A Sign of Hope: The Gift of Bringing Kids to Mass
AnneMarie Miller reflects on five powerful fruits she has observed from taking her young children to daily Mass.
The daily Mass ended, and I walked into the cavernous lobby with my three young children. Two elderly women approached. “Thank you for bringing them to Mass,” one of the women said, joy overflowing from her eyes and smile. She continued to speak about how much she loves seeing young children at Mass, and that she doesn’t care if they make noise; she’s just happy to see them there. “They give me hope,” she concluded, before turning to leave.
My children give her hope.
I don’t think any of us can really quantify the grace and gifts we receive from being in Our Lord’s presence and participating in Mass. Yet, I’ve found it helpful—especially on the tougher days of parenting—to reflect on some visible fruits we’ve experienced from regularly attending daily Mass.
My children are able to live out their Baptism in a beautiful way
One definition of liturgy refers to the “participation of the People of God in the ‘work of God” (CCC 1069). Through our Baptism, “we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (CCC 1213). Even if they have not yet received the other Sacraments of Initiation, our baptized babies and toddlers are still part of the Church. They, too, participate in this “work of God,” this liturgy—even if they squirm or may not always say the correct words.
The gift of the liturgy overflows into the rest of their lives
There’s a reason why so many “Mass kits” exist for young children: kids often meditate on what they’ve experienced through their play! Several times a week (or even a day), I’ll notice at least one of my children gravitate toward our child-sized “model altar” and don a chasuble or begin swinging a “thurible” (they currently use a play toilet plunger for this).
While drawing pictures or playing with blocks, my preschooler will sometimes begin singing the parts of the Mass. My firstborn will draw pictures of video game characters and sometimes include a Eucharistic host or cross somewhere on the page. Even if they don’t seem to pay attention in the church some days, they are still absorbing and learning about the Mass–and this impacts their entire lives.
My baby is learning how to respond at Mass
“Through Him, with Him, in Him …” the priest intoned as he lifted up the newly-consecrated Eucharist. Before the congregation began to utter the “Great Amen,” my baby laid her head on my shoulder and sang out loudly: “AHH!!!!!” At the next three Masses we attended, she continued to sing this at the exact same moment. Although she was not even a year and a half old yet, she knew how to respond when the Eucharist was lifted.
My kids know their priests and bishop
When we see our priests on Sundays, it’s often for a brief handshake and greeting before they go prepare for the next Mass or Baptism. However, when we attend daily Mass each week, we are able to see our priest, pray with him at Mass, and sometimes even visit with him afterwards. We’ve also gotten to connect with our archbishop. He’s very busy, and we don’t often see him at events.
However, last summer, I began taking my children to the Pastoral Center (where the chancery is located) for Mass once a month. Sometimes our pastor will celebrate Mass there, but a couple of times, the archbishop has been the main celebrant. Instead of only knowing about our archbishop from pictures, my young children know who he is from these small liturgies. They get to sit in the front pew and look at our bishop up close. They get to pray for him and pray with him. They’ve even been able to visit with him after Mass!
We’ve grown in community with others who attend daily Mass
Since we usually attend the same daily Mass, we see the same people in the chapel week after week. Over the months, we’ve gotten to know them through small exchanges of greeting or short conversations after Mass. It’s been a great way to build a loving community in our parish. For example, there’s one older gentleman who attends daily Mass with his wife, and he has become a good friend of my baby. Even though I don’t know him and his wife well, we are united in our participation at Mass. Every week as he leaves the chapel, he stops and holds out his arms for my baby. She always curls right into his shoulder contentedly, and it brings him and his wife a lot of joy, too.
These are just a small sampling of some beautiful fruits I’ve observed in the past several months. It may be very inconvenient or difficult to bring our kids to an additional Mass each week, but—along with the beautiful graces that God offers—we can never imagine the good that He will bring from this practice.
Next month, I’ll be reflecting on a mental hurdle that I had to overcome when taking my kids to Mass. In the meantime, let’s ask ourselves: What good fruits have we seen from bringing our children to Mass?
Copyright 2022 AnneMarie Miller
About AnneMarie Miller
A bibliophile, wife, mother of young children, and lover of the Liturgy, AnneMarie Miller enjoys exploring the manifold—and quirky—ways in which God speaks. She can often be found reading books to her kids, burrowing her toes in the red Oklahoma dirt, or sipping black coffee. Her reflections on Catholicism, literature, and hope can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.