When The Suckiest Person In The Pew Is You…

… Week before last I went to mass in Knoxville. While there a mother of two let her three year old fuss and whine all through the mass. Like the entire mass. Each excruciating minute was punctuated by a moan and kick to the back of my seat. Then last week, at my own parish, a child screamed through the entire mass. Seriously. Screamed. I had never experienced anything like this; a parent so clueless. It was so distracting that even the altar boys, highly trained to keep their eyes on the mass and not the congregation, all twisted and turned to see what the commotion was about.

I thought that was what ushers were for.

Ugh. How dare these nasty little creatures interrupt my piety with their noisy squawking and screeching. My mass. All mine. Hiss. Spit. Growl. and all that jazz.

As I sat there praying, grinding my teeth through all the uproar, I quietly thanked the Lord for the Holy Mass. I asked Him for patience because that is what good, holy Catholics do. And then I thanked Him for dying on the cross for all those ungrateful, noisy children and their inconsiderate parents.

And because I was feeling extra holy I added to my prayers those annoying chatty old ladies who use mass as a social hall to talk about their bad hips and precocious grandchildren. Oh, and also for slovenly dressed teenagers and their lazy-no-good parents who should know better. Buy your kids some proper church clothes and demand they wear them. Jesus hear my prayer.

Wait. I feel like I am forgetting someone. Oooooo. Right.

And most especially, Dear Lord, pray for those insufferable judgmental snobs who spend the entire hour focused on what everyone else is doing and wearing. Those people are the worst, Lord.

Yay! I suck! Amen.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Kristen

    I had to laugh. I’ve been on both sides. Our church has no “cry room” so I’ve been in the back with a shrieking or screaming child just trying to get to communion and trying not to burst into tears as everyone keeps turning around. Once I actually made the movement to leave and an usher stepped between me and the door and said, “Don’t you dare! Jesus never said ‘let the quiet, obedient, children all parents envy come unto me, He said let the little children come to me’ and your little one deserves to be here as much as anyone else.” Now that my older ones are behaving in mass, wow, pot meet kettle, kids making noise annoy me, tourists who take pictures during mass annoy me. I check myself pretty quick though.

  • http://coucoumelle.blogspot.com/ Jeanne Chabot-Baril

    I have been the one with annoying kids for years… and doing it alone too… and wanting to cry when I got home… my kids are quiet now too, but it took years to get it that way, there was always one or two that were “that age”. And yes, when it got too loud, I’d go to the back, and then try to come back, but I had FIVE, I couldn’t leave the others all alone either… and really, am I to go to mass alone? Or not go at all? Because that was the only other alternative. Let my kids grow up heathen, or just go heathen myself as well…

  • katieokeefe

    I have SO been that person. It’s been so bad before that I’ve had to go to confession for it. At least you recognized it and called it what it is. It took me a very long time to get there, myself. Great post!

  • Kate Bluett

    Last Sunday, my five-year-old, who prefers to wear a button-down and his clip-on tie to Mass, turned around and saw a family in tee-shirts two rows behind us. He whispered to me, “Mom, they’re not wearing Mass shirts [shirts with collars]. Should we buy them some?” To which I could only respond, “Face forward and pay attention!”

    • Roseanna Hatke

      They WERE wearing THEIR Mass shirts! “Face forward and pay attention” indeed. Will he still love to attend Mass when he is 15? Lighten up, Mom. You’ll be glad you did.

      • LisaTwaronite

        A few years ago, my two older teenage kids spontaneously decided to go with me to mass on Christmas Eve…..wearing very casual beat-up jeans with tears and patches on the knees. I knew everyone would be in holiday finery (Christmas turns Catholics into Mormons when it comes to church attire, even at a very informal parish like ours), but I didn’t say anything at all. I was just so happy they wanted to go with me.

        Maybe I should have turned it into a lesson (“No, you can’t go unless you change into better clothes as a sign of respect.”) but I chose not to that time.

      • Kate Bluett

        I don’t know if he’ll love to attend Mass at 15, but he’ll have to. And since it was the FIVE-YEAR-OLD being finicky about clothes, maybe you should be telling him to lighten up. Oh wait, he’s five.

        • Kate Bluett

          Sorry–that came off snarkier than it should, but I really have no idea why you think I was somehow being judgmental,

  • Rhetor

    Well done. As parents who knew enough to take a fussy child to the cry room or outside, we sometimes feel a little judgmental ourselves. But as parents who used candy as a “reinforcer” (that is, a bribe) to teach an autistic child to sit quietly through Mass and who were criticized for doing so, we try to remember that we don’t necessarily understand other people’s circumstances.Thanks for the reminder.

  • likes2lurk

    My sons’ pediatrician once made a comment that really put this issue in perspective for me: “A crying child is not a problem. It’s when they don’t cry that you have a problem.”

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    I upped you many times over!

    Once, at adoration, the guy behind me prayed under his breath rather loudly, if this makes sense. It annoyed me quite a bit. I mean, I was there to visit my Lord, yet he had to telegraph his prayers so loudly: tst… pkt… kuh… sss?

    About halfway through the hour, I turned around and tried to politely ask him to not mouth his prayers, but my body language betrayed my busted halo: I used my hand as a puppet and made the same sounds that I was hearing when I was telling him that he was bothering me and if he’d just quiet down. Then I righteously turned towards my Lord and continued my pious adoration of myself. The poor man got up and I never saw him again at adoration.

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  • John N

    Church is family. That includes noisy kids and the old ladies who sing loud and off key and the grumpy old guy whose face would crack and fall off if he ever smiled. Church is us, with all of our faults.

  • EllaM

    Our priest once said it best “The most annoying sound you hear, the worst smell you will smell, will never compare to the horror of Hell.” Sheeesh.

  • Stephen Lowe

    I found that after I (we) lost a child and heaven gained one, the sounds of cries makes me pray for him – hoping that perhaps my mom (or maybe St. Therese) would pick him up and sing a lullaby to him (in Latin of corse) when he got finicky. That is just me of course.

  • Roseanna Hatke

    When I hear those crying, screaming children, I remember how embarrassed and nervous I was when I had my little ones at Mass. I usually tried to take them out, but sometimes it was hard. On the Holy Day (Aug. 15) a poor young mom, all alone, had 3 little ones and the middle one was so disruptive she was trying to carry him out while also carrying the baby. It was quite a struggle! I remembered how it was and got up and helped her and then went out in the hall and helped make the kids laugh and settle down. She was grateful and it seemed lots better than the little old ladies who frown and tsk, tsk…..like their kids never acted up!! I know that my own daughters have been harshly judged and actually have given up on certain parishes in our town because of it. Thankfully, our own parish is not one! Remember, they could just quit going to Mass altogether…..and many do. “Let the little ones come to me, and do not hinder them”…Somebody said. Even if they have six kids and their husband couldn’t come with them! Smile and help out……it always seems to work better (and then you don’t have to beat yourself up afterwards!!).