Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Take Him Out"... of Mass

Well, I finally got it. Emphatically from a grumpy old man at Mass this morning. C was a bit more rambunctious today. He wanted to be held and walked... so we went outside to the back a few more times than usual. Here are my thoughts on this - if he is super loud, I will take him out. If he's making little baby noises here and there, I won't. I think it's so important for kids to experience Mass in the Church. Personally, I think it's very difficult to appreciate the beauty of the liturgy - the spiritual as well as physical elements - from a vestibule or a cry room. My church doesn't have a cry room - it has a gathering space with a large glass window in it so you can see inside the church from outside. There are speakers are scattered throughout but it isn't always that easy to hear. (Side note - cry rooms with all kinds of toys drive me nuts. I don't think going to Mass should be about a fun play room!)

Anyway, this morning, at the conclusion of Mass, we sang the Salve Regina as we always do during the month of May. Before the song was over, mr. grumpy was next to me telling me that I should take "the child" outside during Mass and keep him behind the glass.

I tried explaining that of course, if C is really loud, I will take him out. (He couldn't hear me. Interesting that he couldn't hear me clearly speaking right next to him but he can hear C talking when he's more than halfway across the church?? The Salve Regina wasn't that loud!) I told him I would speak to him outside. We went outside and again I explained that of course, I would take C out if he's really loud but that Jesus told us to bring the children to him and that it's important for him to be in Mass to learn how to behave, and that I don't take him out if he's just talking here and there. He said something to the effect of me not caring at all that it was distracting to everyone else. He also mentioned one of our former pastors and told me that he had the wall of glass built so that kids could stay out. (This former pastor came back to baptize C, and is a good friend. The gathering space was built so that people would have conversations outside the Church, one of his pet peeves! He's the oldest of 7 boys, uncle to countless nieces and nephews and certainly knows that kids are noisy. He was always extremely welcoming to kids in Mass when he was our pastor!!!!!) We concluded our discussion with me telling him to talk to the priests if it was such a concern to him. He said "I'm talking to you." I again told him to talk to the priests. He said again, "I'm talking to you." I said, well, let's talk to the priest now because he's coming down the aisle - so he turned and walked away. I literally was chasing him down and the priest at the Mass followed me out to see what was wrong. Mr. grumpy completely ignored me, and the priest, who, when he saw that I was upset, was very nice and told me that C was more than welcome to be at Mass and to keep bringing him.

Fortunately, I know from the many parishioners who have spoken to me- and who greet C most mornings, that he is not disturbing them. And one in particular comments that he never cries - he just sings!

Argh. It was so upsetting!!!!

I came home and re-read this comforting post - and the comments too. And I held C tightly and told him Jesus loves him and that he is always welcome at Mass. He may be too little to understand now, but what about when we adopt again and he's older, if someone says it about his brother or sister?

Fortunately, in recent months, I've also been at several churches and have heard priests announcing that kids are welcome in Mass, even when they are noisy. One mentioned how much he loved the communion hymn... which consisted only of the cries and babblings of babies and kids that day!

And the past 2 weekends when we were in Pittsburgh, my former pastor, Fr. T, has a tradition of blessing the children after Communion. The excitement of the children when they come up is tangible. They are SO HAPPY to be at Mass!!!!! I remembered Fr. T saying many many times to everyone- keep bringing the kids and keep having babies.

Here is my favorite part of the above post -
"I think that’s part of what it means to be pro-life. To see children always as gifts of grace, not inconveniences. As always welcome as part of God’s family, not as distractions to be avoided. To encourage and love them and show them that they are wanted. That we want them there because Jesus wants them there."
Here are my thoughts and please keep in mind that I can be a bit sarcastic....

1) Sit tomorrow right behind the man. Hold C's bottle just a little bit longer than normal away from him so he howls for it. OK. So I won't do that. But a tiny little itty bitty part of me wants to... clearly, I have work to do on me, too. :)

2) Apologize to the man for C distracting him from his prayers and ask him to pray that all birthmothers, like C's, choose life for their children when faced with an unplanned pregnancy every time he hears C talk or cry.

3) Stop taking C to daily Mass. Not an option, but clearly what he'd prefer! Ugh.

4) Memorize Matthew 19:14 (Let the children come to me and do not hinder them... the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these) and just repeat it when approached by other grumpies!


5) Do nothing. (My mom's advice.) She said if he says anything again, to tell him I'm sorry but that I will pray for him. Don't moms always know best?


What would you do if (have you done when) this happened to you?

15 comments:

  1. 95% of the churches I have grown up in and have attended (either Baptist or Methodist) have always welcomed the children. When we were attending the Methodist church, they even invited the children down for a special sermon, and then they would go for a special time of worship downstairs (while our Baptist church does not have a separate sermon time they do have the children sit in on the service until about half way). However, that is not to say they CANNOT stay with mom and dad if they'd like and not to say that BABIES/TODDLERS HAVE to be in the nursery. Some of my most fond memories of being in church is when all is quiet and a little speaks or cries. I teach little ones at our local Bible study on Wednesday mornings, and I am here to tell you that even at the ripe old age of 2, they are absorbing everything. There have been times when I've wondered what exactly they have gotten out of a lesson (because they were talking, giggling or squirming)...and then all it takes is for one of their moms to tell me something they said to them later on. And I KNOW they were taking it all in. I agree with your mother, you tried to express how you feel, obviously he wants no part of it (and it isn't just about your child I am sure), I would just let it go. It might help to understand that given what I believe his age to be, children WERE to be seen not heard. Oh well, this is our generation.

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    1. Thanks Lauren! You're right, they do absorb everything. I can ask C now where Jesus is on the cross and he knows exactly where the crucifix is in church.

      Sometimes kids voices are the best... like when they say "Amen" louder than everyone else, and a little bit delayed. :)

      I really appreciate your support! :)

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  2. I agree with you so much! I love taking Anthony to Mass and will let him "sing" quietly but when he does get too vocal I walk out with him but even at this young age I talk to him to let him know about "singing" softly. Church playrooms filled with toys upset me also. I would love to join you for Mass someday soon!

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    1. You're right!!! We can go to Mass sometime together now!! :)

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  3. There are grumps everywhere. Even at Mass. Don't let it take away your peace. I'm sure you always do the right thing with the baby.

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  4. My favorite is #1...and I think #2 would be so. awesome. (Hmmm, perhaps our sarcasm is why we are such good friends :)).

    And I'm so glad the priest was encouraging to you, that makes this a happy post!

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    1. Haha, yes! Love you, my fellow sarcastic, dear friend. :)

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  5. I draw the line at parents who (1) are, in my view, neglectful of discipline, and ignore their children's behavior - even to the point of never having eyes on a very young and very energetic child - so they won't have to deal with it. Don't bother circling the wagons against the evil childless girl; we have all seen these instances, bad parenting does happen (frequently), and this isn't my pet peeve because I hate kids - it's been a pet peeve since I was a teenager. I am sorry that the parents are worn out, though I think they would be less tired if they were more consistent to start with; and, yes, I know, that's easy for me to say. But I have seen the fruits of consistent discipline - there is a clear difference. Or, who (2) know that the child is making a significant amount of noise (even if for understandable reasons - infants do cry, and they can't be faulted, and they often can't be stopped, but I still came to hear the Mass, not screaming) and refuse to remove them from the sanctuary until they stop making a significant amount of noise. It's my thought that particularly liberal pastors will "welcome" even out-of-control kids into the sanctuary because they do not seriously believe the Mass is sacred, cannot imagine that anyone is praying, and know it makes them look like good guys, which is really all they care about. I don't care what these priests say; those attending Mass have the right to pray in peace. Every mother of very young children I have talked to candidly admits that taking her kids to Mass means she gets MUCH less reflective prayer time and is little able to concentrate on the Mass. If the kids distract their parents, it cannot be debated that they are a potential distraction to others. I don't want this point to be lost, because our generation includes a lot of self-indulgent parents who are happy to disrupt the Mass seriously to avoid the unpleasant task of disciplining their children.

    Conversely, of course, no child will learn to behave in Mass if he is not brought to Mass and expected to behave while there. For that reason, cry rooms (at least, when parked in during the whole Mass - they make sense as a temporary refuge) seem to me to be stupid. I remember being dragged out of Mass and spanked nearly every Sunday for a couple of years until I would sit still and shut up. (My mother didn't start bringing us to daily Mass until we were much older, but she wasn't attending daily Mass herself when we were little.) Nobody gave her dirty looks (as far as I know), because it was clear that I was wilful but she was fighting the good fight. Thus, if a baby is cooing, who cares? Or quietly talking - ditto. If I'll find it distracting, I don't sit near kids. I have no complaints about parents who keep their kids in their pews, keep a watchful eye on them, reproach all instances of failure to use an "indoor voice," and remove children who are uncontrollably screaming until the fit passes - even if the kids make some noise that I can hear. And I don't glare at any parent who perceives the start of the howl and begins evacuation proceedings promptly, even though said howling distracts me; these parents are doing their best. That's all the control over a child's behavior a parent can realistically exercise as far as I can see; it respects the right of other parishioners not to be forcibly interrupted from their reflections; and it gives the child the opportunity to learn self-control, which we all have to at some point.

    So, in short - it sounds to me like you were doing everything right, and this guy just has issues he wanted to take out on somebody (as evidenced by his refusal to take the matter up with the priest). But I am NOT on board with the "Bring them! Even if they're loud! Keep them right here in the sanctuary while they scream!" - no matter how many priests say so.

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    1. I agree Misfit. If C was screaming, I would certainly take him out - he's never done that... well, yet, haha. I'd be too embarrassed not to! But yes, some parents keep their kids in the cry room the entire Mass. Ugh.

      Thanks so much for commenting!!

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  6. Wow. Obviously I don't have experience with kids at Mass, but I am really surprised someone would come up to you at daily Mass (I would have thought daily goers would be way more lenient of normal (non-crying) baby behavior) and tell you to take your son out. Wow. It sounds like you explained yourself well to him, but he was expecting a small child to have adult behavior(!?) or else he wasn't welcome. That makes me sad. I read this article by Dr. Greg recently. It backs up everything you said. :)

    Also, I like #2. :)

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  7. I think some folks are so far removed from reality (perhaps because of age of life experiences) they have little tolerance. I see kids at church all the time. They laugh, blurt things out, and cry. It's a wonderful sound.. youth, life. I don't think the person necessarily was expecting adult behavior, but perhaps they were thinking kids shouldn't be there because of their disruptive potential. They just don't get it sadly.

    Let these things roll off your back:)

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  8. I've not had any negativity towards Luke. I've had the opposite. When people do comment, they always say that they enjoy his babbling, they love to watch him, etc, etc
    It may be the age of the man. It sounds like something my Grandma would say. We always went to a later church & I know the older generation that goes to early church is more "stoic" in their routines.
    I would do #1 and some penance afterwards. :-) Yes, I've got work to do too. But I think your response to the old man & getting the priest involved was fantastic! You are a quick thinker!!! Asking for prayers / saying your praying for him ... those are great comments too! If he keeps saying something, change up your responses. But keep going to Mass! You may soften that heart after all.

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  9. Sigh! Haven't had this yet, but...I don't really care what the grumps think! I would prob say ! "The Lord said let the children come to me, who am I to disagree?".

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