Q Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has really affected the participation of our kids at weekly School Mass. During the shelter-in-place order, we livestreamed a weekly School Mass for families to watch at home. When we resumed in-person learning, we slowly resumed in-person School Mass as well, but only with social distancing and masks, which limited the size of the Assembly, and thus the opportunities kids had to attend Mass. In the last year, we have happily been able to give kids an opportunity to come to School Mass every other week. Slowly but surely we are finding our way back to an All School Mass.
Of course we have all noticed how many of the kids, especially the younger ones, need even more guidance than usual to participate in word, song and gesture. We often end up cueing them with “Be seated” and “Please stand,” and teachers often end up leading the responses with a faint echo from the kids. I know this is often the reality, that kids are still learning (and sometimes just don’t participate), but I wonder what additional formation or resource we need to provide our kids.
During School Mass this morning, I remembered being given a laminated Mass Card when I was in first grade. It had the words for all responses that belong to the Assembly, along with cues for posture changes. I don’t want to teach our kids that participation in Mass is best with our heads buried in a book or other written aid, but I want to help our kids integrate the liturgy into their spirituality as much and as soon as possible. I’m wondering about it at least as a temporary practice as we continue to navigate the pandemic. What do you think of providing such worship aids for kids, maybe just elementary age? Would you have any recommendations for such resources?
A: I admire your understanding and caring approach to these kids. It’s not their fault that they don’t know what to say and do at Mass.
I can think of two parallels. Ten years ago we all used cards to learn the new words for the translation of the Mass. An online search will turn up some of these. Since I do some writing for the good folks at LTP, let me recommend theirs, which come in packets of 50: https://ltp.org/products/details/PCMP/pew-card-for-mass. However, it doesn’t give the postures. If you have any participation aid in your pew, though, it will probably have the necessary information.
The other parallel is the way that the RCIA envisions word services for catechumens. Look at paragraph 82 for an explanation of the purpose of these. They prepare the catechumens to participate at Mass. In the classroom, then, teachers could style some prayer during the week with elements of the words and postures of the Mass so that the children become more familiar with them.
God bless your good work.