Friday, August 6, 2010

New Roman Missal Implementation: What About the Children and Youth?

If you have not found it yet, Fr. Paul Turner has a good, simple reference page for issues and resources about the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.  He includes links to papers, articles, books, videos and more about general issues and implementation. Some good stuff there, including an item that reinforces my concern that we need to be planning something to assist children and youth with the transition.

The second paper in his set of links ("Parish Practice, the Shock of the New") is rather interesting - his reflections on some focus sessions with adults and youth in which he introduced some of the proposed new Mass texts.  The interesting news is that the teens reacted far more negatively than did most of the adults. This is evidence that my long-standing concerns about the need for materials to assist children and youth to understand the changes is well-founded. 

Some liturgical experts with whom I have raised the issue of "what about the children?" have simply responded with "Oh, they will adjust." Faith Formation textbook publishers I have spoken to have assured me they will issue revised versions of their textbooks containing the new texts where the current ones appear. For those of use immersed in the age-appropriate catechesis of children and youth, these are not good enough answers. Something more is needed.

I am currently working at getting together a ground-level implementation workshop for our diocesan leaders for about a year from now which would deal more specifically with how to navigate this transition period with people of all ages.  One presenter has indicated he will be working on a set of four lesson plans at three age levels on the new texts.  This is exactly what we need.  Catechists and Catholic school teachers need age-appropriate resources to help them explain to kids a little about the "why?", but mostly about the "what?"... and the "what does it mean?" 

Children and youth who dutifully have learned their Mass responses and who have regularly attended Mass deserve better from us than merely, "Oh, you'll get used to it."  Like most adults, they will need help understanding the more formal Latinate and theological language, and the simple things, like the response to the Ecce Agnus Dei: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."  (I already have had one adult ask me if that is the roof of the mouth!) 

Thanks to Father Turner for publishing the results of his teen focus sessions.  All I can say is, "I told you so!"


  1. Thank you for your work on this, Joyce! Let me know if I can help.

  2. The "roof of my mouth" interpretation was one my family joked about, since we love puns.

    The real meaning, of course, requires familiarity with Matthew 8:8, among other verses of Scripture.