Sunday, May 22, 2016

Open Letter to the Angry Church Types

So after Mass, I received a note from some single young woman which read:

This is the most disruptive Mass I have ever been to because of your kids.  There is a cry room for a reason if you can't control your kids.  It's disrespectful to others around you trying to spiritually enjoy Mass.  The couple behind me left because of the disrespect they felt.  Please be courteous to others around you.  And respect god's House of worship.

Talk about a massive case of rash judgement here.  I initially tore up the note because it was so out of touch that I didn't feel the need to address.  But after mulling it over, I felt something needed to be said on behalf of all parents with children- young and/or disabled.  And clearly there are some misunderstanding about the purpose of Mass and how children are to be a part of it.  So let's dig in.

Dear Disgruntled Parishioner,

1) This is the family Mass.  There is one Mass on Saturday and Four English speaking Masses on Sunday with one additional Spanish speaking Sunday Mass.

2) When religious ed ended this year, the religious education director specifically said they were moving religious education in order to encourage more families to come to this particular Mass.  Currently it's the Summer, and many parents don't bring their children to Mass.  During the Fall it will be filled with families and small children.  There are going to be disruptions.

3)  Our Parish cry room says that it is specifically for children to calm down and only for children ages 4 and under.  It also says that they encourage parents to take their children into the main sanctuary in order that they may learn about the Mass, which is what I was doing.  They were completely under my control.  But I'm realistic, they will ask questions, talk loudly, and be wiggly.  This is why we sit at the corner of the sanctuary towards the back.

4) Mass is not for "spiritual enjoyment" it's to worship Christ.  Children should be a part of that as much as possible.  This is why the note on the cry room and the letter from the religious education director.

5) I'm not sure if they left specifically because they personally felt affronted, but they are welcome to move a quieter section if they so choose.

6) I am courteous to those around me.  Again this is why I sit in the back and side and also attend the Family Mass.

7) We do in fact respect God's house.  This is why I don't allow my children to run around and to dress nicely.  I also teach them to focus on the consecration and to bow their heads.  It may be annoying to hear me answer their questions about Jesus, but this is part of teaching children about the faith.  They are young.  They don't always remember later what questions they have.

8) While I've removed my children many times, I actually get into a lot of trouble with priests for doing that.  I've had one specifically call me back into sanctuary during a homily.  I've had one said to stop worrying about what others think that I, like all parents, are simply doing the best that I can.  I'm going to take their advice. 

9) You may not realize this but most parents are trying to balance respecting others with bringing children up in the faith.  It is sad that many people do not take their children to Mass because of fear of what others will say over normal child behaviors (or in the case of disabled children assumptions).  Jesus wants all the little children to come to him.  He didn't say they had to be perfect in order to do that or banished to the cry room (which cry rooms often encourage worse Mass behaviors/habits).

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.  May God Bless you!

Sincerely,
Mom in the Pews

2 comments:

  1. I wish we had your priest... 99% of our parish agrees with the lady who wrote that note, including our priests. It's discouraging.

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    Replies
    1. Oh,I so sorry! The priest who yelled at me to come back during his homily was a retired priest filling in at an older church. HB was a feisty toddler than. The other priest was our priest back in Canada. The comment was a gentle one (the parishioner specifically said he was especially glad we were there). We were in the vestibule at the time and it echoes badly. I mentioned to the priest and he told me not to worry about it. He didn't worry about anything the boys got into. He laughed it off. I'm not sure about the priests at this parish. I suppose it all depends. But they do heavily encourage parents to bring their kids so there's an expectation I'm sure that they will be less than stellar all the time.

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