In Pink Smoke over the Vatican, one of the womenpriests recounts how, in her childhood, she “played” the Mass using candy Neco wafers. This story elicits chuckles from viewers, probably because so many of us who grew up Catholic have “played the Mass” at some time or another–using crackers, pieces of Wonder Bread, cereal, candy. Children learn about the world and all the possibilities for living in it by such imaginative games. And before a certain age, there’s a wonderful innocence regarding which lives are “open” to your sex and which are not.
I believe in the power of pretend, so much so that I think it can and does shape our reality. That’s why I was delighted when I discovered My Mass Kit, a toy similar to a doctor kit . . . except it’s used for playing priest. Nowhere in the description does it encourage you to give this toy to the boys in your life, and it’s advertised as a “powerful vocation tool for children” (note the gender neutrality). And by the bright smile and thumbs up of the girl pictured in the site’s header, I don’t think anyone has yet told her that some of these toys are not for her.
I love that this toy has the potential to be so wonderfully subversive. I hope to someday have daughters or other special girls in my life that I can gift with this. Last week, the priest at my local parish gave a homily about how, if we want to see the Church become a more Christ-like entity, we have to make that change where we are, from the bottom up. It doesn’t get much more bottom-up than little girls with mass kits or Neco wafers.