Helping your child participate at Mass
This is a very significant year in your child’s faith formation. Yes, the children are preparing for their first experience of Reconciliation and Communion. At St. Nicholas the children receive Reconciliation before they come to the Table of the Lord. The sacramental process also includes helping our children to participate meaningfully at Mass. For the next couple of weeks, I will provide some prompts and strategies that you can use with your child grow in his/her understanding of the Mass. We begin by entering the west door at St. Nick’s Church…
At the west entrance to the church, we encounter the baptismal pool. The sacrament of Baptism ritualized our entrance into the Family of God, we were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Next time you enter the church from the west side, stop at the pool, scoop the water with your child and bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross. It is a gesture remembering our own baptism, and that we are children of a loving and compassionate God. You may discover, that your child needs a little more practice making the Sign of the Cross. If your child needs help with making the sign of the cross, the Baptismal pool is a good place to start.
Tell your child to look around and he/she will notice that the church is in the shape of a cross. Help your child to discover at the very center is the altar, the Table of the Lord. You may want to ask your child, “Why is the Altar/ The Table of the Lord at the center of the church?
Before you find a place to sit, ask your child to show you the Eucharistic Chapel. This is where the tabernacle is located reminding us of the Presence of Jesus dwelling among us. About 20 feet from the tabernacle, show your child the red sanctuary candle suspended from the ceiling. The candle burns continuously throughout the year reminding us of the Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, The sanctuary candle is only extinguished after the Holy Thursday Mass. When we gather for the blessing of the new fire during the Easter Vigil Mass, the sanctuary candle will be aglow once again reminding us of the Risen Christ present in our Faith Community.
Look for a special place to sit, preferably close to the front where your child can see what’s going on. Next week, we’ll spend time with the Gathering Rite…
There are a lot of child-friendly worship aids. In my opinion, you are the best worship aid for your child. Sometimes, a prayer book with colorful pictures and words would give you time to pray.