Lavish Use of Symbols # 2: “My Mass Kit,” from “Wee Believers”

61g97-g3ytL._SL1000_ (Found at Amazon.com – with thanks to Colleen Tichich for sending this my way).

Or, one could file this under “infantile use of symbols.”  Note: I have nothing against children “playing Mass” — but the sheer ugliness of the ugliness (in my eyes) of this Mass kit is staggering.  Are there better ones around?

29 comments

    1. @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #1:
      I have spent my life trying to get rid of bowls passing themselves off as appropriate receptacles for baptism. Unless you are immersing (ie baptizing) a small doll. even Barbie and Ken.

  1. No Tabor for the mini-monstrance? What is the Catholic Church coming to?! (vbg)
    If a youngster pronounces the prayers of Institution is that an impediment to Holy Orders?
    Now I know where Isaiah from YouTube got his mini-Mass kit from.

  2. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) includes many altar works (note: in the CGS philosophy to call it merely “playing Mass” would be understood as trivializing the actual work and prayer even a small child is capable of). A Google Image search showed these examples of what items in a non-ugly “Mass kit” could look like: https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1213&bih=682&q=catechesis+of+the+good+shepherd+altar&oq=catechesis+of+the+good+shepherd+altar&gs_l=img.3..0i24.961.8661.0.8764.37.14.0.21.21.0.128.1158.5j6.11.0.msedr…0…1ac.1.60.img..5.32.1267.PAmTILyHvCw

  3. We never had anything fancy, but my brother and I often played ‘Divine Liturgy’ as we were raised in a Byzantine Rite Church. Of course, I was never the priest, but I got to take up the collection. 😉

  4. From the description at Amazon:

    The pieces are made from cotton/polyester blend and cotton cloth and the Hosts are foam.

    I’ve tasted some Hosts at the altar that might be described in the same way.

    But if I’m going to take offense at this, it would be the price that offends me first. $70 marked down to $60 for a 12 piece kit for kids ages 3 to 8 that can only be spot-cleaned? Do the folks who made this ever deal with kids that age?

  5. The water and wine cruets are, well, abstract. I had to figure out what they were by deduction.

    I get the sense that this kit aims to be a safer version of a traditional child’s Mass set by eliminating flames. However, battery-powered non-inflammable votive candles can be had for very little. A polyester bag pseudo-flame isn’t very convincing.

  6. Rather than this children’s set found on Amazon, I think I’m more offended by the ugliness and excessive prices of the “real” items for sale in church goods catalogs!

  7. Now that I have been thinking about this for a while, I realize that part of my un-ease is the pre-fabrication of this Mass kit. Yes, I too “played Mass” as a child (and I think I acted as priest too, since my brother was too old to play with us) but we made up the Mass symbols imaginatively from what we had. And “wafers” were always my mothers wafers used for many German cookies recipes. To pre-fabricate the symbols for a child (even when this is done art-fully) seems to leave such little room for a child’s creativity and imagination, as well as the integration of the daily stuff of life into the child’s home-made mass kit.

    1. @Teresa Berger – comment #14:
      >>Now that I have been thinking about this for a while, I realize that part of my un-ease is the pre-fabrication of this Mass kit. Yes, I too “played Mass” as a child (and I think I acted as priest too, since my brother was too old to play with us) but we made up the Mass symbols imaginatively from what we had. And “wafers” were always my mothers wafers used for many German cookies recipes. To pre-fabricate the symbols for a child (even when this is done art-fully) seems to leave such little room for a child’s creativity and imagination, as well as the integration of the daily stuff of life into the child’s home-made mass kit.

      YES. This is the most important observation here. Children don’t need toys, they need the chance to use their imaginations. Turning their own plastic cup into a chalice in their own minds prepares them to understand the whole practice of sacramental ritual and the miraculous transformation that occurs to ordinary bread and wine.

  8. Aren’t there early Church legends about children pretending to perform sacraments as play, only to have their deeds legitimized through signs from God?

  9. Last year two of my latin students told me about their best presents for Christmas. I thought that they were iPads or something along that line. To my surprise they told me that they both received Eucharistic wafers. They told me that they often celebrate the Eucharist and hope someday to be Roman Catholic priests.

    They even asked me if I knew where to find an old Latin missal.

    I did suggest that the Episcopal church might offer them surer opportunities, but they had complete faith that Pope Francis would open the priesthood to them.

    1. @Brian Duffy – comment #17:

      I would encourage the children to save for or request as a gift an octavo edition of the Missale Romanum. I had a 1961 edition which was lost 🙁 Many were published by Pustet. Secondhand copies are relatively reasonable.

      I am uncomfortable with children reciting the Canon, especially if they do not know what it means. Perhaps they could be told that that section of the missal is very holy and only to be said by actual priests. They should, however, not shy from learning about the meaning of any text of the Mass.

      It is difficult for girls and women to understand that they cannot eventually be ordained, but this is also true of many boys and men (I will not be ordained, and I don’t entirely know why, either). With due and honest respect, I truly cannot comment on women’s ordination. However, the Mass is for all people. All should endeavor to know both forms, both in Latin and the vernacular.

  10. @Joshua Vas – #16

    No, John Duffy has a paper called “Playing at Ritual” that cites numerous texts; I’ll have to dig it out.

    1. @Abe Rosenzweig – comment #18:
      It would be great if you could give us the bibliographic reference for this essay. It would make a fascinating read in the context of this blog post. please post the info when you have it. I for one would be grateful.

      1. @Teresa Berger – comment #21:

        Teresa – I was curious enough to go look! The full reference is: John Duffy “Playing at Ritual: Variations on a Theme in Byzantine Religious Tales,” in Greek Ritual Poetics, ed. P. Roilos and D. Yatromanolakis (Harvard University Press, 2004) 199–209

  11. When I “played Mass” as a grade schooler, I made my own Mass kit, including the vestments!! No pics, unfortunately!

    (Is the pictured kit for the EF or OF, or is it interchangeable?)

  12. Ed Nash : C’mon …let’s be honest…everyone of us was looking for the Necco Wafers.

    Absolutely correct!! (And a great reminder, Ed, thanks!!) Do they still make Necco wafers?

  13. At what age does “playing Mass” become a “no-no?” Or maybe, when does playing become the real thing (licit or not)?

    (I ask half in geste, and the other half with no particular point of view.)

  14. Oops! I forgot to mention that both students were female. That’s why I mentioned the Episcopal Church. Me paenitet!

    Jordan, I did manage to find an old Maryknoll Missal with the Latin ordinary and the Latin minor propers which I gave them as I was retiring. They were ecstatic. Tridentine usage women priests. My, my!

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