One of the most important things Catholic parents can do is to pass on to their children the love of the Mass. Children are given their first missal to help guide them through the actions of the Mass, but what’s missing in these little guides is a true understanding of the Mass. Children have to be taught how to fully participate in this Holy Sacrifice. Jesus Speaks to Me about the Mass by Angela M. Burrin is a wonderful children’s book to help parents in this very important task. With this book parents can guide their children’s hearts and actions as they begin to fully appreciate what is taking place each and every Sunday.
What makes this book extra special is that the text reads as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. This first person point of view enables children to hear Jesus himself telling of the Mass and how to participate and understand it more fully. Each page layout includes on the one-side a discussion on a different part of the Mass with a full-page illustrated picture corresponding to a gospel story on the other. Each of these scenes from the Bible is explained – linking it with a part of the liturgy. A few examples include: The “Opening Rite” discusses Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem; “Penitential Rite” speaks of the prodigal son; “The Gloria” discusses the angels rejoicing at Jesus’ birth; and “The Profession of Faith” tells of doubting Thomas and our own belief in spite of not seeing. Each Bible story is only briefly spoken of, but the Bible verse is referenced for further study if desired. Many times my eight year-old daughter and I referred to the Bible so we could read the entire gospel story for ourselves. As Jesus speaks, your child will hear reminders of praying, listening, watching, and even thinking during Mass. Some of the beautiful things Jesus speaks of include: “Keep your eyes on the altar. This is a holy moment…”; “even your guardian angel is singing”; “join in my sacrifice by giving me the gift of yourself”; plus many more.
A perfect companion for this book is a children’s missal book. My daughter did much better with this book when we pulled out her missal book, My First Missal published by Pauline Press, and followed along with it. “Jesus Speaks…” does not always directly quote from the Mass, but does describe what is taking place. Using both books together is a great team that certainly helps in forming an even deeper understanding of what is being spoken about. So between reading the full gospel passage from a Bible, studying the part of the Mass in the missal, reading what “Jesus Speaks…” about the Mass, and just overall discussion with my child, this book took us a good four sittings to get through.
There was one line of “Jesus” that I was not fond of and that was, “Turn around. Can you see any of your friends?” Now in all fairness, this line is in the before the Mass section and is followed by a discussion of friends in heaven like Mary and the saints, but it still didn’t seem right to me to encourage turning around at church even if it is before the Mass begins. However, this one line certainly does not take away from this beautiful book and all the wonderful words of Jesus. The explanations are easy to understand for young children, as well as, helpful in drawing them closer to Jesus as he shows and tells his love for them.
We received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher, Word Among Us Press.