The Spirit Bubbles Forth

By Madonna Kuciejczyk-Kernan
from the November 24, 1996 St. Cronan Chronicle

Bubbles from the balcony. Angel Gabriel bubbling over with excitement. Perhaps you've wondered what has inspired such spirited eucharistic celebrations!

Seven years ago the Parish Council asked that a Youth Commission be formed to develop ways of integrating the increasing numbers of children and youth into the parish life. A Children's Mass emerged as a way of enhancing our young people's sense of belonging to the church liturgical community.

We at St. Cronan wanted to communicate to our children and youth that we value them and their ministerial and liturgical gifts and that I we are willing to be led by them in prayer and song. We believed that our children and youth would be empowered and nurtured in their gifts by being lectors, choir members, and liturgical dancers for the whole church community on a regular basis. We wanted to embrace the Spirit of God that lives in our children.

In many ways the Children's mass met the goal of enhancing our children's sense of belonging to the liturgical life of the community. Through the years we've been graced by actively journeying with the Spirit alive in our children and youth, who have sung, danced, and proclaimed the Word with reverence, enthusiasm, and a sense of their ministry. They have been active rather than passive celebrators of the Word. Children and youth who grew up experiencing Children's Masses have expressed a desire to continue being active participants, and many adults also have felt enriched by a holistic style of worship that praises God with body, soul, heart, and mind.

Other adults have voiced concerns of feeling left out during Children's Masses. Three years ago the concept of "Family Mass" evolved as a way to address these concerns. Family Mass was conceived as a way to continue empowering children and youth in liturgy as well as painting a broader picture of who we are as a parish family. The "family" in "Family Mass" refers to our parish family, our call to be the Family of God; it does not refer to a gathering of nuclear families. Family Masses incorporate the following elements:

  • Participation by people of all ages
  • Songs that children and adults can sing
  • Bringing Scripture alive through drama, dance, rind clear translations
  • An inclusive homily that can reach both children and adults
  • A sense of the Universal Church (including elements from other cultures; embodying diversity)
  • Sensorial images
  • Intuition, wonder, mystery, and imagination (engaging the right brain)
  • A palpable sense of praise and thanksgiving
  • Celebrating the wondrous ways God blesses us

This year the parish council, upon the recommendation of the Liturgy Forum Committee and the Youth Commission, reaffirmed the parish's commitment to this focused form of inter-generational worship. Some don't like the term "Family Mass"; so what shall we call it? Jerome Berryman calls it "Godly play." He writes:

"Godly play is especially relevant for our time because many adults are now discovering that they are grounded in a false self. They sense that there is another and truer self they have covered over by always being what others wanted them to be. The inner child awaiting discovery is full of energy, creative, spontaneous, and deeply centered. Godly play is about children and adults discovering that child. Godly play is a way to keep open the opportunity for the true self to emerge in childhood and the possibility that adults may return to where they began and begin to grow again."

May the spirit keep bubbling forth in each of us!