Lectionary for Masses with Children

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The Lectionary for Masses with Children (LMC) adapts the Roman Lectionary for Mass (1981) to the needs and capacities of pre-adolescent children. The aim of the LMC is to nourish the faith of children and lead them to full participation in the worship of the whole assembly. The translation of the scriptures used is the Contemporary English Version (CEV), a translation from the original languages prepared specifically for children by the American Bible Society.

The publication of a LMC follows the recommendation of the Directory for Masses with Children published by the Congregation for Divine Worship (no. 43) and approved by Pope Paul VI in 1973. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States approved the Lectionary for Masses with Children in November 1991 and the Apostolic See granted permission for an experimental use of the lectionary in 1992. The LMC is best understood within the broader context of the Directory, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and the Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass.

Principles and Directives. Part One of the Introduction of the LMC reflects on the importance of the celebration of the word of God for the formation of the community. Part Two provides basic principles for liturgies of the word with children: 1) the Gospel is always read; 2) a liturgical dismissal is used when children occasionally celebrate a separate liturgy of the word; 3) and a homily by the priest or an explanation of the readings by one of the adults is given at Masses with children.

Part Three discusses the purpose and provides foundational principles. This section also underlines some basic principles of liturgical catechesis such as the formative influence of liturgy; the need to involve children in the actions of the liturgy as well as to appeal to the intuitive nature of children through the use of ritual elements and symbols; and the liturgy of the word is ritual prayer and not an instructional session. The final section of part three includes catechetical notes on the relationship of the lectionary to the liturgical year and on the way in which the Church's calendar expresses and shapes Christian identity.

Part Four treats "Particular Issues" connected with the liturgy of the word celebrated with children. It examines the place of celebration, objects used in celebration, the importance of the use of music, and the need to preserve the common format of the full assembly in the liturgies for children.

The LMC may be used at Sunday Masses when there are large numbers of children present along with adults (although proper balance and consideration for the entire assembly requires that LMC should not be used exclusively or even preferentially), at a separate liturgy of the word with children, or at other liturgical celebrations within the context of the liturgical year. On Christmas Day, Epiphany, Sundays of Lent, Easter Sunday, Ascension, and Pentecost, the universal lectionary takes precedence. The readings from the children's lectionary may be used only when the celebration of the liturgy of the word for the children is held in a place apart from the main assembly.

The Content of the Lectionary. The LMC follows the content and arrangement of readings for the three cycles of Sundays, the proper of seasons, solemnities, and feasts of the Lord in the Roman Lectionary. All three readings for Sunday are included when they are suitable for use with children. At least one reading is always given in addition to the Gospel and common texts for sung responsorial psalms are included.

Sets of readings that reflect the liturgical and theological motifs of the major seasons are provided for weekdays of the year (seasons and Ordinary Time). The final section of the lectionary is comprised of Gospel acclamations for weekdays in Ordinary Time, the Proper of the Saints, Common of the Saints, ritual Masses and Masses for special occasions.

Bibliography: c.k. dooley, To Listen and Tell: Introduction to the Lectionary for Masses with Children with Commentary (Washington, DC 1993). p. mazar and r. piercy, A Guide to the Lectionary for Masses with Children (Chicago 1993).

[c. dooley]