QUAERITUR: Is it a sin for children to “play Mass”?

From a readerette:

A few years ago, my brother-in-law related a story that his family had invited their (then) pastor to dinner one night. When the pastor arrived at the home, he saw my brother-in-law, then a child, playing priest, and pretending to celebrate the Mass. The pastor admonished him not to do this anymore because it is a sin.

Nowadays, some Catholic stores sell kits for children to play priest. They are complete with pretend chalice, paten, etc. I have never purchased one of these. However, my son speaks of wanting to be a priest someday. He uses a piece of furniture as his altar and scavenges household items to use at his altar. He pretends to celebrate the Mass all decked out in his Franciscan dress-up costume, draped with blankets and a scarf for his vestments. Yes, lately, he sometimes pretend to be Pope Francis!

He is 12. Is it a sin for him to do this? Should I discourage him from doing this?

Thank you for your blog and for all you do for us through your internet ministry.

Short answer: NO! It is not a sin. Don’t discourage this.

It is not a sin for children to “play Mass”.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s great… for boys.

The only problem I can think of is if, as they got older, they would be less than respectful of what they were imitating.

I’ll bet some parents can jump in.

I have written about this question before, by the way. HERE and HERE and HERE.

As a matter of fact, I received and posted a marvelous video of a tike playing Mass.


From another readerette:

I want to remain anonymous on your blog but I have a response to your above thread:

When my sons were small, one of them played priest using a piano bench as an altar, a nut dish as a chalice and a small silver tray as a paten, potato chips as hosts and coca cola as wine. Their brothers and sister “received” on the tongue. After experiencing certain liberal priests he changed his orientation towards the priesthood but regained it when meeting holy priests as an adult. He is now an [traditional group] priest and so are 2 of his brothers.

Intelligenti pauca!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Very cute. Sadly, the only one of my boys so far to get really into “playing Mass” is too disabled to ever consider the priesthood. He did attempt to “bring me communion, ” though, while I was sick in bed one day… :)

    But– readerette? Really?

  2. Legisperitus says:

    An elderly priest I know used to play Mass often with his brothers and sisters when they were little. Funnily enough, he was always the priest.

  3. mamajen says:

    I misread this at first and thought that the kid who was admonished was the 12-year-old. I think it would be a bit odd for a 12 year old to play priest in front of a priest because it might seem like showing off (pride?). In private it’s fine. It’s hard to imagine a younger child spontaneously deciding to play priest while a priest was present being accused of sin! If the parents put him up to it, then perhaps that’s not so great. I know from hearing stories from relatives that some priests and nuns decades ago were much too strict. Maybe that’s the case here. I wouldn’t worry about it as long as the kid is being respectful and understands that he’s pretending.

  4. OrthodoxChick says:

    The little boy in that video is waaaaay too cute! Ya gotta love the mickey mouse missal!

  5. Great photo. Of all the things kids could be emulating today, how cool is that!

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Not only is it, under the circumstances envisioned here, okay, it’s actually a devotional act (in rather the same way that reading the Mass texts at home can be a worthy devotional exercise.) I have attended more one child’s liturgy (one gave a GREAT homily thereat) and I find the practice completely Catholic.

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Ni fallor, B15 did this often as a kid, and he gave homilies out his second story window for which more than one passerby would stop and listen.

  8. george says:

    When I was in primary school, Father thought I was really good at serving and asked me to help him train the 3rd graders. I remember one time playing the part of the priest at the consecration as Father was directing the servers-in-training. I don’t recall if I volunteered or if Father asked me to do so… I know I wasn’t chastised for it, though.

    Father always told my parents that he thought I’d make a good priest and that he was praying for me. I didn’t become a priest, but I wonder if that’s really what God wanted of me and I was too far astray at the time to hear him calling… Thanks be to God, I’m back on the right path (at least for the first 30min after confession…).

  9. disco says:

    Someone get that kid a maniple!

  10. Titus says:

    This definitely seems to be a question of sensibilities. Up into the middle ages, there was a sense that the sacred nature of the Holy Sacrifice was incompatible with even the visibility of or widespread exposure to its most solemn moments. (See, e.g., chancel screens and iconostases.) This was a not impious sensibility, but it gave way in large part to other ways of appreciating and revering the miracle of God’s presence and action on the altar. (As an aside, there’s a good discussion of the process of that shift in Italy in Fr. Thompson’s book Cities of God.) Certainly an advocate of the older view would likely, by extension, look askance at playing at the Sacred Mysteries.

    But if our sensibilities of reverence are not predicated on concealing the sacred, much of the objection evaporates. The child is not attempting to simulate a sacrament, as that phrase is used in canonical penal law, any more than a training deacon or altar boy is. The play could become irreverent or profane, but so can almost any game. But if it permissible to draw the Mass, act the Mass on film, and own and read the liturgical books, it should be permissible for a child—with due care—to play the Mass, as play, after all, is merely another form of study by the young child.

  11. BLB Oregon says:

    We got our twin boys a Mass kit when they were small, but we made it clear that it does not belong to them. It belongs to us, and if they were not careful with it at all times and did not treat each other well when they were using it, they wouldn’t be allowed to use it. We also made it clear that it was not to be treated like a garden-variety toy set, because it represented something very holy and the pretend it was used for was pretending something very holy. It was to be used for pretending holy things only, and was not for any other use. They were reminded that the crucifix, in particular, was indeed the real thing, as all crucifixes are.

    They made up some liturgies that were not exactly according to Hoyle–well, maybe if dinosaurs had still roamed the earth at the time of Our Lord–but nothing irreverent, so I didn’t let on that I had been listening in. I don’t like to micromanage children’s pretend, but I thought it worth eavesdropping once in awhile. (You have not lived until you have seen a stegosaurus drafted into the diaconate. Apparently the rubrics call for strings of beads to be run down between the rows of plates, in lieu of an alb and stole. It is possible to fashion a chasuble for a T. Rex, however, as they stand upright.)

    They are now 14 years old, and altar servers. They love to serve, and take their role very seriously.

  12. everett says:

    As long as they’re clear that they’re just playing mass and not actually doing it, fantastic.

    One of my priest friends is storied to have given long homilies at his play masses when he was young, and apparently if his siblings weren’t listening to the homily, he’d start over.

  13. motheroften says:

    My older boys used to play mass when they were younger , now two of them are considering vocations. Although my son also used to pray for his ‘ very sick younger brother’ during the intercessions, even though he was not sick, and not younger- and it would drive his brother crazy!

  14. Dustin and Jamie P. says:

    My boys (ages 5 and 12) have a miniature Mass kit, and I am in the process of making vestments for them. They play Mass on occasion, with my older son as the priest and younger as the server. They also participated in a “High Mass” with 8 other boys last year and have another planned with other friends next month. I love it when the boys play Mass. Not only are they bridging an age gap, but they are doing so on a spiritual level. And it shows me where I need to work on their Latin pronunciation :)

  15. Denis Crnkovic says:

    When I was a young lad I used to “play Mass,” too, even singing all the parts, including the Prefaces. Then they translated it into English and I stopped playing Mass because it wasn’t much fun anymore.

  16. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Growing up in a broken home with an atheist family I was fortunate enough to live on the same block as a beautiful Catholic Church. When my mother would pass out in the middle of the day as a result of her drinking problem I would walk down (at age 5 roughly) to the Catholic Church (back when the doors could be kept unlocked) and spend time there in silence. It quickly became a place that I felt drawn to and so I eventually followed the string of Sunday morning cars down the alley in order to attend Mass. By the time that I was 6 or 7 years old I was “playing Mass” on a regular basis, although nobody had taken the time to educate me regarding the mysteries of the faith. There was something beautiful in what I experienced both before the tabernacle and during the Mass as Father would say the Mass. This led to me, at the age of 13 years, asking theparish priest–no telling the parish priest–that I wanted to be baptized and was ready to join this community of believers. Obviously I felt drawn to the priesthood but as another person commented about her son, I too had chronic congenital health problems that precluded pursuing the necessary education to prepare for holy orders. As Dr. Peters points out, this is an act of devotion, and I was extremely devoted to the faith and loved God deeply. My family never followed me into the faith even though my conversion at 13 was a tremendous witness to the faith for them (I gave my own homily in the kitchen after the Sunday Mass). I have come to realize that God’s plans are not our plans, but I regard the devotion that I had both for the priesthood and for the Eucharist as the backbone of my faith, a faith that has been a rock for me (and now for my wife) to lean on during some challenging times. From my experience I can suggest that this show of devotion toward and interest in the mystery of faith on the part of young boys should be supported. And I can even add that we should give thanks to God for touching the lives of some of his faithful in such a profound way. I am certainly thankful for the gift of faith, which came to me in a most unusual way as though God himself drew me to “see” the beauty of the Catholic Church, and to know his divine son, Jesus, who has become the center of my life and a true savior to my wife and me. May God be praised! There is much more to the story, but I believe that this synopsis suffices as a testimony to the power of God at work within each person’s soul and the benefit of the devotion of playing Mass as a young boy.

  17. anna 6 says:

    Oh c’mon, when we ran out of white Necco wafers we would use a shot glass to cut out “hosts” from from flattened bread slices.

    Even Mrs. Ratzinger made vestments for her little sons so that they could play “mass”. It didn’t hurt them now did it?

  18. Bea says:

    I see no reason why this could be wrong.
    Children are “practicing” for adulthood. This is why girls play “mommy” and boys play “cops”
    Girls grow up to become mommies.
    Boys grow up to become the authority in their families (or authority as priests).
    Which is also why I see such a danger in Barbie dolls and their connection to our sexual revolution.
    Instead of practicing to be “mommies” they are practicing to be “sex-symbols”.

  19. LarryW2LJ says:

    I played Mass too, as a kid. I used the bottom, white part of a Dixie Cup for the host. Said Mass using my St. Joseph Missal.

    I ended up getting married and raising a good Catholic family; but for a while, I did give VERY serious thought to entering a seminary.

    I am very confident that I have ended up exactly where God wanted me to be.

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  21. americangirl says:

    When my son was 4 years old he would continually ask me if he could play Priest. So I told him to recreate what he saw at Mass. We too had a Franciscan robe his father used to be Friar Tuck one Halloween. He would first put on the robe complete with cincture and Rosary, he would set his play table and transform it into an altar complete with cruets, bible, a goblet and some Cheeze -its He would begin by processing with the Bible and proceed to play out Mass. He LOVED this play acting and I never discouraged it. ) He would say the words ( the best he could ) from Consecration, then proceed to distribute “Communion.” After we would say the family Rosary. As he grew into his teens and college years he never missed Mass but when asked if he wanted to be a Priest, he would respond “Absolutely Not.” A fellow parishioner told me your son is always in front of the Blessed Sacrament, is he going to be a Priest? I said no he wants to be a husband and a father. One day he said to me Mom I think God is calling me to the Priesthood but I am not sure . He spent some time volunteering for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal then entered a discernment house for one year and then seminary. He is now completing his first year in seminary. Let your children play Priest. God works in his ways. As a parent it is up to us to stress that even in play the Mass should be thought of as something sacred and divine. He has a deep love,respect and reverence for the Eucharist and the Mass. Please pray for him as he continues in his studies and spiritual develop on his journey to the Priesthood.

  22. Lucas Whittaker says:

    By the way, I made the host out of fresh bread that I would press and form into a perfectly round wafer. I had access to a china hutch filled with varius silver and brass vessels that easily doubled as sacred vessels. My exposure to what we might call “orthodox” priests was limited; most of the time I was attending Mass that was being performed by priests who were, maybe not so much dissenting, but confised at that time. When I had an opportunity to “hang out” with fellow Catholics I was customarily in the company of dissenting Catholics who either hated the Church or put their faith in alleged private revelations. Yet somehow God made it clear to my little soul that the beauty that I saw in orthodxy was true and good, and I clung to that. I consider that my time spent amond dissenting Catholics and the confused only strengthened my faith in things Catholic. Bear in mind that I was coming from a background with zero formation and knew only what I had learned about the faith in a short time. I believe that God can draw people directly to the true good and beautiful from any background or circumstance. Sometimes one must become familiar with what is ugly before they can begin to recofnize and be drawn by what is beautiful. This reminds me of a now famous quote from Balthasar that I also read in the Glory of the Lord: “Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only ‘finds’ the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.” The beauty of Jesus Christ took hold of me early in life and forever put me on a course toward an ever deeper experience of beauty, although experienced in the darkness of faith. God can overcome any evil or ugliness in our live in order to draw us closer to himslef. As Saint Paul said, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus our Lord.” I wishi that I had taken more time to write a more fitting synopsis of my experience of being called to faith, but hopefully what I have written will make clear that the poet Francis Thompson was on to something when he wrote:
    “From those strong Feet [of God] that followed, followed after.
    But with unhurrying chase,
    And unperturbèd pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    They beat—and a Voice beat
    More instant than the Feet—
    ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.'”
    Even when we flee from him the Hound of Heaven calls out to us,
    “Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
    After my conversion I became depressed and fell away from the Church for a time. And yet like this poet I once again heard the voice of God and–unlike poor Francis Thompson–I turned again to God and in his great love he open for me again the experience of being moved and possessed by beauty. From my experience, our childhood devotions are used by God when we are adults to remind us of his concern for us.

  23. Mary T says:

    Thank you for your two beautiful posts, Lucas. Very moving. I am praying for you.

  24. Joseph-Mary says:

    I know of two priests who played Mass as little boys. In fact just recently I was speaking with one of them. His mom made ‘vestments’ and his sister had to be a nun. They would have funerals and line up the cars for the procession and the Barbie dolls got buried in the backyard. Father as a child would invite his friends to hear his ‘sermons’. He grew up in a faithful Italian parish. He had a great shock when he went to seminary 20 years ago to find out it was not as faithful as his home parish! He did not have an easy time getting through seminary and even now, in a fairly orthodox diocese, he is considered a bit “rigid”. But he is not a traditionalist, just a conservative in the good sense of the word.

  25. Playing “Mass” in the ancient form when I was a child in the ’50’s helped me to be the priest I am today. I would do nothing to inhibit it unless it turned into a mockery. If it were done with reverence, why not?

  26. acricketchirps says:

    potato chips as hosts and coca cola as wine.

    Also a good way to finagle Chips and Coke out of your Trad parents.

    Oh c’mon, when we ran out of white Necco wafers we would use a shot glass to cut out “hosts” from from flattened bread slices.

    And good Catholic homes should never be without shot glasses. (silly baptists!)

  27. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    That kid in the video has a nice Mass Kit from:


    It looks like they are sold out. After my wife conceived our second son, we purchased this Mass Kit for our boys. We now have two boys and a third son on the way…:)

  28. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Margaret, if the readerette is whom I think she is, then yes, she really does have three sons who are part of traditional orders, one in particular who was quite brave in something public a while back. (If only our bishops, archbishops and cardinals had the guts of the priest of whom I am thinking.)

    Again assuming I am correct, her married children each have multiple children (and are likely not done yet). At least one of the married children is raising, with its spouse, its children as staunch, traditional Catholics, with their sons having children’s priest kits. I’d be shocked if at least a couple of readerette’s grandchildren did not enter the priesthood or religious life. That’s how it’s done.

  29. McCall1981 says:

    We recently played a clip of Carmelite Nuns singing for my one and a half year old daughter, and out of no where she started trying to sing along, something she’s never done before. It was very touching.

  30. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Margaret – To clarify, my response was assuming that you were referring to readerette #2 in Fr. Z’s update, not readerette #1, who posed the original question. Families having more than one child (and especially three!) choosing the religious life is much more unusual than it was years ago, though it most certainly did happen in this one family of whom I know, albeit not personally.

  31. ReginaMarie says:

    anna 6,
    We used plastic napkin ring holders to cut out our “hosts.” I never celebrated Mass, but my brothers did. Often the congregation was made up of siblings & numerous stuffed animals. I was just happy to make the “hosts” back then…now I am blessed to bake the Prosphora for use in the Divine Liturgy at our parish.

  32. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Dear Mary T: Thank you.

  33. Denis says:

    Communion on the tongue: if a kindergardner can do it, so can Father Novus Ordo.

  34. Margaret says:

    Dear Sicilian Woman– I make my “readerette” comment before Fr. Z posted his update. I have no doubt that large devout families produce religious vocations and strong marriages among their children and hope that my family follows that same path. :) I was just a bit startled that Father chose to coin what is, to my ears anyway, a needlessly condescending term, particularly when directed towards women who are apparently of very good will, allies if you like. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong? Is there some non-patronizing nuance to “readerette” that I’m not getting? [Plenty, it seems. I’ll help your comments into the moderation queue, to help promote the avoidance of rabbit holes. o{];¬) ]

  35. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m “readerette #1”. Thank you very much, Father, for posting my question and answering it. And thank you to all of you who have also contributed responses. To Lucas Whittaker, thank you for sharing your very moving personal story with me and all of us.

    And no, I’m not at all offended about being referred to as a “readerette”. I think the title’s quite “spiffy”! [Thanks for helping to close the rabbit hole.]

  36. progressive says:

    Even though his friends laughed at him, my son was a server at mass – almost everyday before school and every Sunday. He served at funerals and at so many celebrations, he was very good and holy but he was never interested in playing priest.
    My daughter wasn’t allowed to serve at mass, however because of her persistance and the encouragement from a parish sister, the PP finally gave in and she became a daily server and really enjoyed playing priest. She set up the altar at home and was very thoughtful and holy. She did it for years but then …. well she just didn’t understand why she couldn’t become a priest. She went on to university to study philosophy and then for further studies in theology and still doesn’t understand – nay accept – why she can’t be a priest.

  37. Howard Kainz says:

    After Mass about 20 years ago, my two daughters, aged 10 and 6, decided they wanted to continue the celebration. They brought home a song sheet from church, and prepared some of their favorite readings. They got some bread and juice and arranged chairs for myself and my wife as their congregation. They included the blessing of gifts, the special prayers, the kiss of peace, etc, until the final “the Mass is ended.” This is a little more complicated situation than with sons, I think you will admit.

  38. jasoncpetty says:

    I’ve actually been to Masses exactly like that video (though the kid had better vestments)… Wonder if they were using the same missal?

  39. mike cliffson says:

    (I had to google “shot glass”, now I know, what m’parents called stingy glasses).
    Congrats: Three priest sons! None of our tribe are, at least, not yet.Perhaps we shoulda steered their games more…
    I wish I had a video of them playing cain and abel, the memory is good , living next to muslims, I know that eldest plus cousin aged 5 wanted to play Abraham and Isaac and sacrifice a duck on an “altar” in the vegetable garden, which perhaps was sat on too thoroughly…

  40. Diakonia says:

    My only complaint about “playing Mass” as a kid was that those darn Necco wafer packages never had enough white ones!

  41. Diakonia says:

    Any priest who tells a young boy to stop playing Mass would better spend his time and energy by telling the self-proclaimed “women-priests” to stop playing Mass!

  42. liberanos says:

    “You have not lived until you have seen a stegosaurus drafted into the diaconate”

    BLB Oregon:
    I have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and anticipate having one tomorrow. This sentence made me laugh out loud til my stomach hurt, and will continue to make me smile for some time. It is a small thing and a great thing all at once that you have given me. Thank you.

  43. rdschreiner says:

    I also played Mass (Latin/English hybrid) from 1965 thru 1967 when I was in 3rd thru 5th grade at Assumption in Richfield, MN. We had great OMI priests and OSB nuns who taught at the school. The nuns were told about my interest and they happened to have an awesome set of vestments (a little big for me, but I made them work) in every liturgical color, including maniple and chalice veils. The black vestment was especially nice (satin), along with the white set (taffeta), including cope and humeral veil. My Lutheran grandma made me a very nice gold vestment from a brocade silk fabric with red orpheys. I spray painted a wine goblet for my chalice and my Mom made consecration hosts from Jeno’s pizza dough. The communion wafers were the Necco’s referred to above. I had my church permanently set up in the basement, with a long folding table for the altar (versus populum), along with tabernacle and large cross (to resemble the crucifix at Assumption).
    I enlisted my brother and friends to be my altar servers, and even had a red cassock and surplice. Then we moved from Richfield to Southern Minnesota and my church never got set up again. However, a couple years ago, I asked Father Joseph Johnson from the Cathedral of St. Paul whether he knew of families with young boys who liked to play Mass, so we took out all the vestments and had them cleaned and repaired and gave the set away. I hope that one or more of those young boys become a priest and that I may have played a small part in God’s plan for them.

  44. BLB Oregon says:

    ““You have not lived until you have seen a stegosaurus drafted into the diaconate”

    BLB Oregon:
    I have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and anticipate having one tomorrow. This sentence made me laugh out loud til my stomach hurt, and will continue to make me smile for some time. It is a small thing and a great thing all at once that you have given me. Thank you.”

    I only wish you could have seen the deacons themselves. I used to be a college instructor instead of a stay-at-home mom, and I can tell you I have definitely had the better portion here!

  45. Stephen Matthew says:

    I continue to find the idea a bit odd.

    I am also concerned about making something which should be viewed full of awe, wonder, and a bit of terror into a common-place matter. There is often too much that makes too many celebrations of the mass too ordinary and too directly accessible.

    Yet, if it is known to be done piously, and with proper distinctions for how it differs from the real thing, and if it is known to have produced good vocation fruit, then perhaps let the thousand flowers bloom.

  46. southIndia says:

    Even though I have learnt Latin, my wife always attend Novus Ordo and my 3 kids have never been to the Usus Antiquor. One day my son tied a towel around his neck, took a candle holder, placed it upside down and played mass facing the statue of Our Lady, in our apartment. my 2 girls tied their towels around their head and were reciting Rosary. they had communion in the tongue. it looked like the Usus Antiquor Rite even though they have never been to one. Needless to say, we are now attending Josaphat, Assumption Grotto or Old St.Patrick’s for the Usus Antiquor and my kids are impressed with the rituals.
    Thank you Benedict the Beloved for permitting the wider use of the Usus Antiquor.

  47. southIndia says:

    Errata: my wife and I used to always attend Novus Ordo….

  48. friarpark says:

    I did this in the 60’s and wanted to be a priest. Would take cast-off curtains and make vestments. I even said a ‘funeral service’ for JFK the day before his funeral. My Dad would tell people that he never knew what was happening at the altar until he saw me play mass. While I didn’t become a priest, my older son is discerning. I always told them that I would never push them towards the priesthood, but not to say ‘no’ to the possibility. Parents and Grandparents, please do this as well. Encourage those who seem to have a calling, and tell all other boys to not say no at an early age. To keep the possibility as open as they would any other calling. You never know what may grow out of such a simple thing.

  49. Cantor says:

    I certainly hope that this 12-year-old can supplement his play-acting with some time learning Latin as well. Chatting up the parish priest might also help when he’s serving (which I presume he is). Heck – he might be able to test out of a year at seminary and be out here to help us even earlier! Thanks for encouraging him.

  50. MouseTemplar says:

    Late with my comments as usual, but I must chime in.

    My son started clearly imitating Mass before he was 3 years old. He used the bread box as a tabernacle for his plastic pirate goblet and read from the “gospel” of Curious George. My husband built him a proper tabernacle, altar, and lectern since. He graduated to a lovely brass miniature mass kit, complete with monstrance and has a set of vestments now…

    He’ll be 7 soon and told me at Easter vigil he still wants to be a “papa”. He was worried I’d forgotten since he hadn’t told me lately. He’s particularly interested in “Papa” Dennis who is not only a priest, but also chaplain to the Fire Department and so gets to ride on the fire truck. (Who could beat that combination for a dream job ?!)

  51. OrthodoxChick says:


    He desperately wants to learn Latin, but I need to find a beginning Latin course that’s geared for middle school aged kids rather than high schoolers. Maybe homeschooling parents here could point me toward some good resources for ecclesiastical Latin? I took 2 years of it in high shool and actually got a silver medal on the National Latin exam, but because it was not used in my parish at mass, nor in any other setting that I found myself in after graduation, I completely lost any grasp of it due to lack of use. Well that, plus the fact that it’s been a few years (cough, cough) since my high school days. At this point, it’s like I never studied it.

    I remember sitting down in Latin class and being plunged into declining on Day 1. I never understood why, oh why, had no one invented a kinder, gentler way to study and learn a language that has been around for thousands of years. I remember the inscription on the title page of my textbook. It said, “Latin: First, it killed the Romans and now it’s killing me.”

    I’m not holding out much hope that in the mere decades since my school days (versus millenia of the existence of Latin) that anyone has actually developed a fun way to learn Latin, but if someone has come across one, please point me toward it.

    If I can find some sound, fun, and reasonably priced resources, I would seriously consider starting him on it over the summer when he won’t have other assignments piled on and we can focus on Latin alone.

    And yes, Cantor, he’s just beginning to memorize the Latin Mass responses for a server. He loves attending the Latin Mass!

  52. OrthodoxChick says:

    Yeah. Got a silver medal in Latin, but can’t spell the word “school” in English.


  53. BLB Oregon says:

    –“Parents and Grandparents, please do this as well. Encourage those who seem to have a calling, and tell all other boys to not say no at an early age. To keep the possibility as open as they would any other calling. You never know what may grow out of such a simple thing.”–friarpark

    Allowing a boy to pretend he is a priest says this: “Yes, I could see you as being that.” If you don’t allow it, you’re sending the opposite message: “Being a priest is too holy for you to even think about, to even dream of. Don’t go there.” You also don’t want to give the message: “If you so much as pretend at being a priest, I’m going to go bananas and pester you about it forever.” So if the topic comes up, you can say, “You can pretend at Mass, if you want, as long as you pretend a holy Mass. Some priests pretended being priests when they were children, some good Catholic men pretended as boys that they would become priests, but didn’t become priests when they grew up, and then some priests never pretended or dreamed of it, but only considered becoming a priest when they were older. Just be open to what God wants you to do, and also encourage your friends to be open to it. It would be sad for a man to grow up having the hope to be a priest, but then have no one who really knows him think he could do it. That would be very sad.”

  54. Scarltherr says:

    My son and his buddy Rosario played Mass only once at my house, I loaned them the good crystal and silver. It was lovely. When my son was in kindergarten he bought two rings out of one of those 25 cent machines. He brought them home, asked for the Holy Water, poured it into the little plastic holders, solemnly prayed over them very quietly, then took the rings to school the next day to give one to a little girl named Claire. I told a priest friend about this. I thought it meant he would marry, but the priest said if he blessed the rings, he’s definitely the priest. ;)

  55. marija says:

    My children play Mass all the time! The boys are the priests and servers, the girls are the choir and the cantors. Good fun! They sing Latin chants and hymns. We attend NO, but they know many Gregorian Masses and sing these. There are readings, homilies and some sort of cracker. My oldest boys don’t do much of this anymore, but they love to cantor and serve for real. I think it is marvellous and certainly better than playing any video game or watching TV!

  56. chantgirl says:

    OrthodoxChick- My children have enjoyed these:




    The Song School Latin is a good start, and my children have loved the chants and skits. All of these programs have dvds but I find Classical Academic Press’ videos to be the most engaging. They also have settings so that you can learn the classical or ecclesiastical pronunciation. They also have a dvd course for parents who want to teach their children.

  57. Jon_in_the_Nati says:

    Daniel Cardinal DiNardo is on record saying that when he was a kid his mother sewed vestments for him and he “played Mass” at an altar built by his father. What a great thing!

  58. sciencemom says:

    @OrthodoxChick – there are many options for Latin for a middle-school kid these days.

    One that I like is the First Form Latin series from Memoria Press. Their pronunciation is a bit too southern-twangy for us, so we just get the books and skip the CD / DVD stuff. We also use the Lingua Latina series from Focus / Pullins as a reader. You can get teacher materials / keys for it if you contact Focus about them. We started these when my oldest boys were in middle school, and they loved them. The first book is full of fun little stories about a Roman family. Lingua Latina might get into the challenging realm a little quickly, but there are simpler readers available from various sources; for example, CHC has a series of Little Latin Readers. I don’t think you have to start at the first primer level if your son is past the age at which he would find it interesting.

    You can find more resources and general information at Love2learn.net’s Latin page, a website to which I contribute.

  59. FeedieB says:

    “Benedict the Beloved”

    I like that.

  60. FeedieB says:


    My 8 & 10 year old sons use Latin For Children from ClassicalAcademicPress.com (we got ours from VeritasPress.)

    They offer a cd/ DVD set, as well as workbooks with puzzles and other fun exercises. Mostly we use the cd, which goes chapter by chapter chanting vocab words. Every morning the boys chant their vocabulary words three times along with the cd. We learned our rosary in Latin that way. We did one prayer at a time, said it three times every morning along with our cd until we knew it by heart. We are working on the Regina Coeli now. Little by little I hope we can learn the Mass, so by the time we get the Usus Antiquor in our town we’ll be ready.

  61. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Oops, I misread your comment, Margaret! Sorry!

  62. everett says:

    @OrthodoxChick, re: Latin programs

    There’s not much out there in the way of ecclesiastical Latin programs. There’s one called New Missal Latin by Baumeister. It was written in the 40s, and can function at a lower level than your Henle or Wheelock.

    Apart from true ecclesiastical, Memoria Press has some nice beginner Latin books, including Latin Christiana (3rd/4th grade-ish), and their First Form series (nicely for grades 5-8). They’re more user-friendly than the NML, but are still more classical. They do have some prayers in Latin interspersed or in a separate section (depending on which book you’re using). It might be appropriate to call it Christian classical Latin (Memoria Press is Protestant, sadly, though we like to joke that they’re Catholic and they just don’t know it yet).

  63. everett says:

    Follow-up, came across this on Dr. Peter’s site regarding Latin:


  64. OrthodoxChick says:


    Thank you so much for the leads. The info over at Dr. Peters’ site is amazing, so a big thanks to Dr. Peters too!!

  65. OrthodoxChick says:


    The National Latin Exam is still held annually. It has already taken place for 2013 (March), but here are some links for homeschoolers and anyone who might be interested.

    For homeschoolers:


    General info:


  66. Charlotte Allen says:

    Shot glasses also make good vases for flowers on children’s May altars. And birthday-cake candles make very nice candles for the same.

    Re Latin for kids: There’s a lady named Cheryl Lowe who has a whole line of Latin textbooks geared for children. She uses the ecclesiastical pronunciation, and the books are very Christian (I think the series is called Latina Christiana). I can’t remember the name of her company, although you could probably find it on Google.

  67. meaculpa says:

    Hi Just wanted to point out that the original use of the miniature mass kit was for the Montessori based Catechises of the Good Shepherd. This is a work for the children that introduces the Mass in a systematic way, using a prepared environment-an altar &all the items used in a real mass. We begin by teaching what an altar is, then showing &naming the items of the Mass. The child size vestments are not part of CGS, we use smaller ones to teach (doll size, on wooden frames) to teach the different liturgical colors. I think it’s beautiful that children are playing Mass in the sense of trying to imitate what they see &hear at church. In CGS we teach the children to be reverent by emphasizing how special the Mass materials are.

  68. marylise says:

    From the post and comments, it seems there are three general ways of categorizing the behaviour of children who play at Mass, depending on circumstances: (1) sinless and benign; (2) sinless, but inappropriate; and (3) sinful. It would be helpful to define the underlying principle giving weight to each category. One such principle might be benefit to the Church (real or potential). For example, a young boy playing at Mass under parental supervision (as in the video) could be said to benefit the Church in that he is at least considering the role of the priest and may even be demonstrating the seeds of a vocation. An older boy who plays at Mass might not be committing a sin, but he is also not providing a benefit to the Church because he should be further advanced in his discernment of a vocation, moving beyond play-acting to preparation (e.g., study). An adult male who plays at Mass is harming the Church because he is wasting time that should be spent on his real vocation, whatever that may be. Since occult and satanic rituals are based on imitation of the sacred rites of the Catholic Church, the question is important and deserves deeper analysis. As to young girls taking on the role of priest while play-acting at Mass, this can never be of benefit to the Church. To show how weird it really is, how would Catholic parents react if they had a little boy who enjoyed pretending to be a nun?

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  70. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    That Mass set of St. Therese of Lisieux’s really bugs ya, huh, Father Z? Didn’t particularly hurt that future Doctor of the Church, did it? Since I know you are going to delete this post, I will make a very serious comment to you:

    I do not think you half-realize the nasty damage you do to women with those “readerette” remarks. Over the years I have noticed a certain coterie of men who will gleefully bash women as “serviettes” [which can mean “sanitary napkin” in some places], and say other things which mock women over the years. I seldom if ever see you call them on it.

    I do not know how familiar you are with gay culture. I have known many through the years, particularly when I did quite a bit of work in live theatre. Let me tell you there is a subset of gay men who don’t just *prefer* men, but actively hate women. A gay man I know pretty well said to me one time “there are some gay men who really hate lesbians, and any women they don’t like for ANY reason, they label “lesbian” — regardless if she is or not.” All I can say is a certain subset of men who read and comment on your posts which have anything to do with women come braying about “serviettes” and “Cows” and the like in a nasty way which frankly, sends my gaydar off the chart. Just a little toooo interested shall we say in “deep lace.” I have known some gay men who are faithful Catholics and really try and follow the gospel, and do their best to tamp down their feelings. I’m not talking about them. They are not the problem. With you throwing gasoline on the fire with such deprecating terms as “readerette” you do not help matters.


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