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A couple of weeks ago I did something to which I am philosophically
opposed.  I left Mass immediately after receiving the
Eucharist.  I had to go outside to find some peace and
quiet.  I had to leave the church to be reverent.



That
Sunday, I found myself in front of two little old ladies who carried on
a fairly loud conversation during Mass.  I was beside a man who
was determined not to recite the Nicene Creed or pray the Lord’s Prayer
in unison–he had to be a ½ beat ahead of everyone else.  In
front of me were two small boys who played on the floor.  To my
left was a couple with three children–one was a toddler who babbled
incessantly and loudly for the entire hour, one was a baby who cried
louder than the average fire alarm and the third simply whispered and
moved around discontentedly. The baby’s mother tried to calm the child
by patting it on the back and bouncing it on her knee, which only
modified the cry to an agitating,
“ea-u-ah-u-ah-u-ah….eeeeeah-u-ah-ua-ah!”



I left immediately
after communion. I couldn’t stand another minute of it. I
couldn’t hear the homily. I have no idea what the message
was. I nearly ran out of church, with my nerves so agitated that
I felt as though I’d been stuck in a traffic jam, with all horns
blaring.  I did not feel as though I had had a reverent time to
worship and commune with the Lord. 



I’ll give a pass to
the older ladies out of respect for my elders.  As for Mr.
I-can-recite-the-Creed-faster-than-you-and-I’m-determined-to-prove-it,
I’ll assume he suffers from OPD (obnoxious personality disorder), and
can’t help annoying others.  I won’t blame the children. But, the
parents should be “taken to the wood shed”, as my granddaddy
used to say.



I travel a great deal due to my job, and I have
witnessed this problem at many of the churches I have
visited.  Young parents seem unwilling to control their
children. At my home church, the child of a pediatrician is
allowed to literally run up and down the aisles and make as much noise
as he pleases during Mass. At first, I simply sat on the other
side of the church and tried to ignore him.  However, the
pediatrician brought a friend and his family to church. Then, we
had two children behaving as if they were on a play ground during
Mass. New families came and their children joined in with those
two. Now, I can’t stand to go to Mass in my home town. 



Our Lord said “suffer the children,” but I don’t recall him saying that
parents should fail to discipline their children. I seem to
remember something about “spare the rod…” (Proverbs 13:24) Frankly, the
other Sunday at Mass, I would have spared the children, but taken the
fathers to the parking lot…don’t worry, I would have just given them a
strong “talking to”.



Children are not born knowing the norms
of behavior.  It is the duty of parents to impose proper conduct
on their children.  This attitude of respect for ones fellow man
is passed down from generation to generation.  Young parents of
today seem clueless as to discipline, even though I doubt they were
allowed to act so frightfully as children.  Given the degeneration
in parental discipline, the children of twemty years from now may be
expected to behave as if they have been raised by wolves.



Some
of my readers may think I am being too harsh. Let me remind you
that at Mass, our Lord is present! That bears repeating…our Lord
is present!  Would these same parents allow their children to
misbehave in a court of law?  No, they would show respect to a
judge. A judge would not tolerate such disruptive behavior. Would they allow their children to distract others at a play or a
movie? No, they would hush their children. How much more
respect does God deserve?



Some priests are hesitant to
confront the parents of an offending child.  Recently, in Athens,
GA, young parents left a church in a minor schism over just such an
issue.  So offended were they that the priest would dare
discipline his flock, that they went to another Catholic church.
Frankly, any such person who would cause division in the spiritual body
of Christ deserves no regard. Priests have every right to order
worship in their churches. 



Msgr. Ingham, in Southern
Pines, NC, handles disruptive children well.  Msgr. Ingham is a
quiet man; he is very pious, holy, and perhaps even a bit of a
mystic.  He is also easily distracted.  If a child makes
noise during Mass, he will stop and stare at the parent with a
double-barreled glare that would impede a charging bull.  He will
continue this silent discipline until the child is quieted or removed
to the cry room.  His quiet approach is remarkably
effective.  In spite of his sternness, he continues to be beloved
by those who attend his church; people will drive down from Raleigh for
his homilies and the very orthodox and reverent mass at St. Anthony’s.



If there is a nursery, and your children are too young to pay attention
in Mass, then take them to the nursery.  Too often I have seen
parents smile at their children as they disrupt Mass, enjoying the
attention being shown them by the parishioners.  If there is a
"cry room", for the love of God (literally), take your child there if
he or
she is crying!  Show some respect to our Lord and regard for your
neighbor.

 

(This post has been read 68 times)

3 Comments

  1. Mike-3 November 20, 2007

    First I think that the choice of titles is inappropriate as the verse from scripture was directed at people that were trying to downplay the role of children. If you have a point to make, twisting a scriptural reference is not a good place to start.
    Second, this is an area where a certain amount of authority/credentials would at least soften your audience. If you had a large family and were relating your successes and failures as a family at Mass, you might even be an inspiration. As a single man, you probably don’t have a lot you can do directly other than teaching or perhaps youth ministry.
    Third, raising a family is extremely hard work, and the tendency is to “pacify” children instead of training them – to guilt people into small families and treat children like a nuance instead of a blessing! As a father of three young children (and the oldest of six siblings), I have been surprised how many “dirty looks” my family gets just by walking in to a restaurant.
    You might want to re-read your scripture because it was directed EXACTLY at the spirit this article was written in. "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
    (Matthew 19:14)
    Bad behaviour is going to happen, parents should discipline their children, but the SPIRIT of both the parents and the church must reflect Christ’s view of children with the recognition that many mothers (and fathers) need help not dirty looks to raise up a generation of Godly men and women.

  2. Lisa-313345 February 15, 2008

    Some of the things you mention aren't a matter of discipline. Babies cry, and parents disciplining them into not crying…how do you suggest they do that? Tape their mouth shut? Beat them? Because I cannot think of any way that could be accomplished without abuse. While the other things (children running through the aisles, etc), are inappropriate, babies cry by their nature. God designed them to do that. Parents cannot control babies crying. I think you need to learn more about babies because you either know very little about them or a deeper issue is going on here.

  3. Darlene-577026 September 6, 2010

    I do agree with the crying child going tothe cry room but have come to realize that God loves all his children and is very happy that they come to “his house” to worship and to visit him. What helps me to ignore the “annoying” children is my picture in my mind of God smiling at these people as a father or mother would at their “naughty ” ones. Itdoes comfort me to imagine Jesus as “human” and helps me to concentate more on the mass than the “annoyances”

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