Catholic Childhood Memories - BORRRING!


#1

Would any "Cradle Catholics" like to share how their experience of the Mass as a child affected them in the long run?

I'm a protestant married to a catholic. i really, really enjoy mass and may one day convert. i think it's very good for my wife and I. HOWEVER, I am concerned about the kids. I worry that i am depriving them by forcing them to attend a boring ol' Catholic Church.

But did it deprive you? Sitting in that stuffy church as a child, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Mass to end. . . but wait, did it actually do you some good? Did it help shape you and prepare you for the challenges of teen and adult years? Did it draw you to Christ? Did it help create good family ties?

Or, is it merely like my four year old son says: BORRRING.

Joseph L Varga shared this with me today and it really heightened my spirits:

"I'm a cradle Catholic, wanting to share some of my memories, experience with children, and how the Mass will affect them on the long term. I think the Mass is hard on small children. One hour to stay still seems interminably long, and a small child will not understand much of a homily designed to educate adult people. When I was this age (4) and even several years later, I would fall asleep whenever we attended evening masses with my mom and/or aunt, during the months of May and October (in the parish of my childhood, we have a great devotion to Holy Mary, with a tradition to attend daily masses when possible during those two months, in her honor). Thus, I would usually end up sleeping in my mom's or aunt's arms, during those evening masses. And yet, 30-40 years later, today, these are my fondest memories. Getting up on Sunday mornings not to be late at Mass, sitting through the sermons that I usually didn't understand too much of, and attending those evening Masses in the months of May and October. I don't understand how, and why. But those childhood experiences bonded me to the Church in a great way"

:thumbsup: Joseph!


#2

Hum. I actually have some rather fond memories of mass. Now, mind, other than being baptized catholic, I'm not catholic, the foster family I lived with was, so we pretty much went to their church by default.
I thought the special masses were the most amazing of all, whatwith the children's choir, the organ music, etc.
When I was young, the church actually said some of the mass in Latin. Why they stopped, I really don't know. I still can recall some of the Latin responses. That's burned in my head...
I used to watch with a...hum...what am I looking for....facination? the women who would always light candles and pray. I always wondered who they were praying for..

I loved to look at all the paintings and statues and wonder. I'd look at all the stations of the cross...that's what you'd call it, yes? and imagine just how much Jesus must have suffered ...and for us. And then I'd wonder....why?

Yeah. My little imagination would run wild in church. I was bored sometimes, but isn't
every kid? ;0)
oh....just wanted to add....mind, I was pretty much a brat at times, too. Don't get me wrong. I'd get in all kinds of trouble b/c I was talking, kicking the pew in front of me, falling asleep...pfft.


#3

I remember sitting in Church...and being bored...but you had to be good. If one of your parents took you out of church...well there was no witnesses..:D I also remember midnight mass on Christmas Eve. And I remember CCD classes with the bible story books. Looking back..in dealing with childhood abuse from my mom later on....it was my knowlege of Christ that helped me through it. Many times I just cried out to him...and he was there. The memories of church...even if it was just waiting for it to be done..for the coffee and doughnuts:D Those memories are some of my fondest...and I also think it was that that tied me to the church. I was gone for 22+ years and have come back and fully embraced my faith!


#4

I'll own that I didn't really "get" the Mass until I was older. Yes, I understood that the Eucharist was the Body and Blood of Christ; it would be fair to say I didn't appreciate it until I was in my early teens. But, even though I didn't understand most of the readings and certainly not the homily, I liked so many other things that Mass provided. I loved it when the priest would use incense or bless us with holy water. I also loved all of the Marian hymns ("On This Day O Beautiful Mother, Salve Regina, etc.).

As a child, before making my First Communion, my sister and I used to "play" Mass and practice going to Communion with Necco Wafers or Wonder Bread. We'd do it over and over until our Mom would catch us and scold us..."You only go up to Communion once. Now knock it off." LOL.


#5

When I was about between the ages of 3 and 5, I remember the only part of the Mass I found boring was the homily. I remember it seemed like it took the priest ages to get done with what he wanted to reflect on. That was the worst part. Other than that, I enjoyed it.


#6

I'm a Cradle Catholic as well and consider it a term of endearment. I've always loved the faith, ignored it for a while after college, but came back (home) with a vengeance. If you read to believe, you are in a difficult place, but if you read to understand, then use your zest for learning about the faith a chance to grow in it and share what you learn with your kids and spouse. The Catholic Church has so much to offer and so many resources for to grow. You know the old saying, "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know." From my experience, you will find a happy medium on how far you want to take your education.

Back to your question...

Would any "Cradle Catholics" like to share how their experience of the Mass as a child affected them in the long run?

 It affected me in a very positive way. Going to Church was just part of my life, but didn't realize the positive impact it had on me until I realized how complex the real world is and how the Church puts order around it.

I'm a protestant married to a catholic. i really, really enjoy mass and may one day convert. i think it's very good for my wife and I. HOWEVER, I am concerned about the kids. I worry that i am depriving them by forcing them to attend a boring ol' Catholic Church.

If I were you, I would contact your parish or another one nearby that has an RCIA class and get some of your questions answered as you go through the class. Make it known upfront that you are not necessarily going to convert, but want to become more educated. If anything, it'll answer a lot of questions and help you discern whether you are ready to be Catholic or not.  Be sure to quickly become friends with someone with a sound understanding of the faith.  Along the way, you and your spouse will probably grow to have a more common understanding on the Christian Faith and instead of thinking of mass as 'boring', you might learn to appreciate it for what it is, pretty amazing and based on truth. My reason for sharing all of this with you, is that you'll be able to attend mass with the children and help them to understand their faith better.  I assume they are either attending Catholic School or Religious Education. You might want to go through RCIA and then be one of their teachers assistants at school or religious education.

But did it deprive you?

  I'm not sure that I understand. It gave me a loving and personal relationship with Christ. Not sure how that could deprive anyone.

Sitting in that stuffy church as a child, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Mass to end. . . but wait, did it actually do you some good?

Absolutely...I see so many confused non-Christians and Cafeteria Catholics out there that all say they are happy, but then minutes later, they start talking about their 'meds for anxiety and other symptoms' and then share with me what their psychologists are telling them to do. Why would you need either if you have a strong faith, a wonderful family who love each other, and friends that support each other? Without this foundation, I think kids can get on the wrong foot.

Did it help shape you and prepare you for the challenges of teen and adult years? Did it draw you to Christ? Did it help create good family ties?

 I could expand on this, but yes - absolutely, all of the above.

Or, is it merely like my four year old son says: BORRRING.

It can be boring of the untrained or those who are always challenging the Church's teaching. If you love someone, I suggest spending more (not less time) with them. In this case, spend some quiet time with God, pray, and do more reading.

Cheers and Good luck,

Crash001


#7

For real? I loved Mass when I was little! It's got to be said that the kids' attitude is always related to the parents'... maybe they don't see your excitement for the Mass well enough. Or they get reinforcement when they complain about the Mass and people will laugh. :shrug:

To make it special and help us get through it, my mom would have "church food" which always meant delicious green grapes :thumbsup: when we were very young of course. We always dressed up very well, which as a little girl I loved (I'm thinking straw bonnets in the spring and little glossy Mary Janes.

For the religious part of it, I used to play peekaboo with the crucifix :p and really loved my guardian angel (make that love - present tense too). The church was on a slope so that the altar was lower and we could see very well. I used to love walking closer, down the slope. Also I always wanted to play priest and have a play Mass at home, me at the bottom of our stairs to mimick our parish church, and making a play Eucharist with white bread, cut with a round cookie cutter and quished flat. I remember this vividly, because I wanted to do this sooooo bad, but knew it was wrong somehow so I never did it.

ALSO I remember after I started school I used to think that maybe Mass took a summer off :D and I also remember having conversations about when kids did and didn't have to go to Mass. I don't remember well my first communion as much as my first confession actually. I remember the events around my first communion far better... it's odd because I'm so devoted to the Eucharist now, I wish I remembered the first time I received Him!!! Then I also remember our nightly prayers, and prayers before meals, and prayers when setting off in the car or on a trip.

I've heard it said that to correct a kid who says Mass is boring, they need more Mass. (daily) You really can't let it go any longer that your kids are going around calling the Mass boring. If this idea forms well in their minds, especially before they're five, then this will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Try taking them to a TLM. From personal experience and from things I've read, this really touches children. And make Mass special. Smile and gently correct them if they're lost, don't frown and beat them when they don't genuflect. Dress them up to make it special, go out to lunch as a family afterwards, make sure they know the priest on a hug basis :) and have him over to dinner.


#8

[quote="freerf, post:1, topic:203625"]
Would any "Cradle Catholics" like to share how their experience of the Mass as a child affected them in the long run?

I'm a protestant married to a catholic. i really, really enjoy mass and may one day convert. i think it's very good for my wife and I. HOWEVER, I am concerned about the kids. I worry that i am depriving them by forcing them to attend a boring ol' Catholic Church.

But did it deprive you? Sitting in that stuffy church as a child, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Mass to end. . . but wait, did it actually do you some good? Did it help shape you and prepare you for the challenges of teen and adult years? Did it draw you to Christ? Did it help create good family ties?

Or, is it merely like my four year old son says: BORRRING.

Joseph L Varga shared this with me today and it really heightened my spirits:

"I'm a cradle Catholic, wanting to share some of my memories, experience with children, and how the Mass will affect them on the long term. I think the Mass is hard on small children. One hour to stay still seems interminably long, and a small child will not understand much of a homily designed to educate adult people. When I was this age (4) and even several years later, I would fall asleep whenever we attended evening masses with my mom and/or aunt, during the months of May and October (in the parish of my childhood, we have a great devotion to Holy Mary, with a tradition to attend daily masses when possible during those two months, in her honor). Thus, I would usually end up sleeping in my mom's or aunt's arms, during those evening masses. And yet, 30-40 years later, today, these are my fondest memories. Getting up on Sunday mornings not to be late at Mass, sitting through the sermons that I usually didn't understand too much of, and attending those evening Masses in the months of May and October. I don't understand how, and why. But those childhood experiences bonded me to the Church in a great way"

:thumbsup: Joseph!

[/quote]

So, your four year old, he's entertained all the other places he has to sit still? Because I'm wondering how you managed it because I'm sure EVERY parent would like to know your magic.

Seriously, you are basing the experience of the mass on the reactions of a four year old.

So the next time I go into the voting booth in an election, I should look for a four year old to base my experience and conclusions on, good to know.


#9

I'm a cradle Catholic too.

My memories were anything but boring.

Both of my parents and their families were church musicians. - good old German farmers. In those days we were up in the choir loft in the back of church. Lots of activity there and the music was ravishingly beautiful. High Mass was all in Latin ... chants, motets, Mass settings that sounded like Mozart or Hayden. At low Masses and devotions we had plenty of German and English hymns. Maybe some of them were kinda sentimental but we loved them.

I attended a lot of rehearsals. As soon as I was tall enough to see the music on the stand I began to sing too. I married a musical Catholic man and we are church musicians to this day.

Then there were the gorgeous vestiments and altar cloths, banks of flowers, gleaming candles, incense, golden vessels, processions. Don't forget the art, especially the plaster statues big as life and brightly painted. St Boniface had a hatchet stuck through the Bible on his chest. St Benedict blessed a broken cup out of which crawled snakes. Mary, depicted as an old woman, wept over the bruised body of her Son.

I remember the rapt attention of my parents at the consecration and watching them murmer, "My Lord and my God."

Sure, four year olds don't sit still very well for an hour and I can also remember getting scolded for fidgeting. But I came from a culture where nobody worried much about whether the kids were bored or not and I think we were the better for it.

My memories were overwhelmingly good. I never left the Church - too busy singing in the choir, I guess


#10

Hi :)
The Mass was very boring for me until I truly comprehended what took place. As a kid I couldn't wait for it to end, and then when I was around 13 I was in the sevenh grade, I think that is about the time Catholics have their Confirmation (which is when the child decides for his or herself whether or not they want to be a Catholic) and the day before I went on this retreat that made me fall in love with God
.
This made the Mass a lot better but still not amazing, a couple of weeks ago I went on a highschool 3 day retreat and that made me fall inlove with the Eucharist. And you can't stay away from Mass once that happens. Remember that Faith is a journey, and also a gift, it's a matter of finding Christ and then knowing you can't live without him and then falling in love with his mercy and kindness.

I am so glad that my mother made me go to Mass (my dad is not Catholic) and that she put me in places where I would have these life changing opportunites show up to enrich my life. Most children won't comprehend God's love at their age, but remember that the youngest years are the most important because 99% of children believe in God, don't have doubts, their education begins now ;)


#11

I loved God but I found Mass somewhat boring at times mainly cos I have a learnign disability and it was hard for me to stay focussed - especially when I had memorised the whole Mass by the time I was 6! But I loved God so I went cos I wanted to be near God who my parents told me was by bestest friend EVAH!

I went to a small little church so we had a very friendly atomsphere and the guy who rung the bell always gave me a chocolate fish.

As a kid I used to play "Mass", with red juice for wine and using egg cups to make circle shapes in the bread and then give it to my dolls - even though I knew as a girl I couldn't be a priest, but that was okay, cos I still loved God and I could be a nun if I wanted!

I only got a bit twitchy if Christmas was on a Saturday or Monday cos we still went to Mass on Sunday so we had two days in a row!

At the end of the day, depends on the kid, some kids can sit quietly, some a little brats who are out of control but most are somewhere in between. Yet, I view Mass like vegetables - kids might not like them, but its really good for them and they will appreciate it later.

Of course, I still hate peas!


#12

I think a lot of kids that have attended Protestant services get bored at Mass. They are used to being "entertained" instead of focusing on what Mass really is.....the worship of Our Lord and Savior. We as a society have become conditioned to being entertained on all levels and religion is certainly one of them. Why else would all these mega-churches with Starbucks and Yankee candle kiosks be popping up everywhere? I've heard of churches that have basically a "Chuckie Cheese" (minus the pizza) service for youngsters! That's not a church, it's a carnival!

I would see if your parish has a children's liturgy. If they don't, see if one can be started. Even our local Latin Mass parish has a special session for kids after Mass on Sundays. They have volunteers take turns telling Saints stories and doing a craft related to that Saint while the parents can get together for coffee and pastries. The teens usually have a snack pitch-in and time together, as well. But, like I said, this is fellowship after** Mass. The fun and "entertainment" is where it belongs - after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not before or during!


#13

The children's perception of Mass and of their parish will depend on a lot of thing, but the two that bring LIFE to Mass for our kids are:
1. Understanding what is going on: Since Kindergarten, our kids have attended Faith Formation. They 'get' what is happening and enjoy watching it. We bought them a alter toy kit when they were very young and they would immitate the Mass at home. Yes, there were Sunday's they nearly fell asleep...but many more when they were active in watching. We always sat, from ages 3-10, in the front row. They could SEE what was going on then.
2. Involvement: It is SO important to let them be a part of the Mass. When young, let them sing with the hymnal. In 2nd grade, let them alter serve. Ours all also Jr. Ushers and lector on youth sundays. The oldest son is very excited to be able to join the men's choir at age 14. They like Mass because they do things, know people and really see our Parish as thier church family.
Ourside of Mass, have them be on Parish Basketabll teams, scout troops, youth groups, etc. They will look forward to these things too and all of it will bring the focus back to Mass, which will make Mass more meaningful.
I am shocked, honestly, that my kids almost never complain about going to Mass...but I belive it is because my husband (raised Catholic) had the good sense to do the aforementioned: Help them understand the mass and keep them active in our Parish.
AnnGrace

Edit to Add: They attend parochail school so I think part of it is that they simply are 'trained' to go to Mass. It is simply a part of their week, twice a week.


#14

I am a loyal fan of properly celebrated OF of the mass and that is what I usually attend. When I was young we had only the TLM and I still love it, it is an integral part of who I am. The only vivid image that I really remember about being a young Catholic is when my family was invited a a special Mass with a lot of young people. That was around the late 60's. We went some place that was a Church and the Mass was celebrated by a priest not wearing a lot of vestments and a lot of guitar playing all the time. I still remember the name of the group "Gen Rosso". I also remember how uncomfortable my whole family was. If I remember correctly it was shortly after that period that my family fell away from the Church.

Among other childhood memories that I tried to remove from my head there is the one of the pastor pulling our hears every time we managed to hit the stained glass windows with the soccer ball.:o


#15

my earliest memory of Mass is when I am 3 or 4 at the Shrine of the Little Flower in the Detroit suburb or Royal Oak, which was then and still is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in. Fr. Coughlin, the famed "radio priest" of the 30s, was still pastor and still preaching in that booming magnetic voice, which I am sure every child of my generation who grew up in that parish equates with the voice of God. Mass there had as I recall--we moved in the early 60s--all the pomp of a papal Mass, right down to the ushers in their snappy red jackets. Boring? never. Kids do not play and make up games in imitation of adult activities they find boring, and we played "Mass" endlessly led by my older brother, who did go to seminary but was never ordained. Yes, necco wafers, but never the black or brown ones, that would have been sacreligious.


#16

I have always associated mass as being with the family. As a kid, I didn't understand mass but I knew I had to be there for God and my family. As i grew up I have appreciated the tradition of mass and the importance of a family going to mass together. A family that prays together, stays together!!!


#17

It takes some work.

Be careful to teach that boring is not an objective fact. A poor listener will be easily bored, even by something that would stimulate a better listener, or a better-prepared one. If one is bored, then, maybe one needs more preparation.

For instance…stuffy church? Is the church actually stuffy? Is the child over-dressed? Finding the child appropriate Sunday clothes that feel good to wear can amend that.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for Mass to end…this means that the child is not aware of anything that is happening. This is where your work comes in.

Mass is a very visual ritual. It is a lot more interesting if you can see it. Get to Mass early enough to sit in the front. As long as the child behaves, that’s where he gets to sit. The understanding, though, is that he can’t be a distraction to other people.

OK, so he can see. Does he have any idea what he’s looking at? Every week, introduce the meaning behind some part of the Mass. Little by little, he won’t just be waiting, waiting, waiting. He’ll start watching, watching, watching, because he’ll know what is happening. You may find some help by finding one of the books aimed at small children that explain the Mass. Look at your local Catholic book store.

What else? Well, does he know what the liturgical season is? What it is about? Is the liturgical season something that is observed at home? Gradually add that in, too.

Then there are the readings. A trick to the readings that I like is this: start with the reponse in the Responsorial Psalm. That’s a key. Now, to straight to the Gospel. After that, read the 1st reading. You, the adult, are going to have to read the parts before and after these readings, so you’ll know how they go together.

You can gradually explain: the Responsorial Psalm is like the congregation’s way of saying, “Ooo! Ooo! I get it! I get it! I see where this is going!” At Mass, the first reading is read, then the Responsorial Psalm comes up like this Greek chorus to say, “Rejoice! This shadow we’ve heard is going to be fulfilled in Jesus!” (The second reading may or may not have any obvious connection with the Gospel. You can bring that in later, after the child gets the hang of the basics.) Then comes the Gospel and there is God’s message of the ages, all lit up in the life and words of the Lord.

So, what you can do as your child grows is this: read the readings that way yourself, get some idea of what the theme is, then translate it down to your child before you go to Mass. When you read the Scriptures to your child, you read a line, explain it, then read a line, talk about that one, and so on. You can’t read the whole thing and talk about it. You have to make sure he/she is with you all the way. You start with the response alone, then the Gospel or a part of it. Gradually add a summary of what the basic story is in the 1st reading and what it has to do with the Gospel. It is better to do a small bit well than to go over his head by doing too much.

This way, when your child hears the readings go by, it won’t matter that he cannot possibly comprehend the whole thing in one sitting. He’ll have the impression that he understands the gists of the readings. There will be some tidbit in there for him.

So, ask him while he listens to let God talk to him. At four, you can bring a clipboard with some color crayons and have him or her color a picture of what God said to him/her in the Mass. Keep coloring on through the whole homily. Maybe notice what color Father is wearing, too. If he/she picks up some stuff in the homily, while coloring and listening, so much the better. If not…well, in time. Always be very positive, and explain that the Mass is for everybody, so it’s going to have a few things that he’s not old enough for yet. If it were all something a four-year-old or even a seven year old could understand, why, then the grandmas would be bored after listening to it for seventy years. So the Church has to think of them, too. We’re all in this together.

Label each week’s picture(s) with the place the Mass had in the liturgical year (first Sunday of Advent, etc.) After Mass, talk to him and put a note about what the Mass was about. Let him add anything that he thought of by the time Mass was over. Keep the picture(s) each week and put them in a book. That way, he’ll have an accomplishment for all that time put in at Mass. He’ll also be able to look back and see how the liturgical year unfolded.

Even if he doesn’t color a picture, I used to give our kids a treat if they could tell me something that Father said in the homily, starting when they were about six, even if it was just a good question that showed they were listening. It really helped. A picture and a little phrase about that week will give him a nice record to look back on, though.

What he’s going to learn is that you get out of Mass what you put into it…but someone has to give you the keys to unlock it. That’s the trick that most kids, and maybe most Catholics, never get.

If nothing else, your child will learn to be very judicious about EVER using the word “boring” around you! :wink: :smiley:


#18

As a cradle catholic that spent my early childhood in Latin America I can tell you that being entertained at mass is a completely foreign idea to me.

Mass was to me just something that had to be done every Sunday whether you liked it or not lol! My mom just explained to me that it was what God commanded and that was the end of the discussion.

To tell you the truth I had never even thought about whether a mass was entertaining or not until I spoke to a Protestant person a few years ago. I have not met many protestants since I live in a very culturally catholic area.

I will tell you though the thing I remember the most about Mass was the statues. I was fascinated by them and loved lighting candles and such. I remember when I visited my grandma in the summer we used to go to this church that had a huge statue of St Michael stepping on Satan's head. I used to be fascinated by that statue and spent almost all mass staring at it lol! I asked my mom about it and she told me about St Michael. I used to spend a lot of time being glad that, that angel defeated Satan. I also liked singing the hymns and of course incense. To this day whenever I smell incense it brings good memories for me.

I also distinctly remember praying in front of a statue of Mother Mary at around age 7 and seeing her smile at me! I don't know whether it was my imagination or not but it left a definite mark on me.

I have very fond memories of Mass, now as an adult I still love statues and one of the big reasons i chose my current parish is because it has lots of statues. It always felt cool to me that all these people were in heaven and were praying with us.

I don't know if that helps you or not but i thought i would share.


#19

You know, I would have to say that Mass was pretty boring when I was a kid. It wasn't long before I'd think it got pretty repetitive, hearing the same readings, it seemed, year after year. It was also pretty hot in our church.

But, we attended Mass every day in our Catholic school, and God bless the nun, Sr. Janet, who played the organ every day. My kids hardly know any hymns at all but I can sing all of them... if they're not too high! Now that I'm older I appreciate the repetitiveness of the readings, recognizing that certain feast days are rolling around again. I think "ordinary time" still always seems too long to me, maybe because so much of it runs through long, hot summer days.

One problem at Mass, even for a child who is old enough to read well, is that the missals are hard to follow. There are sung versions of the Gloria (versions that never seem to be sung at our church), various versions of prayers, etc., basically a lot that has to be skipped over before you can follow along again. I hope to put together a condensed version of the missal for my kids, with very little notes at each part of the Mass telling them what is happening and why.


#20

Kids have to grow up. Very soon your children are going to have to learn that life isn't always beer and skittles, bread and circuses or whatever your favourite phrase is.

They'll have to spend many an hour in 'boring' school, perhaps 'boring' college afterwards, at 'boring' workplaces, sit through 'boring' visits to the dentist and doctor (and maybe even, God forbid, end up with occasional stays in 'boring' hospital). Not to mention eating his 'boring' vegetables, doing some 'boring' toothbrushing and the like.

All highly necessary, all extremely beneficial in the long term, all occasionally or often 'boring'.

On a different note - you say you really really enjoy Mass - does your child know this? Do you make it obvious that you really enjoy it? And let your child(ren?) know the reasons why? (or at least as many of them as you can explain?).

As a child I wasn't ever really bored at Mass as far as I can recall. I always knew it was something very important and special, if not exactly 'fun' in the same way a party was fun. I knew that because that is the attitude my parents reflected towards it.


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