The Benefits of Daily Mass for Children
As Catholics, we are all aware of the serious nature of the eternal future of our own souls, but how much do we really think about the grave responsibility we have for the care of the souls of our children? As parents we easily prioritize our children’s temporal needs: love, protection, food, shelter, good health care, education, extracurricular activity, socialization. Any one of these offers a myriad of opportunities that can direct and mold our child into the kind of adult they will become. The same applies to the spiritual formation of our children. In essence, we hold the key that unlocks the potential for success as both earthly adults and as saints. What better opportunity is there then to make daily Mass a part of their lives?
Children respond best to routines. Consider if you will the healthy patterns you may have already established in your life. Do they resemble anything from your childhood?
As children, we implicitly trusted the guidance of our parents. We believed anything Dad and Mom explained, we mirrored their political positions in life, and we even wanted to dress like them. We went to Mass every Sunday with them. Chances are if you went to daily Mass as a child, you are likely doing that now, as well. If daily Mass is a new or even an established practice in your life, consider taking your children with you. This will prepare them for sainthood.
The power we receive in our lives from frequent attendance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass far surpasses any other action we can choose on the path to sanctification. I have heard it called next to the Our Father, the perfect prayer. It is here in Mass that we encounter Jesus through the Word; in praise, adoration and thanksgiving; in the redemptive sacrifice of His death upon the cross, and in the source and summit of Christian life as we receive the Eucharist, the Most Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. To share this often with our children offers them this same opportunity for sanctification.
But daily Mass attendance reaps many practical benefits as well. Daily Mass allows you a better opportunity to teach as you attend without distracting others around you. A little whisper to your young son to watch the priest’s every move as he prepares to consecrate the host gives a greater opportunity for him to ponder a future vocation. Just as our children watch us in everything we do, so do they also watch the priest in everything that he does on the altar. The silence and concentrated efforts of presenting the essence of the Mass allow for a greater understanding of what is happening. The lack of liturgical music fosters a quiet reverence within the heart of the child, which establishes a pattern for Sunday Mass as well. Above all else, a daily Mass even just one extra day a week gives the message to your children that worshipping God in His house beyond Sunday is important. It relays the importance of frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and promotes a greater understanding of prayer and of the Liturgy, itself.
During this season of “First Sacraments,” consider taking your first communicant to daily Mass just as soon as possible after his big day. The impression and memory of this one extra visit, if not several daily Masses between his First Holy Communion and the next Sunday Mass will remain with him forever.
In my own family, I have seen these benefits come full circle. Through frequent attendance of daily Mass, the patterns have been set, and my adult child tells me how much more he enjoys daily Mass attendance while at the university. My graduating senior insists that it nurtures a greater understanding of what Mass is really all about. My younger children ask to go often if we have not been in a few days. And my youngest son, who just received his Sacrament of First Reconciliation, confided in me that his fears about it had left him because he had offered his daily Masses for the purpose of his big day.
St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, had a profound understanding of Mass attendance and beautifully describes our sanctification through the frequent reception of Holy Communion:
O my children, how beautiful will a soul be in eternity that has worthily and often received the good God! The Body of Our Lord will shine through our body, His adorable Blood through our blood; our soul will be united to the Soul of Our Lord during all eternity. There it will enjoy pure and perfect happiness. My children, when the soul of a Christian who has received Our Lord enters paradise, it augments the joy of Heaven. The Angels and the Queen of Angels come to meet it, because they recognize the Son of God in that soul. Then will that soul be rewarded for the pains and sacrifices it will have endured in its life on earth. My children, we know when a soul has worthily received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, it is so drowned in love, so penetrated and changed, that it is no longer to be recognized in its words or its actions. . . . It is humble, it is gentle, it is mortified, charitable, and modest; it is at peace with everyone. It is a soul capable of the greatest sacrifices; in short, you would not know it again.
St. John Vianney’s amazing description of the sanctified soul can more than be attained through frequent Mass attendance. But regarding entry into heaven, of course, Our Lord Jesus Christ said it best: “"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
May we prepare our children for heaven in these ways, by bringing them often to daily Mass!
To find a concise listing of scheduled weekday masses in your area, visit www.masstimes.org.