In a recent podcast episode on Life Beyond the Chariot, Deanna Johnston and Mikki Sciba discuss bringing children to Mass. Below are some tips from their discussion. You can view the full episode here.
Let’s be honest, sometimes attending Mass with children can be challenging. Should parents automatically head to the cry room? Is there a survival guide for how to attend Mass with little ones?
The Mass is the highest form of prayer and worship. As parents, there are things we can do throughout the week to help our children to worship better. The goal of the Mass is to worship our Lord and Savior. We want to put some intentionality into helping those in our care enter into the Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls parents to the great mission of educating their children and teaching them how to pray.
“Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years…Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2226
Saint John Vianney said, “If we truly understood the Mass, we would die of joy.” But with so many distractions, especially small children, trying to remain present in Mass can be very difficult.
Here are some practical ways you can prepare yourself and your children to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Make sure their physical needs are met.
This might sound simple, but this can be very helpful in guiding your child in learning how to participate in the Mass. Did they get a good breakfast so they are not hungry during Mass? Did they get enough rest the night before so they are not tired for Mass? Maybe you have to be more intentional about bedtime on Saturday evenings so that the children get enough rest and aren’t tired for Mass.
Doing things like finding shoes or picking out outfits the night before can help reduce some of the hustle and bustle of getting ready on Sunday morning.
Have religious books for children to read during Mass
There are really great picture books about the Mass that can help your children pay attention or focus during Mass. These books can help your child learn about the different parts of the Mass or the different signs and symbols of the Mass.
Read the Mass Readings Ahead of Time
Though this can be great for children of all ages, this is particularly helpful for older children. Everytime you read Scripture, something new comes to mind. Reading the Mass readings together before attending Mass allows your children to hear the readings multiple times.
This can help your children be more attentive during Mass as they listen for the stories from Scripture they have already read with you. It also sets your children up to be receptive to what God might be saying to them in the readings and the homily.
Sit in the main part of the Church
Before we recommend not sitting in the cry room, we’d also like to acknowledge that sometimes, the cry room is absolutely necessary. So when the cry room is best for your family, definitely use the cry room!
But don’t feel that just because you have wiggly children that you should automatically go to the cry room. Be not afraid of loud children! Don’t feel like the cry room is the only place for you.
Sometimes sitting at the front of the Church can be helpful for children because they can see what’s going on. If you sit in the front you’ll also be able to point out the things happening in the Liturgy, helping them to slowly understand what it is they are participating in.
Try to get to Mass Early
Getting to Mass early allows children to have time to get settled. It also prevents you from being rushed as you try to find a seat, allowing you to find a place that works best for you and your family.
Bringing your children to Mass is a gift for your children. It is also a gift for the community. God wants your family at Mass. In whatever season of life you’re in, know that Jesus wants your children at Mass, even if they can be wiggly and distracting sometimes.