What Is Proper in Children’s Liturgy and on the Sanctuary?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I read the rubrics of a Children's Liturgy and I have a few questions. At my parish I know that there are priests and deacons available at the parish to lead the Children’s Liturgy but there is a lay person leading it. Is this appropriate? Also the children gather and sit in a circle in the Lower Church in the Sanctuary (where the altar and tabernacle is located) instead of the pews. The lay person who leads puts all of their junk on the altar and the children are actually right next to the tabernacle and are acting inappropriately. The tabernacle is set on a table and the children play under it. When the lay person finished the priest invited the children up to the altar and gather around it. Is this appropriate? Can you please back up claims with Church rubrics, documents, etc.? If there is something really wrong with my parish should I report this to my Diocese?

Thank you and God Bless!

Dear Sir or Madam,

Peace in Christ!

Since only a priest can celebrate the Mass, I presume that your question pertains to a separate children's Liturgy of the Word or the participation of a layperson in a children Mass celebrated by a priest.

The following FAITH FACTS should help answer most of your questions:

Children's Masses: May Lay People Read the Gospel and Give the Homily?

Gathering Around the Altar at the Consecration

Regarding the use of the sanctuary for the children's liturgy, what you describe certainly sounds irreverent and could possibly lead others to a diminished appreciation of the sacred, especially the Real Presence of Our Lord. In putting “all of their junk on the altar,” one could even cause scandal by leading others to irreverent behavior and practices in the sanctuary and before the Blessed Sacrament. You may want to discuss this directly with the person who is leading these children's liturgies or, if necessary, with your pastor.

United in the Faith,

Peter Balbirnie

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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