Teaching children the new Roman Missal

By Amanda Greene
Religion News Wilmington

As most Catholics entered their churches for Mass this morning, it was in a mood of slight uncertainty – for the first time in 40 years, they wouldn’t know all the words to the Mass. Priests across the country began using The Roman Missal, third edition, for the first time this morning, Nov. 27,  to mark the beginning of Advent and the start of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year.

In the revised Mass, the Gloria is different. The Penitential Act is more personal. Instead of saying “through my own fault,” Catholics now strike their breast saying: “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Even the Nicene Creed had been tweaked to be closer to the theological origins of the Latin Roman Missal.

For children who are just learning the Mass, the challenge for parents to familiarize them with the words of their most holy weekly rite is perhaps double.

"Missale Romanum" 18th edition, 1915

Image via Wikipedia

Tracy Smith, who attends St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington and is also a Religion News Wilmington blogger, has been working with her children for weeks. She found a coloring book online that helps explain the Mass changes and their significance to a younger audience.

“For me personally, I don’t mind the changes if they’re trying to bring the Mass back to the more traditional and spiritual,” Smith said. “With these children’s Missals and guides, I think that will help.”

Smith also recommended a children’s booklet on the missal from the blog, Catholic Icing.

Also explaining what the addition of “consubstantial” to The Nicene Creed means to little ones could be a challenge, admitted Father Bob Kus, priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington. But he said The Diocese of Raleigh had printed pew cards for the parishioners so everyone, including the children, can follow along.

“There will be places that won’t be smooth, like consubstantial,” Kus said, “who talks like that?”

But the Catholic Church’s intent in including technical language was more about meaning than language usage, said Edward Sri in A Guide to the New Translation of the Mass.

“Consubstantial with the Father” was added instead of “one in being with the Father” because “it is important to be as precise as possible when speaking about the nature of God,” Sri wrote. “The revised translation of the Creed aims at helping us more precisely profess a concept about the nature of the Son and his relationship with the Father.”

But Jack Miffleton with Oregon Catholic Press said in a recent post about children learning the new response to the priest’s greeting of “and with your spirit.” This literal translation from the Latin, ‘et cum spiritu tuo,’ is nothing new for those children and adults who participate in Spanish-English bilingual Masses.”

But at its core, this Mass, like all Masses before it, connects to the first one.

“It’s sort of like a Christmas tree. It may look different per house but it’s still a Christmas tree,” Father Kus said. “The Mass is meant so you can enter mysteriously into the original Mass.”

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