A 4 year-old and the rubrics

From a reader…

Good evening Father,

A funny story that you might appreciate. My 4 year old son was sitting with me while putting my 2 year old to sleep, and he was watching my phone. I was praying Vespers (via DivinumOfficium.org) and he asked me:

“Daddy, are you saying the black parts and doing the red ones?”

“Yes, kiddo, that’s right.”

Kids absorb a lot more than we think they do! Tradition is for the young.

That’s wonderful.

Children have a strong liturgical sense.  I’ll bet lots of you parents out there can bear witness to that.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    When one of my kids was 18 months to 2 years old, he frequently walked around the house holding a broom high and attempting to sing/yell. Because he was speech delayed (and had a tendency to hit things with the upraised broom), I didn’t realize for some time that he was enacting the processional, pretending that the broom was the processional cross. That same kid at 3 took a circle puzzle piece, lined up all the stuffed animals, and gave them ”communion.”

  2. Now that made me chuckle out loud. My birds think I have gone crackers. How precious a child and that dad must be very proud.

  3. Mike_in_Kenner says:

    About six years ago, when our oldest child was about 2 years old, my wife and I were wondering how much she was getting out of the traditional Latin Mass that we attend, so we asked her about it. Now she was at the age of just beginning to string a few words together to make very basic sentences, which is part of what makes her answers so wonderful. The conversation went like this:

    Parent: “What goes on at Mass?”
    2-year-old: “A priest holds up a Host!” (Accompanied by mimicking the gesture of the elevation.)
    Parent: “What else goes on at Mass?”
    2-year-old: “And a chalice!” (Again accompanied by mimicking the gesture of the elevation.)
    Parent: “What else goes on at Mass?”
    2-year-old: “A priest sings a book.”

    We were glad she recognized the elevations at the consecrations as important moments at Mass, but the third response was our favorite. A 2-year-old has no idea of reading silently, and no idea that a book is for anything other than reading aloud. But she didn’t say a priest reads a book; she said a priest “sings” a book. That was the moment that my wife and I realized that our child had no experience of anything other than a sung Mass. She had never been to a recited “low” Mass. We still revel in that wonderful perception of a 2-year-old: A priest sings a book!

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    I’m praying ours starts soon. No doubt he notices some of what is actually going on (and can recall some of it if asked), but he is extremely active, and wants to fidget with any and everything around him, and talk about it at full volume.

    I had the ideal in my mind that he would be curious about the candles, bells, vestments, sacred vessels, motions, etc. especially if we point them out, and talk about them before or after, would be interested in picture Bible’s or illustrated Missals, or at a bare minimum, he’ll be reasonably still and quiet to earn compliments or treats afterwards.

    In reality, that lasted until right around when he turned 3. Attending Mass with him right now is one of the most difficult trials of parenting so far, and I wish I had a clue how to quiet him, especially during the Consecration, without inciting a temper tantrum.

    It’s to the point where my wife and I are regularly having to go to Mass separately just to be able to actually be present in more than a technical sense, not to mention to allow others to do so, while the other watches the kids at home.

  5. SuperTrad says:

    Speaking of children, I would like to ask for prayers that the abortion bill in RI will not pass tomorrow. It would allow abortion up to the moment of birth, they are having a hearing on it tomorrow the 29th. Anyone can go and speak at it, and it was blocked once before because so many people showed up to speak against it. Please, pray that it will not pass and make reparation for the evil and attend the hearing if you can!

  6. MrsMacD says:

    Dear iamlucky13, as a mom with a ‘big’ family, some of whom are teenagers, I say, ‘Don’t give up!!!’ Persevere! It gets better and they don’t learn if you don’t bring them. When I was expecting my fifth child my fourth child was running back and fourth across my lap (my eldest was five). I looked at the tabernacle pleading with Our Lord for some insight, I asked Him,”Is there any point?! Should I just stay home with my children?” That little guy, not yet two, grabbed my face in his hands and said,”Mommy, when I grow up can I be a priest? When I grow up I’m going to be a priest.” And he continued his shenanigans but I had my answer. If you bring your children to Mass from conception the Mass will be the centre of their wee lives and they may well grow up to be 100% devoted to Christ. Jesus said, “Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16

  7. Alaskamama says:

    When I went up to receive the Eucharist last, my nearly 2 year old son came holding my hand. I knelt to receive Jesus on my tongue, and my son knelt too. It was the first time he had done that, and it was very touching.

  8. Alaskamama says:

    One more story, about my daughter when she was two. We were at Eucharistic adoration and she kept jutting out her chin and squinting her eyes as she faced the monstrance. Finally, I asked what she was doing. “I’m showing Jesus my pirate face!”

    And once her Dad asked her “Are you Daddy’s girl?” She replied very earnestly, “No, I’m Jesus’s girl.”

  9. FN says:

    Dear iamlucky13, I second the advice not to give up! Don’t keep your kids away from Mass. It has been years since I and my husband have been able to be properly reverential at Mass. It is one long ordeal of child-wrangling. But it pays off. The eldest is now able to sit, notice, and pray, thanks to attending Mass every week since birth. As for myself, I figure the Lord can see what I go through just to be with Him, and that’s enough!

  10. BrionyB says:

    Yes please keep bringing your children to Mass! “It is good for us to be here”.

    And I say that as someone who struggles a little at times with the noise and disturbance small children make. Much as I love the feeling of peace and serenity at a quiet Mass, I perhaps *need* the lesson in patience and charity more than I need pleasant feelings!

    If I find myself becoming irritated by a noisy child (which I admit I do), I try instead to thank God that they’re here, and pray that they’ll never stray away the way I did.

  11. Christ-Bearer says:

    If you put holy water on my 18-mo old’s fingers, he starts to make the sign of the cross: on the head (Father), then on the chest, (Son….Son…Son…Son…) repeatedly, then stops.

    He’s a heretic.

    We have some cathechesis left to do. :-)

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    In the matter of taking young kids to Mass or not taking them, the parents have to use their own prudential judgment. There is a reason why it is not obligatory for kids under the age of reason, or for parents taking care of kids. Parents know their own kids best.

    The other day, I was torn between laughter and horror when I saw a little kid (way too young to receive in the Latin Rite, of course!) strolling up the aisle and eating Goldfish crackers from a bag.

    Obviously not a scandal or abuse, obviously not trying to receive – just the juxtaposition. Hil-errifying.

    Obviously it was a lesson in minding my own beeswax.

  13. Will Elliott says:

    I’m not a fan of giving blessings during the distribution of communion to non-recipients, but when little kids too young to receive go up with their families with their arms crossed over their chests the entire time they’re in line is the cutest thing ever.

  14. billy15 says:

    After talking with an auxiliary bishop of a large archdiocese, he told me that I should start praying in Latin with my sons, ages 4 and 2. That night we started saying the Pater Noster after our regular bedtime prayers. My 2 year old has been saying it regularly. My 4 year old is more stubborn, and never says it while we pray together.

    However, I came across the both of them playing in their new fort for Christmas, and they pretended that they were getting ready for bed. Then, all of a sudden, my 4 year old starts chanting the entire Pater Noster. It was definitely good to see that he’s caught on after all!

  15. Malkia says:

    Its great for all you devoted catholic parents. Keep it up!

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    God bless devoted parents. Christ-bearer: Great story.

  17. Ben Kenobi says:

    Aww. God bless all of you. I too, was taught the Pater Noster (but in English). When I converted I also found many of my memories from receiving on an altar rail returned. One day.. I hope to be able to do that again. Don’t stop taking your kids. Even they might not fully understand what they have received.

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