Children's Liturgy of the Word
Sunday 9 am Mass
The permission quoted in the sidebar to the right, which appeared 30 years ago in 1973, lies behind a phenomenon which has emerged in many Catholic parishes over the past few years, namely the celebration of a separate Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW) during Sunday Mass. Many of our parishes now have a regular Liturgy of the Word for children.
We at Sacred Heart Parish celebrate a Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the 9am Mass. Children’s Liturgy of the Word essentially is worship, not catechesis. We do not take part in CLOW first and foremost to receive information. We do not engage in CLOW in order first of all to receive a message to put into practice in life. We take part in CLOW simply because it is what it claims to be: a liturgy—a moment of salvation in which the living God communicates life to God’s holy people and in which that people respond with adoration, praise, thanksgiving and petition.
Unity of the Assembly
Sunday is the day of the assembly of the local church. The principle of the unity of the assembly precedes other considerations on this day. This is why our children do not totally celebrate a “children’s mass” apart from adults. The overall celebration is not geared exclusively for one section of the assembly. CLOW is a liturgical experience of God’s presence in the ritual proclamation of the Word. During mass, after the opening prayer, the children are called forth by the presider and then are sent forth with a trained minister for their own Liturgy of the Word in the chapel. The children return during the preparation of the gifts.
Emphasis during the children’s liturgical experience is on ritual not learning. The minister uses a three step process that includes:
- Step 1: We listen to God speak. The readings are adapted to the language of the child while still maintaining the integrity of the Word.
- Step 2: We reflect on the Reign of God. After drawing from the children what they heard God say to them, we share questions that invite the children to reflect on what difference God's Word makes in their life.
- Step 3: We respond to God’s Word. Finally we explore with the children what they are going to do now that they have heard God’s Word.
What happens at a Children’s Liturgy of the Word
- All gather in the main church for the gathering rite
- After the opening prayer, the presider calls the children forward and presents the book of God's Word to the children’s minister of the Word
- The children follow their leaders to the chapel for their celebration of the Word at their own level
- The children’s Liturgy of the Word follows the structure of the celebration by the adults: Old Testament Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Acclamation, Gospel Proclamation, reflection by the children’s minister of the Word, Creed and Prayer of the Faithful
- The children return to the assembly main church during the preparation of the gifts as together, we celebrate Eucharist around the table as one family of faith.
"Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permit, it will be appropriate to celebrate the liturgy of the word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant room. Then, before the eucharistic liturgy begins, the children are led to the place where the adults have meanwhile celebrated their own liturgy of the word."
—Directory for Masses with Children, #17