Can your kids handle a Latin Mass?

Oxford prof and father of seven gives advice


You’ll find more fellow-feeling and sympathy at the Latin Mass than you may be used to.


The following comes from an Apr. 14 story in Regina magazine 

REGINA’s Anna-Maria Vesey recently sat down to discuss this hot topic with Joseph Shaw, the the head of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and Oxford University professor. Shaw is the hands-on father of seven young children.

REGINA: With all its formality, are children welcome at the Traditional Latin Mass?

JOSEPH SHAW: There is such a thing as hostility to families and children in some churches, but this is much more common at the Ordinary Form than it is at the Traditional Mass, where there is a noticeably higher proportion of children present. This is partly because of larger families, and partly because the Traditional Mass is sought out by young parents….

For the youngest children, being calm and quiet is easier.

REGINA: What do you say to parents with young children who are considering attending a Latin Mass?

JOSEPH SHAW: So my first message to parents is that you’ll find more fellow-feeling and sympathy at the Latin Mass than you may be used to at your usual parish Mass, especially if your parish has tried to push children into a sort of kiddies’ ghetto, with ‘children’s Masses,’, ‘children’s liturgy’, and ‘crying rooms’. These things have the effect of making many parishes’ main Masses children-free zones.

REGINA: What is different about the Traditional Mass in terms of the parents’ job, whatever the age of their children?

JOSEPH SHAW:   It’s easier.

REGINA: Really?

If you have the choice, go to a Sung Mass.

JOSEPH SHAW:   For the youngest children, being calm and quiet is easier because they are in a calm and quiet environment, and parents often say that their young children behave better at the Latin Mass. In one of his columns in the UK’s Catholic Herald, Fr Tim Finigan addressed parents’ question about how to encourage their young children to be quiet in Mass, with the simple advice: ‘Take them to a quieter Mass.’

REGINA: Some may call that counter-intuitive for small children.

JOSEPH SHAW:   There is an attitude that, because one can never guarantee one’s children won’t make any noise, they will disturb people more at a quiet Mass, so parents with small children belong at a noisy Mass where they won’t make things much worse than they already are.

This is a counsel of despair. Teachers get children, eventually, to be quiet in class; parents teach their children to behave at their grandparents’; you have to stop your children climbing the rigging when on a ferry. Children learn these things because they must. Mass is no different.

REGINA: What would you advise anyone thinking about attending the Traditional Mass for the first time?

JOSEPH SHAW:   If you have the choice, go to a Sung Mass. Low Mass is a wonderful experience, but it takes more getting used to. The music at Sung Mass, if it is done well, adds an extra level of beauty to the Mass, and an extra way to engage with it. If they are singing Chant, children attending regularly can with a little encouragement easily learn the ‘Ordinary’ Chants (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus) and join in.



  1. What a bunch of nonsense! There are lots and lots of well-behaved children at the parish where I attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass every Sunday. Professor Shaw’s comments are opinions not facts!

  2. I have always noticed how better behaved the kids are at the TLM. When the luturgy is reverent, so are the worshippers, regardless of age.

    Many NO Masses include loud music, lots of singers, and a concert-like feel. This overstimulates childern and adults alike, and they become restless and noisy themselves. Hard to find peace in such an atmosphere.

  3. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    The title of this post is rather silly. Of course children can ‘handle’ a Latin Mass.

  4. Linda Maria says:

    It is true, that children do quiet down, in a quiet environment– and become more agitated, in a noisy, chaotic environment! Most adults are also that way. The old Latin Mass used to bring to many Catholics, a sense of God’s awesome, True Presence, and a reverent, abiding peace. The old Tridentine Latin Mass is our true, ancient form of the Mass— and traditionally, large Catholic families always filled the pews! My maternal grandfather, from Italy, went to Jesuit schools, at the turn of the 20th century. And he was trained to be an altar boy, very young– at age five! The priests used to converse regularly, in Latin, to keep up their Latin language skills!

  5. Here’s one thing I discovered to get your kids to become interested in the TLM: after taking them, sit down with them and ask them about sensory and emotional experiences. Ask them about the incense-how did it smell? do they remember how many times the bells rang? how do they remember the priest’s vestments? The statues? Do they remember the most common response from those in the pews? Try it-it works!

  6. Linda Maria says:

    I recall, long go, watching the final Latin Mass, at the close of the Second Vatican Council, offered by Bl. Pope Paul VI. I watched it live, on TV, with my father. We both wondered if the beautiful Latin Mass would ever again be offered, at St. Peter;s Basilica by a Pope, someday! My dad is now gone– but here I am, still waiting and wondering about this! Nice if the Pope could ever offer the beautiful, old Tridentine Latin Mass, at St. Peter’s Basilica, perhaps at Christmas or Easter– while all the world watches! JOY!!

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      But the question is why does the beautiful Mass of that same Paul VI NOT bring you joy when you watch it, live, at St Peter’s Basiclica every Christmas?

      • Linda Maria says:

        Your Fellow Catholic, no– that is NOT the question at all! Since you do not even like the Latin Tridentine Mass, why do you waste your time, writing useless replies, to posters who write something, that has no meaning for you?? Why don’t you just stick to news stories that have meaning for you, and write posts in response to them?? That would be a far better use of your time!

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          How do you know I do not like the “Latin Tridentine Mass”? Why would you make such a thing up? You did make it up, you know. You know that it is a sin to lie, right? And why don’t you just let me comment where I want to comment and stop try telling me what is a good or a bad use of my time? What business is it of yours?

          • Linda Maria says:

            Your Fellow “Catholic”— Stop wasting your time being an antagonist to other posters who are sincere Catholics, who love our traditional Latin Tridentine Mass! Instead, try to work for Christ and do good to others, for Him!

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            Well if you’d tell the truth about me and about other things, and stop criticizing everything and everyone in the Church as babyish, immature, etc etc., maybe I could. Instead, I constantly have to defend the Christ’s Church from your constant attacks.

          • Linda Maria says:

            Your Fellow “Catholic”– I am the one upholding Christ’s true teachings, on the holy Sacrament of Marriage! Why don’t you do likewise– instead of attacking sincere Catholic posters?? You attack Christ Himself, when you attack His sincere followers, upholding His true teachings!

          • Linda Maria says:

            Your Fellow Catholic– why don’t you go about your business, simply state your opinions on the old Latin Mass, or whatever other news story may be printed– and ignore other posters– instead of antagonizing them???? Is that too hard for a grown man to do??

      • Ann Malley says:

        That is a good question, YFC. Perhaps it is time to review the rite of Paul VI in a more thorough and unbiased fashion as compared to the TLM. That said, beauty is said to reside in the eye of the beholder. So, whereas you find the Mass of Paul VI “beautiful” others may not.

    • Anonymous says:

      The “Tridentine” Mass didn’t go away for years after the closing Mass of Vatican II.
      God bless you but either your memory is faulty or you tried to fool us for some reason.

      • Linda Maria says:

        Anonymous– my memory is correct! I was only stating that it was sad for many devout Catholics, to see the last Latin Mass said by the Pope, at St. Peters Basilica, broadcast worldwide on radio and TV!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Why did you and your father think that it was the last Latin Mass said by the Pope?
          This is just not accurate historically but perhaps you and your father heard or read something that misinformed you?

          • Linda Maria says:

            Anonymous, stop wasting your time, antagonizing other posters who are good Catholics, sitting right there in the pews at Mass, alongside you, and millions of others! Of course the Mass I described, above— was the final Latin Mass, said by the Pope at St Peter’s, in Rome– that fact was announced VERY CLEARLY, for all to hear– worldwide!! Millions of TV and radio listeners heard this announcement, worldwide!! And many devout Catholics also grieved! And so what, Anonymous?? Just a piece of history– and that’s all! It should not matter to you!

  7. I think the TLM is fine for those who want it…I hate fake news/reporting. Where is the evidence? Disgusted- why do you hate the OF of the Mass?

    • The amount of theological scholarship that has been produced on the subject of the TLM v NO could fill St. Peter’s. Nobody cares that you “think” it’s fine for those who want it. It’s not about what unschooled laymen “think” or even want. It’s not a democratic question. People need to ponder the question of which form is superior for theological reasons. And they should do that by reading a substantial amount of the qualified scholarship available. Less ignorance benefits everyone.

      • Linda Maria says:

        Ralph, I agree. After Vatican II, the Church made a terrible mistake, erroneously seeking to falsely equalize highly trained and ordained priests, prelates, and ecclesiastical scholars, with ignorant, unschooled laymen!! It is a horror, to constantly see the arrogance of the uneducated and ignorant, who know nothing– yet, think they know everything– and no longer have respect for our Church’s highly-trained, ordained clergy and scholars! If you do not have the knowledge and training in a certain subject–all you can have, really– is your humble opinions, for yourself— your personal likes and dislikes.

    • Ann Malley says:

      The fake news, Bob, is insinuating that the issue of TLM vs NO is merely a matter of hating something.

  8. Joel Fago says:

    “Let the little children come to me.”

  9. Tom Barbarie says:

    It is unfair and unkind to say that those of us who prefer the Tridentine Mass to the Novus Ordo hate the latter. But it should be clear to any fair-minded person that the evidence — as shown by attendance — after 50 years is quite startling: the Novus Ordo does not grab hold of people’s hearts; it does not get into the worshiper’s innards. The massive defections of the post-Vatican II years, defections of the old and the young, should at least make one suspect that there is something defective in the form (not the substance) of the Mass as it is offered in most parish churches. It is particularly interesting that the changes, when they were introduced, were accompanied by assurances that they would make Catholicism more attractive to…

    • TheVeiledThreat says:

      I’ve had the privilege of attending both the TLM and the NO offered by the same priest. This even included the NO in Latin one time. If you have a reverent priest he can make the NO more introspective and quiet.

      BUT there is still a difference. Even between the TLM and the NO in Latin.

      I do not hate on any of them. I simply find the TLM allows me to go deeper into my faith. Your mileage will vary. So why don’t we go in peace to love and serve the Lord…

    • Tom, correlation is not causation. IMHO the reasons are deeper than the TLM mass. I think the problem is people often find themselves disagreeing with quite a bit of Church doctrine (mass rejection of Humanae Vitae is an example).

  10. Ralph: there is no “superior” form of the Mass. Pope Benedict, in his wisdom, allowed for two forms of the Holy Mass: Ordinary and Extraordinary. He took great pains in Summorum Pontificum to teach that one form of the Mass is not “better” than the other.

    Tom: the facts speak for themselves. Most practicing Roman Catholics attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass on any Sunday.

    • Tom Barbarie says:

      You left out a couple of other facts which speak for themselves, 1) that the Tridentine Mass has been suppressed, censored, as if it were some piece of pornography, by the liturgical establishment and the modernist bishops who have ruled and virtually destroyed Catholicism in much of the Western world since Vatican II, and 2) that “most Roman Catholics” amount to a group of mostly gray-haired people whose children have long deserted the faith which 60 years ago was a vigorous part of the public policy conversation in the United States.

    • Actually, the only change Benedict made was he “allowed” for the return of the TLM, the NO was already in place following the machinations of 1969. And right, because as you say, most Catholics attend the NO, abrogating the NO at this point would have spewed them forth in all directions.

  11. Tom: in God we Trust…all others must have data. Provide statistics to back up your assertions. The very few attendees at the TLM I recently attended were mostly women in their 70’s and three 20 somethings who were curious about the EF of the Mass.

  12. The TLM? It is priest-centric and not focused on God. I was an altar boy back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and served at many Latin Masses. I prefer the Mass in English and will never return to the Latin Mass. I have too many unpleasant memories associated with it.

  13. YFC your contempt for the TLM is well known on this site, you calling out someones sins is laugable

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Point to me a single place where I demonstrated contempt for the TLM. You won’t find it. Please tell the truth Bohemond.

  14. If you have younger children at home, especially boys who might want to be altar servers at Traditional Latin/Extraordinary Form Masses, check out this 1943 booklet, which you can print for them to color and cutout on plain paper or card stock. I posted the PDF here:

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