Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Smelly, Noisy, Squirmy Children at Mass

August 11th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

We’ve covered some controversial topics here, but brace yourselves for this topic:

Noisy, stinky, squirmy, children at mass… Do they belong in the pews? In a crying room? Or left at home? Should those who get annoyed stare down the parents? Give the evil eye? Stop mass until the parents exit with their offending children? Or smile and pretend you can actually hear the homily that could be deepening your relationship with God and that Father worked tirelessly on all week?

A while back there was an article in the Fishwrap that I intended to respond to, but never got around to. The Catholic Courier’s Mike Latona* is quoted in it. It was mostly benign, but left out a few things that I think parents with young kids should consider. Then more recently there was a post on Patheos by Deacon Greg Kandra that I thought was rather unbalanced.

My pastor takes a different approach. If a baby starts to cry, and the mother begins to slide down the pew to walk it out the door, he’ll stop mass to stop HER. “Don’t leave!” he’ll call out. “Please stay! Let the baby cry. He belongs here with the rest of us.” More than a few times, a mother has stopped, mortified and embarrassed, unsure what to do, while the baby lets forth a full-throated “Waaaaaaaaah!” and the congregation chuckles and my pastor coaxes her to stay.

If you follow that link, scroll down to the comments section, and sort by “best rating” you’ll find these comments near the top which pretty much echo my sentiments:

Micah Murphy said:

I use the cry room to keep others from getting distracted (or hurt – my daughter could probably shatter glass). When my kids cry, other people can’t hear the readings or concentrate, so at first, I try to hush them in the pew, but if it continues, I take them to the cry room. When my kids calm back down, I take them back into the nave of the Church. It works well, without teaching them that Mass is playtime, but while also giving the people around me the respect they deserve.

Maybe what we need isn’t to get rid of cry rooms, but to make them a place where parents take crying children only until they calm down. Remove the chairs? Alternatively, one parish in my area has no cry room, but has rocking chairs in the nave for mothers to soothe their criers.

A real culprit: nursery. How are kids supposed to learn how to behave in Mass if they don’t go to Mass? Children’s liturgy doesn’t help, either, and at many parishes, it is accompanied by congregational pseudo-blessings and features a ton of kids over the age of reason. If we stop babying them, they might actually grow up.

So I think cry rooms are fine, but need to be used sparingly (and never automatically).

TheresaVA said:

Many adults (parents and priests and deacons, etc) do not exercise common sense or common courtesy when dealing with screaming children. We are at Mass to pray and worship. How can you hear the priest when a child is screaming in your ear because the parent exercises his/her right to be there? Many parishes embrace the squealing child. Fine. Let there be multiple Masses then so that those of us who want to pray, worship and hear the priest, can go to a non-family Mass. But that’s not going to happen. Or at my parish where there is only one Mass, so we’re stuck with it. I’ve done my day as a parent, and respectfully took my crying child out of the church, taught the child respectful behavior in a place of worship, then went back. Now that they are adults with children, they teach their children the same manners. They also have adult manners and remove a crying infant so as not to disturb the worship of others. This isn’t a parish picnic. It’s Mass.


sam said:

Sorry Deacon but you have it wrong. There were no crying babies at the Last Supper – The real point is that parents need to respect that fact that other people are trying to pray and praise – something they must do while at the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In my day, children were either not seen (parents took turns in babysitting or found a family member who could do it, in order that they could attend Mass themselves w/o distraction) or not heard (children as young as 2 were sufficiently well behaved that a simple look from Mom or Dad was sufficient to quiet them regardless of the number of children in the family). The problem as you perceive it of cry rooms is the result of ill behaved children and/or parents who have little or no respect for others let alone for the Liturgy. BTW parents also need to “attend” the Liturgy which presupposes limited distractions. (“attend” means “attention to”) Re: the Protestant pastor – need I remind you – Protestant Churches do NOT have the Real Presence – so naturally they have a definitely different approach to their services.

I’m not gonna attempt to say there is a one size fits all answer to these questions, but I will share my own personal experience having gone from no kids to 2 kids within the last 3.5 years.  Taking one baby to mass was doable IF they slept the whole time.  Once they started walking and crawling, there was just no way to be attentive as a parent, let alone not distract others.  There were times where I felt like I was in a wrestling match and someone in the audience just happened to be celebrating mass.  We decided that it’s not such a bad thing to have a rotating mass schedule with your spouse.  This at least allows the possibility for “full, active, participation”.  As far as I know, there is nothing in the catechism or canon law that requires you to take your toddler to mass.  So we started leaving the little buggers at home.  There are times when we take our kids either out of necessity or to see if they’re ready (training them in the process).  It doesn’t always go well.  I do my best to not distract others and take my kids out when they are an obvious distraction.  If I’m on my way out, I don’t need people giving me the stink eye – I’m aware my kid is crying, that’s why I’m on my way out.  The crying rooms I’ve been exposed to actually encourage poor behavior and inattentiveness just like the welfare state enables the culture of the poor.  That’s just my experience.  All kids are different.  All parents are different.  I’ve witnessed both extremes 1) families with 10 kids (several under 5) who sit unbelievably quiet and still and 2) parents with only one 7-year-old who is eating, yapping, and playing portable video games.  Certainly this is an issue of balance so I can’t possibly see saying something as ridiculous as:

It seems to me that relegating babies to another part of the church—banishing them to a spiritual Time Out corner—… tries to make the experience of going to Mass less distracting, more pristine. But to do that is to deny the beautiful, noisy, messy reality of life in the Church.

Certainly other parishioners should not be overly critical of how parents choose to handle their kids, but parents should also exercise some common sense.  Saying all kids should stay at all times is just silly.

I understand this is a hot button topic, but I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments (I know you’ve got one).  It seems to me that a balanced approach is good.  Don’t feel discouraged from speaking up if you don’t have young children.  I hate the argument that says you can’t have a position on a topic if you aren’t subjectively involved somehow.  I got this response from one of the dissenting priests who endorses Fortunate Families saying that I couldn’t have an opinion if I wasn’t an active member.  I’ve also heard people (men and women) say that men shouldn’t be allowed to condemn abortion or women’s ordination because… well… they’re men.  Well, I don’t buy that argument, so whether you’re single with no kids or retired with an empty nest, I still value your opinion on this topic.

*Note to the Courier staff: Yes, we’ve been critical of certain aspects of the Courier. Most notably the inclusion of Father Richard McBrien’s articles, but also being a platform for the progressives stronghold to tout their message at the expense of the parishes.  But please don’t take this criticism personally or over and above what it is intended to be. Speaking for myself, I honestly value the work you do and appreciate the vast majority of the stories you do.


28 Responses to “Smelly, Noisy, Squirmy Children at Mass”

  1. Bernie says:

    I like to see the kids -even babies- in church. They belong there. If they fuss, take them out until they settle down. Then, come back in and try it again. That’s the way it has been done ever since I can remember. It’s hard to tell, when a youngster starts up, if it’s just going to be a short outburst or a marathon tamtrum! Parents: just do the best you can. Don’t be embarrassed; most of us who are parents have been there. Teach them as best you can. Some of us are better at it than others. That’s just the way it is.

    Priests who get annoyed when children fuss during the sermons should just try to keep in mind that it’s only the readings from scripture that are the inspired word of God, not the sermon. Anyway, we probably heard what you had to say when you gave it last year.

  2. Ink says:

    Bernie: Three years ago, unless it’s a Holy Day. =P But that is very true.

    When I was a baby, my mom brought me to daily Mass all the time. Her intent was so I could see old people. The side-effect? By the time I was about two, I didn’t really need anything to entertain me in Mass and if I got squirmy she took me out. But I was rarely loud… just wiggly. Loud was out of the question because Mom’s stink-eye would’ve sizzled a hole through my head. When we were really little, she gave us Cheerios to keep us quiet and a children’s illustrated Missal to keep us occupied.

    Some kids are more inclined to being fussy. Those parents usually know, and sit more towards the back so it’s easier to bail if the little one starts getting distracting.

    After listening to my family discussing fussy kids, I was very disappointed to hear tales of parents who encourage bad behaviour in the atriums of churches.

  3. Nerina says:

    I’m with Bernie. Kids should be at Mass. If they get fussy or loud or obnoxious, take them out and then return. Most kids catch on pretty quick. I have five kids and while we did rotate Mass attendance when they were very young (newborn until about 6 months), we always go to Mass as a family. Tied to this issue is the “children’s liturgy” where young children are pulled from the Mass to go somewhere else and hear the readings. I really, really don’t like this practice since I think it divides the body of Christ instead of uniting it. But that’s a personal pet peeve.

    I have seen parents bring a complete snack buffet, books, toys and electronics to appease kids during Mass. My advice, fellow parents? Leave the stuff at home. Honest, your life will be easier. Most kids can go an hour without being fed or entertained. They will pick up on your expectations and your example. Set the bar a little higher and they will meet it. Ignore the “stink eye” from other people and manage your children’s behavior – but don’t wait to take them to Mass. I have one friend who didn’t take her children to Mass until they were five years old. I think this is a big mistake. If you wait too long to introduce children to the decorum of Mass it will be much harder to practice it.

  4. Nerina says:

    Oh, and when you take them out of Mass, don’t turn it into a playtime or a snack time. My four year old still acts up (he’s been our most challenging) so when we remove him from the pew we either sit him on a step in the nave or we stand him in a corner (thanks, Dr. Ray for that suggestion). He quickly realizes that it is actually more enjoyable to be in church with everyone else.

  5. yankeegirl says:

    The best thing my husband and I did was start taking them to mass as infants. If they got noisy, we took them out long enough to quiet down and then brought them back. I made sure we sat further back in the church, near the crying room, so as to disturb as few folks as possible. But over time, by the time they were older toddlers, they both got used to sunday mass, stopped the fussing pretty much, knew that was the place we go, and this is what we do when we get here. I bought each of them a few catholic childrens picture books, then when old enough to read they had childrens missals that were age-appropriate. Those helped tremendously, as it was easier for them to follow along, and they learned the mass. Now that my children are older this is not an issue for us any longer, but I always make it a point to be smiling and encouraging to new parents at Mass. They are probably exhausted, doing their best, and making the effort. I like to make the effort to be welcoming and helpful to them.

  6. annonymouse says:

    TheresaVA has a serious attitude problem, and is to some extent missing the point of being at Mass.

    The liturgy is about prayer and worship, but it’s also about being, and becoming, a community, a communion of Jesus’ followers. She would like to exclude some (the littlest) members of that community (I presume she’s not opposed to infant baptism, though).

    Who cares if you hear every word proclaimed, or even that you can’t hear your own prayer. You can read the bible and pray in the quiet of your home, but you cannot be the community of Jesus’ followers at home – that requires liturgy. And liturgy, like any human undertaking, is sometimes loud and even messy.

    So in my opinion, our littlest members need to be at Mass. And grumpy people with bad attitudes should keep their scowls to themselves.

  7. Diane Harris says:

    I don’t have any children, but I do have a Bible. And all three of the Synoptics say similar words to Mark 10:13-16:

    “And they were bringing children to Him, that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it He was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.”

    Those who “hinder” the children, including parents who refuse to bring them to church, or who refuse to teach them how to behave in church, have much to answer for. I won’t say I’ve never been distracted by children and their noises or activity, but it is easy to offer up such distraction for that family struggling to be there, or for the child that he or she grows up strong in the faith, or just for the atonement of my own sins. And to thank God for the opportunity to have something to offer up.

    At the rate young people are not showing up at church these days, Catholic adults need to do everything they can to encourage family participation. In my estimation, that also means not dividing the family by hauling the children off to play gospel, except in rare circumstances where the priest has an adult topic like contraception (please God that priests in the pulpit will sometimes have such adult subjects.) But children need to see their parents on their knees, and not just at Mass but beside their own beds at night. Children need to see their parents reverence the Real Presence of Christ, to enhance their own belief. One couple comes in with a child and in front of the Tabernacle the father says to his son “Say hello to Jesus.” The little boy says “Hi Jesus.” It is okay with me, better than just walking past. He will learn in time to make a quiet genuflection.

    At St. Januarius, more than 10 years ago, there was a thriving religious education program. Some estimate 30 vibrant children at least, and no lack of catechists. Also, a healthy youth group. Some older adults (a few with no children) pestered for children’s liturgy, even establishing a nursery where volunteers baby sat, and still the oldsters regularly complained about noise. They are still there (redesigning the sanctuary, as a matter of fact, and pushing for a cry room, supported by a priest who wants his singing to convey an impeccable performance) but guess what? There are almost NO children left, a faltering religious education program (that was closed for two years) and a defunct youth group. The only reason there are any children at all is that St. Mary Rushville was closed and those 26 children relocated among 3 different parishes, including St. Jan’s. Some blame the impaired religous ed program on lack of catechists, others on the DRE’s choice of materials. Still others blame it on a hostile attitude toward children in the pew. It only takes a few adults to lose ’em — all, children as well as their parents. It was just one of the many reasons St. Jan’s Sunday attendance dropped 47% during Fr. Ring’s pastorate.

    We should watch out what we wish for…..those complainers got their wish.

  8. Ink says:

    Nerina, my eleven-year-old sister still acts up sometimes. That’s when the evil-eye from Mom comes into play. But I’m sure you know ALL about that.

    Annonymouse, little kids kind of need to be trained to behave. For instance, if company is over and they throw a temper tantrum, then punishment ensues for bad behaviour. My punishment (and my sisters’, for a very long time) was always that I had to sit on the stairs and watch my friends play. I couldn’t talk to them and they couldn’t talk to me and I wasn’t allowed to get up until my mom said so. Since stairs are pretty central to most houses (especially mine), this worked excellently. Similarly, if a small child is acting up in Mass where they are supposed to be quiet and reverent, removing them from the situation (and their siblings and/or friends and/or other parent) is effective. Sitting next to or near a crying child–especially during the Consecration–is more distracting than liturgical dance.

  9. Mary says:

    Disclaimer: This is Ben’s wife.
    I think this is a decision that needs to be made by the parents, for each child individually, and to be revisited often (perhaps monthly?). Ben and I joyfully brought our son to Mass from the time he was released from the hospital until he was about a year and a half old, then we started keeping him home and going separately. It came to the point that we were in the doorway to the church from the beginning to the end of Mass without being able to hear anything. He was noisy and wild. It was pointless. Essentially we were each going to Mass every other week. I would also like to say that I think I’m a pretty good disciplinarian having taught kindergarten for 6 years. He’s just a bouncy kid. Now he’s three and he comes fairly regularly with us. He’s quiet, but not still-we’re getting there-if you saw him in action you’d be amazed at how still he is.

    In the interim, Ben has watched Mass with our son (thanks EWTN!)-they would talk about the Mass and practice the prayers and postures. We read about a saint almost every day, we read the kindergarten catechism or Bible daily, we pray together many times throughout the day. The child knows more about transubstantiation than most adults in our diocese. I don’t think it’s fair to say that leaving children at home keeps them from learning their faith. For us, it allows Ben and I to have the spiritual life God is calling us to by being able to participate more fully in the sacrifice of the Mass. This in turn makes us better spouses and therefore better parents.

    Now that our son attends Mass our daughter is at the age where she really doesn’t understand consequences and would be a distraction, so now we take turns staying home with her. Any day now we’ll be adding a new baby to the family, and by the time our second goes to Mass I imagine that we might find ourselves in a similar predicament with the third. I don’t have a problem with people bringing squirrely toddlers to Mass, but I don’t think it’s wrong to keep them home for a time either.

    Along the lines of crying rooms, I’d love to go to a church that had one and had it used appropriately. In my experience in many many churches around here the crying rooms are stocked with toys and crayons and 10 year olds playing video games. The danger of the crying room is it allows some parents to inoculate their children to the sacredness of the Mass by letting them play. When in the crying room, one should still be singing, praying, kneeling… Not visiting with friends while the kids play.

    That’s my rant 🙂

  10. yankeegirl says:

    Ben and Mary,

    It sounds like you are doing what is best for you and your young family. And that’s the way it should be. Best wishes on your newest arrival “any day” – that is such a precious time! God Bless.

  11. Nerina says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that leaving children at home keeps them from learning their faith.

    Hi Mary! I’m glad we’ve had some cool weather the last couple of days since you are in the “any day” stage of pregnancy. It has been a long, hot summer. Anyway, I didn’t mean to imply that children who stay home don’t learn the faith. I was speaking about a very specific situation in which I know for a fact there was no supplemental instruction going on. I think what you are doing with the kids is a great idea and one reason I wish I had EWTN. That said, there is nothing like actually attending Mass and I just want everyone to to be there, even families who feel distracted and think they get “nothing” out of Mass.

    You’ll be in my prayers.


  12. annonymouse says:

    Ink – where did I say or imply that kids don’t need to be trained to be quiet and respectful? But babies are babies and kids are kids and sometimes they are going to make noise. Welcome that! Welcome their presence!

    I absolutely love Diane’s post – the snooty people who didn’t want the kids around now have their wish, and unfortunately they have a much less alive and vibrant parish too! Babies and little children are a sign of life in the community, and should be welcomed and encouraged (i.e. that contraception homily which Diane wishes for!).

  13. Ben Anderson says:

    I wish I had EWTN

    me too. We ditched cable a while back and the two E..N’s are the only things I really miss. EWTN does provide video feeds via the Internet. I’ve only tried it once and it worked ok.

  14. christian says:

    First, I want to say the same scriptural lines came to me as they did Diane Harris, when reading Ben Anderson’s post. I then want to ask why “smelly, noisy, squirmy” are used exclusively to describe children? I have sat near adults on occasion, who qualify as one, two, or all of those adjectives.

    Most parents have sense enough to leave the pew with their child if they are noisy. I left the pew with my children if they became too noisy and returned when they quieted down. The toddler period was the most trying. Still, I thought my children belonged in church. My parents brought us to church us to church from the time we were babies. They said children will never learn how to act in church if they are not taught at a young age. I brought my children to church since they were babies. If I was alone in the pew, I had one set of parents who volunteered to watch my youngest one who was still a baby, while I took my toddler out. Now that’s real community!
    There were times when one or both children were sick when my spouse and myself went to a different mass so one of us could stay home to watch the children. Sometimes we used this option if we were worn out or-if there would be a lengthy mass which we thought was too long for a baby, toddler, or young child to sit through. One perfect example is the Easter Vigil, which also tends to run late for a baby, toddler, or young child.
    For special masses that would run long, I obtained children’s films depicting the stories of Jesus, including His death and resurrection to play for my children at home. We would have discussion afterward. I also had children Bible stories and prayerbooks for them which they used at home. So we had teaching at home in addition to taking our children to church.
    We had one Pastoral Assistant (Associate) who was an advocate for parents bringing their children to church, but then she left. We then got a Pastoral Assistant (Associate) from Academia who was not used to children at church proceedings such as mass. This was in addition to the priest pastor from Academia who also was not used to children at church proceedings such as mass. There appeared to be a movement to ban children from mass, particularly on the part of the Pastoral Assistant (Associate) who was an advocate for womens’rights in the church including women priests and inclusive wording. However, the pastor himself, asked me to leave the church with my toddler son and stand outside for the length of the communion service on Good Friday. My toddler was well-behaved at the time and hadn’t made any noise. This was before the service started. It was also cold outside. The pastor relayed that he didn’t want anything present that could pose a distraction to the service and pointed to the portico he wanted me to walk to and then outside. I was young at the time and very involved with the parish. Although I was taken back, I obeyed his wishes and stood in the cold with my child. (We probably should have left). Nowaday, I would have words with him. How was that encouraging young families to come to church?
    I fought tooth and nail for the dignity of children with the pastor and particularly, the pastoral assistant (associate)in the years that followed, and to let children be involved in church to their ability and the appropriateness of church rules.

  15. christian says:

    Regarding the ban on children, the pervading focus on Academia, and attitudes and behavior on the part of the Pastor and Pastor Assistant (Associate), we lost a significant amount of parishioners.

  16. Jim says:

    Jim M. here: I’m a single guy, and never had to bring a crying child to Mass, but I think it’s really good to bring the little ones to Mass, if they’re pretty well behaved. On occasion, if a baby or child fusses and cries, there’s nothing wrong with taking the baby out until he/she stops crying. If somebody gives the stink eye, it really shouldn’t deter the parent, as it is really none of that person’s business.

  17. Persis says:

    DISCLAIMER: I have no children of my own and have no experience what-so-ever in bringing children to Mass. That said,

    I am all for bringing children to church, how else are they going to learn how to behave? I remember walking to a neighborhood church here in the city with my grandmother when I was very young, maybe 3 or 4. The whole way there she we remind me that we were going to “God’s house” and that we had to be on our best behavior. “You can only use your inside, whisper voice, and when the priest is talking we listen & watch because Jesus comes to us.” She taught me to bless myself with holy water, genuflect before the tabernacle and pray the ‘Ave’ in Italian at the statue of Mary. To this day, when I do all of these things, I think of her. 🙂

    To all you parents you struggle with this decision, and who make the hard choices as to what is best for your families- I give you big kudos!! 😀 Some Sunday mornings it is a struggle to get my butt moving to get to Mass on time, and I only have to worry about me!! I don’t know what it would be like if I had to get a family ready, I don’t want to think about it!! 😉

    To all you curmudgeons who think children are a distraction, I share this story with you. A visiting priest was giving an Advent retreat. On the last night of the retreat, a woman was there with her very small child. At one point the baby started to fuss and cry, and the woman stood up and was heading for the door when the priest stopped mid-sentence and yelled “STOP!! Don’t take that baby out of here.” Then he said to the assembly, “Do you hear that? This is the same sound our Lord made on a night much like this some 2000 years ago. He came as a babe just like this, and if He didn’t there would be no reason for us to be here anticipating the memorial of His birth.”

    Just something to ponder. 🙂

  18. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks everyone for your input.

    They belong there. If they fuss, take them out until they settle down.

    Some kids at some times in their lives fuss the entire mass and aren’t capable of sitting still and being quiet for that long. I can’t simply will it to happen no matter how hard I try. This means neither the parent nor the child are actually at mass.

    If you wait too long to introduce children to the decorum of Mass it will be much harder to practice it.

    I’ve heard that argument, but I don’t buy it. You don’t stick a baby on a tricycle and just wait for them to learn to ride.

    TheresaVA has a serious attitude problem

    hmmm – I didn’t read that at all. I don’t see anything wrong with a desire for more silence. Fr Z wrote an article just today about it.

    Mark 10:13-16

    You’re going to have to do a lot of convincing to get me to believe this passage has anything to do with bringing young children to religious services. That just isn’t the context of this story whatsoever. I think we have to be very careful about taking scripture out of context.

    Those who “hinder” the children, including parents who refuse to bring them to church, or who refuse to teach them how to behave in church, have much to answer for.

    That may be your opinion, but that’s going beyond what our Church teaches, is it not? If parents are really going to have to answer to God for not taking their children to mass until they are 6 months/2 years/4 years or whatever the parent decides, then why doesn’t our Church tell us this?

    I then want to ask why “smelly, noisy, squirmy” are used exclusively to describe children? I have sat near adults on occasion, who qualify as one, two, or all of those adjectives.

    I was mostly kidding, but quite honestly in general those adjectives are accurate (at least for my kids). I didn’t mean it in a condescending way – I love my noisy, stinky, squirmy kids. I’m not sure how you think I implied exclusivity, though. Can you explain?

    However, the pastor himself, asked me to leave the church with my toddler son and stand outside for the length of the communion service on Good Friday.

    That’s really sad.

    Here’s my take. Parents have the right to Christian liberty in this regard. Pastors and parishioners should make kids feel welcome if parents decide to bring them, but should also give parents the freedom to leave their kids at home if they choose. I shouldn’t be guilted into bring my kids to mass (or rather standing in the vestibule trying to break anything) and made to feel like I’m doing a disservice to them. If I do stay and my kid cries and I start taking them to the back, I certainly wouldn’t want a pastor telling me to stay. Saying “you’re welcome to stay if you’d like to” would be more acceptable in my mind.

    If you think it’s wrong to leave your kids at home, show me the Church documentation to back it up. I appreciate all of your opinions, but I think we should recognize that they are opinions and not official Church teaching (at least until someone shows me something).

    I never meant to imply that my way was the only way – I was just sharing what works for us. If other parents want to bring their kids, then that’s great. I just think leaving them at home should be an option and that parents should be told that it’s quite alright to do so.

  19. Ben Anderson says:

    He came as a babe just like this, and if He didn’t there would be no reason for us to be here anticipating the memorial of His birth.

    again – I think that’s misapplying a story. Yes, he came as a babe, but it’s not like he was born in the holy of holies or that he came and interrupted a jewish religious service with his crying. There is such a thing as sacred space and sacred time and we should respect that.

  20. christian says:

    I want to state that there were older people in our parish who were very supportive of babies and young children in our parish, they made statements to convey how grateful they were for the presence of little ones in their parish and considered them as precious. The same son who was asked to leave at the Good Friday Service with me one year, before the service started, (despite good behavior), astounded parishioners another Good Friday when he was 3 1/2 years old another Good Friday. Without any planning or direction, he independently made his way to the large wooden crucifix, taking his shoes off before he approached. He kissed the cross and returned to the pew where upon, shortly after, he began to cry tears while praying. He continued on crying tears while in prayerful meditation beyond the time for the service. Some of the older people, and us, were concerned to why he was crying tears and continuing to cry tears, and we asked him. He responded, “Crying for Cross of Jesus,” sadly and tearfully. We were all very touched by this. He was inconsolable for hours as he cried, meditated, and prayed, while he continued to explain when questioned, “Crying cause of Cross of Jesus.”
    Our entire family was awestruck with this happening and my one sister who was present, brings it up time to time through the years. Where did he get the message to take his shoes off before he approached the cross-(the crucifix)? What led him to cry in that manner and be consumed in thought and prayer with the suffering of Jesus for us? It had to be the Holy Spirit.
    I guess there is a message there that God choses the little ones too.

  21. Nerina says:


    My point about exposing children to the decorum of the Mass is that little by little, they pick up on what is happening. In no way am I saying this insures perfect participation or behavior. Neither am I saying that infants learn how to behave by going to the Mass (so I don’t think your bicycle analogy works)- let’s face it, they are focused on very specific things like eating, sleeping, and being held. Depending on the development and/or personality of a particular child, some may sit through Mass quietly as young as 3 and others it takes longer. For me and my family, I wanted to be at Mass together so we went to Mass at times that allowed us all to do that.

  22. Ink says:

    Annonymouse, if you’re out to dinner with company and your kids misbehave regularly, do you bring them along, even though they need to learn to adapt to a social situation? That’s why babysitters are hired, or what grandparents are for. In a restaurant, where people aren’t trying to grasp transcendental concepts, it is considered rude to have a screaming child and not to take them out. In a Mass situation (ESPECIALLY during the Consecration) where people are wrapping their minds around immaterial graces and truths, a little quiet is nice for focusing. You can tell me to “get over it” all you want, but I’m the oldest of four siblings and a whole slew of cousins and I still don’t like it when they misbehave at Mass. Most of my aunts and uncles don’t either so they take them out. One of my cousins recently turned 3 and she is, for the most part, well-behaved–if she acts up, her mom or dad takes her out so the other one (and her big brother, who announced his desire to be a deacon–he’s eight) can pray in relative peace.

    Persis: My mom used to tell me all the time that I was in God’s house so I had to behave, because I was a guest in His house. I love that expression!

  23. Olivia says:

    Jesus said: ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

    15 In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’

    16 Then he embraced them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing. Mark-Chapter 10

    My parish has a family who have 3 children. Since they had their 1st child they have never sat in a pew during Mass. Every Sunday they let the children run wild (yes, really) in the narthex, from one end to the other. The oldest is 10 or 11. The parents, grandparents and other family members (siblings, aunt, uncle, cousins. they all look alike) are also all out in the narthex together laughing and talking among themselves. How do I know? Because even with the doors closed we can hear them and see them through the glass. The children are only mimicking what they see. Perhaps if they all quietly sat in a pew together the children would learn how to behave, eh? Well, sometimes they do sit – down the hall in the comfy chairs that are supposed to be for nursing mothers or a time-out spot for parents and crying or misbehaving children.

  24. Raymond F. Rice says:

    If you wish to dine out and have an uninterrupted and quietly pleasant evening with friends, you go to a fine dining restaurant. If you want to take the “kids” out and all that entails, you look for a family style restaurant.
    If you wish to go to Mass and have an uninterrupted and quietly pleasant service with friends, you go to a “regular” Mass with an emphasis on adults. If you want to take the “kids” to Mass and all that entails, you look for a “family” style Mass where people expect and are more tolerant to the learning process the children are going through.


  25. Ink says:

    Olivia: It is very disappointing to hear that this family clearly has NO idea of the concept of the reason of Mass. What most of us are referring to, however, is taking one’s child to Mass, sitting them in the pew, and then taking them out if (and only if) they get fussy and distracting. And if they are taken out, they get a very stern talking-to (in my case, at least) and a very, very annoyed mommy or daddy. (And if you annoy mommy or daddy, you KNOW you’re going to hear about it later.)

    Raymond: That would work quite well if most “family” Masses in the area weren’t filled with banal music and condescending homilies. Kids should not get used to being called up to the front to be spoken to (which happens regularly). That encourages a very self-centered “me me me” view of Mass, so that those kids grow up to focus more on their “community” and whether it “makes me feel good” than the very real and very serious Truths of the Faith. If it IS a “family” Mass, then maybe the homily topic is NOT something grown-up and serious and maybe the kids are encouraged to hold the missals and read along. But “dumbing-down” Mass for kids is idiotic. Don’t try to dumb things down for mere mortals–God has already done a pretty darned good job. Let Him speak.

  26. Raymond F. Rice says:


    God forbid that the Mass be used to build a community of the faithful. And the sermons should be as sophisticated as the ones Jesus gave to the children who were introduced to Him by the apostles!! It was probably the first time that the children were taught about the Alpha and Omega as a reflection of God, or perhaps He gave a detailed explanation of the Immaculate Conception or of “creatio ex nihilo” or the groundwork for “Paschendi”!!

    And to the annoyed mommy or daddy; a stern talk, with an angry voice, is a sure fire way of developing the love of Jesus in a child and the joy of attending Mass. It may instill a real fear of God in them. Although in my experience, it is pretty hard to love anything you fear!!

    PS: dicisne latiniter???

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