By Anne Metz
Our current pandemic situation has caused us to change a lot of our regular habits, including sometimes going to Mass in person as a family. As with many other situations we’ve faced this past year, celebrating Mass from home with kids can be challenging to say the least, but it is possible! Here are some tips to help you and your family enjoy a peaceful Mass on Sundays.
Something about stepping foot into church signals to kids that it’s time to be reverent. But, when Mass is now on the TV in our living room, a place where we are used to playing and relaxing, it can be difficult to switch to a worshipful frame of mind. So, before you even start Mass online, set expectations for your children. Try to make them similar if not the same as what you expect from them when at Mass in person. As much as possible, the whole family should at the very least follow the physical motions of the Mass, standing, sitting, and kneeling when applicable. Older children should pray the responses and sing the songs. If you let your little ones bring a toy or a book to Mass, let them do the same when celebrating at home. But, try to keep them away from their whole toy box to get them used to the idea that what you are doing is not playtime. Keep a basket or a bag of toys, coloring sheets, and books that are specifically for Mass time. Having these available only on Sundays also makes them more attractive to kids since they only get to play with them once a week!
Pick the Right Mass
Be sure to pick the right Mass for your family. Will your children be more interested and behave better if they watch the live stream from your home parish? Or, will it be better to find a Mass with a shorter time frame? For my family, it helps to keep our interest if we “visit” other churches. Each week we try to find a Mass from a different part of the world. Our favorite so far has been a cozy Mass live-streamed from the rectory of a Mass in England. Now it’s our goal to view as many Masses as we can from other countries!
This is also a great way to teach your children that the Catholic Mass is the same all over the world and that there are Catholics all over the world as well! You might even try to watch a Mass in a different language and see if you can follow along!
Set a Holy Tone
Before celebrating Mass, look around at your space and figure out how you can make it a little less loungy and a little more religious. Take a minute to straighten up as a family. Bring in a crucifix or a statue of Mary. Light a candle or two. Maybe even grab a small bell and ring it to signal the beginning of Mass. It doesn’t have to be much, but just taking this time to prepare for the Mass will help you and your children enter into a more sacred frame of mind. And absolutely involve the kids in the Mass set up! Even the youngest will love to grab the candles or crucifix and the older ones can help light the candles or carry in fragile statues.
Taking children to Mass can be a challenge. Celebrating Mass at home can be a challenge as well. Honestly, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get my kids to behave and to understand the importance and gravity of the Mass at home. Some Sundays are better than others and on those bad Sundays, sometimes we feel like skipping the whole thing! But, my advice to you (and to myself!) is to persevere. Celebrating Mass at home might never feel as reverent and as holy as it does when we are in God’s house, but your children will learn how important Mass is during this time. It is so important that we keep celebrating it, even when we can’t be in the church building.
Anne Metz works as a part-time freelance writer and spends the other part getting kids off the bus, breaking up fights, doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning up after her son and triplet daughters. She is passionate about meeting people where they are in their faith journey and with her writing, hopes to inspire people to find or deepen their relationship with Jesus right here in our beautiful Catholic faith. You can find more of her work at Inherited Faith.