Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on the topic of introducing children to the traditional Latin Mass and making it fruitful for them. The first part is available here. NB: This article (and its companion piece) have been published, in rewritten form, as chapter 20 in my book Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass.
In my last post, I spoke of things we can do at home to dig furrows in the soul for planting the seed of the Mass. Today I will highlight things we can do to make attending and assisting at Mass more fruitful for everyone, especially the children.
The thing I recommend most strongly is that you bring your family to a High Mass (Missa Cantata) or even a Solemn High Mass (Missa Solemnis), if this is available in your area. It may seem counterintuitive — such a liturgy is longer and more complicated, and it is probably at a later time of day, when children are more likely to be tired and cranky. Still, if you can manage to work it out practically, the High Mass is a fuller celebration of the rite, with more going on to pay attention to and be shaped by. There is more activity happening in the sanctuary — processions, incensations, bows and genuflections, the carrying of this and that, vessels being handed around, the sacred choreography of the ministers — with the chanting of prayers and readings, and plenty of music along the way. When it’s done well, it is a feast for the senses that helps sustain interest and foster curiosity. A Low Mass, as beautiful as it is for adults who have learned the art of prayer or simply find comfort in the peace and quiet, is much harder going for little ones who, not surprisingly, find anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes of almost total silence a rather large bucket to fill. So, while a Low Mass almost cries out for following along in a book, at a High Mass (particularly a Solemn High Mass) one can let oneself go and just watch.