ASK FATHER: Hand missals, Mass books for children

From a reader…


Do you have any recommendations for good children’s missals for both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass? We have two school-aged children (2nd grade and kindergarten) that we want to work with on a better understanding of exactly what is happening at Mass and would like to find some good missals for them.

I can warmly recommend A Missal for Young Catholics by Peter A Kwasniewski, who occasionally posts comments here:

Also, check out the Marian Childrens Missal.

There is also the St. Joseph Children’s Missal

And there’s the My See And Pray Missal:

I am not sure about a Novus Ordo children or young people’s hand missal. Perhaps some readers here will know.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    This one is great for Novus Ordo and it is only $7! Beautifully Illustrated. Her website has tons of great ideas for teaching young children about our faith.

  2. ProfKwasniewski says:

    There are not, alas, many good children’s publications connected with the Ordinary Form, and I suspect that is because it has so many options that it would be confusing to put it together or use it, plus the Mass is in the vernacular, so the assumption is that no one needs (or should want) a book. This is not good human psychology, especially when it comes to small children, but it’s still a prevalent view. On the contrary, the more senses one can engage in assimilating the liturgy and meditating on it, the better.

    The great (and recent) exception to all this is the Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, and Gradual, which has splendid B&W line art throughout, and a marvelous middle section with lots of color photos and illustrations. I could imagine this keeping children quite busy.

    Some other suggestions may be found in these articles:

  3. When I was a kid in the ’70s, I had a children’s missal for the Novus Ordo with just the Ordinary of the Mass in it — but that was back before the Novus Ordo had further “evolved.” It wasn’t until I bought a one-year paperback missal so I could follow the new English translation that I realized how hopeless it is to follow the Mass of Paul VI in a missal. When every part of the Ordinary of the Mass has a proliferation of options to it — do we really need 10 Eucharistic prayers? — that it’s almost impossible to find the one the priest is using before that part of the Mass is over. No wonder some priests just make it up as they go. How would we ever know?

  4. acardnal says:

    I can recommend two items available from Corpus Christi Watershed: “Campion Children’s Missal” and Msgr. Ronald Knox’s “The Mass in Slow Motion.” They are downloadable as a pdf document for FREE! Or you can order them as a book. They are in cartoon/graphic format.

  5. APX says:

    I received a St. Joseph Children’s Missal for my First Communion back in the early 90s, and I found it last year. I never used it during Mass, but I did enjoy the other parts of it with the traditional prayers and the mysteries of the Rosary, at least the ones I was allowed to read (I wasn’t allowed to read the Sorrowful Mysteries. Too violent).

  6. Lutgardis says:

    The most useful resource we have found for the Novus Ordo is our daughter’s subscription to Magnifikid (from Magnificat). They send a package once a month with all the issues you need for the Sundays and Holy Days for that month. Each issue includes all of the readings, the collect, etc., for that day’s Mass, plus explanations of the difficult words and how the readings tie together. There are projects and prayers at the end that children can do after mass.

    I would be interested to hear recommendations for straight hand missals. The most useful one we’ve found so far is Catholic Icing’s A Picture Book of the Mass, which uses excerpts from the new translation and provides some good explanations for what is going on. We have also used The Mass Book for Children (from Our Sunday Visitor), but it includes only summaries of what is going on, rather than the actual wording, and it could be a bit meatier theologically.

  7. Rich says:

    This is an extremely helpful post, Father. Thank you!

  8. eiggam says:

    For the Novus Ordo, I am not crazy about Magnifikid! It is not nearly as classy as Magnificat. Maybe some of the First Communion Items have the entire Mass.

  9. PA mom says:

    For the NO I have purchased the “Child of God Prayer Book for Boys and Girls”. Published by William Hirten Company.

    It has beautiful imagery, points to ponder quietly in their hearts, rosary mysteries, stations of the cross the Our Father, St Michael prayer, Sacrament of Penance summary sheet and beautiful pictures everywhere.

    I recommend it.

  10. Bressani56 says:

    I agree with Dr. Kwasniewski: The Jogues Illuminated Missal would be magnificent for children, because of all the color pictures. It’s the only Missal I know that has a Novus Ordo priest facing ad orientem. The Jogues is very lightweight, as well — whereas I found the Campion Missal a bit on the heavy side (probably owing to all the hymns in its second half).

  11. The various options in the Novus Ordo are not an obstacle to producing a children’s missal. For example, a picture of a congregation with its heads bowed can be applied to any of the forms of the penitential rite, as can any associated commentary. The points that need to be explained pertain more to what is done, not precisely how it is done. Similarly, one does not need to include a separate photograph of a priest raising a chalice for each of the Eucharistic Prayers, as if it is done differently depending upon which prayer is used. This is a case where one needs to apply the hermeneutic of continuity rather than that of rupture, as if the options in the Novus Ordo are opposed to one another in some way.

    The biggest problem is that a well-done children’s missal can appear to be more reverent than the particular Mass a child may be attending, especially if it is a children’s Mass or family Mass. When the live priest is pandering to the children and their parents and being cutesy-pie, the book that actually depicts a reverent priest and describes a serious liturgical action will appear to have a disconnect with the live event. I could even imagine such missals being confiscated or the parents of such children being lectured in some extreme situations.

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  13. Titus says:

    Although not a missal, per se, Maria Montessori’s The Mass Explained to Children is a delightful book.

  14. Matt R says:

    Andrew, the point is that nothing can be done as far in giving children a straightforward presentation of the liturgy as was done in books published prior to the reforms such as Know Your Mass or Knox’s The Mass in Slow Motion.

  15. Vecchio di Londra says:

    That Ronald Knox book (found in PDF on the watershed link that acardnal gave) is absolutely riveting, and not just for children. A very edifying read – many thanks for the link!

  16. acardnal says:

    Vecchio, I agree with you. “The Mass in Slow Motion” by Msgr Knox is outstanding and should be read by adults. I even ordered it in book form.

  17. roma247 says:

    I had this exact problem starting about 8 years ago and I tried most of the books recommended here: the St. Joseph’s Children’s Missal, the Marian Children’s Missal, Maria Montessori’s book. We loved Know Your Mass, but even it had the text of the Mass only in English (my pet peeve!), which the kids couldn’t align with what the priest was saying without constantly disrupting to ask me. All these books were beautiful and well done but they just didn’t work for my kids, who were still very young (and there were too many of them to quietly help every one of them to follow along).

    I made my own little book for them to take, which had the Latin with English subtitles, because even I could scarcely manage to find my place in the Latin, switch over to the English side, and then back. It was too overwhelming. At least with the subtitles, they could follow along better. (And that idea was inspired and helped along in no small part due to WDTPRS!) Threw in tons of pictures of what the priest was doing at each stage so the kids could match that up. We printed the propers from Una Voce. My husband still uses this book.

    But I was encouraged by many people to expand and improve this little book, because people loved it, but wanted more in terms of cues to look for, background explanations of what the priest is doing and why, and all the information that all the older missals take for granted that everybody already knows (but nowadays we don’t): what’s the difference between low and High Mass? What are all those folks up on the altar wearing? Why are they celebrating Low Sunday instead of Divine Mercy Sunday? etc, etc.

    Four years later, I’m getting ready to send the book to the printer tomorrow. So please forgive me for tooting my own horn. I assure you that is not my way. I’m a nobody, so I wouldn’t really expect for anyone to get very excited. But because this question was asked, I felt compelled to at least let you know about it, because I have had tons of feedback about it, and most people who have seen the prototype are very, very excited for it to be finished. (And TAN books is co-publishing it with us!)

    If you visit St. Augustine Academy Press, you will see the big banner headline for the book there. Follow the links and you can read about what we’ve tried to accomplish, and I’ve even posted sample pages so you can see what it looks like inside. It is something that all ages can use, from the little ones who can look at all the beautiful pictures, to the adults who I can almost guarantee will learn something from it, even if they’ve been attending the Latin Mass for years. (Well, not Father Z, I’m sure…!)

    So again, I apologize for using your combox to promote my own work, Father Z. Please forgive me. I don’t like doing it. But I think this book would really help the original poster. And I like to think that even you would approve if you saw this book.


  18. Marie Teresa says:

    This is a lovely topic – Thank you, Fr. Z!

    The favorite at my house is the Children’s Missal by Sr. Mary Theola. The vibrant and beautiful pictures attract the youngsters. Of the several Mass books on our shelf, this is the one most often selected.

    They’ve been using a 1953 copy which is rather fragile. I’ve ordered (through your link) the updated one and hope it’s unchanged!

    I also ordered, “Learning to Follow the Mass,” from St. Augustine Press (in the above post). It looks beautiful, too!

  19. Hi,

    I’m dropping in a bit late (luckily Father granted me login without hesitation :-) ). I’ve been collecting pictures, mostly of art, to teach my children about Sunday lectures and about Mass, and this resulted in a number of booklets that you can download as PDF or order on my website:

    There are editions for ordinary form and extraordinary form, for the ordinary of mass and for the Gospel lectures and for any combination of these :)

    Best regards,

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