The presence of children at Mass is key to their religious development and the life of the community. Unfortunately, their presence is often ignored until they become “distractions.” More can be done to engage children at Mass and to foster a community environment which contributes to their faith formation.
The Lutheran church I grew up in always provided special “worship aids” for children based on a story from the lectionary that Sunday. The “worship aids” had pictures of Jesus we could color, games we could play, and much more. It helped ensure that we were calm, quiet, and engaged. However, there were no resources to help parents begin to transition their children into celebrating the liturgy with the community. There was also nothing directed toward the community outlining their role in the formation of children in the parish.
A reader recently wrote to me concerning hospitality toward families with children:
A photo of a pew card reassuring parents that they and their children are welcome at Mass is making the rounds on Facebook and other social media.
It also offers some practical suggestions for engaging young children in the liturgy (sit up front!). We put out hymnals and worship aids for adults, but I have never been in a parish that provides age appropriate worship aids to children. Should parishes provide materials? If you do, what do you provide?”
My favorite line is: “The presence of children is a gift to the Church and they are a reminder that our parish is growing.” I wish communities would stop seeing children as a “distraction” and instead embrace them as the future of the Church.
What does your community do to foster the faith formation of children at Mass?
Please comment below.