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What to do when a child starts crying during Mass

Firstly, the clergy. It may be very distracting for the priest, when, halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer, a child starts to make a loud noise. Some older priests in particular might find this makes the saying of the prayer more or less impossible. This may be particularly so in some modern churches that have a terrible acoustic that magnifies every noise, particularly those that are high pitched.

One feels for such clergy, at least some of the time, but what they must do is really simple: grin, bear it, and carry on. They must raise mind and heart to God, and pray the Mass as if they were in the most silent of convent chapels. After all, back in the day, many priests celebrated Mass on battlefields with shells bursting around them. They too carried on and did not complain.

If the priest stops the Mass and demands the child be removed – and this does sometimes happen, though rarely, it has to be said – this will effectively hold the parents up to public blame, and ensure that they never come back to church. Besides which, the parents do not need to be told – they already know that the child’s behaviour is not good, and are already, probably, doing their best to keep the child quiet.

What should parents do? They are the second group to be challenged by the child. They are probably doing all they can already – after all, they live with their child full time. They are the experts in child management.

They could take the child out, if this can be done quietly and unobtrusively; though sometimes this creates more fuss than it saves. They may feel very embarrassed by their child’s behaviour, and the priest should make it clear to them, I think, that he really doesn’t mind. After all, a very quiet church would also be a dead church, if it were child-free.

This brings us on to the third set of people: The rest of the congregation.










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132 comments

  1. Judyth Reply

    Encouraging

    1. sarah cutter Reply

      in answer 2 the question about what do u do when a child crys during mass. well with all due respect to parents and i dont want 2 seem 2 harsh here why bring a young child 2 church in the first place of course they r going 2 get resestless wen they dont understand wat is going on ,havent the parents heard of babysitters or surely some family member or the neighbour could watch the child 4 an hour on a sunday.its v distracting 4 the priest and for the congregation ihave heard young children screaming at the tops of their lungs during the mass.i know that the priests in the latin rite way back yrs ago wud not ha tolerated it

      1. Jsun Reply

        Jesus said “let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” Mt 19:14

        1. Tmblondi Reply

          As a parent of recently small children, I too had difficulty at times keeping them quiet but I did two things that helped greatly: (1) I sat at or near the front so they could see what was going on and not the backs of adults; (2) I brought age appropriate quiet toys/activities for a distraction
          Also, I was heartily encouraged when a priest said one day when several children were having difficulty with restlessness, “God bless all the little voices” during his sermon.
          Also, you always take small children to a community gathering, otherwise the community will not know them and they the community…it takes a village to raise a child

          1. Virginia Robertson

            Cause Jesus said. Neff said.

        2. Bob .M Reply

          That is the answer .

        3. NiCHOLAS Reply

          Absolutely and i believe Jesus already knew that children could be unstable due to their infancy yet He said ‘let the children come to me,
          and do not hinder them ‘

          1. Therese Nunez

            Children learn how to behave and understand the mass when they are taken to church. Many churches have cry rooms for this reason.

        4. Violet Reply

          I have a small child and he comes to mass with us for several reasons. The first one being that i want him to grow up in Church. I love having my family together in God’s presence. I am assuming that you do not have children. I am confused as to why you think you deserve to be in God’s presence more than my child. Jesus said to let the children come unto him. It might be time to reflect on the reason you attend mass and ask God to soften your heart to all of his children, young and old. As a mother I need to pray that God softens my heart towards judgemental people who wpuld deny my child the blessings of the church.

        5. Nankwali Dominic Reply

          Children should be brought to church at the earliest age so that as they grow,
          celebrating mass becomes part of their lives. Then in the event that a child cries, the parent should be in position to handle the situation appropriately since he or she understands the child better than anyone else. By the way children are good at reminding parents about church going. May The Almighty God Bless you always.

      2. Claire Tavares Reply

        I agree with you disturbing a mass and not be able to follow it its the most frustrating situation you can find yourself my children where very good and well behaved i warned them that were we were going they had to behave and if they didn’t one look was enough.

      3. Meleane Reply

        We have a ‘Crying Room’ for parents with children, they have an intercom where they can hear the priest saying mass, I always bring some goodies in case a child cries. I domt have children nut have plenty of nieces and nephews which i adore and love, children need to be present in mass so they will understand and appreciate when tney get older the reason why we go to church. Love and Peace 🙂 <3

      4. Rose MarieBenoit Reply

        If parents don’t bring their children to church when they are young, Sara, what makes you think they will want to go when they are older?

      5. Fr Ged Reply

        Children are the life-blood of the Church, they are our future. If children are not brought to church as they grow, what chance do they have of being comfortable in the presence of the Lord when they are older? Please continue to bring them.
        1 Bring a piece of paper and crayons by all means (not permanent markers as they stain the benches and people’s coats), use any quiet means to distract in the early stages.
        2 Find a church where there is a children’s liturgy, or ask to start one!
        3 If they cry or bawl take them out for a few minutes, have a little walk / toilet break / drink or snack
        4 Don’t worry about the tuts, smile and say one for them!
        5 Why not say a prayer on the way to church? It may help your little ones (and you get in the right frame of mind) and, if you are in a calm and prayerful frame of mind your little ones are more likely to be calm and prayerful too.

      6. Deila Reply

        Sarah, with all due respect, Jesus said to let the children come to Him, because theirs is the Kingdome of God. As Catholic parents it is our duty and responsibility to introduce our children to the Church. Would you take your child out of schoouncomfortableis not quiet and behaving? Should Adults who love to chit chat during the entire mass be asked to stay home? Children gets restless because of their short attention span; that is normal. Parents should know to just take their child to the back or bathroom. For older children, explain that behaving in church is as important as behaving in school and at home. Babies; feed them, change their diapers before mass, and make them as comfortable as you can. It worked for me with all three of my boys. Mass and God are the only thing we should not take from our children because of unacceptable behavior.

      7. irene Reply

        Clearly you are not a parent

        1. Jennifer Reply

          I am a parent & strongly believe that you should NOT bring ill behaved children to Mass. I went the other day & the careless mom brought 3 little girls with obviously no discipline & let them run around the church during mass. The Priest lost his place several times. People were staring at the mom. When the girls came back to their seat, the mom gave them wind-up toys. Really? This was even more distracting. Every Catholic church should have a study class for younger children so the parents & congregation could attend Mass in peace. I come to Mass for God & listening to his word not a daycare circus. Every Baptist church that I know has classes for younger children but why don’t Catholics. So many of my friends have changed to the Baptist churches because of the many resources for children. Of course, the children will attend when they’re older because the class would prepare them for Mass!

          1. Ancuta

            Really? Because of the noises made of little children they changed the church? I’m shocked; where is the catholic faith and trust and kindness and compassion and patience and love and “let the children come to me”?

      8. Ryan Reply

        Every child has every bit the right and duty to be at mass as you do. No matter how small or loud.

      9. Ellea Reply

        Your comment is ridiculous. That is the attitude that drives people away from the church. I do not usually comment but I could not resist. You obviously do not have children. Mass is for the FAMILY to worship God together.

      10. Okeke Reply

        I think the best way is for the parent to seat closeto the exit door. Use d door as soon as the baby starts crying.
        Don’t prevent the kids from attending church activities at all else they will stop attending mass/service when they are on their own.

    2. Eduardo Claravall Reply

      Crying kids like good intentions should be carried out as soon as possible.

    3. Red Kimmie Hightower Reply

      Jesus said bring the children to me so they may too learn…. that’s why 🙂

    4. Gabriel Reply

      I think it is the onus of the church ushers to quietly ask the parents to bring the child outside until he or she stops crying.

    5. Jackie Reply

      There was a comment made that parents should leave their small children with a baby sitter or family member —- these same little babies are the purest beings amongst the rest of us. You go to church as a family you celebrate as a family — the church is one family as well.

      We’re doing the right thing bearing the burden of taking our babies to church with us. It’s why we got married in the first place– according to our religion. And while we’re at it— Pope Francis also supports breast feeding during the mass. 🙂

    1. Carlos Estrada Reply

      Good for you!

    2. Nancy sfo Reply

      go to the closest Roman Catholic Church to your home and pick up a bulletin or go on-line and google Roman Catholic Churches nearest your home. There will be a contact number to call so you can ask questions on become a Roman Catholic. Many blessings to you.

    3. Mario Reply

      contact the nearest Catholic parish in your area. God bless. praying for you

    4. Prince Reply

      I’m very proud of you Lan, focus on God, pray always to God for direction. His love and mercies endure forever. Be blessed sweet brethren.

    5. joy Reply

      No other church that claims to be true church instituted by Jesus Christ Himself but the Catholic Church. You can reseach to verify its succession down to St Peter whom Jesus build the His church.

      1. Athena Reply

        Actually Joy, the Orthodox Church both the Byzantine and Egyptian Coptics also claim to be the one true Church founded by Christ. I’m not saying that they are but they also do claim to be. Just saying for informational purposes.

        1. Cecilia Reply

          Athena, the Byzantine Church is in line with Rome and the Pope. It is a Catholic Church, but of the Eastern rite, and not the Western Rite like the Roman Catholic Church. There are some differences, but not many between the two.

      2. mary Reply

        It is true but nobody try to reaserch the truth. Other denominations always try to oppose. I don’t know why ?? Leaders of the church may do mistake, but Catholic church will never end because God already builted from the beginning..

    6. Marzella Philip Reply

      Lan Ngoc Thi Le… bless you on your search….. I am part of the RCIA ministry at our parish and I would encourage you to contact your local parish and check out a class or two…. the church is there to support you on your journey… i would also encourage you to start attending mass and go to a few churches if you need to and find a place that you feel at home…. i attend many different parishes when unable to go to my regular parish and many Catholics at mass may not seem very open or inviting do not let that scare you off… “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for."(CCC27) ….

      1. Mxolisi Leonard Reply

        thats true Philip

      2. rosemariemorgan Reply

        A Mass can be a pretty intimidating place for someone who doesn’t understand what is happening. Trying to figure out what is going on, trying to understand what is being said, knowing ‘when’ to stand, sit, kneel etc. Returning to the Mass after the best part of 30 years a lapsed catholic, I was all over the place at first as I tried to remember what was going on and desperate to get it right, frightened about looking odd and doing the wrong thing and upsetting all the strangers around me, so would very much advise you to spend some time getting instruction first. Chances are if you get it wrong nobody will notice and certainly nobody should be upset particularly if you tell them you are new to the faith etc. We are family, and want to help. If your local church is kept open at certain times, it would surely be good to spend some time just sitting in His presence, the peace I get simply having a place to go without phones, email etc and just sit and think about what He is and what He has done for me. to talk over my hopes and fears. An encounter with God to savour without the distraction of being worried about what we are or should be doing.

        I am part of the evangelical movement in my church and we bring people new to the church along to what we call Cell groups, held in peoples homes it is an opportunity to learn and give and receive support. a chance to talk about living in your faith and how you have been touched by Him in your daily life. it makes it much easier for people new to the faith when they first attend a Holy Mass to do so with a group of people and already aware of what is going to happen and your role and responsibility in the sacrifice. Family Masses can sometimes be a bit manic, particularly if there are a lot of harassed parents trying to keep lots of little ones in order. It can seem a bit irreverent to the uninformed looking on but the truth is it’s family and kids are always going to be at there worst at the most inappropriate times. don’t be put off coz it’s all a bit weird at first. God has called you and now is the time that the devil will try to block you from answering that call with every trick he has in his very large bag

      3. pamela wurst Reply

        I want to be Catholic too- I frequently attend Mass and no one is open or inviting to me & I haven’t a clue how to join the church. I mostly get instructions from sites like this. Why is this?

        1. Homero Reply

          Announcements at the end of mass usually encourage anyone interested in participating or assisting. This is an excellent way to introduce yourself and demonstrate your desires. Immediately, you will feel at home and received with open arms.
          Been a Catholic all my life and just in the last year did more than just attend Sunday mass.
          Being that this post is not so recent, I pray you already did this.

          God bless you.

    7. Mayiah Reply

      Good for you!!

    8. Nita Reply

      I just want to clarify, the difference between Catholic and Roman Catholic before you convert.The Pope belongs to Catholic, I don’t know before the difference between the 2.

      1. rosemariemorgan Reply

        The term Roman Catholic is or was a derogatory term, and an implication that Catholics first duty is to Rome rather than the Country they are citizens. Catholics don’t tend to see it that way and often use it in reference to themselves, it’s also lost its status as an insult and accepted as a reference to the fact that the Bishop of Rome (The Pope is our spiritual head.

        1. Brian Rackley Reply

          “Catholic” is from the Greek word “Katholikismos” which means “Universal”. Most Christians recite the Nicene Creed (“credo” = “I believe” in Latin) saying “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church”. Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestant denominations, i.e. most of the world’s Christians, affirm this. The Roman (i.e. based in Rome) Catholic Church split from what is now called the Eastern Orthodox Church (based in Constantinople, now Istanbul) in 1054. If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that the Pope (Bishop of Rome) and Patriarch of Constantinople have met up recently and are trying to reconcile their differences. It is all the work of the Holy Spirit.

    9. kelly1 Reply

      You are very welcome. The church loves to bring in New people

    10. lindarcooper Reply

      Please do become a Roman Catholic, the faith is so beautiful. You would be so very welcome.

    11. martina Reply

      See any roman catholic priest in ur area, an praying for u God bless u Lab.

    12. Brian Rackley Reply

      I hope you have spoken to a priest by now – not necessarily in your home parish, although that might help. There are lots of resources online, but I would strongly recommend you purchase a copy of “Compendium of the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church”. It’s not very expensive, but it’s the most comprehensive and concise introduction to the Faith you will find. I began attending RCIA classes in 2007 and was Received into the Catholic Church in 2008. It was the best decision I have made in my life. God bless you.

    13. SheBob Reply

      I just read this. Contact the Catholic Church closest to you. The Catholic Church has a study program for non Catholics who want to convert; its called RCIA. The church staff will give you contact information. Go to mass and get involved in the church activities. Go to a catholic book store they will also have literature. May God bless you during your search.

    14. Deila Reply

      Lan, our doors are open… No locks; no keys. Just push open the door… welcome.

    15. Dave Reply

      Find the nearest parish to your house, ask to join RCIA begin in September each year. Baptism followed end of this beautiful journey at Easter around April.

      God bless you.

  2. Nancysfo Reply

    Most churches have a 'crying room' located in the back of the church with speakers so the congregation in the room hears the Mass. The intention on the 'crying room' is so parents can still attend Mass with their small children and babies and not leave Mass while they are fussy. It may not be so distracting to the celebrant, however, sitting/kneeling so close to a child who is very vocal is distracting and the parent is being very rude in not taking the child away. When parents are in the main church area, they know when their child becomes fussy it's time to remove them so they won't distract others. It's called common sense and no parent should ever feel that when a priest speaks with them about the distraction that they aren't accepted. The priest should speak with them alone and away from public hearing. Priests should stop treating people like they don't want to hurt their feeling when someone does wrong or need to be corrected. The priest is the leader of the flock and his duty to to instruct. It's not the childs fault, but rather the adult. Bringing toys, food etc. to church for the children is also a distraction. This, of course, does not include baby's with bottles or stuffed toys that don't make any noise. It's up to the parents to teach their young children the purpose of going to Mass and have reverence and respect.

    1. Mr. M Reply

      So whatever happened to Jesus saying “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?" Is not Mass supposed to be heaven on earth? As a parent it IS my respsonibility to teach my child appropriate church behavior which includes keeping them quiet by modeling appropriate behavior…granted 2 year olds pose a greater challenge…but the priest, being the imitator of Christ should be kind and as patient as Christ was right? ESPECIALLY toward children….I will keep taking my child to mass because she deserves to be in the presence of Our Lord….If she gets out of hand,…well then I will do what I can to remove her but not entirely…But I am sure that as a covenant of families under Christ, they should be very understanding and patient since they have, after all, had children themselves…

      1. Pam Cowles Reply

        Jesus knew what he was doing, when he said let the little ones come to me. If we don't start early bringing them to Mass, then at what age?
        Children learn by exposure and imitation. I once had two very young children who were misbehaving and I was mortified and hope that no one had noticed. On the way out the Priest put him arm around my shoulders and said "Don't worry, My Mom said that I was the worst child in church, and look where I am today!" God bless and keep bringing the children!

        1. Linda Reply

          What a loving and generous response given to you by your Priest. More should be so understanding. Parenting is difficult especially with a young child. We all do or best and if we believe children should be attending with the parents, then Priest should give the parents his support and not make them feel bad or humiliated when the child acts out. We have all been there and patience is the key.

        2. lindarcooper Reply

          you are very lucky, what a wonderful Priest you have.

      2. Nancysfo Reply

        Why is it when someone is given factual advise that they turn to using the bible in debate. Yes, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.’ He also said, ‘be silent in the name of The Lord for I am here to tell you great things’. I’m not being rude either and I have had children who became fussy. I used the crying room, which is built for just that reason, so not to disturb people who are in prayer. Some parents just don’t get it that they think, ‘well, we’re here and we have the right to be here and all of you just get over it. My children will fuss and yell and throw toys and play games on their devices in church all they want and there’s nothing any one can do about it.’ It’s called being self-centered and rude. Babies and young children learn from adults and if they are ALLOWED to distract and no one does anything, like everything else, they will continue and this goes on for years. I teach CCD and prepare First Communicants. You have no idea how hard it is to train, teach and instruct young people how to act in church, let alone in class. They have never been taught by their parents about decorum. Church is not a place for loud noise, talking and playing. Church is the one place where we can truly have peace, reflection, meditation and devotion. It’s being respectful. How beautiful it is to see young people genuflect, pray and pay attention to Mass. I have always approached those parents and thank them for teaching their children well. I also thank the children for being respectful in church and they are blessed. This goes a very long way with them and encourages them to be faithful to church.

        1. Romeo Agtarap Reply

          Bless your heart…well said.

        2. Tamara Reply

          As parent of many children I do not believe your “factual” responces was indeed that. I have never felt the community so much as my current church where the crying room is never used. Why segregate off our greatest hope? Pope Francis even encourages breast feeding in the pews. I try to keep my children quiet but they are still children and learning. If you find yourself irritated but a child close to you maybe consider it a lesson in patience and understanding rather then an act of rudeness on the part of the parent who is trying to expose their child to our faith community.

      3. anne Reply

        Amen….people forget they were not perfect children. They forget the kids to day grow up in a fast paced world of technology that no matter what I do as a parent I can not stop it and mass is not the fast paced environment they are use too. (Not saying it ever should be either)

      4. mrs. y Reply

        I have a 2 year old and a 8 month old. I have been avoiding going to church because I feel like the kids will be a disturbance. I dont think parents should be made to feel like that. I want to go to church with my whole family and not on my own.

        1. Martika Reply

          I have 7 year old, a four year old, and an 18 month old too. i avoid going to church with my 18 month old. even when he acts out in the cry room you still get starred at.I try my darnedest to make him mind, so i can still hear whats going on, bu I am complete failure at this. I send my older too with family and my son and I watch the Catholic channel and watch mass on TV. Not the same but i don’t feel as guilty and no one is starring,

      5. rosemariemorgan Reply

        Where a Mass is a family Mass I kind of expect screaming kids and have largely learned to filter out the sound of Crisp packets. Can’t say I don’t sometimes want to take a firm grip on the parents throats occasionally if the kids are particularly noisy or climbing over the pews etc during the Eucharistic prayers but I love the sound of ‘life’ in a church, our future is these kids and I feel blessed to watch them grow both literally and in the faith as they move from screaming babies to angels accepting their first communion to young adults taking their confirmation, and standing on the Alter leading the psalm. I can always go to a different Mass one that isn’t advertised as a family mass if I feel I need a little more peace sometimes. I have to say this morning I attended a mid week mass and loved the fact that half a dozen little ones had been dragged along by their parents and grandparent, even if it did mean a little more noise than the usual quiet of a mid week mass. Being Blessed with a parish priest who provides a Latin mass regularly including one on Sunday that is very well attended. I know I can always retreat to there if I crave Silence and a larger than average Dose of reverence, It’s beautiful and truly reminds you what it is to ‘worship’ at the foot of the cross,

      6. Noel David Reply

        I do not know what really is going on here…. Some talk about children crying or making noise during Mass and some are commenting about a person who wants to be a Catholic…. Anyway, I will try to stick to the topic of children crying during Mass…. I will go by Our Lord’s stand – who rebuked his disciples for preventing the children from coming to him…. The Lord has no problem with children running, crying or making some noise… It is we (“saintly” adults) who pretend to be all pious and deciplined and expect the children to be like us i.e. pretenders…. The Lord sees our hearts and not what we pretend to be…. I have three children… I always took my wife and children for Mass where we (Catholics young and old) gather as a FAMILY… To be in this not-so-loving and caring FAMILY (with a majority, includiing the priests – not really giving a hang for me and my family when in trouble or distressed) for an hour or so – I simply cannot leave my little ones out… So, even if I had baby-sitters (which we could never afford) I would take by children with me for Mass…. And being children they would run, talk (even a good number of adults do talk among themselves during Mass) and sing…. My daughter aged two would go “La, la, la…” alongwith with pious choir group and other adult who sang those beautiful hymns with lots of “devotion”…. They sang their way and my daughter sang as a child would…. And the Lord I am sure would be pretty amused with her singing… while our “pious” and snooty adult would stare at her with disdain… I gave a hoot to their staring and let my child sing and never rebuked her…. Earlier on some occasions our eldest son (aged two or so) would go up to the altar where the priests sat walk around and come back…. I never attempted to go and get him back… (for all I know, it was his Father’s House – and I was pretty sure that the Our Father would have no objection to that…. We with our rigid ways are only making a mockery of Our MOST LOVING AND UNDERSTANDING FATHER…..).. And our youngest used to run from one place to another (when my wife and I had to sit separately due to no space for two..)… The pious priest and people may have had problem with that…. Nobody rebuked me for not being strict with my children….. So I let my children be children…. And they grew up that way and they have turned up to be pretenders like us adults once they grew up…

        I hope the moderator does not delete my comment….. Being rigid has never really paid off.,…. Because of that attitude of rigid priests and snooty faithful – a good number of families may have stopped bringing their children along for Mass….

        About 48 years ago, when I was 21, I was serving Mass – and would you believe me, a group of young Catholic boys and girls with two pious nuns and a priest leading them were practicing with loud music on for a play that they were planning to put up…. And this was being done on an open stage which was attached to one side of the church building….. And Mass was going on with neither the Celebrant nor the pious Laity having any objection to it…. Soon before Consecration, I had to give a piece of my mind to the “practicing lot” outside….

    2. katiekate Reply

      Yeah, you wouldn't want a child to distract you from what's really important… wait… what? Is going to church about you?

      1. rosemariemorgan Reply

        Not sure it’s about Kids either. It’s not entertainment it’s not a play or a pantomime or a circus it’s an encounter with God, a sacrifice a time to Praise God. Things that interfere with what is really important should be questioned. If your children are making a mockery of the sacrifice it’s time for you to spend some time with them and try to get them to understand what is ok for them to do in Mass and why some things are not ok.
        I don’t subscribe to the idea that kids should be hidden away in a crying room with their parents like second class citizens, but I do expect parents to begin teaching their little ones how to behave in church as early as possible. talking to some of the little ones of 5,6 and 7 before they start their formal preparation for first communion I am often surprised at how little they know about what is happening in the Mass their parents have been bringing them to every week of their entire lives.

    3. Marzella Philip Reply

      ya i do not like attending parishes with the crying room…. i miss our one priest that during the Our Father invited all the children up to the alter to pray the Our Father…. as he always pointed out these are the little lambs of God…

  3. Paul Croker Reply

    go to the nearest Catholic Church and talk to the Priest in charge of that Church. He will guide you throughout the whole experience. Be strong, the road is not easy but you get there.

  4. Mary Nichols Reply

    when my children were small . i made sure they ate or had a bottle of milk before going to the church, also a clean diaper on. i got comments on how good my baby was through the hour we were there.

  5. Cynthia Reply

    We have 5 wonderful children 18 yrs to 5yrs. old. Our priest always encouraged children to be in the main church. Now that our children are older, I miss the little and big noises babies make. I enjoy hearing them during Mass. I think it would be easier for parents to calm their child if they themselves did not have added stress from the church community. Children pick up on the emotions of parents.