Can Children Leave During the Liturgy of the Word?


#1

Hello,

We have been attending a different parish lately and before the Liturgy of the Word, all children are invited to leave for the children’s liturgy. The group goes down to a classroom in the basement.

  1. Is this okay?

  2. It is led by a lay person, not a deacon or priest. Is this permitted?

  3. The children return at various times - sometimes in the middle of the homily. When should they return?

Thank you for your help.


#2

I suspect there are different practices in parishes, depending on the availability of volunteers.

In our parish, the children go to the hall (with or without parents) before the act of contrition. The children’s liturgy is led by a lay person who has passed a government criminal records check. The children return during the collection, process to the altar offering their board with pictures of what they had learned, two children carry the hosts and wine (under strict supervision) and the collection is brought up last.

I understand that the children’s liturgy is led by a Franciscan nun supported by lay people.

NB. All our clergy, religious and laity in contact with children and/or vulnerable adults have to have passed the government criminal record check.

This is just how it is in my neck of the woods.


#3

What you describe is what our parish does and what I’ve seen in other places. It’s not a “children’s liturgy” so much as teaching the Scripture readings for the day at the appropriate children’s level, and certainly it is appropriate for lay volunteers - who of course are generally who make up the religious education volunteer staff - to do this. As you described, the children return in time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.


#4

It’s allowed but it’s supposed to be for children who are younger than the age when they are preparing for First Communion. By that time, they should be attending Mass - all of it.


#5

They do it at my parish, but it’s from ages 6-10 - well past First Communion age, I’d surmise.


#6

Yes, Children’s Liturgy of the Word is permitted.

This is an issue of some disagreement. For practical reasons most implementations of CLotW are led by lay persons. Most of the early materials I have seen for CLotW seem to envision lay leaders.
The ages of the children are also of issue. Children who have not yet made their first communion are typically children who have not or are just beginning to reach the age of reason. Such children would not necessarily have an obligation to attend Mass so if the leader is a lay person there is not a big issue.
In Canada it has been declared that CLotW is supposed to be for young children and should not take place more than a few times a year.
In the United States, as far as I know, the Bishop’s conference has made no such declaration --although I believe some individual bishops have done so. As a result you see a great deal of variation from diocese to diocese. In my parish (and in a number of neighboring parishes) the children are segregated by age: younger children (second grade and younger) are in one group and older children (usually grades 3 - 5) are in another. My personal view is that if older children are involved they need to have a deacon (or priest) presiding. (It seldom happens.)

Most materials of CLotW include the creed and Prayers of the Faithful. That suggests the children probably*** should*** rejoin the adult congregation at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Faithful.
In practice it is not that simple. It is not easy to time things such that the children’s Liturgy of the Word plus “travel time” takes exactly the same amount of time as it does for the adults. If the children take too short of a time then they end up standing in the narthex (and the adults have to try and keep them quiet and prevent them from barging in). If the children take too long then they they can end up walking in during the Preface or even later.


#7

All of the above. :thumbsup:
I will add, that at one of my former parishes, they used a cell phone to signal the best time to make their way back. When the priest concluded his homily, we sat for a few minutes of silent reflection, and someone texted the lay leaders to come back. When everyone was back with their parents, we had the Creed together.
It’s just OK. We review the readings in language the children can comprehend within the Sunday school classes which happen just after Mass, or just before, depending on which they attend. So…I’m not really a fan. I do understand that lots of places have it and love it.
We can barely find enough volunteers that are catechistically trained for classes and that will also submit to the Safe Environment process.
I suppose it can be very successful in large parishes. The issue of doing it prior to being old enough for First Communion is a very good one.
Anxious to see what everyone else thinks…
Peace


#8

I don’t know what they do now at my parish since I no longer help with CLOtW. We used to have an usher come over and tell us when it was time to wrap things up. Some days no one would remember to get us…


#9

At our parish, children may be dropped off before the start of the Mass to hear the readings at their own level. The children are taught by lay-people, most of them are volunteers at the attached school and all of them have taken the Archdiocese mandated abuse awareness program (you must take it to work/volunteer in any aspect of the church, even if kids aren’t around). The children then come back during the collection and about once a month, they bring up the gifts (only one of the volunteers handles this, she knows the kids and knows which ones go to the school and have done it as part as the weekly Mass, those kids carry the bread and wine, the others just process with them).

Ours is for ages 5-8. Since this Archdiocese does First Communion in 3rd grade, most of the kids are not yet eligible for Communion yet anyway.


#10

You make a good point about the criminal record check, which we call here in Utah “Safe Environment.”

Do you find it distracting when the children come and go?


#11

TR - At this parish, it is referred to as the Children’s Liturgy and yes, it is for the purpose of bringing the Scripture readings to the children’s level.

I have heard from some that it is not appropriate for a lay person to handle this and that children should not be leaving mass at all…therefore, I am confused. :slight_smile:

Also, when the children return it is very disruptive. If I do volunteer for this I would need to work on that!


#12

Corki - Another good point. Before leaving, they announce that all children are welcome to leave for the children’s Liturgy. Perhaps we should say it for those who have not yet made First Communion.

Thanks!


#13

Thank you. I have lived in three states and have never seen it before at any of my parishes.

This is an issue of some disagreement. For practical reasons most implementations of CLotW are led by lay persons. Most of the early materials I have seen for CLotW seem to envision lay leaders.
The ages of the children are also of issue. Children who have not yet made their first communion are typically children who have not or are just beginning to reach the age of reason. Such children would not necessarily have an obligation to attend Mass so if the leader is a lay person there is not a big issue.
In Canada it has been declared that CLotW is supposed to be for young children and should not take place more than a few times a year.
In the United States, as far as I know, the Bishop’s conference has made no such declaration --although I believe some individual bishops have done so. As a result you see a great deal of variation from diocese to diocese. In my parish (and in a number of neighboring parishes) the children are segregated by age: younger children (second grade and younger) are in one group and older children (usually grades 3 - 5) are in another. My personal view is that if older children are involved they need to have a deacon (or priest) presiding. (It seldom happens.)

Where I am from, children of all ages attend mass and do not leave for any reason (unless they are crying or have to go the bathroom. :p)

Is there enough time to teach the children what they need to know?

Most materials of CLotW include the creed and Prayers of the Faithful. That suggests the children probably*** should*** rejoin the adult congregation at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Faithful.
In practice it is not that simple. It is not easy to time things such that the children’s Liturgy of the Word plus “travel time” takes exactly the same amount of time as it does for the adults. If the children take too short of a time then they end up standing in the narthex (and the adults have to try and keep them quiet and prevent them from barging in). If the children take too long then they they can end up walking in during the Preface or even later.

Great information. I am so glad I started this thread! :slight_smile:


#14

I’m not really a fan either. I don’t mean to sound snarky, but I never thought that the readings were too hard for children to understand. I have four children and it has never, ever come up…:shrug:

However, I was asked to volunteer in this position and we are possibly joining this parish so I guess I have to be open-minded and get some other view points. :slight_smile:

Thanks!


#15

Directory for Masses with Children (1973)
Chapter II. Masses With Adults in Which Children Also Participate

  1. In many places parish Masses are celebrated, especially on Sundays and holy days, at which a good many children take part along with the large number of adults. On such occasions the witness of adult believers can have a great effect upon the children. Adults can in turn benefit spiritually from experiencing the part that the children have within the Christian community. The Christian spirit of the family is greatly fostered when children take part in these Masses together with their parents and other family members.
    Infants who as yet are unable or unwilling to take part in the Mass may be brought in at the end of Mass to be blessed together with the rest of the community. This may be done, for example, if parish helpers have been taking care of them in separate areas.
  2. Nevertheless, in Masses of this kind it is necessary to take great care that the children present do not feel neglected because of their inability to participate or to understand what happens and what is proclaimed in the celebration. Some account should be taken of their presence: for example, by speaking to them directly in the introductory comments (as at the beginning and the end of Mass) and at some point in the homily.
    Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permit, it will be appropriate to celebrate the liturgy of the word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant, room. Then, before the eucharistic liturgy begins, the children are led to the place where the adults have meanwhile celebrated their own liturgy of the word.

Based on the section in blue of this 1973 document, the Bishops of Canada issued a document in 2006 stating, among other things, that a LOWC should:

[LIST]
*]only be “sometimes” so not weekly or even bi-weekly;
*]be well prepared, true liturgies that don’t involve crafts of any kind (one of the points they made “if pencils are involved you’re doing it wrong”);
*]follow the same format as the Liturgy of the Word taking place in the main space;
*]never be obligatory even if used as part of a sacramental preparation process since the children have the right to be in the pews with their families;
*]involve singing;
*]not be in a ‘classroom’ type of environment;
*]involve only children from the ages of 4 (younger than that it’s babysitting) to when they’ve made their First Communion.
[/LIST]


#16

As I stated earlier, the US bishops have not (communally) issued any such specific decrees on how Children’s Liturgy of the Word is handled so there is great deal of variation in the age levels that it is used for. But the points I’ve put in red are ones that have always been stressed to us.

It is a classroom-like setting in the sense that the adults might have to give some extra explanations regarding what the children should do and why they should do it but then again, the priest in church can make that kind of commentary too. The one reminder we have always given to the children was that just because they have left the main church building doesn’t mean they have left Mass so the same behavior is expected of them. (And then we hoped that their parents actually had communicated “Church behavior” expectations to them.)

The major differences are that the children’s lectionary is used rather than the “adult” lectionary. In the case of children it is permissible to omit one of the first two readings. (My parish did this for they youngest children but not for the older ones.) We sometimes had a (well prepared) children’s choir member act as cantor and lead the Gospel acclamation.

The biggest difference (and perhaps the most controversial one) was that in place of a homily we’d have a short reflection or directed discussion on the readings and how the first reading(s) was/were different from or the same as the Gospel. Lay people are not to give homilies so it was always a challenge to figure out what we could legitimately say or do.


#17

At the time of the original document (1973) lay people could give ‘homilies’. That really changed in 2004 when RS was promulgated.

I haven’t been involved with LOWCs but I know that the format they usually used with the kids in my parish was “What did you hear?” and “How can you use that in your life?” Usually the kids were better at getting things out of a reading than adults asked the same questions. That’s when they had a true LOW.

Recent developments in my parish has seen the use of ‘Bible stories’ (rather than the children’s Lectionary for the readings of the day) and crafts because nobody wanted to read the bishops’ document.


#18

As I posted earlier, we did have it in a previous parish. We had volunteers, they took them to an auditorium like setting in the parish hall, they were summoned back via text message.
The real reason it died out:
The Children’s Lectionary. The next Pastor did not like it one bit. He really disliked the wording, felt it watered down the readings too much, more than was necessary, and in many cases, changed it. I had the same experience when I was DRE at a Catholic school. The visiting priests did not like the Children’s Lectionary, and finally, at some point, the pastor of the church we were associated with forbade its use for the school Masses because they took place “in his church”. I suppose he got some calls form his brother priests.
Years and years later, a former principal from Florida asked if I still had the Children’s Lectionary and I sent it to him. The sisters at his school didn’t think young children could read the readings, and he wanted to prove that young children could do it.


#19

There are definitely problems with the Children’s Lectionary. In some cases, as you say, the children’s version changes the meaning of the scriptural text. I read about that several years ago and I argued with the former diocesan catechetical coordinator about it. I wasn’t challenging her, she’s my friend and we were friends before she became CC, but she didn’t wish to address that at all. In fact, she pretty much said she didn’t care, it had been approved by the Canadian Bishops and as far as she was concerned that settled it. The Pastors we’ve had over the years have not been familiar with the Children’s Lectionary and, as far as I can tell, are not aware of the problems that have been identified in it.


#20

No. After we say “And with your spirit” the priest calls up the children, gives one the book to carry and they process into the hall. As soon as most of them are at the door we have started the Act of Contrition. They only come back in when we start singing the hymn while the collection takes place. They children process up the center aisle to offer their bulletin showing what they learned. By the time we finish the hymn the last child is back in their pew.


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