Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Children's Liturgy of the Word
Children's Liturgy of the Word QUESTION from Jeannine July 5, 2001
Our church is planning to begin Children's Liturgy of the Word. The children come to Mass with their family but after the opening prayer, they are escorted to a separate room where a lay volunteer proclaims the gospel, asks the children what they heard and then offers a homily that is geared to their age (first and second graders). I've been assured they ARE attending Mass since they rejoin their family before the Intercessions and are present for the complete Liturgy of the Eucharist. If this is part of the Mass, how can lay people proclaim the Gospel and give a homily?? This is reserved for the deacon or priest! Or am I wrong? Is this a legitimate practice? I'm told it's done just about everywhere. Please help.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on July 10, 2001
Dear Mrs. Jeannine,
It is permissible to take the children to nearby room and celebrate their own Liturgy of the Word. This is stated in the Directory For Masses With Children, found in the Sacramentary.
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. The directory does not state WHO leads the children, but does use the word homily. You are correct that a homily must be given by a deacon or priest. (also bishop) Frequently in Masses with children rules are not as strict as they normally are. For example, at Masses which children it is permissible for the priest to ask questions and receive responses from children, which is not permissible normally. But, the directory fails to state that it is permissible for a layperson to read the Gospel and preach a homily. To my knowledge, this has not been clarified.
I also want to state that this is NOT a time to get overly creative, I mean, no funny voices, no puppets, no acting. This is still serious Liturgy.
Finally, I wish to remind us that the reason just about everyone does it is NOT a valid reason to assert that a practice is permissible, even when it is a true statement. If anyone does attempt to use this reasoning, immediately correct them and ask them to show legitimately that their new practice is liturgically sound.
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