Editor’s note: since a number of readers have overlooked the link, we would like to note that this “letter” is written in the style and format of another letter, to which it is a response. You may read that letter here.
UPDATE: After over 400 comments, I’ve written a followup post here.
We don’t really know each other, but I felt compelled to write you this letter after your article on Wednesday.
You don’t know me, but I’m the stressed-out, and yet still showered and shaved, non-snack-bringing, non-toy-bringing, spit-up-and-snot-stained, still coat-and-tie-wearing father of the seven kids you probably wouldn’t notice in Mass because after years of constant struggle, they’re actually starting to behave fairly well.
We’re never the reason folks miss the homily, because we think that’s pretty rude, so when our kids are fussing, we take them out back. We’ve consciously chosen the Church’s ancient, more reverent and authentic expression of worship — the pre-conciliar liturgy many folks disparagingly refer to as “tridentine” — so there are no loud exclamations of “Amen!” and no sign of peace, but when it’s a low Mass there is often silence so perfect you can hear a pin drop for long stretches at a time. I could go on and on.
I’m not sure you know this, but we’re also something else: vigilant and aware that the way our children behave not only affects the ability of others present to assist at the Holy Sacrifice, but also of the impropriety of loud and unruly behavior as we find ourselves mystically transported to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday.
I’m guessing that if you were in Mass next to us, you could probably tell that every time one of our “supreme gifts of marriage” speaks too loudly, drops a red book, plays with the kneeler or begins squirming around jostling for position with their siblings, we deal with it promptly so it doesn’t become an embarrassing distraction from others’ worship of Almighty God.
I’m realizing that this must seem overwhelming and impossible to you, because on Wednesday you felt inspired by the Holy Spirit (I’m assuming) to let the world know that the lady in your parish who was disrupted by your admittedly noisy kids handled the situation all wrong.
Didn’t you know that taking your kids to the cry room actually isn’t a bad idea, but that you still shouldn’t let them be as crazy as they want to be, since the goal is to teach them how to behave at Mass while minimizing disruptions to others? Couldn’t you recognize that taking a screaming baby outside is not only not outlandish, but is exactly what thousands of other parents do every Sunday when they can’t get things with their little ones under control? Didn’t you realize that it’s a great idea to inform your children at Mass (and even before you arrive) that dancing in the pews during the Gospel is not appropriate behavior? Don’t you know that people really are trying to pray, and that isn’t a punch-line?
I feel bad that you couldn’t recognize that the woman who was upset about these things might have been justified in her concerns, even if she didn’t handle them as well as she might have. To be honest, I’ve been on the receiving end of comments and glares from impossible-to-please grumpy people at Mass when only the tiniest peep came out of a happy infant mouth, so I know that it can be frustrating to get critical feedback. Still, it’s really kind of awkward reading that another man was “so crushed” by “comments” from a woman at Mass that he was rendered entirely speechless. It might be time to cowboy up just a tad.
On the way to quitting your article in frustration before finishing it, my mind started racing with all the things I wished I could say in reply. But then I remembered: I have a website where I can do exactly that!
So…I wish you could understand that just because you have a high tolerance for your kids’ rowdy behavior (and let’s face it: all normal kids are going to want to be rowdy when they’re made to sit still for something non-electronic) doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do something about it before the dirty looks and critical comments start coming in. This shouldn’t make you question whether you should be bringing your kids to Mass – it should simply make you question whether your strategy for dealing with them is working, and how you might fix it.
I wish I could get people like you to stop quoting Mark 10 as a justification for irresponsible parenting. I have always brought my children to Mass, letting the little children come unto Him…but I’ve also always reminded them that the Mass is a supreme act of worship of Our Lord on the Cross, not a friendly gathering where Jesus told the little guys cute parables. It’s not the children’s fault if they don’t understand the weight of a Mass – that falls on the parents. I’d venture to guess that if we fail to teach that to them, Jesus would be pretty indignant about that too.
I wish I could get you to understand that Pope Paul VI’s words in Gaudium Et Spes, where he reminds us all that, “Children are really the supreme gift of marriage…”, probably shouldn’t be used as a sarcastic reference to the frustrating little beasts if we want others to take those words seriously as an admonishment to put up with them.
The truth we all have to wrap our minds around is that there’s no reason why the unique challenges children present us with — which may, if we’re properly disposed, help us to become more virtuous as parents — should be indiscriminately inflicted on others during the central act of the Church’s worship, wherein is made present the Most Holy Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life.” There really are times children should be seen and not heard – and during Mass is the most important of those times. (For that matter, we, too, should be seen and not heard – because the Mass isn’t about us.)
I wish you would realize that there’s really no excuse for saying something as self-centered and immature as, “My children annoying you at Mass may be exactly what God wanted for you, as a way to help you overcome self-centered thinking and become the saint God created you to be! I know that’s what he’s got my kids doing for me.” Maybe your kids are doing that for you. But it’s not okay to assign your crosses to others through abdication of parental responsibility.
Lastly, I want to remind you that our Catholic faith is pro-life. And as much as it can be inconvenient and difficult, welcoming children into our marriages doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of teaching them how to behave, or removing them when age or inability makes it impossible for them to really understand that. Because being open to life isn’t a blank check for us to throw up our hands and shrug and say, “Kids! What are ya’ gonna do with ’em, amirite?” Being a parent is a hard job, filled with more than its share of both joys and frustrations, and it takes a lot of work to even get close to doing it right. Trust me. My seven children range in age from 18 down to four months old, and I still don’t have it all figured out. In fact, I’m maybe only just now beginning to understand the effects of all the failures and bad decisions I’ve made.
When I think of Jesus looking down at our parish, I have to imagine He looks approvingly upon those parents who have the presence of mind to recognize the hierarchy of goods; the higher and more transcendent things; and who are willing, even when tired and frustrated and overwhelmed and just wishing more than anything to have a chance to really pray, to do what they have to do to ensure that the “most beautiful thing this side of heaven” is not interrupted unnecessarily because they lack the wherewithal to teach and discipline their kids. I also think of how He must be happy when parents describe to their children in awe-struck whispers the miracle that takes place on the altar, appealing to their sense of wonder and fantasy to instill belief from their earliest years in the greatest mystery of our Faith. He must be so pleased when those parents are able to impart to their little ones an appropriate sense of reverence so that they, too, will always remember that the Eucharist is more important than their whims and desires, and is in fact Our Lord and God, before whom we should wish to throw ourselves prostrate in adoration.
As I was writing this response to your article, I made sure to keep these responses at the forefront of my mind, finally ready to let you know what I really thought of your comments in what you wrote.
And that’s when it hit me.
What if you buried the lede because the first part of your article was the part you really felt most strongly, but you recognized as you were writing it how petulant it sounded? What if your complaints about other people’s complaints about your children’s behavior at Mass has absolutely nothing to do with that lady? What if you’re actually just making excuses for being a lazy “hipster husband” and member of the “Me Generation” because you honestly don’t know any better? What if you have no strong sense of how people should act at Mass because you’ve grown up with banal, uninspiring, insipid liturgies and a cultural sense of entitlement, and you honestly don’t realize there’s a better way, even if it’s a harder one?
Your quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a good one. You need to put a stop to the “all about me” thinking, “humbly, regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests but [also] everyone for those of others.”
Did you ever stop to think that the woman’s comment may have come not because she was a wounded or cruel individual, but because you neglected the responsible fulfillment of your parental duties?
Did you ever stop to think to think that your self-aggrandizing public commentary was not really mitigated by your supposed epiphany that only arrived after 680 words of passive-aggressive criticism posed as introspection?
Did you ever stop to think that your comments came from a place of insufficient reflection about what Mass truly is and why it should be treated with utmost care, silence, and respect, even at the cost of your own comfort and convenience?
I’ll bet you didn’t.
Instead, you let it be all about you. And even worse, you let yourself be consumed with thoughts of what you could have said to put that woman “in her place,” and then you wrote those things, out loud, in public, on a highly-trafficked Catholic website, and in so doing put her in her place before offering your compassionate conclusion.
And so, if I’m going to suggest that you recognize God wants you to keep your family from being unruly, loud, and annoying at Mass for the sake of helping all those present (including yourself and your children) become saints, I’m going to also have to acknowledge that you probably just don’t know that there’s a better way, or that you’re actually perfectly capable of handling it.
It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to take up your little, loud, messy crosses and follow Him. It’s up to you decide that you’re OK with never hearing a homily or having your butt touch a pew for eight or ten years so that others who have done that duty with their own children can. It’s up to you to start the practice at home, having your kids sit quietly with mom and dad (or kneel, if they’re a bit older) during the family rosary, even if that means they cry through the whole thing every night for months until they realize that when it’s prayer time, it’s not time to play. It’s up to you to come to an understanding that parents sometimes need to think in terms of duties instead of rights, that if you find a truly reverent liturgy that doesn’t look and sound like a circus — even if you have to drive over an hour each way, like we do — maybe your kids will catch on that it’s not the place to act like they’re part of one, and that what happens on the altar is important and special and worth paying attention to. Heck, maybe you’ll even realize that the Canon of Saints includes children who were willing to die for the Eucharist at an age your kids could relate to.
If they could do that, good behavior at Mass seems just a bit more achievable.
I know it isn’t easy, because I’ve been living it for as long as I can remember. I miss the days when I could go to Mass and just immerse myself in the sacred instead of doing battle with a small nemesis with nearly infinite stamina. But I also know that the Mass doesn’t require my participation at all to be efficacious. That my presence alone is sufficient, and nothing I do adds one iota to the ministerial action of the priest. That by living my state in life as a husband and father and teaching my children that Mass is a place where the faithful come together to pray in mutual respect and Christian love for one another and their crucified Lord, I am doing what God wants. That sometimes, the best way to teach the little ones that Mass is important is by showing them it’s too special for them to be allowed to disturb with bad behavior, because God comes first.
I understand that this is a form of fraternal correction that can come across as harsh, but I honestly would welcome you into my home or the Masses I attend and offer any help I could to work with you on getting this right. I understand that we all need to learn and grow and support each other in the living of our faith. I understand that many of us have never been given an example of how we should behave or what we should do, and this makes finding the right thing at times incredibly difficult. I understand that good Catholic friends who understand our struggles can sometimes be hard to find.
I’m praying for you, and I’m asking you to pray for me too.
We all need it, but that’s no reason to make excuses.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
Oh dear, Steve I frequently enjoy reading what you have to say, but I really can’t love this. It’s rather awful. I’m sorry. One wonders what do people think they are being reverent and respectful at mass for? Is it not for the totally unmerited outpouring of God’s infinite mercy on us, though we were wretched and completely unworthy sinners, people who were utterly lost? Yet now we think we get to turn around and rub our finger in someone’s eye for not having their act together? Of course, people should respond to God with reverence, that is possible because of grace. Gods grace will lead the man, not judgements.
Did you read the article this one answers?
Would it justify anything? What is it to have Christ and not have love? A waste.
Perhaps if you understood that I simply re-wrote his letter as a catalyst for self-reflection it would make more sense.
I wasn’t uncharitable. I was simply forthright.
I’m not sure how you think that wasn’t uncharitable. Yikes. Anyhow peace.
It really does help to realize that Mr. Skojec’s piece is transcribed, creating a perfect mirror image of the original piece from the “Hipster Husband.” Even the form of the argument is directly parallel. The biggest difference that stood out to me was actually that Steve toned down the nastiness of the original.
Thank you for noticing. I sincerely mean that I’d try to help him if I could.
The things hipster said about the woman who corrected him was beyond nasty. Mrs. Harris needs to read the original article.
I can tell you right now, based on what hipster said, there is no consistency in the way he teaches his children to behave. If they are allowed to walk on the seats at McDonald’s, jump on the couch at home, then a pew is fair game for dancing. As my mother always said, “Children can’t tell the difference between a plastic seat at McDonald’s and an antique Louis 14th chair. Chairs are for sitting. Period.”
I read the original article and I didn’t take it the way a lot of others did. I took it as him reflecting on the fact that everyone has something that causes them to be impatient or struggle, also he doesn’t name her so she is spared the personal attacks that were thrown at the author. I took it as him imagining there could be any number of reasons why she reacted in that particular way instead of being more charitable about it. And I didn’t think his tone was nasty, but apparently a lot of people did.
Did it occur to him that the woman may have been completely justified? Why, no. He immediately jumped on the passive-aggressive “I’m holier than thou” freight train and tried to give the impression of tolerance and “understanding” toward her behavior. If he was really tolerant and understanding he would not have published his stupid article to begin with thereby opening himself up for personal attacks.
I didn’t think it was written in a passive aggressive way, I just didn’t take it that way at all. I also didn’t take it at all as being holier than thou. And I guess I can’t agree that Christians should treat each other this way or would be justified in their personal attacks, as in too bad for him he deserved it. Sorry.
If Christians should treat each other a “certain way”, hipster would not have written the article to begin with.
Well as I said, I took it just as a reflection on what happened and how everyone has something they may struggle with, which isn’t anything bad to write about, I don’t think.
The Hipster Dad did not leave much to the imagination as he poured his tender little heart out in one huge essay of passive aggressive bull poop. You don’t have to be a mind reader to guess someone’s motivation when they hand it to you on a platter via their writing.
“he doesn’t name her so she is spared the personal attacks that were thrown at the author.”
She didn’t make her comment on Aleteia, or CatholicMom.com. Her criticism wasn’t shared 17,000 times, nor did it keep coming up in my Facebook feed.
I’ve been doing this a long time. When you write about a subject in public, you’re fair game for public criticism. It behooves you to think clearly about how you come across, and whether you want to be perceived that way.
We all learn that the hard way at some point. I think the author, deep down, wants to do the right thing, but the larger piece was passive aggressive, unelfconscious (but self-aggrandizing), and more than a little insincere.
He got to have his cake and eat it too: he criticized the woman publicly, then made a show of being more charitable by speculating about her hidden pain – pain that might make her such a cantankerous party pooper. He then made himself look like the good guy by putting on a show of being considerate of it.
This deserved to be called out. As a Catholic man who knows this struggle well, I’m challenging him to more, and better. And to drop the pretense, for heaven’s sake.
How do you know that about his motives? Honestly,I’m didn’t feel anything he said was mean or passive aggressive, I just didn’t take it that way at all. Isn’t he your brother in Christ? Why assume the worst?
What really upset me was this passive-aggressive attempt at making this woman out to be a mentally ill person struggling with deep seated “problems” and therefore her reaction was pitiable at best… when in fact she was more then likely a perfectly sane and mentally sound woman fed up to her eyebrows with the mini-circus going on at every Mass!
My family was always good at this, at trying to make you out to be mentally imbalanced whenever they disagreed or didn’t understand your point of view. I always found it to be dirty fighting and low down rotten to try and play that game against someone else in order to discredit them. Not cool.
Exactly, Michelle Therese (lovely name, by the way.) My only sibling is not only a commie sociopath, but also a malignant narcissist. I didn’t figure it out until I was about 65 years old. These sorts of people are what I call “soul suckers.” Best to avoid them at all costs.
Commie sociopath malignant narcissists seem to be rapidly on the rise in our post-Christian society!
Bravo Steve! Job well done, I wish more Catholic men and women had the courage of their convictions when it comes to the proper catechesis of our children; among other things!
“…We all learn that the hard way at some point. I think the author, deep down, wants to do the right thing, but the larger piece was passive aggressive, unelfconscious (but self-aggrandizing), and more than a little insincere….”
You may be right, but, wow. Wait for what goes around to come back around!
This is a tempest in a tea pot. I’ve endured worse.
Amen! Particularly about the drop the pretense.
I’m not sure how you think it was. I suppose it depends on one’s definition of charity.
Tsk, tsk! You didn’t play by the rules of the Catechism Of The Church Of Nice…!
It sounded really condesending actually. That usually is the point of re-writing someones post.
No, you were uncharitable.
No. I wasn’t.
I didn’t think he was.
The original was uncharitable.
That goes both ways.
Not a lot of consideration concerning the woman who was publicly slammed in the original article.
I definitely did not see that she was slammed. I took it as the author considering that maybe she has struggles too.
Well, he stated that he and his family (who by the way, this did not happen to, but rather he was telling the story of a woman at Daily Mass) were put into the life of the complainer to make her a saint then attributed different reasons why she could be complaining, none of which had to to with the child dancing on the pew or the crying baby unattended.
I don’t see that as slamming anyone. We are all put in each other’s lives for many reasons one of which is to make us saints.
So you feel entitled to do “fraternal correction” but no one else is allowed to do it…love the irony here. BTW, I think the real complaint here isn’t that the “hipster doofus” didn’t have his act together but that he felt compelled to whine to the world about his “crushing” experience and paint the woman as some kind of monster while making her the issue.
Was I unkind?
You are an overly sensitive person…..it’s nice to be nice but at some point it is sickening.
Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.
3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,
5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.
6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.
7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.
8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.
9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;
10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.
11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.
12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
Oh, my. How weak to see sacred scripture cited as a defense without making an additional clarifying comment. So sad.
Even the devil can quote scripture …lol.
There is such a thing as righteous indignation; otherwise how do you explain Jesus’ s reaction to the money changers?…..maybe you believe He was just pretending to be angry as a certain modernist Pontiff does. I am tired of people using the faith to justify their cowardice…..Catholicism really is becoming the religion for wimps.
The evil one despises gentleness and mercy. St Joseph, gentle father pray for us, Mary humble servant pray for us, Jesus tender and compassionate, pray for us.
Yes, you accused others of rubbing their finger in someone’s eye – very strong words – at the same time doing the same thing yourself.
Note, Mr. Skojec is not rubbing his finger in someone else’s eye for not having their act together, but for refusing on principle even to try to get their act together, when not doing so means being extremely disrespectful to other people, and for scolding other people for not suffering their selfishness in silence.
I’m sorry, but I read the first letter and I thought the author was admitting that although he tries and is self conscious, he doesn’t have it together, and sometimes his family does embarrassing things. Also I thought he was simply reflecting on the fact that maybe that lady had something she was dealing with too. I didn’t see any nastiness in it. But a lot of people took it much differently.
Mrs. Harris, I can see that you have a sweet and charitable character, and I mean that without the slightest irony or criticism. But you must allow those of us who are a little more worldly to observe that Hipster Husband’s remarks reek of passive-aggressiveness. For starters, the tendency to assume that other people criticize us only because they were badly brought up, have cruel natures, or are mentally ill, is objectionably smug. The act of publishing that assumption is passive-aggressive.
Read it again to see he also makes no serious effort at all to parent his children, as Steve has described in detail. Instead, he expects others to suffer in silence the disruptions and distractions caused by his undisciplined children. He whines when someone speaks up and tells him to assume some responsibility.
You got it! Exactly! “but for refusing … even to try…”
Love to have been at your wedding when sixteen tots were yelling/crying, running their trucks around on the backs of pews while making engine noises, and throwing cheerios around….
The responses are breaking along sex lines which is, no doubt, one reason why women were denied authority within the church
Well no, that didn’t happen. Not sure why you bring it up.
Not well-played, not.
True. But if the man has not made all sorts of excuses, Steve will not be writing this one.
Instead of taking in his stride the possibility that the “cranky old lady” is right, that he should probably make more effort towards disciplining his kid, instead he wrote a long whinge about her, then Steve would not be writing this response.
So Steve was only justified in pointing out that if the guy thinks it is an excuse, it isn’t because it is possible to not make so much ruckus at Mass. Of course kids will be kids, but how kids behave are also a reflection of how they were raised.
If we always make excuses for our short comings and tried to justify it, then we will never strive to be better. And we can always be better. Sure we will always make mistakes, but let’s not justify them.
Felt this post was kind of beneath you.
Once Tommy Tighe started gloating over how many hits his piece was getting, and inventing an #iamtommytighe hastag that he tweeted and retweeted ad nauseam (continues to do so, actually), he was pretty much asking for it.
He made money — twice — by publishing and republishing this piece (and he learned nothing at all between the first time he published it and the second), and he’s still sneering at his critics all while he chortles and chuckles and crows over his cool writing gigs and book deals and virtually high-fives his “hipster Catholic” pals on teh intertubes. In that light, this letter is beyond kind and gracious.
This is the money quote from the above letter:
~Did you ever stop to think to think that your self-aggrandizing public commentary was not really mitigated by your supposed epiphany that only arrived after 680 words of passive-aggressive criticism posed as introspection?
Instead, you let it be all about you. And even worse, you let yourself be consumed with thoughts of what you could have said to put that woman “in her place,” and then you wrote those things, out loud, in public, on a highly-trafficked Catholic website, and in so doing put her in her place before offering your compassionate conclusion.~
For all Tighe asserts that his piece is not about behavior at Mass in general, but is about his personal holiness and road to sainthood, the reality is he got his cheap shots in about a woman he does not know, assuming the worst about her and her family, before he then went on to tell the world that God sent him to help her with her holiness…
Seems like Mr. Whiny-Crybaby-Hipster-Boy can dish it out but can’t take it.
Exactly this. Thank you. (I didn’t know about his gloating. I don’t follow him.)
I didn’t know about the gloating thingy, either. Thanks, Nora.
I don’t know anything about Tommy Tighe or his career as Catholic hipster Dad. I don’t know if he deserves my disdain or not. I don’t know anything about how many times he’s used this issue. I just read Mr. Skojec’s article and then read Mr. Tighe’s article.
I just think it is wrong to criticize the parenting skills about someone just trying to get through a Mass with their kids. My sister has a hard time bringing my nephew with autism to Mass. He is ten, he can be disruptive, and with his sensory issues the cry room can be his worst nightmare. Should my sister stay home? Should he not go to Mass? Not every disruption to the solemnity of the Mass is the result of shoddy parenting skills or kids or the parents not ‘getting it’. She doesn’t really bring him anymore because one time she brought him to the Church outside of Mass and one of the more traditional leaning men of the Church came up to my nephew and tried to school him on how to behave in the sanctuary. Nice work buddy.
All it takes is one snide comment from a fellow parishioner to make that person stay home next week. Is that what we want as a Church?
Anyone with a conscience and basic decency can discern the difference between an undisciplined kid and one with a disability. That’s not what this is about, and I think you know that, though I understand your sensitivity on the subject.
I keep using the word “reasonable” and I’m not going to stop. Reasonable efforts must be made. Those in attendance at a Mass with others who have children should be reasonable in their expectations towards them.
Spend time in any comment box, though, and you get a clear picture of why this doesn’t happen.
Unfortunately not everyone can distinguish the difference. I know so many moms with Adhd and autism issues in their families who have been humiliated by fellow parishioners who just had to correct them and their “unruly” (usually noises) children. It is not your intention I’m sure, but many people, really do not distinguish the difference.
Well, then that’s a separate article.
And let me be clear: I have NEVER admonished another parent for the behavior of their children. I have at times been annoyed when it was obvious that the inmates were running the asylum. I don’t advocate a general approach of criticism of parents. My purpose was not to exonerate this woman, who we know so little about, but to point out that just because she makes an easy villain in the story doesn’t mean her concerns were invalid.
Um… Isn’t that what you just did in this article? Admonish and put down another parent for the behavior of their children?
I admonished a person who wrote a big self-serving article condemning a woman for criticizing behavior he admitted was disruptive and then assigning her fictitious tragedies to explain why she might have a problem with that without ever having admitted, “You know, maybe I could do better if people feel this way.”
I have never approached a person in a parish to tell them their kids are out of line. This was a public article with tens of thousands of Facebook shares.
You do see the difference, right?
He admonished a parent for his failure to parent his children, and then shifted the blame to the folks calling him on his negligence in public parenting.
Ya know, so very often people feel “humiliated” because they just received correction for something they actually failed to do right or even at all.
NO ONE likes to be corrected, especially in front of others. It is embarrassing, and everyone of us knows what it feels like. Anyone who doesn’t probably is a sociopath.
This reality means we all have to develop mature, grown-up responses to the inevitable moment when we are confronted with valid disapproval, if for no other reason than to model to the kids we’re raising how it’s done and what it looks like.
So, it’s about time grown-ups learn to tell the difference, and I say that as a 66 year-old man who’s been ADHD all my life. There are no excuses for me when I do not stick to what I have painfully learned about some of my thoughtless failures to pick up on social cues everyone else is clued in to without thinking about it.
It appears you’re unable to let this go, no matter what points are made (most of them done correctly and beautifully). I’d say you’ve been digging yourself a hole for a couple of days now, so it’s about time you invoked the First Rule of Holes:
When you’re in a hole, stop digging!
No, you actually can’t tell whether a child has a developmental disability just by looking at them. That’s something parents of kids with things like autism, SPD, ADHD, etc. say is one of the most difficult parts. People always assume their child’s behavior is due to poor parenting rather than a neurological disease. They don’t get the same level of understanding that parents of kids with visible conditions like Down Syndrome get.
LOL. His kids don’t have a disability. Furthermore I wouldn’t be surprised if the hipster gets his kids diagnosed with ADHD (advanced discipline hyper deficiency) and resorts to doping them because he isn’t man enough to be a Dad.
Actually, the older your developmentally disabled child gets, the more obvious it becomes. People can tell from my son’s mannerisms, facial expression, and how he interacts with us, that he has special needs. So while your three or four year old may be mistaken for a brat (yes, it happens, but not due to malice), once they are older it is not an issue. And on the list of concerns as the parent of a developmentally disabled child, “being mistaken for normal” is way down at the bottom of the list.
I’m sorry, but you are incorrect here. You cannot always look at a child and family and know what is going on with them. Sometimes what looks like a lack of discipline to an outsider is really a child who struggles to learn, pay attention, or comprehend what is going on around him/her. As a mother of a special needs child, who struggles weekly with taking her child to church and getting him to understand the importance of mass without him disrupting others, I found your article to be completely condescending, lacking compassion, and lacking a true sense of Christianity. It was quite hurtful and you really should consider that if you are presenting your ideas as those of someone with a true sense of Christianity. I’m glad I attend a church that is welcoming of my son and sensitive to his needs and struggles and those of individuals like him. I would not be comfortable in yours.
So you think we practice different religions, then? Mine has standards and yours does not? That I go around policing the pews?
Is anyone who is complaining about what I wrote actually *READING ALL OF IT*, or are you all just getting upset and typing before you finish?
I had a duty to finish the author’s original piece before I responded, even though I didn’t like it. If you didn’t do the same, I’m going to ask you to do that before commenting further. If the conclusion that you reach is that I’m condemning someone rather than challenging them to understand that we have to rise above excuses and comfort and do our best for God and our fellow Catholics, I don’t know how to help you.
Please do not make assumptions about me sir. I read BOTH articles entirely. I was hoping you could be open-minded enough as someone who claims to be representing the ideals of our church to READ what I wrote about special needs children and their families and consider it when you write in the future. Your words, whether you intend them to be or not, are hurtful to families like mine. I do not know the hipster dad. He may not be disciplining his children. I am. My son, despite his special needs, has consequences each week that he doesn’t behave in church. My point was that your article – while it may be aimed at trying to get people to discipline their children – was very hurtful for a mother like me with a son like mine. If you are trying to preach Christian values, you should be aware of how your words may be hurtful to others. Luckily, I have a thick skin and will still be taking my son to church on Sunday. Other families, reading your article, may not want to do so. This is the last comment I will make. I hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
If you actually read what I wrote and you are doing your best to deal with your children, whatever their needs, then you have no reason to feel indicted. This is why I asked. There’s absolutely nothing condemnatory in what I wrote. And I’ve urged throughout the subsequent discussion that people be reasonable in their attempts, and in their expectations of others.
If that’s being lost, it’s not because I haven’t said it.
I sometimes attend a Byzantine-rite parish where there is a boy who has a disability–he can’t stop moving around, twitching, mumbling–and everyone treats him like a beautiful gift of God, always touching him on the shoulder (it calms him somewhat) or giving him a gentle smile. His movements are like prayer, not distractions, because there is understanding among everyone that he is doing the best he can in the presence of Christ. That’s all I ask of everyone in the Liturgy, including myself. Some folks have a more difficult cross to carry when it comes to keeping their children attentive. I don’t question that, and I will help carry that cross. But some parents are not doing their best to help their children understand the supreme significance of the Holy Rituals.
You, ma’am, are grossly over-sensitive!
Sorry Jackie. You don’t get to play that card. I’m the mom of a severely autistic son, who is just one of seven. And while he may have taken a lot more effort on my part, even he doesn’t get a free pass. The parishioners at our TLM parish have never been anything but “welcoming,” possibly because so many of them also have large families and kids with issues. If my son or any of my children are disruptive, they are removed and you can bet they will be getting an earful. Even my 70 IQ awesomely autistic son knows how to behave for Mass. Children tend to rise to the levels of their parents’ reasonable expectations. Good behavior and attention at Mass are reasonable.
I guess I don’t understand where hipster Dad is wrong in being offended by what the fellow parishioner said. His article didn’t say anything about not ‘making an effort’ himself or that the homily isn’t worth hearing, etc. or that the woman didn’t have a point. The whole problem is that she said something. Isn’t it or am I missing something?
His article did say that by way of implication. I’ve already said this elsewhere, but he said that his kids were the reason people don’t hear the homily, and that it doesn’t appear to others as though he cares (ie., no noticeable effort) while eventually going on to conclude that his kids being annoying at Mass is the cross God wants others to bear.
He also never mentioned what the lady said, or how she said it. She might even have been polite. All of this is a big glimpse into the mind of someone who was “crushed” by being told he might be doing something wrong and then ultimately concluded the only reason someone would think that was because they must be damaged somehow.
In all of his speculation on what might be happening, he never considers for a moment that maybe he actually DOES need to do more to keep his kids in line during Mass.
I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I read the ‘reason people don’t hear the homily’ as hyperbole.
Being that none of us were there, I have To think of the two offenses -entitled hipster Dad who won’t discipline his kids vs. woman who felt the need to comment – the latter is worse.
And then this com box – I can’t believe all the b*tching about other people’s parenting skills. Yes by kid 4 I’d mastered child behavior in Church and don’t need Cheerios even though the last year I’ve spent in the vestibule with child 5. I’m sure everyone at kid 7, 8, 9, 10 is a pro. And I know everything is awesome at the TLM.. But I can remember how clueless I was at kid one that I didn’t even bring my kid to Massfor two years. I remember when I did start bringing my little darlings to Church that there were several women who thanked me for doing so..even though they were not Angels. Now when I am in the vestibule with other young parents I encourage them to stick with it even though it is hard and not to worry it gets easier. And don’t worry their kids are not a bother. It is a lot different approach than someone telling you to get your sh*t together. It’s enough to make them stop coming altogether.
I dont know how we are supposed to grow the ranks if we jump all over those who bothered to get there with their kids when there are so many that are staying home or going to soccer instead.
But even the newbie parent one can still observe an effort being made. Struggling and falling short is not being indicted here by anyone. Steve correctly discerned that by his phrasing the hipster dad revealed he does nothing to parent his kids and resents the complaints.
Frankly, one doesn’t have to go to Mass to encounter parents who refuse to discipline their kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen unruly kids terrorize the dining room of a restaurant, annoying the other diners and the parents demonstrate an overt attitude of caring not one whit, and do not life a finger to end it.
It’s both a failure to parent kids in public and coping an attitude when understandably disturbed adults register a complaint – most of which are politely expressed before being rudely dismissed.
Why would you not expect this terrible behavior on the part of ADULTS to show up at Mass? Hipster dad’s comments and attitude makes a subtle case that he may fit that description.
Oh, I totally agree — but this was never really about behavior at Mass. Kids’ behavior rarely bothers me anywhere and I would never shame anyone for having a tough day with the kids at a religious service of any kind.
For me, it’s that he got his cheap shots in, and that he made some pretty ugly assumptions about the woman, all very publicly, twice, for money, and then justified it by his completely tone-deaf and self-focused conclusion that he was God’s way of teaching her a thing or two.
That’s pretty darned arrogant. Not to mention dehumanizing. Plus, why such weird assumptions out of the blue — like the only reason someone else could possibly be having a bad day is if their husband beats them up or abuses them? Or that they’re infertile? Or their adult kids are a hot mess as a result of their own failed parenting? Sometimes people are just having a bad day. Sometimes their mild suggestion is heard as a cruel criticism, sometimes they are ~gasp~ right. But the only way he can deal with the situation is by assuming something really awful or a medical condition or something.
And that is why America is going down the tubes. Moral relativism. And please spare the autism excuse. This man’s kids don’t have autism. Kids need discipline and they need to be trained. You can refuse to believe facts, but you can’t escape the consequences of facts. If he can’t keep his kids quiet during Mass, he sure as heck won’t be able to control them as teens.
I’m the mom of a severely autistic son, plus six other kids. You take the normal amount of effort and repetition it takes to teach a typical child how to behave at Mass and multiply it by a hundred. But it can be done. I’d recommend the Brother Francis videos for a visual, easy to understand presentation of the Mass and sacraments. You have to plan for probably only making it through a part of the Mass. This may mean mom and dad attending separate Masses for years and arranging for a backup person for Masses where another child is having their First Communion, Baptism, etc… But it is all worth it in the end.
Also, while my son was eventually able to “make it through” the Novus Ordo Mass, we discovered that he actually does much, much better at the TLM. Maybe it is the calm reverence or the lack of clapping and chatter and awful music. But he can now do fine through Rosary, Mass, and Benediction, which add up to about 2.5 hours. I’d also recommend trying a piece of modeling beeswax for your nephew to fidget with during Mass.
I have read many times testimonials by parents that their developmentally disabled child is able to focus extraordinarily well on what is happening during the TLM, and not nearly so well at the Novus Ordo.
Not every Novus Ordo Mass has clapping and awful music. Some of us are blessed with wonderful directors of music who are wonderful organists and who conduct wonderful choirs. They also choose a Latin Mass setting and hymns which inspire solemnity, and they teach chant to the children’s choir. Calm reverence isn’t reserved only for TLM.
Nora is right.
Good essay, Steve, reminding everyone–from the oldest to the youngest–that we should be on our Very Best Behavior in the presence of Grace, in the presence of Calvary, in the presence of the most important ritual (Transubstantiation) that we will ever experience on earth.
Kudos to you, my good man. Thank you for saying what many of us were thinking after that first article. As a father of six, I don’t have any of the issues that so many parents complain about, because my children learn from a very young age what is and isn’t allowed. It didn’t even take that much effort. I used to wonder why any parent would have a hard time teaching their children how to behave at Mass, but now I see it’s a case of parents who believe they already know best.
To those parents, knock yourselves out, but don’t get offended if my wife and I fly in the face of what you preach. If you’re going to criticize anyone, have the courage to use your real name on here, like I did.
My kids are challenging, but I’ve come to accept it as part of what makes them interesting. They’re smart and energetic, and that works to their advantage in other situations. At Mass, not so much.
You just work on it until you work through it. All but the 2-year-old are quiet even through a low Mass. We have to work on attentiveness and posture, but after years of battling little mini-mes, I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve made.
Exactly. After YEARS of battling. Don’t you think he could be in those years? Having well behaved and silent children don’t happen after one Mass. Even after a pretty good run of well behaved Masses, kids (and adults who may be distracted in thought) can have some slumps. Yes we strive for perfection but many don’t attain it till heaven. I’m glad that you seem to be getting it sooner. I’m also happy you have older children who possibly help you in being good examples to your younger children. I look forward to the day when my oldest can be a better example to the child preparing for his first Holy Communion or who could help show the two year old how to sit without fidgeting while I deal with a fussy/gassy baby. The looks, grunts, sighs and eye rolls don’t help.
There is a major difference between the parents who are battling to get a kid to behave and those who simply thing the world around them needs to put up and shut up.
I will cut most parents slack if the seem to be trying to teach ( or even simply quiet) an unruly kid.Most people will. But if that parent is looking at a kid while the kid disrupts everyone in the church, not so much.
I’ve had parents get mad at me because I dared to move my purse out of their child’s grasp – and then the parents started loudly talking about “people like her don’t belong in church, how dare she!”, I’ve had parents play games with kids designed to make the child louder. [as in Parent: Rawwr, I am the cookie monster!” Child:”Squeeeeeell! and this at the point of consecration] and If had parents watch silently by as a kid punched and kicked me and threw their hat, coat and toys at me. Not to mention the parents whose children were so loud that even from the front row, my sister and I could not hear any part of the Mass.These types of parents I don’t cut any slack.. they have demonstrated no interest in teaching anyone anything, except the people around them. And the lesson they are teaching is that, they are the center of the universe and the rest of the world comes second
Precisely. If you child behaves, you take him to the cry room. Its that simple. If the parent instead ignores the kid, then he is not doing his job and has committed at least a venial sin.
No, he’s not in those years. If you bring toys and snacks to Mass, and have not even sorted out dancing on the pews, you have no serious intent to cultivate reverence.
All but the 2 year old…did the first article explain the ages of the kids?
I have a 2 year old and a 5 month old. We are like the first father. And our parish doesn’t have a cry room. We also sit in the front row because we learned early on that the 2 year old pays more attention there.
Yes, she gets to be a distraction, but she sings the Holy Holy, loves the sign of peace, etc. we do our best to keep her quiet but it’s not always easy.
I’m on the parish council and the priests have stated they love seeing the kids up front. The pastor high-fives my daughter on the procession out after mass. My wife nurses when needed. And I’m totally embarrassed when the 2 year old gets loud. I try to quiet her. Our walk out would be through a wide, long center aisle. So that would make it even worse.
Too bad you seem more concerned with your mighty parenting powers than you are in giving advice on what to do as a parent in mass to teach your kids and get them to be more reverent.
I claim no mighty parenting powers. It’s just plain hard work, repeated ad nauseum. In fact, I openly stated that I make many mistakes. (You did read the whole thing, right? )
I also told you how to do this. You teach them that the inside of a church is a sacred space, not a place to play or be loud. You teach them that Mass is more important than we are, and if we can’t be quiet, we don’t get to stay inside. We tell them about Jesus in the Eucharist, because their little story and wonder filled minds are more easily capable of grasping this than our cynical adult ones are. You say a family rosary at home and use that as the opportunity to teach them to be still and quiet during prayers, so they can be reminded in church later.
Respectfully, though, if your priest is high fiving anyone during the Mass or procession, he’s not taking Mass very seriously either. How can our kids pick up a sense of the sacred from clergy who don’t have one?
Precisely my thoughts. How are children supposed to learn reverence when the pastor prefers “coolness” to solemnity? In many churches I have visited, the celebration of the Mass has become little more than theater in the round.
Steve, your such a jerk dude.
I just can’t seem to help myself.
Why is a short walk out of church that would last maybe 15 seconds, worse than the often interminable process of trying to quiet a two-year old? I assure you it is not worse for those distracted by prolonged or repeated outbursts.
Your priest hi-fives your child on the way from the altar to the back of the Church? There appear to be graver problems that noisy kids in your parish.
I will take the crying kids any day of the week, low Mass, High Mass, smoke Mass, Blue Mass, whatever you deem is Mass or unMass-like, over your pompous arrogance
Damn who let you into the blogosphere?
oh wait, youre Tridentine
Hows that ridiculous gay hating, closet homosexual priest, fired Tribunal Canon Lawyer blah blah blah with the ridiculous silk red train Cappa Magna? Drag queens are green with envy and what that getup
Katy, way to rock the mercy.
Katy, it is great to take the kids to Mass. No one is saying other wise.
But it goes without saying that at the very least one must teach children how to behave at Mass and this begins at home.
Steve was not being arrogant. It was a perfect response to the original post.
We can teach children to behave. It’s been done before. It can be done again.
@catherine_sienna:disqus , I pray for your soul. I think that Steve wrote an excellent post. I take offense to your hostility towards Cardinal Burke, a prince of the Church. @skojec:disqus , Keep doing what you’re doing. Be strong and Keep the faith.
What an embarrassing, immature and disingenuous diatribe, Katy Siena. How DARE you denigrate the Holy Sacrifice in such a way and slander a cardinal prelate in the same post. Shame on you!
Is this the type of reaction a parent – let alone a CATHOLIC parent – should be modeling for their children? Do you even know the origin of the Cappa Magna and the rich Catholic symbolism it represents? Do you? I’m sure you don’t and it’s most likely due to no fault of your own (thanks to the decline of authentic Catholic education in the wake of Vatican II).
The bottom line is this: Teach your children to have respect in church. Period. No one is telling you that children aren’t welcome. If your kids are unruly, cranky or just can’t behave, USE THE CRY ROOM. Simple as that.
FYI – The word “Tridentine” isn’t a slur as you might suggest. It’s simply an adjective for anything out of Trent.
Pleas return once you’ve learned how to write a coherent sentence or two. I’d like to know what you are trying to say.
>>oh wait, youre Tridentine<<
So was the real Katy Siena.
Nordog 6561; God gave u a gift with words. I am glad to see your wit used in defense of His honour.
Have you ever considered that St Catherine of Siena, whom you so arrogantly assume as your avatar, attended the traditional Latin Mass and attained her sainthood with the help of the graces she received there?
And that she would be totally appalled by your coarse and hateful words against a faithful priest of God?
So you want to bask in her glory, without the slightest effort to emulate the humility and suffering which earned her the saintly crown?
Precisely! Because your children learn from an early age. The problem with the new kind of parenting is discipline went out the door.
And when “parents” practicing that kind of “discipline” are called on it, the typical response is the faux outrage by Katy Siena.
Although I do give her a couple points for the clever but still modernist take on a saintly nickname.
Well said, Steve. Thank you.
Loved it! Thank you for saying what many of us were thinking after reading the hipster.
Wow, “Hipster Husband” seems to have all the sarcastic sneering of Jon Stewart, the narcissism of Lena Dunham, and the self righteousness of Obama.
I’ll admit, the term “hipster Catholic” made me roll my eyes. That said, this article does pretty much exactly what it accuses the hipster of doing. It comes across as arrogant, passive-aggressive and altogether unhelpful.
Arrogant, as in thinking too highly of oneself? I don’t see how that applies to Mr. Skojec (at least as far as this article is concerned).
Passive-aggressive? There is really nothing passive about it. He is making pointed criticism of an absurdly selfish and irresponsible position. He is certainly not masking that criticism behind Scripture citations lifted out of context.
As for unhelpful, one may have to concede that point, but I doubt it was written to be helpful. Some things just ought to be said.
Nor is Mr. Skojec trying to make frustrated annoyed people out to be deeply disturbed mental cases either! That really bugged me re: the Hipster article. UGH!!
(It was so emotional I thought a sappy woman wrote it lol)
He simply rewrote the hipsters letter.
I really couldn’t have said this one tiny bit better. I found the article by hipster husband (who calls themselves that?) to be very annoying and passive aggressive. We go to an FSSP parish, and it’s rare when a child over the age of 2 has a melt down. Most correction of squirmy children is handled with a look from mom or dad, or a gentle hand on a shoulder. Crying babies are taken to the cry room immediately.
In our previous parish the kids all arrive with Cheerios, toy trucks to bang on the backs of pews, and they are routinely allowed to walk and stand on the upholstered pew seats with snow and wet covered shoes. I’ve got news for hipster husband. That was never the norm when I was growing up (I’m 70 years old now.) Children were taught to behave at Mass, just as Steve is doing with his little gifts from God.
I always enjoy reading your posts. I still do, the thing is, my kids are pretty good at Mass, except for the occasional outburst they are pretty great. We attend both a N.O. During the week and a Latin Mass on Sunday. We have always removed unruly children when they have gotten out of hand. That didn’t stop a lady at the weekday NO, I attend daily from telling me my kids were not welcome at Mass, even though I do all the same things you do at Mass with your kids. So I think concessions and tolerance need to be alotted on both sides. Parents must be sure to discipline, remove and teach children how to behave at Mass, and for the old lady who was annoyed I dare show up at morning Mass with a less then perfect child, well she should remember we do need mercy and compassion since we try very hard not to be disruptive. I don’t completely agree with you, or the other article that this answers. There has to be some middle ground. Some people are nasty, some children need discipline, some are simply too young and need to walk. I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t fit with progressives or modernist Catholics, I also don’t fit with Tradionalists although I prefer that, I can’t stand either the entitlement from the vernacular or the condecension from the Tradionalists.
Consideration goes both ways.
The one thing I liked about the Hipster article was that in the end, no matter what his motivation was, he actually DID tell people that the Senior who you feel was rude, may have problems much bigger than anyone is willing to look at.
This is the first time I’ve seen that in print.
I actually found this part deeply condescending. It came across as, “Since she can’t possibly be saying this because there’s something wrong with ME, there must be something wrong with HER.”
I have never felt more welcome and accepted anywhere, as I have at the Latin Mass. I believe this is actually a problem at the NO.
Exactly my takeaway, Steve.
As soon as I began reading his article I KNEW where he was going, and he went there! It is not to say older people can’t be a crumudgeon but hipster dad would have the same attitude with someone if this happened at the library (which I am sure it does…) This was during Mass where we have for too very, very, long – put ourselves above the purpose of the Mass…God.
Not at all. I took it as “let me step back because things aren’t always what they seem.”
1,000 up votes. I about puked when he started with the, “then I felt bad for her because she must have deep wounds…” No dude, it’s called courage; as in, she had the guts to call you on your dereliction of duty.
Actually, I was referring to the senior who had a problem with me being at Mass with my 4 kids who at the time were all under 6. I was aware of her troubles. I was also aware of her dirty looks as my kid slipped and fell while just trying to see. She told me I had no right to be there because my baby cried when he hurt his head at which point I removed him. She didn’t know my troubles or what prompts me to haul my young kids to Mass every morning. But made sure I knew we weren’t welcome.
And you don’t know what that Senior was going through. What her motivation was. What she has been through. Was she abandoned by her kids? A widow? Staring at death while begging God to bring her children back to the Church? In pain?
Consideration goes both ways.
I actually agree with you. There needs to be balance. My wife and I have felt like we were being judged when our kids were less than perfect. They were. They are. The key is to be reasonable.
I never give parents a hard time about their kids because I understand what it’s like. But I find that my understanding transforms into irritation when they just…do nothing.
I don’t ever want families with children to feel unwelcome at any Mass. We should all get that it’s a struggle, that it takes effort, and that when you’re juggling a few of them (or more) at a time, there may be some delay in your response time.
My point is that the original article sounded more like an excuse than an apology, or even a plea for understanding. I’m here to say that it’s possible to overcome this, with diligence, but you have to be willing to do the hard work.
Yes! Some people here seem to think you’re saying there should be a “no tolerance” rule for the noises made by kids. But that’s not it! It’s about the parents, and their approach. If the parents do nothing, as you say, or even encourage the bad behavior, which I’ve seen, then they’ve crossed a line. There’s a family in my parish that has full blown conversations with their 3 and 4 year olds, for many minutes upon minutes as a time during all different parts of Mass. About all sorts of things: animals and the zoo and the weather and whatever. That’s not okay. We now have to try to avoid sitting anywhere near them…leaving other poor souls to pay the price of their rudeness.
I think the parents who do nothing are few and far between, but I might be too busy fussing with my own to really keep a fair account!
What I don’t understand is why we used not to have this problem.
Something must have gone wrong with the way we teach our kids at home. I think this new psychology of laxity is what is failing us.
I believe it is somewhat inaccurate to suggest this problem did not exist before. To some degree its inevitable. Certainly in the past, children were taught more to be “seen and not heard”, but there were also different approaches to this issue. In some parishes, older children would sit with their school “class” leaving their parents to look after the younger children. In many places extended families attended different masses so that infants remained at home. Both of those options are largely no longer available in today’s culture. It boils down to MYOB and/or be part of the solution, not the problem. When our youngest was 18 months our entire family drove across the country for my husband to be best man in a dear friend’s wedding. After 4 days stuck in a car, I missed the entire ceremony because there was no way our son could sit still in the church. I walked the churchyard in the special dress I bought for the occasion frustrated and angry at the world but I KNEW that that my kid was NOT more important at that moment than what was going on at that mass. In my experience, that is the lesson that has not been handed on – to TLM and NO parents alike.
There’s always at least one grumpy critic that just *has* to point out every peep and twitch a kid makes. We can’t really win… but at least we can do our best.
I feel like you do.
Man o man, Steve. This is so damn good. You hit every note perfectly. This’ll get a lot of justified positive attention
I thought that it was a woman who wrote the original article?? Oops.
Anyhoo, thank you for saying a lot of things that need to be said. I get so fed up when people sneeringly comment that we are “so lucky” that we have “easy” kids who (usually) behave at Mass.
Easy kids? Luck?! How about hard work every single Mass teaching these kids *how* to behave all while personally “missing out” on almost every Mass for years on end?? There was no luck involved ~ what we utilized was the avoiding of emotional wimpery! Of doing the hard thing and saying “no” and physically holding those kids so they couldn’t dance on the pews or throw hymn books or otherwise endlessly torment everyone around us.
Sure, kids are kids, wee beasties at that, and our own kids have wracked up more then a few dark points for terrorizing the Mass. But we ALWAYS responded with the appropriate action, including, as they grew old enough, discipline. Again: we avoided the emotional wimpery that is the hallmark of “modern parenting” ~ a style of parenting that caters to **the parent** and abandons the good of the child. It is all about making mom and dad feel good, and to h3ll with the kids ~ oftentimes quite literally, I fear!
So yeah, “easy kids” and “luck” are never a part of it. Good solid hard work at trying one’s best, at making the best effort possible, to properly parent those children. Even if children *still* act up on occasion, people in the pews appreciate your obvious efforts at teaching your children right from wrong, and how to THINK ABOUT OTHERS so that they do not cultivate the very wrong idea that the Universe revolves around them.
To those of you utilizing modern parenting, shame on you for being so selfish that you protect *yourself* from the hard, often guilt-wracking, emotions that go hand-in-hand with normal parenting. God did not give us kids so we could put their souls at risk while looking out for #1 !
i remember when I was single and I went to TLM alone how I always felt that the dozens of little children seemed to take over everything. I resented it.
Now fast forward. I have been married for over 7 years and I have six six and under. We’re part-time “trads” because of the distance. My oldest three can sit through Mass OK. My others not so much. Baby makes happy-baby noises. My 2&3 year old, well, we’re in the crying room, we’ll just say. I could maybe work with the three year old, but I’m otherwise occupied with the others.
Then there’s Child3, who is four and fidgety. He is learning. One day he will be able to sit like a perfect angel, but he’s not there yet. He sits in the nave to learn proper behavior and he keeps getting better (for the most part).
Not every child has those capacities either. Father has the ten second rule. Get your kid under control in ten seconds or go. Some former parishioners are former parishioners because their child was autistic and/or had other difficulties which made sitting still and quiet about impossible.
A neighboring TLM parish, 2 hours the other way that we have occasionally attended does not have a crying room. I actually love that. The children can fidget. They can make an occasional noise. It’s OK.
Did you say in your article that you have 7 children from 4 months to 18? God has blessed us faster than he did your family. The benefit is that with bigger spaces you can probably work with and control your children more easily. You probably only had one or two in that difficult stage at a time. I would think it’s different, but I don’t know for sure because I only know my own family.
No one knows the whole situation, with the other blogger, with the person after Mass, with anyone. Aren’t we all doing our best?
Right now I’m discerning and also trying to convince my husband to discern if we should stop attending the TLM. I feel like the choice is TLM or family because our family suffers going to the TLM. We have a big trip there (almost 2 hours each way) as opposed to ten minutes each way with the local NO parish. We’ve had many many other major problems ( a child fighting cancer and that’s just one of the problems) and really him not fidgeting is the least of my worries. Attitudes like yours in this blogpost really turn me off and I normally agree with 99% of the stuff you write.
I understand your point and I understand the original poster’s point. It’s a matter of fine lines.
We had six children in the last 10 years. I know what it’s like. I understand the difficulty of making the drive (we drive 1.5 hours each way most weekends) and of being in parishes where people aren’t understanding.
My criticism is not of a parent who isn’t perfect. It’s of a narrative that acts as though they’ve done enough, and if people don’t like it, clearly it’s because something is wrong with them.
We don’t know much about the interlocutor who made a comment. We don’t know her tone, or the words she used. We simply know that she said something.
Sometimes, something needs to be said. A reasonable standard should be applied. And to me, it’s obvious when a family is trying, even if they can’t get the kids as far under control as they’d like. I’ll never fault someone who is making the effort. I do fault those who make excuses and blame others when it’s just their job to do what needs doing.
My kids certainly aren’t easy. I don’t know if they’re especially hard. They have all been challenging. I know for a fact that I’ve probably made more mistakes than I’ve done things right. But I think consideration in these circumstances is important enough to do all that I can to keep things under control without becoming an ogre about it (which I’ve also sometimes done.)
I don’t think that’s excessive.
As a priest I disagree with this article. I’ll take kids at Mass any day – well behaved or not! I have never and will never chastise parents for misbehaved kids.
My kids are always at Mass. That said, I doubt I’d be assuming too much if I said most people — likely yourself included — would prefer well-behaved children.
Am I wrong?
But it’s not really about our preference is it?
No, its about objective fact. Kids need to be trained. Ignoring bad behavior causes developmental problems.
Was that meant to be clever?
Making distinctions between essentials and accidentals is important. There are objective criteria for good liturgy. The question of whether a priest prefers well behaved children (or doesn’t) is a different sort of question. It’s meant to show that the false equivocation in “well behaved or not” merits more serious reflection.
I don´t think that the post is about you, Father, but the Mass. And that is the sense of the post, I think.
With due respect.
Never? Never never?
But surely in at least _some_ instances, the misbehavior of children can be attributed to the neglect of parental duties? And isn’t the neglect of parental duties, in at least _some_ instances, a sin of omission? And isn’t it an act of spiritual mercy to admonish sinners?
If so, why is it one that you “will never” do?
Maybe he knows something you don’t!
About every single hypothetical instance in which a child might misbehave in the future? He did say “never.”
If he truly means that he wouldn’t chastise a parent for their child jumping up and down in the pew while screaming blasphemies during the consecration, without drawing any parental correction, then his choice of words was appropriate (although I doubt that he would be correct to refrain from chastisement in that situation). If he doesn’t mean that, then his choice of words was inappropriate.
In any event, I’d be curious what foreknowledge you think he has access to that I (and the rest of us) do not.
Let’s be reasonable. Have you ever witnessed such nonsense? C’mon- this is a ridiculous point.
I agree! I’d even go so far as to call it absurd. But in fairness, they do call the argument “reductio ad absurdum,” and not “reductio ad slightly-unlikelium.”
He wrote that he will “never” chastise parents for misbehaved kids. That seems pretty “ridiculous” as well.
If he does, he failed to say so (That’s pretty weak on your part).
You’re part of the problem. The tragedy of this is that you will never see it.
I suspect you have not slowly read both articles or you would understand that Steve and those of us in agreement with him (who seem to sharply outstrip his critics, both in numbers as well as legitimate arguments) are not “chastising parents for misbehaving kids” but for failure to attempt to control or remove them. As a priest your concern should be primarily for the ability of your congregation to be able to focus interiorly on the True Presence of Our Lord and the Words of Institution in the Consecration which bring His presence to us.
THAT is the essence of our worship – NOT pleasing those who cherry-pick scripture to justify parental failure to actually parent their children in public at Mass.
This is awesome! We’re raising a generation of entitled kids who think that rules don’t apply to them. If we’re taught that Church is a place of worship and respect, where we dress up (not wearing sweat pants and flip flops) and we can endure one hour without a snack and a toy, then we’ll approach Church as a place of reverence and respect for God and others. Kids will be kids; parents need to parent and stop blaming others for their perceived intolerance.
I think its a good thing to explain the kids what is going on while the Mass is happening, so they can have some share of the (as they say) actuosa participatio.
And nothing is better than in a Latin Mass, because they sense that Something Very Important is going on between that silence. In the worst case they fell asleep.
Im the father of six.
So…the “Best Catholic Ever” way to tell somebody they’re being prideful is to be nice and judgy in doing so? This article is a great reminder why I steer clear of 1P5. I was frowning halfway through, then grimacing and skimming by the end. Nothing about this post is very becoming to a Catholic, and no defense of it can change that.
You do recognize the irony of this comment, right?
No irony. You can’t take criticism.
So we learned from your over long article, that you have no sense of charity.
And from your responses to comments, you have no spirit of humility.
You are way too sensitive.
I appreciate your point, but asking for prayers and offering them in return at the end of your piece seems an insufficient apology for being so biting in the rest of it. I’m new to this publication — is this always the style of discourse?
In any case, food for thought… I just can’t imagine that’s what Jesus would say to “hipster husband” in fraternal correction.
I’m guessing you didn’t read the original letter. I copied it section by section and changed it. It was intended to be an ironic twist on the original. You can read it here:
P.S. – I will pray for Tommy, though. I don’t joke about prayers, even if I copied that word-for-word from his post.
I did read the original article (thanks for the link — I must have forgotten that piece at the end — not sure I interpreted it as you did).
Anyway, regardless of how you (or anyone else) perceived his tone, I just wanted to make the point that I’m not sure responses like this are effective attitude-changers. It tends to puts people on the defensive (and they’ll take issue with small grievances of language, rather than the true issue at hand). And to be honest, it often comes across as self-indulgent on the part of the author, whether or not it was composed in that frame of mind.
Yes!! Let’s forget the other article for a minute. No more “he started it!” This article is far lengthier and haughtier than is helpful. It come across as little more than an extended pat on the back.
Pat on the back? Hardly. My kids are far from perfect. I’m merely stating from experience (my own, and those of many others I see every Sunday) that this sort of thing IS doable, and it’s not wrong to expect it.
The point that keeps being missed is that the reason we make this effort is to maintain a reverent atmosphere for the WORSHIP OF GOD.
If we’d all stop worshiping ourselves and our feelings for five minutes, we might have a shot at getting that right.
What’s wrong with a pat on the back? What’s wrong with distinguishing? Americans have been completely brainwashed.
You are way too sensitive.
So what? It’s about time people run away from the admonishment we are called to perform with one another because it might not be effective.
Whether a priest is preaching dogma or doctrine from the pulpit (I know, I know, how often do we EVER hear that anymore?) or a blogger like Steve responds with fraternal correction – however deservedly hard-hitting – we cannot water down truth because we worry that we might not be effective if the truth hurts too much that feelings are hurt. That is not our responsibility.
You doubt me?
I challenge you to research the New Testament, the Didache, and the writings of the early Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, and the great theologians, preachers, and apologist (many of them great saints). Please list detailed annotated examples of softening truth for the sake of effectiveness in persuasion from the full range of categorical sources listed above.
Hint: you’ll fail if you try.
EACH AND EVERY one of those great spiritual masters valued telling the hard and unvarnished truth over sparing hurt feelings of those people whose souls they desired to save from eternal damnation.
Your attitude and that of a handful of whiners here is at the core of the failure to evangelize in our Church today. People are glad to hear about Jesus but want no parts of His toughest teachings, nor do they wish to be bothered with displaying forms and degrees of reverence in sacred moments and spaces. Truth is, most Catholics today have no clue about those elements of worship and can’t comprehend what they should be doing themselves, much less teaching their children to behave accordingly.
The Lord would have fashioned whips out of chords and driven the unruly family out of His house, telling him to come back when he’s ready to parent.
I will never forget the words of a very saintly, very old, traditional Latin mass saying priest on the subject of crying babies in church. “There aren’t enough of them.”
If he can say something positive about that noise during mass then who on earth am I to criticize someone who is struggling to manage their children at mass? When I see parents at mass ( especially when they are there without help) with multiple small children at mass, and the children are noisy, who am I to tell them to take all five kids under the age of seven outside, especially because some churches don’t have cry rooms? When you are alone with many children, you can’t just take the crying baby out and leave everyone else in? If I were considering going to the TLM for the first time and I read this article, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. So sad. Please don’t be discouraged, people. There is a saintly priest in heaven who wants you and your children at the TLM, even if you are struggling. Just say a prayer to Father Charles Schoenbachler. He will intercede for you.
Why in the world would this make you afraid of coming to Mass? I didn’t say, “Parents must be superhuman.” I said, “Parents must make the effort.”
The point is to NOT make excuses. To be reasonable in your attempts to avoid distracting others. And I’ve seen countless families do exactly that at TLMs over the 12 years I’ve been going. It’s not like this is some outlandish thing. It’s just…what you do.
You are assuming him and his wife (if she was even present at this particular Mass) weren’t putting in any effort. You really have no idea what they did or didn’t do for discipline. Perhaps they did try to go to the cry room. I’ve been to a parish where we brought one son there for a time out. He wasn’t listening. While we were there, parents and children were talking not in whispers but as if they in a coffee shop. Children had toys and were having fun. When time out was over my son didn’t want to leave because it was so fun in there. How is a place like that helpful? Of course it was a place completely misused but there isn’t much I can do about that. I couldn’t use it as it was meant to be used so we had to keep our ‘misbehaving’ children in the pew and find a different way of discipling them and of teaching them reverence and respect.
I’m not assuming, I’m drawing inferences from the text:
“We’re the reason folks miss the homily.”
“I’m guessing it probably doesn’t look this way, but…we are completely embarrassed and terrified that it might be distracting others from their worship of Almighty God.”
“I’m realizing now that it must not look that way”
“Didn’t I know there was a crying room where I could let my children be as crazy as they want to be? Could I take the screaming baby outside next time? Why didn’t I inform my children that they shouldn’t be dancing in the pews during the Gospel? Don’t I know people are trying to pray?!”
These are all statements that imply rather strongly, “Yes, I get it. I know we’re really, really distracting and you can’t tell by outward appearances that we care.”
My point is that when parents do care, you can tell. You don’t wonder. Because you can see the effort that they’re making, and you may even be inspired to help them rather than criticize them. I’ve done that for others, and they’ve done it for me.
I take issue with those who publicly embarrass parents who most likely are making the effort at mass. What may look like an effort to me may not look like an effort to you and vice versa.
I agree. I have to say, I have never wanted to go to TLM mostly because I get the impression that I just don’t understand the culture and I’ve heard so many things from TLM goers that strike me as “you losers just don’t get it”. I think it is wonderful if people find it to be their home, but i personally don’t think I’d be able to understand and feel welcome.
Mass is not now, nor has it ever been, a matter of personal taste. Who would choose to torture and kill a man on a cross in an excruciating fashion and then eat and drink his blood if they had the option?
Mass is what God gave to us, because it is the best thing we have to offer back to Him: Himself.
Of course. But I have a choice of TLM or not. And I choose not.
As do many. And it’s a pity. The propriety of worship and the nature of a pleasing sacrifice are not subjective things. The Mass you shun was composed over centuries by the greatest saints of the Church; it also nourished them.
The one you favor was composed by a committee — one of the Eucharistic prayers was even written on a napkin in a cafe — and was designed to remove from its ethos anything so Catholic that it would be a stumbling block to Protestants or even those of other faiths.
As you say, it’s your choice. But just as gold is more valuable than silver (even though some prefer silver), the Church’s ancient Mass is demonstrably more worthy of what it commemorates than the rite which sought to replace it. To choose something lesser for no reason other than preference seems to work against self-interest, to say nothing of what it says to God.
I’m not saying that because I prefer gold to silver. I’m saying it because gold is simply worth more.
What does one have if they have the infinite mercy and love of God poured out for them, but do not pour it out for others? What is mass without the outpouring of love?
“What is mass without the outpouring of love?”
The Novus Ordo.
No Steve. I’m sure you are normally a kind person who cares very much. This article is not an outpouring of love, is it? It doesn’t seem to be. God bless you.
“Instructing the ignorant” and “admonishing the sinner” are both spiritual works of mercy. Fraternal correction is a form of sincere charity.
The original article espouses an attitude I believe is destructive to a proper disposition towards Catholic worship — while at the same time expressing a desire to actually get that right.
Like all of us, the author brings his own baggage and sin to the table. This is an area I happen to believe very strongly about, and I do not at all believe that my position necessitates cruelty or rudeness. Not in the slightest.
I actually would welcome Tommy into my home to talk about this. I’d take him to where we attend Mass so he could see it done. The goal here isn’t just one-upmanship, though I admit to being intentionally snarky and ironic with my tone; it’s to ultimately start a conversation about this that stops a person and makes them think about what they’re doing.
I’ve had my own articles critiqued, at times harshly. You had better believe I gave serious thought to whether or not those criticisms had merit.
At the end of the day, I love souls, and I challenge you to find any evidence to the contrary. I wish nobody ill, and I earnestly desire to equip people as best I can to do what is in the best interest of their sanctification.
Sometimes, that means tough love. Sometimes, men have to challenge other men to think about what they’re doing, and whether it’s worthy. You will never see me hold myself up as a model of virtue. That doesn’t mean I don’t know truth from falsehood, and I’ll fight hard to defend the former.
I believe you. God bless you.
I think you are confusing what loving means.
To correct a person is loving. To educate a person is loving. Sometimes that correction will not be taken well because there’s always the dented pride.
People have lost reverence and respect.
God is certainly owed reverence. However I don’t believe this was loving correction. Sorry.
If this was not a loving correction, then the first article is neither a loving whinge. Steve was correct, she was making an excuse trying to justify herself rather than maybe trying to work out how she can do better next time.
The problem is with the new kind of parenting invogue these days, discipline is out of the window.
Everyone can answer for their own, I suppose.
1 Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.
3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,
5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.
6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.
7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.
8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.
9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;
10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.
11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.
12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
Mrs. Harris, what is your definition of love, if I may ask? I mean how does it look in everyday life? Is it “Who am I to judge?” or do we have a Christian (Catholic) duty to admonish the sinner? You have quoted Scripture, but tell me, what does that look like in daily life?
Why don’t you ask Saint Paul. He’s the expert. He won’t steer you wrong.
Perhaps you would care to show where the article failed in any of these.
This comment from scripture is just as weak here as it was when you posted it above.
I’m being half-facetious. When you create a liturgy that distracts from the sacrifice it honors, a liturgy that is designed to be anthropocentric instead of theocentric, you are actually robbing those in attendance of the proper anthropology and theology to grow in virtue and love of God and *what he did for us.*
This is why the decline of belief in essential Catholic teachings has coincided so perfectly with the promulgation of the New Missal: it intentionally obscures the central mystery of the Catholic faith in favor of self-indulgent humanism.
All of which makes no difference to the people who won’t come because they think there is no reason for them to and they aren’t welcome.
It may make no difference in their perception, but it absolutely makes a difference to their salvation.
It is not now, nor has it ever been my goal to make people feel that the TLM is inaccessible, or that they are unwelcome there. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
The only reasons I brought it into the discussion are that:
1) the longer periods of silence (and for that matter, of kneeling) create an even larger challenge for parents of small children, but these are the masses where I see the most well behaved little ones;
2) The more reverent a liturgy, the more likely a child, who is sensitive to gesture and posture and noise since they are still learning by watching and listening to the world will sense that something important is going on. I have a friend who started going to the TLM in large part because his kids didn’t behave with all the noise and bustle that was going on in the local NO; when they entered the sacred space created by the ritual of the TLM, however, they stared with interest and curiosity at the altar, recognizing that SOMETHING that mattered was going on up there.
If people truly believe in Christ they will come.
The sad thing is that people make the Mass as if it’s a social occasion. It isn’t. It is worship. If you care more for approval and camaraderie, then join a club. The Mass is not a club. It is the highest form of worship. You go there not to be welcomed by people but to be welcomed by Christ. The problem with our society is that we have become too self-centred that we want to make the Mass all about “I/Me/Myself”, how I feel, how I am affirmed, how I am welcomed. Maybe it’s about time we think of God for a change.
Mrs. Harris, I am astounded that you assume people feel unwelcome at a TLM. Is this from personal experience? Wide personal experience? You have been to many TLMs in many different venues? It really isn’t about you “feeling” welcome, is it? Isn’t it about God and not so much about you and your feelings? I can’t imagine making the sense of “feeling welcome” by other people the benchmark for worshiping God.
I think you’re new to this discussion. You can read my comments to others if you like. Also, I think a few others have said they didn’t feel welcome or something like that.
…many folks have become increasingly dependent on what they ‘feel’ instead of reality. Sadly, that is often why parents do not parent their children as they used to, for ‘fear’ of hurting their feelings. But kids need parents… hard lessons, too.
This is why getting back to the reality of what things are for is so important: Mass, the family unit, discipline.
Objectively, the man in the original article is rejecting any commentary on his own performance. This is precisely what inhibits growth. One can feel they’re perfect all day long, but can often be left with zero to nothing save a great level of self esteem, but no product with which to back it up.
Those who run on feelings in lieu of reality can also leave themselves in a world of hurt – dealing with misbehaving children while feeling guilty and defensive all at the same time – when some traditional practices exercised in a timely fashion can make that guilt all go away.
Some people “feel” angry so quickly that they entirely misjudge the situation and then they “feel” so justified that they rashly judge without considering the possibility that they may be wrong.
That is true, but some people are often stuck behind a family where the parent visibly does zero about bad behavior. And when there is a cry room at the back, it seems rather outrageous. After all, there is a time and place for everything.
When faced with a wrong judgement, however, parents should speak up.
If this father was so overwhelmed and seems to be so on a regular basis, perhaps stepping off of pride and asking the older lady for help may be truly helpful. “If” she was suffering from infertility, holding his little ones may help her. It also would help him. Same goes for the excuse of her somehow, maybe, being upset because her husband wasn’t involved and her kids aren’t practicing the Faith anymore.
What the father may have learned, however, is that his kids are actually playing him like a fiddle. That is often something a parent cannot see or has become so immune to that they don’t bother with it anymore.
But the older generation is so summarily dismissed these days, their wisdom is overlooked. Like a vast treasury locked up on purpose while people justify their poverty.
That is sheer nonsense. Before we destroyed the Mas and protestentized what was left of it, Catholics NEVER heard either whining over a church not being welcoming, or gushing over one which was “so welcoming.”
That is an outlook imported from protestant churches which – because most of them rejected the Sacrifice of the Mass, the priesthood necessary for sacrifice, and all the Sacraments – had no choice but to look inward at their own human resources to come up with structuring a worship service from nothing except their own preferences and desires. One of the human virtues (and one of the least of human virtues, at that) was the concept of “welcoming.”
Catholics didn’t worry about that before the liberals high-jacked Vatican II and destroyed the Mass afterwards by ripping out its insides and re-structuring it in a way more palatable to protestants. Of course, that effort has been a massive failure, as has been efforts to make parishes more “welcoming.” It is an empty gesture most meaningful to the spiritually unfocused or the emotionally needy. The rest find it nice enough but not necessary to be greeted, so if we don’t experience it there’s no problem.
Yes! And our poor priests! Instead of making a proper thanksgiving after the Mass they have to get their vestments off and stand outside the Church to shake hands and chat – or hurry to the hall for coffee. This NEVER happened while I was growing up in the 40s and 50s. New, and not good. As said above, Mass is not a club meeting.
Actually no. The parable of the wedding guest who does not put on the garment, the guest is thrown out. The garment that he does not put on is love.
FYI, that garment is not love, it is grace. More than that, it is specifically sanctifying grace with which we cannot enter heaven without.
No that is not correct. Gregory the Great explains: “The marriage is the wedding of Christ and his church, and the garment is the virtue of charity: a person who goes into the feast without a wedding garment is someone who believes in the Church but does not have charity.” (In Evan. Homil. 36)
And? How does that support your view that those who attend the TLM are without charity?
I don’t believe I ever said that those who attend The TLM are without charity. You do seem a bit defensive about it, sorry.
You are very clever. But you are wrong to cherry pick quotes about love from the Bible, and to quote St. Gregory as you have been doing. Aside from Revelation itself there can be, and are, myriad facets of thought about each line in Scripture. None are contradictory as you seem to want them to be. There is no ‘he said/she said’ here. I also see a tad of pride and lack of charity in your continuation of this lame stuff.
That is still Gregory’s opinion, respectable though it is. That is not Church teaching, and we shouldn’t lecture others as if it were objectively set in stone, like dogma.
Actually not. The parable about the one without the garment is indifference and irreverence. How is it that the other poor were clothed properly except this one.
This is because he refused to be clothed. He did not think of the banquet well enough nor of the One who gave the invitation.
The parable was not in the least bit about love. It was about people not caring enough about the Master.
No actually not. Gregory the Great explains: “The marriage is the wedding of Christ and his church, and the garment is the virtue of charity: a person who goes into the feast without a wedding garment is someone who believes in the Church but does not have charity.” (In Evan. Homil. 36)
In the old days, when you are invited and you don’t have the attire, the one who invited you provides the attire. This is what kings did.
This is why even though they were dragged from the highways and byways, lame and poor, everyone were properly attired because they were given the garment.
For anyone to have not the garment, that means that the person refused. So this means that he did not think the banquet worth the bother. He is there only to eat. The Master did not matter.
You can take it up with the church fathers and Gregory the Great, I guess. I Didn’t come up with it on my own.
I know you didn’t. But not everything that Church Father’s wrote is the definitive exegesis on a particular passage.
I think if they are in agreement it’s wise to consider their view as correct. Anyhow God bless you.
If who is in agreement? All the Church Fathers? I don’t think all the Church Fathers explained it this way.
I’m inclined to accept what I’ve been taught by my priest, and by many other competent people. If you don’t want to, your choice. Feel free to look in to it yourself. You really needn’t argue with me about it.
The only thing I am pointing out is that no Church Father has the sole definitive exegesis on Scripture. Not even St Jerome. It would be entirely different if the Church has made such exegesis a dogma.
Mrs. Harris. There are always levels of understanding to be derived from the Gospels and your particular claim about this passage is not exhaustive.
Here is an excerpt from The Great Commentary by Cornelius a Lapide:
Verse 11- When the king came in, &c., that he might survey and examine them. This shall take place when God shall come to the general judgment at the end of the world, to judge, and reward or punish all mankind. So Origen, &c.
And he saw . . . wedding garment; Syr. a festal garment. The garment for the wedding, that is, one which is clean, precious, and splendid, is not faith, as the heretics say. For all who were at this feast of the Church, indeed, could not have entered in except by faith. Therefore this garment is charity, and holiness of life. A pure and holy life is like a clean and splendid robe, woven of virtues and good works, which are a glorious adornment of a man. So SS. Jerome, Hilary, Tertullian, and others. S. Gregory explains the not having a wedding garment to mean faith without works of charity, by which the Lord comes to unite the Church in marriage with Himself. But S. Augustine (lib. 2, contra Faust. c. 19) explains it to mean one who seeks his own, not the Lord’s glory. But S. Hilary says, the wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the brightness of heavenly conversation, which being received by the good answer of confession, is preserved spotless for the celestial company. S. Jerome says, works which are fulfilled out of the Law and the Gospel, form the garment of the new man.
Many in the day of judgment who believed in Christ shall be found without this robe of charity and sanctity; yet one only is mentioned, because this matter is spoken of, as it were, by the way. For the direct object of Christ in this parable was to declare that when the unbelieving Jews were rejected, the Gentiles were called to Christ. This one, however, denotes all who are like Him. It also signifies that not even one wicked person can lie hid in the day of judgment, or go away unpunished.
Ah, I see.
As opposed to one constructed by a committee.
‘I just don’t understand the culture ‘
Do any of us really – and I mean truly – understand the ‘culture’ that underpins and is expressed in the New Order as it is customarily dished up?
This Sheen explanation is what we are meant to enter into, culturally, whether you comprehend it or merely kneel in awe before it. And it is meant to be the case whether presented in the urgent-pastoral-need vernacular version or its intended original, the Mass of Ages (also known as: TLM). Yes, you have the right to attend a Low Mass (which is the basic form of all vernacular liturgies) or the High Mass (which forms only part of the Ancient Form). What neither you nor I nor any of our family, friends, neighbours or strangers have a right to at Holy Mass – be they baseball-cap-wearing sports-dads in grubby trainers or veil-wearing ladies who lunch in twin-sets and pearls – is a different culture than Christ in His atoning Sacrifice. And this is so wherever we encounter the awe-filled divine liturgy, and however congenial or disconcerting the company. Hence the OPer’s point: that we have a responsibility to do our best to be thoughtful of and sensible about God and then our neighbour (the traditionist spirit may be rather more sniffy about it, and the turn-up-and-go spirit may be more snottery, but we share the same heaven-directed culture – or we are not sincere Catholics, in spirit or truth).
That has been my experience.
That’s a shame. Most people I know who attend the TLM go out of the way to make new people feel welcome there.
Kids tend to be quiet-er at TLM because the whole environment is filled with sacred silence, even the “goings on” at the altar. Kids are not stupid, if they see adults yapping before and after Mass they think ok, this is a place to socialize and play!
I’ve had the very same yapper adults, who talk yap and talk in the church before and after Mass without a single thought to the Tabernacle or those trying to pray… complain to us that our kids made noise during Mass. They make our job 10 times more difficult and then expect perfection! *Sigh*
“Monkey see, Monkey do” right?
But we STILL made very effort to teach our children to behave at Mass.
God bless you for being kind to others and certainly for trying hard with your children. It is very good.
I have often thought about sacred silence and mind you its just my personal thoughts. I think of it as not just the absence of sound or movement, but an inner quiet that stops the tendency we all have to murmur, complain, insult, compare, etc. so that we can more fully accept the outpouring of love God has so generously allowed us to partake in. I’m not saying this in correction to you or anything you’ve said, just sharing my thoughts as I’ve read many comment and reflected on this over the years.
I think, a space without lots of distractions can help this and it is good if it can be practiced. I do think some folks make an error, however when they think they have a right to hold grudges against their brothers and sisters who don’t do it right. I guess it always strikes me as very wrong that though God makes the ultimate sacrifice out of love for us in such generous forgiveness, anyone of us thinks for one moment we have a right to hold any petty grudge against anyone for any reason. There is nothing we endure, even at a noisy, distracting, circus of a mass that should dare cause us to think we have any right to complain or demand or expect anything of anyone. Not one of us has a right to a single preference, or expectation, or environment. And not one of us has a right to murmur against our brother or sister in light of the unfathomable generosity afforded to us. Nothing we endure should cause us to lose sight, in all humility, of the totally unmerited and gratuitous forgiveness we have been given. We should have absolutely nothing to say interiorly but thanks because this outpouring of love surpasses all.
But that’s just my thoughts. I try to remind myself of this but it can be very hard sometimes.
Anyway all the best to you as you continue your journey with your family and faith.
Mrs. Harris, you said: “Not one of us has a right to a single preference, or expectation, or environment. And not one of us has a right to murmur against our brother or sister in light of the unfathomable generosity afforded to us.” This is a modernist statement if I ever heard one. By “preference” or “expectation” or “environment” are you meaning judgement? We do not have the right (or ability)
to damn someone, but we can talk about behavior and the rightness or wrongness of it. We are given the authority to judge righteously. We are not automatons.
I think you would do well to reread and consider what I’m saying in context.
Asking others to clamp-up during Mass is not holding a grudge and you are wrong to claim worshippers do not have a right to a solemn reverent atmosphere while the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is actualised.
IANS could post link after link from Popes and Saints teaching the opposite of our claims while IANS challenges you to produce one – just one- link to and teaching claiming that reverence, silence, awareness of others etc is not tone expected.
What you think is certainly not normative, rather, it is a quite strange and radical ideology you have that you are projecting on others and expecting them to surrender to your odd ideology.
You are writing about nobody having a right to correct others in a post riven with the effort to correct others not to correct others.
Lord you are weird, lady
These comments from so many who self identify as TLM goers are what I think reveal grudges. If a polite request is made that is not a grudge. Please look at these comments and the other letters comment section. They are full of bitter, angry, nasty name calling grudges.
Well, you should have told off the original writer of the article then. It was not polite in the least. Nor humble.
It’s interesting to me because Mr Tighe’s letter is actually a reprint. It was on catholicmom.com about 6 months ago, I think. If you were to look at the comment section there, it is primarily mild, positive and it’s clear that most people took no offense at what he wrote. Apparently they interpreted it much differently. I can’t explain why but for whatever reason people who self identified as TLM goers on this site and aleteia had a much more negative response.
I am not a TLM goer but I still found the original post a whinge. The reason I found it a whinge is because I have seen far too often children running amuck in the Church and the local Church tolerates this by providing them with play stuff right there in the church so you have kids screaming and cavorting during the consecration.
So many people have lost a respect for the Mass. Too much emphasis is put on how one feels at Mass to the terrible neglect of reverence for God. People chat during before, during and after Mass so is it any wonder that kids pick this up.
Parents needs to teach their children about the faith at home. If they do, then it will translate to reverence at Mass. Children need to learn that the Church is not a playground nor playschool.
If the original poster had taken the comment on board instead of making the lady out as if she is an ogre, then all this would not have been necessary.
And Steve is right about the last part of the article too: that since there can’t be anything wrong with him, then obviously there’s something wrong with lady. Never for one moment did he acknowledge that the lady just might be right.
You focus on criticizing (judging) Steve, those here in agreement with him, and attendees at the TLM that you cannot see that you are guilty of doing what you claim others are doing: judging. You even managed to sidestep that very point made by IANS immediately above your comment to which I am responding.
Your obtuseness only worsens as the comment thread lengthens.
You can read the comments for yourself. On this thread and at the other site. The comments/people I’m speaking of self identify as being TLM goers and also angry/critical of this man. No judgement on my part is really necessary.
Wow! I really admire the way you can slip and slide and keep going around issues until you make other commenters ‘be mean to you’, then call them nasty Trads for being mean! Quite a show. Point one: the Holy Mass is the most important thing in the world. Reverence is the ONLY response. How we get there seems to be the point of contention. When we enter a building which contains the Body and Blood of Christ we are to be more than reverent. We are to worship with awe. There is no time for human frailties THAT GO UNCORRECTED, whether it’s a kid or an adult.
Point two: just who are you defending? Certainly not Jesus on the altar and in the tabernacle. All the blather above arguing about who can correct who, with you dragging the modernist mantra of LUV into it, shows we’ve all missed the point.
Oh, I see you want to fight. Have a great day. God bless you!
Second Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274:
It is fitting that He Whose abode has been established in peace should be worshipped in peace and with due reverence. Churches, then, should be entered humbly and devoutly; behaviour inside should be calm, pleasing to God, bringing peace to the beholders, a source not only of instruction but of mental refreshment. Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that Name which is above every Name, than which no other under Heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the Name, that is, of Jesus Christ, Who will save His people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head. In churches the sacred solemnities should possess the whole heart and mind; the whole attention should be given to prayer.
Mrs. Harris Please post anything teaching otherwise, especially anything teaching that it is grudge-bearing if one does not pacifically accept the disorder you think somehow holy.
Oh you seriously misunderstand, and apparently did not read well. Try again. I’m saying the ugly attitudes are unholy and smug superiority are unholy.
What about the ugly attitude of presumption that one can rock up to Mass and not care about anyone else.
What about the ugly attitude of not teaching kids about Mass and the reverence that is due. These are also ugly attitudes.
You are a walking contradiction but you have been blinded to your own faults by the imagined and falsely imputed faults of others.
What is both unholy and smug is the way you not others – input imagined faults to others and that is not to even mention it is you – not IANS – who has a problem in reading comprehension.
If you think the quote you are so dismissive of has aught to do with devout decorum at mass than you, by that response, eliminate your own self as a serious part of the discussion.
You do seem defensive, sorry. If you read my post I’m not in disagreement with the quote from the second council at Lyons. I don’t believe I said anything contrary to it there. And I have not anywhere stated that parents shouldn’t try to instruct or correct their children. I think its you who is accusing me of being dismissive and having “problems”. Was it you who called me “one weird lady? Ahh I’ve been called so many names it’s hard to keep track. I simply said you didn’t read my post well and that you misunderstood.
The fact that it is fitting for us to have a peaceful environment and attitude does not mean that we should have an attitude of “my rights” before the Lord, does it? or hold grudges and anger against others does it? How would that accord with “everyone should bend the knees of his heart”? Do you recall the parable of the merciless debtor? That is my point. Grudges destroy reverence from the inside out, do they not?
You’re in tricky territory here. You contemplate those who ‘hold grudges’ against others when they ‘don’t do it right’. You judge their attitude to be ‘ugly’. You come to the conclusion that they are ‘making an error’.
It may seem to someone watching from the sidelines that you are also holding grudges against those who don’t do it right – according to your judgement.
You state: “There is nothing we endure, even at a noisy, distracting, circus of a mass that should dare cause us to think we have any right to complain or demand or expect anything of anyone. Not one of us has a right to a single preference, or expectation, or environment. And not one of us has a right to murmur against our brother or sister in light of the unfathomable generosity afforded to us.”
I’m sorry to say but you are dead wrong. We do have a right to DEMAND a Holy Mass, said in peace and quiet. We DO have the right to correct wrongs, whether for preference or not, that disrupt Holy Mass. We DO have the right of fraternal correction in some circumstances especially in Church. Where do you get the idea that all is LUV, and that nothing else matters?
I guess I’ll have to come right out and say it: you are a product of the Novus Ordo, and of some suspect Modernist teachings, whether from your priest or not – and it shows in your unbalance, one-sided approach.
Barbara, you are new to this discussion and I presume you are just reacting to my comments one at a time. You don’t really know me, and I doubt you have read this entire discussion in the order that it played out, have you?
Anyhow, all rights flow from something, if you undercut the love and mercy being poured out for all people by our Lord then you undercut all the “rights” that flow from that.
I wish you would explain what you mean by saying you don’t understand the culture of the TLM because I think you have brought out a very serious (to the faith) difference between the TLM and the Novus Ordo as they do express two distinctly different and opposing cultures.
Unless you’re practicing telekinesis, effort looks like effort. It looks like you telling your toddler to whisper. It looks like you taking the two year old and the four month old out back when one is whinging and the other one can’t bear to be separated from mom. It looks like dad moving the eight year old who won’t stop talking to the six year old to the other side of the pew and pointing to the altar.
Parents who are trying manifest outward signs of their efforts. And every parent who has ever made an effort can see it, and appreciates it.
Dude, I can’t believe the flack you are taking. If Trad Catholics can’t distinguish between good parenting and bad parenting, we might as well hang it up.
Trad Catholics are the ones standing by Steve.
Cool. I don’t come here often and didn’t realize he gets a lot of Neo Catholic traffic. I guess I do now.
I suggest to you that the reason many persons here are having strong negative reactions to the subject matter discussed by Steve in this article
is that, on some level, they know they are not making the effort they should to help their children learn to worship God. I sometimes get the sense from parents with a child at Mass that they think that the child is just so cute and entertaining as they distract with their attention getting antics even during the most sacred parts of the Liturgy. Such parents’ response is almost encouraging to the child. Genuine effort to discipline is indeed apparent when it is activated. No one expects perfection of a small child, but there is a distinct difference between approvingly engaging a child who is acting inappropriately and signaling disapproval.
You hit the nail right on the head.
My 30 year old friend has a two year old. The kid plays up like most kids do. But at Mass he behaves because she taught him.
I was a teacher in a Catholic school for many, many years. For some of those years I taught first grade. You have to teach children how to behave. It is not complicated. They must learn that everything they WANT to do at the moment is not okay. We fail them if we allow them to have free reign at every moment. I know smaller children can learn this too, but it takes effort on the part of the adults who supervise them. No one expects perfection from a small child, but you create a monster when he or she is given the message that everything they WANT to do is all right all the time.
That is so true. If we can learn it, then how come it is hard for the later generations not to?
We are all the same human beings. It is the parenting that has changed and I think it has changed for the worse.
Many parents make a nanny out of TV.
You only read what you want to read. Your conclusions are impossible if you had read exactly what is being said by Steve.
Just like you, I couldn’t finish YOUR article either. Maybe if you HAD finished his article, you’d have an eye opening experience. Please do go back and read it to the end.
He did read it to the end. You must have missed that part. He felt he couldn’t, but then returned and finished. Maybe you missed it b/c you didn’t finish and then decided to post anyway?
If you had read all of mine, you would already know that I read all of his. Otherwise, I couldn’t have followed the formatting all the way to the end.
You’d also know that I, too, chose to bury the good stuff beneath the criticism. This was a critique of rhetoric as well as substance. I chose illustration by imitation. The point is made, even if it’s not to everyone’s liking.
It is not a difficult thing for adults to teach children how to behave. It IS time-consuming and persistence-demanding to remind them about what you’ve taught. The original article sounded like it was written by the kind of parent who has allowed his children to be the ones in charge of the teaching instead of acting like the adult in his family. Time to grow up, Sir.
Thanks for your essay, Steve. It was a little trip down memory lane for me. 🙂
Sometimes it takes a man to talk to another man.
When I first read the original letter, I thought it had been written by a woman.
Good one, Steve.
And gloating? The other guy?
Good one even more, Steve.
You know, that’s an excellent point. I thought the same thing through my reading of the hipster dad’s article.
I was wondering: all you history buffs out there: does anyone know what the culture at mass was over 100 years ago when all the masses were in Latin with the priest facing East and sometimes there was more than one mass going on at once at different altars? Before cry rooms were even built? Did people sneer at crying babies back then? I’ve always wondered….seriously, does anyone know?
My grandparents used to take turns going to Mass instead of bringing their 7 high-energy kids. Unfortunately, all but one of them left the faith as adults and the one who stayed was lukewarm. From what I understand, that was a common arrangement.
Yes I have heard of that and there are people still today who insist parents should do that. Today that’s more difficult anyway though if you are a family trying to find a halfway decent mass. Some people have to drive over 30 minutes away. And what about parents who for whatever reason are on their own?
My parents split up and kept us home when were tiny. It was a blessing for my mother to be able to enjoy Mass without dealing with a fussy baby. By the time we were two, we attended Mass and pretty much knew how to behave. Mom planned carefully plus we each had our own little missiles. We were far worse when we got older and would get the giggles over something. Usually, a tiny, but very painful, pinch on the thigh would put an end to that.
Most of the older churches had anti-rooms where you could take a misbehaving child. I don’t really like the idea of crying rooms as too many of the mothers just let their kids run wild in them. That doesn’t teach the kids anything.
IANS was born into a large Irish-Algonquin Catholic family in rural Vt (6 kids) and he went to the real Mass where there were other similarly large ethnic Catholic families at Saint Marty’s in Springfield, Vermont (The Carreols, Spindlers, Tracys, Menards etc etc )and it was rare to hear kids crying at Mass because – this was in the 1950s – that silence and order was the ethos one was submerged in; reverence for the House of the Lord, respect for others, self-control etc etc.
The hipsters of today were born into a culture nearly completely different from Catholic Culture in the 1950s – up until the LIl’ Licit Liturgy was imposed in the late 1960s.
Now what is interesting is to imagine Hipster Daddy at his local library. Do you think Hipster Daddy would be bringing his kids to the library with toys and food and letting them act out etc?
Not bloody well likely.
The Lil’ Licit Liturgy has utterly destroyed the once sacred sense previously existing inside a consecrated church and IANS was recently in London and assisted at the Sat. Nite English Mass at The Brompton Oratory where, it is constantly being alleged, the new rite is to be found at its highest expression.
Now, the singing of the nine Oratorians was first rate and the Lil Licit Liturgy itself was accomplished according to the rubrics but it still was sorely lacking without the offertory and all the trad prayers etc but what made the occasion so sad was that there were two idiot teenagers talking and elbowing each other prior to the Mass and IANS waited for a minute or so to see if anyone else would do their duty and politely talk to the nitwits.
Nobody did, so IANS did and that pissed-off the Bride; It was not your place to do that.
Well, she is wrong. It was my place – and the place of every man there to act but none did .
C’est la vie.
The new rite imposed upon us has done more damage to Catholic sensibilities than the material damage Germany did to England during the war but that damage has been repaired whereas the damage the new rite has done and is continuing to do is unending and, like WW 2 Germany it must be defeated before it wreaks complete destruction.
I still remember many Sundays in my church in the 50s before air conditioning, with the sound of 6 huge fans on tall poles providing background noise to the occasional (and sometimes sporadic) wail of an infant.
Of course, that was in the days of the Mass of the Ages and, incidentally, the Mass which formed 99.9% of all the Saints. No one EVER brought baggies full of Cherrios or coloring books. Except for infants up to 2-3, children attending that Mass were pretty much universally taught by most if not all parents how to behave in church. Those little ones made frequent trips to the lobby with a parent when they became disruptive. As Charlotte indicates, it was very common for parents to split up attending Mass so one would stay home with those too young to get through Mass without always leaving the pew.
However, I’ll suggest that there is something about the TLM combined with continuous efforts to train the kids in proper reverence which tends to produce better behaved children at that Mass compared to the Novus Ordo. Many, many testimonials to that effect have been posted on the internet by parents. Naturally, back in the day before innovation in the Mass no one noticed that as much because most kids were well-behaved due to proper parenting on a massive scale. Most Catholic parents knew what was necessary to do back then, and were not too caught up in pride to fight it.
I used to agree with you, but then I had kids with autism. My husband was insistent that we should take them to Mass because it was the only way to teach them how to properly behave there and also that Catholics were good, pro-family people that would welcome kids, even kids like ours. He was as wrong, and we had confrontations from little old ladies like the blog author experienced. Even if you think parents like me should just “cowboy up,” it’s still humiliating, heartbreaking, and faith-damaging when it happens to you. Please know how blessed you are to have kids who are able to be taught how to sit still at Mass. As for my family, I fought tooth and nail with my husband to convince him to keep our kids away from the Mass because it was clear it would be many years before they had even the slightest chance of being anything but an irritation to people such as yourself. I truly don’t want to be a burden on others, but you have to understand that in the special needs community, being pushed out of churches by people like you who think “unruly” kids should not be allowed to come and that poor parenting is the only (or at least most common) cause is often cited as the #1 most difficult thing special needs families face. Good for you for having 7 perfect kids who can handle being in a church, but those who don’t often leave and never come back.
Your post makes me want to cry. I’m so sorry that this has been the experience for you. I have so many friends who have gone through exactly what you’re saying and it makes me so upset. Of all the places on earth, the church should be the place where your children are so loved and accepted. And every offer of love help and support should be pouring out for your family. God bless you, mom. I know it’s not much but I offer my support for what it’s worth.
First of all, let’s lose the “people like you” crack. I’ve never pushed anyone out of a Church, I’ve never yelled at anyone for their children’s behavior, this is a straw man you’re battling. I understand this is a difficult issue for you, but making me into the bad guy isn’t going to help.
My comments were directed at a specific manifestation of Milennial narcissism: “I’m doing what I can, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem, not mine.” I was talking about able-bodied parents of able-bodied kids. I’ve seen it time and again, where the parents just roll their eyes but let the kids run amok. That doesn’t cut it.
I also know people who have kids with autism. I understand it presents unique challenges. And that’s a different consideration altogether. I’m sure that you don’t just ignore distracting behavior, however. The people I am friends with don’t. You deal with it the best you can.
I never asserted that I have 7 perfect kids. I said that I have 7 kids I’ve had to work with for many years to get the kind of behavior I expect from them.
I’m not your enemy, Charlotte. This post wasn’t about you.
No one can tell by looking at my kids that they have autism. They could, however, see that I corrected every single thing they did at Mass and really tried to parent them correctly – but it still didn’t matter. There are far too many people in the pews willing to confront parents who bring their kids to Mass even if they make minimal noise and are only slightly fidgety. Your insistence that people can tell the difference between ones who try and ones who don’t and kids who are able bodied vs. ones with disabilities rings very, very hollow. In practice, this is about families like mine even if you don’t want it to be. Young children simply aren’t welcome at many parishes and other parishioners are quite willing to inform parents of this.
I only found your article because it’s being passed around as an example of the kind of attitude that caused so many fellow parents to leave their parishes or stay but feel humiliated and unwelcome week after week. Maybe you didn’t realize how your article would come off to others any more than the original author did with his, or what impact it would have.
Charlotte, for the life of me I can’t understand why any parent thinks an entire church should be asked to tolerate children who disrupt services. I would never expect this were it my own children. I would stay near an exit or in the vestibule until my children learned to behave in Mass.
LET ME ASK YOU THIS: would it be tolerated in a MOVIE?
NO, it would be completely inconsiderate. Why should it be tolerated during one of the most important aspects of our lives: worshiping God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
Years ago this was taken so seriously that parents would split up; one went to an earlier Mass while the youngest children stayed home with one parent and then the other parent would go to a later Mass. It was only when the children were old enough to understand and behave properly at Mass that they would begin to attend regularly with the parents. You can read about this practice in the life of St Therese of Lisieux, in whose family such a practice was quite normal. And hers was a family of Saints; her parents were just canonized.
AND AGAIN, this is not the same as those families with children who have special needs. we are talking about those families that fail to take appropriate steps with otherwise healthy children.
It has been 5 years since my family has been to a Mass together. My husband wants to bring the kids inside the church, but I knew young children were never welcome there. We stayed in the cry room, outside the main church, or more recently just stop going altogether if there was no one to watch the kids because the feeling of being unwanted has become too emotionally difficult for me, a convert whose old church used to welcome children and special needs people with open arms. My grandparents switched off weeks like you described, but only one of their 7 kids stayed Catholic and that’s the scenario most parents who choose to bring their kids to Mass are trying to avoid. I think a reasonable amount of noise and fidgetiness should be tolerated from young children, and people like my husband go so far as to say that as baptized Catholics they have a right to come to Mass. But clearly not everyone agrees.
Charlotte, this discussion has never been about special needs children or a “reasonable” amount of fidgetyness.
It’s about parents who make no effort to control healthy children “dancing in the pews” or drowning out homilies. Did you read the man’s original letter?
In fact, I am deeply touched and edified when I see families with special needs children at Mass.
It’s not about the noise; it’s about the obvious lack of appropriate effort to teach children who are capable of learning it about proper conduct in church.
Remember, that in the Catholic Church we are assisting at the Consecration and offering of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ to the Most Holy Trinity in the Mass.
This is profoundly serious, and does not take place in non-Catholic churches or faith communities where they certainly have reason to be much more casual since it really is mostly about fellowship and simply reading Scripture and preaching on it, not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Your anecdotal reference to a family whose children did not stay Catholic certainly is no basis for any conclusions. I know very devout families who attended Mass together and whose children left the Faith after they became young adults.
Well said Marie! Point made with clarity and compassion…
Also, if you feel young children are not welcome in your church as a rule, then perhaps you should consider another parish. I’m sorry for your experience in that regard and congratulate you on your conversion and perseverance.
I see children at Mass all the time; it’s a delight to see them. And I’ve seen special needs children who make a great deal of noise; this elicits love and compassion, not irritation. Such children have a special place in the Church and in the heart of God.
Then I’ve seen the parents who bring food into the pew and little video games or comic books, etc.; everything except an effort to have their children focus on the sacred.
It’s certainly possible to teach children to be well-behaved in Mass if they are healthy children. I’ve seen it many times.
There is no excuse for allowing non-spiritual behavior in Mass from healthy children and permitting it to continue.
I’m afraid you’ve stepped in it Steve, these individual’s don’t want to hear, much less understand your point. Instead they are using it to stoke the flames of victimization in order to fuel their straw man Church of nice agenda. Church of Nice=Good, RadTrad=Bad….
Steve, you sound to me, too, like the ‘enemy’ Charlotte describes. I have thirteen kids, seven are adults all practicing their Catholic faith, three are married, two have kids of their own, one is in formation to be a priest, and the rest are pretty ok, well, some of the time. I have light years and seasons on you in terms of experience and ‘accomplishment’ in this department and I still felt like your piece gouged at me.
That sounds like a personal problem. The standard of behavior I seek to promote is far more lax than what my parents and grandparents dealt with.
If you can’t see the self-serving nature of the original letter after all the time I’ve spent mapping it out, I don’t know what to tell you.
I’m not the villain you want me to be. I don’t think I’ve got it all figured out. I just know that blaming other people when you admit your own kids are out of control and inventing tragic back stories about them to explain why they made a critical comment to you is pretty cheesy.
“The standard of behavior I seek to promote is far more lax than what my parents and grandparents dealt with.”
I am not so sure. When I ask people of my parents’ (and, before they died, my grandparents’) generation how they dealt with young children in Mass there answer is: “We never took them!” I had 4 under four at Mass until a year ago and I always go the vestibule at the moment my children make a noise. But there are at least two generations at Church who simply do not think that young children should be at Mass at all — not out of malice, but out of convention.
Ok, so I tell you that your tone and rant have hurt me, Charlotte tells you she feels the same way, and you tell us that when you have offended us, it’s our problem.
Villain- no. Friend? Brother? Second self as part of the same Body of Jesus Christ who prayed that we love one another and be united as He and the Father are united? Is is my personal problem too here, when I say not so much especially in these follow up comments?
I think we are all sharing a lot of collective pain we are inflicting upon one another and that really should give us all pause to consider how to stop doing it- right? Not just me, you, or the hipster dad- all of us and to try diligently to teach our kids to stop inflicting pain on others as well- especially in our family in faith.
But a lot of that is only going to be accomplished when we start taking one another’s suffering seriously and bearing one another’s burdens. I am not sure how to most effectively communicate that in the public forum when it sounds like fraternal correction- man to man, dad to dad— or when it is calling out whining and a failure to take personal responsibility, but I think the more sardonic take on things is less likely to bear positive fruit- it rather seems to just cause more division and heartache– even if a lot of it is unintended.
Charlotte, you have unnecessarily identified with a situation completely unlike your own.
You have special needs children, which is something entirely different than undisciplined, otherwise healthy children.
Catholics have certain responsibilities. For those who are parents of healthy children, one of the first things that children need to be taught is that church is a place of reverence, prayer and silence.
We Catholics also has a responsibility to distinguish between children who are healthy and children who have special needs.
I have found it particularly irritating that parents don’t do what I myself would do: that is, take *healthy* unruly children out of church so that those present can worship and pray in peace.
However there have been occasions where I have seen autistic children, or other children with similar handicaps, who will make noises during Mass. This is something entirely different. It is a situation for which we must all have loving indulgence. One thing has nothing to do with the other.
It is the sense of entitlement of those parents who can and ought to discipline their children, yet who feel that everyone else should put up with unruly behavior when they fail in this regard and don’t even make an attempt to bring the children outside. This is neglect on the part of such parents and it is imposed on those who are there to worship. I honestly think that we’re more annoyed with the parents who refuse to manage their children properly then with the children themselves.
This is NOT the same thing as parents who generously raise children with special needs who cannot be disciplined. Such parents have and deserve only our deepest admiration for their generosity, patience and love.
The problem comes when someone assumes, as they often do, that a parent doesn’t care about bad behavior when they do (such as when I decide to let my child lay down on the pew because she is currently quiet and I know getting her to sit up would trigger a screaming and kicking fit. To a bystander it looks like I’m just letting my kid do whatever she wants). They can’t tell she has autism, so I and every other parent like me (including ones of typical children who simply have energetic personalities) are assumed to be entitled millenials who can’t and won’t get control over our kids because we think we have a right to disturb the Mass for others. There’s also the issue of each person having a different definition for what counts as behavior severe enough to warrant being taken out of the Mass, as well as people who have spouses who won’t allow them to remove children from the Mass because they think they think doing so encourages worse behavior in the future. It’s really not as clear cut as so many want to believe. As others have pointed out, it takes years to instill good behavior at Mass and parents who are still in the training phases get too much scorn from others who think they aren’t doing it right.
So yes, articles like this do impact families like mine even if the author does not think they do. If I were the only person who thought that, it wouldn’t be passed around like it is. It encourages the mindset that any parent who does not appear to be trying hard enough, based on someone’s own personal definitions and perceptions, is probably just entitled or ignorant and should take their kids away from the Mass. I give the author credit for not telling parents his opinions of the, in person, but too many do.
It really seems as though you have responded because of your personal sensitivity on this issue, not necessarily to the facts of the article.
It was clear from the first man’s letter that the woman complained to him about his child dancing in the pews! This is clearly unacceptable behavior in church, regardless of whose children we are talking about.
The woman was completely justified in saying something. Someone really should have.
As for your situation, you are to be congratulated for your long suffering. I am sure God will reward you. Be at peace, regardless of what people may think.
He flat out said that his kids were why people miss the homily. How much more of a confession do we need that something is out of control?
Perhaps it’s only my experience, and perhaps that experience is too narrow, but I find that disabilities like autism, while not transforming the person’s appearance, lend discernible characteristics to their behavior. Tics, repetitive movements, and so on that signal there is something neurological in play.
I recently had a young man (in his 20s) come up and apologize to me for just such behavior because he thought he had disturbed us in Mass. I told him that not only had he not done so, but that we understood that he had a neurological condition and not to worry about it.
There’s simply no way to extrapolate from what I’ve written that I’m some sort of parish behavior Nazi. It is absolutely stunningly clear when a child is screaming and a parent is ignoring them, or when they’re banging loudly on the pew and the parent rolls their eyes, or when an infant begins crying loudly and nothing is done.
Common courtesy. That’s what I am advocating. Basic sense. There is a serious (and problematic) trend in modern parenting where the kids completely run the show and the parents bow and scrape after them. This is a problem. Children who have the capacity to understand need to be taught that Mass is sacred and not a place where they get to act like the playground, or even the living room. Children who are unable to understand and act up should be removed until they calm down so as not to disturb others.
It’s not rocket science. If you can’t hear the priest’s homily over the loud kid, it’s rude. Make it stop. That’s all I’m saying.
You are not alone, these kinds of behavioral/communication/retardation disabilities are swiftly obvious after the first few moments of, “That person is a brat… oh, wait…” These kinds of issues are nowhere near as “invisible” as they are made out to be by these debate-hijackers.
I used to blog. I always had one of these types derail every single debate like this, with their victimhood make-it-all-about-me-because-either-I-am-disabled,-or-I-have-a-disabled-kid hijackers. They have their own individual reasons for pulling this stunt but it really boils down to making it all about me by swooping in, totally off topic, derail the conversation and whine about a… would this be a Red Herring or Straw Man?! Or what?? Either way, the entire debate changes tracks and the original author is now on the chopping block for supposedly disrespecting on disabled people and yada yada. You have to admit, it’s pretty impressive!
I’m disabled, a disabled Vet, so please don’t any here try and make me out to be a Hater McHatey Hate towards disabled people or children. It just won’t fly. Oh, and please quit hijacking this debate, you look very silly pulling this stunt.
It appears that you are commenting based on your personal sensitivity to this matter, not necessarily on the facts.
The man indicated in the original letter that the woman complained because his child was dancing in the pews! This is completely unacceptable behavior regardless of whose children we are referring to. The womam was quite justified for saying something, someone certainly should have.
In your own situation you are to be commended for your long suffering and patience in raising children with special needs. God will certainly reward you. Be at peace regardless of what people may think.
I have never witnessed in my years attending Mass parents that were ‘ok’ with their kids being a disruption in the pews. It is mortifying for any parent.I’ve never seen this entitlement mentality straw man that Steve speaks of. I suspect it has more to do with a1p5 war with Aleteia.
Then reading the obnoxious comments by Steve’s supporters to you..they didn’t help his case.
The truth is the 1 in 65 kids will be diagnosed with Autism.. And where are they in Church? Their parents don’t dare bring them bc of people like the woman in Tighe’s article and Marie below and then Steve Skojec backing them up. The Church does more to minister to LGBT than it does to support suffering families with Autism.
As long as the Circus isn’t on the altar We should be okay with distractions from the pews.
1P5 is my favorite Catholic blog but this piece is just too obnoxious and holier than thou and strikes at the heart of families like yours and my sisters whether it was intended or not.
From a commenter on our Facebook page:
“Amen, Steve. Amen. Thank you for that response.
As 20+ year TLM attendees, Paul and I have worked hard over the years to instill respect and acceptable behavior at Mass with our children (six kids, ranging from 22 to 12 now). It’s undisciplined toddlers running roughshod over their parents mostly, not infants.
We’ve missed our fair share of Communion, homilies, confession lines and even an entire Mass for the occasional “supreme gift of marriage” that we had to take to the vestibule or totally remove from the building…and, for the rare spank. Yes, a swat on the rear. That’s going to offend a lot of people, but you know what? I can’t remember even having to do that past the age of five. As Barney Fife used to say, “Nip it in the bud”.
IMHO, many parents have bought into the “ignore the behavior, don’t acknowledge it and it will go away” theory. It doesn’t. It gets worse. Kinda like the Mom who let her toddler scream at the top of her lungs during coffee hour…for 45 minutes. She just ignored her while other parishioners started to leave.
A more important example is the Dad who didn’t take his screaming toddler out from the Communion line. He walked up with her screaming, stood in line and continued to stay there. That’s happened more times than I care to mention. What are they thinking? Are they trying to prove some point? And to whom? All I know is all my Communion prep went out the window, and I was not thinking kind things…What are these hellions like at home??
It seems that a lot of parents take the easy way, not the right way. There were plenty of times I felt like giving up and giving in. We once had a parishioner mutter “Oh, God” when our youngest (3 at the time) and I sat down in the pew behind her. I wanted to cry. She didn’t know me or my daughter, but just assumed.
In those moments, I was reminded that it is my duty to raise my children to the best of my ability, instill an unshakeable Faith, and foster a Christian attitude towards others…which is not what these parents are doing. It’s not Johnny’s feelings that need to be spared, but to respect those of fellow parishioners.”
When asked how that works when it is discovered that a child has developmental issues, she responded:
“Our only son is Autistic, so we’ve had to deal with developmental issues, not to mention the temperaments of six kids. I’m not saying that someone should or should not receive Holy Communion. I am saying that they should be courteous and have the common decency to remove a screaming child during that time. I’ve missed many because of a crying/fussy child of our own. Been there done that. I think it’s a selfish act to subject the congregation to it…especially for the 10+ minutes you’re waiting. I’m sure God understands and I pray for them too.”
Clearly, this isn’t a problem for everyone. Even some of those who have children with autism.
I really have seen parents who do nothing about misbehaving kids. And I really do think the autism issue, while falling under the umbrella of keeping Mass sacred and distraction free, deserves special consideration.
But that’s not what this article was ever about, so let’s please stop trying to make it fit.
The article was about defending a woman who said something to hipster dad about a misbehaving child. I think it is indefensible. Obviously there are people who stay away with their troublesome toddlers, children with autism, etc because of this type of busy body, know it all, judgmental behavior. It is indefensible. Im also pretty surprised at the ‘autism is no excuse’ comments I have seen. I would expect more compassion from the Trad. Community but based on the com box it is sorely lacking. I’m pretty disappointed by it.
In this day and age if people are making an effort to show up to Mass, we should be grateful for the gift of putting up with their screaming toddler. Just my opinion- I don’t look around the Church and tsk tsk the crying kids. As a Mom of 5 myself if a kid is crying and it is not my kid I don’t even notice it.
Oh my gosh, I used to see this at our old Novus Ordo parish. All. The. Time.
Parents completely oblivious to their children’s behavior. Snacks, toys, iPhones, game boys, coloring books, markers and crayons rolling around, toy cars, action figures being bounced off of siblings’ heads. And parents doing little or nothing. It’s the consecration, but all you can hear is the crinkling of a package of goldfish crackers.
My autistic son is in Church precisely BECAUSE we found a parish where people are willing to discipline their children well enough that my son is not on sensory overload from the toys and snacks of kids around him.
I’ve already commented above, but it’s a pretty cheap shot of you to try to play the special needs card. I’m the mom of a special needs child AND a large family. I’ve put a lot of effort into my children’s behavior at Mass, because God trumps everything else in our lives. It can be done. It’s easy to walk away and use those people with only “perfect kids” (what rubbish–I have a couple of high-energy typical kids that can give my high-energy, low-functioning autie a run for his money) as an excuse. Overwhelmingly, other Catholics, priests and laity, have been supportive and willing to work with us, even allowing us to determine when our son was prepared to receive Communion. And those other people who discipline their children and don’t let them bring food or toys to Mass are making my job a heck of a lot easier.
I’m glad you are having an easier time being a parent of special needs children, but please understand that all special needs children are different and all parish environments are different. It’s not a “cheap shot.” It’s a desperate plea for compassion and understanding from a mom who gets almost none from her local Catholic community. Here, it’s only the protestant churches who offer help and support to special needs parents.
This article seems to miss the entire point of the “hipster” article. Tighe seems to be doing his very best in creating an environment of respectfully obedient children — but is still met with disdain. He is in no way warranting the misbehavior or neglect of children. I sincerely believe that you both are a lot more similar than you realize in your efforts to raise good, Catholic children.
The first article spent 680 words (I counted) making the woman who made a comment look like a villain; it spent the rest of the article trying to explain why she must have been a broken person struggling with personal tragedy — as if there was no possibility she had an actual point.
It also conceded that the children were the reason people couldn’t hear the homily, and that it didn’t appear to others that the parents cared.
This was not an apologetic or humble letter; it was meant to be a public criticism of anyone who would make such a comment, posed as a self-reflective piece where the author could present himself as charitable in his pity for the damaged other, and ultimately above the fray.
What it was not was a piece where we saw the author reach any internal progression in his opinion; he did not come to the conclusion that he could do a better job keeping his kids from being a distraction to others at Mass. He came to the conclusion that the distraction his kids posed was probably just the kind of sacrifice God wanted those cranky old jerks to offer up.
Self-indulgence. That’s what rang through.
I suspect I could easily find things in common with the author. I bear him no ill-will. But I found his letter distasteful, which is why I responded by imitation, hoping it would help demonstrate the problem with his approach.
I re-read the original article again, just to see if my initial reading was too unkind. I don’t think it was. My impression is that the self described ‘hipster dad’ at first might have been self conscious about the behavior of his kids, but then came to the conclusion that you know what? Jesus loves his unruly children and smiles down as they are interrupting the homily. Seems kind of presumptuous to me. His thinking that the ‘mean’ woman was placed in his life so as to make him a saint, again, is a little presumptuous. What ultimately ‘hits him’ is not that he has any responsibility to take – no, rather he didn’t consider how someone who would comment to him might be coming from a place of pain or sadness. Never considering that MAYBE the lady who commented was onto something – that he should work a little harder at teaching his kids about the sacredness of Church. I like your response Steve, hopefully you have given him a little bit more to think about.
Why is EVERYTHING on Aleteia annoying? It can’t all be Simcha Fisher.
I dislike the current childrearing habits (in my day we didn’t call it “parenting” because we didn’t unconsciously make everything about ourselves) that might be summed up as “Tee-hee, there goes my toddler throwing the baby’s diaper at the altar again!” I was the one whose family was occasionally bitterly alluded to as Stepford Children. I can only suppose that this remark suggested that we had obtained decent behavior from them by utterly crushing our children’s spirits. To be accurate, we did crush one part of their spirits, the part which urgently shrieked to them that every impulse, however chaotic, must be acted on at once and without reflection. That’s the part of human nature that’s supposed to be crushed if we’re to keep this whole orderly civilization project going.
Kathleen, I LOVE it!
Everything on Aleteia is annoying now for the same reason everything on Patheos was annoying. 😉
I can’t imagine what the common denominator might be…
Hmmm…let me think…
Thank you, Mr. Skojec. Having spent a great deal of time wrestling down very active boys in the back of churches, it’s good to be reminded that the efforts to teach your children to be pious and reverent are worth it (no matter what the Pope may think about it). Your article also inspired some self-examination over whether I might even be too lax in my efforts at times.
This is so not helpful.
I thought it was “so” quite helpful.
You just wrote the response to this man I was hoping someone would write.
We go to a Traditional Latin Mass Chapel with LOTS of LARGE young families and I don’t ever remember any of them disturbing the Mass.
I think the deep silence, reverence, and tenor of the Mass itself have a great deal to do with communicating the spirit of the sacred to even young children. In a very short time they learn what it is to be silent and well-behaved at Mass.
As a practicing Catholic mom of 4 Littles, soon to be five, I couldn’t agree more. We work really really really hard at getting our children to have good and, most importanty, respectful behavior at Mass. I’m tired of the entitled attitude of people of my generation. God and the Holy Sacrifice is by far more important than making your children happy and I’m sick and tired of straining my ears to hear the homily while wild little children are let loose. My kids are 8, 6, 5 and 2 and my kids follow the Mass, behave appropriately, and completely are aware of the weight if the Mass. When they see other kids acting wild is especially hard for them to sit still, it’s simply wrong and not fair to my kids. No, we don’t do coloring pages, snacks, toys, and that’s no easy feat with a active 2 year old boy. But honestly the Lord deserves good behavior from my kids and I love Him enough to work hard at keeping them in line.
Steve, your article was excellent and extremely well done by the imitation technique. You were NOT uncharitable! The problem with most of the disagree-ers is they are a perfect example of the culture we now have of victims who must always talk about their feelings and the lack of “mercy”. After all, this IS the year of mercy. I’ll bet I could find the words mercy and/or feelings in almost every one. That is not what this is about. This is all about raising up children to revere and worship Almighty God. They will not get it because they still insist on seeing “hipster husband” as having so many feelings to address. If they could only cut out all the “feelings” mush, and focus on the reality of how sacred Almighty God is and how much reverence and worship is due to Him by the adults/parents (which is, btw, what the children will eventually become, and how else will they learn this awe and reverence other than by strict discipline?), then clarity of vision would reign. Aha moments would ensue. Yes, this IS about adoring God and not about how my feelings were hurt by someone not adoring the antics of my precious little snowflakes.
I recently have been the “cranky old lady” who said to the mom behind me after Mass was over, “you know, when my five boys were little, I would take them out of Church when they made noise and bothered the people around us in the pews.” She laughed and said, “Oh, did you?” I answered, “Yes, I did’. A few minutes later during my after Mass thanksgiving prayer, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and she asked me if they had disturbed me (my husband almost choked, as everyone within 5 pews distance had been giving them glances – and they weren’t dirty looks, either). I said Yes they had,but I smiled and said it’s ok, just a little penance”. I hoped to smooth things and tried to make it a little joke, hoping she got the point since my initial comment was very seriously made. Now I notice they sit near the rear of the Church and much closer to the exits. So apparently the point was taken. Win-win. They looked like the kind of parents who understood and were doing something about it. Kudos to them. They obviously didn’t feel the need to write an article about how I probably had mental problems. These kinds of things can be done and feelings needn’t be the center of it.
I am 65 years old and sit near the front in order to see everything at the altar and also because my hearing is a little less than it was. It is just considerate for parents with young and noisy children to sit near the exits and allow those who have done their time in the trenches to finally assist at Mass in peace, although occasionally there are still a few crying babies that can be heard in the back, but no big deal – it never lasts long. Our Church even has a notice in the bulletin asking parents with young children to please take advantage of the exits and vestibules and requesting any suggestions on how they can make attending Mass with young children easier. There are also laminated copies of this notice in every pew, so apparently this has become a bigger issue than people think. It is worded extremely politely.
I am so glad to finally see this addressed and done so well. Anyone who takes offense at this needs to quit being part of the victim culture and grow up.
Brilliant letter, thank you. I have no kids (not by true choice) which renders my views irrelevant by most parents. I love kids & am a midwife but I am constantly amazed by how little control people have over their children nowadays. As a child my friends and I sat quietly through mass as we were taught by our parents. If we misbehaved we were corrected, usually moved or just a look would do it. If parents could do it then, then parents can do it now. I admire families like yours & the obvious effort that goes into raising beautiful, respectful, well behaved kids who will grow up to love God & to see that the world does not revolve around them.
THANK YOU for saying this, and saying it very well. About time somebody made these points.
It is a serious sin to allow one’s offspring to destroy another person’s ability to focus on the worship of the Creator of the Universe.
I’m new to this site, but, if dress codes, and children’s behavior is the typical venue, I’m out of here sooner rather than later.
The easy way to find out is to actually read something else. It’s easy to find:
I believe the great majority of people understand the occasional crying baby or random toddler meltdown but bad behavior from older kids needs to be addressed. The Mass at the school where I taught was the quietest Mass I’d attend all week. Over 300 kids age 5 to 14, many with ADHD, or on the spectrum, who still managed to participate in the Mass quietly and reverently. Why is that? Procedures and EXPECTATIONS. And on that subject, there are places where quiet is expected and places where it is not. It would be unreasonable to go to Chuck E Cheese for quiet prayer and contemplation because Chuck’s is a noisy place (and even more ridiculous to essay rant how horrible people were when you tried to hush them). In the same way, it is unreasonable to go to Mass and expect a Chucky Cheese tolerance for mayhem.
Thank you for this!
I come from a large family and I have 22 nieces and nephews that all behave fairly well in mass. When I had kids I expected the same but my eldest daughter is actually a firecracker and it has always been an issue for us. She is in constant motion so even if we can get her to be polite and quiet we can’t always get her to sit still. We also attend the latin rite and we make a serious effort to show her how to pray respectfully. I loved your response and your ideas.
In fact in Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux a little 3 year old Therese said, “On Sunday, as I was too little to go to the service, Mama stayed with me; I was very good, walking around on tiptoe during the Mass; but as soon as I saw the door open, there was an explosion of joy!”
Ever since reading this we’ve felt more comfortable restraining her in the back and teaching her how very serious, how wonderful and how holy privilege it is to sit in mass quietly and respectfully. It makes a big difference. Everything has its place and you’re right God comes first! When our children see us pulling out all the stops and feeling real concern and consideration for the holy sacrifice of the mass and others they will learn how truly important it is.
Liked most of what you have to say (my children are all adults now, but I do remember the struggles), BUT, get off your high holier than thou horse about what Mass you attend. It rather ruins what is otherwise an interesting read.
My dear Ellen, I’ll never stop praising the superiority of the traditional Mass over the new rite. I would have to lie to you to do that. It is superior in every way — not because I attend it, I just happened to have been blessed enough to discover its riches. I wouldn’t stop praising it if it cost me every friend and reader I have.
It is true Catholic worship, and it is a tragedy that it was stolen from us.
I am glad you are happy, but there are far less smug ways to express your joy in something than displaying a denigrating attitude about the Mass (and, therefore, the people that worship at it) – which is what you do when you put down the “new” rite. Kindness and compassion, as well as politeness, go a long way. Listen to an old lady who has travelled this path far longer than you – there is truth in the old adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar.
“Wow, this New Coke is so great. Way better than the original Coke. Sure it took us 50 years to develop an appreciation and so many people stopped drinking it that we lost a lot of our employees. Sales are down, profits, are down. But let’s call it a success, because as long as we have a cadre of people who would rather drink sludge than start drinking Pepsi, things are swell. ”
But then you sample the original, and you can’t lie anymore. It’s not smugness. You want us to lie and say that the new rite is something that it isn’t.
I would never compare Mass to a soda-Not really appropriate. Also, I was raised with the old rite ( I am considerably older than you, have raised six children to adulthood and currently enjoying my grandchildren) and I find much more peace and focus with the new rite. I am glad you find joy in the traditional Mass, but you can also get off your holier than thou pedestal. I am done and am going off to rock a grandbaby – baptized this afternoon with the words said in English and just as blessed as one who was sprinkled by a Latin speaking priest.
When I converted in 1994, I began reading the writings of many great Saints. I often wept that I did not see in the Mass what these noble souls experienced. Fast forward to my first Solemn High Mass in 2009: all of those beautiful things the Saints wrote that I had read came flooding back, and I wept to finally SEE what they saw. I thought it was my own unworthiness, unholiness, blindness keeping me from experiencing what they all did at Mass. But it wasn’t me, it was that I wasn’t “looking at” the SAME Mass all those years. I don’t think the Novus is invalid, and I attend when I have no other choice. But we (my family) see things vastly different than our pre-Latin Mass days. We are reaping fruit from the language, ritual, rubrics, music, etc that is not offered in the NO. The Old Rite tells us clearly who we are and what each role is as God, man, male, female, priest, laity. It is an unadulterated form of worship of God Almighty and speaks to the soul through timeless action and imagery. It is spiritually and psychologically intact and complete and the most healing and beautiful thing this side of Heaven.
And I am sorry, but no matter how much I wanted to experience that, and no matter how much I wanted to say that about the Novus in those first faithful 15 years, it wasn’t true. I was starving, and I didn’t even know it. Still amazes me how quickly my kids recognized the majesty of the TLM and gravitated to it, dragging their parents along. And a little child shall lead them…
Furthermore, the Old Mass perfectly communicates to women their dignity and worth in that what we do in the pew, forming our little ones, is essential and necessary for the Church to “go on.” Not only is it “enough,” it is what we were created to do.And that, dear sisters, is true liberation!
Steve, one of your best, and that’s saying something. Right on. Cowboy up, indeed.
And I have eight children.
heySteve, i am a catholic dad of one living child so that is probably not such great “Trad Dad Street Cred…” but i will say that there are a lot of wrong people out there on the internet. if we all wrote parodies of their wrong-ness we would all never sleep. life is simply too short to correct every crotchety old grandma, and every “hipster dad.” While i am a longtime reader of yours and usually find myself in agreement of your views, i do wonder if this sort of thing is really necessary. Often it’s me who is the distractor extrordinaire at Mass i have had seixures, passed out, thrown up and had the ambulance come plenty of times. it is usually stuff that is par for the course when it happens at home but when i get sick at church it’s OMG CALL AN AMBULANCE FREAK OUT TIME and they look at my wife like she’s psycho because she isnt fazed byany of it. I do think your statement that people will automatically *know* and *understand* when a child is disabled is unfounded–*you might be able to deduce whether a child may have special needs but many others cant. and there are plenty of crotchety types who dont seem to care if youre trying, or if you have something complicated going on. some people hate children..when they see them act up they are not satisfied unless you spank them in public. that is just how some people are. You are a good wrter and have a lot of influence in the catholic blogosphere so i will pray for you.
Yesterday I read this letter to which you are responding. I felt an irritation arise in myself, as I read it for the exact same reasons. Many parents allow their children to be rambunctious and unruly without reprimand. You have stated things very well.
i’ll also say that very few things are more frustrating than spending HOURS getting ready to leave the house for Mass, and taking a long journey to Mass, and then spending the entire time in the back vestibulewhere it is freezing cold unable to hear Mass or see the consecration. we went through about 3 or 4 years of barely spending any time in church because our son was acting like a typical under-4 year old. i have a ton of medical conditions and am in a wheelchair it takes my wife forever to get me ready to go out the door so we can to go t mass as a family and then we get there and we spend the whole time hearing the muffled sounds of a beautiful High Mass from the other side of the door. it just sucks—and the scrupulous person in me worries that i am sinning and not meeting my obligation because i am not actually going to mass. I was away from holy communion because i rarely sat through the whole canon, and i was under the impression that you needed to be present for the ntire canon to reveiv Holy Communion I think what we needed to hear during that time was that it is if you take your child out if they make a fuss, it is OK that you are not going to sit through the entire Mass. that you are not sinning by spending 90% of the holy liturgy in the back vestibule because your child is not having a good behavior day. that someday, your family will make it back in the pews again. I do remember those days and how far away from God we all felt. and that it is its own sacrifice that you can offer up to God. . A gesture of solidarity goes a long way and is likely to be well received.
God bless you, Ches. I have no doubt you’ve done everything He asks of you. I know what it’s like to make some of the sacrifices you speak of, but yours go deeper. Thank you for being willing to suffer for what is good.
thanks steve… i think i can see where a lot of the disagreers are coming from because when someone tells you “either whip your children into shape or take them out of the sanctuary—cowboy up!)” i think the instant reaction is probably “then why even bother going to church?” i do remember times when my wife would facepalm and just say “we should have just stayed home”whihch i am sure millions of other Catholic parents have said to themselves at some point when they are
Interesting follow up article for 1P5 would be a post about Why You Should Still Bother
The “cowboy up” comment was in reference to a man who was “so crushed” by the criticism of a woman at his parish that he was rendered speechless.
I’ve asked “why bother” too. The answer is obvious, but the going is hard.
Ches, the spiritual life is never about feeling close to God; it’s about immolation and surrender in the most difficult of circumstances, just as our Lord did on the Cross as the crowning act of Redemption.
It is clear you are and were living that through all the difficulties you described.
Take heart in knowing that you gave *great glory* to God while being confined to the vestibule when you wanted so much instead to be closer to the altar.
So few people even care about being in the church and your inability to do so, and the suffering it caused you were really a victimhood of love. You surely gained more merit by your generosity in bearing your cross than if you had been in church being deeply consoled.
A reading of many spiritual books on the interior life would explain this very well. I would suggest Abandonment to Divine Providence by Caussade.
indeed, the spiritual life is not about feeling close to God and i think many moms and dads in the back vestibule trenches can offer up their spiritual longings in union with the sacrifice that is happening in the next room. and when you regularly go to the TLM, you develop an understanding that the Mass is a sacrifice and that our “Full conscious active artipation” is the giving of our hearts in union with the priest’s sacrifice on the altar. But when you go to the Novus Ordo, as is the case for Hipster Dad &CO , “full actice conscious participation” is reduced to responding to the priest. it’s reduced to singing the hymns, listening to the sermon, and hearing every single word of consecration.. If that’s your understanding of what it means to be present at Mass, no wonder it seems impossible for folks like Tighe to comprehend what it is like to spend a few years never sitting through a whole liturgy, and spending most of the time in another room. At this point my son sits still during the whole mass now (he is 5) but i am usually unable to accompany my family to mass, getting to go is a rare treat . you start to feel out of sync with the liturgical year… you do not hear the readings or listen to the familiar hymns. I watch Mass on my tablet but it isnt the same. i wish there were some guide to being Catholic when you cannot get to Mass for an extended period of time
Ches, that is no small sacrifice and suffering. Many great mystics were bedridden and also deprived of Mass – some even for decades. Many people in Communist countries likewise have been deprived.
May the Saints intercede for you. I hope you will read Caussade if you have not already. The Masters of the spiritual life provide many insights on how to support extraordinary trials such as your own.
We will commend you to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph.
Ches- I appreciate the many sacrifices you have made. A young mother frustrated with her own children’s behavior at Mass once told me how stressed she was and said to me, “And there YOU are on the front pew with your well-behaved children!”
Let me just say, my kids didn’t sleep until they were FOUR. Both sick, allergic to everything, cost a fortune to feed, sensory disorders, NO family support, cared for my dying mother, almost died in all my pregnancies- it would take pages to list the crosses.
My reply to this younger mom- “By God’s grace! But I have also paid my dues and done my time, and if I am in a season to FINALLY reap some fruit of my labor, don’t begrudge me that joy!”
I don’t like the “i did my time” mentality. the fact that one might be in another season of life doesnt necessarily mean that you never have to help or be compassionate to people in another season. All in all, it is a good thing for everyone to respect one another–the younger parents should respect those who do not have small children by being courteous and teaching their children courtesy, and the older parents should mentor the younger ones. Lord knows we need mentors. My mother certainly doesnt feel like she “did her time.” She is almost 60 years old and still “doing time” with her grandson. She cared for 4 children and now i am 34 years old and am hooked up to IV’s, feeding tubes, dialysis, i have mobility and neurological problems. She does now what she did for me as a baby, and more… it is worse than having a newborn. When we had our son, she could havesaid “Your child, your life, your prblem, I have done my time.” But she cares for him during the day while my wife is at work, and she homeschools him for reading and math. She gives, and gives, and gives. Saying “i did my time, i earned this” sounds self satisfied to me… when you are part of a community, there will always be occasions and opportunities to exercise the muscle of kindness and patience. it is not simply about what we do as mothers and fathers for our own children. that is not to say that people in a position of receiving kindness should abuse it! but the season of growth and selflessness is never really “over” even when your own children might not be as challenging as they ocne were.
I did my time with my children in their youth teaching them to behave in Mass.
I currently assist 2 other families with their children at Mass on a weekly basis and spend too many hours to count helping other families homeschool, running a homeschool group for over 10 years (in which the majority of kids are much younger than mine), serving my parish, etc. while tending to kids with exceptional needs, my grandmother who outlived my mom– yeah, I am usually much more actively overwhelmed than the women I know. Qiote honestly, I gave substantally more of my time and energy to my parish & homeschool group even when my kids were younger & more physically demanding than I see younger parents consider doing. I used that service to teach my kids the virtues of religion & charity. They have become amazing young people who know their obligatons to God and society.
So I am still putting in significant time, but the time of teaching MY little children how to behave at Mass is done. We are in a new season, and I am loving every minute of it. It has it’s own set of challenges that weigh heavily on us as we consider their higher education and vocations. It makes the younger years feel like a cake walk, to be honest. Just wish I would have known then what I know now!
And for the record, we don’t have anyone directly helping mentor us, other than one older couple at church who never had kids but is enjoying teaching ours things about music, art, etc that the 70’s and 80’s squashed for small-town people like me & my hubby.
having a homeschool coop for catholcis must be awesome. i would love to live somewhere where there were places to go. homeschooling for us has been a mixed bag, my son has been learning a lot but his extroverted temperament has him PINING for friends i often hear in homeschool circles that socialization is overrated and that homeschooled children are happier without school, but i do think that if a reasonably Catholic school were available, he would be so much happier. he often asks to go to a “real school.” it does sound like you have done a lot for your family and your parish, and it is good to know that somewhere alng the line there is a sese of fulfillment . as for what other people in your community give…. often what we see is the tip of the iceberg, what is actually going on might not be obvious to church aquaintences. Most millennial parents do care about their children and communities and are doing the best they can with what they have. Every generation seems to be getting a more raw deal than the generation before, so by the time our kids are all older they’ll probably be up shit’s creek.
We don’t have a co-op, just a group for field trips, etc. And everyone is all over the place lots of diffetent kinds of Catholics, from all different parishes & areas. It makes for liitle cohesion, but I sm grateful for what it does provide.
My kids’ needs are also greater than I think I can handle most days. We have considered high school for my son, but feel like we would be selling out. Hard to swallow compromising our principles for a fraternal experience. We have even considered a solidly Catholic boarding school. We don’t have to compromise our beliefs on Faith or education, but we would have to miss him, which would be HUGE for our family for many reasons.
I think the next generation wants good things, but I hear them moaning about how those “things” aren’t available here, and why hasn’t someone else done this, and started a co-op, etc. Again, entitlement that they should just walk into the perfect educational experience. Considering we were the only couple we knew who weren’t contracepting, putting kids in daycare, or homeschooling when we first married and for many years thereafter, I would say they have much for which to be grateful. I knew who Honestly, many admittedly don’t want to homeschool. That must make for a long day for their kids!
My Confirmation sponsor told me early on, “Stop whining about what those before you screwed up or didn’t provide. Stop using the lack of funding, support, and other like-minded Catholics as an excuse to not do better for your kids. Take your place in history and stand.”
For eighteen years my husband and I were juggling babies and toddlers and bigger kids. Now it seems so strange to have a youngest who is three, to hear a crying baby at Mass, and to not be heading out of the sanctuary to change a diaper or calm a fussy infant. A little sad, but at the same time like hitting a milestone.
I grew up in a large family. When went to mass, there were no toys, no bags of cheerios and no playing in the pew, we were taught to be quite and sit respectfully.
Thank you Steve, for so perfectly expressing just what I felt after reading Tighe’s article. I have tremendous admiration for those large families we see every Sunday who DO get it. I watch them put forth tremendous effort to teach their children proper behavior and I see the sacrifices they make when a child can’t quiet down and needs to be taken out for a while. Are they always successful in maintaining decorum? Of course not, but it’s perfectly obvious who’s putting forth the effort and who’s not.
Excellent response Steve.
Most American Catholics live secularist lifestyles. This isn’t news. Perhaps if some of the people who attend the Latin Mass would stop being lazy cowards and get excited about promoting it, we would be in better shape. (Good luck trying to get someone at a Latin Mass to promote it–that’s their thing and they don’t want anyone messing it up or threatening their control. We shouldn’t be oblivious to the fact that the same type of Mass dictators will ruin a Latin Mass just like they ruin Novos Ordos.)
What would really be great is if we stop teaching young Catholics that being faithful to God means being a coward too afraid to speak up for the truth.
I don’t know if I’ve experienced the lazy cowards you describe here. Most people I’ve encountered are on fire for the Traditional Mass and trying to spread that fire, I’m not sure where you’re basing your experience from. I’ll admit there are people from the,”it’s just my personal preference crowd,” but they are clearly the minority. However, it’s seems secular minded people have no interest in the Latin Mass, I invite my family whenever they visit (I’m a cradle NO Catholic) and there always seems to be some reason they can’t make it. Also, I don’t know about people running things, most traditional priests I’ve encountered have the backbone to tell anyone who thinks they’re in charge that they are not.
I think(hope) the Traditional Mass is spreading faster than you think, but like me, when you go out into the world after mass and you experience the overwhelming filth of secularism from friends, family, and co-workers, it’s frustrating. Why can’t they just see what we see.
I’m amazed at how well all the children at our parish behave. If one of those parents gave me advise I’d take it, but instead all I get is, “Oh! Your kids(5) were so well behaved!” while I’m thinking, “You do see the kids I’m walking out with, right?” Maybe all those flicks to the head have paid off.
We also like the “if you can’t sit still and behave at Church, you will be sitting still on a chair for an hour at home, while the rest of us eat lunch.” But a good flick never hurt.
Indeed. For every minute of distraction during Mass, my kids would kneel with me & pray at the foot of the altar afterward. I would ask them, “Who did everyone come here to see, worship, and adore?” Child would answer, “Jesus.”
I would then say, “And when you act silly, talk loudly, move around too much, (whatever), who is everyone looking at?”
“Should you ever want anyone to be looking at you when Jesus is truly present?”
Tears and a heartfelt Act of Contrition both times, both kids under the age of 4.
I think you must not actually know the people at Latin Mass or else we’re living in two different worlds.
I think the confusion lies in perspective. From the perspective of whether or not they are “on fire for the Latin Mass” for themselves, they definitely are, but if you try to talk to them about how to set others “on fire”, you get stonewalled.
Anyway, perhaps you’re just part of a community that is more healthy in that sense.
Please…the father has been bashed enough at the Aleteia site. It was not like he didn’t try to calm down his kids. Okay, he failed, was frustrated, was hurt and tried to explain his side in that article, which, I assure you, was not taken kindly by the readers of that site.
Maybe he’ll do better next time. As to the woman who upbraided him, she has probably forgotten the incident. Both parties will heal in time. Let’s just pray that neither stop going to Mass as a result of the incident.
You know, I think the reaction is more about him making a big deal about the fact that someone was upset with his child dancing in the pews and the children obviously being out of control during Mass, instead of admitting that it must be very unsettling for people who come to pray and worship, yet who must spend the time at Mass feeling like they are dropping in on someone’s play date.
I have seen (several times) parents who allow their children to play in the sanctuary, running around immediately after Mass as though it were a playground, while some people are still making a thanksgiving. Then letting them run up and down aisles full speed ahead as though it were a runway, while they chat away with friends directly in front of the sanctuary.
There is a terrible loss of the sense of the sacred in our churches these days and it’s good when someone finally speaks up.
Sure he was mortified to have someone let him know how disturbing it was. Take full responsibility for what is happening instead of calling out those who object – not to a little fussiness on the part of children, but to what he himself described as children fully out of control and disturbing the Mass pretty regularly.
We should certainly have abundant and loving tolerance for fussy children, crying children who eventually stop, special needs children; but there’s a point where parents must accept responsibility for clearly disturbing the congregation through failure on their part to take full control the situation.
Has it been considered that the woman who complained might well have been the mother herself of 6 children who were also young at one time and she never permitted such behavior, so she spoke from experience?
Stop going to Mass as a result…? How serious are they about the Faith? People can be very self-centered and want to blame others for reasonable expectations rather than man up to the reality.
Good job Steve. Timely wake-up call. My wife and I had 11 kids and had all the issues you describe. A couple of comments:
. Behavior at home tends to be reflected by behavior in public. Brat at home, brat away.
. At some point my wife and I starting going to Mass in shifts and left the babies at home. That seemed to work out fairly well.
. You and everyone else who has a large family now-a-days are to be commended as most folks must think you are crazy. They did it in our time too but now you don’t even have the Church on your side especially the current Pope.
A young woman below asked the question below about “what was it like 100 years ago…”. Well, it wasn’t 100 years ago, but as a pre-Vatican II Catholic who attended Catholic schools and Mass from 1951 through 1965, I grew up in the era where large families were the norm, not the exception, and the only decision about which Mass to attend was between the high or low Mass. Masses were filled with parents and their many children. Children and teens, along with their parents, were quiet and respectful before, during and after Mass while inside the church. Were the children perfect? No. Babies cried, toddlers fretted, children squirmed, adolescent girls whispered and giggled. However, it was very, very rare to see or hear children being disruptive off and on during Mass. Parents had different methods of handling disruptive children, but it *was* handled. Reverence was the norm, not the exception.
Expectations of standards for behavior and dress, as well as respect for others, has dropped dramatically over the years, and this is reflected in church as well as in society at large.
Absolutely the issue at hand here.
We still see exactly what you described during the pre-Vatican II era at our Latin Mass chapel with many large young families. Well-behaved, respectful children even from the youngest of ages.
So clearly it has something to do with the “territory” and the spiritual mindset of the families involved.
In the Novus Ordo, there is no longer the atmosphere of reverence that once existed. This leads to the loss of the humble acceptance of ones responsibility in this regard.
Rather, parents feel the congregation should accept clearly unacceptable behavior during Mass just because it’s “children” and should give it a pass.
The sacrality of our churches is no longer being respected, and children are not being disciplined.
Right! And everyone knew what “The Look” meant. And if you got “the look” from abother adult who wasn’t your parent, one typically responded with a healthy level of shame & introspection of one’s own behavior before thinking, “That’s jut a mean ol’ lady who isn’t pro-life!”
And parents appreciated that the community was looking out for each other’s children IN SUPPORT of the family unit.
there are a lot of people out there who are “childfree” and do genuinely hate kids. perhaps that is because some negligent, permissive parents ruined it for the rest of us, but unfortunately that’s the culture we live in. new york city (where i live) is one of the harshest places towards children. that is why so many people move to the suburbs.
Not the problem here in the south. Though there was one miserable old lady at our former parish who couldn’t stand that kids were at Mass at all! May God have mercy on her soul. She had 6 adult children and a few grandkids whom never visited. Not sure which was the cause and the effect. So very sad!
I love kids and wish God had granted us more, but that wasn’t His will, so I surrender. Just wish parents didn’t act so very powerless when it comes to behavior, or put their own needs to socialize above their parental duties. It isn’t fun to have to stop conversing to pull little Johnny down from walking on a table, but it is necessary, even if it gives us all a chuckle and a great story for the day. But again we are forming people, not hosting or caging animals. May we give all kids (and society) the dignity of proper formation.
I’m curious what you think The parents should do in this situation:
Family of four, three boys: school age, preschooler and baby, and then a school age girl who is in a wheelchair. She is developmentally disabled and can’t talk. She often makes loud sounds and waves her arms during mass. She especially likes to whoop and clap during the consecration. The father sometimes attempts to calm her down but she pulls away or tends to get louder. They usually just let her be. They sit right at front because that is where the handicapped seating is. The oldest is very attentive and well behaved. The middle boy has his moments, but seems to be responded to and directed when he has them. The baby is a baby, mom nurses him or walks him to the back if he gets upset. The daughter tends to get loud and distracting. Do you perceive this to be a situation where the parents should do something differently?
In fact, no. Clearly since the daughter needs to be near the front since she is handicapped, everyone should have a great depth of love and patience for this circumstance.
I find it interesting that she becomes very animated during the Consecration of the Mass. I can’t help but wonder if she is seeing something supernatural take place, given her innocence. I’ve heard not a few stories about young children who can see angels present while adults in the same room can not.
Parents of children with developmentally disabled children do understand how to change behavior using the ABC method. You look at the antecedent to the behavior. Either you are going to have to remove that antecedent or change your child’s response. Allowing the behavior to continue reinforces it. If my child displayed a disruptive behavior at that part of the Mass, I would remove him prior to the consecration unless I could find a way to redirect his attention. Also, if they asked, there would be many parishioners who would volunteer to sit with their other children at Mass while they care for their daughter In the wheelchair and the baby. Usually they don’t know if their help will be seen as intrusive. I have often seen a look come over my son’s face that made me think he was listening to the angels, but I would not want him to disrupt the Mass for others.
Occasionally children and infants will misbehave or make noises at Holy Mass. We should have compassion and understanding for the parents, since all parents share that experience.
The need for loving correction arises when parents show little respect for the Mass or their fellow parishioners. By respect, I mean acting in a manner consistent with the occasion and with regard to the well-being of the members of the community.
As pointed out in the comments below, there is a difference between parents who put forth an effort to teach their children to behave and those who do not. Likewise, there is a difference between parents who take a crying infant to the cry room and those who do not. The latter groups of parents signal to all present at Mass that they 1) do not care about or are oblivious to people’s prayers; or 2) recognize the disruption, but feel entitled to cause the disruption. For example, one family may let their children eat food, play with toys, and make all kinds of noises in the pews, without correction. This is like a man at a piano recital that refuses to turn off a ringing cell phone: it shows no concern for those around you or for the performer on stage.
With regard to a crying infant, of course we cannot always control whether or not a baby cries. However, we can decide to leave the sanctuary or not. Choosing not to leave the sanctuary communicates a message to those all the fellow parishioners: the message is that you lack regard for their worship and prayer. This is especially true when a cry room is available.
So yes, we all bring children to Mass, though this does not absolve us from acting in a manner consistent with occasion and with regard to our community.
Regard for the community well-being is important. I may have a terrible cold with an uncontrollable cough. I could say, Christ has called all the sick to Him. So I could decide to sit in the pews and ignore the experience of others. However, I recognize that my loud coughing will distract others at the Mass and expose them to sickness. I may therefore step outside when I start coughing. Or, if it is bad enough, I will leave Mass or just not come in the first place. I find another way to fulfill my Sunday obligation. I also think my fellow parishioners will recognize the difference between my trying to control the cough (with cough drops, covering my mouth, and leaving if it is bad) and not taking any action to control my cough as though I were in my bathroom at home.
(Note: This is not meant to conflate children and coughing, but meant to illustrate a community norm.)
And NO ONE would DARE to cough uncontrollably or allow a baby to scream throughout a movie!
Oh, but maybe people can express more respect at the theater since we pay for the show. I often remind my children the price of admission to the pew in which we “get” to worship came from the sacrifice of the parishioners who came before us as well as the martyrs and soldiers who have fought and died for Holy Mother Church and religious liberty.
Our pastor has been struggling with getting this point across to the many young families that attend the TLM at our parish. The problem isn’t that the kid is screaming, but that the parents do NOTHING in response ot feel no impetus to remove the chold because THEY have a right to be there more tham we have a right to peaceful silence.
Furthermore, the children’s behavior after Mass during coffee & pastry time is just as rude & disruptive. Not that the kids need to be still & quiet then, but the parents are engrossed in their own adult conversations, kids are left to act like babrbarians, running amuck, bumping into elderly, spilling coffee, leaving food all over the floors, etc. It isn”y Chuck E Cheese! That is the evidence that this younger generation of parents are so self-absorbed that they do not at all care how their children’s behavior effects anyone else in society. We should all just small and nod at each “Little Precious.” This is actually a perfect time to teach kids proper social etiquette, and the older generation there wants to help them all do that! Instead the remarks about “intolerance to children” just abound!
After homeschooling for 16 years & attending Mass without my husband more than half the time (work schedule), I GET IT! Oh the stories I could tell about my son!! This is hard, and most of us have NEVER seen/experienced the kind of parenthood we should practice. But this is our vocation– our life’s work to get us to Heaven– so if it’s all laid-back and EVERYONE else is suffering the cross YOU are ignoring– you are NOT actively living/”doing the work” of YOUR path to holiness created by GOD Himself.
And your kids will continue to follow your own example of disobedience. The “natural approach” that parents need do nothing & the kids will eventually figure it out is leaving us with the oh-so- relaxed granola moms and the exhausted older moms/grandmas who are cringing at yet another generation of narcissists brewing.
Yes, the TLM “save the liturgy, save the world” rings true on countless levels. But OUR response to that liturgy, both inside the context of the Mass and a truly transformed culture evident in our very behavior outside the Mass, toward our fellow man, etc. will be what further convinces the hierarchy, neoCons, and non-believers, of the truth and beauty of the Mass that too few get to experience in its august magnificence.
In the meantime, we are praying for ALL parents at ALL stages and ages because it never really gets any easier and we never really have it all figured out! What matters is that we know we are parents by our intense prayer and complete exhaustion! Because Christ, Holy Mother Church, and our kids’ souls are worth every minute of it!
Love your comments here. Right on the mark!!
It really is about inversion of values and narcissism…”I am the center of the universe…”
There is no humility left, no sense of responsibility to one another for what we do to them.
We are here to become saints and it’s hard work for everyone.
For parents, that means having disciplined children both at home and at church. And if they’re not taught self-discipline at home they won’t behave in church either.
I have observed the coffee hour behavior you describe.. our old parish used to have coffee hour and i didnt have kids back then so i was pretty cranky and all “Why doesnt anyone discipline their kids anymore?” Then I had kids. While we never allowed our son to be a distraction to others at Mass, there were many times when sitting quietly REALLY challenged and stretched his current level of sitting-still abilities. I watched him struggle to meet our expectations–not because hewas afraid of the reprcussins but because he always wanted to be an altar boy and whenever he wiggled or made noise i would say “altar boys dont kick the pew in front of them” or “altar boys dont wave to their friends in church.” i could see him looking at the altar boys and trying to be like them. my wife and i are probably on the more “hippie granola” side of the spectrum and our perspective is: we want to teach and model good behavior while at the same time respecting where he is developmentally and not alienating him in the process. We are not overlords with unreasonable expectations but we do set boundaries. So after Mass, i see so many good well behaved children come out of the church like quarterhorses racing out of the gate. they have contained their little impulses for so longer and there is only so much time you can really expect them to be quiet little altar boys–at some point, they do need to run around. Another thing: the food at these coffee hours was usually bread, cookies, donuts, cake, etc.. many have artificial dyes and colors. All processed, empty carbohydrates. nowonder the kids are all hyper. Perhaps it would be useful to have real food at the coffee hours instead of a pile of sugar and gluten, and actively try to help them channel their physical energy (such as lead some group games) rather than leave them to their own devices in a room full of adults.
Totally agree on many points, Ches. My food bill is insane as we try to eat well & preservative-free due to health issues. The food selection of doughnuts. & cookies doesn’t help, but for the past 4 years I have listened to young families complain about that, yet NONE of them respond to numerous emails asking for participation and contributions as all are provided by parishioners. NONE OF THESE PEOPLE are on the rotation of breakfast foods or even just bringing something once in a while. (But they will sometimes bring a fruit snacks for their kids only.) There is an awful lot of criticism and lack of true charity & community from this group. It’s about finances as they all talk about regular date nights and other things I would personally consider a luxury. If your entire family eats there regularly, you should feel the impetus to contribute SOMETHING occasionally, even of most of us have been raised by a socialist educational system.
Your son sounds very much like mine. My boy has taught me MUCH about self-control in general as well as my own! I totally agree with reasonable expectations according to stages of development. My son was 6 when we started driving an hour to TLM. Containing himself in the car and then through Mass was a challenge. If he didn’t earn it, we didn’t go to coffee hour. That happened once or twice max.
The second struggle was the behavior of the other boys during coffee hour. At what age do we expect them to behave like gentlemen??? My son is 11 now. There aren’t many older boys for him to see & model their behavior (another downside to homeschooling boys imo). But even boys ages 9- 14 are “play” fighting and acting as though they are on a playground. This is NOT ok! They are in suits! They are old enough to know what behavior is expected when serving at Our Lord’s altar (well, somewhat but that’s a long, painful story), so why don’t their parents hold then to a higher standard during this time in close quarters with people of all ages??? This is just simple human respect.
I have brought a chess set for my son, put my husband in charge of directing the boys’ conversations, etc. Still the majority of the parents see it as THEIR personal social hour while everyone else is dodging kids and picking up after them. There is such a thing as decorum and respect that is being COMPLETELY ignored largely by our homeschoolimg community.
And my FAVORITES are the ones who openly teach their children that they do not have to and must not obey any other adults. That is ridiculous, bur a prevalent mindset here.
I agree with reasonable expectations. I don’t believe in nannies or never bringing kids to Mass. I do, however, see a generation of parents (and I am not much older than they) who expect everyone else to just “get over” their children’s rude behavior because kids will be kids and boys will be boys. Yes, they will and they should be, but they should also be actively formed into ladies & gentlemen for the good of civilization. Being Catholic makes us part of something greater than our personal selves, contrary to the influence of American individualism. I pray daily that more people will start working together at creating a Catholic culture instead of making it only a personal choice.
Eh. I remember being a hyperactive boy once. Sometimes, you just have to play swords in a suit. I grew up an orthodox Jew so we wore black pants and white dress shirts everywhere. After a certain age, there were no play clothes, just your jew-niform. i am just grateful to be catholic and to have mass to attend when i can, even if the other people there are broken and have a host of issues. a lof of children in these trad communities are homeschooled. we dont have any kind of homeschool community in our area for catholics–the only homeschool groups in Brooklyn are secular ones for people who homeschool because the public schools aretoo liberal (if you can imagine). my son is an only child and the only time he has to socialize with other Catholic children is after Mass. so whenever he is around any children at all he is all like “OTHER KIDS TO PLAY WITH HALLELUJAH THANK YOU GOD..” for us unsocialized homeschoolers, that 30 minutes after mass is the only chance they get to play. he spends most days alone with adults aside from one day he goes to a protestant coop (that’s all we have) he is pretty miserable but what are you going to do
Will pray for your lad! My only boy can completely relate to the loneliness.
We “broken”people are everywhere, esp at the TLM, best place to receive healing. Having expectations for behavior is not a sign of brokenness, however. But thanks for passing judgment on a stranger for about the fourth time in this post. That is so entirely different from general observations on human behavior, so I am not at all sure where there is room for passive-aggressive personal assumptions and insults as a means of defending behavior of tour own that may be totally appropriate in the time and space YOU experience. It isn’t here, much to the discomfort of many of our parishioners and our pastor. And it took me a while to see things from their perspective.
We have many elderly who are alone and their only social time is that courtyard, too, and that they prefer not to be knocked down or scalded with hot coffee on a regular basis doesn’t make them broken. It makes us all human and needing to respect everyone’s space. I would think that no one age group is somehow entitled to be more itself, or enjoy themselves more, than another in my particular circumstances.
But then my bishop is all about the “young church,” ” the black church,” and the girl altar servers. I thought we were One.
This is fabulous! Mom of seven here who read that article and could not believe the lack of awareness of the sacred from the hipster dad. I think a lot of these parents don’t understand that this is something that needs to be worked on outside of Mass as well. Children need to be taught at home how to behave when at Mass, to have reminders on the way there, and to have consequences when they do not behave. Acknowledge and reward good behavior, stress the awe and beauty of the Mass, and nip bad behavior in the bud. No snacks, no toys, no letting a kid play on your iPhone.
And during Mass is NOT the time to be teaching your kids about Mass (I say this as a husband and father).
We learn to walk by walking. The lessons imparted to the young ones are mainly via the elders example and also by their guidance [now make the sign of the cross, now bow, now sign your forehead, your lips, and your heart and in this manner, now kneel, etc.]
*During* Mass, it should just be by example. The Holy Sacrifice isn’t a classroom. Was Our Lady explaining the details of grace to St. John as she knelt there before her dying Son on Calvary?
Why corrupt what I have written above? I wrote mainly by example and by also guidance. I did not write via a classroom setting.
Corrupt? My point is merely that “only” would be a more suitable word than “mainly” 🙂
If teaching is also via example, then you original comment had no basis.
In that first comment I was referring to explicit teaching
We good now? 🙂
Mahalo @Dan O’Connor! Let’s keep up the good fight.
Too long and prideful. A certain vanity here too. Sorry.
Suffer more lovingly. Forgive. Say nothing. Pray. Work. Smile. It’s in the saying nothing where all the interior growth happens.
A technique you’ve clearly mastered.
Lovin’ every minute of your responses, Steve!!! LOL
Your comment makes about as much sense as your article. My comment 30 words. Your article 30 pages.
Regarding Mark 10. Notice that Jesus is at someone’s house when He said, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.” If He wanted them at the Last Supper, they would have been there. A time and place for everything. I agree with Steve when he said the Mass is “the central act of the Church’s worship, wherein is made present the
Most Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life.” It’s a time to teach your children respect and awe for the gift God has given us. The park is for play; Mass is for reverence.
I’m a mom of 10 kids, the youngest is now 9. My husband and I have brought our kids to Holy Mass every single week, every Holy Day, and many weekdays in the thirty years we have been raising them (barring a few rampant viruses and joyful baby-birthings).
Also, I was raised in the late ’60’s and through the 70’s, running with my scandalized mom from pillar to post, attending every clandestine Latin Mass in every ecclesially decorated basement and barn she could find in the tri-state area.
Having presented my credential to comment, I proceed:
Mr Sojek, you seem to have become part of the crowd you used to find intolerable. (re this: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2010/they-will-know-we-are-traddies-by-our-love)
Added to the insult of this whole ugly piece, you offer this injury: you attempted to humiliate a man for being “crushed” by a comment from a woman. ‘Cowboy up,’ you carped. So much uncharitable indignity, so little time.
Though it wasn’t really in question, you confirm my decision to continue worshiping the Lord at the Ordinary Form of the Holy Mass. I know, I know, things are so improprietously messy there. Addicts sometime show up. The homeless lady selling news papers ducks in the side door for a while– especially in the winter. [Her coat always smells a little (a lot) like yesterday’s bad news.] The old woman in the left transept pew– her husband has dementia. She brings him to Mass anyway. And the KIDS!! it seems like there are kids in every pew and by the time the Liturgy proceeds to the Anaphora, half of them are in mid to full level meltdown. Don’t they know this is the most solemn part of the Liturgy?
Yes. I’m an ordinary gal. I’ll remain at the Ordinary Form– if for no other reason than to avoid becoming an extraordinary jerk.
This has nothing to do with Ordinary Form vs. Extraordinary Form. Personally I’m an “Ordinary Form” Catholic and I fully agree with Steve’s main point in this article. The Mass is the Mass, and it is due the greatest reverence we can possibly give it.
No, Monica, I’m not part of that crowd. That’s an article I stand by.
I’m tired of the beta-male garbage, and I’m not going to apologize for the “cowboy up” comment. My wife and I both thought the original letter was written by a woman. As did at least one commenter here and another of my friends. I am by no means a perfect man, but these poor guys who have grown up under the specter of feminism and have had any masculine impulse stripped from them need to be told it’s OK to be a dude.
Men are not “so crushed” by a woman’s comments that they are unable to speak.
Your liturgical choices are, as I said elsewhere in this thread, your own. That you willfully choose a liturgy that was designed to focus on man rather than God, and which theologically obscures Christ’s sacrifice and the role of the ministerial priest in Our Lord’s own priesthood is a tragedy. And that speaks to your credentials more than how many children you have.
In the end, this piece was designed to be a biting satire of the original, and to challenge the author to think differently. It ended on a charitable note, and that charity was sincere. But I wanted to make very clear how he came across by holding up a mirror. And I’m not going to apologize for that either.
This is not typically how I approach any of the subjects I write about. But this one seemed appropriate. I write for a living, which means I do this all the time. I’m occasionally going to hit a note that not everyone wants to hear. C’est la vie. To decide, however, that you’re going to avoid an entire liturgical modality that was lovingly crafted by saints and doctors of the Church and which nourished the same for thousands of years because I wrote a stinging rebuke to a narcissistic Millenial?
That is the epitome of pettiness.
Kind of like swapping out a 1400 year old liturgy for one created by radical progressive clerics in a committee and foisting it on the entire Church, to hell with the damage it would do to the faithful.
I’m sure you and the Novus Ordo will be happy together for many years to come while the faith of your fellow Catholics continues to die of malnourishment.
Steve, if you stand by that article, then it seems to me you are saying that the Extraordinary Form is a matter of taste.
It seems strange to me that you so ardently, rigidly, and even harshly insist upon others adopting your own tastes.
As for me, I have never come across the degree of reverence and transcendence (locally, at least) at the Extraordinary Form Masses as I have at the Ordinary Form Masses (celebrated by a few priests whose Masses I am very careful to seek out); therefore I attend the latter. It’s that simple. By way of philosophical analogy: substance over accidents.
I was less well versed in my subject at the time, but my point was not that the TLM is a matter of taste, but rather that coming to appreciate it *is* like aquiring a taste for something more sophisticated.
When you’re lived on a steady diet of McDonalds, a five course meal at a nice restaurant can be pretty intimidating.
Intrinsically, I have no doubt about the superiority of the older, organic form. We could debate the effect of accidentals (reverence of action and posture, homiletics, musical choices, etc.) but the forms differ so greatly in their prayers, theology, anthropology, and rubrics, that this is where the rubber meets the road.
I’ve been to beautiful ad orientem orchestral Latin Novus Ordo Masses. That was my gateway drug to the TLM after a lifetime of just average NO liturgies.
But now, I’d take a simple but sincerely celebrated TLM over the most aesthetically pleasing NO. It matters not at all to have a Ferrari body if you have Kia engine under the hood.
Ah well, for me (to continue with the car analogy), the part of the Mass that is analogous to the engine is the Blessed Sacrament 🙂
I really see that as deeply problematic liturgical minimalism. Technically, the Blessed Sacrament is often present at a Black Mass (where it is desecrated.) We need to work on understanding why the rest of the ritual that surrounds the consecration is so important, and what it does to prepare us to properly worship that central mystery.
We’ve run a couple of articles that touch on this:
I’ve spoken with some theologians in academia about how we can better analyze this theme, but we’re not there yet.
Oh no, trust me — as a mechanical engineer, I would never reduce a car to merely its engine! That would not be very useful. But it is indeed the essential, and most important part — as the Eucharist is to the Mass.
Brilliant response Steve, keep fighting the good fight!!
a few points:
“To decide, however, that you’re going to avoid an entire liturgical modality that was lovingly crafted by saints and doctors of the Church and which nourished the same for thousands of years because I wrote a stinging rebuke to a narcissistic Millenial?
That is the epitome of pettiness.”
You may be a writer, Steve, but you’re hardly a careful reader. In no way did you seal any deals for me. You merely confirmed a decision that keeps being confirmed. Again and again.
“Kind of like swapping out a 1400 year old liturgy for one created by radical progressive clerics in a committee and foisting it on the entire Church, to hell with the damage it would do to the faithful.”
The Latin Mass is 50 hundred years old, Steve. As for the progressives and the radicals, please spare me the details. I cut my teeth on literature like “Liturgical Shipwreck.” But St Jerome and the Acts of the Apostles and a heap of other ancient documents would attest to the the structure of the Holy Mass which I attend, without renouncing the beauty of the Extrordinary Form.
and finally this:
“That you willfully choose a liturgy that was designed to focus on man rather than God, and which theologically obscures Christ’s sacrifice and the role of the ministerial priest in Our Lord’s own priesthood is a tragedy. And that speaks to your credentials more than how many children you have.”
Here is everything wrong, ugly, and pharasaic with your position, Steve. It is precisely here, in this beautiful example of your ugly superiority, that I reject your position. Nothing speaks more to your own credentials, or lack of useful ones, than this.
I am sorry that you’ve been dealing with the backlash of the article for more than 48 hours, Steve. Perhaps “crushed” would serve you better than antagonistic.
It’s pretty clear you came here to confirm your bias, so I don’t see how further discussion could bear fruit.
You gave me credit for confirming you in your spite. It was an unbelievably petty thing to say.
Your ignorance of liturgical history is showing. The Mass was *codified* in 1570, not created then. Its structure dates back to Gregory the Great, and the Roman canon is the oldest canon in the Church.
There has been more than a little scholarship showing that only pseudo-historicism could support claims that the NO is rooted in apostolic worship. But even if it were historic (it’s simply not), the Church’s organic liturgical development happened for a reason.
Liturgical Shipwreck is, IIRC, a pamphlet. Maybe spending some actual time understanding these issues would help.
Your dismissiveness aside, they matter quite a lot.
I didn’t come here to confirm my biases so much as I came here to call out your own. That you should call mine “spite” might be more indicative of yours.
My ignorance is certainly not showing any more than your sense of superiority, Steve.
I know my biases. They’re explicit and informed. They are the basis for all the work we do here.
But my alleged sense of superiority is in your imagination. As someone who has studied theology for 20 years, I have moral certitude that every liturgy of every rite of the Church is superior to the post-conciliarliturgy, which was composed in contempt of Catholic ecclesiology, in violation of immemorial custom, and in complete disregard for organic development.
It has manifestly decimated the faith of millions.
My ability to identify that something noble and God centered is superior in no way makes me feel superior, it makes me feel incredibly blessed. I didn’t invent the Mass, I merely benefit from it.
Nobody is more aware that I am of my faults, failing, and sins. That doesn’t excuse me from descending the truth of my faith. We are all hypocrites. Otherwise we wouldn’t need a redeemer.
You sound very angry, Monica, and full of resentment that has nothing to do with this article.
The only backlash is from defensive, reactionaries who, it would appear, have no desire in root causing problems, but rather going forward with their own brand of superiority. Perhaps so they can be free of Mom’s inner tsk tsk and shed the residual guilt in induces.
I thought it was written by a woman as I was reading it. Then I came to the author’s name at the bottom and just shook my head. Hipster is not the word that popped into my head.
[sidebar] Breaks my heart and must break God’s also when people using their own judgement claim that the OF is not valid and would rather stay at home and not fulfil the Sunday obligation by attending the OF Mass if it is the only one they can attend. And when they make comments on the internet in this regard, their fellow Catholics do not correct them.
Incidentally: I wrote this not from the perspective of being a trad (it was only mentioned because the more silent liturgy and the longer drive to get there takes a toll on child behavior) or even because I’m a trad and that somehow makes me angry.
I wrote it because the guy came across as a selfish, sniveling jerk. (Stranger still, he unloaded in public on some poor old woman, and it was almost exclusively women who were sharing his post and cheering him on.)
You’ll never find more large families and small children at TLMs. And considering that we’re not only in the Catholic ghetto, but usually (if we’re lucky enough to have a church just for our use) in the literal ghetto, I’d be willing to bet we have far more homeless attendance than most of the bubble-gum chewing outposts of suburban good cheer that are average Catholic parishes these days.
Just a note: my snark is not because I’m a trad either. It’s because your comment was really obnoxious, and I’ve been dealing with that for 48 hours straight.
My TLM parish bishop-approved location is in a neighborhood with lots of auto body repair places, convenience stores with metal grates on the fronts of their vending machines, and seriously run-down housing behind it. I found a 9mm bullet on the ground next to my car in the parking lot. You don’t ever want to be there at night alone, and we pay for armed off-duty police security on Sunday. Homeless attendees are welcome (plenty of food at the socials after Mass) but demand extra vigilance from the ushers and parents. This is where the bishop feels that all our big families (new babies every week) should be kept. We could be at a nice safe Novus Ordo parish 3 minutes from our house in a suburb that is described as “affluent.” But it was a spiritual wasteland, all about socializing and no mention of sin. The thirty mile plus drive is worth it. There is no going back.
Keep fighting the good fight Jude, Deus Vult!
Monica as I read comments here and at the other site, I was struck by how many people who self identify as TLM goers feel very justified in calling this man a whiner, a self righteous whatever, a lazy no good parent who deserved it etc. They missed the fact that he is reflecting on the experience and trying to imagine it from her perspective, that he may be speaking in hyperbole because of that and even that he is trying to imagine that she might struggle with something too. Instead of seeing this possibility, they almost all commented that he was blaming her and accusing her of being mentally ill. I have to say I found it very interesting that it was perceived almost universally by this group in such an angry and defensive way. It’s as if the benefit of the doubt makes no difference. And if you try to argue it does, you’ll get their laundry list of justifications. Of course it really doesn’t justify anything.
The irony, for me, is that they almost all, also mention reverence as a key reason for their disdain for parents “like this” and for preferring the TLM to other “clown” masses. However, reverence is not primarily an external facade. It is not merely soundlessness or motionlessness, nor is it liturgical garments etc. Further, it’s whole purpose is to dispose us to the awesome MERCY of God in pouring out his abundant LOVE for us, that we might be partakers in this LOVE. What good is outward reverence, when inwardly the person is biting, harsh, critical, full of sarcasm, anger, abuse, defensiveness, bitterness? If they say these things and call themselves reverent they deceive themselves. Their reverence is useless.
“…They missed the fact that he is reflecting on the experience and trying to imagine it from her perspective, that he may be speaking in hyperbole because of that and even that he is trying to imagine that she might struggle with something too….”
Sadly, Mrs. Harris, many are focusing on creating a TLM vs NO schema here which looks like little but more distraction from the seeming dismissal of a parent’s duty – and an often thankless one – to parent.
There is a time and place for all, Mrs. Harris. And it is LOVING and MERCIFUL to teach children these realities of life. That LOVING example is often what leads other young couples to believe that being open to life doesn’t always equate to welcoming chaos.
Grace builds upon nature, Mrs. Harris. So while you attempt to dismiss the reverence of others, you again, like the hipster dad, completely miss the point. So no, it is not merely the soundlessness. Reverence goes far deeper.
That is why allowing children to scrabble about as if it were playtime at the park is not helping anybody. Especially the children. All that you lay at the feet of others – biting, harsh, critical, full of sarcasm, anger, abuse, defensiveness, bitterness – is what parents often endure when they operate by way of feelings and fear of what others may think instead of just diligently doing the job and, if confronted, asking for help.
I don’t really know how you come to those conclusions based on what I’ve said but I doubt seriously you will consider what I’m saying any further and I think it’s clear you feel that you are right. So peace to you.
I’m not sure what you are saying, Mrs. Harris, except words to defend the sensibilities of parents who might otherwise benefit by being empowered to quiet their children for the sake of promoting reverence.
As creatures with five senses, we are dependent on outward signs. So while quiet may not be the whole of reverence, it is a logical starting point. Children and parents would both benefit.
Well said PGMGN!
….it’s the focus on ‘feelings’ that often impedes parenting. Parents ‘fear’ what their children will feel. In turn, those same parents opt to ‘feel’ bad when others point out bad behavior.
The negation of reality and duty and simply asking for help when needed helps nobody.
Indeed! Feelings aren’t facts, which flies in the face of our current “cultural paradigm.”
Feelings are so much easier to manipulate.
Amen! Hence the culture of perpetual victimization which allows the “victim” to demonize the perpetrators of hurt feelings in order to marginalize such offenders as “hater’s”.
…and it’s a rinse and repeat cycle now, Sam. The current approach of fear renders successive generations psychologically hogtied even through the requisite regime change.
I can only imagine the rationalization pretzel that comes with embracing Islam at the cost of women’s ‘rights’. European ‘leadership’ is actually blaming women for immigrants gang raping them. (This after the women have been taught they can virtually do, go, be whatever they feel like without consequences.) I can only imagine the match up of ‘gender’ equality if the same gangs of immigrants push some cross dresser off a roof. Who to charge with hate crime?
….the man in the original article humiliated himself, Monica, by coming off like a presumptuous jerk, believing himself already worthy to wear the crown or, at the very least, judging the interior motives of another who had the wherewithal to comment on the outward execution of his duty as a parent. (We are told to judge with right judgement, friend, and unruly kids not being reigned in is quite a feast for the senses. Not a delight either.)
The reality is there are KIDS!!! at Latin Masses, too. You know this. (You were drug to them ;^) But perhaps you also take some superiority in being extra fertile and having an involved husband who is concerned, as all good Catholics, that their children should keep the Faith. That is the only reason I can think that a solid Catholic parent couldn’t see the ridiculousness of the original article, feigning a warranted commentary to psychological trauma over infertility.
Perhaps your issues with the Extraordinary Form originates back to your mother and a leftover trauma from having to go a extra mile. Try as you’d like to blame Steve for your position on avoiding the TLM, but you were the one who wrote:
“…Also, I was raised in the late ’60’s and through the 70’s, running with my scandalized mom from pillar to post, attending every clandestine Latin Mass in every ecclesially decorated basement and barn she could find in the tri-state area.”
Doesn’t sound like you appreciated her efforts. But perhaps her efforts are what gave you the Faith long term. Mayhaps kids running from pillar to post inside the Church during mass will not. But even if the current crop of young one’s do stay, while being allowed to do what they like, perhaps that is why there is an increase of ‘faithful’ believing that the Church must accept whatever behavior they deign to give and just be glad they’re there. Hmmmm.
So opt for not being perceived as a jerk, even by yourself. Methinks human respect motivates many.
“Much Ado About Nothing”.. How about using some of that website space to arrange for a petition to get mr bergoglio to quit? THAT’S the accountability I’d prefer to see!
Wow, that was an overly verbose and unnecessary reply. Chill!
….actually, Julie, it was a necessary reply. That’s the sad part as many, to include those who let children run free for fear of insert-the-blank.
I am the mother of 7 children. We worked diligently to teach them to worship reverently, but then, two of them came along with autism. They may look like “normal” energetic children, but they would often shriek, throw things, run away, tantrum, and strip off their clothes. I did the best I could bringing them to church faithfully. My husband, who is a member of the military, was frequently out of town. No one ever offered any type of assistance: sitting on the other side of the pew to help keep everyone enclosed, offering to hold the baby, etc… but we did get plenty of nasty glares, and a few parenting “suggestions.” Every single week I left in tears. Now we attend church in shifts, with one parent staying behind with the little ones on Saturday night, and the other on Sunday morning, since apparently our littlest guys are too unruly, loud, and annoying to be welcome at mass.
Granted, their are lazy parents out there, but there is no exact way to discern which children are products of lazy parenting, and which children have special needs. You have just sent a broad message to the church at large that families like mine are not good enough to worship alongside families like yours.
No, Marcie. I haven’t sent such message. This wasn’t even about families like yours.
But even if it were, my recommendations were so basic, so purely comminsensical, they should not be seen as extreme by anyone.
The tone in my piece was a reflection of the tone in the original. It was written to make the problems with that approach clear.
I’m sorry for your struggles, and that you feel indicted. You shouldn’t.
Marcie, many may not offer to help, but we also need to ask for help. Often times those giving the nasty glares, if met with a genuine, “I’m so sorry. You’ve likely missed the entire homily,” followed by what you just wrote here is precisely what it takes to get the help and understanding one needs. To include perhaps having offered you the solution you and your husband came to a little earlier.
Ask and you shall receive.
“…You have just sent a broad message to the church at large that families like mine are not good enough to worship alongside families like yours,” is the kind of wholesale internalization that isolates parents and keeps them from seeking the help/suggestions they need from experienced.
We need to stop imagining what people think and ask direct questions and include apologizing when, for whatever reason, our children misbehave. If every dirty look were met with the above, I bet you’d have garnered at least a small cadre of helpers…. if not those who would tut tut other potential nasties by explaining your situation.
People often worry that their offer to help will be taken by the parent as an indictment of their parenting ability. But once you meet people at Church functions you may find it easier to ask. You can also speak with the priest, and he can put you in touch with parishioners who would be happy to lend a hand, especially teenagers.
Wowee! I completely agree with your parenting style and was raised in a household of 10 by parents who attempted the same but what is the point of all that Tridentine mass, being able to quote popes, saints etc. if you can tear into a fellow Catholic dad like that in a blink of an eye?
….not quite the blink of an eye, Alice. The live-and-let-live attitude of the dad seemingly at ease with admitted misbehavior from his kids is something that needs to be addressed firmly.
You have written in an abysmally judgmental way. The original letter mentions pacifiers. I don’t think he is talking about children as old as yours, but as young as your 2 year old you yourself cannot control (as you only mention in your comments). Your attitude of condemnation of other parishoner’s parenting abilities is one of the forces which drives young people away from the Mass. Please ask for an increase in charity, and please stop blogging until Christ has granted you the charity and wisdom that will allow you to honor Him in your posts, rather than the abusive dialect that corrodes His Church.
Praying for you,
Dear Mr. Benson,
Someone flagged your comment as offensive, but if every dumb thing anyone said got flagged, we’d lose a lot of comments. I restored it. I wouldn’t want this masterpiece of forced misunderstanding to disappear. And it should most certainly have your name on it.
And for the record, I said in my post that “It’s up to you decide that you’re OK with never hearing a homily or having your butt touch a pew for eight or ten years so that others who have done that duty with their own children can. … I know it isn’t easy, because I’ve been living it for as long as I can remember.”
You see, I’ve had two year olds at Mass since 2005. Still do. Still living it. And I will never let them be the reason others can’t hear the homily, even if it means that *I* miss the homily. Even if it’s a homily I really want to hear.
Not because I’m a perfect parent, or even a better one. Just because it’s my job, and obligation weighs heavy on me.
you must not be familiar with 4 year olds who still havent gotten rid of their pacifier #imnotnaminganynames
Still rather hear a toddler giggle once or twice rather than hearing some dopes phone go off during a Low Tridentine Mass.
no phones at latin mass! when i was teaching i used to have the student hand me the phone and i would answer it “yes Katy is here but she is busy discussing franz kafka’s metamorphosis–now stop calling during school hours, or i will turn you into a bug”. pretty sure that would interrupt the priest’s flow, though
Steve is a piece of work or is it POS?
Oh he is Tridentine
That explains it
Tridentine shaming. It’s now a thing apparently.
Quite the manners you have there. How proud your grandparents would be of you, displaying such grace and tact.
So have you been in your parish evangelization ministry long?
Name calling & dismissveness do not make for logical arguments or solutions.
Oh, but again, that was kinda the whole point of Steve’s response to the original article.
Back to teaching my kids logic through Latin.
But truly, if the trads would just quit insisting on the use of Latin & logic the Church would be a much better place, or safer space, right?
Steve, thank you for this post.
I was just discussing this very issue a couple of weeks ago with a fellow parishioner and find it coincidental that we are not alone in dealing with this phenomenon. We have a young couple who attends our church with a couple of small children that are particularly unruly at Mass. The problem we observe is that they choose NOT to use the cry room and often choose a pew near the front of the church as opposed to one in the back for quick access to the vestibule if needed. The acoustics in the church cause an echo so when the priest is delivering a homily or anticipating the congregation’s response, it is hard to hear anything over the screaming and crying of these children. Several other parishioners find it distracting and will make noticeable glances in their direction, but they just don’t seem to care. This happens EVERY week and I don’t believe anyone has confronted them with this problem, yet. We don’t want to look like the stereotypical, mean church folk, but we also want to promote an atmosphere of reverence for Christ present in the tabernacle and on the altar. I just don’t get how a parent could be so lenient toward this kind of behavior from their children? When I was young (I’m 39 now), all we needed was a glance from my mother to know that what we were doing was not acceptable. Nowadays we see kids hitting their parents and being outwardly defiant while the parents smile and brush it off as being “cutesy.” I can only surmise that this is all due to a lack of catechesis. If anyone truly believed in the Real Presence or in the Holy Sacrifice, they wouldn’t allow such unruliness to take place.
Thanks again for being bold and tackling this subject!
I don’t get it. Do you really see truly unruly children this much? In my area (a very large Catholic urban area with lots of cafeteria Catholics) the people who can’t control their children just don’t go to mass. The ladies who don’t control their children in the grocery store that drive you nuts? You really think they want to go through the hassle of taking them to boring mass? They just don’t. The mass is nowhere near worth it to them.
So that leaves the people who are trying to discipline their kids, but probably failing in your eyes. And your realistic response is that they ought to take them to the crying room? Oh, but you insist they should still attend to the liturgy of the mass. Have you been in a crying room? It’s a fast food playplace minus the ball pit. Even in my stodgy old Latin mass parish with excellent liturgy, we can’t take our kids in the cry room if we want them to stay Catholic. It’s a circus.
So we sit in the pews like good Catholics. The youngest two (as you admit yourself about your own family) are royal pains in the ass and sometimes need to be hauled into the back. The older kids’ behavior varies from excellent to abominable. What do you want us to do? Should we all sit in the back so you can have your library silence? How fragile is your attention span anyway?
Simcha – don’t cringe – actually made a good point here:
“The truth is, some people truly won’t tolerate kids acting like kids even slightly, for even one second, even as their parents are doing their best to keep them in line. I’ve had people glare at me as I’m dragging a wailing baby out (what am I supposed to do? Teleport?)”
But I don’t believe that, as a father of seven, you could be one of these asses that can’t tolerate even a single sound from a child. That’s reserved for old people and irritable childfree boomers.
Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I can’t help feeling that your ire here is directed towards 1. hipster bloggers – an admirable target, sure, but don’t drag kids into your wrath – and 2. everyone’s least favorite pope’s recent positive comments about kids crying at mass – which, again, don’t drag the kids into it. At any rate, don’t be a grumpy old man before your time.
church is a sacred space, so even if you are accustomed to a lot of noise it sould be treated as different than other places such as the grocery store. i grew up an orthodox Jew and children were not allowed to be present during services unless they didn’t make a peep. and there are people who will not tolerate a single peep out of children in a public setting. there has to be the happy medium between the two. from how i grow up my impulse is to take them out when they make even the smallest noise or distraction, such as kicking the pew in front of you, or fidgeting. but if you grew up in the Novus Ordo with guitar msses, wreckovated sanctuaries, cheesy gimmicks, “lay ministers” and priests on hoverboards, the liturgy itself didnt call you to any deeper reverence. when the lirturgy is stripped of any sense of the sacred, you are going to have laymen who don’t treat it with the reverence they should. The old folks might remember before Vatican II, back when ladies all wore veils and men wore suits. They might complain about the child kicking the back of their pew, or the little child loudly announcing “I HAVE TO PEE.” during the consecration (as my son did once). But that same generation raised their children with the Novus Ordo. i am sure if you grew up in an atmosphere of reverence and respect, the fine points such as “at what point do you take them out” must come naturally. The situation now is that you have a lot of parents who grew up in the novus ordo (or another religion altogether) who must retrain themselves to be more reverent in church alongside training their kids.
Do you really have that though? I just don’t see it. I’m told that in more rural parishes things in general can get bonkers, and that corresponds to my experience when I’m traveling – the liturgy is nuts, so I guess the families might be unruly (not that I’ve seen it). But I’m saying in Chicago, where lots of cafeteria Catholics still go to mass and the churches are often still packed to the gills on Sunday mass, kids are just not that bad. They may make a little noise but I’m telling you, the kids who are awful in the grocery store just don’t get dragged to mass at all. What’s the point?
This is true for Latin or for Novus Ordo. The exception is the cry room, which is where every parent goes when they simply give up on parenting and life altogether. If Mr. Skojec ever tells me to go to the cry room, or justifies an angry old person telling me to go, I’ll tell him what Mr. Belloc told that admonishing usher: Go to hell.
I just don’t get the examples here, do people really let their kids throw soiled diapers at the priest? Or are we just being hyperbolic because we want to bitch about the Novus Ordo and about low income lazy parents?
I don’t think the original post will contribute that much to undisciplined parenting (it was obviously exaggerating for effect in its examples, and that annoyed me) but I do feel this article will contribute to traditional Catholics being more smug and angry about any little noise a kid makes.
Whenever a man feels “crushed by criticism”, so much so that he must vent his spleen to the world to the tune of 1,000+ words, rest assured that criticism has pricked a proud conscience, suddenly ashamed to be confronted with its own lack of self-awareness.
Everyone’s situation is different. ONLY STEVE, however has the insight to know all about this situation and proceed to tell some poor guy what an idiot he is. Why I should know better than to EVER read anything here on this site.
You’re right, the situations are different. One father brings toys and snacks to Mass (i.e. inviting distractions), and then doesn’t bother remove his noisy children even when they’re dancing on the pews. The other father educates and disciplines his children so that they, not only understand how to behave at Mass, but also why it’s important to do so.
balderdash. You are clearly a fraud and a troll. You came with brimming with ill will here sowing discord and enmity against soi distant trads.
Where are your first three posts:
I agree. I have to say, I have never wanted to go to TLM mostly because I get the impression that I just don’t understand the culture and I’ve heard so many things from TLM goers that strike me as “you losers just don’t get it”. I think it is wonderful if people find it to be their home, but i personally don’t think I’d be able to understand and feel welcome.
Mrs. Harris Steve Skojec • 3 days ago
Of course. But I have a choice of TLM or not. And I choose not..
Mrs. Harris Steve Skojec • 3 days ago
What does one have if they have the infinite mercy and love of God poured out for them, but do not pour it out for others? What is mass without the outpouring of love?
You came here bearing opposition and you admit not going to the TLM and yet you speak about Trads as though you have been to the TLM and have been treated unkindly.
What you write reveals far more about you then the men you have never met.
It is because of liberals like you that we men can’t nice things – like the Real Mass
No. I’m speaking of the attitudes I’ve seen reflected here and on other sites by people who self identify as TLM goers. I think it’s super funny you call me a liberal. On other sites, angry venom is spewed at me for being an evil conservative. Ha! can’t win, people are very angry these days. God bless you any how!
From English Priests, advice applicable to any Parish, even the local Franchise of Dead Diocese Inc. America
Coming to Mass in a Catholic Church
CHRIST’S LIVING PRESENCE IN THE CHURCH BUILDING is what makes this sacred space different from anywhere else on earth! Our current age sees everything as an object of human production, and human relationships made effective by conversation. But praying to God is totally different because God makes Himself known to me. Appreciating the Mass as the activity of Christ, our prayer inserts us into its action and thereby into the Body of Christ (Lumen Gentium, Vat 2) thus building up our relationship both with Him and with one another.
OUR PARISH FAMILY meets in the Church which, as a consecrated building, is set aside exclusively for the worship of Almighty God (Rite of Dedication of a Church). While the Church is made up of people, living stones, the place where we worship is important. We believe that the Lord is present in every Catholic Church in the Blessed Sacrament.
Our lives today tend to be stressful and noisy. The busy-ness of running a home, commuting to work and bringing up children means that we should value our Church building as a unique resource – providing a sacred space where individuals find opportunity to be with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. Every Parishioner or Visitor to our Church should be able to experience it as an oasis of peace – which depends on each one of us ensuring prayerful silence and stillness.
Jesus loved the Temple in Jerusalem: He became visibly distressed when He saw its peace being upset (Matthew 21: 10-17) and He said those famous words: My house shall be called a house of prayer. We need to do all we can to respect our Parish Church as “a house of prayer”.
WHEN YOU COME INTO CHURCH try to be as quiet as you can. Genuflect when you enter, and whenever you pass the tabernacle (in the centre of the Church). Restrict any conversation to outside the Church itself (in the Pastoral Centre and its foyer, or the narthex / porch – though sound often carries from there into the Church). Greet one another with a nod and a smile, be warm and welcoming, but resist the urge to chat in Church, especially before (and after) Mass! Give those around you the chance to be still. It may be the only opportunity in the week for them, and for you, to spend quality time with God.
OUR CAR PARK is at the east end of the Church (access from Kingston Road, opposite the Public Library). The rear Courtyard is reserved exclusively for Presbytery residents, house guests and deliveries. Surplus car parking is best alongside Holy Cross School in Sandal Road, leaving Montem Road for our neighbouring residents. Please park sensibly and considerately, never blocking driveways.
If you need to speak to the Priest, please do so after Mass – he, too, needs to be recollected and spiritually ready, and he will not be able to give you the time you deserve beforehand. Remember that the Sacristy is part of the Church and not a meeting room or parish office!
Ringing of mobile phones is an occasional cause of irritation. If you bring one please make sure that it is turned off (or switched to silent or vibrate mode) before entering the Church. And aim to arrive in good time, so that you a have the chance to settle yourself and your family well before Mass begins, and to make a prayerful preparation for Mass.
TOILETS can be used before or after Mass, but during Mass please only use them if absolutely necessary. In particular, no one should be going to the toilet between the Offertory and the end of Mass (while we are kneeling in worship). Nor should toilets be used (quite obviously) immediately after receiving Holy Communion! Kneel in your pew and adore Jesus who has just made His home in you in Holy Communion. The minutes after we receive Holy Communion are the most sacred moments of our life on earth – to be treasured and prayed.
Food or drink should not be consumed anywhere in the Church. Children should be fed before or after Mass, never during the Sacred Liturgy. All Communicants (except the elderly or seriously sick) are bound to fast for at least one hour from all food and drink (except water and medicines of genuine need) before receiving Communion.
We should not receive Communion if we are conscious of being in a state of grave sin, without first receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation). This could include deliberately missing Sunday Mass, being in a ‘second marriage’ (or similar relationship) without first having had a former marriage annulled by the Church. Speak to a Priest in confidence if you have any uncertainty.
OUR CHILDREN are our future and we love them. We are very happy that they come to worship God. Jesus famously said: “Let the little children come to me: do not stop them for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10: 13-16). Please help your children understand that when they come to Church, they are entering the House of God – somewhere entirely different from anywhere else on earth!
Encourage children to be as quiet and reverent as possible. Only soft toys ought to be brought into Church (not hard ones which can be banged and are noisy!) If a child needs to bring a book, it should obviously be a religious one (so that it contributes, not detracts from, focus upon the things of God), but it’s best if each child has his or her own age-related Missal (Mass book) to help them participate in the Mass and respond with everyone else. Children are best seated at the front (or the front side benches) where their attention can be drawn to the candles, colours, incense, movement in the sanctuary and action at the altar, and thus be drawn into the sacred action of the Mass.
We take child protection issues very seriously, and need to observe health and safety, fire and other regulations. Please do not let small children run in the aisles, climb on the benches, light candles unsupervised, or otherwise cause danger or unnecessary distraction.
If a child is crying or fractious take them briefly into the porch or the Quiet Room at the back of Church until they are calmed, and where you can still follow Mass through the speakers. The Quiet Room should only be occupied very briefly, so that others have opportunity at need. A box of books is there, and also at the back of the Church, which might help to settle them. You can then return with them when they are calmer. Pushchairs should be stored away from fire exits and doors.
WHEN MASS IS ENDED take a copy of the Sunday Bulletin home with you (one per family) for reference during the week. Please leave everything tidy, ready for the next Mass, taking home paper tissues etc, and returning hymn-books and Mass sheets to the back of the Church.
Remember that there are people who want to remain in prayer, so please respect their wish by leaving the Church as quietly as possible.
THE MASS is the source and summit of the Christian life, and our receiving Holy Communion should be the highlight of our week. It is traditional to genuflect (or at least make a profound bow, not a nod) before receiving Holy Communion. If you are carrying anything (child, walking stick etc) please do not attempt to received Communion in the hand (nor if wearing gloves). Priests have a responsibility to ensure the avoidance of sacrilege, danger or disrespect to the Sacred Host.
It is the right of every Catholic to choose to receive Holy Communion kneeling or standing, on the tongue or in the hand, as recently reminded by the Archbishop of Westminster. Pope Benedict gives example to the flock of Christ by giving Communion only on the tongue and kneeling. You may choose to follow his lead by kneeling at the Communion rail.
Respond to ‘The Body of Christ’ by saying ‘Amen’ (not ‘thank you’!) as a profession of faith in Him whom you receive. Do not attempt to take the Host between your fingers or dip It into the chalice (permitted in some countries, but not in England & Wales). If you receive the Host in your hands, consume It immediately and do not wander away (which will probably lead to the priest chasing after you!).
Non-Catholics and others unable to receive Communion for whatever reason are welcome to come for a blessing. Please indicate this by crossing your arms over your chest, and if your children have not received their First Holy Communion, make sure they are doing this.
Mass doesn’t end until the final Blessing and Dismissal. Please do not leave Church before the Priest. This is disrespectful to Christ (whom the Priest represents) and blocks the exit procession of altar servers.
After the 9.30am Mass there are usually refreshments in the Pastoral Centre and the chance to greet one another. Please do come and make some new friends. The proceeds from this go to help the poor.
These guidelines remind us of what ought to be obvious and provides good practice for every member of our parish family so that we all benefit more deeply from the celebration of Holy Mass and, as St Augustine teaches: become what we receive – the Body of Christ.
For those following this thread, I’ve written an update, based in part on your feedback:
The Drunk Octopus Effect: Perception, Bias, and Prudent Writing
Thanks for a brilliant article.
Love what you said abt us only needing to be present at mass. Being novus or do….by birth..i have only just started to attend the LM. And I never realised that before i started to go. So far 7 LM, of which 1 was a high mass.
I think you are bang on in your assessment that likely the bloke doesn’t know any better and that he is unaware that he is not a principal part of the event but a bystander, praying and suffering w the other apostles and w Mary.
A few weeks ago, after mass at my NO parish a woman almost had my head on a platter because I had the nerve to ask her (politely ) to take her loud and jolly conversation w her two friends into the church foyer instead of a few metres away from the tabernacle .
It didn’t bother her that there were people who cldn’t pray. One lady , a convert from Anglicanism, actually had her ears covered with her hands. ( i kid u not)
I tried to tell her it wasn’t personal and that i too have been corrected, but to no end.Humans tend to chatter.
She basically told me where to get off and something about Daniel dancing for God?????
She seemed oblivious to the reality of the space being sacred , being made so by the ever present sacrifice of the cross; or that whatever Daniel ‘s proclivity for dancing was, it’s unlikely that he would have been dancing that day on Calvary.
So this piece of writing points to the ideal forms and disciplines that all SHOULD be aware of. It’s acceptable for someone to conclude that they must offer merciful corrections to another – it may most often even be right to do so. But don’t be bothered or bothersome in thinking that the guy that doesn’t shave or brings stupid cheerios into church needs correction or is in any place to receive correction (respectively). Is there only one way to present oneself before the Almighty Presence? Seems not. I barely know how to tie a tie. I wear one for Easter and funerals and feel just as false and vain in it as i would if i walked into Mass wearing palladium cuff links. Unless you know a family you can’t really know the issues of a mother of unruly children at Mass, any more than you can judge the eternal state of David Jones/Bowie. Yes you may find a way to nudge the situation in the best direction or merely pray for some improvement and maybe the best thing to do is to explain the concept of the cry room to her. But she’s not likely to be reading articles such as this online. I have no doubt that most people had a better sense of public decorum and respect a few generations ago (in most parts of the US) but if the same personal presentation is expected at EF Masses today my chronic asthma will keep me away. What if all the NO Masses in your town disappeared tomorrow and the ‘better’ half of their congregations showed up at your Church, improperly churched? You might spend the next 5+ years stressed out that you couldn’t concentrate due to the invaders jostling in the choir loft, gaping through the crowded main doorways midwinter and lowering the willing down through the roof tiles. Striving for reverent liturgy is a good idea but if liturgy is the work/service of the people then today’s liturgy is stuck with today’s people.
I am a bit late to the party here, but as a new parent and with all of these articles popping up on my blog-feed it is something that has been on my mind. I get that it is a matter of prudence, but as an aspiring conscientious parent I would genuinely like to know how much is too much.
While the tone of this article is hostile and arrogant, which is unfortunate because I generally like the posts here, I get the author’s point. I hate it when parents do nothing to handle their children in mass or out of it, but especially in mass. But teaching that the mass is awesome means you CANNOT BE IN A CRY ROOM where all of the crazy kids are being crazy. We attend a very good and reverent parish, not Traditional form, but Anglican Use and very traditional… so you cannot blame it on my hippie parish–cry rooms are where the kids are taken to be noisy and cry.
Perhaps when my 8 month old babbling busy baby is a bit older she can begin to understand the holiness of the mass and when to be quiet, but at present I am just trying to stay out of the parent/child ghetto where the more interesting noisy kids are. That is precisely the place for her to learn what not to do. We attend the high mass because the incense, cross and candles keep her interested for at least the first five minutes and usually my husband is the clerk/acolyte and she likes to see him. Instead of going to the cry room, I was going to the vestibule when she babbled or made noise (because that is what babies do) where she and I can see or experience none of the liturgy. Again, not a good way to teach her the sacredness of the mass.
Perhaps one would retort that it is only for a short time… a year, maybe two, but then why bring her those first couple years until she can “behave appropriately” i.e. stop being a baby.
Last week, after reading the Hipster Husband’s letter (and yes, Simcha Fischer’s, go ahead, judge me), I felt a little bit vindicated in my hatred of the cry room, and for that matter, the vestibule, and made it my goal to stay in the pew as long as possible. The measure of whether or not her babbling was too loud was one of the non-verbal disabled men who occasionally mumbles and makes noise. (Should he be in the cry room, too?, really, I am curious where y’all would want him, then at least the cry room wouldn’t be a parent-child ghetto but an all-noise-makers-ghetto); if she got louder than him, I went to the vestibule and I just stayed there for the Eucharistic Prayer just in case and she was much better than if I spent the mass mostly in the cry room.
I get it, I really do. You want your perfect silent worship, who doesn’t? Honestly I struggle with that–if I am distracted by a bad liturgy or a loud toddler isn’t that at least partly on me; Jesus is there shouldn’t I be able to get over it and focus? At any rate, you have more or less achieved it at your FSSP parish and with your children– my question is how do you achieve such a thing if you really do go to the cry room? How loud is too loud? Any noise? No food? Can I feed her in mass (with a bottle or a cover), or is that distracting? No toys–do you mean noisy toys or how about a rosary and a board book about the mass?
People at my parish, I realize, are probably more alike to your readers than to the hipster guy, so as a genuinely conscientious parent, I really am curious at how much is too much.
Cry rooms are awful. I hate them. But that’s mostly because other parents still don’t get that they aren’t a place to take your kids to let them run amok, they’re a place to go to keep the noise your kids make as you try to teach them to sit quietly in Mass from distracting others. I actually have seen the disabled in cry rooms when they have verbal outbursts. It makes sense, really. The whole point is sound dampening while still being able to see.
My personal preference is and has been to go out to the narthex with whoever is fussing and walk. Part of that is my own difficulty sitting still.
Silence at Mass is the goal, but it’s rarely ever attained. If people are working for that sacred quiet, though, then we’re all in it together, and the deviations are just bumps in the road. You don’t know you have to take a kid out until they start acting up, usually noisily. My toddler often brings a Hot Wheels car or something with him (he even sleeps with his Rescue Bots instead of a stuffed animal so this is an all-day thing) but if he starts making driving noises or banging it on the pew, I take it, or take him out. He’s allowed to just hold it. Books and rosaries and other sensory items that help children be engaged but quiet seem reasonable to me. Food, no. I used to think nothing of the bag of cheerios, but I’ve come to realize it’s simply not the place for it.
Nursing at Mass has to happen, and I’ve gotten in hot water from the other side for defending breastfeeding in the church proper. C’est la vie. If nursing keeps baby quiet and mom is covered, there’s no reason to leave the pew.
I hope that helps. As I’ve said any number of times in this thread (and the comments on this one keep breaking for some reason I can’t figure out; sorry about that) my argument is in favor of REASONABLE measures. Really, it just takes effort. It’s not rolling your eyes at the wailing kid (or the kid who is hitting you, or the shoe of the person kneeling in front of them, or running up and down the aisles while mom occasionally throws a look over her shoulder to see where he is…yes, these things happen in real life). It’s the kind of thing I believe most parents do instinctually.
But remember, my response was specifically to that original letter, and I intentionally wrote it using his style. This is not how I’d ordinarily approach the subject. I just felt like fighting fire with fire.
Excellent article. I have shared it on a number of people’s Facebook pages where there was a discussion of the original letter.