I’d like to share a goal with you – one that grows out of an interesting story. My daughter (age 10) had a melt down when I took her to a Novus Ordo mass this year. She cried, stamped her feet, declared she wanted to go to Mass but just not this one; this took place in the vestibule of the church in the middle of Mass. I tried to explain to her that while it didn’t sound the same or feel the same, Christ was still present in the Blessed Sacrament – that He was all that mattered. She looked at me like I was an alien. I realized in that moment that while she loved the Latin Mass and felt its reverence in her soul, she needed help to see the similarities and differences between the two rites and get to the heart of the most important bits. If not, then she might sit in a pew and passively attend Mass but not be able to pray it. Clearly, I had a lot of work to do. But how could I fit it in?
With five children ranging in ages from 10 to 2, it can be hard to sit with just one child at Mass and help them navigate their missal and learn to pray the Mass. Inevitably, the baby wants to go potty or one of the younger children needs reassurance. I sometimes think I spend the majority of Mass tending children when all I want to do is kneel before Our Lord. Indeed, it is a rare and lovely experience to actually pray the whole Mass – one that has occurred so infrequently in recent years that I can count the number of times on one hand.
Mothers of older children assure me this is just a season in life and one that will pass all too quickly. I’m not sure I want my darlings to grow up quickly, but I long to be able to sit with them and explain all the complexity of the Mass. I want to be able to help them approach Mass in such a way that they are not bored but deeply and passionately engaged in prayer.
How on earth do moms and dads do it? Before the advent of the IPad, I’m not sure it was possible without talking straight through Mass! I can’t be the only mom out there who hesitates to do so. I find myself struggling to explain the complex language of the liturgy without becoming a distraction to those around me who want to pray. I’ve been looking for a solution for some time and I have found one! We are blessed in that there are apps available that live stream the Latin Mass. My favorite (so far) is iMass – which not only streams but links to the missal as well.
So, a not so much “fun” as absolutely necessary component of our summer school is to spend some time helping the children to navigate their missals and understand the Mass. I want to give them the opportunity to pause, ask questions, watch carefully, and try (and perhaps fail) to follow along in their missals.
I also want them to begin memorizing prayers in Latin. I know . . . This probably should have been done earlier, but my kids just learned English seven years ago and we’re still figuring things out a bit here. I approach memorization from a few different avenues at once. I have the children listen to the prayer as I recite it in Latin and English, then I have them practice it line by line, and finally, we use the prayers as copywork.
How do you teach your children the Mass? How do you help them memorize their prayers in Latin? Do you even care if they know them in Latin? Help me out here. Please share your ideas in the comments!