Music down, gesture to go:
33. In view of the nature of the liturgy as an activity of the entire person and in view of the psychology of children, participation by means of gestures and posture should be strongly encouraged in Masses with children, with due regard for age and local customs. Much depends not only on the actions of the priest, [See DMC 23] but also on the manner in which the children conduct themselves as a community.
This is a balanced assessment: the priest does set an example. But children as a community, especially under the example of older students, is also vital.
If, in accord with the norm of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, [See GIRM 21.] a conference of bishops adapts the congregation’s actions at Mass to the mentality of a people, it should take the special condition of children into account or should decide on adaptations that are for children only.
34. Among the actions that are considered under this heading, processions and other activities that involve physical participation deserve special mention.
A few interesting adaptations I’ve rarely or never seen attempted:
The children’s entering in procession with the priest can serve to help them to experience a sense of the communion that is thus being created. [See GIRM 24.] The participation of at least some children in the procession with the Book of the Gospels makes clear the presence of Christ announcing the word to his people. The procession of children with the chalice and the gifts expresses more clearly the value and meaning of the preparation of the gifts. The communion procession, if properly arranged, helps greatly to develop the children’s devotion.
I do see clergy invite children around the altar from time to time. As I reread DMC preparing this post, I had forgotten these suggestions for the opening procession (which we do for Scout Sunday and First Communion, but no other time) and the Gospel procession. (I’m thinking candles and banners, perhaps.)
Children, of course, join their parents all the time in the preparation of gifts at Sunday Masses. I’m curious as to how the communion procession would be “properly arranged.” Would that look any different from the ordinary procession on Sunday? Would it need to? Any comments on this?