“How do I explain to my kids why we have to go to Mass every Sunday?” Father Brooke offers three ways to answer your kids, plus two helpful “bricks,” simple practices to boost your kids’ faith in this area.
by Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.
“How do I explain to my kids why we have to go to Mass every Sunday?”
God is Happy when we go to Mass
The easy and obvious answer is to remind your child of the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. Furthermore, just as they as children have to do things sometimes, “because mom or dad say so,” we have to go to Mass on Sunday’s because God tells us to do so. Tip: Positively point out that you are grateful when they do the various things you ask of them, likewise God is happy when we go to Mass.
Unfortunately, the theological argument from God’s authority might not convince the average child, for their resistance to going to Mass every Sunday probably comes from a human, experiential level. So there is another way to try explaining this issue.
Set Expectations Straight: Mass is Praise and Worship
Firstly, it’s important to teach them about what Mass is and what it isn’t. Mass is not meant to be entertainment (that’s why we have Netflix etc.), nor is it all about community building (that’s why we have other parish activities). Rather, Mass is our praise and worship of God by entering into the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the joy of the resurrection. This is why I always tell people that as the priest, “I’m not up here looking for an Oscar, I’m looking to lead you to Christ.”
One way to help your child understand why they have to go to Mass every Sunday is first by making sure they understand the nature of Mass so they aren’t walking away disappointed based on false pretenses or expectations.
With a better understanding of the nature of Mass as our praise and worship of God, then it can be helpful to point out how this fits into one’s entire relationship with God. For questions about how to teach your children about building a relationship with God, see “How Can I Teach Kids that God is Not a Genie in my first Brick by Brick by Father Brooke.”
Grow with God
Getting to the more particular element of the question, that is the repetitive nature of going to Mass every Sunday, there is an answer. Think of various tasks and chores your child does on a regular basis, things that they both enjoy and don’t enjoy. For instance: eating, bathing, laundry, going to school, practicing sports, playing an instrument, doing their homework, etc. Ask them what would happen if they only did those things once? They would be: hungry, dirty, smell, uneducated, bad at sports and their instruments, fail their classes, etc. In order for us to grow in our relationship with God, that is to grow in holiness, we need to keep going back to Mass.
For this month’s “Brick,” I’d like to offer two practices that can help you teach your child about the importance of going to Mass on Sunday:
- Take your kids to daily Mass when you can. No, I’m not saying you have to take them every day, but when the opportunities come about, go to daily Mass. This way your child can see that Mass isn’t just a “Sunday thing.”
- On Sundays during your drive home, ask you children, “What was their favorite part of Mass today? What stuck out to them the most? What did they hear in the homily?” If you do this consistently then they will a) begin to notice that Mass isn’t exactly the same boring routine every weekend, and b) over time they will know the question is coming and so they will begin to pay more attention in expectation of the question.
Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr., is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City. He is currently completing an S.T.L. in fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Additionally, he contributes columns to Catholic News Service. He can be found on all social media platforms with the handle @PadreGeoffrey, and his web site www.padregeoffrey.com