Some of you may remember when I shared the cutest thing in the history of mankind a couple years ago. Well, Isaiah was three years old at the time. Now, he’s five, and he’s still playing Mass. It turns out that one of the professors here at the seminary (actually, the academic dean since last academic year), Dr. Tom Neal, is friends with this family, and he passed along this video.
I said it then, and I will repeat it now. Parents, if your son wants to play the Mass, let them! Encourage them. Teach them. Find them something to approximate vessels. Make them or buy them vestments. This is a good thing. I have heard some say that this sort of playing makes light of the Mass. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Isaiah were 15 years old, I would accept that argument, but for small children, playing like this is one of the most serious things they do. This is how children practice for growing up. I’m not making this up. No less than Joseph Ratzinger, the man who would become Pope Benedict XVI, proposes much the same when he sets out to explain liturgy:
We should mention another aspect of this theory of play, something that brings us closer to the essence of the liturgy. Children’s play seems in many ways a kind of anticipation of life, a rehearsal for later life, without its burdens and gravity.
Ratzinger then zeroes back in on his primary purpose, the liturgy itself and our relation to it as adults. This has less to do with this video, but I wanted to share the next part because it’s such a beautiful thought to keep in mind as we approach the liturgy.
On this analogy, the liturgy would be a reminder that we are all children, or should be children in relation to that true life toward which we yearn to go. Liturgy would be a kind of anticipation, a rehearsal, a prelude for the life to come, for eternal life, which St. Augustine describes, by contrast with life in this world, as a fabric woven no longer of exigency and need, but of the freedom of generosity and gift.
As Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)
In short: Parents, encourage your children to play Mass if they show an interest! Isaiah’s parents, God bless you for encouraging him like this. You might have a wonderful future priest. I pray that Isaiah hears God’s call in his life, whatever that may be, and follows.
Now, without further delay, the video: