3 y.o. pretends 'communion'--is this bad?

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Rivera

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My 3 year old daugher likes to play ‘communion’, reverently passing around little pieces of bread and making the sign of the cross. My husband thinks I should not encourage this behavior, but I don’t see the harm in it as long as she is pretending nicely. (Obviously, I have informed her that she CANNOT be the priest!) Can anyone tell me whether this game is OK or if I should discourage her?

thanks in advance,
nr

P.S. Am I the only one who used to make little play wafers from white bread and a bottle cap as a kid??
 
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Rivera:
My 3 year old daugher likes to play ‘communion’, reverently passing around little pieces of bread and making the sign of the cross. My husband thinks I should not encourage this behavior, but I don’t see the harm in it as long as she is pretending nicely. (Obviously, I have informed her that she CANNOT be the priest!) Can anyone tell me whether this game is OK or if I should discourage her?

thanks in advance,
nr

P.S. Am I the only one who used to make little play wafers from white bread and a bottle cap as a kid??
I think it is quite wonderful. It is something Catholic children were doing last century and probably centuries before then. I know my brothers and sisters and I did.We used to use bread which we cut into circles also with a bottle cap and smashed flat. 😉

It is a teachable moment also. You have done well to use it to teach her she cannot be a priest. You can also use it to encourage her love for the Eucharist and build in her a great anticipation for the time when she will be old enough to receive. I think this is something to nurture not discourage.
God Bless,
Marie
 
From your description, it doesn’t sound like your daughter is doing anything wrong. Only if there were mockery of the Mass or an actual attempt (as opposed to fantasy play) to “do what the priest does” would there be a problem. Perhaps your daughter can pretend to be an extraordinary minister of holy Communion rather than a priest. 😉

I’m not a cradle Catholic, but from what I’ve heard during my years as a Catholic, many a vocation to the religious life and/or the priesthood (for boys) began with such innocent play. Therese of Lisieux said that from the age of 3 onwards she did not go five minutes without her thoughts turning to God.
 
This kind of play is done by all children, I don’t remember playing priest myself, but I did play garbageman, doctor and milkman.

Its both healthy and normal, shows a pretty fair degree of intelligence. I wouldn’t discourage it, nobody really knows at this point in time what careers might be open to an intelligent young lady 20 or more years down the road.
 
When my daughter was about 3 she held up a Cheerio and said, “Body of Christ” before putting it into my hand.

What this showed is that she paid attention at Mass and that she understood this was something very important. She’s almost 4 now and doesn’t seem to want to do that anymore, but we made sure she understood that the Host is the actual body of Christ and that only Priests can change the bread into the Host.

We did not discourage her from this play since we felt it was her way of “coming to grips” with Communion. We also didn’t want to her to have any negative associations with Communion (“Stop doing that!”). We never initiated it on our own, and we tried to explain as much as seemed appropriate about the Eucharist since she appeared so interested.

Hope that helps!
 
Michelle Arnold:
From your description, it doesn’t sound like your daughter is doing anything wrong. Only if there were mockery of the Mass or an actual attempt (as opposed to fantasy play) to “do what the priest does” would there be a problem. Perhaps your daughter can pretend to be an extraordinary minister of holy Communion rather than a priest. 😉

I’m not a cradle Catholic, but from what I’ve heard during my years as a Catholic, many a vocation to the religious life and/or the priesthood (for boys) began with such innocent play. Therese of Lisieux said that from the age of 3 onwards she did not go five minutes without her thoughts turning to God.
Good idea…and we could take it one step further. 😉 Back in the stone age when my family was doing it…my brothers of course were always the priest and altar servers. We girls were the Nun’s who made the Altar bread. 🙂 Why not encourage a vocation to the religious life in that direction. Daddy could lighten up and play priest,(skip any pretend rubric’s though) mom can be an eem, and the child a nun and the official altar bread maker. Mix it up a bit on the eem between Mom and child.
 
I don’t see anything wrong with it either (and it’s good you informed her about the Church’s position on women ordination).

Michelle mentioned St. Therese and that brings up another story that I remember where she and her sister were sort of playing “communion”. Her sister would pray a Hail Mary over the bread and give it to St. Therese like Communion and she would later say, “Taste just like blessed bread.”

Miguel.
 
When my son was 2 (he is now 14) he would sometimes feed me grapes, Cheerios, or similar, popping them into my mouth and saying “Body of Christ”

I didn’t actively discourage him, but I did make a point of replying “Thank you” instead of “Amen”, if only to communicate (heh 🙂 ) the subtle message that it was not the body of Christ (even if I did appreciate the gesture)

He would also sometimes “play father”, which consisted of wearing one of my t-shirts – more of a dalmatic cut, but loose enough to make a pretend chasuble – and holding his arms in an orans posture.

Alas, at 14 he does not seem to be leaning so toward a priestly vocation, but I’m not giving up hope yet. 😉
 
My daughter once constructed a church with a Ken™ doll as a priest and Barbie™ and some of her friends in attendence.

I suggested to her that if you leave the dolls in the church with a monstrance you could have Perpetual Adoration.

I think what matters most in this sort of play is whether it is respectful or not.
 
My 5 year old son plays Mass with his sisters. He insists he is always Father, and he is quite sincere about his role play. No mocking here. I think it’s wonderful when children know enough about the Mass that they can act it out while playing. It shows they are paying attention at Mass. That’s more than I can say for some adults I know.

We asked him what he wants to when he grows up and he said, “A priest.” Later he told us he no longer wanted to be a priest. When we asked him what then do you want to be, he replied, “The Pope!”
 
Nick, Fulton Sheen said in his autobiography that as a young priest he prayed three Hail Mary’s every day to become a bishop. He asked for it because he considered episcopal orders the fullest realization of his priestly vocation. By all accounts he was a terrible administrator – his strengths were preaching and pastoring, not administrating – but he was a model bishop.

I wonder how many Hail Mary’s a day one should pray for a vocation to the papacy? 🙂
 
When I was little we played Mass (smashed bread and and tea). I think it is a fine activity. I was an alter server, but I have never, being a woman, felt the desire to be a priest just becuase I played Mass at home when I was little. I also played pirates and cowboys and Indians, but I’m not any of those things either. I don’t remember if my mom or dad giving me any talks to make sure I wasn’t planning on trying to be a priest when I was older. Better to play Mass than to reinact Soap Operas. 🙂
 
This might be a good time to take start to take her to Adoration and/or Benediction!! My kids (6,3, &1)… have always loved Adoration! They ask if today is a day we get to go visit Jesus in the monstrance! (obviously not my 1 year old- buthte other two). And it is a good time to teach her the “O Sacrament most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!”

Another thing we do is to make the Sign of the Cross and blow kisses when we pass a Church and say “Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I love you! I adore you!”.

I think it is great that her mind is turned towrds the things of God!! Keep up the good work!!
 
Thanks all for your insight. My daughter also likes to dance around with a dish towel on her head and call herself a nun. I always thought it was cute, but maybe it is a good sign too!

bless you,
nae

PS ‘Catholic Answers’ is the best radio show, and I am thrilled that there is a forum now! What a blessing you all are.
 
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Rivera:
Thanks all for your insight. My daughter also likes to dance around with a dish towel on her head and call herself a nun. I always thought it was cute, but maybe it is a good sign too!
Sounds like the Good Lord is calling her. Good news! 🙂
 
I do not know where you are located, but you may ask your Priest where they get the altar breads from. Many times the nuns that bake the breads are willing to take the children on tours, and it would be a great chance to make a family day out of this play.
 
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Rivera:
My 3 year old daugher likes to play ‘communion’, reverently passing around little pieces of bread and making the sign of the cross. My husband thinks I should not encourage this behavior, but I don’t see the harm in it as long as she is pretending nicely. (Obviously, I have informed her that she CANNOT be the priest!) Can anyone tell me whether this game is OK or if I should discourage her?

thanks in advance,
nr

P.S. Am I the only one who used to make little play wafers from white bread and a bottle cap as a kid??
It seems very simple, you know she can’t the Priest. So, she wants to be an Eucharist Minister! If she sees ‘people’ also giving Communion, then that is what she wants to do.
My brother at the age of 8 used to take Ritz crackers and give them to me and my younger brother as we ‘played’ parishners as my brother was the priest. We did this as the Mass for Shut-in was on TV. That was 1969-1971. AND yes, my brother became a priest in May 20,2000!

God works in the most Interesting ways!

Go with God!
Edwin
 
Personally, I think this is why NECCO wafers were made! How could you not use them as pretend hosts when they were the perfect shape and size? 😉
 
Completely healthy. All of my boys did this. Moreover, my mother used to play Ash Wednesday with her friends in my grandfather’s waiting room (way back when doctor’s offices had ash-trays in the waiting rooms.)

There is a beautiful scene at the beginning of Sigred Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, where Kristin and here young playmates are playing baptism–with a piglet! (Best book written by a woman, ever, BTW.)

Chris
 
The situation in America appears very different from in England.Reminiscences that certain people I have spoken to about “their lonely lad down the road” and “Do you know what he does to play ?” Then follows how this fellow says a mass in his garage , his mother having sewn up a chasuble from curtain cloth and all such holy disorder.This is not only in people’s memories, it figures frightfully in some pathologically odd people …surely the scenario doesn’t elicit reverence-lemonade for the chalice, biscuits for the host,please the religion is not a game.Servers don’t play as the priest gives the privileges…these children should be told that what is done in a church is so special, you cannot reproduce it in your amusements.

I’ve mentioned in another place that I don’t know why Montessori seemed to be able to build her little children’s chapel where little boys did indeed dress in junior vestments.It was just before Vatican II.

The altar in the bedroom mentality is possibly not of our persuasion, but it’s very sad that some people’s religion never grows up presumably. (Compton Mackenzie “Sinister Street”)

I think it’s bad -it’s pretend Catholicism-the mass is not a child’s plaything.I would have a word with children for whom it became a favourite and get them involved in something else-both genders can now be servers and there’s also the possibility of rather than blaspheming communion with potato crisps, the children be encourged to draw the mass ceremonies with their crayons and pencils.This is a beautiful way around the Old Rite, there is also no harm in them drawing vestments and church interiors and stained glass.We need sacred artists.
Come back to me on this-it’s stimulating.
 
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