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Full Version: When is it a grave sin to not take children to Mass?
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My wife and I have a 4 year old and 9 month old.
Quite often, given the baby being up at night, or other reasons, we can’t make any AM Masses on time.
There aren’t many PM Masses where I live.
In fact, I think there’s only 3, and they all have starting times between 5-7 PM.

Now, I know that a child needs to attend Mass by age 7, viz. the age of reason. However, is there law in the Church that addresses when the PARENTS need to start regularly taking the children to Mass?

Edit. I should add I’m talking specifically about Sundays.
(02-16-2020, 09:20 AM)FultonFan Wrote: [ -> ]My wife and I have a 4 year old and 9 month old.
Quite often, given the baby being up at night, or other reasons, we can’t make any AM Masses on time.
There aren’t many PM Masses where I live.
In fact, I think there’s only 3, and they all have starting times between 5-7 PM.

Now, I know that a child needs to attend Mass by age 7, viz. the age of reason. However, is there law in the Church that addresses when the PARENTS need to start regularly taking the children to Mass?

Edit. I should add I’m talking specifically about Sundays.

I don't know of any teaching that dictates an age by which parents are obliged to bring children to Holy Mass.

Parents simply have to determine by the mental capacity of their children whether the precept to hear Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation bind their children.  I would contend that this is the age at which they are candidates for the sacrament of Confirmation or otherwise stated at the age of discretion, which is the start of reason (i.e., usually around four to seven years old depending on the child).

However, if the children are a nuisance or unruly, I would say it's a big indicator that they're not in the proper mental condition to be brought to Holy Mass.  Parishes that offer two Sunday morning Masses are a great gift in this regard as both parents can split the morning between Mass and child-care...and no one misses any obligation that way.
Wrong question!

It is always a bad idea to ask "Is it a mortal sin to ..."

It suggests the mentality that sin is okay, as long as it's not mortal, and that our obligation is merely to avoid mortal sin. We are meant to avoid sin, period. While there is a distinction about the effects of mortal and venial sin (one destroys the life of God in us, and the other only wounds this), both are an offense to God, and ought to be avoided.

So, the better question : Does the Church say when children should first be taken to Mass, or when they ought to attend.

You've basically answered your own question, though.

It is Church Law that sets our strict obligations of Mass attendance. We must attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass unless it is physically or morally impossible (i.e. unless it is impossible to reasonably get there, would put us in reasonably grave harm, harm another person or be gravely inconvenient). That obligation exists as soon as we are bound by Church law. Canon 11 defines who is bound by Canon Law and the merely ecclesiastical law of Mass attendance :

Quote:Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.

So, there is no legal obligation to take a child to Mass until he is 7, and then only if he possesses the use of reason. While it may be laudable and even prudent (so some degree of obligation from another virtue), there is no legal obligation until age 7 and then only a child who has use of reason must go. A child with a mental disability which never allows him to use his reason is never bound to attend Mass (but then also would never be admitted to Holy Communion).

Now, that said, what your question really asks about is other prudential matters.

If a normal child first attends Mass at age 7, chances are he's not going to be ready for Holy Communion, nor would be be ready to behave as a Catholic. In most normal cases attendance should be regular as soon a child can behave at Mass (and parents should train them to do so ASAP, and, yes, it is possible even for very young children will behave during Mass if parents teach discipline and expect it from a very young age, I know many families whose children are not angels, but can sit quietly through a High Mass every weekend as soon as they can walk, and this with minimal, if any fussing).

At the same time, it is an act of Fraternal Charity to ensure that children are not only trained to behave, but that unruly children or babies that will cry throughout Mass are not brought. A "cry room" was never a normal feature of a church, and, personal opinion here, more often leads to parents coddling their children and not following Mass themselves, than parents being able to attend Mass instead of staying home to care for the children. In a parish where there are resident priests and many Masses on Sunday, and a families lives locally, there is no reason for cry rooms, since if a child really cannot attend Mass, the child can stay at home and parents/caregivers attend different Masses.

So, prudence will demand you bring your kids before age 7, and ideally as early as possible to begin good habits, because they need to learn to be Catholics, sanctify their Sundays, learn the Mass, learn to be respectful and quiet and well-behaved in a church, etc. If you have left it off until age 7, then clearly there was grave fault along the way, even if the law of the Church was not violated. 

Where that line is as to when prudence demands children come to Mass is not set by Church law, but by virtue, and that is why you have asked the wrong question. Virtue is not something that a law can specify. Only the "Law of Love" can set that, but certainly by trying to practice virtue consistently, the more clear obligations of prudence will become obvious.
Wrong question.
But right answer, indeed.
Bravo, as usual. And, of course, thank you.
During RCIA, I attended daily Mass and there was a husband and wife with 3 young girls, I'm gonna say all under 5yo, who attended the 7:00a Mass EVERY morning.  I briefly got to know the husband (he is a fighter pilot so I eventually lost touch) and of course asked how he did it.  I remember him saying that kids follow their parents and if the parents embrace their actions in a positive manner, the children will naturally follow.  If the parents perceived Mass as a drag and only go "to be seen" then the children will pick up on this and it would be a drag getting them to go.  Not surprisingly, they will most likely end up rebelling or leaving the Church.