Thursday, January 17, 2008
I guess I did this backwards as, when last we met, we discussed getting children to go to Mass. Much earlier, a reader asked about having children at Mass in the first place. No wonder that person the other day was so mad about me ignoring her. I think I really am quite behind, upside down and backwards. I'd better get in gear, since Lent is upon us.
Here's where we should have begun:
What do you think about children at Mass? What noise level should others be expected to tolerate and when are parents supposed to get their kids out of Dodge? Our cry room can be likened to a toddler version of Lord of the Files, chaos reigning supreme. My three-year-old loves Mass (but only in the main sanctuary, not in the cry room), but my nine-month-old is a bit of a chatterer when I can't get him to sleep through the service. Thanks for listening!
It would be great if it were like the Lord of the Files in there. Everyone would be concentrating on mastering their alphabet.
Who's in charge of the cry room? Is your cry room like the McDonald's ball cage, where the kids get left to bounce around and throw things at each other while the parents are having a smoke on the other side of the building? I thought each parent stayed in the cry room with their child.
Show's you what I know. Our parish doesn't have a cry room.
Show's you what they know. Kid's belong at Mass.
I don't know what's happened to our society that so many people can no longer tolerate children, even people who are practically children themselves, i.e. young people. I remember when I was a little girl being amazed that there was a group of old people who excluded children from their retirement village in my home town. Unheard of!
My mother patiently explained that when you get really old, young children (especially very young children) make old people nervous. That's understandable. Children in what I call 'the chasing phase' (where you pretty much just chase them around, rescuing them, you and the dog from disasters and explosions) can be very nerve wracking for a rickety old thing who might break a hip. I still thought it was just a little mean to exclude them from your world. Peace and quiet is overrated.
Or to put it more succinctly in the words of my great uncle Lloyd, "You can sleep when you're dead."
Still, I understand.
But now the "leave all children behind" phenomena is massive. That might he because there are so many undisciplined children running around. No one likes that. Many parents seem to have forgotten how to say these two important words, "Don't run."
Children belong at Mass. How do we know? Jesus said so. "Suffer the little children to come unto me."
Note the word "suffer". He could have said, "Oh, bring the kids over!" Or even "let the children come unto me."
He didn't. He said, "suffer." Maybe each child should have that stamped on his little head. Then, when someone shoots his mother the stink eye, the child can point to his head, or his mother can, and then point to Jesus on the cross. Meanwhile, Mom can have stamped on her head, "Hey! I"m suffering, too!"
Of course, you have to do your part to discipline and keep your children quiet and respectful. I know you are doing that. And if the child is wailing or blabbering he has to go.
Other than that, Jesus commanded the rest of us to suffer having them around. Or suffer while having them around.
Anyhow, old people need a jolt once in a while to keep them perky, so don't worry too much about giving old Aunt Clara a shock to her system because the the five year old just stood on the baby's fingers and the sudden shriek is like pterodactyls coming in for a landing.
Jesus wants his family over to the house every Sunday, so go. He doesn't mind the squirming, shrieking, babbling, poking, climbing or sleeping. He knows they'll grow out of it. I've always wondered what Jesus would be doing in this picture if the children were pulling each other's hair and screaming. The same thing, no doubt, that He is doing now.
And if you are one of the people who has trouble tolerating children at Mass, this is your opportunity to suffer. It's almost Lent.