“But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Quiet as a church mouse? Ha… I say this almost weekly to the boys. In a recent article in the bulletin, our Pastor, Fr. Pat Sullivan responded to an email he had received on children at the parish and if it was wrong to stay at home in fear of our children disturbing everyone. This is a situation in which I have thought about on many occasions. As a family of 6, my wife and I have 4 very sweet and active boys under the age of 9, we find ourselves leaving the pew quite often, every week. Sometimes it is necessary as they are extremely loud, but other times I leave with them because of the fear of what might happen. I have never been one to worry about the “distractions” of other children at mass, but I fear my children distracting others and getting the “look” from a fellow parishioner.
As Fr. Pat said, “To that point, the problem is theirs to pray through, not yours.” Wow. That was so reassuring.
Last night, I found myself meeting with a small group of my brothers in Christ, that meet weekly. We are currently studying the Eucharist using the Lectio series on Formed.org. Towards the end of last night’s video, Dr. Brant Pitre said that many of his students said they get nothing out of mass, to which he responded, “what did you give?” This made me think of the many times I have said this myself, “I got nothing out of mass today.” Why did I say this, well the many times I got up to take a child to the back of the church, the cry room and the narthex often makes me miss part of the readings, the homily and even going to Communion with my family and this can make a person feel like they are missing out.
That led to a conversation with my group and dividing and conquering when going to mass. This is something I had thought about as well. But then I remembered something else from the video. At the time that the offerings are being brought up, we are to bring up our thanksgivings, our prayers, and our struggles….WHAM! The light bulb went off. My children can be all three of these things and I need to bring it to the altar every week. If I leave my children at home, I am not doing my fatherly duty. If they are quiet through all of mass, they get something. If they fuss a little, so what, they are there and they get something. If they are out in the narthex, that’s OK, because they are there, and they get something.
I need to keep that in mind for myself too. Even when there are distractions, even when I do not hear all of a homily, my family is at mass together. My family is celebrating in the Eucharistic feast with our church family even if we do not walk down the aisle together. I will work on being more patient with my children in the pews, because as my oldest said on Sunday, “Dad, I really wish our whole family was in the pew together.”
My prayer is we are setting our children up to have a great foundation, so when they get older and the choice is theirs, they will still want to go to mass and never say, “I don’t get anything out of mass.” Again to quote Fr. Pat, “We want…no we NEED you and your children at Mass.”