Is this difficulty truly a”special” one? As I reread the DMc for the first time in about twenty years, I’m struck by the overly pessimistic tone of what children can or might absorb through the celebration of liturgy.
That’s not to say that everything in the Mass is potentially comprehensible to any child. I do think children, both ordinary boys and girls as well as the spiritually precocious, are able to discern aspects and receive a strong fruitful experience from liturgy.
Anyway, here’s what the text gives us:
2. In the upbringing of children in the Church a special difficulty arises from the fact that liturgical celebrations, especially the eucharist, cannot fully exercise their inherent pedagogical force upon children. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium 33.] Although the vernacular may now be used at Mass, still the words and signs have not been sufficiently adapted to the capacity of children.
In fact, even in daily life children do not always understand all their experiences with adults but rather may find them boring. It cannot therefore be expected of the liturgy that everything must always be intelligible to them. Nonetheless, we may fear spiritual harm if over the years children repeatedly experience in the Church things that are barely comprehensible: recent psychological study has established how profoundly children are formed by the religious experience of infancy and early childhood, because of the special religious receptivity proper to those years. [See Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, General Catechetical Directory no. 78.]
Giving children a fruitful and positive experience of the liturgy is important. This document was penned in the early 70’s, remember. It wasn’t in a vacuum that the CDWDS was concerned about the celebration of Mass.
I am glad to see the concession that not everything in the liturgy need be comprehensible. What the DMC teaches is that the experience of liturgy be substantially fruitful for children.