As the mother of a crying baby who I walked to the back of the church last Sunday, I found this article compelling. Do crying babies belong in Mass? You be the judge.
Loved that article – thank you so much for sharing!
I saw that yesterday too.u00a0 I also dislike cryrooms, though not in the same way as the author.u00a0 nnBefore moving our parish had a nursery and children’s church during mass.u00a0 I LOVED it, especially because I had a baby who became a rowdy two year old before we moved.u00a0 (We put her in the nursery starting at 6 months.)u00a0 I was able to pray quietly during mass and to quite my busy mommy life, without having to chase my daughter around.u00a0 During my time there, I had my second child.u00a0 My husband was gone most weekends, and there would have been no way for me to chase around my two year old while nursing my newborn.u00a0 The nursery was a life-saver.u00a0 nnNow that we have moved, I have a much more difficult time paying attention during mass and quieting myself before God.u00a0 Even with the cry room, my daughter has sensory issues with movement, and she literally cannot sit still during mass.u00a0 Most two year olds are not developmentally ready for this anyway, and I’ve seen parents stressed out and working very hard to train their toddlers for this task.u00a0u00a0 In a way it doesn’t seem fair to the parents nor to the spirited child.nnAs for the baby belonging in the worship space with everyone else, I think the author forgets that catechumins in the early church were dismissed at a certain point in the service.u00a0 Having the uninitiated in the pews throughout the ENTIRE service is only one side of the tradition, and the newer tradition at that.u00a0 In a way dismissing the children for children’s church at a certain point is MORE traditional.u00a0 nnI also must wonder how often he’s tried to pray during mass while trying to sufficiently keep the children distracted, still, and quiet.u00a0 As a deacon, my guess is he’s usually helping the priest, and his wife would be doing all this on her own.u00a0 The whole argument against cryrooms (or nurseries) is cute coming from a man who doesn’t have to handle these things all the waking hours of his regular day and THEN during church services on the day of rest when he’s like nothing better than stillness.
I don’t think crying babies belong in Mass, and I also don’t think cryrooms are appropriate. Take your baby or misbehaving child out, deal with it, then bring him/her back in and continue worshiping.nnA priest who stops Mass to make a wisecrack about a wailing baby joining the choiru00a0is a little too touchy-feely for me.u00a0″Let the children come unto me”, bien sur, but letting a baby scream uncontrollably throughout Holy Mass is just disruptive.u00a0nCryrooms are bad because they are so complacent–children don’t have to learn to behave, adults don’t have to arrive on time, teenagers don’t have to stop texting for one hour a week, because they can hang loose in the cryroom. Why linger in that halfway house?
Of course, Catechumens are dismissed because they have not been baptized into the Church.u00a0 Most babies of regular “Church-going” mommies have been baptized, and as my husband is fond of saying, they have just as much right to experience the liturgy, and Christ as every other baptized Christian, even if they’re crying or wiggly.u00a0 nnSure it can be distracting and hard to focus.u00a0 But, and my husband just addressed this on his blog recently, the sacraments don’t depend upon our full and active participation, even if that’s the goal. They depend on God. nn”Fortunatelyu00a0the sacrament doesn’t depend on how much I do or how I feel.n Even when I’m not giving 100% I can be sure that God is giving his all.n We need to remind people that it’s OK to be rote sometimes. It doesn’t ndiminish the grace of the sacrament. Jesus is still really there!”nnfrom his blog post -Mechanical Reconciliation at http://www.JonathanFSullivan.comnnOf course, we very much dislike cry-rooms as well as children’s church and Children’s Liturgy of the word sessions (though I admit my 6 and 4 year old often go to our parish’s offering of the latter), precisely because of the reason stated above.u00a0 Baptized people of any age, any developmental level, and at any other point in their lives that may lead to difficulty in “full and active participation” are still members of the Church and they have every right to be in the church witnessing the Liturgy and being a witness for Jesus. nnFood for thought.nn
This is true, children have received ONE of the sacraments of initiation (in the Roman rite), but most have not received confirmation and cannot receive the Eucharist.u00a0 This is the part in the mass in which catechumins were traditionally dismissed (Liturgy of the Eucharist).u00a0 This is why I have no problem with children being separated during part or all of mass.u00a0 At our old parish children received a special children’s lesson that went along with the readings, something on their level.u00a0u00a0 The could also ask questions for clarification during this time instead of being expected to remain perfectly silent.nnOf course the sacraments do not require or understanding or full frame of mind to work, but at the same time, it is nice for a tired mommy to pray quietly.u00a0 That’s why I think nurseries and children’s church are the answer, not cry rooms.nnAs for cry rooms keeping children from learning how to behave in church–They will learn eventually and when they are ready.u00a0 It is more difficult for children with ADD and sensory development issues to sit still, and it’s annoying when parents are judged for using cry rooms.u00a0 Cry rooms, and especially nurseries, can be a great ministry for children with special needs and their parents.u00a0 Now that we don’t haveu00a0 a nursery, I like the cry room to keep my 2 year old away from any judgment (perceived or real).
I have actually come to really appreciate cry rooms.u00a0 Sure, some are misused, but as a mom of many it is a huge relief to have a place where I can take a fussy baby, or nurse comfortably, and still be at mass.u00a0 I can’t stand the sound of my baby crying, so being told by a priest to just stay, that the baby belongs here, crying in the pew, may be a beautiful prolife witness and a nice, flexible attitude, but it is not really practical if your baby is hungry, say, or has a dirty diaper, or is just at the stage of life when he wants to get down and run rather than be held and cooped up in a pew.u00a0 In the cry room I find peace, and I can actually pray for a change.u00a0 This is a total 180 for me, but it is how I feel now.nnAlso, I think it is important to remember that the social expectations of a mother being up and about and taking the baby to mass from a few days after birth is fairly new, my older relatives stayed home for several months after having a baby, and were concerned that I was out so quickly, for my sake and the sake of the baby.u00a0 So, this is a fairly new problem.nnChurches are smaller now, and with fewer places to hide than the great cathedrals of Europe, where people felt comfortable popping and out of mass or various side chapels.nnWhat is the benefit of pacing with a baby in a cold vestibule, or perhaps an even poorly selected modern space, like an open vestibule/gathering space with a walk=in, child height baptismal font?u00a0 Many of our stuffed animals have been accidentally blessed there when they fell in.
From speaking to older women, it is my understanding that babies and toddlers were simply not brought to Mass before the 1960s.u00a0 The mother and father would go to Mass separately with older children, leaving little ones at home.u00a0 I don’t particularly advocate this, but I think it’s interesting that, at a time when standards for children’s behavior were a lot higher, it was recognized that a small child just wasn’t capable of sitting quiet and still for an entire hour.
I read that article and if a priest stopped his homily and asked me not to leave with a crying baby, that would have mortified me even more.u00a0 I’m so not comfortable in being called out in public. u00a0 That said, I never brought my young babies to mass.u00a0 I stayed home with the baby until it was at least 6 months, on a nap schedule and could go without nursing for an hour.u00a0u00a0 Although I breastfed all my children for a year and more, I was never comfortable breastfeeding in public unless I absolutely had to.u00a0 So my husband and I would split shift the mass and quite frankly, we did this for so long that my youngest barely saw the inside of a church until she was about four or five.u00a0 But she’s no worse for wear.u00a0 She knows how to behave properly in mass and we were able to avoid all those difficult years with her.u00a0 I realize that this is not for everyone; we live in an area surrounded by Catholic churches and there are ample masses within a 3 mile radius to chose from.u00a0 When we did go to mass as a family, we used the cry room when we needed to.u00a0 Just reading about all this controversy makes me happy that those days are behind me.
This is interesting. When we were searching for a new church a couple of years ago, we visited our village church one Sunday and our youngest decided to ‘contribute’ and a very sweet (but in my opinion misguided) lady actually asked us if we would mind removing him. We never went back. Like someone else said, I am glad those days are behind me now, but personally I don’t mind some noise.
What drives me nuts about the cry room is that it has become, for many, their “assigned” seat in the church rather than a temporary seat to allow the kids get the “fuss” out.u00a0 In other words people go into church and head straight for the cry room making it impossible (for those who are having fussy child issues during mass) to give the rest of the congregation a break from the screaming.