ASK FATHER: Little daughter interested in the Mass

From a reader…


My daughter, aged 5, was playing and I saw she had set up a little altar with bread and fruit juice. I jumped in and went over the mass with her; including why and what the Priest says and how to receive.  I was considering how I can foster this desire to know; was looking at mass toys but at the same time making clear she cannot be s priest. Do you or your readers know how I can approach this with my daughter? I have no boys.

A pleasant question.

Certainly some of you parents out there will have some ideas.

One thing that occurred to me might be to focus on making cloths and vestments, linens and so forth, perhaps even small processional banners for a Rosary and Altar Society, gowns for a statue of Mary or the Infant of Prague.   Trying to make everything as beautiful as possible.   Learning how to do all the care for the linens, such as ironing and getting stains out.  BTW… learning to starch a corporal to perfect shiny and stiff perfection is NOT easy.   These things are practical skills in any event.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Priest doll/action figure “performs” the actions. Any suitable male doll or action figure can get a vocation by getting an outfit. (Even if it is just paper and tape.)

    Other dolls or younger siblings are the congregation, acolytes, choir, etc.

    Younger male sibling/cousin/neighbor gets promoted to priest when old enough.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and of course you can just make a priest paper doll already wearing an outfit — color it in or print it in color, or cut it out of an old magazine or church bulletin. Glue paper dolls to popsicle sticks or stand them up on dowels, for more durability. (And you can also glue the priest picture to thicker paper or cardboard.)

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    St. Teresa and St. Therese were both big on playing Mass, priest, missionary, martyr, hermit, Crusader, etc., both alone and with friends or siblings. It is a thing for girls, too.

  4. APX says:

    Your daughter is just being normal for her age and development. When I was around that age, I would raid my mom’s china cabinet and take her fine crystal ware and hide in the bathroom to play Mass on the little dresser they kept in there. It never made me want or think I could be a priest. She’s just recreating what she sees. Give it time.

    If music is a thing in her life, teach her music for Mass. When I was 7 or 8 I took to taking my mom’s hand Missal and going through her Hymnals choosing hymns for Mass based on the readings in her hand missal, and would create set lits for Mass and sit at the piano singing and playing the parts and hymns for Mass that I chose.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Forgot to say — if you go the doll or paper doll route, let the girl choose. Talk to her about suitable choices but keep it light, and do not make the kid shy or worried. Just present it as a craft you thought you all could do together, maybe — making paper dolls, say — and ask if she wants to do it. Maybe she will want to do it all herself, with you just helping or providing materials.

    But don’t be surprised if you end up with Father Playdoh, or Father Lego.

  6. Rob in Maine says: has a great LEGO mass set. They just came out with a confessional with working lights!

  7. majuscule says:

    You can print your own paper dolls…

    Part way down the page there are other crafts on the page) find Fr. Alejandro, an Ordinary Form priest:

    Fr. Peter (and server) from 1943 (EF of course):

  8. Spinmamma says:

    All of the above, plus make sure she understands the primacy of Mary among humans and foster a devotion to her (secondary) as well as to the Eucharist.

  9. JRP says:

    Children of this age have great imagination, and can begin to grasp hidden things – mystery – behind the outward form. Their capacity to form images is strong, their capacity for abstraction needs to be cultivated.

    Mention that the outward form of the Mass is supposed to remind us of the inward recollection we have of things shared as a Church. Instead of being like the Priest (no offense, Father) we are called to be like Who the Priest makes present.

    Describe in detail, in the first person, the last supper – especially “This is my body” – when God says it, it means more than when we do.

    Focus on our encounters, like the story of the breaking of the bread on the road to Emmaus. Tell the story of your best experience of Communion.

    Note that recollection like this is a form of prayer – family prayer time would be strongly befittingly used in such ways.

    Tell the story of the offering of Melchizedek. As time goes on, the offering of Abraham. The Passover story and the Passover celebration itself. Jonah and the whale is also a redemptive, explanatory tale, as was the flood.

    Then, at some point – before first communion as appropriate, image the Cross, in poignant detail – especially the last cup of wine, bitter with gall and given on sponge on a stick. Remind them of the last part of the last supper

    Then, the resurrection, and ascension, the hope associated with the sacrament – a self-giving that asks all in return, the path to a new life in Christ.

    Children are hungry for meaning, have a natural draw towards natural theology – the meaning behind things and experienced – and due to baptism – a supernatural draw towards true mystagogy. While I grant you can overwhelm a child with details, like you can with an adult – people would be very surprised at how much something like this can do later in life. This is all part of Christian formation: beyond pedagogy, mystagogy shapes the inward person in ways subtle and profound, turning the imagination from evocative fiction to underlying fact.

    Also, teach her Latin, by which she may be free from the worst and most subtle influences of the world – the misuse of language.

  10. monstrance says:

    “Making linens , Getting stains out “
    Oh ! Such toxic masculinity !

  11. OrangeBlossom says:

    What about having her attend an atrium?

    Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
    A Montessori way of teaching the faith

    Here are some materials:

  12. brianmsaxton says:

    I also have a 5 year old daughter who I would love to find playing Mass someday, for whatever that’s worth. I honestly don’t think it’s important that she knows she can’t be a priest at this point. There’s time for that once she is capable of understanding why she can’t.

    Mostly I popped into the combox to thank Rob in Maine for the link to Domestic Church Supply; that stuff is so cool!

  13. APX says:

    It would also be a good time to start teaching her basic meditation that’s appropriate to her age, so that by the time she’s older, she has a good foundation and habit of mental prayer.

  14. seeker says:

    Sounds like you have a good daughter there, and you’re a good Mom to give the gift of faith. Young children explore by playing and she’s very young. She’ll ask about the priesthood being for men if it’s an issue. She may just intuit the truth as children often do. Oftentimes its best to wait for the child to ask. (You know the old joke: child asks mother where he comes from, long explanation of reproduction ensues to which child responds that he was just wondering because their neighbors come from Cincinnati.)
    I don’t think any other faith or country values girls like the Catholic church does. The youngest person ever to lead a country’s army was a girl and a Catholic saint. Philomena, Rose of Lima, Fatima children, Maria Goretti, Therese of Lisieux, and many others showed heroic virtue as little girls and are held up to be imitated by all the faithful. Not to mention the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Plenty of good stuff in those lives to introduce your little one to over the years. God bless you both.

Comments are closed.