A Review by Natasa Wilkie
The modern world comes with a clear set of – low — expectations.
This is especially true regarding children, who are these days assumed to be incapable of anything so apparently demanding as sitting quietly for an hour. Imagine then, expecting them to not only sit quietly but to understand Mass in Latin?
But parental discipline and perseverance is necessary to raise expectations and lift the sights of the child to the truth and beauty of the Old Rite. One such disciplined parent is Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, father of two children and author of the Missal for Young Catholics. The missal is aimed at children who are old enough to read reasonably well but who would perhaps understandably be intimidated by a traditional missal and its many sections.
What’s In It
The Missal for Young Catholics contains the entire Ordinary of the Mass, Latin on one side, English on the other, as one would find in a regular missal. The font is relatively big and has a wide spacing, so it is very easy to read. Most pages contain works of art, both Western masters and Byzantine icons, high quality reproductions in vivid colour. They enrich the text by visually relating to the sections of the Mass, and show the young owner the artistic beauty of the church that goes beyond mere decoration.
Why the Art Helps
I find this feature of the missal to be very important since visual art (like music) enriches the soul and has the ability to lift us up from the ordinary to something sublime and holy. In this way the missal accompanies the Mass in that lifting of the soul to something higher, and possibly plants the seed for future interest in exploring sacred art, for both artistic and spiritual purposes.
On the Latin
By being regularly present at Mass children get used to hearing Latin and become familiar with it. The missal helps the young Catholic to see Latin in the written form, side by side with the English text, which makes the language more real. Since many families who attend the Old Rite teach their children Latin, the missal can be a useful source for Latin lessons. In this way Latin is not something abstract, but a language that is regularly heard and read every Sunday.
Clear and concise
The missal does not contain the Propers of the Mass. The text in bold red letters notifies the child when to look at certain Propers, available at a parent’s missal. In this way the child does not get confused with flipping pages in a thick book. All the instructions and explanations are clear and concise and do not distract from the prayers of the Mass.
At the end we find Leonine Prayers After Low Mass, in English and Latin, and prayers for the Holy Father and for the bishop in English.
A Mother’s Review
The missal is in paperback edition and has about 60 pages. It is quite light and has a good format that is easy to carry, yet is durable enough for continuous use.
The result is a clear, concise and compelling accompaniment for children attending traditional mass. For Catholic parents who want to deepen their child’s understanding of the Old Rite, and indeed of mass per se, the missal is a great ally.
In my own experience, the richness, grandeur and solemnity of the Old Rite is immediately apparent to children. These aspects draw the child in rather than acting as a barrier to participation in the sacrament. Our children are often wiser than we give them credit for. Kwasniewski was wise in realising that children of reading age naturally hunger for fuller understanding. Giving them a missal at the earliest opportunity shows not only the seriousness with which we take mass but also the seriousness with which we expect them to take it. Children also delight in imitating their parents and so they will feel grown up with their own missals and appreciate that they are being taken seriously.
Peter Kwasniewski’s commitment to enriching his children’s lives led him to write the Missal for Young Catholics. He has made that task easier for the rest of us – we need only buy his missal. I have and I urge you to as well. If a future edition came in hardback it would be even better. And even more traditional.
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