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You are here: Documents > The Eucharist and the Mass > Directory for Masses With Children  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsChapter I. The Introduction of Children to the Eucharistic CelebrationEndnotes

Introduction

1. The Church must show special concern for baptized children who have yet to be fully initiated through the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist as well as for children who have only recently been admitted to holy communion. Today the circumstances in which children grow up are not favorable to their spiritual progress. [1] In addition parents sometimes scarcely fulfill the obligations they accepted at the baptism of their children to bring them up as Christians.

2. In the upbringing of children in the Church a special difficulty arises from the fact that liturgical celebrations, especially the eucharist, cannot fully exercise their inherent pedagogical force upon children. [2] Although the vernacular may now be used at Mass, still the words and signs have not been sufficiently adapted to the capacity of children.

In fact, even in daily life children do not always understand all their experiences with adults but rather may find them boring. It cannot therefore be expected of the liturgy that everything must always be intelligible to them. Nonetheless, we may fear spiritual harm if over the years children repeatedly experience in the Church things that are barely comprehensible: recent psychological study has established how profoundly children are formed by the religious experience of infancy and early childhood, because of the special religious receptivity proper to those years. [3]

3. The Church follows its Master, who "put his arms around the children . . . and blessed them" (Mk 10:16). It cannot leave children in the condition described. Vatican Council II had spoken in the Constitution on the Liturgy about the need of liturgical adaptation for various groups. [4] Soon afterwards, especially in the first Synod of Bishops held in Rome in 1967, the Church began to consider how participation by children could be made easier. On the occasion of the Synod, the President of the Concilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy said explicitly that it could not be a matter of "creating some entirely special rite but rather of retaining, shortening, or omitting some elements or of making a better selection of texts." [5]

4. All the details of eucharistic celebration with a congregation were determined in the General Instruction of the revised Roman Missal published in 1969. Then this Congregation began to prepare a special Directory for Masses with Children, as a supplement to the General Instruction. This was done in response to repeated petitions from the entire Catholic world and with the cooperation of men and women specialists from almost every nation.

5. Like the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, this Directory reserves some adaptations to the conferences of bishops or to individual bishops. [6]

Some adaptations of the Mass may be necessary for children in a given country but cannot be included in a general directory. In accord with the Constitution on the Liturgy art. 40, the conferences of bishops are to propose such adaptations to the Apostolic See for introduction into the liturgy with its consent.

6. The Directory is concerned with children who have not yet entered the period of preadolescence. It does not speak directly of children who are physically or mentally handicapped, because a broader adaptation is sometimes necessary for them. [7] Nevertheless, the following norms may also be applied to the handicapped, with the necessary changes.

7. The first chapter of the Directory (nos. 8-15) gives a kind of foundation by considering the different ways in which children are introduced to the eucharistic liturgy. The second chapter briefly treats Masses with adults in which children also take part (nos. 16-19). Finally, the third chapter (nos. 20-54) treats at greater length Masses with children in which only some adults take part.

Table of ContentsChapter I. The Introduction of Children to the Eucharistic CelebrationEndnotes

You are here: Documents > The Eucharist and the Mass > Directory for Masses With Children  Back one page.

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You are here: Documents > The Eucharist and the Mass > Directory for Masses With Children  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links


All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com