I went to public grade school, so I never experienced the “school mass” as a child, but I have experienced many as an adult attending daily Mass. In fact I thought I had attended enough to say I never needed to go again. The typical school Mass that I have gone to has included many of the following elements: watered down prayers for children, oversimplified Eucharistic prayers for children, children’s choirs singing off-key, hand motions, children “lectors” etc. To sum it up, one could say not a very reverent Mass experience. It seems that the planners of these “children’s Masses” forget one very important fact about the Mass and that is that it is different from the everyday. It is Heaven touching Earth. And I am convinced that children can handle much more than the simplified versions of just about everything out there that is for kids. (For example, shortening children’s books that were already made for children and making them into short board books or “readers.”)
Yesterday, my family and I went to daily Mass at our new parish, St. Agnes. Now there is also a school at St. Agnes and when we saw that Mass was in the upstairs Church and not in the basement chapel we knew it was a school Mass. My initial reaction when I think of going to a school Mass is bracing myself to tolerate whatever irreverence may occur during Mass because it is children centered and not God centered. However, the only children in the sanctuary at this post-conciliar Novus Ordo Mass were the altar boys in cassocks and surplices. The priest still said Mass “ad orientem”, that is facing the liturgical East of the tabernacle/Jesus. The prayers were all those of the new translation for the day. The communion rail was used. The other priests in residence came to help distribute communion (All these things St. Agnes does for all Masses whether Latin, English, Ordinary or Extraordidary). And the school children sat still, paid attention, knelt during communion. They understood reverence. They are being taught that Mass is different from the everyday and they can handle it!
I am thrilled that St. Agnes knows how to do liturgies and is not too good to be true. If you want to see their music selections check out the website I linked above.
And while the school children could behave at Mass, my children are a different story…