“Sometimes…, 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.”
The Directory for Masses with Children n. 17
What is Children’s Liturgy of the Word?
When it comes to Children’s Liturgy of the Word, one central principle must never be forgotten – it is liturgy, real liturgy, and not catechesis or Sunday School. Its purpose is not to give the children activities to keep them busy so the adults can listen to the homily in peace!
The children do what the rest of the community does. They hear the scriptures proclaimed and applied to contemporary life and respond in various ways.
It is an experience of prayer, of dialogue with God.
The approved book of readings is the Lectionary for Masses with Children. Its simplified language does not talk down to children but places unfamiliar words and expressions in a context which helps them understand their meaning.
How is it celebrated?
As far as possible the readings follow those in the Roman Lectionary for Mass. Where a reading was considered too difficult for children, it has been simplified or omitted completely. A liturgy of the word is never simply a verbal experience. They pray the creed and some short bidding prayers. The use of colour, light, gesture, movement and singing heightens the children’s experience of the transcendent.
A beautifully bound book which is handled with respect, a special place for enthroning the word, gathering the children around to hear the scriptures proclaimed well, these all speak to the children of the sacredness of God’s word and influence how they accept and live by it.
Although the children may be in a different space for the liturgy of the Word or at a different level of understanding, we should not think of them as having been “dismissed” from the assembly. When they are elsewhere, it is to enhance their inclusion in the liturgy, not separate them from it.
CLOW at Saint Patrick’s
We have a wonderful team of Children’s Liturgist at Saint Patrick’s who celebrate the liturgy each Saturday evening at the 5.30pm Vigil Mass of Sunday. After the opening Collect of the Mass, the children process to the hall with the Children’s lectionary and lighted candles for their celebration which echoes what we are doing in Church. They return for the offertory procession, in which they take a leading role. Do come along and enable your children to encounter the Lord in the proclamation of the word.