Back in business on the other side of the pond

I am functioning once again.

The flight was dreadful due to a woman`s two small children who were out of control… or rather totally in control… as she stared in cow-like silent approval.  Amazing.  I thought a few folks might become homicidal.  When they screamed themselves tired, I got a bit of shut eye and now feel half-human.

I am connected to the world here, and have even my Slingbox up and running.

My host is back from errands and I am ready to strike out from Clapham Park (I am at St. Bede`s – where I think I have tomorrow`s TLM in the morning and a NO on Sunday – 9:30?) and move around a little.

Father has has a long day and is ready for a pint of something.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gomer says:

    Bass Ale Father…always hits the spot after a long day.

  2. Karen says:

    Tsk, tsk. Such opportunity for street theatre and you didn’t use it. Simply whip out a copy of the rite of exorcism and start reading. Aloud. Preferably in Latin. Where’s your sense of play?

  3. Karen: I think that would have been appropriate.

    I half expected these kids to projectile vomit and speak in Ugaritic.

    Sadly, I was without my Rituale, which I usually don’t bring with me on the airplane.

    NOTE TO SELF: Bring Rituale on plane.

  4. JPSonnen says:

    Hilarious: mi fa riddere!

  5. JSP says:


    It’s not easy traveling with small children.

    Anyway, I like the looks of horror on passengers faces when my large Catholic brood boards an overseas bound flight! All these people on their once-in-a-lifetime post-retirement vacation to wherever and my gang climbs on board!

  6. Dob says:

    Well the only pint you’ll get from Father Andrew will be a pint of malmsey — of course.

  7. Karen says:

    Don’t forget you can find it on the internet too…keep an online copy in case you’re ever caught between an airplane hull and a child out of the “Bad Seed.” Of course whipping out a black ritual book scores higher drama points.

  8. Brian Mershon says:

    It’s not easy traveling with small children in the current culture of death–where there are few children anywhere.

  9. Liz F. says:

    Poor Father. I hate that. Sometimes I go to the grocery store (alone, sans children) only to hear other people’s out of control children screaming wildly. Argh. When I do take my brood to the store the employees are so amazed that they are polite and behave. I’m not saying that they aren’t full of original sin and don’t ever act awful because they do, but they know how to behave in public. I’m amazed that people are amazed that they CAN behave. It doesn’t seem fair to me to ruin someone’s trip or evening in a restaurant with wild children running about. Obviously, I do have compassion for somebody who has a baby with an ear infection or that sort of thing, but that does not sound like what you are referring too.

  10. Larry says:

    It kills me to listen to priests who either remind us of the sacrifices they make in being celibate or bemoan the noise of children. Might I remind you in all honesty children are the blessing and consequence of not remaining celibate and of not choosing abortion. Next time the “little monsters” bother you on a plane or anywhere else say a prayer of thanksgiving that they are even alive, then put some ear plugs in your ears and smile. No exorcism necessary but a blessing might be nice.

  11. Several years ago, I was on a flight from DC to Seattle, with a stop in Chicago. I got on my connecting flight, and had to sit next to a young mother with an infant girl — and a two-year-old boy. He was as fidgety as two-year-old boys can be. So he watched me type on my laptop, we played games, read the same Dr Seuss story several times, and looked out the window and pointed at stuff. Mom appeared to be very grateful. It was right before Christmas, after all. When drinks came around, we toasted the greetings of the season. The little boy fell asleep over Montana (as anyone who’s ever had a little boy might expect). He was up with Momma when we landed. I never saw them again.

  12. Frank H says:

    Larry –

    Lighten up!

  13. Jim says:


    Are you a frequent flier on the trans-Atlantic route?

    I am not celibate and have children. I have complained about other people’s noisy children on board. We always felt a concern for other passengers.

    As Frank noted, Lighten up…..

  14. Noel A says:

    I have an Archbishop who remarks when hearing small children crying or mewling (?) that he does not believe that the Christ child did not cry or make noise!

    Offer it up?

  15. Brian Mershon says:

    Jim, So children are supposed to act like adults in the tight quarters or an airplane and be perfectly well behaved.

    Wow! Some of you here have arrived… You all are saints!

    I’ll take it as a course correction for my only lenient attitude that children are not little adults and the situation on the airplane for a mother or even mother and father, is exactly like David Alexander described it.

    Thanks David! I’m certain the Mother was releived that you were able to look outside of your own interests and desires and engage the imagination and curiosity of a little boy.

  16. Chironomo says:


    I fail the “celibacy test” nearly every night, sometimes more than once. With 5 children of my own, I can hardly be called one who bemoans children. At times though, even I get frustrated with other parents capacity to be inconsiderate of others. At times it is necessary to travel.

    I have had to do so only once with the whole entourage, and it requires lots of planning, including taking a late flight and depriving the younger children of sleep for a day so that they will sleep. I won’t say there weren’t hitches, but all in all it was not too bad. What is most frustrating is the parents who look on with no reaction, as if to say “aren’t they so cute when they do this?”.

  17. Jim says:

    Lighten up, enjoy the kiddies, and have a tall glass of cold water. Alcohol will dehydrate you.

  18. David Deavel says:

    I’m with Frank and Brian Mershon: it’s really difficult traveling with small children and it sounds like the woman was alone and struggling.

    Unfortunately, the David Alexanders of the world are too rare as so many passengers are “busy” watching movies or blogging or other very important work.

  19. Rob says:

    Well, Father, if there had been a folk-music-singing nun on board you could have borrowed her guitar and soothed everyone’s nerves with a couple of choruses of “There Is Only One River”… Oh, wait, wrong movie. Sorry.

    No need for anything so extreme as exorcism (do you have faculties for that in international airspace?). Simply read something to the kids – something a little above their grade level and in a foreign language. I’d suggest an unabridged edition of something weighty by Joseph Ratzinger (in the original German) or perhaps the official minutes of Vatican II committee meetings (in Latin).

    Noel – I like your Archbishop’s response.

  20. Lindsay says:

    Its a tough balance, isn’t it? Some people choose to allow their children to act terribly and others have unrealistic expectations and glare at you because your 2 year old wants to play peek-a-boo with them. Without having been there, I would take pity on both Fr. Z AND the mother–they both may have had reason to feel homicidal, lol.

    I do agree with Liz, however,that for many, the expectation is that children will misbehave. We get the most bizarre comments regarding our children and their *good* behavior, like, “Do your parents give you pills before you come to mass?” Um, no…

    And yet, while my children are well behaved 95% of the time, I have experienced the public meltdown where you are just sure everyone hates you and your child and thinks the worse. It happens to the best of us!

  21. Terri says:

    Okay – I will only pipe up as the mother of a growing brood of 3 children all under four, about to fly…I actually sympathize with Father…truly, there is a difference when a mother is trying to help what are clearly distraught, restless or scared children behave and a mother sitting with indifference, because that is how she “runs” her house.

    I am very prone to actually sympathize with (and try to help) a struggling mother if she is trying to do her job. If she is not, I understand Father’s “dreadful” position in the airplane, I don’t know if would have been able to avoid the temptation to scowl at the whole lot of them.

    Pray for the children, who are devoid of the benefits good parenting has on their demeanor and their soul. Pray for the mother, who will have to answer for it, and by all means offer it up…suffering comes in many forms…Labor during birth for one…

  22. Paul says:

    It’s a shame the check in staff did not recognize you Father, surely they would have bumped you up to first or business class – only fitting for the best Catholic blogger out there. Have a wonderful trip Father!

  23. Bo says:

    As a young parent with two little ones below the age of 2, it is true that people who cannot stand the sound of children at all annoy me. But what annoys me even more are people who either a) help one of my children disobey his parents, in the myriad of ways people are capable of doing, especially in Mass when they should be paying attention to Christ and not smiling at my 19 month old son when he does something he shouldn’t, or b) let their kids raise so much hell that it sets an incredibly horrible example for my kid, yet again especially at Mass when my son would more than likely just settle down and read one of his books if he didn’t see others kids his age allowed to crawl on pews loudly like it was a jungle gym, getting him all jazzed up to run around as well. I don’t want my kids to march around like soldiers, but I do want them to be polite, especially indoors (let them scream outside as much as they want). And just one more complaint: it really isn’t fun to be the one parent who will discipline their child in public even though they need, again, especially at Mass. Oh the old days, when everyone in my neighborhood had permission to put me in my place if needed, and my parents were held to the same responsibility for the other neighbor children! (and that was only the 80’s!)

  24. tune says:

    From Pope BXVI: “This ‘motu proprio’ is simply an act of tolerance, with a pastoral objective, for people who have been formed in this liturgy, who love it, know it and want to live with this liturgy,” he said. “It is a small group, given that it presupposes a formation in Latin, a formation in a certain culture…” “the Pope affirmed. “I think that there is the possibility of mutual enrichment. It’s clear that the renewed liturgy is the ordinary liturgy of our times.” taken from

    What do you think Father? [What do I think? Hmmm… I think this is spectacularly off-topic, and that I won’t deal with it here. Perhaps in another entry. – Fr. Z]

  25. RBrown says:

    I was on a trans-Atlantic flight once, and an Aussie lady was near me with 2 of her 5 children–3 were somewhere else on the plane. The little girl, who I think was about 4, was next to me, and we started playing cards. Her mother said that while I was entertaining the daughter, she would go back with the other kids.

    I was fine with that. Kids are much more fun and interesting than adults are.

  26. Mike says:

    Clapham Park? Sounds like some no-go area in a grisly part of Birmingham. Surely you must mean Clapham Common.

  27. Guy the Grouch says:

    Yes indeed the sound of screaming crying children on a trans-Atlantic light is worse than nails on a blackboard. Though thank God that they are healthy enough to cry. When I had the honor of serving as a lay missionary with the Dominicans in Peru, many babies did not cry simply because they did not have the strength.

    Many lay folks are guilty of providing breeding grounds for clericalism by pandering to the priests, as many on this blog do whenever someone is critical of the author. We have a duty to honor the priesthood for sure. In the Byzantine Rite we kiss the priest’s hand after receiving a blessing, and rather than shaking his is hand, when we greet him, we ask for a blessing no matter if we disagree with him on certain issues or not.

    Perhaps some of the more supportive readers could contribute to a special fund that would allow Father John to purchase an upgraded seat in business class?

    Enjoy your journey Father. My prayers for your safety.

  28. Romulus says:

    About screaming children: I am in no position to judge Fr. Z’s experience (which once happened to me on a transatlantic flight), but often children scream on airplanes because their ears are hurting from the change in pressure, which they don’t know how to equalise. Screaming is a natural and healthy reaction to pain, especially in a child, so what poor Fr. Z had to endure was not necessarily a behavioral issue.

  29. Dominic says:

    Obviously, most of the comments on here dealing with the irrelevant part of this post (about unruly children) are from non-Brits.

    The information you wanted, Father, is this: stick to the Fullers ales. A good Fullers pub is the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street (not too far from the Oratory which you are visiting, so I understand, at some point). Enjoy your visit!

  30. A Random Friar says:

    I once got “bumped” to first class at the last minute due to an overbooking. I presume it was because I was in clericals. Since I didn’t have time to argue, I took off my collar and boarded. I’d rather have a screaming baby next to my ear than some people rolling their eyes and exclaiming how “Father travels in the lap of luxury…” (I’ve seen it happen to other priests).

  31. CK says:

    It sounds like Father was experiencing more than just a “fidgeting” child. Screaming until they tired themselves out could mean a lot of things…but it still isn’t pleasant, esp. with the tenseness of today’s flights (and their other inconveniences). It sounds like, if the mother had just tuned them out, that it must continue a lot outside the airlines!

    Being in a retired military family I have to say that the kids in such a life of patient flexibility and obedience, they and their parents were very sensitive to disruptive behavior. We still notice it when visiting nearby PX or Commissary. If there is ever interaction it’s usually the kids trying to be helpful. It’s like walking into another world…of at least good manners and consideration of others.

    The worst flight for us was in returning from Milano on a plane of teens. Complete chaos…again thinking they were the only ones who paid good money with expectations of a decent flight experience. Sorry, but too much stimulation today…and sometimes Cesar Milan’s dog psychology tips could come into good use – I understand he also was called in for just such families and straightened things out – like nanny 911 might also do!

  32. William Tighe says:

    Please do give my greetings and good wishes to Fr. Basden; we were undergraduates together at Georgetown 35+ years ago.

  33. Dominic H says:

    Mike – to be sure, there is a Clapham Park in south London, kind of between Streatham and Tooting. It’s a neighbourhood rather than a green space, unlike the Common – I fear the park is all but long gone.

    I’d like to second the other Dominic’s recommendation of the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street (not that near to the Oratory, all told…a good 20+ minute walk, anyway) – one of the finest pubs in London (and I speak as a connoisseur of such matters), although it can get rather crowded. If so, the Uxbridge Arms and the Cock and Bottle (both a little beyond Notting Hill Gate) can be relied upon. The website may help.

    Beyond all that – I wish you every good wish for your trip to these shores, Father..

  34. TNCath says:

    I feel your pain, Fr. Z. I have come to the conclusion that parents who travel with children should be put in a special part of the plane where their kids can be as loud as they wish without disturbing everyone else’s flight. I find any type of loud talking on airplanes to be extremely rude. Passengers are already in spaces that are much too close for comfort; passengers should be considerate, keep to themselves, and be quiet. We live in a world of noise pollution. Cell phones ringing in public, people talking on their cell phones within earshot of others, sounds from video games, computer noises: ALL of these annoyances should be turned OFF at all times whenever one is in public.

  35. It is hard to know what to think in these situations.

    Kids fuss. That is not the problem. Kids are fine!

    The problem comes when parents don’t see to care.

    These kids were in total melt down.

    There are times when I wonder if kids under a certain age should be taken to some public places.

    Again… no one is surprised, or bothered much, if a kid fusses a bit. But there are limits when that fussing affects certain environments.

  36. Oremus says:

    My son, two at the time, did cry for almost 4 hours on an overseas flight because he was leaving his daddy. I tried everything, the porter tried everything, including chocolate which made him worse. The lady behind me began kicking my seat almost to the point of me falling out.
    I was mortified. I spent most of the time walking back and forth where the bathrooms
    I also know there are parents, for whatever reason, exhaustion maybe, let the kids
    go wild, or so it seems.

  37. Agnes says:

    Though on an airplane all. unfortunately, are captive. It is absolute purgatory and I have young kids in bulk. When the twins were ganging up on me as infants, I’d pop in earplugs just to get about the business of mothering without a migraine. Pack some earplugs in your carry on as a just in case.

    Breeding ground for clericalism? Is that the new slogan to replace “open to life”? I’d be honored if one of my boys were called to bring the Word and the Sacraments to the people of God. Priests are people too, just set apart for the worship – but maybe a few screamed their heads off on airplanes in their youth, or worse, in the back of the church! :-)

  38. Larry says:


    I have four grown children. All still practicing Catholics. All with College Degrees or above. I’ve traveled accross the Atlantic more than once on crowded jets and I’ve been disturbed by crying or evene screaming children. I’ve ridden trains where they have run amock. So what? They are children and if you don’t rejoice that they are not dead in a garbage can behiind the abortion clinic then you understand the meaning of the t shirt kids wear: “I survived Roe v Wade”.
    They have sound proof ear muffs and sound deadening ear phones. Close you r eyes and pray a rosary or 10! Maybe Mary will hear you and quiet HER OTHER CHILDREN!

  39. Maureen says:

    I worked at a department store for a couple years, and learned the magical power of chatting with kids. Most kids who are acting up are either bored, or think nobody is paying attention. A lot of times, just striking up a conversation works to solve these problems.

    However, it’s a lot easier for a busybody woman like myself to do this, than it would be for Father. Especially since Father was apparently not seated close enough to do anything.

    And yes, it’s clearly the parent’s responsibility to do her best to keep kids quiet, unless there really is a problem. Adults are programmed by nature to pay attention to screaming kids, so it’s not as if people can easily put that aside.

  40. lcb says:

    maureen and rbrown are spot on- chat with the little ones and they’ll usually calm very quickly. They are little people, so treating them like a person can get good results. As rbrown added, they are usually far more interesting than adults.

    Also consider some bose quit comfort headphones. Best investment I’ve ever made.

  41. Jane says:

    I take my autistic son to McDonalds every Saturday afternoon. Small children in there scream their brains out. It is a wonder that I am not deaf yet. It is hard to understand the mothers who just let it happen and do nothing.

  42. Geoffrey says:

    It’s all up to the parents. I would never have misbehaved in public as a child. All my parents had to do was give me “the look”. What ever happened to that?

  43. JSP says:

    Commericial flights are public transportation. They aren’t spa treatments. If you want relaxation time, charter your own flight. Don’t board what amounts to a greyhound bus in the sky and expect a spa treatment or zenlike peace and quiet.

    I once traveled first class transatlantic with my four kids — all under six. There were a few complaints from passengers; not because my kids were in meltdown at any point, but because they were being kids at some point – up and down to the bathroom a lot, whining and complaining a little..

    When I travel alone now, children never bother me. I’ve changed seats with other passengers who were complaining of sitting next to or behind fussy 3-year olds.

    For married men, “nothing sounds so sweet as the screams of another man’s child!”

  44. JSP says:

    But lay off treating Father with contempt!

    Is it a post-Vatican II phenomenon that we expect all priests now to act around kids like Barney the Dinosaur with a Roman Collar.

    I’ve got no problem with priests who are irritated by small children. In fact, I find it refreshing.

  45. Larry says:

    Because we might be critical we are not contemptous. The apostles themselves were less than courteous to children and Jesus called them on it. If we call a priest to more acurately reflect the Gospel life that is not contmept; but, love.

    All of us I am sure have been upset with disobedient children and children who are out of control. This is part of the society we live in. Discipline is frowned upon. Tolerance is everything. The Gospel does not see things that way; but, it does call us to love (caritas) and to rise above our human anger and frustration.

    Finally, the priesthood of Jesus Christ is a call to service not comfort. The apostles learned that lesson and served the Church, i.e. the people (persons) who make up the Mystical Body Christ. Are we to expect less from our priests today? Most of the people on this blog expect priests to be 99.9% letter and action perfect when saying Mass. Some of us want to also see patience, humility, understanding and charity. Fr. Z very often displays these qualities and when he does not I for one am disappointed. I am seldom in this state because Father is seldom a grump. I am certain that Fr.’s comments were for his “family” on this blog and I am equally certain that he displayed Christian Charity on his flight. Patience, being a virtue I sadly lack leads me often to shoot from the hip. I am certain that Father will pray for my need of virtue even as I pray for him. Hope you have a better flight coming home! Pax et Bonum

  46. JSP says:


    I just like seeing a grumpy priest once and a while.

    So many liberal priests are jolly happy go-lucky and backslapping. They hold the affections of the people by this behavior. When a young more conservative priest arrives in the parish, especially the older parishoners will say “he’s so serious.. not like Fr. Larry at all”

    I feel a certain sense of comfort when I’m around an ornory priest who doesn’t pretend to be Santa Claus or Barney everytime he sees a small child.

  47. Agnes says:

    We once had an old priest who was a complete grump. He would actually stop dead in the middle of a homily and wait for a mom to take her wailing child out of the church.

    With kids in bulk, I thought he hated me.

    One day he looked me square in the eye, grinned ear to ear, and winked.

    Then it was back to being a grump. But I knew from then on it was nothing personal.

  48. Pat says:

    Unlike 99.99% of you reading and commenting on the blog – I was actually on the phone with Fr. Z as he waited for the flight to close its doors and leave the gate.

    I heard the meltdown that was occurring onboard before the doors had even shut. He was very kind at that point and knew what lay ahead in terms of an extended period of time in an enclosed space with unhappy little people.

    Had it been me – I would not have been so patient or kind. I have flown with children and know how trying it could be – but rest assured had it been me, as a parent I would have at least been apologetic towards my fellow passengers. I know it is too much to hope for good manners in public spaces these days, but hope springs eternal.

  49. Larry says:


    Let me assure you that if I see a priest acting like barney the whatever with little kids I’m more than a little suspicious given the last few years. And everyone else should watch carefully too.
    On the other hand we once had a conductor on Amtrk who was let go because he scared the living daylights out of children. Not his behavior; just his looks and voice! He was pretty scary!

  50. Melody says:

    I think some here are forgetting the amazing miracle of the priesthood…

    Priests are simultaneously in persona Christi and *gasp* human being with normal reactions to thing. Imagine that!

    Personally, I’m in agreement with Father Z. It’s not the kids pe se. It’s the parents who just completely ignore their children’s behavior. I sympathize because it is harder for a man, much less a priest (with today’s sad world) to correct others’ children.

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