity of his actions and gestures. In speaking to the children he should express himself so that he will be easily understood, while avoiding any childish style of speech.

    The free use of introductory comments [23] will lead children to a genuine liturgical participation, but these should be more than mere explanatory remarks.

    It will help him to reach the hearts of the children if the priest sometimes expresses the invitation in his own words, for example, at the penitential rite, the prayer over the gifts, the Lord’s Prayer, the sign of peace, and communion.

    24. Since the Eucharist is always the action of the entire ecclesial community, the participation of at least some adults is desirable. These should be present not as monitors but as participants, praying with the children and helping them to the extent necessary.

    With the consent of the pastor or rector of the church, one of the adults may speak to the children after the gospel, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself to the mentality of children. In this matter the norms soon to be issued by the Congregation for the Clergy should be observed.

    Even in Masses with children attention is to be paid to the diversity of ministries so that the Mass may stand out clearly as the celebration of the community. [24] For example, readers and cantors, whether children or adults, should be employed. In this way a variety of voices will keep the children from becoming bored.


  29. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Please God, please make children’s Masses go away. Please. Please PLEASE!!!!

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    Good grief Fr. Z., did you WRITE that? If so, that is BRILLIANT! Really, just brilliant.
    It is prose, it is poetry, it is beautiful and alliterative. With all sincerity, I am blown away by it.

    Sir, thou art truly a wordsmith!

  31. Kathleen10 says:

    There’s so much to like, but “and in dynamic rendering tear one new” is my favorite, I do believe. But I will read it many times, and may ask questions. This deserves some consideration.

  32. jflare says:

    As I’ve been reading this entry and ensuing comments, I’ve been trying to remember my own childhood and teen-age years. Did I ever see a “kid’s Mass” being altered as some have suggested? Well, I don’t recall the particular unfortunate difficulties that others have mentioned. I DO remember being puzzled that no one ever requested servers or a serious choir. Given that we had four parishes in town, I recall thinking they could surely find a FEW of us that had SOME background in either role.

    On the whole, I’d say the efforts to “cater to our age group” backfired BIG.
    ..And it makes sense why: There must surely have been at least a small number of us kids who had heard an adult choir sing music in 4 parts for Mass for at least 6 years leading up to Jr High. My home parish did THAT all the time. Nor can I be the only one who had served for adult Mass for at least 1 year since 4th grade. My home parish had caused THAT to happen too.

    On the whole, I guess I’d say this: If you’re wanting to cater to a teen-ager, someone who likely wishes to behave like an adult of at least 21, I think it makes very little sense to aim to please a 12-year-old.
    Even that 12-year-old may well rebel against such treatment.

  33. jflare says:

    PS. Sad to say, I had never HEARD the word “pericope” until about 2 years ago. I had to look it up to have a clue….

  34. jhayes says:

    “Don’t recall any ‘dumbed-down’ Latin Masses as a child in the 50s and early 60s–we attended a holy sacrifice of the Mass that was the same for everyone!”

    “The Directory For Masses with Children” didn’t exist in those days. It was published in 1973, followed in 1974 by Postquam de Precibus, Decree approving new Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children and Reconciliation.

    2. In the upbringing of children in the Church a special difficulty arises from the fact that liturgical celebrations, especially the Eucharist, cannot fully exercise their inherent pedagogical force upon children. [2] Although the vernacular may now be used at Mass, still the words and signs have not been sufficiently adapted to the capacity of children.

    In fact, even in daily life children do not always understand all their experiences with adults but rather may find them boring. It cannot therefore be expected of the liturgy that everything must always be intelligible to them. Nonetheless, we may fear spiritual harm if over the years children repeatedly experience in the Church things that are barely comprehensible: recent psychological study has established how profoundly children are formed by the religious experience of infancy and early childhood, because of the special religious receptivity proper to those years. [3]

    3. The Church follows its Master, who “put His arms around the children . . . and blessed them” (Mk 10:16). It cannot leave children in the condition described. Vatican Council II had spoken in the Constitution on the Liturgy about the need of liturgical adaptation for various groups. [4] Soon afterwards, especially in the first Synod of Bishops held in Rome in 1967, the Church began to consider how participation by children could be made easier. On the occasion of the Synod, the President of the Concilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy said explicitly that it could not be a matter of “creating some entirely special rite but rather of retaining, shortening, or omitting some elements or of making a better selection of texts.” [5]

    4. All the details of Eucharistic celebration with a congregation were determined in the General Instruction of the revised Roman Missal published in 1969. Then this Congregation began to prepare a special Directory for Masses with Children, as a supplement to the General Instruction. This was done in response to repeated petitions from the entire Catholic world and with the cooperation of men and women specialists from almost every nation.


  35. Gail F says:

    jhayes: As a Montessorian I am horrified by what you posted. Maria Montessori was quite right, I think, in teaching that even very young children want to participate in what’s going on. They do not want it dumbed down for them. Some of the instructions are good but most of them are typical junky American educational stuff that kids do not really like or respond to! I assisted in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at two parishes for several years –this is a catechetical program developed over decades by an associate Montessori’s — and it is true that children love to participate. But they love to participate in “grownup” things, they do not want the things changed to be childish. In the classrooms I worked in the children were between the ages of 3 and 6. We had miniature altars and “vessels” for them to arrange, and they loved to get everything out and put everything away. They loved to polish brass “chalices.” (Some churches have children polish some of the actual brass things.) We showed them the gestures and prayers the priest does at the altar, and they would repeat them — don’t worry, they were quite aware that it wasn’t real. When we would have prayer time, they would help us light candles and bring out the Bible and arrange the prayer table. THAT is participation. They were amazingly reverent, they loved the silence and the special “fancy” things and the grownup words in the Bible.

    School masses at my kids’ school, on the other hand, had bad music no one would ever listen to on purpose, droning readings by cutesy teachers or bored kids, and even though they were weekday masses they were dragged out as long as possible. The kids were bored out of their minds, they didn’t sing or pay attention. They didn’t even kneel after receiving communion — it was too complex. This from kids learning ALGEBRA. In high school the masses are in a gym, and at least the kids seem to understand and appreciate that they are being adapted to fit the space, and to get kind of a kick out of it. But the elementary school masses were in a church and IMHO mostly taught the kids that mass was stupid. Not the lesson I wanted them to learn. But principals don’t seem to notice there is anything wrong with their earnest attempts to “reach the kids.”

  36. E.C.L.O.W.N—-End Children’s Liturgy of the Word Now…thus endeth my rant

  37. jhayes says:

    Gail F, I posted those excerpts to respond to comments here that seemed to assume that when people heard different words at children’s masses – or saw different actions – that the priest was making it up on his own and should be criticized for not saying the black and doing the red.

    In fact, the black and red for children’s Masses is different. Here’s a link to a letter from Archbishop Aymond, last year, in which he said:

    The text of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children will be published by USCCB Communications as a supplement to the Roman Missal, Third Edition, (similar to the current supplemental text of the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions), and it should be available in time for the implementation of the Missal this Advent.  We hope to include the text of the Directory for Masses with Children as an introductory text for this supplement.


    The USCCB did publish that supplement and it is available here:


    So, you should expect things to be different at a Mass attended primarily by preadolescent children

  38. KAS says:

    I don’t take my kids to children’s masses. I refuse to allow them to be dumbed down. If anything I want them to attend the extraordinary form for the beauty.

  39. jflare says:

    jhayes: Curious to know if there’s any rule mandating that this Directory SHALL be followed?
    The Mass SHALL be adjusted if the majority of people will be less than say, 13 years old?

    After reading through Gail F’s comments–her concerns frequently mirror my own thoughts–I read through the Directory at the link you provided. I comprehend their point, but I think it fairly foolish to insist that kids “won’t get it” if you attempt a regular Mass. If they don’t understand the Mass for a weekday–already fairly simple really–I can’t fathom why they’ll understand a Mass with different verbiage any better. Or more poignantly, if they don’t understand something because Mom and Dad don’t explain it, …I can’t believe we expect them to learn anything from a Mass where portions have been simplified and/or omitted.

    I can see where a youngster might comprehend trans-substantiation better if you tell him that Jesus is now present right THERE in the Eucharist after the Consecration. I’m not sure I follow why a thoughtful, savvy priest needs a Directory to tell him that.
    Most of the really good priests I ever met..figured out how to offer little explanatory remarks like THAT on their own. ….And they provided such for ADULTS too!

    I think I’d be VERY wary about changing much of the Mass for the benefit of kids.
    Especially those that’re over 12 and/or more perceptive..might not take it kindly.
    They may actually feel a bit insulted….

  40. Dale says:

    I find it sad that the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of All Time, is now referred to as “extraordinary” and the Novus Ordo, considered by many as the gateway to the destruction of a sense of the sacred in the liturgy, is now considered the norm. Liberals in the Church have been very successful in bringing about this sad development. While valid, the Novus Ordo is an inferior expression of the faith of the Church. Thankfully, it is returning and growing in appreciation and popularity. God Bless those holy priests who learn and offer this ancient beautiful Sacrifice.

  41. jhayes says:

    One more reason you will hear different words at a Mass for children:

    The USCCB provides a “Lectionary for Masses with Children.”

    “In anticipation of a new version of the Lectionary for Masses with Children, we are discontinuing our current Liturgical Press editions. Before new editions can be published, the Vatican must approve the text translation (based on the New American Bible) that the US Bishops have chosen. Until this process is complete we will continue to offer our current editions, which of course may still be used during liturgy and as references after the new editions are published.”


  42. jhayes says:

    Jflare, the most recent discussion I know of was from the USCCB last August:


  43. jflare says:

    Interesting that they never quite stipulate that anyone MUST follow the ideas proposed in the Directory or change the prayers or whatever for children’s Masses.

    While reading through the Directory, I found it rather bothersome that they kept declaring that some parents might not teach their kids or the kids might not understand or whatever. It almost came across to me with the same mentality that the education system at large tends to have: We MUST educate kids in THIS way or offer them THIS sort of experience because we can’t possibly rely on parents to actually BE parents.

    I’m becoming VERY weary of the mentality that a Church or a State must definitely assume that parents can’t be the first educators of their own kids.

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