At Steve Skojec's splendid new blog One Peter Five (to which fellow NLM writer Fr. Thomas Kocik is also regularly contributing), I have posted a couple of articles on how we can help our children enter more readily and more deeply into the usus antiquior or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The first part is more about preparations at home while the second is about things that can be done at Mass itself.
Parents today are sometimes worried that if they attend the traditional Latin Mass exclusively, their children will not know what to do with themselves during Mass and get so bored that they’ll hate going, or at least not come away from it with the spiritual goods they need. And yet, every child-saint we know of grew up in the ambiance of the traditional Latin Mass — there was no other for nearly the whole history of the Western Church. We wonder: How did the little Thérèses or Padre Pios of the world feel so drawn to the Mass? Was something different back then? Were children better catechized? Were parents more on the ball?
The thing I recommend most strongly is that you bring your family to a High Mass (Missa Cantata) or even a Solemn High Mass (Missa Solemnis), if this is available in your area. It may seem counterintuitive — such a liturgy is longer and more complicated, and it is probably at a later time of day, when children are more likely to be tired and cranky. Still, if you can manage to work it out practically, the High Mass is a fuller celebration of the rite, with more going on to pay attention to and be shaped by. There is more activity happening in the sanctuary — processions, incensations, bows and genuflections, the carrying of this and that, vessels being handed around, the sacred choreography of the ministers — with the chanting of prayers and readings, and plenty of music along the way. When it’s done well, it is a feast for the senses that helps sustain interest and foster curiosity. A Low Mass, as beautiful as it is for adults who have learned the art of prayer or simply find comfort in the peace and quiet, is much harder going for little ones who, not surprisingly, find anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes of almost total silence a rather large bucket to fill. So, while a Low Mass almost cries out for following along in a book, at a High Mass (particularly a Solemn High Mass) one can let oneself go and just watch.