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Playing Mass



For me, if there is a weird bit to this it is less that his parents have a chasuble and mass set for this three year old boy’s birthday present; it is more that this child will not be allowed to receive communion in his church for about another four years!!!

Many advocate this sort of activity to encourage “vocations”. Others (difficult to tell if they are serious) say the parents should discourage such activity because under RC Canon 1041 this child is barred from being ordained in the future: “The following persons are irregular for the reception of orders: …one who has carried out an act of order which is reserved to those in the order of the episcopate or priesthood, while himself either not possessing that order or being barred from its exercise by some canonical penalty, declared or imposed.”

What did I think was the best bit? The Missal – no question.

h/t Deacon Greg Kandra

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22 thoughts on “Playing Mass”

    1. It would have to be for one of them to reply to this, Bob. I certainly would encourage such a practice – including for Anglicans etc. also. Blessings.

      1. I only ask because I wonder what the difference is between what this kid is doing and what seminarians do. And the quoted canon about doing things only priests and bishops can do.

        Actually, I wonder what this boy thinks he is doing. I’m not asking in a negative way. After all, what do most people think they are doing when in the pews on Sunday morning?

        1. A child that age can comprehend more than we normally give credit.

          I belonged to a congregation that had a US Coast Guard family in it (read: Dad was away many Sunday mornings). Mom came with their 4-5 year old and 3 year old daughter. The older daughter was receiving communion, but the younger daughter was only being blessed by the priest until such time as the parents thought she could understand something of what was going on.

          One Sunday morning, there was a scream by the younger daughter at the communion rail, “Give me JESUS!” The rector looked at mom, and she shrugged, implying “go ahead.”

          (I was in the back of the church, and was trying very hard not to laugh. Part of my humor was that this child had always been smart and determined to get what she wanted. I’m not saying she misbehaved, but the child was always clear in what she wanted.)

          When talking with mom later, mom said, “She didn’t say ‘Give me COOKIE!’ She said ‘Give me JESUS!’ How can you say “no” to that?

          1. Thanks, Bob. It confuses me when people demand that someone “understand” communion before they are allowed to receive it. Why do they have a different attitude to baptism? How well do those who make these demands understand it themselves? Blessings.

      2. Yes, many do, Fr Bosco. We did in my seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. So far as I know, it is still a requirement. I found it quite helpful, and, as I preside now, occasionally some of those lessons occur to me, now eight years later. Perhaps we should all take some lessons every ten years or so, especially now with the new Missal.

        (Fr.) Ed

        1. Thanks, Ed. It is easy now to get a video of one’s presiding – I recommend that people regularly see their own worship leadership style. Blessings.

  1. My RC friends and I played mass when we were kids, but we had to make do with whatever we could find around the house for vessels and vestments. I remember we used Necco wafers for communion. Good thing the play did not encourage vocations to the priesthood, because the RCC didn’t want us.

    June Butler

  2. I guess that it can’t be seen as a little boy playing and having fun. Innocent and simple as that – a little strange may be. How many children ‘play’ the nativity scene with dolls, stuffed animals and clothes horses, or weddings with table clothes (lace ones make great veils) and dress -up clothes. (I think I’m revealing my own childhood here!) Anyway I hope that the little boy grows up to be whoever he is meant to be.

    1. Christopher Nimmo

      “How many children ‘play’ the nativity scene”

      I think the only answer can be “not nearly enough”!

  3. James Hodson

    I would play Mass when I was a little kid. I think I was copying what I saw significant people in my experience doing. I also played schools too. How lovely that this little lad appears to have had the experience of attending Mass regularly.

  4. Finally! The reason why I never could become a priest! Yes, I confess I too played “Mass” as a child. In the woods. The “Old Tree Stump” was the alter. Fishfood was given as communion.

    What a relief to know now that, as woman, I was protected from transgressing this grave RCC sin.

    We have in our Orthodox parish the cutest little toddler who is fascinated with the censor. By the time he was able to stand alone, he had already internalized the exact movements for incensing, including the bows! We were all charmed! But alas… his parents have failed to equip him with real vestments and he uses his imagination to “make” whatever is at hand into a censor. On the other hand, he receives communion weekly. (Under both forms… well, just a drop!)

  5. Hugh McCafferty

    Play is children’s work. It is how they understand things. My eight year old self used to celebrate mass at the dining room table with a blanket chasuble and egg cup chalice. I remember my parents being concerned when I asked for a bit of bread. They thought it might be ‘blasphemous’. I mumbled the Latin my poor brother just got to ring the bell.

  6. When I was younger my father and I had (and still have) issues about me attending church regularly so I used to say mass using the NZ prayer book liturgy with an egg cup and a bit of grape juice plus a morsel of bread on the weeks I couldn’t go.
    I’m pretty sure it’s liturgically inappropriate however it became an important devotion for me.

  7. Mimi was high class with those Necco wafers. I regularly communed the dogs with saltines (the kind that come four to a sheet of saltines–they broke easily) and Kool-Aid. Probably the only thing my family objected to was their discovery that the dogs and I shared the common cup!

    I’m not sure I have outgrown that. When I knew I would be helping impose ashes one Ash Wednesday, I practiced on the dogs with some unblessed ashes so I could learn how to make crosses that didn’t look like I had thrown copier toner at them. Boomer played the part of a repentant sinner quite well, with a mournful look that reeked of “It’s true, I’ve been a BAD DOG.” Little Eddie, however, looked annoyed and immediately rubbed his head on the floor to remove them.

    1. Maria, the Necco wafers were our inspiration to play mass. It wasn’t every day that one of us had the wafers, and when we did, we took advantage of the opportunity.

      June Butler

      1. Ah! I see. My impetus was for the dogs to be in the company of saints. So I made sure they were baptized, confirmed, and properly communed. I was NOT going to Heaven without them, you see…

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