Kids At Mass
There’s an ongoing debate in the Catholic Church about what should be done with children who make noises during Mass. To some, it’s a needless distraction when kids can be taken to the cry room. To others, it’s important for the kids to have Mass as a regular part of their lives. To those who think that kids making noise should be immediately removed from the Sanctuary, let me save you some time, you’re wrong
Parents should make every reasonable effort to bring enough discipline into their children’s lives so that they will be respectful during Mass. However, especially with very young children, sometimes there is nothing that can be done. Despite this reality, I think that there are three reasons why kids should be kept in Church during the Mass for as long as possible.
- Cries of children are the voice of the young Church. We have a Church that loves and promotes life. When I hear kids making noise at Mass, I celebrate the fact that in a time when children are so vigorously avoided, I’m part of a community that rejects that lie. As Baptized members of our Church, young children have just as much of a right to be at Mass as anyone else. Their cries remind us that our Church isn’t going anywhere and that it’s saving mission will continue long after we’re gone.
- The majority of US Catholics don’t go to Mass weekly, so let’s start this generation right. If Mass is important (which it is), I want to communicate that fact to Benedict. I don’t want there to ever be a time when he doesn’t have Mass as a part of his weekly schedule. The younger years are the time when habits and world views are established. If we want a healthier and more vibrant Church, we need to do what great marketers already know, and start them young.
- You’re already distracted, so don’t blame it on the kids. One of the more common arguments in favor of removing kids from Mass is that it’s a distraction. I’d counter by saying you’re already distracted. You read the bulletin during the homily, your eyes glaze over during the readings, and honestly, those are only the exterior signs. My keeping Benedict at home isn’t going to instantly make you attentive.
I’m also opposed to families leaving kids at home entirely. I know that it’s a challenge wrangling kids at Mass, and I can only imagine how difficult it is with multiple young children. At one point, I heard it suggested that by splitting the family for Mass, the parents could finally prayerfully concentrate during the liturgy. First, I think that families should always go to Mass together. Second, I don’t consider caring for Benedict a detraction from my prayer. I see fulfilling my vocation as a father to be an entirely prayerful experience.
All that being said, there are times when kids need to be removed for a few minutes to collect themselves. At 11 months, Benedict is usually getting restless after Communion, so one of us will take him into the back for the final blessing. If you do take your child out, make it for as short a time as possible.
When your kids are at an age where they can start to understand things, hype up the Mass. Explain to them how awesome it is. Sit in the front so they can see everything happening. Find ways to engage them. Show them the splendor of the Church.
The family needs to go to Mass together and children need to be there. Period.