Thursday, January 5, 2012

It gets worse

Oh, y'all. Thank you so much for the kind and supportive emails, tweets, and comments. They mean so much to me.

Unfortunately, things today have gotten even worse.

I really did have to psych myself up to get to Mass this morning. I tried to do everything I could to make sure Nate would be as calm and quiet as possible: feed him a good breakfast (challenging, because often he'll just refuse to eat much of anything in the mornings), keep him away from any screen time before Mass, and get out the door with plenty of time. I blessed us both with holy water before we left, asking for special graces for good behavior, and on the drive over we prayed (well, I prayed) aloud, including praying for the woman whose unkind comments made yesterday so awful.

And Mass was fine! Good, even, with the exception of the moment walking back to our pew from Communion, when Nate full-on screeched. I made a beeline for the door, but he was quiet by the time we reached it (of course), so I hesitated for a moment to make sure he was really done and then went back to our pew. He was quiet for the post-communion prayer and the final blessing.

I even took it as a good sign that the gospel reading today was John's account of Jesus calling Nathanael to be a disciple.

I didn't see the woman from yesterday, and figured she had been one of a number of people attending with a new priest who was saying a votive Mass for his recently-deceased father. (It's actually a very touching story, which you can read here. The new priest had been a transitional deacon at the parish where I attend daily Mass, and the votive Mass was during the usual weekday Mass, resulting in a mix of jeans-clad daily Mass-goers and black-clad guests.)

I will freely admit that Nate was noisier during yesterday's Mass than he usually is. In fact, I took him out into the vestibule for the entire consecration and through the peace. I have no problem removing my child from Mass when it seems called for. The difficulty, though, as any mother of a young child can attest, is determining when a sudden cry or moment of chatter will disappear as quickly as it came on, in which case a retreat to the vestibule or cry room is counter-productive and actually more distracting. I mean, unless I'm going to spend the entire Mass outside the sanctuary, there will inevitably be some moments of noise that other worshippers will have to endure. It's a matter of discretion, and of balance, and there isn't a linear improvement in day-to-day behavior. It's unpredictable, and it's hard. Unless we want to flat-out exclude children from the Mass, though, it's inevitable.

I would expect that the pastor of this parish** would understand all of this. This parish is absolutely teeming with kids, and has both a preschool and a K-8 school. And so when the pastor pulled me aside after Mass this morning and began with the words, "I'd really like to encourage you," I honestly thought he was about to say something, you know, encouraging.

I was wrong. "I'd really like to encourage you to make use of the gathering space," he said instead, referring to the enormous hallway that surrounds the sanctuary on three sides. We used to sit out there all the time, and Nate sees it as an invitation to run around like a banshee. (Most kids do, it seems. On the rare occasion we've attended this parish on a Sunday, the "gathering space" is an absolute zoo.) He is so much better behaved inside the sanctuary, confined in a pew, that I eventually gave up on the gathering-space-cum-cry-room.

I just stared at him for a moment, stunned. I was actually stunned. I think my mouth might have dropped open. Was I actually hearing him right? I must have been, because he continued to explain that that's what the gathering space is for! And that he would make sure his microphone was on so that we could hear! And that when he was a little older, we could come back in!

When I finally composed myself enough to speak, the words that came out of my mouth were, "We won't be coming back." It's one thing to have a random layperson make an unkind comment about my two-year-old's behavior. But when the pastor of a parish is telling me to my face that he'd prefer that we sit at the back of the bus, so to speak, that's it. I'll find another parish for daily Mass.

He immediately jumped in that that wasn't the solution, and that it's just that he had complaints from "our visitors" yesterday (unkind lady, I assume), and that it can be distracting from what's supposed to be a prayerful and spiritual experience, and all I could hear is, "You're not good enough. Your child isn't good enough."

I couldn't say anything else. I didn't want to break down crying again. He finally said he'd pray for me (the charitable part of me will accept prayers from anyone who's offering; the uncharitable part wants to ask him if he'll Turn on his microphone! So I can hear it!), but then he just turned his back and walked away.

I just feel like it was all handled so badly, that if he really felt it was necessary to speak to me to "encourage me to use the gathering space," he at least could have (1) asked me to go somewhere more private to speak, instead of ambushing me by the greeting line, and (2) truly said something encouraging to me first, to soften the blow.

And now, I don't know what to do. David is furious and wants to go to the bishop. I'm unconvinced that it will do any good. Different parishes and pastors have different attitudes toward cry rooms and "children's liturgy" and nurseries and kids in Mass, and I have a feeling the bishop might just think it's okay that this particular parish relegates families with small children to the gigantic vestibule for Masses. I'm more inclined to speak to my own pastor, who sees Nate regularly and knows he's an energetic kid and sees all the efforts we make to improve his Mass behavior. I don't want my own pride to get in the way here if there's something that I really need to be doing differently, and maybe he has some genuinely constructive ideas.

Right now, though, I'm truly heartbroken. I started attending daily Mass last spring as a way to encourage better behavior on Sundays, even jokingly referring to it as "Mass Boot Camp," to family and friends. Since then, though, I've come to depend on the grace it offers me, even on the days when it's challenging.

What would you do? I honestly need some advice here. Just be kind, please. I'm feeling fragile.

(Posting this without proofreading, because I just can't look over it again without crying. Please forgive any typos.)


**Not our home parish, which only has daily Mass at seven a.m. Eight-thirty is enough of a feat, thank you very much.

51 comments:

Jennie said...

I'm not Catholic or particularly religious but as someone very much removed from this kind of specific situation (and I totally fear saying something wrong here since I don't understand) I just feel like church should be a complete safe haven that nearly every other public place can't be. It should be like coming home. You come in, you are accepted, this is your family.

Maybe I'm wrong, and it's not that simple, but you are bringing your child to Mass every day, and it's something so important to you that instead of staying home when you think it might be stressful, you go. You take your son and you go and I feel like people should be lining up to tell you what a great mother you are, how inspirational and encouraging to other mothers in the congregation you are. (Is it a congregation in a Catholic church? I am sweating over my lack of knowledge!)

That's great that they have the hallway for mothers who prefer it, but you want to be inside the church, and so you should be. Not just that, but you should be patted on the back, smiled at, pulled aside to hear "you are a blessing, your son is a blessing, and we're so glad to have you both," and nothing else.

I'm ... so sorry you're having to deal with this. You're a wonderful mother and you truly are an inspiration to others, and I'm just sorry that anyone would ever make you feel differently, especially those people who really should make you feel anything but badly.

Nissa said...

Lauren, see if you can find another parish church for daily Mass. My heart breaks for you.

Try to find one where there is a large homeschooling contingent who attend daily. Or ask around a Catholic homeschooling group for info about child-friendly parishes.

I'm so sorry. Sometimes people - even priests - forget that Mass is not personal, but corporate. And that children should be welcomed and soaked in our faith.

Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I've never posted here before but I feel like I have to with this one. My brother is a Catholic priest and we talk about this a lot because his current parish is old and small with no crying room, etc. He would NEVER discourage a parent from coming to mass - I mean seriously what priest would? (I guess this one!). The only thing that bothers him is when the parents are oblivious and don't make an effort to keep their child quiet, etc. He loves kids, has a bunch of crazy nieces and nephews and has said he would rather some noisy kids than an empty mass.

I hope you can find a different church for daily mass that is more welcoming of you. There aren't many younger people attending daily mass these days - they should be happy to see you and your child.

I would consider writing a letter to the Bishop - he might not do anything but I'd venture to guess he would at least pass it along to the priest.

BTW I am SO impressed you make it to mass every day with a toddler. Give yourself some credit for that!

Jessica said...

Lauren, I am so sorry. I definitely think you should talk to your own priest about it - today, if possible, so he knows how much it upset you - and seek his counsel on what to do with it from there. Maybe he can bring it to the Bishop, if he feels that would be right? Maybe he can speak to the other priest himself?

I think I said this yesterday, but I so admire you for taking Nate to daily Mass. We have a nursery at our church, but when Margaret is sick she comes to the service with us. (She's had pink eye, so not sick enough to stay home.) I'm always so stressed about the noise she makes, even though she stays relatively quiet. Our church, though, despite having a nursery and a cry room, is very supportive of having children in church and we've never received anything but encouraging comments. I hope you can find a parish for Daily Mass that is as accepting. I'm glad it sounds like your regular parish is.

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

See, you already have sooo much more grace than me. I practically never bring Gabe to Mass because it's always such a terrible experience. I wish we had a nursery like some churches do. Would solve so many problems! My church CLAIMS they want kids involved at Mass, which is why they don't have a cry room...but then you get the stink eye.

I'd also be mad that the priest wasn't more pastoral. Because, really? We need to work on that, folks!

Mostly, I think the objections are just louder than the people who think you're doing it right. I took Gabe out of a wedding Mass this summer due to shrieking, and at the reception the couple who was sitting behind me came up to say, "He was behaving perfectly. You didn't need to take him out!"

Now, THAT is encouraging. (Except, I took him out because the video guy was giving me a Look.)

Anyway, you are a fabulous mother. I have no advice, just anger and commiseration.

PS: My word verification is 'dmonic' which is too close to 'demonic' for my comfort. Ick!

potpie said...

Oh my goodness. Arwen's tweet directed me here. I am so sorry that that lady and the priest are treating you so poorly. How unkind of them! How UNCHRISTIAN! If I were you, I would write a strongly worded letter to both the priest and the bishop. And because I lean towards being a jerk, I would keep attending daily mass, with the little guy. Stick it to all of them. Who are they to say who can and cannot come to mass? How DARE they?!

I attend a church with a very fertile population. There are babies and kids everywhere, and it's an old church with no cry room OR gathering space. The kids are with us. And it's glorious. I love seeing them there. We are so blessed to go to mass there, and it's such a shame that not all parishes are as loving to families and little ones.

Karianna@ Caffeinated Catholic Mama said...

Hi Lauren, your blog was RT on Twitter, which is how I found it. I am so sorry! I am sorry that the Pastor was less than encouraging. I am sorry that the people of the parish, both visitors and parishioners feel that children who are energetic or make the slightest peep ought to be relegated to the gathering area.

I know exactly what you mean about the gathering areas. At our former parish in the St. Louis area (and you know that STL is heavily Catholic, with some very large families with many children, so there's bound to be someone having a bad day,) on Sundays, the Gathering area was very Zoo like. My husband used to take the kids out there if they were fussing (between 12-18 months) and he finally gave up on it because he couldn't concentrate on the Mass with the noise.

Jesus loves children. It's a shame that some Catholics only want children to be seen and not heard. Know that you are in my prayers for STRENGTH and FORTITUDE from persecution. Much Love to you.

Maggie said...

Ugh, this kind of thing makes me so angry! We claim to be a pro-life Church that champions the importance of family, but then this stuff happens!! The truth is that babies and children make noise sometimes, not because they are maliciously trying to interrupt the experience of others but because.... they are babies and children.
My heart goes out to you.

And I'd echo the comment above- try to find a different parish for Daily Mass, one with other young families in attendance.

Slim said...

I hate to join the people who are saying to find another church for daily Mass. It feels like telling you to find another family to have Thanksgiving with, you know?

But if you aren't welcome to participate as fully as you feel called to do, I don't know what other choice you can make.

And maybe Dave could write the letter and you could edit it so it sounds as loving as possible? I think it is helpful the higher-ups know about the effects of its churches' attitudes towards children.

You love the Church. It should love you back in a way you can feel.

Kate said...

My old parish was teeming with kids. Once, during a Sunday 11 AM mass, when little ones were being particularly loud, the priest paused in his homily. He smiled and said, "You know, I love that noise. In a church where we do not condone birth control or abortion, you don't get to complain about noisy babies."

The congregation burst into applause.

Find a new parish. Mt. 19:14, and if they don't get it, it's not the place for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so confused as to why you are taking your 2 yr old to daily mass. "mass bootcamp"? He's too young for that (would you apply the same technique to potty training knowing full well he isn't / wasn't ready? Force him to do something he clearly wasn't ready for?).
You are ruining the sacred experience for others by forcing your child to attend daily mass with you. So he's not there yet -- that's okay! He will be one day, just not today. If you want to get him accustomed to being in a church and being quiet and respectful, take him any morning or afternoon for some quiet prayer. On Sundays,, take him to the weekly children's liturgy when loud children are encouraged to go.
Now that I am on the other side of small children (but still have school age kids), I know which mass I can attend that works best for my family (and it's not the 9:15 children's Mass!).
I haven't read your other post, but I will readily admit that I am less than tolerant of small kids in Mass, particularly those outside of the children's liturgies). If you have to bring a million snacks and diversions, then sit in the way back and be ready to leave at a moment's notice. The incessant eating, coloring, let alone talking/screaming, can absolutely ruin the experience for me.
Your son will get there - I thought mine never would - but until then, don't ask him to do more than he's capable of for his age. And if you do, then be as respectful of others as you're asking them to be of you.

Michelle said...

I came over to give you some support after seeing Arwen's tweet. I'm a practicing Reform Jew, so I don't really have a lot of experience with the Mass aspect of it - so if our Rabbi had made a comment to me about my child's behavior (I have 4 girls ranging in age from 4 to 10 and am pregnant with #5) I'd have no Bishop to turn to. I do know how hard it is to be made to feel unwelcome in a house of worship. That's just awful! I'm so sorry that your calling to pray is being treated in this way. It's hard to balance the desire to attend a service with the need of a toddler to act like a toddler.
I feel like you are trying to be true to your spirituality and set a good example for your son and are being scolded for his inability to conform to what others may want. Maybe there is another parish that would be more understanding. Our congregation has closed circuit TVs so those of us who have young children who may not be able to conform to the standards that others are looking for can still feel somewhat a part of the service while giving the children a place to act like children do. It is quite common for my family to split during the service and for some of us to end up in the family room especially during the portions of the service that are more solemn or quiet. Attending daily Mass is obviously very important to you - and showing your son this seems equally important. I totally get that. I hope you are able to find a place to worship where you feel welcome, comfortable and at home. Hugs - as a person in an interfaith family, I know it's hard to find a place like that and just how important that is for your own spiritual well-being.

Barb, sfo said...

As a mom who bailed on daily Mass because I couldn't deal with a crying child--despite a very welcoming priest and mostly welcoming assembly, I really feel for you. I'd advise you to write a heartfelt letter to the priest. Keep it 24 hours before sending and reread it to make sure it's what you really want to say. And pray for him.
Know that it does get better, and that I join these many commenters in praying for you and other parents in your position.

claire said...

This is outrageous. With all the people who have left the Church, and the majority of daily Masses being attended by older women, a priest should welcome a young family who is making the effort to come to daily Mass. He should at least make every effort to hear your side of the story before taking the side of the cranky, un-Christian lady who complained so rudely. How hypocritical. Maybe we should ban all the adults who cough, clear their throats, snort and provide all sorts of unsightly distractions during daily Mass. Then there are the ones who pray the Rosary all during Mass, rather than praying the prayers of the Mass. To single out young families with children is completely prejudiced. It would be one thing if you weren't making an effort to help him behave, but you clearly are. And I totally understand what you're saying about the judgment call that comes into play when a child makes a noise and you're not sure if he's done or if it's going to continue. There has to be some flexibility for these occasions. Children shouldn't be banned to the vestibule where they play instead of learning how to behave at Mass, and families shouldn't be limited to one specific children's Mass that may or may not fit into their schedules (work schedules, nap schedules, etc). Not to mention the fact that not every parish has a children's liturgy. This situation is such a bad witness to non-believers. I definitely think something needs to be said to your regular pastor and/or the bishop.

Kate said...

Lauren, I'm so sorry this is the response you got, rather than encouragement. Sadly, this seems to be par for the course for the diocese of Arlington (we're in Alexandria). We had such a spectacularly horrible marriage prep experience that my husband nearly refused to be married in a church. I wrote a scathing letter to the priest and cc'd both the bishop of Arlington and archbishop of DC, yet never heard a word back from anyone. The very kind priest who married us (my childhood pastor in MA) was appalled by our treatment, but sadly, not surprised. The DC archdiocese tends to forget that the people ARE the church. It is NOT you or your son who are the problem!

Peony Moss said...

Your son is baptized? Then he has the right to be there, as do you.

I'd suggest a face-to-face meeting between you, your husband, and the priest. That might be more productive than letters at this point.

Mass isn't about the aesthetic appreciation of "a sacred experience." Courtesy for others is important, of course, but one isolated screech shouldn't be enough to get a toddler banished.

Rosemary said...

No!!!!! I am so sorry!! I hope my previous comment didn't make it seem I thought you should go out the rest of the mass - I am not into that and I know EXACTLY the struggle you are talking about - should I go? should I stay? Etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

I would first say that I completely understand how you are feeling. I have a 10, 7, 5, and 5 month old and mass has been an up and down ride for us. The parish I grew up in did not have a cry room, so when we arrived at our current one and found that they did, I was excited. That soured fast. Though our priest has repeatedly requested that it be left for parents of infants, some people bring their 5, 6, 7, etc and up kids (not talking about parents with mixed ages) and let them loose...literally. You can't even hear for the trucks crashing and bashing. We don't have a nursery, though frankly I don't believe in them anyway. So, there we are determined to bring our kids to mass. I don't believe they can learn to behave without being there...when do you bring them? At what age is it not a pain?

I come from a large extended family of rigidly well behaved kids. We weren't allowed to be loud (or have snacks or color, etc). We simply were taken out if we did any of those things. We have done the same with our girls and not allowed them to participate in the running race that seems to always be happening out in the greeting space. We felt that if that seemed no fun then perhaps mass would seem better. Also, once the kids got to a certain age, we moved to the front...very front row. You would be surprised how much better they behaved once they could see what was going on.

Lastly, I have a feeling you were a bit unlucky. I bet it was your mean lady who talked to the priest, but I would bet a lot that she didn't tell him about that...or what she said. He really may have felt that he was letting you know about an option since this isn't your home parish, not trying to make you feel guilty. We had a bad experience once at a parish that wasn't our own. When we left I was embarrassed and mad. When I asked a nearby priest friend about it, I learned that that priest was supposed to be retired and was old and grumpy. Their parish rarely ever has children, that is the death knell for a parish in my opinion.

I also find that many parents are punished for "those parents"...you know the ones. Their kids are egging yours on in restaurants and church. Their kids are running up and down the aisles...and they are doing nothing. Not even asking them to stop. I feel like mass is such a sacred space (especially the consecration) and make every effort to either keep mine quiet or wip out of there when they aren't, but sometimes even the least little noise attracts attention because of the aforementioned kids.

Be strong, if you truly feel uncomfortable, find a new daily mass parish. Talk to your priest about ways to handle mass with your kids and handle the people that are there. It could have been a learning moment for all concerned if you could have had some ammunition beforehand.

Mama Bub said...

For some reason, this reminds me of the scene in Home Alone when the neighbor is talking to Kevin in church and he says, "You're always welcome in church." I'm not making light of your situation, but I've always found extreme comfort in the way he delivers that line. It really bothers me that isn't how you're being made to feel.

I don't think that you should HAVE to find another church, but I think there would be a benefit to finding another church where you would be more welcome, perhaps one where there are more children in attendance and the parishioners are more reasonable in their expectations.

How is your son expected to learn how to behave in church if he's never allowed to attend? What benefit is there to teaching him is that church is a place for him to run wildly in a hallway for an hour? (These are the things I would like to say to the people who gave you so much as a moment's hesitation that you're not doing the right thing.)

Arwen said...

Anonymous at 12:05pm, I sure hope you didn't follow my link to get here and post that comment for Lauren. You're Catholic? There are quite a few non-Catholics on this thread showing a darn sight more Christian charity than you are. I'm ashamed of you.

Did you read Kate's comment, just before yours? "In a church where we do not condone birth control or abortion, you don't get to complain about noisy babies." If you are pro-life, then you should be pro-children, and you should recognize that the Body of Christ includes children. Christ's disciples were worried that little ones would bother him, and he corrected them. He wants the children to come to him! It doesn't get clearer than that.

I think you are basically misunderstanding the purpose of the Mass. It is impossible for the Mass to be age-inappropriate for anyone. The Mass is not about any particular person's "sacred experience." It is about Christ present in the most real and vital way we have while we are still on earth: in the Eucharist, the heart of the Church. He is present for a wailing baby just as much as he is present for the devout older woman who sits quietly with her missal in hand. And perhaps the baby gives glory to God more effectively, if the woman is busy judging others for "ruining" her "experience." He might fuss, but at least he bears no ill will toward others.

Small children belong at Mass, as little as they might be aware of the theology behind it, because of the grace bestowed upon them there. Bringing a child to pray in the sanctuary is fundamentally inferior to bringing him to Mass; the sacrament of the Eucharist is the best way for us to worship God, and the Church encourages us to take advantage of it as much as we possibly can. All of us, even the inconvenient ones.

Lauren is my close friend. I talk to her almost daily. I encouraged her when she decided to start "Mass bootcamp" with her son, and I have witnessed the way that regular daily Mass attendance has brought grace to her life. She is careful to keep him as non-disruptive as possible, is concerned about the experiences of those around her, and is remarkably persistent in her willingness to keep coming back to seek Christ despite the extra work it makes for her. I pray for God to give me the grace of that kind of perseverance in seeking his presence.

I am not saying there should be no standards of behavior for children in public. Of course there should be, and children should not be allowed to run around or actively and loudly disrupt the Mass anymore than they should be allowed to in any other public place. But at Mass, more than anywhere else, the little ones are INVITED. Jesus himself wants them there, and it is our job as Christians to welcome them and try to love them as much as He does. Period.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I think this is ridiculous. How do they expect Nate to learn how to behave at Mass if they do not let him practice? Babies are a true blessing from God and should be welcomed. You do your best at making sure that he is not a distraction. I'm just horrified that you were treated this way. If it were me, I would probably try to find somewhere that welcomes us.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, because I am Catholic and I think its great that you go to daily mass- but I also have a 19 mo. old and I can barely get her to sit through a Sun. one, let alone a daily mass. Really it's not for them at this age- they aren't developmentally capable to understand sitting still, let alone what's going on and especially not daily. I'm kind of surprised how upset you are by this though- I'd find a babysitter or a nanny if I was that committed to going or stay in the crying room. While you have a right to be there, you do also have to be considerate of others.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read your blog before. A friend posted on facebook saying you needed some words of encouragement.
It's interesting reading your post and then the comments. Here are my thoughts: I'm a cradle Catholic mother of three. There is quite a gap between my 2nd and 3rd child so for several years we had gotten to that peaceful experience in Mass and now we are back at the stressful time with my youngest who is not quite 2. I really applaud you for making the effort to go to Mass. I have grown a lot in my faith in the last few years and I make the attempt to go to daily mass occasionally to attend the school mass with my older children but personally it is a very stressful experience for me trying to keep the baby from causing a huge distraction ( and she does!) I know how important it is for myself to be able to focus on the Mass and there are times when I really need to have no distractions. (You never know what other burdens people are coming to our Lord with.) I have even gotten to where I close my eyes during the readings and the homily because I don't want to be looking at what people are wearing or other silly things. I have been on both sides of the situation you are describing. The fact is that it just goes along with being a mother. I would try not to be so upset with the priest. He's trying to keep everyone happy and probably regretted the way the conversation went with you (hopefully). I always try to look at a situation from everyone's perspective. You have the priest who is a human being and is trying to do his job. You have the other parishioners who are trying to participate and focus on the Mass. And then you have this amazing mom who is trying to foster a growth in her faith and the faith of her son.
My suggestion is that you go to a church where you feel welcome and at the same time be as respectful as you can be to the priest and your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is important to have children learn how to behave in church but some kids just need a little more time to be ready. My family currently goes to two different Masses on Sunday or we use the nursery. That way we are all getting the most out of the experience. I do love when we all go together as a family but at the age my daughter is at, we rarely end up sitting together the entire Mass. It is important for you to have that alone time with God so you can refocus. Even Jesus withdrew from the crowds to be with his Father. God bless and know that the Lord knows what is in your heart! Try to be forgiving of others and pray for them when they are hurtful to you. It is not easy, but the grace you receive from offering it up will be your reward.

Patti Money said...

I'm not Catholic, but I am a United Methodist clergy person. I am shocked that any pastor would say or do anything to discourage a child and his/her parent(s) from participating fully in the worship experience. Nate is just as important a member of the worshiping community as everyone else because a) he's God's child, b) he's your child, and you and David promised to raise him to be a faithful Catholic Christian and c) he's been baptized and therefore everyone in the faith community is responsible for nurturing him into a mature faith (at least, that's my view; do you all include vows from the congregation as part of the baptism liturgy?).

Cry rooms and gathering spaces are for the convenience of parents and caregivers, not for the convenience of anyone else. If experiencing daily Mass is blessing both you and Nate and bringing you closer to God, then there is no reason that you shouldn't be there.

I am blessed to be part of a church that encourages children to be part of the service. In fact, my 4yo daughter enjoys dancing in the aisles during the songs.

The rebellious side of me says to keep bringing Nate to that SAME parish and that SAME Mass.

However, the pragmatic side of me says to find a more welcoming venue.
Blessings!

Karianna@ Caffeinated Catholic Mama said...

Anon 12:05p: Arwen already stepped in but I have to say that your particular attitude toward children at Mass is appalling. How is Nate supposed to learn how to experience Mass if he is only allowed to go on Sundays? 'Mass Bootcamp' is not unheard of and is actually done more often than one would think. Daily Mass runs about 30 minutes and that allows the time for the child to learn about the sights, sounds, and smells of the Mass. Nate will grow up learning about the Mass and how we are all members of the Body of Christ. He will probably be more behaved than the children who only attend Mass on Sundays or at Christmas or Easter. You mentioned choosing to attend a non-children's Mass on Sundays, and I don't know where you are located but usually there is only one or two daily Masses at a parish and by default they end up being Children's Masses. If you see a mother with a small child having challenges at the Mass, why don't you consider doing the charitable and Christian thing and giving her a smile, some words of encouragement or even offering her a hand? Let's not forget the Grace that flows from the Mass, the Grace that every person on this Earth needs. Lauren and Nate have every right to be at that Mass as every other Sinner in the world. Way to go for echoing the Pharisees.

Celeste said...

Not Catholic, just a reader of Arwen's and also a mother. I don't know how exactly you would train a child to behave in Mass without going. I think you were treated very badly by people who may have had no experience managing small children.

I love that you stood up to that man and told him you won't be back. I think you deserve a more welcoming community, and I hope somebody will be able to recommend one to you so you don't have to keep doing trial by error and incur more bad experiences.

While I admire Peony Moss's idea for the face to face meeting including your husband, I'm not convinced that the pastor has already taken sides against you.

I hope you're SOON able to post that it got better. It sounds like you're doing all you can, and I actually like the idea of daily Mass for Nate in terms of chances to learn that this is how we do it.

I will also add that short of having strictly child-free Masses for those who would be willing to ostracize the childed families, I can't see how a church can please absolutely everyone. I would just really like a Catholic church to have to justify why the joyful noise of children is such a problem. Or maybe...the gathering area should be reserved as a child-free area? I like that idea a lot!

((((hugs))))

Michelle said...

Ok as a non-Catholic and a lurker, you can take this comment with a grain of salt but my heart just broken when I read this.

I am willing to give the old lady a pass...I can imagine it was upsetting and bothersome to come to a mass in honor of a deceased loved one/friend and have a little one chattering and shrieking. BUT when she complained to the priest, I am not sure why he didn't mention that the votive mass was held at the same time as daily mass and clearly the scheduling wasn't ideal, it certainly isn't very charitable to banish mothers and young children from worshipping at daily mass.

I mean, who does that? It would be one thing if you were letting Nate run between pews and throw communion wafers...which I am VERY sure that you are not allowing.

Definitely, I think you have to find a new place for daily mass. Not sure if a letter to the bishop will help or not. :(

I'm sorry that you are having to deal with this. It does not mean you are a bad mother. Grr...people can be such jerks some times.

Megan said...

Oh dear, how can I post anything after Arwen as she was so eloquent? We are a pro-life church. Where there are Catholics there are going to be babies!

I'm so sorry this happened. It makes me so angry and so sad at the same time. The woman from yesterday and the priest today were just wrong. You have every right to be there, as does your son. Please know that for every person that complains there are so many more that support you silently. I know I've had people say positive things to me on difficult days a few times (Such a nice young man you have there! So nice to see a young face at church this morning! What a good job you are doing teaching him to go to mass!) and I hold fast onto those on other days when things aren't going so well!

The mass we go to at 8 am (not every day...some mornings are better than others) is at a church with a parish school so several days a week there are classes of students in there as well. I think this helps make the "overall feeling of the room" a bit more child friendly. They're are usually a few other moms of little ones there mixed in with your usual every day-ers (older) since it is so easy to go after dropping off the big kids at school. We don't often sit together as that makes good behavior harder but there is a feeling among us moms that we are all there together doing the best we can. I never thought about how lucky I was that this is the case.
Strength in numbers!

I know it would be very difficult for me to go back after that. It would just...really stress me out. Not what I want during Mass! Hopefully you can find somewhere else close by, or if that is not possible maybe some girlfriends and their babies to go with you.

Anonymous said...

Lauren,

This too, shall pass. Toddlers will be toddlers, and as you well know, some priests are awesome and others, not so much.

I personally would seek out the lady who was peeved and sit behind her at daily Mass, daily.

A priest once joked with me that being a priest would be easy if it weren't for all those parishioners; that loving God would be easy, if it weren't for all those other people.

Do not stop going to daily Mass, and do not stop going to the church at which you attend it. If you need extra courage, find another mom to go with.

It gets easier, I promise.

PAX

A'Dell said...

I can't read all the comments because small people are circling my ankles but HOLY CRAP LAUREN. I don't care if someone at WALMART says that to me IT IS RUDE TO TELL SOMEONE SHE HAS TO LEAVE WITH HER KIDS, ANY WHERE!

Unless there is a fricking sign on the door that says KIDS NOT ALLOWED UNLESS ABSOLUTELY SILENT then this is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

What if he had approached an elderly woman and said that her heavy use of perfume was disturbing everyone and she should go out to the gathering space *where the microphone is on* becuase she is bothering other people?

What if he had asked a lady in a low cut top to go to the gathering place?

What if he had asked a man that was too tall to go to the gathering place, because nobody could see over his head?

What if he had asked a loud breather to go out there?

What if he had asked a loud pray-er to go out there?

What if he had asked someone who sang badly to sing out there?

You're being picked on because your "annoyance" happens to be too young to speak up for himself and be outraged.

Talk to the Bishop, find a new parish but...agree with Jennie. If you're not welcome then...what's the point?

xoxo

What if he had

Tracy said...

My first thought is "Let the little children come to me." My second thought is that I am glad this isn't at your home parish. And while I have to wonder at these words from the pastor, I guess if at all possible I would find a different parish for daily mass. I'm so sorry.

Elizabeth said...

I seriously cannot believe that you are going to the EXTRAORDINARY effort to go to mass EVERY SINGLE DAY with YOUR CHILD and they have not erected a statue to you in the lobby.
I want to live in a world where someone sees you doing this and perhaps struggling with it at times, and yet doing the very best you can, and comes to you and says "What a good job you are doing. What an amazing effort. What astonishing dedication. I am impressed. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you in this effort." NOT IN A WORLD WHERE YOU GET KICKED OUT OF CHURCH GOOD GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.
I am sorry, but this is just astonishingly ridiculous.
You aren't taking your two year old to the ballet. IT IS CHURCH. EVERYONE GETS TO GO AND PEOPLE SHOULD HELP YOU DO THAT.
Wow, do I feel mad now. Can "I" write a letter to the bishop?!

Tracy said...

And another thought... I am not Catholic, but attended mass with my brother in law's family on Christmas Eve. I was very stressed about it since I have a child with a disability (autism) who doesn't always know when to talk and not to talk. I was relieved at how welcoming and accepting his parish was, especially since my niece was one of the singers, and of course as a Christian, I wanted to be at church. I can only imagine how it would have been at a less welcoming parish when my child loudly requested a bathroom. Other than that verbal request, he managed to sit and stand quietly through the mass (of course, I did take him to the restroom!). A sweet lady encouraged me at how well behaved he was, having observed him after the service was over. I wish more people were as encouraging.

Carmen said...

TO the person saying "you're ruining the sanctity" by bringing little kids to daily Mass -- WHAT IS MORE SACRED than life? New life? Young life? These young kids are the future of the Church. These babies might be future priests or Sisters. These little children will someday bring you hot meals when you're old and homebound, or they will volunteer to bring you to Mass when you can no longer drive yourself. Let the little children come to Jesus. And if you can't bring yourself to do that, crack open your Bible before you crack open your mouth.

I dislike cry rooms. I'm actually happy that my parish hasn't been able to afford to do any new building yet; there is no cry room. The kids are there. They are welcome and so are their parents, and I've never, ever seen anyone be rude to them.

You're blessed to have weekday Mass at all. How dare ANYONE try to say "If you have a baby or a toddler, you're allowed to see Jesus only on Sundays." HOW DARE YOU. I am SO ANGRY at that comment. I think Jesus would be too.

To the author, find another daily Mass parish if you can; or adjust your schedule so you can go to daily Mass at your own parish. Either way, I would also write a letter to that parish priest and visibly CC the Bishop so the priest knows the Bishop is getting a copy. This is inexcusable of that priest.

All are welcome, even those -- ESPECIALLY those -- with small children. KNOW THIS. Believe it! No one has the right to tell you to leave the presence of Jesus Christ.

PrinceOfTheWest said...

Well, a lot of what I might say has already been said more eloquently than I could, so I won't cover that ground again. I'll chime in on a personal note: E and I never shied from taking all our children to worship, every time. Sure, we'd take them to the back our out in the hall if they got fussy, but otherwise we were not only in the nave, but right up front where the kiddos could see what was going on. I don't remember getting any guff at Mass for our brood, but perhaps that's because we WERE right up front and couldn't see any scowls and glares. Our attitude was simple: there's no age too young to be in Mass. Christ said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them." As others have already pointed out, Mass isn't a time for anyone's "worship experience" - even the celebrant's - it's a time for coming before God and receiving grace. (I won't add the caveat about parents who completely ignore flagrant disruptive behavior, because I know you & D aren't that type.)

I sympathize with how you feel. E and I had a similar experience at a church we were visiting once when A was a bit younger than Nate. We didn't want to leave A in a strange nursery, and since she knew how to behave in church, we just brought her in. She was being pleasantly babyish, not fussing but quitely chatting with us, but that was too much for the worship leaders, who actually sent an usher to ask us to take her out. We simply left.

Unfortunately, churches that do not welcome children ultimately get what they wish. There are far too many churches and parishes that are dying because when they should have been welcoming families with children, they were showing them the door. I encourage you to stick to your guns, and offer these trials up as part of the burden of raising your child(ren) in Christ. It is a shame and disgrace that you should have to endure this from the Church, but stick it out anyway. Remember: E and I never hesitated to bring ours to Mass from infancy on up, and we sat right up front. Look how ours turned out. Sure, there were other factors, but never shrinking from taking them into the Lord's presence to receive all the grace He had for them was part of it. Stand strong and be true to your vocation as a parent. You will be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

You poor thing. You know this is not your problem though, right? You have done nothing wrong and everything right. This is someone's else's problem and it is a shame for them that they are missing out on extending love and grace to you.

I'm not Catholic but we do go to a church that has fairly long meetings and a lot of noisy children. My daughter makes a fair amount of noise at times and kudos to the majority of people who do not even turn around. They remain focused, as they should, because they are the adults. Maturity is not allowing small distractions to pull you away from your focus. The only people who do turn around offer a sympathetic smile or one of enjoyment, then turn back. I think 99% of the people at your church are not bothered at all. Try not to let the one spoil your experience.

Valerie

Elsha said...

I am so sorry you've had to go through this. And I'm appalled by the people who think that children don't belong in church. Children absolutely belong in church!

I'm also a little confused at the priest telling you to "make use of the gathering space" and then telling you finding another parish isn't the solution. Um, seems to me if you aren't welcome in the sanctuary, finding a parish where you are welcome is definitely the solution.

You might not think so, but I think you're handling this all amazingly well. I'm not sure I would have the courage to go back after unkind lady's comments (especially not the next day.) I sincerely hope you figure out a solution.

Also, I want to find unkind lady and remind her that if she's not feeling spiritual at church it's nobody's fault but HER OWN.

I'll be praying for you.

HolyCow said...

I may be late to the conversation, but I wanted to weigh in. My three are teenaged and beyond and we are past the days of disastrous mass experiences, for us and those around us. We still attend mass together as a family and other parishioners are still nice and friendly.

My friend and mentor always reassured me that the grace that mothers receive is the holiest, because they are deep in doing the Lords work.

I agree that the unkind lady was just that-unkind and lacking charity! Her actions speak more about her than they do about you! The priest is misguided in his approach and just trying to quiet a squeaky wheel.

Don't let this experience discourage you! You are doing the right thing by taking your son to mass (not the vestibule!) and continue to be a witness (martyr) to your vocation.

Peter Kreeft says that from the cross splinters will fall. If you are not experiencing "splinters" then you are not close enough!

Our parish has many young faithful families. We have a nursery but no one is forced to use it. There is no cry room. Parents are encouraged to sit as close to the front as possible. We also have several parishioners with special needs. They often shout out or make noises during mass. One of our teens at church is blind and has a form of autism that makes communicating challenging. He is a lector at mass! His speech can be halting or difficult to follow, but his proclaiming The Word from Isaiah about restoring sight to the blind is, well beyond words.

Sometimes mass can be hard to follow. On those days I put myself right there in a crowd of people on the side of a mountain, trying to hear the words of Jesus. I know that they had no sound system, microphones, or cry room to send away the noisy ones. There were probably people eating, chatting, and bringing along bleating goats and other animals. In spite of all that, Jesus' message was proclaimed. He did it then and he will do it again, every day at every mass. "Those who have ears ought to hear."

Dr. Maureen said...

Lauren, I'm appalled. I can't believe the priest wants to kick you out of church. I agree with whomever suggested you talk to your own priest for advice, and also with whomever suggested you write a letter and then sit on it for a day or so to make sure it's not too angry. But I do think you should write to the pastor of this church or maybe the bishop and explain what has happened, because no one should be asked to leave church.

I've always had mixed feelings about cry rooms, and I think they can be good for parents who feel upset if they have loud kids, but no one should ever feel they *must* go to the cry room because they are not welcome in the church. And I thought this way long before I ever had my own kids, because I have always been glad to see kids at church. I have never felt anything but sympathy for struggling parents at Mass, and now that I have my own kids I feel empathy.

I'm nowhere near as eloquent as your other commenters, but this priest was wrong a million times over and I'm horrified. Just absolutely horrified.

Lisa said...

Oh, I am fired up and ready to call that pastor and give him a piece of my mind! As the mother of a very energetic child who, at four, still struggles to behave through an entire Mass, I understand. Our parish has a tiny vestibule (no cry room), which Olivia has always treated as a playspace, and taking her out is not an option because it is, in fact, a reward (in her mind) for her bad behavior. We have always avoided cry rooms except when she was an infant (when she didn't realize the difference anyway) because they are a zoo and also a playspace. Luckily, our pastor welcomes our energetic distraction and believes, like we do, that kids can't learn to behave in church unless they are IN church. We sit in the front pew, right next to the bloody crucifix. I've found that proximity to icons and statues helps her behave because she can look at them and ask questions. Also, she behaves better when she can see and participate in what's happening on the altar.

Here's my issue...we are called by our Church to be open to life and to welcome the children God sends and bring them up in the faith. The Church and Her representatives are open to life in the way they receive young families. A parish that accommodates and encourages families with small and active kids is a parish that is saying "We welcome God's gift of Life in your family and in our parish." A parish that asks you to sit in the hall so they don't have to deal with the reality of God's noisy little gifts is simply feeding the cultural mindset that kids are to be planned and controlled and limited.

We live in a very rural area where daily Mass is out of the question because of the limited schedule available. I hope that you can find a parish with daily Mass at the same or similar time that welcomes your participation. And, if I were you, I wouldn't hesitate to express your concerns to the offending priest and/or the Bishop. But I'd start with the priest, with a letter from your husband, explaining how upset the priest's approach made you and explaining your philosophy on kids and participation in Mass. It's not as if you let Nate run wild through the pews. It sounds like the pastor could use a little input so he can refine his own pastoral approach to young families.

priest's wife said...

Being a mom to young kids is hard- as little suggestion- maybe daddy can watch the babies once a week so you can go to Mass alone. You'll still go to Mass with the young ones when possible, but you will have a once a week experinece when you can BREATHE

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of 7 who looks back on her days of daily mass with longing and looks forward to the time in my life when it will again be appropriate. But I do not think it is now, with a rambunctious 1-year-old still at home, for the following reasons:
- There is not a single daily event I commit to in which I ask my child to sit quietly for as much as 20 minutes. He is incapable of it and I would never ask him to do something he is incapable of -- that's just poor parenting. I would also not allow him to run wild in the cryroom, flop around in the pew, or wander the aisles during daily mass, yet expect him to learn to sit quietly on Sundays. Again, poor parenting.
- Mass is more important than anything else in my week, which is exactly why I would not inflict my toddler on others who may make at least as much of an effort to get there and may be even more hungry for the graces it imparts. Let's not be quite so impressed with our struggles as stay-home-moms! One priest told me that he can look out at his congregation and see many who are desperate to be at daily mass: a spouse whose marriage is breaking up, an older person who has only the 1/2 hour respite from caring for an infirm spouse, another who is terminally ill. Why would I knowingly diminish their communion with Christ?
- At best, allowing my child to make even happy noises through mass shows an inability to understand that others, especially older people, are unused to the constant sounds of children and are distracted by them; at worst, it shows a disregard for others.
- Please consider the priest, who has devoted his life to celebrate this mass sometimes several times a day: at best, we forget that the priest may struggle to be present mentally and even spiritually at every mass; at worst, his ability to concentrate doesn't concern us.
- Frankly, it is just so self-centered. Out of everyone in the church, I can most easily tune out my child. Why do I insist that everyone else do the same?
- And could we consider the graces we might receive by selflessly choosing to miss daily mass, or even be consigned to "the back of the bus" (?!) in the cryroom or vestibule, so that others may worship without those distractions? After all, the Church does provide us with prayers of Spiritual Communion for just such circumstances.

claire said...

My definition of poor parenting would be modeling a lack of Christian charity. Coming to a blog and anonymously kicking someone who is clearly distraught, by implying that she's a poor parent, fits that definition.

pathgirl said...

Oh, my goodness, Lauren. I don't think I can add anything helpful that hasn't already been said (except for the few crankpots here), but HOLY COW. Your post quite literally took my breath away for a moment. How can a PRIEST be so ... so... rude doesn't begin to cover it. Unfeeling? Unable to see the GIFT that you are trying to give your son by bringing him the graces of Mass every day? Unable to see the beauty of a young family making the effort to be in Christ's presence, day after day? I hope he is not simultaneously bemoaning the lack of youth on-fire for the faith- where the heck does he think that faith starts?!

I don't know if going directly to the bishop is the thing to do, but talking to your own parish priest, who presumably knows you and your family quite a bit better, and perhaps writing a letter, or meeting again, with the offending priest would at least make you feel better and perhaps honestly open his heart.

Many years ago, when I 'only' had two kids, my faith was at a low point, and the baby was about 2, we had a similar experience. We had not been to Mass in a while, but one Sunday decided to attend a student parish associated with a university where my husband was going to school. Just before the homily, during a moment of silence, my toddler son dropped my rather heavy keys on the wooden pew (completely by accident, if it matters). He thought the noise was funny and then started to giggle. I shushed him up- the entirety of the event took maybe 10 seconds, max. Before beginning the homily, the priest took the opportunity to remind the congregation of the cry room, where, as he put it, 'disturbances can be contained so other parishioners can focus on the Mass'. My husband, not Catholic at the time, was so apalled that he refused to go back to that parish- even if it meant not coming to Mass with us. I was so mortified at having done something wrong after having been away for so long that I didn't go back- to any Mass- for quite some time myself.

So many young families are prompted by the birth of their children to return to the Church after some time away. If this is the reception we give them and their babies when they approach Jesus and his church, what are we telling them?! Are they going to have the same kind of motivation and strength of faith to simply go to Mass at a different parish, as you will, or will they stop going altogether?

Truly, I will pray for this priest, and also for you. You are strong and absolutely doing the right thing by taking Nate to Mass with you. Keep on goin', girl!!

Nic (NotPerfect) said...

I am so sorry this is happening.

I'm not presently Roman Catholic, though I was baptized one as an infant and went to Catholic school K-8. (I am confirmed as an Episcopalian though the church I attend currently is Reformed... It's a long story.)

The church I grew up in didn't have a cry room. The churches I've attended as an adult have all had some sort of nursery and Sunday School program, but they've all had the running theme that children are welcome, and encouraged, in services. The current church I attend does have a nursery school portion that is only during the sermon (uh, it's about an hour). The school portion is not to restrict kids from the service, but rather to teach them at their level. In my current church, a crying room would be verboten. Heck, my pastor's kids make noise. I LOVE hearing little ones ask questions or make observations. Or make car revving noises while their mothers blush and shush them. Children are such a joyful and wonderful part of the body of Christ, their presence should be encouraged and celebrated.

Oh, and what a foundation it's building for Nate, and your family, to have that anchor to your days.

I have only once seen a priest/pastor approach a parent about noise over the last five years. It was an extreme case. It was Christening day at the church and this mother and child were a guest. The child was in her stroller and screaming bloody murder. SCREAMING. And the mother pushed the stroller back and forth in the aisle while she sat in the pew. It was extremely distracting (and concerning because why wasn't she attending to the baby???). The priest approached her during Communion and, and I don't believe he even asked her to leave because she stayed there, she just picked the baby up.

I am sorry your priest wasn't able to pick up on what I heard in the woman's complaint: that something was preventing her from achieving Communion and that Nate was simply an excuse. She needs the grace, and she needs to be tended to, and your priest should have seen that. God is still there, in the same place He always is. Somethings can be it a bit harder to focus because a fire engine is driving by, the priest's shoes make a terrible, terrible squeaking noise every time he walks on the marble floor, a homeless man is sitting in the back and muttering under his breath, a person sneezes or a child squeals. Life is inherently filled with a joyful noise and we have to embrace that.

I'm so sorry for the way the priest handled the situation. I would approach the priest at your home parish if you have a relationship with him to get his insight into the situation. In my experience in the Episcopal Church, the Bishop's office is... supremely unhelpful. Individual complaints fall on deaf ears and it's a very, very political thing. It's a whole heap of bureaucracy and drama that frankly, you don't need.

I do read another blog (not Catholic, just Christian) who practices sit-time with her kids starting at a young age. She gradually works them up to 45 minutes of sitting silently, when they're young with a lovey or book, and when they're a little older, sitting attentively. I'd be happy to direct you to her blog about how she does it, if you'd like. It's similar to Mass bootcamp, just a different approach.

Nic (NotPerfect) said...

oy, please excuse my typos!

maggie said...

oh LAUREN. Certain people need some serious shin-kicking.

Every time I've been given Looks in Mass, every single time I've been afraid that someone is going to say something to me, it's actually an older lady who wants to encourage me, tell me my family is beautiful, that she was watching us because it made her happy to watch. One of them actually said that their noises were "angel noises". An amazing thing to hear when I was TOTALLY thinking she was going to scold me for my kids' behavior. I will pray that one of THESE old ladies enters your life to encourage you when you least expect it and most need it. I am so sorry this happened, and ashamed too. BLARGH.

maida said...

Full disclosure: I'm a priest.

That said, you are right and the pastor who spoke to you is wrong, full stop. I'm so sorry, so heart-broken, that something like this could happen.

I know you have good friends to encourage you, and your husband clearly has you back, so that is good. A letter to the Bishop is probably not a bad idea (you could send this post, edited for clarity and context) - not because the bishop can fix things for you (probably not) but because it is good for the bishop to know that one of his priests is creating so unwelcoming an atmosphere.

If there are other clergy in the parish, you could talk to them. You could talk to the priest once you've had a chance to collect your thoughts and compose yourself, and ask him to help you "problem-solve". Let him know how deeply his words cut (and the comments from the woman yesterday). He is probably unaware of how much it hurts or how hard you're trying.

Above all, don't give up. You are right, you are working so hard to do right by Nate, and I am sure God looks down on you and says "well done, good and faithful servant."

m said...

I think all the nice ladies (not the crazies) have given you wonderful advice. You SHOULD go to Mass, your child is welcome and I hope that the priest was just suggesting that you knew those were available to you.

I think it is commendable that you go to daily Mass. I think it is good for your son. I do agree with the poster that suggests maybe you try and go every now and then without your son. Mass is hard on children. And it’s hard on you to work so hard day after day to keep him quiet.

And, I’m sure your son senses that Mass is important to you and you’d rather not give your full attention to him, so he is trying to find ways to get that attention and make sure he is the most important thing. So, going on your own, might be a way to give him incentive to be better – if he’s good, he gets to go to Mass with mommy.

Here are some of the things that work for us.

A church bag – only for Mass. We go on Sundays, so it is a little more special. But it has crayons, church stickers, the children’s bulletin, some children’s bibles, a children’s book about Mass.

An apple – We always bring an apple as a snack – and usually some raisins, although those are frequently not needed. But on Sunday, an apple can take us through the beginning of the Mass to the homily. And then the incentive is the collection and then communion.

A good behavior incentive – whether it is a sticker chart or a donut or a trip to Costco. (My daughter really likes Costco and we’ve not gone. We’ve driven by after bad Mass experiences so that she can see us NOT going to Costco.)

The other thing that may also work is to sit up front. Make him part of the Mass. It really is a bit of a show. I know I have gotten good behavior when I’ve held my daughter and pointed out the readers, the priest saying prayers, the advent candles being lit each week. And maybe meet the priest, get a tour of the altar? If he says that your son has to be behaved, it might have more of an impact?

I will say a prayer for you – this has to be challenging.

Genie said...

I am not Catholic nor religious so I feel I can't really weigh in on the rights and wrongs of children and Mass ... But I *am* a parent to young children, and I think that you are doing a great job mothering. Our society as a whole is becoming more and more intolerant of children, and it seems to me that of all places, a church should welcome families. You are teaching your child about devotion, appropriate behaviour, morals and values, and while interruptions are hard to take, I would hope the bigger picture -- that you are guiding his character *for his lifetime* would take precedence over a few Masses with small interruptions.

All in all I'm just sorry that you are struggling when you are so clearly just trying to be a great parent. Best wishes.

MLB said...

I am a no-longer practicing catholic but fully support your right to attend mass with your two-year old. My understanding of the Roman Catholic faith is that every Catholic has an obligation to attend Mass. Therefore trying to prevent you and your child is antithetical to Catholic teaching. The priest is clearly in the wrong in this circumstance and I am so sorry that his ignorance has caused you and your family so much pain. Mass attendance should not cause emotional pain. Wishing you peace and a proper resolution.