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Fr. Z and Children at Mass

July 5, 2009

Fr. Z steps on the 3rd rail – noisy children at Mass. There are all different circumstances for all different people and Fr. Z comments on a few of them, and at the time of this posting he received 143 comments from his readers. Peace to you and to those around you.

And… searching a bit more on this, Jimmy Akin had a post from a few years ago, Bringing Children to Mass. He quoted the Code of Canon Law

Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.

Whether or not children should be brought to mass is really up to the parents, but I have heard many a parent say that they don’t get anything out of Mass when they are minding the kids more than participating in the Mass. So it’s just something to think about.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. djrakowski permalink
    July 12, 2009 11:25 pm

    This is one of those areas where people on all sides need to be a bit more sensitive.

    It’s quite difficult to “get something” out of Mass with small children. It’s even more difficult with small children who suffer from developmental disabilities. I suspect it will be a long time before I get something out of Mass in the manner being discussed at Fr. Z’s blog.

    At the same time, I most certainly get something out of Mass that’s more important than any sermon or set of prayers can give me – His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

    It’s just my opinion, but I think everyone should prepare for Mass by reading the scriptures and perhaps even the prayers. I know it helps me because I’m rarely able to pay attention during homilies unless I’m at Mass by myself (which happens very rarely nowadays).

    Our oldest 3 children spent more years as evangelical Protestants than they have as Catholics, so they’re way far behind in terms of Mass etiquette when compared to their peer groups. But the baby is 3 years old and the only one in our family who’s a cradle Catholic, and he struggles with the same behaviors that nearly all 3 year olds struggle with. But I intend to take him to Mass every week nonetheless. It’s just my opinion, but I don’t know how he would learn to behave properly at Mass if we were to suddenly bring him when he’s old enough to know better.

    And our oldest two children may NEVER know better. But that won’t stop me from taking them to Mass, either. The people who are offended by their odd behaviors can just lighten up. I do my best to avoid taking them to Mass when I KNOW they’ll have a bad day, but autism is an unpredictable disorder and a seemingly wonderful day can turn into a nightmare with the slightest of provocations.

    One of my friends has no choice but to bring all 3 of her children to Mass alone every week, because her husband hasn’t been granted immigration status. Her children are all 6 years and under, and the oldest two have autism. I watch her struggle every week and I’m amazed at her deep commitment to the Church. Nobody would blame her for staying home every week (and I’m sure she’s thought of it), but she’s there, week after week, setting a great example for the rest of us.

  2. catholicwideweb permalink
    July 13, 2009 10:48 am

    right, there are always different situations for different people. but as i said in my post, some people complain that they don’t get anything out of mass because their children are a chore. i am saying that the church says it is okay to go separately to church and leave the young children at home. if going to church separately is an option for a home with small children then those parents may want to consider it.

  3. Sandy permalink
    July 13, 2009 10:26 pm

    And this is what gets me, or we not supposed to be for “the right to life?” I have had children and I made it and so have many others who do not have 3 or four children but seven or eight, or as my neighbor eleven. They all made it. Their children are devout Catholics.

    I say we need to be a little more tolerant for those with small children, and the parents need to know this will pass one day. The sweetest thing I have ever seen is a little girl going up to Jesus with her little hands placed as when we pray. They need to be taught and they will be.

    Crying babies do not bother me. Children in Church do not bother me. I agree with DJ, I get a whole lot out of Mass in spite of these things, as I go to receive Jesus.

    If we fight “for the right to life” then look at those children and thank God they did not end up on an abortion table.

    God Bless

  4. July 17, 2009 1:10 pm

    In response to both comments above: it’s beautiful that the Church offers us so many ways to receive the grace of Our Lord. We’re now able to attend the TLM, or worship at Saturday evening vigils, or leave our children at home (if necessary) and attend separately.

    And to think, Protestants have this image that there’s no flexibility or accommodation in the Catholic Church to these sorts of situations. At least in the Catholic Church, we’re encouraged to bring our children to Mass. I’ve attended evangelical Protestant churches where children were expected to be in Sunday school only – church service was for adults only. And I remember one Good Friday at a well-known suburban Detroit megachurch, where they showed a multimedia depiction of the crucifixion that was so graphic, it brought one sweet little girl to tears (sobbing, actually).

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