I sympathize with priests who struggle with crying children in church, and who perhaps don’t always handle it in the best way. We’re human too, and sometimes it’s tough.
That said, over the years I’ve come to appreciate more and more the value of having children – whether crying or well-behaved – always in church. I am not a believer in “children’s liturgy of the Word” and similar novelties. Children should be in Mass. Children of all ages. Period.
I have joked that the 8:30am Sunday Mass in my present assignment often sounds like “the rainforest”: there are yelps and whoops and screeches throughout the Mass – often, seemingly, when I am talking. I always enjoy the time immediately after the homily, when I go to sit down for a moment of reflection before continuing with the Creed: for it has often happened that things in the church settle down as soon as I go silent. A salutary lesson in humility!
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am blessed to be assigned to a parish where, not only do we not have a cry room, but it’s really not possible to build one. There is simply not space to add one. And that’s just fine. It’s better that the kids be in church with everyone else. Children need to be with adults. Separating them only reinforces the erroneous concept of “youth culture” – an artificial construct that only delays (or prevents entirely) their entrance into the world of adults.
In this connection, I recommend this recent article from Crisis. Read the whole thing. In short, the author explains how children in Church 1) witness to the adults present, and 2) benefit from the witness of those adults present. CLICK HERE.
The article was written at least in partial response to a recent controversy on “Catholic Twitter” on the very topic of children in church. Panem et circenses.
Check out the article and ask yourself, also: What is my attitude to children in church? We all have stories of parents who just let their children scream, who don’t get up quickly enough, or whatever. Sure. But overall: Isn’t this a beautiful and wonderful thing? Lord, help us truly to be a culture of life. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them!” – Jesus (Matthew 19:14)