Monday, January 30, 2012

Let the Quiet Children Come to Me?

I often wonder if "quiet" is a word many Catholics insert into Jesus' words when He says, "Let the children come to me." He didn't qualify that statement with "quiet", "well-behaved" or "mute".  Our parish instituted a new policy last year sometime.  Announcements about disruptive children being brought out were being made every week along with announcements about the "training room".  We eventually began a nursery at one Mass.  Note: this is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, it is a policy of our local parish.  One I hope will change. Here is a good article on the subject: For Crying Out Loud

Not long after the policy went into effect, the priest asked a woman to take her child out during the homily.  I was shocked, as the child was not being noisy.  He was moving around a bit, sure, but 3 year olds do that. I complained.  Then, the policy changed to making awkward pauses during the Mass for any noise or disruption. It has evolved into an atmosphere of complete intolerance for any noise, good or bad - from children. Adults talking during Mass goes without any punishment at all.  I call the pauses and the asking people to leave Mass punishments.

Yesterday, this policy escalated into a new level of intolerance.  Not only was Mass paused, but several parishioners, including an adult parishioner serving up on the altar, stared down a family whose baby cooed, babbled and made a few grunting noises.  This baby was not crying.  I was sitting directly behind this family with their precious children. Two well behaved toddlers and a baby in a car carrier. Really? A baby coos and people feel it is okay to turn their heads and stare them down?  I'd never seen this family at Mass before and I hope they were not scared away.   I was shocked by their actions and found it ironic that the man on the altar and one other parishioner staring had often disturbed me and my family with their conversations during the homily and even the Consecration! 

I am opposed to cry rooms, training rooms and nurseries.  We do not raise Catholic children by keeping them out of the church. We raise Catholic children by having them celebrate the Mass with us in the actual church and teaching them proper behavior and reverence.

My letter to the parish council (I just emailed it to them all):


Dear Parish Council,

The quiet baby policy has now escalated to an unacceptable level of intolerance.  I’ve addressed each of these issues with Father XXX in the past, and have decided that it is best to inform the council of my thoughts regarding this matter.  I find it quite ironic that those who stare down families whose babies coo or babble are often the ones who have disturbed me and my family with their endless chatter during Mass (even during the homily and Consecration!). I suggest adding announcements for restless, talkative adults.  Perhaps suggest that the training room is there for them, as well.

Yesterday, there was a family directly in front of me with a baby and two young sons.  Very well behaved young sons, I might add.  The baby DID NOT cry during Mass. They baby cooed and babbled.  I was embarrassed by the level of intolerance shown by my fellow parishioners, including one adult male serving up on the altar.  At one point, the man on the altar stared at this family for at least one entire minute.  I was horrified—he was standing sideways and adjusted his head so as to give them the “evil eye” when all their baby was doing was making a few coos and babbles. 

My husband and I have already decided we would no longer attend Mass at this parish if we have any more children.  No matter how wonderful, generous or brilliant the other parishioners are, they can never make up for the torment, embarrassment and torture parents must go through when their baby is cooing and babbling.  A crying child seems to be an unforgivable sin. If we are truly a pro-life people, we would be filled with joy when we heard the voices of children. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”  He didn’t qualify that statement with “quiet”, “well-behaved” or “mute”.  Perhaps, the noise of children are the prayers God enjoys most.

Crying babies are a completely different matter, and not the point of my letter.  We do not agree with cry rooms, training rooms or nurseries.  We do not raise Catholic children by keeping them out of the church. We raise Catholic children by having them celebrate the Mass with us in the actual church and teaching them proper behavior and reverence. Children are not perfect, just as adults are not perfect.  I personally am more irritated by adults who talk during Mass than any child who babbles or even cries. If you are going to punish families with pausing the Mass, evil looks and announcements, you need to treat the adult offenders accordingly.  I am utterly disgusted by the treatment this precious family received on Sunday.  I’ve not liked the policy from the very beginning, have voiced my opinion on the matter and believe, we, as a parish, have finally crossed the line.

One last note—while I do not care about the change in Mass times, I find it quite ironic that you expect parents to make their children behave inside the church, but do not require it outside the church. Isn’t is a bit ridiculous to be changing the Mass times when all that would be required would be to make parents be responsible for their own children? How about a few announcements about that?

If interested, here is a link to an article called “For Crying Out Loud”  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2012/01/for-crying-out-loud-a-pastors-message-to-parents/

Pattie Curran

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Way to go, Pattie! How horrible! I can't imagine! I would forward the letter to your local bishop, as well. When they chase people away from the church, are they going to wonder why it is then empty? I am so angered by this and am very glad that you are taking a stand!

God bless,
Lisa

BusyMommyinTN said...

Way to go Pattie!!!! Praise GOD!!! I am also glad you are taking a stand on this. When the children came to Jesus, I am sure they did not all do so quietly. Kids are children and God made them as they are. Childhood is a time to teach children how to behave in Mass, but kids will make mistakes and if they are chastised in this way, they won't WANT to be there when they are older!!!