Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Revised Roman Missal: Who Will Explain this to the Children?

In the flurry to set up catechetical materials to help adults understand and accept the new translation of texts of the Mass, there is nothing yet available for children and youth, nor, when I asked publishers about it, are there any plans in place yet to provide them. The assumption is, apparently, that we work with the adults and they, in turn, get to the kids. However, I personally believe that catechesis of adults is going to be a long process and that kids will just be confused if no one talks or teaches directly about this on their level. After all - how many 3rd-6th graders do you know who understand "consubstantial" and "incarnate" or who won't wonder whose roof God wants to be under, or why?

Catechists and Catholic school teachers may mean well, but my experience in working directly with average catechists/teachers while facilitating online courses on liturgy and sacraments has been that for most of them, their own understanding of the current liturgy is rather weak. To expect them, and parents who may only marginally be connected to church to instruct children in an age-appropriate manner without good materials is not going to work.  If these materials are not now in production by publishers, their availability in time for next school year, when such instruction should really begin, is in doubt.

After all, we have taught children the current texts in good faith as they prepared for First Eucharist - if they actively attend Mass, these words are a part of them, just as they are a part of adults.  Even if their families only occasionally participate in the liturgy, these words would be familiar. We owe them age-appropriate explanations for why their responses and the priest's words are changing - for why the words to familiar musical settings are changing, or those settings having to be replaced  entirely with new music.

Dioceses should now be mounting massive campaigns not only to catechize leadership and the general adult population, but to instruct catechists and parents about how to form their children for the changes to the Mass - and to prepare or assemble age-appropriate materials to be used with children and youth.  That will be one of my personal goals for our diocesan office. If there is no path, I feel strongly I will just have to make one!


  1. Joyce, I share your pain! Although parents are certainly the primary educators of their children in matters of faith, catholic school teachers and catechists must actively educate children about the changes. In fact, I see them as a great opportunity for catechesis. For the first time, many of these students (and adults) will actually have to think about what they are saying during the liturgy. What a great opportunity to teach "consubstantial" to young people!

    I am very interested in knowing what dioceses are doing to catechize about the changes. Believe me, if the dioceses launch "massive campaigns," then the publishers will follow suit.

  2. Thanks, Jared - I had a number of laypersons who are not in catechetical ministry agree with this post when it appeared on Facebook - I am looking into working up some lesson plans myself - (maybe to get published?) and I will be prioritizing training of catechists about this in our dioces.