I brought my almost four year old granddaughter to Mass. Her first time at a Mass. We blessed ourselves with holy water. She wanted to splash. We sat in the third pew from the sanctuary--close enough to pay attention. I pointed out the stained glass windows. She was unimpressed. But then a girl altar service came out. Ah, my granddaughter's eyes locked on the little girl. I told her that when she was bigger she could light the candles like this little girl was doing. She started counting them. A little boy, the same small size came and fixed the chairs.
The music was loud and the procession began. The first thing we saw was the altar girl carrying the crucifix. My granddaughter's eyes and mouth both made large circles. Down the aisle the ministers came, but all she saw was the little girl slowly walking with the music, carrying the cross.
As the Mass commenced, I got a lot of "Why are they doing this, or that...?" She didn't think the priest was doing anything remarkable. She barely noticed him. "Why are they holding that big book?" "What are they washing?" "What are they carrying?" "Where are they putting our money?"
The recessional impressed her, too. But then came the highlight (in a 4 year old's mystagogy). The little girl altar server came out with the candle extinguisher. WOWZA! Plop...plop...plop...and the flames went out.
Well, it just so happens that I happen to have a small candle extinguisher, so I told my granddaughter that she could play church when we got home.
Church to an almost 4 year old:
- Grandma lighting every candle in the house and my altar server extinguishing them.
- Using Grandma's crucifix to march around the house in solemn procession.
- Holding the unabridged dictionary opened and asking people to read it.
That's Mass to an almost 4 year old.
As for me, I passed the collection plate.