Children sitting around altar during homily

I have never seen this until this past weekend at mass. Before the priest began the homily he called all of the children forward and they sat behind and around the altar while the priest gave his homily. It seemed awkward. The homily was focused on the children, the priest even engaged them in the homily by asking them questions and letting them answer into his microphone. I thought that was cute but honestly, I couldn’t get past having children just sitting around the altar. They all left before communion rites were started but it still just seemed weird. Am I just being crazy? And if I’m not crazy, how do I say something to the church without upsetting people? It’s hard enough to find a parish in this town that remotely feels like home and I don’t want to ruin Mass by upsetting the parish.

If you are new and this is the “tradition” at this parish, nothing you say is going to change it. You will just make someone mad.

It shouldn’t be happening but it isn’t the worst abuse since it doesn’t involve the Eucharist. I have seen some parishes that call the kids up to sit around the altar for a “mini homily” before dismissing them for Childrens Liturgy of the Word. But that should be before the readings.

It sounds like someone’s misguided way to have a Mass that caters to the kids but not a full blown children’s liturgy. Was this Mass one that would be likely to be called a Family Mass? Sometimes that’s an unofficial designation of one of the Masses (the 10am where I am now; the noon where I used to live).

Can you try a different Mass?

The children at Mass are often disinterested. By their teen years, parents have to drag their children to Mass.

I’ve often thought that priests should direct their homily primarily to children of all ages.

I’ve heard the homilies before, it’s “preaching to the choir” in some respects.

If the Bishop is o.k. with the homily & Mass, I’d say go for it. Get the children involved in the Mass.

Perhaps I should just ask someone at the parish politely. My wife and I have only been going for 9 months since we moved to Arizona. Mass is just “different” in this diocese compared to small town Texas. I haven’t heard anything designating the Mass as a “family Mass”. And I know do appreciate that they are trying to get children involved, but there are better ways than having them up by the altar. I will say though, that the children (all 50 of them or so) were very well behaved. I have no doubt in my mind that our priest means well. Nothing I have seen in the last year leads me to think otherwise.

As far as going to another Mass is concerned, we have an infant son and the timing of a 9:15 Mass works for his feeding schedule. He’s peaceful during those times and having an “angel” for a baby at Mass is a blessing we’d like to exploit for as long as we can.

I will say that I already upset the Life Teen/Youth Coordinator when I refered to myself as a more "traditional Catholic’. I told her I wanted to help when I could but she has yet to call me about ANY of her ministries activities since we spoke five months ago. I think that’s a sign that my talents are needed elsewhere.

The same thing happens at my parish :frowning: I made a thread about it

Thanks for the link. After reading the last posts in your thread I think the best thing to do is just ask the question directly to the priest.

Until St Pius X the mass was considered exclusively the affair between the priest and God. The laity was required to be only present. Since that time the active participation of the laity is emphasized. Look the calling of children to the altar as their active participation in the homily. In the children’s Mass (which is theirs) this is all natural, and in accord with the words or our Lord:

Matt 19:13-14: Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

The problem starts were the children are gathered to the altar for the consecration, that does not belongs to anyone but the priest.

Sure, but that begs the question of what “active participation” means. If you treat it as a warrant to do stuff outside the rubrics, you’re opening the door to congregants hollerin’ “hallelujah!” as the spirit moves them to “actively participate.” Priests aren’t the only ones who should participate fully by “saying the black and doing the red.”

I’m uncomfortable when priests do that. Although Liturgicae Instaurationes’ warning that since “[t]he priest, … is the homilist,] the congregation is to refrain from comments, attempts at dialogue, or anything similar” is primarily directed at the congregation, the fact is that it takes two to dialogue, ex visceribus verborum. Reading it as prohibiting only congregant-initiated dialogue seems too strict a construction; if dialogue is out, priests shouldn’t initiate it either, extending congregants an invitation to break the rules.

I have not seen this done in many years. We do not have a specific children’s Mass - with the exception of 1st HCs. One of our priests will walk the aisles and seek answers from the children on ‘their big day’. The kids really enjoy it and it helps keep them tuned in. Unfortunately, some of these kids will not attend Mass very often after this. If there is one little hook that we can set to have the kids ask to go to Mass, we need to bait it.

Here is what the ‘black’ (GIRM) says about the homily. It does not regulate the place and circumstances of the homily, explicitly says, that the the homily may be given from the ambo, meaning that is may not also

The Homily

  1. The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended,63 for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.64

  2. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person.65 In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.

There is to be a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation at all Masses that are celebrated with the participation of a congregation; it may not be omitted without a serious reason. It is recommended on other days, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter Season, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.66

After the homily a brief period of silence is appropriately observed.

From the ambo only the readings, the responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; it may be used also for giving the homily and for announcing the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should go up to it.

Laszlo, I’m wondering if there’s a point coming?

The Church is on the side of the freedom,. Everything is allowed which is not forbidden.

To change the words or actions of the regulated liturgy is abuse and sin. However the sermon is not regulated.

In the medieval eves there were mysterium plays in the place of the sermon. Some missionaries painted the Church and explained them to the natives as sermon.

This sort of thing happens at my parish’s “Family Mass”. That mass also has a music group that plays in a pop style. It is at 9:30 and is followed by donuts and coffee. It has become known as “the donut mass”. There’s a school attached to our parish so there are lots of families with lots of kids. There are many activities geared towards the kids too.
My parish also has a 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. mass on Sunday and a 5 p.m. Saturday vigil mass. There are also daily masses at 7 am, 9 am and 5:30 pm.
So it’s only one mass; but it attracts the largest crowd (families).
It’s not for me, as I am in the single vocation.:wink:
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if your parish has other masses for you to choose from, it might be preferable to take advantage of them.:shrug:

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas, certainly, but the Church does regulate the homily in various ways. For examples, see Redemptionis Sacramentum 64-67, GIRM 65-66 and 136, 1983 CIC 767, and, as relevant here, Liturgicae Instaurationes 2(a). The question isn’t whether the homily is regulated; it is. The question is whether any of the regulations on it are implicated by what’s described in the OP.

I love this and I suspect Jesus would happily approve.


I have a close friend who tells the story about her church in Texas years ago when she was little and how her priest did the exact same thing. Theirs was a small church and there were many people in attendance so it was crowded. The children looked forward to that part of the Mass when they would be able to go up front with Father. She recalls it as a sort of church story time!

Our priest, just a few weeks ago, brought the children up after the homily . . . and talked to them about the story (Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1) but that may have been only because he wanted them to participate being it was the first day of the new CCD school year.

Personally, I like something different and something to involve the children. They are the future church leaders. Perhaps enjoying involvement is a path to volunteerism in the parish. Just my :twocents:

I like the idea of the children all sitting together and hearing a message that is directed to them, during the time of the homily, but it’s bothersome that it’s up around the altar - could they not gather in a special section of pews, or some other place in the Nave, rather than being around the Altar?

But I agree that if this has been the custom of the parish for several years, you won’t get anyone to change it.

Because they were suddenly at the center of attention—right? Suddenly all that boring God stuff gave way and it was all about them! What fun!

Respectfully: wrong.

It is not the children who are the center of attention, it is Jesus. The Mass is more alive to them because they are engaged - they are participating. The Priest is allowing them to experience a portion of the Mass in a way they can relate to.

Very few children are going to think 4 minutes of “story time” at the altar is “fun” compared to 56 minutes of “boring” Mass that they might not understand, but if they leave Mass remembering what Father said about God during those 4 minutes, is it not a little miracle?

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