ASK FATHER: Crying babies – Wherein Fr. Z backs away in trepidation

This has to be the third rail of all questions. I have brought it up a few times here … few use the search box I provide it seems… but it keeps coming around.

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

We have a wonderful 100 year old chapel with a marble interior here in Camarillo with a weekly EF Missa Cantata. I mention the marble since it magnifies sound greatly. We are blessed with several large families with beautifully behaved children. Unfortunately, we are also blessed with a few with fussy & crying wee bairns as well as unrestrained 3 & 4 year olds who tromp on the pews & in the aisles. Usually one of the parents will take the child outside until it calms down.
Today we had no such luck, the cacophony was such that our soft spoken priest was difficult to hear.
We do have a side room for these families & a sign pointing to it.
A little consideration for those of us who have raised our children already would be appreciated.
Any successful diplomatic suggestions?

Now that I have posted this, I am going to slink away and watch from afar.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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155 Responses to ASK FATHER: Crying babies – Wherein Fr. Z backs away in trepidation

  1. Ray says:

    Hi Father,

    Slinking away may find you in need of one of the new hoodies, just kidding!!

  2. Jim R says:

    Dear Reader:
    Some children are better behaved than others. Some parents are better at parenting and/or controlling their children than others. That is life. If you’ve raised children you should know that. Otherwise you and they are still part of the Parish.

    I see that you have 3 options:
    1. Offer to help the parent(s).
    2. Offer it up to God in thanksgiving for children, parents and His gift of life – messy as it is.
    3. Whine, be critical and act like a pouting juvenile that life has intruded into your cocoon.

    #1 can be done diplomatically. As can #2. #3 cannot.

    As for the “cry room” – it’s an abomination designed to segregate the unwashed from the elect. Never saw such a thing growing up – and there were many more children at Mass during the baby boom than now. The narthex or outside has always worked before as a temporary remedy. My suggestion is all cry-rooms be taken out and grown-ups act like grown-ups. Consideration and rearing children splays itself all over things as decisions are made on what exactly to do.

    BTW you don’t really need to “hear” the priest….that’s a fruit of the “Spirit of VII.” The EF is mostly silent vis-s-vis the congregation and priest. Funny how God can work without us controlling things. As for the homily, if you regularly get a good one, be thankful for that even if you miss some words during a “cry-fest” because too many of us are not so lucky. If you don’t get a good homily, give praise to the Almighty for His joyful noise in the cry of His beloved child.

    Query: what do you do if a mentally ill person has the temerity to come to Mass and act mentally ill in a way that is mildly uncomfortable?

    Are the sparks flying?

  3. StJude says:

    I feel for them… my church is the same.. huge ceilings…. boy does it echo. One child cries or acts up and you cant hear a thing.
    I attend the old lady mass to avoid it. Early morning/middle of the week.

  4. traditionalorganist says:

    My advice as a Father of 4 with One on the way and the oldest being 4. I consider my kids to be the quiet ones in church too. Yet we still get looks.

    1. go become a grandmother/grandfather to that family and help out.
    2. Smile at the parents. It’s hard enough to get to church with all the kids. When people are giving the evil eye because of all ones obnoxious children, it doesn’t help matters.
    3. Remember that Christian charity is required at Mass too.
    4. Don’t just sit there and brood.
    5. Lastly, never promote the cry room.

  5. APX says:

    Our former priest had the “six seconds rule”. If a noise was prolonged past that, the source of the noise was to be removed until the noise ceased.

    Unfortunately this seems to have gone away with our new priest and Mass can get pretty loud. It was only two weeks ago someone’s child shrieked through the entire Canon of the Mass. I had to cause physical pain to myself in order to restrain myself from taking the child outside. I’m strongly convinced that there are a number of parents who are either oblivious to how annoying and distracting their loud children are during Mass, or else they just don’t seem to care.

    Personally, I would talk to the priest about it, but prepare to be rejected. Failing that, St. Matilda is the patron saint of misbehaving children. Go to her for help.

  6. Mike Morrow says:

    Ten-percent oleoresin capsicum spray comes to mind…on the parents!

  7. mamajen says:

    The priest should say something, tactfully, but I do not think that parishioners should correct fellow parishioners–it just creates more problems.

    I think it’s very rude for parents to let their kids do whatever during mass. If they’re creating a distraction, they should remove them as soon as is feasible.

  8. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Father,

    I won’t shy away from the topic, and will happily take the abuse my answer entails.

    In our parish, there is only one Mass, a High Mass, on a Sunday morning. We have a combination of old people, young un-married people and families in various stages of development. Recently we’ve been experiencing a baby-boom.

    Children are a gift from God. They need to be brought up to worship God properly, and to live peaceably with their neighbors (to the extent possible). They won’t learn if they don’t have the chance to go to Mass even as a young child.

    Children who wander in the pew are not a problem. Kneelers sometimes go “bang” as they hit the floor, and this is true when older people move them, too.

    When a child gets fussy, gentleness and firmness are necessary on the side of the parents. Charity is required of all: Our Lord called many sinners to repent, and most of us would probably have found their company repugnant, and it’s incumbent upon all of us not to get angry at parents for children they are trying to teach. Once the children have reached the age of self-control (which varies from child to child, alas) and have had sufficient exposure to Mass, they can be expected to comport themselves prayerfully. Just as there is a sign in many parishes reminding people about modest dress — a sign which includes the notice that it is the priest’s job to correct erring people — this sort of correction should be left to the priest.

    All that said, what have we (collectively or individually) done to HELP these mothers, fathers and their children?

  9. acricketchirps says:

    Simple.
    Wailing wee bairns: Good.
    Parents: Let em wail; take em outside if and when YOU please.
    Others: Smile, support.

    Unrestrained 3 and 4 year olds: Bad.
    Parents: Restrain em.
    Others: a little dirty look or two never killed anyone.

    Crying rooms: Bad. Turn em back into rows of confessionals, then fill em up.

    What’s this N.O. obsession with having to hear everything the priest says, anyway.

  10. PA mom says:

    A mother with excellently behaved children used to bring a beautiful holy card collection on a ring for her 3-4 year olds.
    Perhaps try to sit next to where one of the families usually sits, bring a loose collection, the more sparkly the better, and slowly sift through them, tilted slightly towards the child. If it catches their attention and they are better behaved, commend them after Mass and ask their parent if you may be allowed to reward them with one of the cards. Tell the child to bring it again the next week and maybe they will get another. Perhaps the parent will even catch on and add to the collection and keep it for further little ones. If a group of you work together, it could settle them all.
    This may nearly fully occupy your mind during the homily, but a month or two might well do it. There is often no more challenging time in a week for a young family than that of Church and your patience and sympathy is much appreciated.

  11. acbprop says:

    “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I always think of that when I’m tempted to give the evil eye.

    The cry of a child is more beautiful than any marble cathedral. Or any priest’s words. Period. See above.

  12. capchoirgirl says:

    My parish is a vibrant parish full of young families.
    Above all, people: Charity! I know people who have stopped coming to Mass because of the way they were treated when their babies would cry. Keep in mind the baby cannot *help* it, and most parents swiftly try to remove the child!
    I have had priests who would stop the Mass if a baby so much as whimpered. That’s ridiculous. Priests could say, yes, we have a cry room, etc. but most people who are regular parishioners are aware of this. If a priest says it at Mass or repeatedly, it can often come across as grouchy and that little children aren’t wanted at Mass, which is the opposite of what we should be saying!
    It is hard to have lots of little kids at Mass, and most parents are trying to do their best. Sometimes, yes, you will have silly parents who don’t notice/care that their children are misbehaving, but I have found that to be the exception to the rule. Most parents are well aware.
    Charity, people. Charity.

  13. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    As the father of six quondam crying babies, I’ll say this.

    1. Pater, stay out of it. No good wil lcome of it. We laity will take this one.

    2. Parents, if your little kids make a fuss that lasts more than 2 or 3 seconds, get up, and take them outside (and look at flowers, or bugs, or shapes in the clouds) till they quiet down. If they want mom, have mom take the out. But most kids are happy to go walk around with dad.

    3. RECALL: Little kids are NOT required to attend Mass and they are often too uncivilized to attend. So, if that describes your wee-one, don’t take them in, or leave them in if they fall apart. Of course, kiddies can’t stay outside alone, so you or the wife are required by natural law (and civil law, but let that pass) to stay with them, and if that means you miss pa t of Mass, so be it. It’s NOT a sin to Mass all or part of Mass with lawful excuse.

    Having done all of this for YEARS, I feel free to cast a dirty look at any parent who let’s little stinky make a ruckus during Mass.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “The cry of a child is more beautiful than any marble cathedral. Or any priest’s words. Period.”

    Hogwash. Pious hogwash. Crying babies sound like crying babies. In church, with echoes to boot.

  15. Maxiemom says:

    Fussing children I can handle. It’s the rude chatty adults that I can’t stand. And the children won’t learn if the adults in church don’t set good examples.

    The 12 noon mass at my parish was a mass that used to be held at the other parish that mine merged with. The ushers are the worst examples as they talk very loudly in the vestibule and the back of the church. In fact, the last time I was at that mass, a woman got up and asked them to be quiet so she could pray. I usually sit about a third of the way from the back and I can hear them like they are in the next pew. And then the congregation starts over. This never happened before the merger!

  16. lydia says:

    I think it’s unfair to subject other parishoners to badly behaving children and persistent crying infants. My grandparents went to early Mass and babysat us while parents went to Church. Mom started bringing us once we were about 5yrs. old. I did the same with my kids.

  17. lh says:

    I tried to help a mother, she glared at me and looked insulted that I offered help, then told me she did not need any help. She allowed her children to run around at times even around the altar, or almost tripping the elderly. Several parishioners tried talking to her, very kindly in fact. It didn’t help, she quoted scripture to those who dared to say anything to her, “Let the little children come to me.” All I could think of was, yes, let them come, but that does not mean they should not be disciplined when necessary.

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “I tried to help a mother, she glared at me and looked insulted that I offered help, then told me she did not need any help.”

    Who knows what really happened here, but I’m with mom: no stranger is going to touch one my kids outside of burning car wreck. A nice, firm, look of impatience would suffice for a suggestion to do something.

  19. Eraser says:

    I’ve been having the same problem at my church, and I regret to say that it seems to have worsened upon the arrival of the new priest… He’s a fine example of the younger generation, meaning he is orthodox and values tradition, but he almost seems to be encouraging it. He loves to talk about his huge Irish-American family (I can’t think of one homily where he hasn’t worked them in somehow) and often makes specific mention of all the young families that happen to be there, usually something like “isn’t it wonderful to hear all the little ones singing”. Don’t get me wrong: we’re very blessed to have him and it’s great that he’s encouraging families but lately I’m getting a tired of it. I’m actually not all that much older than he is but I’m beginning to feel like a cranky old spinster when all I want is a relative measure of peace and quiet for my worship.

    Therefore I have only sympathy to offer but no advice. These days, you don’t dare say anything that might even be construed as negative to parents about their children. I think it’s especially true for us Catholics, since there’s an assumption in certain circles that your pro-life fervor is directly linked to your outward attitude about children – i.e. if you can’t put up with a little distraction, you just hate babies/children/families/life in general!

  20. anilwang says:

    I have a big problem with crying rooms. Simply put, we’re breeding a singles-only society where people can live in child-excluded apartments, go on child-excluded vacations, go to child-excluded stores, and if we do happen to see a child that’s struggling or large families, we give them the evil eye and say their parents really needed to use birth control. This is sickening.

    This is a messy situation. Fine, let’s follow the Pope’s lead and not run from the mess. There are two principles at work here:

    (1) Children must not be excluded from the mass. In the East, this principle extended to even giving communion to the newly baptised/confirmed infant. Children these days need all the Grace they can, and it’s better that they’re safe in God’s hands before the world gets them (at an increasingly young age).

    (2) The Mass is sacred, and silence adds to reverence. Distraction hurts our ability to be reverent.

    How can these opposing forces be reconciled? How has it been in the past? The Church is 2000 years old. There’s a whole lot of practical wisdom we can learn from. There’s also a lot of local wisdom.

    My own suggestion is to come up with a list of suggestions and place some photocopies near the bulletins. The two principles need to be occasionally mentioned during announcements time to ensure both charity and responsibility of “both sides”.

  21. eben says:

    At a former Parish where our faith was gently but firmly nourished by an American-Italian Priest/Pastor, we were often times assailed by infant wailings and crying and such. Father would usually ignore all of this and plow forward. Occasionally, he would remind the congregation that there was a “Cry Room”.

    As often as not, he would, at the end of the mass, say something like. “Well, I see we have several sets of healthy young lungs in our midst today. They’re crying because they are lonely and to remind you young marrieds to go home after church and do what’s necessary to bring us MORE Children; we need More baptisms around here! The Mass has ended, Go forth and Pro-create!

  22. LiberChant says:

    First off consider yourself blessed that you have easy access to such a beautiful Liturgy with all the musical riches that come with the Missa Cantata! I have no such access, and can’t hold back that I’m a smidge jealous that you get to have sung propers every week.

    Second, as a father of young children around that age, and often the watcher in Mass of other young children, I find that the occassional noise of a child in Mass is not just welcome, but also an outward sign of the youth and vigor of the ever growing Church. If this family regularly comes to that Mass, and it seems from your post that they do, give them the benefit of the doubt that they may be having a bad day or some other reason is keeping them from stepping out. If it keeps happening Mass after Mass, then please, let the usher give them a kind nudge to calm the kids down and take them outside.

    Lastly, please, please do not promote the “cry room.” Let parents ask for one to use if they need one! It is an unwelcome sign to families to walk into a Church and see a sign directing them to not be in the body of the Church because they choose to expose their little ones to the beauty of the Church early in life.

  23. Joseph-Mary says:

    As our dear young priest who offers the TLM for us has noted more than once, the crying of the babies is part and parcel along with the Mass. They are our future! He does not mind, nor do we. How many parishes are filled with grey hairs and no babies?

  24. JP Borberg says:

    Crying rooms should be promoted, and mums should be grateful for them. I am a solo dad of two boys. I couldn’t use the crying room as ladies breast fed in there, so I took my kids outside when they were too loud. You mums are luck you can be considerate to others AND still see the Mass. If the priest wears a mic and there’s a speaker in the room, you’ll be able to hear it too!

    In my experience being a parent doesn’t exempt one from being charitable and considerate to others. Sure, expect adults to ignore quite coos and gurgles, but people trying to pray shouldn’t have to suffer the distraction (and sometimes discomfort) of some kid crying or screaming just because the parents feel put out having to do something about it.

    People will still notice the vibrancy of the parish as you remove your child to adjust their volume to a reasonable level, but the other parishioners will now also be grateful for you consideration and exemplary parenting. Remember, people at Mass should be thinking about God. If they want to admire your baby crying they’ll arrange with you to do that some other time over the rest of the week.

  25. Sword40 says:

    We raised seven children. There were times when I felt that I would never again see a complete Mass. We started out sitting way in the back so as to have a fast exit with an unhappy child but as they grew older, we found that sitting right down front quieted the kids because they could see the priest. They were fascinated with the activity in the Sanctuary.
    As time passed they all grew up and moved away.

    Oh how I miss those days. (really, I do miss them). How fast the years have passed.

  26. LiberChant says:

    Wait, @JP, why is breastfeeding keeping you from using the cry room? Are there not ladies breastfeeding modestly in the sanctuary (which consequently is the most often seen way to calm a screaming babe down in Church). Wouldn’t that logic then keep you from being the sanctuary as well??

  27. JP Borberg says:

    LiberChant, in our church only the clergy and servers are in the sanctuary during a Mass. The only time women go into the sanctuary is when the are getting confirmed or married. They usually refrain from breastfeeding at those times.

  28. Frank_Bearer says:

    “Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” Pope Francis January 12, 2014 Homily on the Baptism of the Lord

    I have no sympathy for those who complain of a dearth of vocations on one hand and get rankled by a crying baby on the other.

  29. norancor says:

    It is a logical fallacy to say anyone who doesn’t like crying babies must think its some post Vatican II self centered notion of silence to expect “relative” quiet at Mass. I have been in five parishes for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary form over the years, and without distinction there is noise of this or that sort. That is not a temper tantrum, crying, fussing or other irritating noise.

    There has to be at least a vestibule in most churches where you can go in really bad weather, and I agree cry rooms aren’t a great idea. But if your kids isn’t under control, get out. Now, please. Until they calm down. Then return.

    You are at Mass, even if you are pacing outside. You have not suffered the little children not to come unto Jesus by stepping out. You are showing respect for the celebrant, and for your fellow parishioners.

    Amazingly, even pacing outside, or sitting in a vestibule, God knows the disposition of your heart, and you simply offer it up by not being inside with little Johnny and his tantrum for not being allowed to bang his matchbox cars on the pews or write in the hymnals with his crayons.

    Arguing you should stay in church no matter what your children do is rudeness, uncharitability, causes discord, and can perhaps even jeopardize the liciety or validity of a Mass. I have seen small children who cannot quiet down and the parents still sit in the first few rows. The incidents occurred repeatedly, and I watched two priests lose their place IN THE CANON.

    Then, to top it all off, the fathers went so far to corner the pastor in the corner of the sacristy in anger for him having asked people to remove their children so he can concentrate.

    After the whole incident in the sacristy I asked the pastor to drop the families from the rolls of the church if they don’t desist in their callous disregard for others, all the while veiled in the false piety of “allowing the children to come unto Our Lord.” He didn’t do it, but the families started sitting in the back of the church, on the isle to allow removing the chronic offenders easy.

    As someone else said on this idea of keeping the kids in the church… HOGWASH!

    I swear… the lengths to which those who cannot discipline their children will stoop is just mesmerizing. Invoking Our Lord to justify their rudeness. What hogwash.

    Your crying, fussy, uncontrolled child can come unto Him outside.

  30. I think smile and nod works in these situations

  31. tzard says:

    As with most things – a modicum of charity is required when dealing with these issues. There are extremists who give dirty looks when the child puts the missal down loudly – what couldn’t be hears 2 pews away. There are also parents who don’t control their 9 year olds. Let us not fret over solutions to extreme situations.

    I sometimes wonder if a cadre of burly KofC men can bring up the issue with women who won’t control their children. Yes, and it’s usually women. Men are made to be the lawgivers – and my children dread the disapproval of Dad.

    For us, even with a child who was colicky – (we found out later he was lactose intolerant) – we had a sure fire plan: Under 1 – dad and Mom go to different masses. Over 1 – pick times when they’re well fed and sleepy. Over 2 – when begin to get fussy, take the child out and wait. They eventually disliked being away from the family activity and would straighten up. (yes, it took months, but that’s child-time for you). Don’t give them an excuse to try to play (no going to the school playground). Age 3 — well behaved mostly.

    Oh, and please no food at Mass. Different issue.

    This plan was obvious from the start (not!) and we had to figure it out on our own. I guess tghat’s the benefit of having a lot of children. How I wish fellow parishoners helped us with GOOD solutions. That is parishoners who really know what works from their children. Not from those DINKs who do not like children at all.

  32. jgalloy says:

    We are at Mass to worship God, not to satisfy our own inner desires for peace and quiet or what we consider to be appropriate aesthetics. How easy is it to lose sight of the fact that the Mass is “not about you,” it’s about God. PP BXVI suggested placing a crucifix on the altar to remind everyone that the Mass is not about the priest…in a similar way, it is not about the laity having a good time. Crying babies are part of the Body of Christ and belong with the rest of us, united with the Communion of Saints and the angels in worship. Those who want them gone are grumpy Scrooge-like “me-me-me” people, IMO, who have forgotten (or have never known) the real reason that they bother to attend.

    It was the rejection and dirty looks my young family got at a Unitarian Church (a very self-oriented religion) for a couple of squirmy babies that led us straight to the Catholic Church (with a brief stop at the Episcopal Church, which also welcomed babies). Ultimately, my four children learned how to be better behaved in public places because we brought them to Mass and ultimately behaved like gentlemen (and lady) in most similar situations. I’ve raised my children, and like most parents, know how to ignore wailing babies during Mass. It’s not a skill that one loses. You just appreciate that you’re not the one having to deal with it.

  33. Lisa says:

    I have four children, the youngest is 6 months, the oldest is 7. When my first two were little, they were like any other baby, then toddler – it was difficult to keep them quiet and still for an hour, but standing in the back, bouncing and shushing, usually did the trick. Mass was sometimes stressful, but we got through it.
    The third one, however…this one will make a saint out of me, or will be my undoing, I am convinced of it. He has a mind of his own, does NOT obey if he doesn’t want to (and he rarely wants to), and he says, always, what is on his mind. He does not think without speaking. Ever. He will whisper in Mass, but his whisper is not nearly quiet as he thinks it is. Taking him to the back doesn’t work – he throws a fit if we don’t let him run. Daddy taking him outside to “teach him a lesson” is often traumatic for everyone involved. Bribing doesn’t work. We drive a long way to get to Mass, and going separately is not really an option. Mass is a very, very difficult time for me these days.
    Please be patient with parents. I try my best to keep a fine balance between teaching my children how to behave in Mass (which requires them to be there, in the pew, with the rest of the family), and keeping a prayerful, quiet environment for everyone else. I usually err on the side of peace for everyone else. But sometimes I just can’t, and I promise, if you are feeling annoyed with the antics of my child, I am probably close to tears.
    I am so, very grateful to the others at our parish. If they hear anything they pretend not to. They tell me my children are beautiful. They are always so happy to see them. I don’t know what the best answer to this question is, other than parents should try to do what is best for their children, and also keep in mind that there are other people besides them present. And everyone else, however you choose to respond to children irritating you at Mass, please do so with love. Please.

  34. acbprop says:

    Hogwash I’ve been accused of, piety never. I will take that as a compliment.

    I have six kids 9 to 22. When we had young ones we double teamed them and sometimes I enjoyed a nice walk around the grounds with a toddler. Our kids were usually pretty good, primarily because mom dragged them to daily Mass boot camp, though I have had some oldies move away from us preemtively. I took offense at the time, but shouldn’t have–you can sit where you want.

    There will always be bad children, and bad parents who enable bad children. Best we can do is pray for them. Or encourage them. Or sit somewhere else. Or go to another Mass. Huffing and puffing is, I think, a little venial.

    Crying babies sound like vocations–I like that!

  35. jgalloy says:

    “Arguing you should stay in church no matter what your children do is rudeness, uncharitability, causes discord, and can perhaps even jeopardize the liciety or validity of a Mass. I have seen small children who cannot quiet down and the parents still sit in the first few rows. The incidents occurred repeatedly, and I watched two priests lose their place IN THE CANON.

    Then, to top it all off, the fathers went so far to corner the pastor in the corner of the sacristy in anger for him having asked people to remove their children so he can concentrate.

    After the whole incident in the sacristy I asked the pastor to drop the families from the rolls of the church if they don’t desist in their callous disregard for others, all the while veiled in the false piety of “allowing the children to come unto Our Lord.” He didn’t do it, but the families started sitting in the back of the church, on the isle to allow removing the chronic offenders easy.

    As someone else said on this idea of keeping the kids in the church… HOGWASH!

    I swear… the lengths to which those who cannot discipline their children will stoop is just mesmerizing. Invoking Our Lord to justify their rudeness. What hogwash.

    Your crying, fussy, uncontrolled child can come unto Him outside.”

    Wow. Faith in Christ should engender joy. What went wrong?

  36. APX says:

    I just recalled something our priest stated in his sermon a few weeks ago. Parents who let their children make noise and fool around in church, causing other people to be distracted, don’t receive as many graces from Mass as the parents do who keep their children quiet in church.

  37. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m pretty much with Dr. Peters on the matter of offering to help. I only do this if a.) I know the family and know they would welcome the offer or, b.) I happen to be sharing a pew with a family, junior slinks his way down the pew to me on his own, and mom and I exchange nods of approval that it’s OK with both of us for junior to stop by for a visit. If neither of these conditions are present and I’m sitting in close proximity to a crying baby and/or wandering tike, then what I usually do is whisper to the parents that I’m a mom too and the nosie doesn’t bother me – that’s assuming it’s normal kid noise and not a full-tilt meltdown. When it’s full-on meltdown mode, I say nothing and offer it up. Though this may be uncharitable, sometimes if it’s really bad, I pray to the parent(s)’ guardian angel and ask them to slap their assigned soul upside the head a time or two to wake them up. But I never, ever shoot a parent a dirty look. I’ve been on the receiving end of those dirty looks too many times when my kids were younger and it’s no fun being shot the death-stare by some old blue hair everytime your infant so much as makes a squeak.

  38. As a Father of three (11, 8, & 7 years old) the youngest of which even now is sometimes a challenge to keep quiet, I can relate to the problem of distractions in church. I as well get upset – not at the fussy children – but at the parents who seem to ignore the problem. If a child is difficult, then the parent should at least try to deal with the issue, not sit or kneel there as if it is not happening. That is just good parenting. So the problem isn’t kids being kids, it is kids being kids and parents neglecting their duty to at least try to fix the problem. THAT is the only upsetting thing about children in church sometimes.

    That said, the rest of the congregation need to lighten up. A parish is not a monastery. If it’s Total Silence you want, may I suggest some church in northern Europe, where you can attend Mass and share the deathly silence of a Church with the few childless septuagenarians that remain alive and bothering to attend Mass in such places. At least you could enjoy that self-congratulatory emptiness along with your comrades who prefer to live in a world of their own, undisturbed by such messy, inconvenient things as the next generation.

    Oh, and, is it not more than a but disingenuous to claim to be pro-life and then complain about children being children? Children are lio, families are lio, LIFE is lio! Thank God For Them!!!

    Thus endeth the Rant.

  39. StWinefride says:

    Orthodox Chick: Though this may be uncharitable, sometimes if it’s really bad, I pray to the parent(s)’ guardian angel and ask them to slap their assigned soul upside the head a time or two to wake them up.

    Over here in Continental Europe, various countries, I have seen many a parent slap their young child if it makes too much noise – it certainly works!

  40. LiberChant says:

    @JP. Bazinga! I’ve been caught misusing those terms more than once!

    To everyone who is getting upset about this subject, please do lighten up. This is the Mass, a place of joy, and we shouldn’t let anger infiltrate us for anything during it!

    Daily Mass “boot camp” is a great idea, if you can afford the time. Remember also that for some families, that hour in the Church is about the only hour they get to spend together…

  41. imnotpete says:

    My wife and I have always loved to hear babies cry in Mass. It means there are babies, and other young couples, going to Mass!

    That said, now that I have an infant (just over 2 weeks old), I expect I’ll walk out with her if she has any prolonged episodes. This is my own compunction, though, and not one that has any business being imposed on other parents.

  42. Imrahil says:

    Any successful diplomatic suggestions?

    Not really from my part. Only: If you think you are doing, or at least trying to do, the right thing, then be very certain that noone in the pews has a right to punish you with looks (or otherwise). If you happen to be wrong nevertheless, the priest might give a few suggestions adapted to the particular suggestion.

    (Note: mentioning a failure publicly is called an “aggravated reprimand” in German disciplinary law. Dear reverend Fathers, if I may utter a wish: Do not do that if they don’t deserve it. And if I may utter a suggestion: They don’t deserve it if you have not had a pricate talk before.)

    That said, I’d wish we’d have a little bit of common-sense here. Though it is said that people say “common sense” if they have no safe principles to deduce from… but I do think that the right solution is to tolerate some noise from children, behaving like children, etc., but not too much. It’s a pity, of course, that “some but not too much” is hardly apt to be molded into paragraphs, but that doesn’t mean it weren’t right. (As a hint, I have rarely ever heard too much of children’s noise… though I have heard too much of children-relatives-and-acquaintances noise before First Communion Masses. That’s another story though, and has at least the silver lining that this noise tends to calm down all of a sudden when Mass begins.)

    Without the intent to shy parents away, but rather glad to be on firm-principle-ground again, let it be mentioned that children are not canonically obliged to go to the Sunday Mass… nor is a parent who remains home to take care (though, with fully-functional families with multiple Sunday Masses and Vigil Masses, it might be that the Sunday obligation cannot be excused from – for the parents). Some pastors have even said that it would be good to give to Holy Mass a certain aura of “something special” by not allowing the little children go there at once. Then again, though, young pious parents who visibly have raised their children in the Faith and have them around is a lovely sight.

  43. Supertradmum says:

    Moms, take the babies out if there is too much crying. That is what I did.

  44. adambehnke says:

    Oh, the olden days, before I was ordained to the diaconate. God help you if you said anything or gave me a dirty look whilst in Mass with my six (going on seven) children, aged 2 to 12.

    Now, because we have social interaction with our parish, my children oftentimes go and sit with other families. This keeps them entertained and my wife from going to jail for murder. However, our two-year old is the embodiment of the “terrible twos”, and gets loud on occasion. If I’m not on the altar, I take her into the narthex until she gets over her tantrum.

    My advice: make friends with those families, distribute the kids (we have unrelated grandparents that love sitting with our daughters), or keep your mouth shut. Parents know their kids are loud and don’t need extra advice nor pity. Those of us blessed to have children are keeping society alive, keeping the church alive, and bear the burden of doing so. We don’t deserve your disdain, and I, for one, will be less than charitable with you if you suggest that my sacrifice of sanity, time, and money for the greater good of all is not appreciated.

    I’d rather you just say “thank you”.

    You’re welcome.

  45. LarryW2LJ says:

    Amen to Maxiemom!

    Having raised two, who are now 12 and 13, when they would fuss and fret, it was off to the vestibule, where they could do it without bothering the rest of the congregation. I know Dr. Peters broached the fact that little ones are not obligated to attend, but my kids do not have a memory of EVER missing Mass without a good reason.

    Now, on to my first sentence – and again ….. Amen to Maxiemom! I can deal with little kids wailing. It’s the adults who think the Church is a social club that gets to me. Yesterday, before Mass, as I was kneeling to pray, I was granted the opportunity to listen to the gory details of an older woman’s knee and hip surgery as she STOOD in the aisle by the couple in the pew in front of me, that she was talking to. This went on for minutes!

    As a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, I get to attend a lot of Confirmations, as we are usually present for the Bishop. You can tell that most people who attend a Confirmation, come to Mass hardly ever. I suppose I should be grateful that they are in Church for a change, but the noise level approaches that of a stadium or arena. The fact that Father or perhaps Sister comes to the microphone to instill order and decorum hardly has an effect. I guess God can deal with the noise, but it still annoys the heck outta me.

  46. Mandy P. says:

    Mother of two children here. Oldest is seven and my youngest is four. They’re actually pretty well behaved in Mass, but being kids they’ve had some bad days. Most especially, when they were younger and impervious to reason. I’ve had my fair share of Masses where I spent a good deal of time outside. I’ve also had a few where I had to pick up and go home. But for the past year-and-a-half it’s been rare when we had serious misbehavior during Mass. It also helps that my husband (who is a non-Catholic Christian) attends with us and so I have help.

    The thing is that there really needs to be a lot more charity FROM BOTH SIDES. If you want the Church to grow we need babies and little kids. If you walk in and see a child not being perfectly still (which they are won’t to do, as even the best behaved ones wiggle) and give the parent a nasty look or remark, and/or run away from the family in question as fast as you can manage you should consider being a little more charitable to your neighbor. (And yes, that kind of stuff does happen. We’ve had people get up and move AND make sure to make a nasty comment under their breath after my son, who was not misbehaving, accidentally tripped on the edge of the pew when coming back from the restroom. I had someone else make a nasty little comment to me after my daughter yelped when she had her foot squashed under the kneeler….and the squashing was done by the same person who had to make the nasty comment!!)

    After all, it’s not just *your* worship that’s happening at Mass. Mass is worship for us all, and that includes families. And as someone else up thread pointed out, it really is hard just getting the kids to mass to begin with and then throw on the idea that the kids should sit perfectly still and completely quiet for a minimum of an hour is really an impossible expectation for most children under ten. Even the most well behaved child has more energy in his pinky finger than we adults have in our entire bodies and it’s very, very difficult for them to keep all that under wraps for an hour. So please, be patient with the kids AND the parents, who are very likely more than aware (and probably completely mortified) that their kids disturbed your prayers.

    And for parents, charity also. Use your common sense. If little Johnny has ants in his pants and can’t be perfectly still, it’s ok. If little Johnny can’t keep it contained within the pew and spills out into the aisles, maybe it’s time he were taken out, alright? It isn’t enough to bring the kids and hope they just catch on to how we’re supposed to behave. Modeling is important, yes. But it’s also important that we be charitable to our neighbors and remove our kids if they’re really getting to a level of disturbing folks. An occasional cry is fine. Five minutes of wailing is not. I try to think about it this way: if I were here by myself and trying to pray, would this behavior bother, disturb, or distract me? If the answer if yes, get up and take your child out until he or she can behave. Again, Mass isn’t just about *your* worship. It’s about all of us participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass. So be cognizant of other people, alright?

  47. ies0716 says:

    As a father of four kids under five (and as someone who, as a single person, used to be very annoyed at crying kids during Mass), I think I can speak with some authority on the issue. Here are some points that I think everyone involved should follow (and I admit that others have posted very similar things):

    1. Babies under 18 months (and to some degree under two years) are virtually uncontrollable. Parents can try to redirect them if they try to escape from the pew, but if they don’t like the redirection and stop screaming, there isn’t anything the parent(s) can do except cart the little one out to the entryway. Once a child is 2 1/2 or 3, then they can generally be expected to behave, but as with all things child-related there will be exceptions and bad days.

    2. Parents with kids under 2 should seriously consider splitting masses when possible (or using a nursery if your parish has one). My wife and I have done this off and on through the years as our kids entered difficult stages. A child under 2 does not get anything out of Mass and really isn’t even aware where he/she is in most cases. They also try to distract older siblings and take away from teaching them how to be reverent. Right now we take turns bringing the older two kids (aged 3 and 4) to one mass while the other goes solo to a different mass. The 18-month old isn’t allowed within 100 feet of a Church for at least six months due to past offenses, and the 3-month-old usually naps while the older kids are at Mass.

    3. Parents with older kids (roughly 2 1/2 or older): don’t underestimate your kids’ ability to behave in church. We have a 3 and 4 year old (admittedly both girls; I am betting the two boys will be more trouble) who are fully capable of sitting (fairly) still and being quiet for all of Mass. We started bringing each of them regularly between the ages of 2 and 2 1/2, and we corrected bad behavior as it came up. Now we rarely have problems.

    4. People without kids (or those whose kids are grown): try to be understanding. Parenting is hard, especially with a significant amount of young children. You have no idea what is causing other peoples’ kids to misbehave or whether the parents even have the option of splitting masses or using a nursery. Instead of giving us already overwhelmed parents dirty looks, maybe start up a drive to put in a nursery at one of your parish’s weekend masses.

    5. Everyone: try to be less concerned with everyone else’s business, especially at Mass. The Devil will take advantage of whatever he can to interrupt your worship and “ruin” Mass for you. Whether you’re a young, stupid 23-year-old bachelor why can’t understand why the stupid parents behind you can’t make their stupid kids behave (and you’re darn certain you’ll do a way better job when you have kids), an “older adult” who is seething at the unruly kids behind you (who are certainly not nearly as well-behaved as the nine children you raised in a two-bedroom house back in the 1970’s), or an overwhelmed parent-of-four seething at said “older adult” for continually giving you evil looks, the best course of action is to forget about everyone else and just try to concentrate on Jesus as well as you can.

  48. ies0716 says:

    Minor edit to last post: in point 1 I should have used the phrase “start screaming” instead of “stop screaming.”

  49. HobokenZephyr says:

    My wife and I would take our children out if they became too fussy, but we learned that sitting in the very front of the church was the best option of all. Sure, there were the occasional walks of shame. But on the whole, they were more engaged at earlier ages.

    Now, can we also address the aging flower children who insist on holding my hands at every possible moment and like to perform a kabuki theater version of the priest’s gestures?

  50. FloridaJoan says:

    ” Offer it up ! ” , and pray that the parents will take junior out for a short walk for a few minutes ( if it gets too unbearable).

    pax et bonum

    Joan

  51. anilwang says:

    After reading the comments, I think there are a few things to keep in mind, besides my original two points:

    (1) Children belong at mass….they need all the graces they can and they need to get the sense of the sacred before the world teaches them the sense of the irreverant. Comments that an infant does not get anything out of Mass assume that the mass is merely an intellectual activity. It’s far more. It’s where heaven and earth meet, and its full more more graces than can be grasped with the mind.

    (2) Distraction and noise makes it harder to be reverent and this might cause anger that might render the mass a sacrilege.

    (3) If the barriers for families (especially single/widowed families) is two high, they’ll stay away during their child bearing years and might never return…losing two generations in the process. This also discourages new couples from having children since they know they’ll be shamed out of mass. Don’t complain about vocations or shrinking Catholic identity if you’re part of the reasons for their loss.

    (4) Some have mentioned that cry-rooms are for breastfeeding women…which might be one reason for the crying. As Pope Francis stated, the infant needs milk, why not feed it? Is it not a uncharitable false dichotomy to say women need to either stay in mass with crying baby or leave mass and feed their baby? This also doesn’t solve the problem for men with crying children.

    (5) Some distractions are *not* worth arguing over and may enhance the mass. More than once I’ve heard a priest integrate a child’s laugh or cry into the homily or point in the rubrics where priests are allowed to make commentary.

    (6) There are strategies like the “daily mass bootcamp”, sitting near the front so children can see, or sitting near the door so you can make a quick exit the hopefully rare moments loses control and make a quick return when things calm down. There’s no one size fit all solution, but the lack of knowledge on effective strategies suggests the need for priests to start a “parents group” at their parish and regularly invite new families to attend.

    I think (6) is particularly important. As someone above stated, this is one area where lay leadership among families can certainly help resolve the issues in a family friendly way. For instance, if women breastfeeding in mass is contentious or young mothers are self-conscious, having special “breastfeeding resolved” seats within the parish might be one solution that can keep the mothers in mass and allow the infants to feed so they don’t cry.

    As a side note, it was usually possible to get my infants to sleep through most of the mass or just sit peacefully (especially if they’re feed by their mother). They tended to cry, however, when loud modern mass music was played. This is one area where Traditional Gregorian Chant shines and it might be one reason why infants have an easier time in more Traditional parishes than more “hip” parishes.

  52. Glen M says:

    During every Mass there is at least one miracle – Transubstantiation. If you’re lucky there’s another – children. Without children your parish is dying.

  53. HeatherPA says:

    Our parish has no cry room. We have a lobby area., a vestibule. That being said, once our youngest was too big to sleep through Mass in the sling anymore, we moved our family to the back so we could sit together still, but either my husband or I could leave with her when she started shenanigans.
    That worked for a month or so, until the older ushers, apparently hoist by their own petard, got upset because we “took their seats” and the one in particular couldn’t slink in after Mass started unnoticed and sit down. So they tapes signs back there saying “for USHERS ONLY!!”
    Now the seats sit empty, our family attends Mass separately, half of us on the Vigil and half on Sundays and all order is restored in the church. But NO ONE sits in the ushers seats!

  54. suedusek says:

    A few things… I have some Baptist friends who complain that they have no young people–babies or young children–in their small church, so I’m happy that our church is overflowing with little squawkers. Really, new life is a positive thing!

    That said, I am tolerant of little people in church, especially because I raised four of my own and I understand the challenges.

    One of my shortcomings, however, is that I am, well, short. So it’s nice to sit up front so that I can see. Another one of my deficits relates to the fact that I am very distractible. Therefore, the fewer people between me and the altar, the better. Sitting up front allows me to hear and see and pay attention better. The little people and new families generally inhabit the rear third of the church with some exceptions, so sitting close to the front is a good option for me. It’s just what I have to do to get something out of Mass and feel like I am contributing in return.

    On a more negative note, yesterday our family sat in the rear of the church under the choir loft, so acoustics magnified the sniffles, shoe shuffling, crying and fidgeting. My dad and mom were visiting and they chose the pew. Seriously, I felt like maybe I should have gone back to church a second time. I honestly couldn’t hear, see or concentrate.

  55. Matthew says:

    When I hear children crying at Mass I thank God that I’m not completely deaf yet, although it is simply a matter of time.

    I’ll happily listen to a crying child as long as I am able, feel free to sit next to me.

  56. Netmilsmom says:

    This isn’t about the babies, I love them so much. It’s about parents. Please understand that your tolerance level for your child running, speaking in outside voice or crying just a little, is much higher than the Seniors in the parish. Please don’t come to the noon mass when your toddler is used to a nap at that time. Your fussy toddler IS disturbing. You may be lost in prayer and not hear it at all but some of the oldsters are trying to get in those last prayers on Earth. Please be patient with them too.
    Consideration goes both ways.
    That being said, we had a family in the back that had a little talker a couple of weeks ago. She chattered and mom kept shushing her. During the Consecration, she said in her loudest “inside voice”, “Mommy, I LOVVVEEE you!” There was a collective AWWWWWW heard throughout the parish.

  57. Palladio says:

    The problem, as others have said, are the parents, not the children. But noise is the problem whatever its source. Why?
    “This is the reason the Church calls for silence, and a great deal of silence, during the liturgy of the Mass. Silence amplifies the reality of what we experience. Silence is a proper response to a reality which words cannot express—in the case of the Mass, to the reality of God’s presence. We are invited to silence several times during the Mass. We are first of all called to be silent before Mass begins. We need that space of time to recollect ourselves in order to enter into prayer. This is why there should be no video presentations or even choir rehearsal during those five or 10 minutes before Mass begins.
    We are then called to silence as we recall and repent of our sins. We are called to silent reflection after each Scriptural reading, and after the homily. We are all called to silence after we have received holy Communion. And we are invited, at the conclusion of Mass, to kneel down for a silent prayer of Thanksgiving before departing for the parking lot.These periods of silence are intended to bring reality into focus. At Mass we express to God our contrition, we hear his word, and we receive his physical presence sacramentally. These realities go beyond our comprehension. To hear and understand the Word of God is an expression of his great love for us. To receive the body of Christ is the deepest kind of communion with God. The silence in the liturgy punctuates a rich and profound time of prayer with opportunities to reflect on the reality of our experience. The silence of the liturgy is a gift which helps us to understand the greatest gifts we can receive.In 2000, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, offered an insight into the silence of the liturgy. “We respond, by singing and praying to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us.” Pope Benedict described the liturgical silence as a “silence with content … a positive stillness.” He meant that our silence in prayer is not to be an emptying meditation alone. Instead, silence in prayer is an occasion to more deeply understand the Mass itself.”

    etc.:http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/roman-missal-3rd-edition/bishops/silence-and-the-liturgy/

    It’s a failure to allow children to be disruptive in Mass, a shabby failure, a failure because it is an affront to the Mass, shabby because plenty of parents–I can think of a family of ten in our parish–manage to avoid the failure. Of course, social reality for some is hazy, and I expect a night at the movies is a free for all. They bring it with them even to Mass.

  58. Blue Henn says:

    I don’t really have any suggestions, other than to remind people that it is easier for parents with little children to take them out if they are able to sit on the end of the pew. It irks me when people make a family with children obviously in the “could potentially be disruptive” stage push in, or when people refuse to yield the end of the pew for such a family. Being trapped in the middle makes taking an already disruptive child out all that much more of a distraction.

  59. OrthodoxChick says:

    Someone in the comments above noted that the music at the EF vs. the NO seems to make a difference. I would agree with that. There are more fits and wailing at the NO parish I go to than there are at the EF parish. And the EF parish has many more children present at Mass because the families are much larger than the NO average of 2-3. Chant must just be much more soothing than hippie-dippie folk tunes, I guess. Add the smells and bells to chant and the kiddies just seem calmer.

  60. Kavi says:

    will trade! The solemn silence in the seminary chapel is positively deafening – I can’t stand it!!

  61. dominic1955 says:

    Norancor said pretty much what I think on the matter.

    I loved it when I went to the seminary, so very very quiet. It was the kind of quiet and being alone with God that I think Pascal was talking about-the uncomfortable kind that really tests your faith, not whether you believe in God or not but rather if your faith is more just a way to social interaction or if you are actually wanting to know God’s will for you and do it.

    I have noticed that I can pretty easily ignore distractions. When I was in the sanctuary in choro or serving, I honestly never “noticed” babies crying and all that. I’m sure it was there but it just didn’t register.

    Now that I’m out in the nave most of the time, I notice it more but I can still put it out of mind. What does sometimes aggravate me is some of the parents’ reactions. Some seem to just loose themselves in their pious actions while Junior is tearing up and down the aisle. Some seem to wear their kid’s unruly behavior as some sort of countercultural badge of honor or with a wink and a nod to “my crazy life!” faux-ethnicism/subculture identity, i.e. some Irishmen or even those with 1/4 ancestry on St. Pat’s day and drunkeness. You’d think some of these folks that fancied themselves “Traditional” and many of whose personal/social traditions only really reach back to the distant mists of the 1950s would be enthusiastic proponents of spanking and all of that but I very rarely see any of that kind of thing.

    Back in the day when large families weren’t some sort of subculture put-on aire akin to eating organic produce and driving Priuses, my hardnosed Polak ancestors and parents basically gave you two options when you were old enough to understand spoken language-follow along or sleep, both of which required you shutting your trap. If you decided not to make use of one of those choices, you were going to get it either on the spot or later on. That was at church, at the store, at older relatives’ places you went to once in awhile, etc. Its no wonder that my childhood church experiences were considerably quieter than they are today.

  62. lux_perpetua says:

    it’s a good thing that when Christ died on Calvary, it was utterly silent so that St. john and our Lady could adore, worship, grieve, and, in St. John’s case, repent, without distraction or interruption.

    oh…

    wait…

    let’s review:

    Every life is sacred.
    All humans have innate dignity.
    We are all made in the image and likeness of God and deserve equal respect.
    If you can’t be quiet, you don’t belong at Mass.

    hmm…

    let’s see who usually fits into the category of those who have trouble staying quiet at Mass
    the young
    the disabled
    the elderly

    hmm…

    i.e., get over it. honestly. Whether you like it or not, the Church, and Mass is for everybody, even the homeless man with a mental health disorder who wears a pair of battered squeaky sneakers and walks around the middle of the church with his roller suitcase behind him all during the consecration.

    and, in the extreme case that the kid is running up and down the aisle, climbing over pews, yelling (i.e., when you are tempted, possibly legitimately so, to think the kid is a spoiled brat and his parents aren’t controlling him, why don’t you try pulling a st. Therese and assume, for charity’s sake, that there’s a reason behind his behavior. Maybe he has a developmental/behavioral disorder. maybe dad just no-fault divorced mom and she’s struggling. maybe mom and dad just adopted a child from another country and the family is adjusting. maybe they are brand new, newly-converted-atheists whose children have never been a church in their lives and would rather go play video games but mom and dad have just made a decision to try and save all of their souls. Good grief. if people spent half as much time hypothesizing charitable reasons why children/parents act the way they do in Mass, we’d all be a lot better off. to get annoyed in the moment is one thing. to say children belong in the cry room is totally another.

    sincerely,
    a single, small-family Catholic revert who was brought up to hate children at Mass

  63. Ralph says:

    As a father of five ( ages 11 – 4) I can honestly say I’ve been there and done that when it comes to taking children to mass. Let me offer my admittedly biased opinion – keep the babies in Mass!!

    I do not like cry rooms. In my opinion, the few times we have used them they have seemed to make things worse. The kids almost never were able to settle down in a room full of other rowdy children. They seemed to feed off the energy!

    When our kids were disruptive (and I mean more than a coo or a little baby talk) we would take them to the vestibule and return once they calmed down. Some Masses we made several trips!

    My kids are older and pretty well behaved now. When I see a family with little ones, I always try to encourage them. I tell them that the babies always seem much louder to the parents than they really are. I try and smile whenever I hear a cry. In short – I try and be the person I always appreciated when I had infants!

    Our previous pastor really loved children. More than once I heard him tell parents after Mass, “please don’t take the children away – their cries are music to the angels!” He even installed speakers in the vestibule so parents who had to step out wouldn’t miss as much. His support went a long way in encouraging a positive attitude in the parish about children.

  64. Franklinwasright says:

    I have 7 children ages 13 to 6 months.

    I would NEVER breastfeed in the pews. I go to a crying room or vestibule if need be. It never occurred to me that anyone would consider doing this until the recent remarks by the Pontif. I have never noticed anyone else doing this at mass, but I am usually busy with my own children and don’t notice those around me. Nursing in the pews just feels wrong to me, I’m not sure why.

    We try to remove crying babies/toddlers right away. I try hard to make sure my children are not a distraction to the other parishioners, it is a concious effort on our part. We are strict with our children when it comes to their behavior at mass, and we often receive compliments on their behavior from older parishioners. Among other young parents I know, there seems to be a sense that if you are strict or stern at mass it will effect the way the child views going to church and create negative feelings towards the mass. I think my children get more out of the mass because we train them from a very early age how to behave. I have very strong willed children, this has not been easy. I am not mean, just stern. My toddlers know that if they act up I will be holding them quietly at the back of the church, and they become bored with that quickly and usually want to return and watch the mass.

    But, everyone has bad days and it is impossible to control children. Just the other day my 3 year old ran ahead of me in the aisle coming back from the back of the church and nearly ran up to the altar. Thank God she stopped and came back to me, she seemed to suddenly realize she was being naughty and stopped in her tracks and slinked back with a guilty look on her face. I was mortified, I am not a “that’s so cute” type when it comes to children misbehaving at mass. I know she probably caused several people to question my parenting.

    My point is that even the most attentive parents can’t prevent everything. Let’s try not to judge too harshly and be thankful that someone is making the necessary sacrifices to raise the next generation. In our current culture, it is a difficult task indeed.

  65. lana says:

    The Martin family of Lisieux kept young ones at home (with the nanny of course). Doesn’t seem to have affected their spiritual life!

  66. lux_perpetua says:

    “Your crying, fussy, uncontrolled child can come unto Him outside.”

    And, Heaven forbid that the child is fussy because of some lifelong condition which will mean he will always call out/make noise/have trouble remaining controlled [hearing impairments, Downes Syndrome, cerebral palsy, any other myriad developmental disorders], then He can come unto Him outside forever.

    or, would it satisfy you if he just stopped coming to Mass long enough so that he’s old enough for it to be clear and obvious to everyone that he has a disability, rather than just being a fussy kid acting up?

    yeesh.

  67. Elly says:

    I know people say to take the kids outside and walk around if they are disruptive but that is really hard to do in the negative degree weather. And during the time it takes to wrestle them into their coats they are usually crying even more loudly so that it would have caused less of a disruption if we just stayed put and let them calm down inside. We bring them to the vestibule to minimize the distraction but since the church is so small they can sometimes still be heard. Please be a little more understanding in the winter….

  68. FXR2 says:

    Father Z.,
    I found a solution to one family with several young children which were often too much for the young father and mother to handle. I asked my girls who are 14, 13, and 11 years old to approach the mother and offer to help because her children are so cute. Had I asked I believe she or her husband would have taken offense. Since the girls were non threatening the offer was accepted and have been helping. Hillary was wrong it does not take a village to raise a child it does take a parrish!
    fxr2

  69. Absit invidia says:

    Seems to me that the only thing that will produce a significant change is for the priest himself to address the issue. It would best be addressed as a message of instruction and encouragement to parents to live up their sacramental duty of raising children. Some parents let their children wander because they have, in a way, given up on discipline. One reason for this could be depression or lethargy. Depression can set in and manifest itself with parents becoming apathetic to their vocations. Slowly building these parents up over time and reshaping them into the diligent, mentally awake, and robust parent who cares more about becoming a saint than the sleep they lost the night before, may eventually quiet the noise.

  70. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: young people with conditions — Well, of course the presence of lots of kids making noise tends to make cover for kids making noise for medical reasons. OTOH, lots of kids making noise for non-medical reasons tends to make people assume that kids with medical reasons are just being naughty. If people know there’s a serious problem, they tend to react with more sympathy.

    OTOH, there are many seniors with medical problems as well, some of whom are afflicted with neural or mental problems that make noise particularly difficult to bear, some of whom are lucky to have the mental abilities of children.

    No age, young or old, has a monopoly on suffering or on being unresponsible for one’s actions under medical conditions. Alas, there is no easy remedy except considering each other and bearing with each other, while doing everything we can to make it better.

  71. pmullane says:

    Its a good principle that extreme cases make for bad law, so I would ignore the ‘screaming child was being deliberately ignored by parents who screamed at anyone who looked at them sideways’ stories, which can always be countered with ‘crazy parishoner rudely chastised mother of 6 week old baby who cooed and disturbed her during her weekly conversation with her friend during Mass’ type tales.

    For me, the comments could have ended after JimR’s comment at the top. Ultimately, bringing up children and living by the teachings of the Church are difficult, and in many ways its much more difficult now, when our society is so anti-life, when two parents need to work to make ends meet, when contraception and self indulgence are just expected by everyone around you, than it would have been years ago, perhaps when some of the folks who have ‘raised their children’ were raising their children. Parents dont struggle to get themselves and their kids up, dressed, ready and to Mass just to annoy you, who may find these things a little easier. So if you find a child distracting….help. There’s not a quick fix to this. If your rude to the parents then thanks, you’ve made a very difficult situation much worse. If you, as was suggested at above, think that you are going to discipline/remove an unruly child yourself, then you are opening up a can of worms that again, will not end well for anyone. If a child is distracting you at Mass and its more of a problem than you can handle, you might want to try befriending the family, getting to know them, and then you can be in a position to help them out. We are, after all, supposed to be a family one to another anyway. And if you dont want to be ‘bothered’ by children making a noise at Mass, remember you might be ‘bothering’ people when you move around a little more slowly etc etc. Consideration is the watchword. And yes, parents should be considerate, of course. But you know what, some people dont know if they should take children out, or does that mean I miss mass? is it a sin? etc etc (never underestimate how uncatechised some people can be). Perhaps some guidence from older members of the family of God would be in order?

    In the grand scheme of things, children making a noise at Mass is not the end of the world. Irritating and frustrating as it may be. In the very unlikely event that the parents are deliberately taking a screaming child into church with the sole intention of keeping old ladies from their prayers, then a mild rebuke may be in order. In every other case, a kind word and helping hand is the only appropriate course of action.

    And a final thought, the unruly family of children who you indulge and help at Mass might just be the faithful Catholic adults who stand up for and help you when ‘society’ wants to pull the plug.

  72. Gaz says:

    Gotta open your mouth to sing chant. Never too early to start learning.

  73. Menagerie says:

    Having raised three rowdy boys, I am firmly in the camp with parents who take control of their children and responsibilty for guiding them. We took them out when they were small and we increasingly taught them to sit quietly as they aged. We did not allow toys in church, nor bring food.

    That being said, it was controllable. We could influence our child’s behavior. I have a cousin who has a severely handicapped son who was never able to be quiet. Eventually the people in their very small church had the priest ask them not to bring him to mass. They stopped going to mass at all. I think this is one of those no win situations, but it is sad that the boy was never again allowed to attend mass. How do we know what he experienced? He might have gotten more from the mass than we are ever able to. On the other hand, there was no silence or peace for anyone with him there, and no one else could have been able to pray or participate in any real way. It seems clear that the needs of the many outweigh the one, but it is sad for him.

  74. lux_perpetua says:

    menagerie says:
    “It seems clear that the needs of the many outweigh the one”

    why, how very utilitarian of you. I wasn’t aware that the church had changed her teaching as such.

    I sure hope you never find yourself on the other end of a doctor holding a needle when your life hangs in the balance saying “well, it’s clear that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

    I will honestly and sincerely pray for you. how horrible to think such things, especially about children, especially about children with disabilities, seeking the SACRAMENTS for crying out loud.

  75. mormormax says:

    I truly sympathize. It is often hard to pray in silence never mind when faced with loud distraction. Personally children have never been my problem, I have had more difficulty with loud adults – especially following Mass. Just an observation…when we began to attend an EF Mass one of the first things we noticed was the abundance of children and the almost amazing silence. Sure there were babies who cried out but Mom or Dad quickly got up with them and went to the back of church (not outside). The babies were soothed and quieted. I watched a family with a child with special needs sometimes have a parent spend Mass on the floor with their child in quiet play while still being present for Mass. We found this amazing. What was the difference here? The church was crowded with children. Most families had more than four children and pregnant Moms were everywhere. Yet only the babies were heard. The reverence was almost palpable. Yes it’s example and expectations but I’m convinced it was more than that. Gregorian chant soothes even children and somehow children can also appreciate silence. And when Mass ended – oh, the blessed silence as everyone, adults and children alike, knelt to give thanks. Then people would begin to leave church in silence -even the kids – not a word said until they were outside the building. There everyone would congregate to visit while children of all ages ran around in joyful celebration of each other. Pot Lick dinners followed and parents would sit and talk while the kids would get up a game of ball, big kids encouraging little ones. My husband and I couldn’t help but feel this was how it was meant to be. Somehow we lost a lot and it was wonderful watching all these young families getting it back. We have a lot to learn from the EF.

  76. Iowander says:

    I wish we could go to the EF Mass in town, but chant and silence don’t have the effect on our children as it apparently does on some others.

  77. Jeanette says:

    The Council of Trent comes to mind in its 22nd Session:

    They shall also banish from churches all those kinds of music, in which, whether by the organ, or in the singing, there is mixed up anything lascivious or impure; as also all secular actions; vain and therefore profane conversations, all walking about, noise, and clamour, that so the house of God may be seen to be, and may be called, truly a house of prayer.

    It’s not about, by reasonable deduction, disturbance to you and I in hearing Father’s words, but rather the interruption of our prayers and the Our Lord’s offering of the Holy Sacrifice to the Father in heaven in the priest…

  78. Bgin Agin says:

    To the person who wrote the query, I must say, “You have NO idea!” I once attended the EFM on Feast of All Souls. A late evening Mass as that was all the parish would accommodate us. I stood in the very back and was grateful for the few fussy sounds of my toddler, as I was also grieving my miscarried baby. You walked from the very front of the Church, spoke to every parent with a fidgety child and told me to leave! Literally sending me and my child out into the dark and cold! You don’t know how deeply the tears stung. I felt your rejection as if God was telling me to go home. I struggled the rest of the Mass uncertain of my worthiness for Communion. If I had not been a member of that community for 5 years, I would have left and never returned! I have witnessed you approach mothers with newborns on their first return to Mass, not even giving them the time to put the baby to her breast to soothe and quiet them.
    You are chasing families away from this beautiful Mass. That is neither charitable nor just. Please consider offering your frustration and disappointment and for these families and their many challenges as I now offer mine for you.

  79. priests wife says:

    I have never been to an EF Mass – so my experience is NO and Byzantine rite. I can say that I am very appreciative of the near-constant singing in the Byzantine rites- it certainly covers up most of the crying/talking of babies and toddlers.

    try to have mercy on families. Let’s say this was a large family and a baby was having a bad day. Take the 2 year old out you say? Well- then dad is going to wrangle the infant, the three year old, the five year old, etc, etc- or maybe he is a lector and mom is sitting alone.

    Yes- parents should take out screaming kids, but people seem to have a very low tolerance for children these days. Perhaps it is a backlash to the also modern way of indulging children. But when adults behave well and now their catechism/Mass, then they can make sweeping statemnets about children…

  80. Lisa says:

    Jeanette, you said:
    “The Council of Trent comes to mind in its 22nd Session:

    “They shall also banish from churches all those kinds of music, in which, whether by the organ, or in the singing, there is mixed up anything lascivious or impure; as also all secular actions; vain and therefore profane conversations, all walking about, noise, and clamour, that so the house of God may be seen to be, and may be called, truly a house of prayer.”

    It’s not about, by reasonable deduction, disturbance to you and I in hearing Father’s words, but rather the interruption of our prayers and the Our Lord’s offering of the Holy Sacrifice to the Father in heaven in the priest…”

    And here’s the thing: my 6 month old baby makes noise, which was forbidden by Trent. My three year old walks around in the pew, which was forbidden by Trent. And, to remove them from the situation, and allow other around us to pray in peace, I have to walk somewhere – the back of the Church, the cry room, anywhere – again, forbidden by Trent. I have not, for the past 7 years, been without an infant or young toddler. I don’t know that God will bless me with more children, but I am still pretty young (almost 30), so it seems very likely. My husband and I cannot reasonably go to separate Masses. It’s already been stated in these comments that I am not required by Canon Law to attend Mass while caring for young children. So, basically I am to understand that for the past 7 years I should not have attended Mass, and I should continue not attending Mass for what most likely will be the next several years. NOT because it annoys other people at Mass, but because doing so will be offensive to God.

    Am I understanding what you are saying correctly?

  81. pmullane says:

    Menagerie:

    “I have a cousin who has a severely handicapped son who was never able to be quiet. Eventually the people in their very small church had the priest ask them not to bring him to mass”

    Oh my word. I cant believe that a group of Catholic Christians thought that this was appropriate, nay that they thought that making such a request was anything other than selfish, ignoble and sinful. Yuk. I cant believe that a priest went along with this request. Unfit for the office. Unfit.

    The correct response from your cousin would be ‘Ok father, your request in writing please, to forward to the bishop and be distributed amoungst the whole of the parish’. I wonder if they had a disabled brother, who made a mess and a noise during family meals, if they would approach their father and ask that their brother doesnt come to meals any more? Honestly this attitude is perverse and sickening. Contrast with the attitude of the Holy Father towards our brothers and sisters afflicted with disability.

  82. priests wife says:

    ….just realized that I live 15 minutes from the chapel in question (I am unable to visit because our Byzantine service conflicts with their mass time)…being in LA Archdiocese territory, one should be grateful for a traditional Mass in such a central location.

  83. Jeanette says:

    Lisa – it’s possible to wrest the statement of the Council to mean many things, or one can merely understand it by the sense of the words. There is obviously much bias and investment manifested in your comment, which is your choice to carry around. I would suggest to you that what I think the statement says counts for close to nothing, and ask you rather, setting your investments and bias aside, what is the objective sense gathered in the words?

    I am well aware that we are to bear with one another, as St. Paul says, and I think that many do so regarding the unruly children of others at the parish which I hear Mass, close to the point of heroism. However, is it truly wise to inflict unruly children upon others? Does it lead one’s self to happiness and manifest a charity toward one’s neighbour to burden others with undue tests of fortitude (i.e., discomfort)? Does it manifest a charity to God when unruly children cause Father to stumble through the Canon due to their clamour and other shenanigans?

    It seems to me often a measure of melodrama in the position that because it is not reasonably possible (whatever this really means) to hear Mass at separate times that one must bring the entire band of progeny to the sacred services. Without an example, I really can’t imagine what sort of situation this must be for a family.

    I hope the best for you and appreciate your generosity in the acceptance of all the little ones which are sent to you and your husband.

  84. celpar says:

    It’s charitable (and common sense) to remember that babies cannot help crying and small children who don’t understand what’s going on are going to get restless and talkative. I find it’s possible if you pay attention as you should to the Mass to filter that sort of thing out.
    However if the child becomes loud (screaming/shouting) or disruptive (running up and down the aisle, banging a hard toy on the bench) parents should remove them promptly. If they don’t the priest (not some hapless person in the pew) should act. I was at a funeral recently where a routinely disruptive child, whom our parish priest had refused to deal with, started playing up. As luck would have it the deceased was Polish and a Polish priest was reading the Gospel. He stopped, stared and only restarted when the mother took the hint and took the child out. And yes, she still comes to Church. And he is now much better-behaved.

  85. Lisa says:

    Jeanette – I think it is true that I am biased on this subject – and I imagine I will continue to carry that bias around as long I as continue to have children. And as long as I continue to have children, and take them to Mass, I imagine Mass will continue to be an incredibly stressful experience for me. But every priest I have asked about this has told me to bring my children with me. Across the board, without hesitation, they all say the same thing.

    I realize you weren’t addressing those questions specifically toward my situation, but here are my answers:
    Is it wise to inflict my unruly children on others? I happen to think some of my children are quite unruly at Mass, but I’m always thanked by multiple people (including the priest) for bringing them. I am not that doting mother who thinks everything their child does is precious (Ha!), and that everyone else must feel the same way. But these gracious people honestly say that it’s lovely to see my children.
    Does it lead me to happiness…well, not in the short term. But I don’t know how I would get through each week without the graces from Mass.
    Does it manifest a charity toward my neighbor to burden them with undue tests of fortitude (really, REALLY?) ? No one has ever described the antics of my children as undue tests of fortitude. If they did, I would probably sit as far away from them as possible, for both our sakes.
    Does it manifest a charity to God when my children cause Father to stumble through the Canon due to their clamour and other shenanigans? I have been told by multiple priests that they do not hear my children during Mass. One may have been being kind. I think the other told me that in complete honesty – he complimented me on the good behavior of my children. “Hahaha,” I said to him. He laughed at my incredulous response, and sympathetically told me that he was sure I heard everything quite a bit louder than everyone else.

    As an aside…I lived in Europe, with the children I had at the time, for 5 years. Our parish was blessed with a shocking number of children, and everyone was quite gracious about their antics. But whenever we traveled…all I have to say is that the churches were remarkably beautiful and prayerful. Silent, blessedly silent. And empty. EMPTY of children. As were the countries we traveled to. I say this to no one in particular, but be careful what you wish for.

  86. pannw says:

    Back in the latter 90’s, I was blessed to find an indult TLM in Virginia Beach. And I mean blessed, as I had almost come to my wits end from the slide shows during Communion, etc… This was a small chapel, but it was generally well attended. Anyway, there was a young woman who always attended with her twin boys and I believe her parents. The boys were older toddlers. She would sit near the front of the chapel. They were generally very well behaved, but one day, one was acting up, so, leaving the other with her parents, mom took him by the hand, and after genuflecting, dragged him from the pew and up the aisle as he screamed, “No, don’t spank me! I’ll be good!!!” at the top of his lungs. The look on mom’s face was ‘TOO LATE, Mister!” I was very impressed with the other parishioner’s’ ability to stop themselves laughing. I was having a very difficult time, my sinful self. I will always remember that with a chuckle. Whether she spanked him or not, I don’t know, but he came back in and was well behaved the rest of Mass.

    My current parish has a large family with a toddler. One Sunday, they were sitting just ahead and diagonally from me. He had a little green army man and a matchbox car to play with, which I thought as toys go were okay, since they were small and didn’t make much noise if dropped, etc… As I was kneeling in prayer after Communion, he took the car and started to run the little man over(very quietly) beating him to a pulp with it. I looked up at Christ on the cross and wondered what He must be thinking. Was it a distraction? Yes, of course, but it made me smile and thank God for the children. However, when said toddler is making more of a commotion, I am always thankful that his mom or dad pull him up and take him out.

    I love the sounds of babies, other than the screaming tantrums or indulgent cellophane rattling picnic in the pew. I can’t understand anyone who would be put out by the former, anymore than I understand a parent who would expect others to have to put up with the latter.

  87. jgalloy says:

    “Bgin Agin says:
    11 February 2014 at 9:43 am

    To the person who wrote the query, I must say, “You have NO idea!” I once attended the EFM on Feast of All Souls. A late evening Mass as that was all the parish would accommodate us. I stood in the very back and was grateful for the few fussy sounds of my toddler, as I was also grieving my miscarried baby. You walked from the very front of the Church, spoke to every parent with a fidgety child and told me to leave! Literally sending me and my child out into the dark and cold! You don’t know how deeply the tears stung. I felt your rejection as if God was telling me to go home. I struggled the rest of the Mass uncertain of my worthiness for Communion. If I had not been a member of that community for 5 years, I would have left and never returned! I have witnessed you approach mothers with newborns on their first return to Mass, not even giving them the time to put the baby to her breast to soothe and quiet them.
    You are chasing families away from this beautiful Mass. That is neither charitable nor just. Please consider offering your frustration and disappointment and for these families and their many challenges as I now offer mine for you.”

    Here we see the true consequences of those who obsess over the sounds (or noise) that children make at Mass. Apparently, the person who wrote to Fr Z had direct contact with Bgin Agin and other families with young children in church. I hope that the OP read this response and realizes the deep hurt it causes to feel rejected by others at Mass. There is no place for this in our Church. As Christ taught us, look to our own faults first. I think there may be a big plank in the OP eye that needs attending to. The Mass is about the People of God united with the saints and angels in prayer. There are other ways to pray silently alone and in community. But Mass is a place for families. Exclude them, or make them feel even a tiny bit unwelcome, and don’t be surprised when we end up with a tiny remnant Church of elderly people. Speaking of which, has anyone ever noticed how much they cough during Mass? Or wheeze while breathing, or sing with croaky, wobbly voices, or make annoying sounds due to their oxygen tanks? Drives me crazy! (Just kidding of course!)

  88. lux_perpetua says:

    thank you so much, pmullane. it is gratifying to know that I was not the only one to receive that comment with utter horror.

    @Bgin Agin:
    i am so, so sorry to hear that you have been through this. I am so glad to know that you continued coming to Mass, even in spite of having been the recipient of cruel indifference and lack of charity. I, too, have been the recipient of such for other reasons over which I have no control. I will remember you in my Mass intentions.

  89. Sam Schmitt says:

    I’m not sure why this has to be so hard. If your child is making enough noise to seriously distract and annoy other people, then take him outside the church proper until he calms down. If you cannot take him out because you have many other children, it is 10 degrees outside, or the child is developmentally or otherwise disabled, then don’t, and other people should be clueful enough to understand the situation.

    It just seems to be common courtesy not have your child wailing or running around when other people are trying to pray. What’s the benefit to anyone to have a screaming child at mass?

  90. classycatholic says:

    As the mother of 2 boys (20 months and 10 years with special needs respectively) who often attends Mass alone with both of them due to an ill husband allow me to shed a bit of light.

    1. I drive 35 miles to Mass. Far more distance than the majority of the parishioners. Leaving one of my children “at home” is not an option with my ill husband, particularly considering the distance from the parish. I often do not even attend Mass due to fear of leaving my husband alone.

    2. When I get to attend Mass I usually have both boys by myself. There is no one to sit with my older child when I have to remove my younger child. It’s an “all in” or “all out” situation.

    3. “Take them outside” is not really an option in our parish for most of the year. There is nowhere indoors to take them and when it’s -30 in the winter a little stroll around the grounds does me more harm than good. ;)

    4. My oldest is well behaved. He occasionally has a question about something he didn’t remember or hasn’t seen before as we are converts. Other than that he’s often helpful during the Mass assisting however they will let him from greeting parishioners to helping the elderly across the ice in the winter.

    5. My youngest is often a completely different story. Having reached the age of having an opinion but not the age of adequately expressing it this often leads to discordance among us. After sitting still in the car for 45-60 minutes to get to Mass the last thing he wants to do is to sit still and be good for another hour. We try to get to town early enough to let him run it out elsewhere but this is not always possible.

    When my youngest acts up I do everything I can to calm him quickly and quietly. I bring a few books reserved for Mass as well as some other silent toys he can play with. Going above any beyond both of my children also understand sign language so I can speak to them without needing to speak most of the time.

    I also do everything I can to NOT have to leave the Mass. There are times when the ONLY thing that holds me together is the Sacramental Graces from receiving the Eucharist and being there with my brothers and sisters in Christ. When caring for an ill husband, a 20 month old toddler, and a special needs child I need all the help I can get. We don’t live near family and there is literally no one else I have other than God 99% of the time.

    I am not the rule, I am the exception. I understand that – but I’m also not the ONLY mother going through this. Have a heart for Moms like me who are just trying to do our best.

  91. slainewe says:

    I am truly sorry but anyone who feels “rejected” because someone (in presumed charity) has corrected their disruption of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, needs some lessons in humility. It is not about you, or your child, or the person who corrected you; it’s about the worship we owe to the Lord God Almighty. HE deserves undistracted worshippers.

    At times our children will rob the Lord of what He deserves, because we are imperfect parents with imperfect children, but please spare me the excuses. We are all sinners! When corrected, be grateful, confess your fault, and try harder.

  92. Sieber says:

    Let me say that I attended the Mass in question. Our congregation is composed of people of all ages with many young, large and growing families. This is a thing of beauty. I marvel at how well behaved most of the children are. Too, I can tell you that the norm is that if a child becomes loud or upset one parent will take them outside. We can do this year ’round…a cold day is in the 60s.
    However, let me say that last Sunday was an exception. Here I am not speaking of a babe who gives a little cry when uncomfortable and is quickly comforted by its mother. No, I witnessed the child who climbed into the pew in front of her and marched back & forth several times. It was unoccupied save for an older gentleman. Other youngsters were not removed until tantrums became unbearable even to the parents. Another was loudly kicking the back of the next pew. At times it was a toss up which was louder a child shouting, “NO” or the parent’s, “Shush.”
    Perhaps there was something in the air because, I say again, the parents here are usually most considerate. I have never seen anyone approached or reproached due to unruly behavior.
    It was definitely just one of those days!
    May I add a PS. I ushered for the EF in another city. When taking up the collection it was not at all uncommon to encounter a mother nursing her child. It was always done in great modesty with a towel draped over the shoulder or beneath a special garment. Few were the wiser and never a comment.

  93. Palladio says:

    It’s simple: habitual distractions of any sort in Mass are just plain wrong, an affront to the Mass and to God. Ignorance of that mitigates the offense, but it remains, objectively, offensive. Ignorance springs, these days, from many sources, but besides priests parishioners have to clear the air and correct the offenders.

  94. mrsc says:

    We have a “disruptive” 17 month old living with us((in the process of adopting, had her since she was 8 months)). She is disruptive in one of three ways, she likes to mix it up:

    1.) Crying/fussing: Generally because Mass happens to fall during her nap time, and, yes, I have adjusted nap times, and sleep schedules, all to no avail, she gets cranky during Mass. When she gets fussy or starts crying we judge the situation and do what we feel is best, I can tell by her mood and cries how upset she is as soon as she starts. Sometimes I can tell it’s going to be a long/continued tantrum, and one of us takes her out immediately. Other times I know that a whispered Hail Mary in her ear, and handing her her rosary or Holy Family statue will calm her right down. It takes me a few seconds to arrange that one, but more often than not, for our little, it works, however, yes, she fusses for about 10-20 seconds before I can pull something out of the bag, but as soon as I begin the prayer she’s calm.

    2.) Her singing. She loves participating in the Mass, when we sing, she sings. However, she’s 17 months old, her vocabulary is limited, so her singing sounds more like yelling. We don’t take her out for that. She’s doing what she’s supposed to, she just doesn’t have the words we do. We have been asked by people sitting next to us to take her out when she starts this, because they didn’t notice that she only started “yelling” when everyone else was singing. We have obliged when asked, but generally, she continues to sing at appropriate times.

    3.) She gets too excited. She’s a toddler, she doesn’t know how to reign that in sometimes. When she sees a statue or painting that she recognizes she will stand up in the pew and let everyone know where Mary or Jesus are. If someone new sits by us, she thinks it’s her duty to show them every painting and statue in the sanctuary and let them know if it’s Jesus, Mary, or “Saint” ((she can’t tell any of the saints apart yet, but can identify if the person in a statue/painting is one)) we do our best to redirect her attention, and she’s getting good at whispering, but honestly, I can’t justify removing her for that. She almost always yells “Jesus” or “Da Da” during the consecration, and if she doesn’t have a direct view of the host during this time she will make a scene. She’s not intentionally being disruptive or misbehaving, she sees the beauty and the excitement in a different way than we do, and she’s expressing that the only way she knows.

    We do our best, but I don’t feel like I can punish for loving the Lord and expressing that love. When she gets too over the top, and we can’t quiet her, we take her out. But, we try to avoid that. We also want to avoid her acting up intentionally to get to leave. It’s a fine line to walk, but we’re doing our best. We aren’t perfect, and we all have bad days.

    My advice to the reader is to first, recall a time when your child didn’t behave exactly how you wanted, have sympathy on the parents, pray for the parents, and the children, give thanks that people are taking their kids to Mass and trying to instill that love of Christ in them. Remember that kids don’t understand things, and don’t have the capacity to handle their emotions in the same ways we do. Remember that you don’t know everything going on their lives, or what they are/aren’t doing to try to change the behavior. Try to be patient and understanding with them. Try to avoid sitting near them if possible.

    We had an elderly couple that used to sit behind us, and they recently changed seats, the wife told me after Mass last week that they love hearing her sing and pray out loud, but it made their minds wander too much, and they were spending too much time focusing on her, and not on the Mass, so they moved. They encouraged us to “keep up the good work” I wasn’t offended, we’re in different stages in our lives.

    Just do your best to focus, and remember that they probably are too.

  95. Imrahil says:

    Dear @slainewe and Palladio,

    if we are talking about sins, yes.

    A child does not rob the Lord of anything He deserves, or offend Him. Well – I’m not a theologian and cannot say inhowfar (venial) sin can be present in children. But you can only rob our Lord of anything He deserves or offend Him by a sin; not by something you cannot help.

    I do not call a talking or sometimes screaming child a sinner.

    Maybe that’d be an accusation for the parents but only if they did sin by failing to raise their child properly and/or correct it. Which I would be slow to assume, just saying. But be that as it may the children cannot be, as you did, accused of it.

    And while I am not a parent, it would seem, off-the-cuffly said, that rebuking and the like is not always the best strategy of raising a child. And some noises children make are over sooner than the child is carried out of the Church.

  96. capchoirgirl says:

    How do you “correct” a crying baby? Or someone with a noisy cough? Or someone with a handicap that may make them distracting in church? I’m sorry, I don’t believe these are “offensive” or an “affront to God.” To quote CS Lewis: “God likes matter; he made it.” God made us all the way we are. The son of God was, at one point, a crying baby.
    You can be distracted by many things–fidgety altar boys. A lector who mispronounces words. Children who are being quiet but squirmy. People who are rummaging through their bags for tissues. Thus it is ridiculous to say that because YOU are distracted, it is an objective fault of the other person.

  97. Palladio says:

    The Mass requires silence. Silence is not an option. It’s nobody’s personal opinion. It’s a requirement–objectively. If, habitually, one cannot meet that requirement, one needs to change, for the sake of Mass and God. This was obvious–it still is–through time immemorial. Ignorance needs dispelling, clearly, before the offenders get their rap on the knuckles–figuratively speaking, of course.

    All this nonsensical special pleading and straw men for distraction in the Mass shows what a lamentable shape the laity is in, oozing with sentimentality and narcissism, not qualities I associate with Catholics, not qualities I even witnessed in any Mass until the 1980s.

    I actually think that, at our parish, most families hold the line pretty well, but the habitual offenders don’t need to be many to distract and disrupt, and the change in attitude needed is very clear. Naturally, as others have said here, the happy clappy stuff that passes for music is no encouragement to liturgical discipline and piety, but quite the opposite.

  98. capchoirgirl says:

    I don’t think anyone here is specially pleading for distraction. I think they are asking for charity from their fellow Catholic Christians, who do NOT know the circumstances of every person at Mass.

  99. Jeanette says:

    capchoirgirl – Is it wise to presume that Our Lord, who is the divine person incarnate, and not subject from His conception to the wages of original sin, was EVER a crying baby in the care of His Immaculate Mother?

    Charity, i.e., the supernatural virtue, is not bound by circumstance. It is universal and eternal. This being the case, we get such moral teachings from the Church (the CCC has an excellent section on this) regarding the commissions of evil acts which are evil regardless of circumstance or intention of the individual. We’re taught that these acts might not be imputed to an individual wholly or in part due to a few reasons, but we’re also taught that these acts remain objectively sinful and offensive to God regardless of whether the individual is punished either temporally or eternally.

    A infant is not morally evil by definition in its cries. If it lacks the ability to sin, then it cannot be held at fault for its disturbances. However, those people who have direct authority over the infant do have a moral responsibility for that infant’s actions. If a mother leaves her infant in such a position as it can kick the stick of a standard transmission vehicle out of gear, and the vehicle runs over other people, killing and injuring them, no one would hold the infant as responsible; everyone would hold the mother responsible. That is the reality of accepting children under one’s own authority.

    If children are going to fail predictably and consistently in observing the solemnity of the sacred services, by no fault of theirs even, they should not be brought. This is a choice of the parents and does carry a moral character, whether good or evil. The Holy Mass is not a place for profanity such as the unruly behaviour of some children. This profanity has nothing to do with the specific circumstances in which the parents of unruly children live, but rather the objective behaviour of their children at Holy Mass.

    A question I would pose is, would you think it meet to have little children causing clamour, walking about, etc. on Golgotha while Our Lord is making the final sacrifice to redeem us from Satan on the Cross? Would it be fortifying to Him in His Passion to have the distractions and disturbance of such as He is labouring to be pleasing to the Father? If you would not think it proper to disturb Our Lord during His Holy Sacrifice, why would it be proper to have such disturbances when this self-same sacrifice is made present for us all once again??

  100. LiberChant says:

    Wait, so the Lord never cried to Mother Mary for milk or a dirty diaper (or undergarment for babies in that time)? I’m confused now!

  101. bookworm says:

    Another important point to keep in mind: crying/fussy/disruptive children in church is a collective problem rather than an individual one. One child may begin to cry, and his/her parents may act promptly to take the child outside — but a few minutes later, another one may begin to fuss, then a third one, and so on. Even if every parent reacts promptly and appropriately to THEIR child, they cannot control how or when other children will pipe up, and the rest of the congregation percieves “constant crying” during Mass.

    “would you think it meet to have little children causing clamor, walking about, etc. on Golgotha”

    Well, guess what: there WERE large crowds of people “causing clamor and walking about” on Golgotha (probably not little children but there could well have been some babes in arms with their mothers passing by, e.g. the women of Jerusalem). Yes, we should encourage reverence when celebrating Mass, but let’s not forget that the actual Crucifixion was NOT a solemn, reverent event; it was noisy, crowded, messy, bloody, and full of distractions. With that in mind, perhaps the unavoidable distractions and discomforts we experience during Mass that are beyond our control could be treated as part of our sharing in the sacrifice that is being re-presented?

  102. pmullane says:

    Jeanette –

    “Is it wise to presume that Our Lord, who is the divine person incarnate, and not subject from His conception to the wages of original sin, was EVER a crying baby in the care of His Immaculate Mother?”

    Well, Jesus wept. If he could weep from grief, why would he not weep from hunger, cold, heat, rash, pain, etc.

    Look, everyone on this thread has agreed that distractions during Mass, such as babies crying, toddlers throwing tantrums etc are not optimal and reasonable steps should be taken to avoid them. However, until we (please God) reach our heavenly reward, we will labour in this imperfect world. Parents will struggle doing their bestbut their best wont be perfect. Babies will get upset, toddlers will have tantrums, fussy old women with poor social skills will bristle and harumph at every squeak and moan that anyone else makes, altar boys will fidget during homilies and faint at the easter vigil, old people will shuffle up and down and occasionally fall over and have medical emergencies, etc etc. Perhaps we should be grateful we can get to Mass in relative peace and safety, and that we have brothers and sisters who are handing on the faith to their children in their, admittedly, imperfect way. And if we struggle so badly with the distraction of little children, perhaps we can offer to stay home and babysit while mum and dad get to Mass?

  103. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Palladio,

    if you are sinning by making noise, you have to change.

    For children, though, there are not only the option “change”, “be instructed” and “obstinacy” – sometimes the child just needs to “grow up”.

    (Mass is aptly celebrated with silence, but I don’t think it can be called a requirement.)

    I don’t think any of the parents that commented here should, judging by what they reported, not have been at Mass.

  104. Palladio says:

    Imrahil: you don’t think Mass requires silence? I would not know where to begin to address that. As for sinning, that’s not what I am suggesting; even if habitual disruption is a sin, it’s one far from impossible to avoid. I think I’d sooner cheat on my wife than disrupt a Mass. Neither is at all likely, but the latter is even less likely than the former.

    It is interesting to reflect, but perhaps not for too long, on the causes of ignorance possibly widespread among parents who allow their children to, um, express themselves in Mass. What might some of those causes be, outside of the Church? I can think of a few, like the now very American idea that manners can be blithely separated from morals, or the very American inflated notion of self-reliance and freedom.

    It is wrong to grow used to habitual distraction such as crying babies in Mass. I bet few who tolerate that in Mass endure similar problems in other places, such as the work place. The laity has got to expect to give its very best to God in Mass.

    Remarkably, for some, it seems that free fantasizing about the nature of the Mass is an answer to the problem of disrupting Mass. Why? Because it suits the imagination to think back to Golgotha! From which it follows we should feel free to tear curtains, gesticulate, or fling ourselves about, all as our moods move us.

  105. capchoirgirl says:

    Palladio:
    You seem…..very strident about this. St. Therese, in Story of a Soul, wrote about a nun who distracted her at Mass and prayers. What did St. Therese do? She prayed for the nun! I think her actions here might be a lesson.
    There will ALWAYS be distractions at Mass. Always. A person can be distracted by anything. So what are we supposed to do?

  106. Lisa says:

    Palladio:
    When you say that silence is required, do you mean absolute, complete silence? As in, no cooing of babies, wiggling of toddlers, or coughing of those with chronic coughs? Or is it more along the lines of, say, baby is crying (after more than a few seconds), toddler talking or fussing, full out cough attacks going on? Because there is a difference. I think most people commenting here are in agreement that fussy babies/toddlers, and children who are causing a scene, should be removed from Mass as quickly as possible. But a few seem to be implying, although no one has come out and said it outright, that because babies and very young children cannot be perfectly quiet and still at Mass, that they have no business being there at all. Ever. The sin, the affront to God, of course, lies with the parents and not the helpless children. But it is an affront to God none the less. And an “undue test of fortitude” toward one’s neighbor.

    I may be misinterpreting people’s comments. I even asked for clarification, but didn’t understand the answer. Should very young children be kept from Mass to maintain perfect silence and decorum?

    I don’t mean to be obnoxious. I actually care a great deal that my children are not causing problems at Mass, and I really do my best to keep them quiet. If, in fact, it is a sin to bring them to Mass when they are little, I certainly want to know. But I do wonder why I’ve never heard that it is wrong before, especially when I’ve asked (traditional) priests this very question.

  107. Palladio says:

    Dear Lisa,
    What a wonderful reply, for which thanks. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but no expertise is required.

    I think I not only understand your question, I very much appreciate it. In no way had I had it in mind in my posts, but since you now mention it, I would love to try to answer it.

    There can be no, in my opinion, simple answer to your very nicely worded, if I may say so, question. But if you would entertain my humble formulation of the matter–silence is required in Mass–that could be a way forward. That is, since silence is normal–i. e., the required, desirable, and necessary state of affairs in Mass–the question is then, perhaps, how does thus and such a family follow normal Mass behavior?

    I have seen a family of ten (children, that is) at Mass–for years–ranging from infant to tweeners. They are silent. When one kid acts up, an older one swings into action, or the mom does, or the dad. Nobody, grumpy me included, is surprised or bothered, since they are not HABITUALLY noisy.

    Not even in the Monastery I am a novice oblate in do I hear ‘perfect silence,’ whatever that is. What I hear is silence. In which silence I can pray, chant, sing, … worship. Not because it is my preference, but because silence is part and parcel of the Mass, always.

    I don’t see, from my point of view, Lisa, how having little ones at Mass is per se sinful, much less how it could be, nor can there possibly be a rule against it. If there is such an inane rule, nobody’s enforcing it!

    I suspect that the pressures on all priests today are such that this is the least of their worries, and that Fr. Z brings it up because, well, he is right to do so given the necessity of liturgical discipline and piety in the tradition of the Church. For those of us old enough to have been formed a. by the Church and b. by Catholic Schools, the idea of for an instant disrupting a Mass–or witnessing it as an habitual matter–is completely incredible. I went to Mass every day before school, serving at two different churches–thank you, God, thank you Fathers, thank you Sisters!–and I am here to say how reverent everybody was, even in the Novus Ordo, how wonderfully silent.

    I do wish you and your family every good thing!
    And I pray for you and for Fr. Z and all his readers!
    God bless.

  108. slainewe says:

    Imrahil

    You do not seem to differentiate between objective and subjective sin.

    “The just man sins seven times a day.” We objectively sin all day long because of the effects of original sin and our lack of charity. Children especially do so because they have not yet learned control.

    Our subjective guilt is another matter. But the existence of parents with near-perfectly behaved children at Mass is proof that there is plenty of guilt to go around.

  109. lux_perpetua says:

    it’s attitudes like Palladio’s and jeanette’s that would make me run far, far away from the traditional Mass if I didn’t believe so fervently in the power of the Liturgy.

    Palladio, I can only pray to God that if you manage to persevere in the monastic life that God will send you a good spiritual director who will educate you in charity. rather than calling our arguments straw men (which, incidentally, they are not), why don’t you just answer the question. if a person has a lifelong disability, or becomes elderly, etc, any number of the instances which people have pointed out to you, would you, or would you not, bar them from the Mass? it’s a simple enough question, and it’s reasonable to expect someone who outrightly rejects the presence of any children making noise at Mass to answer. If you would, then how can you justify your action? and if you would not, how is such a person, in their given stage of development, any different than a child?

    Jeanette, sorry, we must not know the same crucifixion scene. the one I know involved nails being hammered through bone and flesh into a wooden cross, or do you suppose they were super sonic silent nails? the one i know involved a man being hung from a tree in a public, visible part of town so all hurrying by doing their every day business could see and openly ridicule. the one i know involved the VERY MEN HANGING NEXT TO HIM SPEAKING TO ONE ANOTHER!!! The one I know involved a bunch of people mocking, wagging their heads. the one i know involved weeping women, and Christ himself speaking. give me a break.

  110. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Palladio,

    I said I believe Mass ought to be aptly hold in (sort-of) silence. I was merely in an aside stating that I think the word “requirement” is not what I would use to express that. Here’s why. Whenever I speak of a requirement (and, in my perception, when general language speaks of a requirement), we suddently are not dealing with gray zones anymore, but with precisely defined borderlines. In addition, if a requirement of something is not met, this puts the whole something into question. W.r.t. Mass, this would amount to either invalidity or at least clearly defined, possibly gross sorts of illicity (you can say there is a requirement to add water to the wine).

    Neither of which is applicable to “silence”. Whenever the word “silence” is used to precisely define a borderline, it means “absense of noise and senseful sounds”. Now although some are denying (I’m not) that there should be entertaining music at Mass, certainly noone is denying that there should be a reading of the Word of God, of the liturgical prayers, etc.; that there should be a sermon which, perhaps, even becomes shouting at some point the preacher wants to specially underline; that there should be music (at least Gregorian chant is not disliked by anyone, but, strictly physically speaking, Gregorian chant is not silent).

    Second, if there is unsilence at Mass – even such unsilence as we do think should not be – it nowise makes the Mass invalid, nor illicit to celebrate from the priest’s part, nor spiritually unfruitful for the attender not taking part in the noise and somewhat trying to follow in spite of it.

    For these two reasons, I did not think the word “requirement” is aptly used here.

    By the way, Mass is the Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary, but there cannot be doubt that our attitude on attending Mass is, and is legitimately, somewhat different (in the direction of laxity and serenity) from that of attending Good Friday service. As a proof, it suffices to point to the fact that the rite contains the “Alleluia”.

    On your attitude on actual unsilence as described in your enlightening answer to the dear @Lisa I have little to critizise, except that they are (it seems to me) incompatible with your theoretical stand that there must be silence at any cost.

  111. Imrahil says:

    Dear @slainewe,

    thanks for the reminder. I was trying to cut the stroy short by not writing out in hairsplitting details what seemed an easy given to me, but – thank you. Your kind answer provides me with any justification to indulge in my hobby of hairsplitting. (All this is meant seriously, if perhaps with tongue in cheek, and nowise sarcastic.)

    All right, what is subjective and what is objective sin? Though the specific application is generally easier to give for objective sin, the generalized definition is, and must be, given for subjective sin. It is “a word, act or desire against the eternal law” – and theologians do apply that to subjective sin (St. Thomas, S.th. I/II 71 VI, is very clear about that.)
    It is subjective sin that is sin properly so-called, and if I say “sin” and mean chiefly subjective sin I am entitled to do so. Subjective sin is in the reality; “objective sin” is, albeit useful (chiefly because I guess an objective mortal sin is with utmost probability a subjective sin, though perhaps a venial one) a definition of the theologian.

    But by use of the term, or at the very least by undertone associated, “objective sin” refers to objective disorder. Connecting this to offending God, as has been done, it does not exist, because God is greater than our heart, sees all, and never takes offence without a reason – hence, He is indeed offended by even venial sin but is not offended by the worst objective sin that is only such.

    You may, however, say that a child making noise offends not God, but you – or possibly me – or arguably the order of the Church: the latter in that law or custom with the force of law forbid noise to exist. I notice, however, that custom makes a difference between children and adults, and tolerates much more noise in the former than in the latter. It is customary to be delighted in the sight of a child.
    That is a different pair of shoes. If you or me, I’d deny that we can with sense speak of objective sin. If the church*, I acknowledge that the definition of “objective sin” can possibly be drawn as far as to include the children. I do not particularly like such a definition (and what constitutes “objective sin”, other than subjective, does depend on our, though reasonably reasonable, definition of “objective sin”), because hearing “objective sinner” I imagine an adult ignorant or weak-willed, not a child who is nothing defective but merely a child.
    Anyway, it would only be applicable if the child does indeed break the order of the Church. This order, (law and custom), though, seems to have a great deal of tolerance for children being children (not referring to extreme cases).

    And even then, an objective sinner is not a sinner and does not offend God, which was my first point.

    As to “the just man falleth seven times a day”, it refers in my view to actual (venial) sin, not “objective sin”, which, again, is a theologic construction (though we confess possibly all our objective sins, and must confess all our objectively mortal sins, because they can possibly be sins and that is all we know). Especially since you are giving “lack of charity” as an example: now that is both an actual sin, and subjective, if there is anything!

  112. Imrahil says:

    As a small appendix to the comment to the dear @Palladio,

    Manners of course can be blithely separated from morals. There may perhaps be a rule of morality (in some circumstances) of “Be mannerful” (with differing force dependent on the circumstances), but… primarily… they can be seperated.

    I say so on firm Chestertonian grounds. See Manalive: “[Innocent Smith] has broken the conventions, but he has kept the commandments.”

    In fact, it is even (I guess) a rather important necessity to keep manners and morals firmly separated. The result not to do so is a proud elitist circle who shuns the mass of men for not keeping manners, and the mass of men shunning morality because not distinguishing it from a mere breach of conventional manners.

    Dear @tzard on the different issue,
    in a child who does not go to Communion and thus has no Eucharistic fast to comply with, I consider food at mass a lesser evil to both noise and carrying the child out (which, after all, can possibly be cause of some little distraction as well).

  113. Palladio says:

    “We should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.” Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
    The Eucharist is the “UNBLOODY” sacrifice of our Lord, who in the New Law removed any need for blood sacrifice with his own on the Cross. Trent and the Church after Trent of course has had to reaffirm that, as in the current CCC. Far from issuing screeds about anybody’s need for spiritual direction or charity, far from ad hominem attacks, far from judging people out of one’s sight, but most of all far from freely –and grotesquely– fantasizing about the Mass, some posters should reacquaint themselves with very simple facts, perhaps starting in GIRM:
    “Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts. Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.” (#45)

    If Catholics pretend to know better than GIRM, than the CCC, or than Trent, they are mistaken. But since it is clear that, for some, ordinary good manners and common sense, too, are not normal, we now know what we are up against in rebuilding the Church, as Fr. Z says, “brick by brick.”

  114. pmullane says:

    Palladio:

    “But since it is clear that, for some, ordinary good manners and common sense, too, are not normal, we now know what we are up against in rebuilding the Church”

    Genuine serious question, what do you think should happen regarding children being at Mass? Should children not be at Mass? Should children be brought to Mass only if it is absolutely guarenteed that they will not provide any kind of disruption/distraction? Would you extend these answers to others who may cause a distraction/disruption, for example a disabled person or someone with a cough?

    Thanks

  115. Palladio says:

    Why do you ask those questions, pmullane? Are you sure that they address the problem Fr. Z raises, or do you not find in habitual distractions and disruptions any problem at all?

  116. Lisa says:

    Palladio:
    I thank you for your kind reply. Please bear with me once again. You say,
    “I don’t see, from my point of view, Lisa, how having little ones at Mass is per se sinful, much less how it could be, nor can there possibly be a rule against it. If there is such an inane rule, nobody’s enforcing it!”
    To which I respond, what then? You, and Jeanette, and possibly a few others here, can quote the GIRM, the CCC, and Trent until you are blue in the face. And I agree with you! And probably everyone else here does as well. But what about little people, or infirm people, or elderly people, or mentally disabled people? If these instructions are to be taken in the strictest sense, what do we do about those people? Are such people to be forbidden from Mass? Once again, it is in every way implied that they should be by some posters, but never said outright.
    See, as much as I may agree with you about these instructions regarding silence in the Mass, why don’t you try reciting them to my children. My 6 month old, if she is in a good mood, might smile at you and then try to eat your nose. I doubt you could get my 3 year old to sit still long enough to hear it. If the words sink in, and they are all of a sudden silent at Mass, bless you. It’s far more than I’ve been able to do. But my guess is that they simply have to be taught, the long and hard way. The way their older siblings were before them – by being at Mass. As for the baby, there’s nothing I can do in terms of punishment. The three year old I do punish for bad behavior. And I have hope that one day things will be better (just in the time for the baby to really start acting up, Ha!). My 5 year old, who can barely sit through 20 minutes of school at a time, is perfect at Mass. Because he has learned that he MUST be. We’ll get there with the younger ones, but it will take time. You can give me other examples of other huge, saintly families who do it, probably better than I. Forgive me for not comparing myself to them. Because, number one, they have different children than I have. And number two, despite the fact that they are no doubt holier than me, and set a better example for their children than I, and are better at punishment (I say that with all seriousness, I truly am not being sarcastic), I have learned that I simply cannot try to compare myself to other mothers. In any area of life. All the other mothers on this thread, and probably all the confessors as well, will understand that point.
    So, once again, what are we to do?

  117. pmullane says:

    Palladio,

    No need to be defensive, I ask because you are an advocate of one position, and I want to engage with you. I’m not here for an argumant, rather I want to understand the issue more deeply, and have a discussion that will bear fruit. For context, I am a father, attend a parish where there are lot of families, and I want to do my best to do the right thing by my brothers and sisters, so as not to avoid unreasonable distraction to them during Mass. Can I ask, what is your position? Should children be brought to Mass at all or only if there will be absolutely no chance of any disturbance?

  118. Lisa says:

    As far as distractions go, I would like to point out that I have always understood that it is being distracted at Mass that is the problem. It makes sense, then, that we should not be a distraction to others. But really, how much of “being distracted at Mass” is our own fault? Distractions will always be there, crying babies or not, it is our job to put them from our minds. It is hard, and we should not be a stumbling block to others. But while some may complain about the attractive woman up front whose hem is 1/2 inch to short, others will complain about the music, others the fidgety altar boy, and still others the child in the pew in front of them. Some may be legitimate complaints. And yet it is still far to easy to blame others for our own failings.
    So when you say “habitual distractions” are a problem, I think, at least in my own case, it is just as much “habitually being distracted” with the emphasis on my own failings in that regard.
    I’m not trying to play the “put the blame on someone else” game. I really always understood “distractions at Mass” to be taken that way.

  119. capchoirgirl says:

    Bravo, Lisa!!

  120. Palladio says:

    Lisa,
    you ask, “So, once again, what are we to do?” I don’t follow you. Do you mean that, habitually, your children are disrupting Mass? Or are are you saying that they are not yet Saints, and yet expect them to be perfect? When kids act up or whatever in our parish, most parents escort them out. Is that not a simple solution to an understandable problem?

    You say you ‘agree with me,’ for which thanks, but it’s not my opinion I’m expressing. I mentioned one family of ten children, but of course they were one example standing for many, at least in my parish. It’s the only one I could offer. I have no idea how ‘holy’ that family is, since I don’t bend over backwards to judge people out my sight. I do remember hearing the dad say to me, at a banquet where his wife was breast feeding number eight or nine, “Love works,” at our wonder at the tranquility of that infant, perhaps three weeks old.

    I have equally have no idea what the mention of the disabled or little people has to do with anything Fr. Z raises. You surely do not write as if parishioners who, rightly, expect silence at Mass, are a pack of neurasthenics, ready to twitch at or rage against the least affront to some imagined propriety. Nor do I understand what taking norms “in the strictest sense” means. Rigorism? Empty formalism? Cultism? Worshipping the Church instead of worshipping God in His Church? The expectations at Mass are simple, and pretty simple to observe. I fail to see any problem but the failure to observe them. You seem to say that, here, I am far from alone in that. I have my doubts, and I feel sorry for priests beleaguered on some many fronts who feel powerless to change what it is in the power of parents to change.

    pmullane,
    honestly, where you don’t really address the problem Fr. Z raises, I have no intention of going down the rabbit hole. I don’t have “a position,” though thanks. An argument is a good thing, by the way, in my book, our Church being one of faith and reason!

  121. Lisa says:

    Palladio,
    Perhaps we are speaking past each other, for which I am sorry. As a mother, when someone who seems to be frustrated with distracting children at Mass (and I have no way, based on your posts, of knowing how “bad” these distractions are) posts instructions requiring “silence” at Mass, I really just want to know what exactly you think “silence” is supposed to mean. Really, that’s all I’m wondering. It seems, based on your last post, that if parents are doing everything in their power (short of not bringing their children at all) to keep their children as quiet as is reasonable for their developmental stages, that that is enough. If I am understanding you correctly, I thank you. We are on the same page.

    But, you see, there are people who get upset by every little peep a child makes. I have been glared at and fumed at (quietly, of course, but not silently) during Mass when my one year old, who was used to pews, pushed on the chair in front of her while we were visiting another church, the chair moved, much to her surprise, and it make a very soft scraping sound on the floor. Earlier in this thread, Jeanette accused me of melodrama because I “bring the entire band of progeny to the sacred services,” and described distracting children as “undue tests of fortitude.” So please forgive me for getting a little defensive. I really shouldn’t. But I really want to know how far such people are prepared to go (were it in their power to enforce such things) to maintain silence at Mass, and what exactly they mean by silence. It really is as simple as that.
    If children, being children, will make the noise that children make due to being children, despite parent’s best efforts to maintain silence, should the be excluded from Mass. I suspect you don’t think so. I suspect couple others on this thread do think so, but they have not actually said that in so many words.

  122. slainewe says:

    “You can give me other examples of other huge, saintly families who do it, probably better than I. Forgive me for not comparing myself to them. Because, number one, they have different children than I have. And number two, despite the fact that they are no doubt holier than me, and set a better example for their children than I, and are better at punishment (I say that with all seriousness, I truly am not being sarcastic), I have learned that I simply cannot try to compare myself to other mothers.”

    Is motherhood such a menial activity that we can expect no standards in this profession? Name me one other profession where the less successful do not compare themselves to the more successful and approach them for mentoring.

    Let’s do away with the cult of saints while we’re at it! Why should we compare ourselves to them or ask for their help?!

    *****
    On a practical note: Well-behaved children in public begins with practice at home. A child who learns to sit still during the daily Family Hour at the dinner table will be prepared to do so during Mass. (And at restaurants.)

    The sad fact of the matter is that we often train dogs better than children in this country.

  123. pmullane says:

    Palladio – From the original question

    ” we are also blessed with a few with fussy & crying wee bairns as well as unrestrained 3 & 4 year olds who tromp on the pews & in the aisles. Usually one of the parents will take the child outside until it calms down.
    Today we had no such luck, the cacophony was such that our soft spoken priest was difficult to hear.”

    You –

    “The problem, as others have said, are the parents, not the children”

    and then:

    “It’s a failure to allow children to be disruptive in Mass, a shabby failure, a failure because it is an affront to the Mass, shabby because plenty of parents–I can think of a family of ten in our parish–manage to avoid the failure.”

    and then:

    “But if you would entertain my humble formulation of the matter–silence is required in Mass–that could be a way forward. That is, since silence is normal–i. e., the required, desirable, and necessary state of affairs in Mass–the question is then, perhaps, how does thus and such a family follow normal Mass behavior?”

    So can I ask – as a practical matter, should children be brought to Mass only if it is absolutely guarenteed that they will not provide any kind of disruption/distraction?

  124. pmullane says:

    Lisa:

    “But, you see, there are people who get upset by every little peep a child makes. I have been glared at and fumed at (quietly, of course, but not silently) during Mass when my one year old, who was used to pews, pushed on the chair in front of her while we were visiting another church, the chair moved, much to her surprise, and it make a very soft scraping sound on the floor. Earlier in this thread, Jeanette accused me of melodrama because I “bring the entire band of progeny to the sacred services,” and described distracting children as “undue tests of fortitude.””

    I recognise these feelings. It is utterly unreasonable to expect any child to be entirely silent every week for one hour at least in all circumstances. Further, whilst we all wish to be excellent parents, unfortunately not all parents will be. So what do people actually want? If it is enough to do all that is reasonable to quieten a child during Mass (bearing in mind that the only true arbiter of ‘doing all that is reasonable’ can be the parent themself) then everyone else, even if they are ‘habitually distracted’ or have to suffer ‘undue tests of fortitude’ just have to suck it up and do the best they can to be distracted. The only other option, implied when, as in the case of your daughter, a child makes the slightest noise that could not reasonably have been forseen or stopped in reality but draws tuts and glares and loud sighs and long stares, is that children are not welcome at Holy Mass.

  125. Palladio says:

    Lisa,
    “If children, being children, will make the noise that children make due to being children, despite parent’s best efforts to maintain silence, should the be excluded from Mass. I suspect you don’t think so. I suspect couple others on this thread do think so, but they have not actually said that in so many words.”

    Again, the point is that the Church defines and expects silence, not I, so those who, unlike you, are so bent on special pleading need to consult the Church and search their own conscience–they don’t need me. I don’t think that silence is a technical term, albeit a requirement and (as the great Catholic tradition of contemplation teaches) a value or grace of enormous centrality and importance both in the Mass and out.

    If a family cannot for whatever reason live up to a simple and straightforward expectation for Mass, I think that that family has a problem. I am not referring to your own examples–to be sure–I am speaking in general, though I am sorry if you’ve been offended in Mass by parishioners. The word habit is a clear standard because all children have their moments. I find it close to inconceivable that some want the words pronounced: “All children welcome at Mass.” When I landed, by chance, at the so-called Family Mass, I really had no problem, though that is not to say the altar boys–my son included–did not from their vantage point from age 8 to 18 suffer an enormous range of distractions and disturbances: talking over the choir, noisy candy and snack wrappers, cell phones, crying babies left unattended, diapers in the pews, turds on the floor. If boys find those things to be distracting and disturbing, they are closer to nature and grace than some of their elders, it seems to me.

    Isn’t it up to parents to decide what the proper time to introduce their children to Mass is? How could one make a rule about that? One could decide for oneself properly informed by competent authority, but that still would be according to each and every family. I don’t see that many infants at Mass, and I expect that means many families have come their own conclusions, to give just one example.

    I don’t remember Mass before first grade (Communion), but I must have gone earlier than that. I had the benefit, by then, of daily Mass before Catholic school and religious instruction–inter alia–from great Sisters, who trained us, and quite gracious and loving priests (of German and Italian origin). I don’t remember my classmates being unwilling, since their parents would not have tolerated anything less than obedience, but they were also unboring and I think I remember a wee bit of mischief, but never anything that would have caught the Sisters’ attention. I never even remotely witnessed a distraction or disturbance of any major sort until the 80s, when noise became the norm.

    pmullane: you lost me at “don’t be” since I don’t like imperatives addressed to me, but then you’ve lost me again, though I thank you for troubling to quote me, which you should not bother to do.

    It’s instructive to learn than silence is an affront to some Catholics, who will go to the ends of the earth to justify its opposite in Mass. Again, brick by brick.

  126. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Palladio,

    the GIRM says what Mass attenders should do; it does not – to my knowledge – say what has to happen to those who are physically unable to do so. (Nor – but that would open a rabbit hole – does it precisely say what silence is; you yourself said just that it is not a technical term. If not, is a rather abashed, occasional mumble by a child unsilence? I wonder.)

    In the name of that common sense which I believe you cited: if a child (as I could imagine one to do, who has learnt to speak) should shout “hi, Jesus” at the moment of elevation…

    should we foster that? no.
    Is it an abomination? certainly no.
    Is it lovely? yes.

    (Note, childlish behavior can be both lovely and “tut-tut better don’t do that again” at the same time.)

  127. pmullane says:

    Palladio – I really dont understand your hostility, I’ll presume I’m reading you wrong. It is, of course, your decision whether you want to engage the substance of what I have to say and help a fellow sinner, I’ll also assume, for charities sake, that I’m misreading the tone of your words, because I really dont understand why you’d adopt the snarky tone that I initially read into your words, as much as I dont understand why you’ve tried to argue against points that nobody else has been making.

    God Bless you.

  128. Palladio says:

    pmullane, I fail to see what was hostile about anything I’ve written. If you are offended, I apologize. I am unused, in life, to being addressed with imperatives, such as you had used. I also have no idea what you are referring to re “snarkey tone” or trying “to argue against points that nobody else has been making.” Should I thank you for such flattering remarks? I read English as well as the next guy, and better than most. I don’t take kindly to bullying online or off, passive aggressive or just plain in your face. I regret if I insulted you, but, as I said, I did not at all follow what you were trying to say, even less your extensive quotation of me, which I thanked you for.
    God bless you, too.

  129. Lisa says:

    I think pmullane is simply trying to figure what it means when people say that silence must be maintained. Because, as I’ve tried to explain in my own sloppy way, there really are only these options (that I can think of, perhaps I am missing something):
    1. Silence. Full stop, no exceptions. Church requires it, it matters not what lay people think.
    2. Silence. The Church says that silence is to be observed as far as is possible.
    3. Silence. A suggestion. One that can be dispensed with for whatever reason whenever one wants. Who cares about children throwing fits, horrendous music, chattering in the pews, etc?

    I don’t think anyone here is advocating for number 3. I haven’t seen it, anyway, I certainly am not.
    The question is, number 1 or number 2? You keep saying that it is not your requirement, but the Church’s. If this is the Church’s requirement, I think it is fair to ask what exactly that means, because as we have seen, it means different things to different people.

    If the Church truly requires number 1, I really see no other possible answer to this problem than to forbid children and all others who are unable to maintain strict silence.

    If number 2, then I think parents should be considerate of the sensitivity to noise and distractions others at Mass may have. Those who are sensitive to noise should understand that children (and some others) are incapable of complete silence, and bear with them as much as possible. If bearing with them is not possible, parents should understand that some are weak in this regard, and incapable of not shushing, glaring, etc, and not stop going to Mass due to the weakness of others.

    Am I missing something? Again, if you want to throw requirements of the Church out there (and it is very, very good for people to know what is required of them), it is helpful to know what exactly those requirements require of us.

  130. Lisa says:

    Slainwe:
    As to the first point – I think you misunderstood me. Of course there are standards we, as mothers, should (and must) strive for. But comparing ourselves, and our children, to the “perfect” ones we only see one hour a week is perhaps not fair. I fail in so many ways, I am very hard on myself, and seeing seemingly perfect families and comparing my family to theirs (when I really can’t see even close to the whole picture), is quite simply not helpful. If you don’t understand this I’m not sure how I can help you see what I am driving at, but I truly suspect that most mothers (probably even the “perfect” mother of 10 children) get it.

    Onto your second point:
    “On a practical note: Well-behaved children in public begins with practice at home. A child who learns to sit still during the daily Family Hour at the dinner table will be prepared to do so during Mass. (And at restaurants.)
    The sad fact of the matter is that we often train dogs better than children in this country.”

    I’m trying very hard not to be insulted. Perhaps you haven’t read my other posts (understandable, there are a lot here!). But do you honestly think I don’t know this? That these are pearls of wisdom I’ve never heard or considered?

    Of course there are ill-mannered children. But have you ever considered that children do not emerge from the womb well behaved or disobedient based on the holiness, or competence of their parents? That such things must be taught? It seems as if you know that such things must be taught, in the home, at dinner, family prayer, on outings, as so on. But teaching takes TIME. More than, say a couple of family dinner times. And in the meantime, children are LEARNING. As in, not perfect yet. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that before a certain time (and this varies considerably from child to child, even within one family) children are incapable of the decorum we expect from older children and adults? Can you truly not see this?

    Now, maybe you can see it. Maybe you know that such things take time. Perhaps you think that, because this is the case, such children as are incapable of being perfectly still and quiet at Mass should be forbidden from Mass. If you this is your position, why don’t you say so?

  131. OrthodoxChick says:

    Lisa,

    I read these various comments similarly to the way that you and pmullane did. I think a few people commenting here are coming across, whether or not they realize it, as though they think the Church expects #1 (silence, full stop. No exceptions). While those of us with children are going with your #2 as the interpretation of silence.

    My own take on it is very basic. When we are at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are at the foot of the cross of Our Lord. We are not in the tomb with Him. Reverent silence – yes. Dead silence
    (morgue or mausoleum) – no.

  132. Lots of opinions here. I’ll be brief.

    Hubby and I have three children under the age of three. We both sing in the choir, so at Mass we juggle praying, singing, and watching/taking care of them. If any of our children get too noisy for more than a few seconds and we realize we won’t be able to quickly restore quiet we take them outside until they calm down. Then, back in the church we go. Very simple. A plan for bringing your children to Mass doesn’t need to be complicated.

    P.S. Absolutely_detest_cry_rooms. IMHO they generally just teach children that they can get out of Mass and eat snacks and play in the cryroom if they make enough noise. Children are smart…! :)

  133. Imrahil says:

    On a lighter note,

    in an ideal world, when Fr Goodshepherd ascends to the altar to offer piously the Sacrifice of the Mass, he is surrounded by what?

    the Silence of the Lambs.

    [As in, “It takes the Host upon the hand or else it gets the hose again.” Right?]

  134. pmullane says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Your position and mine are close enough to make the differences unimportant. As a Catholic parent I think that it would be useful to have a proper discussion around what behaviour is a) acceptable & b) realistic for a child who comes to mass. I also feel that it would be useful to have a conversation about what is a realistic and reasonable for people to have to deal with from their fellow souls in Church. And I think it would be better knocked about here than at daggers drawn at Sunday Mass.

  135. seeker says:

    I agree with Jim R. I have raised children, too. My firstborn was early, colicky, sleepless. I was a little put of my mind with sleep deprivation too. We had a couple of people speak very unkindly to us. I had no idea the baby was loud or distracting, for whatever reason. We tried yet another church and as I was in the back(as always) with the fussy baby, he reached over and pulled the bell. Everyone turned to look at us. I think my mouth was open, tears welled up. The pastor chuckled gently and said that was as good a sign as any that he had preached long enough. The congregation smiled at us, turned and settled in for the Credo.
    20 years later, that baby is pursuing a vocation, that priest is a beloved family friend and everyone in that parish still smiles at us. I don’t know what became of the people we angered.
    Babies fuss. Children carry on. Parents do their best. Catholics love. It’s all good, right Jim?

  136. Lisa says:

    pmullane,
    I probably wasn’t clear, but my post where I referenced you was actually addressed (although I failed to address it, oops) to Palladio. Somehow I think he is missing the question I keep asking (and that you asked as well).
    It’s simply unhelpful to throw out instructions, quotations from councils, etc as if they were all that is necessary to prove a point. If someone believes a quotation from the CCC, GIRM, Council of Trent, etc, backs up their belief on a subject, by all means throw it out there. But then please also make it clear what it is you think the quotation is trying to tell us!
    It’s almost as if some (secretly) believe that the obvious reading of such instructions implies that young children should not be at Mass. But no one is willing to come out and say that.
    But perhaps I am reading some people the wrong way.

  137. Bgin Agin says:

    Lisa and pmullane,
    Thank you for all you have said and asking people to clarify their expectations.
    Having been present at this particular Mass mentioned in the original query, perhaps I can shed some light on the expectation by explaining the distracting moment in question:
    It was as someone described on here, a “collective” moment. During the homily there was a space of maybe 1 – 2 minutes of noise. First an infant cried out and was quickly soothed… Then from the other side of the aisle another… Then another… I didn’t turn around but it sounded like 3-4 different children at least made noises for 2-5 seconds, with 5-10 seconds quiet between. I wish to explain, because though uncomfortable and noisy, each child WAS quieted quickly, the priest was unruffled, Mass went on… So you see, the only way that this “Cacophony” could have been avoided was if all parents with some children and infants stayed out of the Church.
    I will be the first to admit that my children are at times a distraction at Mass. Keep in mind, our service is typically 1.5 hours long. I spend some time in the courtyard and in the “Cry room” which is equipped with close-circuit television of the Mass and actually much better sound system than the chapel. I honestly go into that room sometimes during the sermon because it is easier to hear as the acoustics from the altar are terrible!
    To those who say that the problem is the parents, I say “mea culpa!”
    I come to the Mass on my knees praying for the grace to help guide my children to be the saints God intends them to be. I often have tears for all my failures during the week. My husband and I try various tactics at home and Mass to get through and they are improving mainly through God’s natural development. But it’s still a process and there will be a Mass at which a child suddenly gets upset by something and acts out. So we handle it as necessary: sometimes it is best stay in the pew and handle it quickly rather than drag a screaming child down the aisle… Neither is ideal, and I feel horrible through these moments and desire my fellow worshippers to pray for me rather than glare. I really don’t care about the sounds and disruptions around me I’m just so happy to be close to Our Lord, knowing that He is my strength. I know I am not alone in these feelings among my fellow mothers at the Mass and I’m sorry if “collectively” we offend, but please don’t deny us the comfort of being in the True Presence at the Mass!

  138. Alice says:

    Bgin Agin,
    Has no one talked with the priest?!?!? If someone is going around ordering mothers with small children out of the church, he needs to know!

  139. Jeanette says:

    Lisa – I fail to see how it is productive to wrest a meaning foreign from the actual words used.

    You quoted me in a post, as follows: ‘Earlier in this thread, Jeanette accused me of melodrama because I “bring the entire band of progeny to the sacred services,” and described distracting children as “undue tests of fortitude.”’

    The actual words I wrote: “It seems to me often a measure of melodrama in the position that because it is not reasonably possible (whatever this really means) to hear Mass at separate times that one must bring the entire band of progeny to the sacred services.” This is no accusation of you in the least. It is a proposition that some degree of melodrama accompanies the conclusion that due to an undefined concept, which is likely only inconvenience, one has no choice but to bring all one’s children to Holy Mass. I even went so far as to elaborate that I could not imagine what situation it would be for a family, wherein both mother and father could not hear Mass at different times, without an example.

    Also, I never used the term “distracting children”, but rather UNRULY children, i.e., those who are both unchurched and disobedient. For example, the child whose mother tells him not to throw its toys during Mass, only for it to continue to do so until these are taken away and then all hell breaks loose because he wants his toy…or the child whose mother tells him to be still yet he continues to rough-house, eventually banging his head on the wall hard enough actually to hurt himself and then all hell breaks loose because his head hurts…or the child whose mother tells him to hold his doll quietly, yet he gets wild and throws the doll into the face of another parishoner striking him and then all hell breaks loose because the child wants his doll back…or the child whose mother tells him to wait quietly until the end of Mass after Holy Communion and then they will put coats on, yet the child wants his mother to dress him in his coat, so he whips another parishoner in the face with the coat…or the child who crawls off under the pews and begins stroking the stocking-ed leg of another parishoner with no attention from his mother… These examples come from my direct observations at Mass. These are unruly children.

  140. Bgin Agin says:

    Alice, I don’t know. Even Fr. Z is “slinking away” from the discussion. I’m very grateful for the EFM we have and don’t want our community to appear as a bunch of whiners.

  141. slainewe says:

    Lisa

    You say, ” But teaching takes TIME. More than, say a couple of family dinner times. ”

    You are right, “a couple” of family dinner times will do nothing. Good luck.

  142. OrthodoxChick says:

    Jeanette,

    “Also, I never used the term “distracting children”, but rather UNRULY children, i.e., those who are both unchurched and disobedient. For example, the child whose mother tells him not to throw its toys during Mass, only for it to continue to do so until these are taken away and then all hell breaks loose because he wants his toy…or the child whose mother tells him to be still yet he continues to rough-house, eventually banging his head on the wall hard enough actually to hurt himself and then all hell breaks loose because his head hurts…or the child whose mother tells him to hold his doll quietly, yet he gets wild and throws the doll into the face of another parishoner striking him and then all hell breaks loose because the child wants his doll back…or the child whose mother tells him to wait quietly until the end of Mass after Holy Communion and then they will put coats on, yet the child wants his mother to dress him in his coat, so he whips another parishoner in the face with the coat…or the child who crawls off under the pews and begins stroking the stocking-ed leg of another parishoner with no attention from his mother… These examples come from my direct observations at Mass. These are unruly children.”

    Where in the world do you attend Mass? Juvenile Hall?? If you had clarified the kind of behaviors you’ve experienced, then maybe we could have avoided putting some moms here on defense. I doubt you’ll find many of us, if any, who wouldn’t become mortified and whip the kid out of Mass immediately if they were doing any of the things you just mentioned.

    Now that we’ve seen this from your side, please try to see it from the mom side. When my kids were younger, I would get dirty looks if they so much as cooed or babbled for a mere few seconds. There are some folks, usually older folks, who either never had children or no longer recall what it’s like to have several young children at the same time. You’re constantly exhausted to the point of tears many a time anyway. You’re lucky if you can get a shower. Sleep and showers are luxuries. And the one place of refreshment is going to Mass as a family where you need the silence and prayer as much as anyone. You look forward to it all week and then it’s meltdown time once you settle in. So now, not only do you not get to go to Mass because you’re outside with your child, but now you’ve got some old crank shooting you daggers and judging you to be a bad mother.

    One of the comments earlier said something to the effect that we moms need to show some humility. Fine. And while we’re practicing that virtue, how about some of the old folks try practicing a little patience, or charity – or both.

  143. Alice says:

    Bgin Agin,
    Which is better, airing grievances on an internationally read blog or talking with the priest and trying to solve the problem? No one but no one has the right to tell moms and babies to leave the church, except the priest. If someone is really doing that, the priest needs to be informed. As it stands, I’ll cross your parish off my list of parishes to visit should I ever find myself in town because, frankly, I’d rather my children not associate anti-child attitudes and the EF.

  144. Lisa says:

    Jeanette,
    I think I must be expressing myself very badly, I am sorry. I sound like a broken record to myself; I’m afraid people must be quite tired of me saying the same thing over and over. And yet, I still don’t think I’m making myself understood, at least not to the people I am addressing.

    As to your comment to me 13 February 2014 at 5:23 pm, you are correct, I realize now that I misunderstood what you were saying when you first replied to me. To be honest, I was shocked by your reply to me. It was hard for me to see you as having anything but dripping disdain toward children in general, but I think that this was unjust of me. I did not reply right away, because I truly did not know how to take it.

    Something the children at Mass are doing seems to really frustrate you. “Bearing with one another…to the point of heroism.” WHAT are the children at your parish doing?!? “Undue tests of fortitude…” Again, I repeat, what are they doing to elicit such a response? And as to your comment regarding Christ on the Cross on 11February 2014 at 9:02 pm, I honestly cannot, for the life of me, imagine that children being children around the cross would be disturbing in the least. In fact, I imagine crying maybe even wailing, was indeed going on. Certainly Christ engaged in conversation with His neighbor. Perhaps I am in the minority, but at a certain point, things like the noise of children babbling and walking about really do fade away. But I suppose for someone who is really bothered by such noises, pain would only exacerbate the frustration?

    In your last comment you gave examples of the unruly behavior you have witnessed at Mass. Now, nobody, absolutely nobody, is arguing that such behavior is appropriate. I think that every parent who has commented here has stated that they really, truly try their best to keep their children quiet, and remove them as soon as they can when they begin to cause a scene. So why do you bring up such extreme examples?

    And as for the question I continually ask, ad nauseam…
    Statements from the Council of Trent, the GIRM, the CCC regarding silence in the Liturgy are certainly pertinent to the discussion. But WHAT are we to make of them? Why keep hiding behind these statements, as if there were nothing more to be said on the matter?

    IF silence is to maintained at all costs, and anything else is an affront to God, THEN children, those with certain infirmities, some of those with mental disabilities, etc, must be forbidden from Mass.

    IF we are not to interpret these statements quite as strictly as above, THEN, what exactly? Should people simply try their best to be as silent as is possible for their condition/state of development? If so, then we are all in agreement.

    To put it another way: should young children be kept from Mass until they are able to be perfectly still and silent or not?

  145. Lisa says:

    Slainwe:
    Should children who are incapable of maintaining perfect decorum at Mass be forbidden from attending Mass?

  146. Palladio says:

    “Statements from the Council of Trent, the GIRM, the CCC regarding silence in the Liturgy are certainly pertinent to the discussion. But WHAT are we to make of them? Why keep hiding behind these statements, as if there were nothing more to be said on the matter?”

    Lisa, I much regret that Mass seems a trial for you at times, as may this discussion. But nobody’s hiding behind anything that you mention. Again, you seem to believe that you need, or the Church needs, some set of rules (you had a list marked 1-3, if memory serves), whereas I think that the norms are a. clear, b. public c. common sensical d. deeply Catholic e. part and parcel of Sacred Tradition f. Biblical g. Christian…
    In other words, the norms–a few of which I, for one, have quoted, to make them public, not personal–need no approach of “strict sense,” broad sense, or any sense, since they are so central and essential to the very nature of the Mass and of the faith.

    There’s no mystery at all to keeping children well behaved; it’s been going on forever; it’s easier than learning the box step; it was going on as I was ‘churched,’ and I see it going on still, albeit not as effectively as some decades ago.

    More than ever, I will pray for priests, Fr. Z included, who have to deal with a simple matter as if it were complex. Such is American life, rife with pressures and currents of ‘thought’ destructive of self and family, though I’ve seen kids run wild in Mass in Paris and Rome.

    Valete, amici omnes.

  147. capchoirgirl says:

    But it *isn’t* simple I think that’s what she’s saying. There’s going to be, always, noise in Mass! Someone will cough, someone will blow their nose, a baby will cry, etc. So do we then say, well, if you cannot be quiet for the entire Mass, you are not welcome?

  148. Lisa says:

    Palladio:
    Silence is required. We get that. I am all in favor of it. It is clear.
    What is not clear, at least to me, is how to keep my baby perfectly silent at Mass. If it was as easy for you to figure out as the foxtrot, please tell me how!
    I suppose I should take from this that because my 6 months old will fuss when she is hungry, and my 3 year will whisper to me thoughts that come into his head, that they have no place at Mass, and to keep them from Mass is a. clear, b. public c. common sensical d. deeply Catholic e. part and parcel of Sacred Tradition f. Biblical g. Christian…

  149. Lisa says:

    I mean box step, oops…

  150. Bgin Agin says:

    Dear Alice, Please do come to our Mass if you are in town…. Especially if you have children! To my knowledge, this one individual is the only person to behave this way (someone told me “there is one in every parish”). Everyone else is very friendly and supportive. Thank you – I will consider speaking with the priest.

  151. Lisa says:

    Palladio,
    I responded too soon, and I did so sarcastically. Please forgive me.
    I will continue to bring my children to Mass, and to punish them as I see fit when I think they need it. I assume you mean that being firm with children, and punishing them when they disobey, is the way to have well-behaved children. We are in agreement.
    I do not have difficulty with any Church statements. I have difficulty with the way some people *seem* to be interpreting them.
    Based on the way you have described the families in your parish who are simply doing the best they can, I really think we are on the same page here.
    Again, sorry for the sarcastic post. All the best.

  152. Palladio says:

    Lisa,
    I said children, not infants, but let’s keep them in the mix. I still fail to see what you fail to see. I do not understand your request for ever greater advice, rules, etc. The norms being, as you seem to agree, clear, follow them as you must. Just because the only perfect liturgy is in heaven does not mean we shirk our responsibilities to it here, and on that you and I seem to agree. I trust–I hope and pray–you have help from family, friends, the parish, the priests, all according to their obligations. As I said, that family of ten has something worked out where everybody pitches in, and I don’t police the parish but I never notice that they get–gasp–daggers or stares or whatever. I also admire the elderly gentleman who brings his elderly demented wife to the same Mass. She gives no sign of knowing what’s up, sometimes acts up a bit, but he, having to correct her from time to time, loves her with a love that is unspeakably brave and wonderful.

    Sounds to me, if I may say, like you are doing a great job, blessed with a beautiful family.
    Good night and
    God bless.

  153. pmullane says:

    capchoirgirl:

    “But it *isn’t* simple I think that’s what she’s saying. There’s going to be, always, noise in Mass! Someone will cough, someone will blow their nose, a baby will cry, etc. So do we then say, well, if you cannot be quiet for the entire Mass, you are not welcome?”

    Yes – this is exactly correct. Just saying ‘look at whats there, its all very simple, its as easy as pie to do’ is no answer to the question. Jeanette gives some examples of some relatively extreme behaviour, of some poor parenting. However, does one observe poor parenting and then decide that the parent should be condemned, or helped. Turn the question on its head, could a parent say ‘well my child is misbehaving, but your the one allowing yourself to be distracted. Your Lord is being crucified on the altar, and all you can do is bother yourself with a child having a tantrum and judging the skills of the parent!!’. Of course that is not the answer, we owe to our brothers and sisters respect, and to try and help them get to heaven. But it works both ways. Raising families is no peice of cake, and if its really easy to bring them up to you, mabye you should use that gift to help someone who finds it hard. The only other answer is that, as you say, the noisy, the loud, the badly behaved, the inconvenient, all are left at home (with the implications that this has for thos incapable of maintaining these standards) whilst Church is only for the (well behaved) elect.

  154. Imrahil says:

    From the description by the dear @Bgin Agin,

    that seems obviously in the category “to be tolerated”, to me. Without punishing looks, preferably.

    These things can happen. And no, it does not break a requirement for Mass.

  155. Jeanette says:

    OrthodoxChick – I do not hear Mass at a Juvenile Hall. Your question really made me laugh, though. These experiences that I laid out mostly encompass the last three months of hearing Mass at several different parishes, in different states (and there are MANY more examples from close to EACH of the approximate 52 Sundays per year). The parents of these little bundles of sunshine surely do NOT act in the least mortified, and are in fact ready to give you a “catholic” arse-whipping outside the Church after Holy Communion if you mention any offense taken at the most-stupifyingly-amazing-child-in-the-world’s disordered actions.

    I’ve noticed that most parents and grandparents also have a deafness regarding the literal shrieks of their progeny. I’m not talking about babbling or cooing, but ear-and-head-splitting, blood-curdling, fire-house-whistle loud shrieks. I’ve often left Mass with ringing ears and headaches due to this happening either directly beside me or in front of me…and this is NOT just a 1-2 second outcry, but several consistent 3-5 second shrieks throughout the entire Mass or consistent 10-15 second shrieks when a child is handed to someone he doesn’t want to be held by. This lends to by-and-far the notion that in general, parents and grandparents don’t give a raging hoot about how their children affect other people.

    Lisa – there are many who treat the behaviour which I have described, in my last comment prior to this one, as utterly appropriate. I have been given unsolicited information by several such parents that these children cannot be made to act otherwise: it’s not within their capacity. I’ve also been told, again in an unsolicited lecture, that I should be glad to have these “wonderful” children around me. I’ve also been told, after plugging my ears and wincing in pain at some child’s shrieks, that I was just plain rude.

    I’ve never offered correction to ANY parent inside or outside Mass regarding their child’s behaviour at Mass. However, myself and many others have suffered the plain rudeness of parents who condone, by ignorance and neglect, this sort of unruly behaviour. It is VERY common and not extreme.