Open letter to the old men who glare at the loud baby at Mass

Open letter to the old men who glare at the loud baby at Mass


This is what I’d like to say to the primarily elderly folks who complain— within earshot! — about crying children at Mass:

Just who do you think is going to be sitting in these pews in 20 or 30 years when you’re dead and gone? Who will replace you in this parish? Certainly not the children of families you’ve chased off with your disapproving looks and clucking and rude comments. But you’d certainly complain when your parish is eventually closed for lack of vocations, lack of funds, and lack of attendance.

I’ve heard from more than one parent who’s given the excuse for not going to Mass that they are mortified by their children’s behavior and just can’t get them to behave. Some of that is undoubtedly a cop-out or inexperience or lack of trying alternative parenting techniques. But some of the fear is due to the unfriendly huffing and puffing a baby’s squawks or a toddler’s fidgeting receive. It’s difficult enough to drag oneself out of bed, rush some food into the kids, get them dressed, shuffle them into the car, and have them sit quietly and attentive for an hour without the added pressure from you.

And let’s not overlook that it is my experience in every parish I’ve been a member that the loudest people are elderly themselves! In my old parish, at one holy day Mass, an older gentleman actually stood up before Mass and scolded the old women who were gabbing incessantly. They were indignant, of course, since this was their normal behavior at every Mass. At least a child has the excuse that he doesn’t know any better.

Oh and the old men complaining about crying children? They were themselves leaving Mass early! While a parent stood in the entrance to the church, comforting said squawky child, these grumpy old men were hightailing it out the door after Communion. I see that all the time, too. It’s not the families sneaking out before the end of Mass.

I recall an anecdote about a pre-Vatican II priest who would send altar boys with candles out after early departers, reasoning that they were still tabernacles of the Eucharist. Another perhaps apocryphal anecdote is related about a priest who hung a banner over the exit that read, “Judas was the first person to leave Mass early.” I don’t know how effective such efforts would be, but the fact is that it betrays a particular attitude in the one who leaves early. Would the same people go to a friend’s house for dinner, then walk out before dessert without saying Thank You to their host? And where in the world do they have to be on a Sunday morning in such a hurry that they can’t wait 5 minutes? It’s disrespectful to the congregation, to the priest, and above all, to Jesus Christ Himself.

So I say to all the old grumps: Lighten up and rejoice that there are actually signs of life in your parish, that there are parents who believe that it is important to pass along the practice of the Catholic faith, not merely its cultural trappings. And that one day those squawking babies will have families of their own to usher into Mass to pray for your soul after you’ve passed on.

Update: (Putting a comment I made in response to another comment up here to prevent further misapprehensions) To clear up a misconception here: Note that I did not say that the people who glare at my kids should tolerate disrespectful behavior by kids or parents who don’t do their duty.

My kids are very well behaved and we get lots of comments on their good behavior, but that is what makes all the more maddening the few times that the infant is cranky or the toddler bumps her head that we get glares from others.

Toddlers and infants are very young. They can be well-behaved, but they will never be silent and still for long periods of time. They can’t be. Getting angry because my kids are true to their nature as children is unreasonable.

Photo credit: Flickr user Paulaofessel. Used under a Creative Commons license.

  • As a convert from the Protestant world I have a couple comments:

    First of all I generally agree with your post.  However, one thing that puzzles me is the lack of a nursery in Catholic parishes.  In nearly all the protestant churches I have attended there is a “nursery” for kids age infant to about 5 years old.  In my lutheran church, they would be brought in for the Eucharist (so they can get a blessing).  You didn’t have to have your kids go the nursery but you could choose too.  Or if you chose to have them in the Church and they got so fussy or loud that you (the parent) could then choose to take them to the nursery.  This is a real cultural difference.  Again, I taught my kids to sit with us in Church but I think I used the nursery on occasion.  I do think this is one area where the protestants get it right.

    As for leaving early, I agree very strongly.  That is something that just doesn’t happen (normally) in a protestant church and really turned me off when I visited Catholic Churches.  It is a terrible witness to protestants who may be visiting.  I don’t get it.  I just don’t get it at all.

  • Actually, many Catholic churches have “cry rooms” in them, soundproof rooms with a window into the sanctuary of the church. (I’ve even seen them with large flat-panel screens on a closed-circuit camera.) Unfortunately, those are mainly newer churches.

    In the past (say before 1960) many families went to two Masses, parents splitting them with the older kids, while one stayed home to watch the younger ones. However, I want my kids in there at Mass. Even at 2yo Isabella sings and says the proper responses to the prayers. She actually participates.

    On the other hand, we certainly will take a child to the nave (that’s where we heard the grumpy comments) when one of them is actually crying or yelling. Fortunately, this is rare.

  • I try to be as patient as I can be at Mass. Certainly with the innocent children. But also with the gabbers, the immodestly dressed, etc. I always try to keep in mind, at least they’re in Church. It would be good if Priests made the point about silence in Church publicly before Mass, or even in their homilies once in a while. I heard a good homily a few months ago where the Priest talked at length about how we should be talking to God when we are in Church, not to each other.

  • Now with four children 6 and under we’ve always gone to Mass together, except school Mass in which the two oldest wear uniforms because everyone from school comes and it’s pack for their free donut in the church hall below. Mass is only an hour, and for the most part the follow along to the best of their ability. We’re not asking for perfection, but we are diligent about not hanging out back either. Children will never learn how to behave, if they’re never in Mass to begin with.

    My husband and I have debates over the donuts after the monthly school Mass, because everyone departs early to get a donut. By the time we get there, no donuts for the kids. It’s a big deal when you are four and you get no donut. So we get donuts before Mass for the children, and let the parishioners who are there for the donuts have them. Let them have a donut and hopefully they’ll come when breakfast isn’t included in the Mass.

    My biggest gripe is that many older Catholics in Mass seem to be ex-Catholics yet come simply for the social/political networking, ashes for Ash Wednesday, and corn beef on Saint Patties day. They don’t seem interested in the actual teachings of the Church and even mock Catholics trying to practice the faith for being outdated.

  • Our church remodelled its “crying room” a number of years back, and when it re-opened we had two little ones so used the room.  I mentioned to the pastor one day, “the new crying room is great.”

    He replied, “We don’t call it the crying room, but the family room.”

    Me: “Father believe me, it is the crying room.”

    One thing we did with out two little ones was split them up during Mass to keep them a bit more quiet. So I would take one and sit on one side of the church, and my wife would take the other toddler(and our oldest) to the other side of the church.

    Yes, the sounds of a young child, especially crying, can be annoying and I find it so during Mass, but I remind myself how Jesus would respond to the little one.  It helps me to block out the distraction of a young one.

  • I am a loather of the cry room.  God made children as children, and not as little adults. It’s just pride and self-centeredness which makes people insist on total silence for Mass, so that they feel like they are participating “properly”.  2000 years ago, when Jesus was preaching and teaching and dying, I am 100% convinced that it was not done in stoic silence by all attending. I am 100% convinced that babies being babies weren’t ostracized to a germ-chamber so that they didn’t disturb everyone else. Mass isn’t a one on one experience; rather, it’s communal worship. It’s all of us there together offering ourselves together, babies are no less a part of the Body of Christ. A family together is rarely, if ever, a completely silent affair—anyone who has a toddler and prays the rosary as family knows that.

    I dunno, I have 5 kids ages 11 and down.  My husband is not Catholic, and doesn’t go to Mass with us. Getting up to take a squawker out is often more disruptive than just taking the minute it will take for me to soothe him or her. And of course if people have a problem with how things are going with my kids at Mass, they are more than welcome to come and offer to help me. But the unfortunate reality is that most people don’t want to help, they want things how they want them without it personally costing them one ounce of inconvenience.

  • We have seen the cry room ABUSED so often that it’s really not a viable alternative.  People take their kids in there and then ignore them for the hour.  Or teenagers go in there so they can chat with their friends.

    Our former pastor used to invite “children and their noisy parents” to use the priest’s sacristy during Mass if they needed a moment to quiet down.  LOL!

    I have shared your frustrations about the “glares of death” when mine were younger.  However, what kept me going was the many MORE people who would say something encouraging/tell their own “kid in church” stories or even just smile when I felt like crying and running out of there!  It was so good to hear someone say, “It’s so nice to see your whole family in church” or “We really love seeing your little one in church” or something to that effect.

    If families don’t feel welcome when the children are little, what makes anyone think that they will want to do more than show up for the “big sacraments” once the kids reach school age?  Is it any wonder that religious ed. classes are only full in the sacrament years?

  • I am very sympathetic to parents who TRY to calm their children and teach them proper behavior. I have NO sympathy to parents who don’t even try. We have had to change pews because parents let their children bring action figures and Leap Frog talking toys. I likewise am glad at least the children are in Mass but get very upset at the parents who not only are harming their children by allowing such things and allow distraction to nearby adults, but even harm my children with such an example. We sit within the first few pews just to avoid the situation.

    As far as cry rooms, I’m conflicted. When a child has hurt himself or is having a meltdown, it is comforting, as a parent, to have someplace like that to take them ONLY until they calm down. However, I loathe how some parents use them as playgrounds and just let their kids run, play, etc. There seems to be a huge confusion that it is not a room to calm children so as to be able to teach them proper behavior but a kids’ play room. I’ve seen too many parents simply abuse use it as a play room.

  • Honestly, the most disruptive people at Mass, in my mind, are the old people – and it is ALWAYS old people – who glad hand each other on the way up to Communion. Distracting at about 3 different levels.

  • I appreciate the post and comments by Shannon and Katherine. Yes, bringing toys is a big distraction and one I would not allow from my kids.  One time just before Mass began, I handed my then toddler daughter my rosary as she was fidgety and I wanted to occupy her with something.  She held the rosary for about 20 seconds then tossed it about three rows ahead of us.

    Yes, we as parents and adults need to remember that children are not little adults.

  • I could not agree more with this article. If they distract you then arrange for toys or childrens books for them to read. There are plenty of good catholic childrens books if you want to buy them.
    As for the gossiping by elders before mass. That is really distracting

  • I never could understand people leaving after Communion.  Besides the fact that it’s extremely disrespectful, the Mass is nearly over!  You’ve stayed all this time, and you have to leave 5 minutes early??

  • You do not consider what a tremendous difficulty it is for decrepid old people to attend Mass. Why should one put forth that effort and be unable to hear the preached Word of God over the screaming children when there is a cry room especially designed for their convenience, with piped in volume? Furthermore, it is not simply crying babies we object to: while I am kneeling and praying before me and behind me there are constant chatters and bickerings going on between parents and children,children and siblings and other parishioners to such extent that it is very distracting to even read, much less concentrate on praying. One other real gripe I have is the Kiss of Peace just before Communion: in some places it is a circus: people shout across the church or run across ailse to give the kiss of peace to their friends creating total cacophany making the celebrant patiently wait on them to quieten down so that he may continue with Mass. In many places he too is the one running around greeting his friends before continuing. This is the conduct of a rock star! Maybe you can say something to the parents and parishioners who think the nave of the church is that of a Protestant church and congregation. They come to socialize. I thought we came to ATTEND Mass and to socialize in the provided parish hall over coffee afterward… Nuf said. Leamon O. Bateman

  • You make an incorrect assumption. Most parishes do not have crying rooms, especially any church that is older than about 50 years unless they have been retrofitted at great expense.

    Where they exist they are only for occasional use—like when a baby is screaming—not for families to be banished to. Small children and their parents have as much right to be in the sanctuary as anyone else.

    As for the cacophonous Sign of Peace, that has nothing to do with children and babies and more to do with the culture of your particular parish because it’s not something I’ve seen in nearly all the parishes I’ve been a member.

    If it is a tremendous difficulty for old people, it is also a tremendous difficulty for the young families, and I would thank them to have as much respect for that as they demand for themselves.

  • Chatting before and after Mass is a problem for those that are there to prepare for and give thanks for Mass and Communion. Older folks do seem to be the violators.

    The only solution for crying infants would be a crying room which doesn’t necessarily have to have a view of the altar.  With modern technology, it could be on the other side of the building or in the basement (“undercroft” as some term it) but with sound and video cameras, it should work for the Moms and Dads.

    I remember going to a Sunday evening Mass in the early 60s (scheduled for hospital employees working shifts) where the latecomers were shuffled to the basement of the Church and all we had was piped in sound.  For those that aren’t aware of it, in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine), there’s not much sound for much of the Mass.

    I’m a geezer who never had children.  In my opinion, children from 2-8 or so whose parents have given them 50 pounds of books, pictures, toys, etc. to entertain them during Mass are the most disturbing. 

    Similarly, children who continually fight to cling to Mom or Dad need to be admonished that it is great to seek love and affection from Mom or Dad, but that they are there to learn to seek and give affection to Jesus.  How else will they learn if their parents don’t tell them?

    Last Sunday I sat behind a young couple with 7 children under 10 and not one of them had any toys, etc.  They weren’t all perfectly behaved, but a glare from Mom or Dad generally kept them in order.  It was a joy to see.

    As Dom pointed out.  Those children are the future of the Church.  Thank God that they are here.

  • Not so much on the social justice end of the spectrum, eh Leamon? wink

    Mass is not private prayer.  Mass is a communal prayer, where we offer ourselves together through the priest and Christ to the Father-and in turn The Father gives us Christ through the priest and we individually receive Him together as a Body.

    I assure you if parents weren’t so tense about their children making the slightest sound, there wouldn’t be “fussing”. The stoic silence is a European heritage expectation, one which is completely shattered upon stumbling into a Mass for the Spanish speaking community. Don’t even get me started on the double standard of wanting complete silence from babies and toddlers, and at the same time being annoyed at nursing moms.

    I am sorry if the elderly find it difficult to assist at Mass.  I am sorry I find it difficult to assist at Mass—but those things which are difficult and not pleasing to our sensibilities are those things which perfect us. One of the best ways to be perfected is to serve those who annoy us the most, if we are not able to tangibly because of physical infirmity- we certainly can through our prayers and sacrifices.

    Anyone leaving Mass thinking about how annoying other people are, has really sort of missed the point of the whole exercise. How crazy is it that I actually let my toddler chew the gum he finds from the bottom of the pew, rather than take it from him—because it keeps him quiet, and if I took it he’d scream?? (Why there is a seemingly infinite supply of chewed gum under the pew week after week, I have no idea-perhpas it is Providence)

  • I cut one subset of people who leave early a break: those whose physical condition makes being part of the departure en masse (pun intended) a problem.

    I think of my mother. Normally, at an average Mass, my parents wait until everyone else has left before they make their slow way to the car. My mother uses a wheelchair as a defense at Mass because she cannot risk being jostled in a crowd, and it takes a long amount of time to pack her in, pack it up, et cet.

    When Mass is overcrowded, however, my parents have to leave after the blessing, because it will take way too long to do their usual waiting, which will have effects that I need not detail but be should familiar with anyone who understands the effects of modern pharmaceuticals and other such things.

    Just be careful to be as charitable as possible about the crosses some of those seemingly rude people may be bearing without your knowledge. I am not saying it’s everyone, but I know my mother is not unique in this regard.

  • You present a false dilemma: either put up with all screaming and misbehavior at Mass, or end up with deserted churches and an abandoned faith.

    I don’t think so.  You don’t say what the parents are doing, either.  I’ve seen some parents who are doing their level best, and others who believe that their little darling should be “free” to do whatever they please.  A lot also depends on the tone and manner of the old folks in attempting to “correct” the children.  You meet all kinds. 

    Presenting the false dilemma as you did is a good way to stir up controversy, if that’s your intent.

  • I grew up in a parish where a crying baby was not only tolerated but smiled at. But it was a small church, the only Catholic parish in a predominantly Protestant county. So we knew which baby was teething, which children had special needs, etc. We kids were taught to be quiet during the Consecration because when the altar bell rings “Jesus is here”.  And if you forgot, you’d get the ol’ fish eye from Mom or Dad!

    That said, I sympathize with Leamon O Bateman because I’ve been to Masses where behavior was beyond the pale. I’m not talking just about a colicky baby or chattering toddler.

    I switched churches once because I couldn’t hear anything no matter where I sat. Parents let their children run up and down the aisles, tear apart the missels, get into other ladies’ purses, etc. The last straw was a child who yanked my hair out of my head THREE TIMES without being disengaged by his parents. After Mass they made a point of talking to ME about how I’d taken his chubby hand and pulled my hair out his fingers. (He smiled at me the whole time, but they thought I was some horrible child-abuser.)

    In my last parish, we got up early so we didn’t have to attend 10 o’clock Mass. Besides the newlyweds who sometimes made out during the readings, there were two obnoxious families. One showed up late and changed baby’s diaper in the pew. The other was worse, if you can imagine. My brother used to joke that Father was lucky to be hard of hearing and nearly blind.

    I’m now in a parish similar to that of my childhood: big extended families, lots of kids, full of chatter at times but also reverent. Any obnoxious co-religionists tend to be visitors, like the tourists who peppered their pre-Mass gossip with the f-word and other vulgarities.

  • Silence is what is appropriate at mass. While sometimes it’s blameless that children act up, it often is bad parenting that makes for children who are restless and can’t be quiet at mass. Parents need to look to themselves and seriously see if they are raising their children in a way of life where they can be occupied quietly within themselves or have to be given something every second, ruining their attention span and growth in self control.

    Every church should have a cry room, but if not, there is always a place for a parent to go to take the children when they are unruly—out of respect for everyone else, yes that’s right if one person child or adult is being disruptive that person should withdraw until he can be peaceful. People talk about communal experience—how is it communal if you’re being trouble to everyone else? Shouldn’t you take responsibility?

    Too many selfish people here—Putting burdens on everyone else for their own sake and claiming it’s for the children. Is a child who is paying attention to anything but the mass at mass really there at all? An adult? Go to mass, take the children, but remove them, when necessary—and teach them, and -live your own life- in a way that teaches them to be disciplined and not need a TV or some other distraction constantly to not be upset.

  • Instead of saying essentially, “It’s not us, it’s them!” and turning this all into a “seniors versus young families with children” thing, how about a little more charity all around? Remarkable things happen when people simply talk to each other about their “issues” and try to work them out.

  • I remember Cardinal Law giving a pro-life-oriented homily at my parish. During it, a baby started to cry and he interrupted himself to say “Listen! A child crying…isn’t that beautiful!” Unfortunately during his remarks the baby’s mom was scuttling the kid out the side door. The Cardinal saw it and said “Wait! Don’t take that child out—”…but, too late.

    On another note…what’s with the beef against “old men?” That’s a new one on me. In some of the parishes I’ve visited, I find that adults — elderly or the 35+ middle-agers — are the ones who encourage the little darlings to “act out.” While mom tries to keep the kids reasonably quiet, self-appointed “aunts, uncles, and grandparents” are oohing and aahing over how cute they are.

  • I find that adults — elderly or the 35+ middle-agers — are the ones who encourage the little darlings to “act out.“

    Kelly, ain’t that the truth! In the few times I took Isabella to daily mass there were often old women who would talk and flirt with her during mass while I was trying to pray! she was being as quiet and well behaved as an infant can be, a perfect angel. It was the old woman who was out of control. I don’t mind people cooing over my babies after mass, but please not during the consecration!

  • Thanks so much for this post.

    The one and only time I attended Mass in a cry room I wanted to cry. If you want a child to learn how to misbehave during Mass, use the cry room.

    Cry rooms also foster hostility toward parents who choose to sit in the nave.

    Yes, children can be distracting, but they have just as much right to be at Mass as adults. Parents have a responsibility keep the distraction to a minimum and the congregation has a responsibility to remember that the Mass is “we and Jesus” not “me and Jesus”. We gather for Mass as a family – children included.

    As for the Judas sign, I once filled as organist at a parish where that sign was taped to all the doors.

  • Well, I think ALL people who give *looks* of disapproval should realize that last year a 20 year old woman drug herself 2 miles to Mass because she had no use of her legs.  Third world countries and now even 2nd world countries are having their churches burned and are dying with the building.  And, Jesus made it quite clear not to hold the children back.  I don’t even like cry rooms…too many have toys in them.  Better to put a child in the front row than in the back for a quick escape.  In the back, they can’t see anything.  In the front, they have things going on to see.  I have not been to Mass in 18 months because I don’t have respite as I take care of an elderly parent.  So, for anyone who complains about anything at Mass regarding children, seriously needs to get in touch with what’s important.

  • Your post reminded me of this passage from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien about Communion (emphasis mine):
    “The only cure for sagging of fainting faith is Communion.  Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once and for all in any of us.  Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise.  Frequency is of the highest effect.  Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.  Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste.  Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children—from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn—open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered.  Go to Communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. (It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand—after which [Our] Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.)”

  • Did you see my facebook/Tweets about the woman who yelled at me and my son at mass at the 4th Sunday of Advent? I was completely put out and my wife cried all the way home.

    We chose our parish because there was no cry room. When there is a cry room, you’re expected to be in there and then they simply run around and play rather than learning to be good at Mass.

    As a general rule, if my child is crying and I cannot console him, I remove him from the Church until he calms down. That is only courteous. But if they’re simply fidgeting around we simply correct them in the pew. When my older ones are not paying attention, I will take them out to discipline but not always.

    When that woman yelled at me and my son for the way my kids were acting. I nearly lost it.

  • Okay, I nerve was struck in one of the comments and I have to type this…

    My children, all boys are ages 8 months, 2, 5, 7, 9, and 11. They all have their individual problems at mass. My 11 year-old gets distracted and sees it as his job to keep the 2 and 5-year olds happy by playing with them. I correct that each time I see it. If he’s not doing that, he may be simply drifting off into his own world rather than paying attention.

    My 9 year old, lately it’s been that he conveniently has a headache when he enters the Church and it goes away after the last song. So he holds his head the entire mass. One mass this was actually true, the others I know it was not. So, I tell him I don’t believe him and he must sit up, etc.

    My 7 year old is pretty good but if he’s next to the 5 year-old they will shove each other. Otherwise he sits nicely.

    The 5 year-old must be next to Mom and he fidgets all of mass. The 2 year-old wanders from seat to seat and tests his limits. The baby amazingly sits nicely.

    I say all this as a lead-up to what happened on the 4th Sunday of Advent when the woman behind me gave me a glare at the sign of peace as I shook her hand and then after mass said to my 11-year-old son that he acted like a 5-year-old all mass. That he should be ashamed of himself and that me, as his father, was a horrible parent for raising such children that can’t sit still and don’t listen.

    The appearance to her (and to my pastor when I spoke to him later) was that we don’t discipline our children. We don’t have any parental authority over them because we don’t discipline.  I can tell you that almost every week we plan a fun activity on Sunday and many of those Sundays we don’t go, or only some go because of bad behavior at mass. Not only that, extra chores are given, push-ups as punishment (sometimes up to 150 at a time) and other things as sentences are a regular occurrence. These people have no idea the amount of discipline and punishment we hand out to these children.

    What hurts me worse is that they still act up at mass and we still get the stares and glares as if we haven’t done our job. Until they spend some time in our house seeing what we do, they can’t speak at all.

    My children will learn to be good at Mass, but I guess not as fast as some others.

  • Some kids spend the whole time of the Mass facing the people behind them, just because they’re being held by Mom or Dad for the duration.

    So what’s the polite thing to do to a kid who’s facing you across the pew for an hour?  If I go out of my way to “reverently” ignore him or her, the kid will take it as a snub, and cry, and I’ll have ruined the kid’s experience of being at Mass, for life.  If I do look at the kid occasionally, somebody inevitably glares at me as if I were a potential kidnapper.  It’s a no-win situation.

    If I’m lucky, the kid doesn’t sneeze or drool on me, and everyone goes home with only the same germs we arrived with.

    But enough whining.  The only thing that really bugs me about kids is when parents have four Mass times to choose from, but they bring their cranky babies to the longest Mass of the day, namely the choir Mass.  Please, folks, make it easy on yourselves and us; let this one Mass be reserved for parishioners who don’t scream during the offertory. 

    Thank you.  This has been a public service announcement from The Choir.

  • RC,

    My personal response to the child facing you question would be to respectfully ignore the child. My husband and I are usually holding our 2 (soon to be 3) and 1 year olds. Generally, I will ignore whichever child my husband is holding and he will ignore whichever one I am holding so as not to make Mass a playtime or distraction. Of course if the child is seeking our attention, we see what the matter is and I have made faces at our 1 year old when she starts to get upset until she calms down. But we try to set the example for them of being focused on the Mass. I don’t know why it would be any different for an older child.

    As far as which mass we attend, we go to the solemn 11am mass – with full choir with the gloria sung in Latin. Our shortest masses would be the 7:30am (anyone who thinks a pregnant woman is getting a toddler and infant up and fed to make a 7:30 am mass has another think coming) and the 5pm vigil which simply is too late as we start our daughters’ bedtime routine at 7pm – our stove only cooks dinner so fast. The other Mass at our parish is the 9am, which has the children’s liturgy. We have attended this one and avoid it whenever possible. First of all, we don’t believe in dividing our family during Mass and seeing all the children leave was getting confusing to our oldest. Secondly, the number of children with toys, running up and down the aisles, etc. was insane. If it was distracting to the adults, imagine how easily it distracted a toddler. So we go to the 11am because not because of how long any Mass is, but because it is the best Mass time for our family and provides the best environment for our children to learn how to behave at Mass.

  • I agree that the only things that keeps this mom of (almost) 6 kids (10,8,6,4,2, and due in 8 weeks)getting up and going to Mass each Sunday is the graces from the Eucharist and the positive comments by nice folks who understand how hard my job is. I wrote about taking them all to Mass here:

    I have noticed that families who attend the TLM tend to have better behavior despite the fact that there usually isn’t a cry room and Mass is quieter and longer than the Novus Ordo. The parents take Mass and their Faith seriously and the kids see everyone else at Mass taking it seriously as well.

    I also agree with Thomas that if people could see how much work goes into trying to get all these children to be good they would be much less ondeming of those of us whose children are not perfect angels every week. I wish the crabby old folks who glare at small children for being small children would look at the log in their own eye before pointing out the speck in their neightbor’s eye.

  • It’s hard all around… be patient.  Each child is different (as well delineated above) and parents need time to learn how to teach (and discipline) each one.  Also, the principles of parenting in general may not spring from the parents’ experience.  I, for one, was never around babies.  Period.  My youngest sister is less than three years younger than I.  My youngest cousin (of six) is eight years younger and lived eight hours away.  So learning to parent, including when/where to nurse, change diapers, etc., was hit-and-miss.  We went through phases of bribes, punishments, toys, etc.  We didn’t split up for Mass because often the only parent going to Mass was me (hubby, not too devout then, worked often on Sundays and slept sometimes when he didn’t during residency years).

    I think my worst Mass experience was in an urban church (old, no cry room—thank God!) where my two toddlers were the only small children at Mass, and got so out of hand that I had to leave.  I cried all the way home, walking with each holding one hand.  It wasn’t so much that anyone looked at us crossly, as that I knew they were beyond an acceptable level of noise.  Fortunately I’ve gotten more skilled, and also note that having older children who behave (and want to pray) helps as an example for littler ones.

    For a pretty well articulated view on children at Mass from a father of a large family, see Michael Pakaluk’s article in the Pilot about a month ago.

  • Kat-
    I’ve thought a lot about reverence lately- and my children’s apparent lack thereof.  My toddlerboy is crazy—and when he is not chewing the gum from the bottom of the pew, he is trying to escape from the pew. He’ll yawp to hear how neat his voice sounds in the church and then put his finger up and say “Shhhhhhhh”. And so he takes just pretty much all of my physical exertion and attention at Mass….which would all be fine, except…my 8 and 6 year old daughters laugh at toddlerboy.  And so we’ve had long talks about reverence, and clear boundaries and consequences (which I really kind of hate to do to them—because toddlerboy is funny, but I figure they have to learn impulse control and learn to laugh quietly to themselves when it’s inappropriate to laugh outloud)…

    But rambling on to my point- as I was preparing to talk to them about reverence, I realised that a huge part of the problem, is that Masses at our parish nearly completely lack in reverence. I mean, why is laughing at your silly little bro inappropriate in the middle of what often has sort of a party atmosphere. The homily is a series of pointless jokes and anecdotes.  There’s lot’s of chatty extra Mass parts, there’s talking and visiting in the church before and after Mass. The building itself feels kind of like where you’d have a reception or party.

    I have little doubt that if we walked into church and it was palpably reverent that my older kids at least, would be far more reverent as well.  They would morph and reflect the expected behaviour from those around them. When we have had the gift of attending Masses which are more reverent,and in beautifully adorned and constructed buildings we do not have the same struggles.  So I think large part that there are lots of double messages about what kind of thing Mass is (is it a time of reverence or is it a time of hanging out with your church family), and it’s difficult for children to take the cues about how to act and inwardly self-regulate their behaviour.  And the unfortunate fallout is that people with small kids, for a large part, dread Mass and go to super-human efforts to try to maintain control—with most of the environment around them working against them.

    It’s sad to me that I hate going to Mass.  It’s sad to me that I know there are people we annoy at Mass.  It’s sad to me, that no one has ever come over to sit with us and offer to help the one mom against the five kids. It’s sad to me that when we scheduled Children’s Adoration we got yelled at by some people there wanting to pray…It’s sad because it all seems to just miss the real crux of the matter.

  • I am the parent of 6 children and grandparent of 9 more.  At 61 and attending Mass most of my life I am mildly offended by those who criticize “older folk” that are distracted from the presence of our Lord by children misbehaving in church.  I’m not speaking about a child crying for legitimate reasons (hungry, tired, hurt…) but those that are not listening to their parents.  For those of you who belive we should learn to tolerate children who are disrespectful in church today, don’t complain when they show that same disrespect when they return to the church when they are older (if you believe that that they really will).  I thank those that taught me to respect the older folk saying the roasary in the back of the church.  Our job is not to worship our childre and to pray for pew fillers in the future.  Our call is to worship God today and always. 

    In God’s love,


  • There are some very good points in this essay.  As a not quite old guy (but one who is hard of hearing as a result of years of military service), I must admit that I do find excessive noise that many children seen to make rather…distracting.

    The crying of a babe in arms is not the problem.  The noise made by pre-school and school age children does, I confess, get on my nerves.  They are approaching the age where they should be able to control themselves once they inevitably become restless.

    It would be a great courtesy if the parents of these little ones would least make an attempt at moderating the volume level, or perhaps excusing themselves and duck outside long enough for the child to have a good test of his/her lungs, and then re-enter the church.

    Part of the child’s education should be reverence for the mass “little Billy, we use our inside voices in church, and we stay hushed because someone very important is living in the Tabernacle.  Do you know who He is…?” 

    Young parents, just throw us middle-aged to elderly cranky folk a bone here, and we promise not to turn and stare.  Promise!

  • I went to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Baton Rouge for midnight Mass. It brought back memories of when my oldest child was a toddler over 27 years ago. He would cry on occasion but the funniest thing is he would crawl under the pews and end up some 15-20 rows in front of us. Today he is a Jesuit!

  • To clear up a misconception here: Note that I did not say that the people who glare at my kids should tolerate disrespectful behavior by kids or parents who don’t do their duty.

    My kids are very well behaved and we get lots of comments on their good behavior, but that is what makes all the more maddening the few times that the infant is cranky or the toddler bumps her head that we get glares from others.

    Toddlers and infants are very young. They can be well-behaved, but they will never be silent and still for long periods of time. They can’t be. Getting angry because my kids are true to their nature as children is unreasonable.

  • I used to feel very conflicted about cry rooms vs. need for quiet worship.

    Then one of my dear friends – with eight children, all well-behaved – left the Church.  The reason?  She was made to feel unwelcome because she had a large family in a tiny rural parish.  They actually set up a TV screen/speaker in a back room of the church and expected her to sit there alone with her family (who didn’t fit into the room, which was mostly an office) during Mass so people wouldn’t have to look at all those kids.

    My dear darling goddaughter will never make her First Holy Communion because of people who couldn’t put the (minimal) needs of others before their own.

  • Misconceptions aside, it may be those who turn in “anger” that need empathy and not children who are tired.  The point remains, the reason I go to church is to focus and worship God.  You may see me turning when I hear a child cries behind me only to get a better look at the child.  A child who cries when I am connected to God, may only be voicing the cries within my own heart and I look with humility to share God’s presence with the child.  Most stop crying, others don’t and their parents stare back at me with anger.  I can only ask their forgiveness and continue my visit with God.


  • In our parish we have both a cry room and a nursery.  The cry room is used but the nursery has 2 or 2 kids during a mass with 1000 people.  It just is not our culture to not have our kids with us at mass.  I however think young families should be encouraged to use the nursery.  If the accoustics in the church aren’t good or the readers aren’t clear and loud, nothing can be heard with fussing kids nearby.  I know with my own 4 kids, when they misbehave, I can’t hear a thing…

  • My dear darling goddaughter will never make her First Holy Communion because of people who couldn’t put the (minimal) needs of others before their own.

    This is really, really, tragic.

    A little girl is denied the splendor of the Roman Catholic Church (along with her siblings, evidently), because grown-ups couldn’t get along????

    People, please. Though your complaints, from the blogmeister’s to the choir guy’s to the folks bothered by the fact that their worship is interrupted may be legitimate, isn’t this going a tad too far?

    As my grandmother used to say (in a different context, but it still holds true today), think of the poor children in China!

    May I humbly suggest that you all be grateful for a place to worship God, in His True Presence,, and put your minor (and they are minor) peeves in perspective?

    You might take an example of those wise men from the East who knew Whom they were adoring.


  • One mom wrote:

    And of course if people have a problem with how things are going with my kids at Mass, they are more than welcome to come and offer to help me. But the unfortunate reality is that most people don’t want to help,

    Lady, stop trying to read people’s souls (“most people don’t want to help”).  Fortune-telling is a no-no for us Catholics. 

    If people are annoyed at unpleasant noises, that’s a normal human reaction.  So get used to it: when a kid makes sudden noises, for whatever reason, people are going to look in the kid’s direction.

    And if I refrain from offering to help some mother of a noisy child, it’s because

    (1) I have no experience in taking care of kids, alas;

    (2) I have no idea whether the mother will accept the offer kindly, or cop an attitude and treat the offer as a reproach. 

    And (3) I have no idea whether the child will like my presence or not.  I’m a total stranger.

    So if I stand back and refrain from “helping”/“interfering”, please do not guess at my willingness to help or my motivations in general.

  • Personally, I’m against nurseries. I believe children belong at Mass with their families. I don’t believe Jesus told the parents to keep the kids at home or to get babysitters or even gave separate talks just for kids.

    Children are just as much the daughters and sons of God as we are and while I get frustrated – like everyone else – with parents who do nothing to try to teach their children proper behavior at Mass, everyone needs to be just as understanding of the parents who are trying to discipline their children and their children as they are of the elderly who are hard of hearing and don’t realize they aren’t whispering and the handicapped person who doesn’t understand their behavior is distracting. Everyone can be an example of sanctity and everyone can teach us lessons in patience, humility and charity. 

    All I ask is that everyone try their best – whether they are elderly, black, white, male, female, with the best behaved children or the worst. I think it is the people who don’t try at all that triggers all our reactions and exhausts our humanity.

    NancyP, can anything be done for that family? Someone help carpool them to another parish? Has anyone tried writing to the bishop?

  • RC- A smile is help. A look of non-condemnation is help. Coming up and talking to a family is help after Mass is help. A little card of encouragement for the mom is help-one which acknowledges how hard it is to actually bring kids to Mass, and the awesomeness that these people haven’t contracepted their kids out of existence in the first place and are trying to raise them in the Church.

    A person doesn’t actually have to pick up a child in order to help a family who is obviously struggling. There are lots, and lots of ways to help.

  • Help and encouragement is a great thing.  We attend Mass with our daughter, her husband (non-catholic), and five children (8,7,4,2,6mos) at least once a month.  We live in a retirement community and attend Mass here at the nursing home.  It is not unusual to experience distractions from both age groups in a nursing home but most don’t seem to mind. Some do turn around and it takes them quite a while to complete that action at 94.  I only mention it because I found it interesting to see that same lady(the 94 year old) at confession after Mass yesterday (First Saturday).  By the way, the lines for confession here at the nursing home are usually quite long which may be an indicator that those some may be complaining about realize the possibility of error and are trying to deal with it in the best way possible – in confession. 
    One more thing, in one of the post there is a mention of children attending the temple at the time of Jesus – I do believe the women and children worshiped separately from the men.

    Let’s face it, we go to church to worship and some people both young and old are missing that point.

    In Christ peace and love,


  • For those special children who can remain quiet and content for Mass, welcome!  I love seeing them and their families and I pray for all families as I know how tough a job it is.  Sadly, the others are a major distraction and isn’t it considered a sin to distract others at Mass?

    My husband and I have four cildren who were born within five years.  We are in our 70’s.  Our cohort of parents had 4-8 cildren and usually attended Mass separately, leaving the youngest children at home with the other parent.  It spared very young children the agony of trying to be immobile and quiet when they had no idea of why they should be—made attending Mass the spiritual occasion is should be for the parent and the rest of the congregation.  I know that I loved that hour of peace and Communion.  Once they were old enough for school and able to understand good behavior, they joined us at Mass.

    I don’t understand this “family togetherness is essential at Mass” thing.  It’s not as if you don’t have the rest of the week together.  From what I observe, families of many pre-school children spend most of their time passing the restless young back and forth, correcting them, carrying them out when they start screaming so that the racket doesn’t end until they get behind closed doors—then another child starts. 

    How much reverential time do the parents actually spend at Mass?  For the rest of the congregation, we find ourselves constantly distracted waiting for the yellers and screamers to begin again after the parent returns with them in arms.

  • OMG, I didn’t realize Catholic prejudice against kids-at-Mass was this bad. I give a prolife talk to teens in our very large, surburban parish & I start out by telling them that, in the ‘50s, Catholic churches weren’t built with Cry Rooms because the whole church was a cry room. The NORM was for a family to come to Mass & take up a whole pew. The angst that is expressed in these comments, in your post & by people in my diocese about kids being loud in church is simply a reflection of Contracepting Catholics who have adopted to the Culture of Death, rather than the other way around.
      No, I don’t want to hear that children are a distraction or should be seen & not heard blah blah blah. Children, fellow Catholics, are a result of the Culture of Life that we’re supposed to be living & exemplefying. If you can’t be happy & helpful to the families with kids, go down the block to Prostestant Church A, B, C, D, or E. Or, better yet, examine your conscience: It might be that your own quiet little world is more important to you than fostering life in all its messiness.

  • Margaret,
    People are only culpable for the sin of distracting others at Mass if they do it intentionally, which small children do not do and, I think it is obvious from many of the parent posts here, most parents do not do it either.

    My children do not consider Mass “agony” as you call it. My soon-to-be 3 year old enjoys putting the envelope in the basket, walking up in the communion line where Mommy and Daddy “get Jesus” and getting a blessing, singing the songs and the gloria, saying some of the responses, and she even knows part of the confiteor.  My 1 year old is more and more observing the parts of the Church and is fascinated by all it contains.

    To what extent my Mass is a spiritual occasion does not depend solely on how well mine or anyone else’s children behave. The Mass is a spiritual occasion because God is there, because the Church is there together and because Christ is present with us in the Eucharist.

    As far as the “family togetherness at Mass” thing: My children are baptized in the Church. They are members of this unique Body and Bride. They benefit from the grace they receive at Mass. If children didn’t need God’s grace, there would be no reason to baptize them as infants. My girls are young and no, they aren’t perfect, but they learn every week more about their faith, about the Mass and about how to behave properly at Mass and every Mass they attend they attain Divine Grace – something no one can put a price on or replace. I am a stay-at-home mom, but sharing Mass with my daughters is not the same as playing with blocks with them, getting their dinner or doing the laundry with them. The specialness of the Mass makes sharing Mass with them much more special than anything else we do with them.

    How much reverential time do I get at Mass? It depends on what you mean by reverential. How much time do I get to pray? I pray with the congregation (our 2 year old joins partly) and I get to say a few private prayers. But I also get to sacrifice some of the focus and time I would choose to spend for myself in prayer for my children – for the vocation God chose for me.  Spending part of my Mass correcting my children and bringing them up in the faith IS part of my vocation and IS part of my reverence for God.

    If the children at your Mass are THAT distracting that you spend the entire Mass watching screaming, have you considered sitting in the front pew where no child can scream in front of you, you will have a full view of everything going on and not miss anything being said? And if you are distracted “waiting” for a child to scream, then maybe you need to consider how much of your distractions you yourself are creating.

    Children need grace as much as adults do and depriving them of the Mass does them a great disservice in that regard. If you believe you reared your children the best way, you are entitled to your opinion. But then you should also respect the opinion of parents like Dom and Melanie and myself who believe children belong at Mass.

  • Katherine et al,

    You who are supposed to be getting so much Christian charity from your religion and Mass attendance had a very snippy, and not very Christian or polite, answer to me when I tried to sincerely suggest that the present generation of Catholic parents do not have all the answers of raising children as Catholics.

    My generation was far more thoughtful of others in general and it carried over into Mass attendence also.  We were the generation with larger families than is the norm now.  We didn’t romanticize children or childhood and we didn’t take them places where their misbehavior would be annoying to others. 

    Children under the age of reason (varies by child) are in a state of grace all the time in spite of their behavior.  They have no need of being at Mass.

    When I see toddlers squirming and crying and needing to be passed from parent to parent, I know that they find the hour of Mass a misery.

    We are of different minds about this, but at least I didn’t call you “unChristian” for speaking your opinion.

  • I think some people here choose to be martyrs and want other people to be martyrs too.  Just because you can participate joyfuly at mass with 4 loud kids doesn’t mean everybody can.  There can’t be a better way.  Nurseries are 1 way. 
    We’re not all created equal.  Some of us have a lot of patience, others don’t.  Please be mindful of those that don’t!

  • Isn’t it funny, that those who may be distracted by children at Mass (at least those that have commented above) can remain faithful in their love for others, but it seems that those who take a defensive stand in support of distractions at Mass seem to be very critical of the faith of the other. 

    I wonder how some of you would react to me if I began to cough at your childs concert during his/her solo?  Or if my grandchildren began to sing along?  I have to tell you, it is scary and some were not quite so forgiving.  As the youngest of six and father of six and grandparent of many more… I’ve choosen to apologize to many in my lifetime for distractions I, our children, or grandchildren have been responsible for, and found that being respectful of others has always brought me more joy.

    It is good when we can express different points of view or opinions and remain friends as I assume all who have commented here remain.

    In Christ Jesus, JohnMichael

  • Thomas,

    Thank the Lord your child is okay…that must’ve been quite a scare! I’m glad that the damage was minimal.

    This has turned into a depressing thread for me. Actually, no offense, Dom, but the title itself is pretty sad…so much for respect for old people. I realize this was based on your own experience, but still. As they say (or maybe “they” don’t say but I do): Old Men Are People, Too. I hope to be an Old Lady myself some day, after all, and if I get crotchety (and I probably will and you guys probably will, too) I do hope for some understanding.

    Although there have been some sensible comments, I’m throwing in the towel. With all due respect to “gb,” that post pretty much did it. Starting out with shorthand blasphemy, it segues into an blanket accusation of “prejudiced Catholics,” leaps into an accusation of said Catholics being a part of the culture of death, and then manages to invite said Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.

    Enough. My own maturity is difficult as it is to maintain. I therefore see no reason to hang out with virtual foot-stampers. Clearly it’s not the kids who are the problem.

    And so without further ado, I shall uncheck the handy little notification button and wish you all a very peaceful remainder of the Christmas season.

  • Margaret,

    Your generation raised our parents—our parents who left the Church en masse, made contraception among Catholics common place, divorced at an astonishing rate,  and did NOT become priests or religious.

    So perhaps our generation- the generation of the new orthodoxy, is trying things a different way. A way laid forth by St. John Bosco which acknowledges that motivations of love take a child to a deeper and higher level than motivations of fear.

  • Margaret,

    I wasn’t snippy.
    Isn’t it your religion too?
    We don’t claim to have all the answers. Do you?
    Church isn’t just any place – that was part of my point.
    Children need grace. Grace isn’t only for removing sin. It is also for growing in sanctity. If children didn’t need it, they would all behave perfectly all the time.
    I didn’t call you “unChristian.”

    God Bless

  • It would be a mistake not to take children to Mass from an early age. Ask any child development specialist. The critical age for forming a child’s conscience and moral compass is from 0-6. In fact, by age 5 a child’s brain is completely formed in regards to synapses and physical structure. This is why preschools/montessoris make good money.

    We bring our toddler to Mass every day. Sometimes there are good days. Sometimes there are bad days. And sometimes there are very bad days. Yes, parents are persecuted. But it is only when we embrace this victimhood that we find fulfillment in our vocation as parents.

    Thanks for the article! It hits home with me.

    Please check out my blog: Save the Family, Save the World on blogspot.


  • I am a ‘seasoned citizen’ as some would say,and I luv children at Mass! Bring ‘em in! Let ‘em cry! It is LIFE!

  • I agree and disagree. There shouldnt be glaring looks at anyone during mass… unless Christ himself comes down off the cross.  However, there are people who push the envelope. They dont mind their children. The child was doing more then “crying”… the child was 2, and being a raucus. Then two pews over, another set of parents were feeding their children cheetos. NOw I wasnt dwelling on either incident, simply recollecting it for purposes of my response.

    Its one thing for a baby to cry, its another when parents dont mind their children at all, and the children are behaving inappropriately. I know most people make an effort. But there are enough exceptions, that i think some people have lost their patience.

    Then again, I circle back to my first point. If one is truly engaged in the mass, one doesnt notice/ care about any of those things

  • Why must I tolerate someone else’s screaming kid? Indeed why must my grandmother, who did a good job raising her children be insulted and sneered at becuase she’d actually like to hear what Fr. is saying for a change?

  • Let’s get something straight here as too many seem to have misread the original post.

    Nowhere did I say that others had to tolerate screaming kids whose parents couldn’t be bothered to discipline them.

    As I said very clearly, my kids are well behaved at almost every Mass—and when they do have rare behavioral issues we take them out immediately. But even we still get comments and glares from others as if none of the good behavior counts.

    This whole thread has become the standard blogosphere exercise in reading everyone else’s comments in the most prejudicial manner possible rather than reading them in what is probably the charitable sense they were made.

    That leads to injured feelings—especially when it comes to something as dearly held as whether one is a good parent or one is a good Catholic—and we enter a spiral of injury and response.

    I’ve had one comment—which I declined to approve for posting—from an atheist using the tenor of this thread as a means to say “see how they don’t love one another.”

  • Apologies for not reading preceding comments.

    There are multiple tangled issues presented here, resulting in what seem to be false dichotomies.

    1) Leaving right after communion (without extenuating circumstances) is wrong.
    2) Letting your infant cry incessantly without taking him/her out of most people’s hearing (without extenuating circumstances) is wrong.
    3) Glaring at parents of crying children is uncharitable.
    4) Gabbing audibly *at any time*, especially while others are praying or participating in the mass, is wrong.
    5) Doing 1 or 4 as well as 3 is hypocritical, but has no bearing on 2.

    What’s important is maintaining respect for the holiness of the eucharistic sacrifice. Lazy parenting, impatience, half-arsed participation, disruptive behavior, self-righteousness, and uncharitable treatment are all disrespectful.

  • In support of my previous comment I’d like to add that I take my baby to the back (or farther) when his crying is disruptive. He’s only 4 months old, so he’s not at fault, but that doesn’t make his crying any less noisy and distracting.

  • In my experience, the moral liberal the parish is, the more likely we are to receive comments—no matter how well or badly behaved our kids are.
    When we came back to SC 2 years ago, we went to the parish where I spent my teen years, and where my sister is still a member, exactly once (OK, twice, if you include my nephew’s confirmation).  Ironically, this well-dressed interracial couple sat in front of us with their two “perfectly planned,” “perfectly spaced” children and kept glaring at us while the pastor totally ad-libbed the Mass.

    Most of the Latin Masses (ordinary and extraordinary forms) and Eastern Divine Liturgies I’ve attended have been filled with children, and no one seems to mind a crying baby or two.  In fact, one thing I’ve loved about the Byzantine and Maronite churches I’ve visisted is that teenagers have come up and sat next to or behind us, or invited our kids to sit with them, and then *helped*.

    I’ve also had times when kindly elderly folks—usually total strangers—sitting nearby have sidled up next to the kids on the end and helped supervise them.

    On Mary Mother of God, my kids acted up a bit, and Father reprimanded them (rightly) at Communion.  He said something to the effect of “I understand you’re excited because it’s Christmas, but try to calm down.”  It wasn’t an insult at my parenting—I was trying to get in line for Communion adn they ran away from me (I use a wheelchair).

    OTOH, when I attend a liturgy that’s irreverent (or worse), and/or I’ve had a bunch of people, including ushers, shoving their hands into mine during the Agnus Dei, and then get glares or comments about my kids, *that* infuriates me.

    My wife has recently read the Vatican II document on children.  It’s an eye-opener.  Techncially, Vatican Ii granted permission—never granted before—to use cry rooms or nurseries, but it emphasizes that children *should* be at Mass, that cry room snad nurseries are only to calm children down, and then children who are taken out of Mass should always be brought back in time for the final blessing.

    We’ve done the attending separate masses thing a few times, but that isn’t a practical alteernative every week.  Between my disability and our young children, we aren’t even obliged to attend Sunday Mass, and we maybe make it to one or two Sunday Masses a month.

    If I have to take a kid or two out of Mass completely, we pray outside.  Someteimes, my wife or I will just staay in the car with the youngest (especially if they’re asleep) and then come in for Communion.

    If we get to Mass on time, and the kids have made it through, and i’ve made it through without screaming in pain, we don’t press our luck.  But we either leave right after Communion or 10 minutes after Mass, because of the logistics of getting me and the kids out of church.

    One last point: whenever someone says something to me about not being able to “pay attention” at Mass because of kds (I take for granted that, with the loud modern music, irreverent priests and gaudy female altar servers ,paying attentino at Mass is a lost cause), I say, “Obviously, because you don’t know the first thing about the Gospel.  What about ‘Let the little children come unto me’?”

  • See, the problem with saying this is a false dichotomy is that it isn’t a hypothetical argument, it’s what actually happened to me at mass a few weeks ago. The tired baby started fussing, I promptly took her out to the vestibule. It was right after communion. While I was standing there, looking at the statues with her—she had stopped crying, but I decided to wait until the end of mass rather than risk another outburst—while we were there two old men left mass early, talking loudly as they walked down the stairs behind me. So loudly that I clearly heard their complaints about fussing children. In fact, I suspect I was meant to hear them.

    This was not meant to be a general indictment of all old people. If you take it as a personal criticism of yourself, you need to read more carefully.

  • To Kelley Clark:
    Please allow me to apologize if my post above offended you. I honestly didn’t mean to do that! I was just a bit appalled that people of life can be intolerant of life but, on re-reading my post, I could’ve expressed it better. Sorry. GB
    PS…OMG doesn’t have to be blasphemy, ya know smile

  • By “false dichotomies” I meant that the age of those who glared and the fact that they left early is irrelevant, except to point out their hypocrisy. The post has a feeling of, “Either you mind your own business, show no outward reaction to crying children, and fully participate in mass, or you’re a grumpy old man who glares and leaves after communion”.

    No, I don’t take the post personally. First of all, I’m not old. wink Secondly, I don’t leave mass early without good reason. Lastly, I mentioned how I handle my child as a way of saying that I follow words with action.

  • As a father of 8, I sympathize with people that receive the glares and comments.  I also sympathize with the older people, of which my father is one. 

    I feel strongly that it is prudence to take your children out of mass when they are noisy and preventing other people from hearing the mass or sermon.  This is common sense and shows respect for other people. 

    On the other hand, I think it is an act of humility when you are chagrined by the sound of people talking, or a noisy and causing you to loose your focus to pray for them.  Maybe it is God’s way of telling you that the parent of the noisy child may need some prayers for encouragement.  Maybe that person talking before, during, or after mass may need prayers to grow in grace to realize Who’s presence they are in.

    In any case, I believe common sense and humility on both parts will go a long way.

  • As a father of a toddler, I can relate to your post. If a child is a bit noisy at church, some people are quick to judge the parents. I try very hard to teach my kid the proper etiquette but I also try not to make it a bad experience for her. I don’t want my kid growing up not liking to go to mass because of a bad experiene.

    I want my kid to feel she belongs to the Catholic Family.

    Luke 18:15-17