Kids at Mass

Getting Kids Ready for Church

I come from a family of five kids and I have four kids of my own, so I know the hassle of getting ready and out the door on time for church on Sunday morning (or, in reality, trying to be only a little bit late).  It is tricky, and often, we roll into Mass in a bit of a frenzied state of mind, hoping to distract the kids enough for an hour or so that we don’t disturb the people around us… or even, if there happens to be Sunday school for the younger ones, have some time of prayer ourselves.  Seems crazy, doesn’t it?  The “source and summit” of our Christian lives, and we just hope to make it through.

If we truly believe what we say we do about the Mass and the Eucharist, if it is important and even divinely requested that we worship publicly and communally, then we had best show it with our whole mind, body, and soul.  And we should pass this vital truth to our children in ways they can understand and incorporate in their own thinking and actions.  The same way we have little bedtime rituals to get the kids ready to go to bed, and even similar to birthday or holiday rituals a family creates to celebrate and mark those days, we should have some sort of Mass prep routine.

Below are some ideas – some we’ve tried sporadically, some we use regularly – to make the connection for our children, and for ourselves, between our stream of thoughts, our bodily actions, and what is spiritually taking place at church.  A few tricks to being more conscious, and hopefully to raising kids who grow to understand the Mass to be more than a childhood comfort, memory, or worse, a burdensome obligation.  Please add to the ideas in the comments section.  Every family is different and needs to create their own rituals and routines… the goal here is creating a more conscious experience and deeper awareness of the realities at church.

Ah, yes.  We’ve got it all figured out.  Come watch us at Mass and you’ll leave wondering, “Who were those cherubic little children?”  Ha!  Actually, I’m often just as guilty as anyone in the no forethought department.  Like Bill Cosby famously said about the kids, “I don’t want peace, I just want quiet.”  Writing this article has reminded me to try again.  I look forward to putting this to practice in our own family.  And I’ll screw up.  And I’ll try again.  I just hope to leave my kids in love with the Eucharist and with as little therapy bills as possible.

  • Schedule time before leaving (whoa, maybe you’re even dressed and ready by this point) to talk about why Mass is amazing.  This requires learning yourself and finding a way to put it so your kids will understand.  I suppose this conversation could be had in the car on the way there.
  • Playing the “Find the Guadalupe or Divine Mercy Pictures” Game
  • Getting there early enough to look at the stained glass windows and talk about them a bit… It gives kids something to look at and draw the mind towards God during Mass.  These pictures can also be used as an “I Spy” game that keeps focus on God.
  • Drawing special attention to the Angels’ songs… “Gloria” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”… Imagine them singing and praying with us (’cause that’s the reality!).
  • MagnifiKids!
  • Older kids can read the readings and talk about them before Mass.  Maybe listen to Life Teen’s Sunday Sunday Sunday podcast in the car on the way.


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