The Mass is divided into two great liturgies: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In both we are nourished by Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. On Sundays, at the 9.45am Mass (St Hugh’s) and the 11.15am Mass ( St Joseph’s) there is a special Liturgy of the Word for children aged 4 years and above.
A Liturgy for Children
The Children’s Liturgy mirrors that of the Mass: there is the Sign of the Cross, a simple ‘sorry prayer’, a simply ‘glory to God’, a gospel acclamation and a gospel reading. Following a short discussion on the meaning of the Gospel, the children say their own simple ‘creed’ before joining the congregation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Thus, the children learn about the first part of the Mass and participate in it with prayers and music ideally suited to their age group.
Attending the Liturgy
Everyone begins Mass in church together, then the younger children will be invited to go with the catechists for their Liturgy. There is no need to sign up for it; simply join in if you wish. Parents are welcome to accompany their children.
Resources to help your child to understand the Mass
Children’s Mass cards are available at the back of church.
At St Joseph’s, age-related activity sheets based on the Gospel, are produced every Sunday and are free to take home.
What is Children’s Liturgy of the Word?
Perhaps it is easier to start by explaining what it is not. It is not a crêche or a group to keep small children occupied and quiet whilst their parents are at Mass. The Children’s Liturgy of the Word is ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ – it is a Liturgy of the Word for children.
In the Mass we celebrate two great Liturgies: the Word and the Eucharist. By both of these we are fed by the living Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. For young children, the language of the Mass is strange and, in places, difficult to understand. However, just as our children have to learn about and experience life in an increasingly complicated world as they grow to adulthood, so they must come to an understanding of the liturgies of the Mass. How else will they come to know and experience the great beauty and truth of God’s love for us and our salvation through the redeeming sacrifice of his Son?
The Children’s Liturgy mirrors the Liturgy of the Word in the Mass. It has an opening hymn, a penitential rite, a ‘glory to God’, a Gospel acclamation and a reading of the Gospel. This is followed by an exploration with the children of what Jesus is teaching us in the Gospel. The Liturgy ends with the Creed in the form of simplified baptismal promises. The language may be simplified but the Liturgy is faithful to the format in the missal. Recently we have introduced large print Mass cards for the children to use. A series of these will be developed to reflect the Liturgical seasons and feast days. Teaching on the Liturgical year is reinforced by the banner which the children at St Joseph’s bring into church each week. Each patch placed on it has a symbol reflecting the message of the Gospel for that day: the background colour is the colour of the liturgical season, as is the colour of the ribbon in the Liturgy Book, reflecting the colour of the priest’s vestments.
All of these things have been carefully put together to help our children to grow in their understanding of the Mass and to more fully participate in it. Not having the benefit of a Catholic school, the Children’s Liturgy helps you, as parents, to hand on the faith you cherish to your children.
Children from the age of four years are welcome to participate in this Liturgy. There is no upper age limit; children are welcome to come for as long as they wish to do so. Indeed, for children preparing for their first Communion, the Children’s Liturgy of the Word is a perfect balance to and foundation for the catechesis received in the classes leading up to the celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
Each week at St Joseph’s, at the end of the Liturgy, activity sheets are available for the children to take home. They are based on the Gospel and are age-related: the yellow one, ‘Step-by-Step’, is suitable for 3-6 year olds; the green one, ‘Footprints’, for 7-12 year olds. Extra copies are available in the porch if anyone wishes to take copies for children who are unable to attend Mass that day.