I'll have to beg your forgiveness for one more thing: I know I promised to try not to wade into Father Zuhlsdorf's comment boxes, even when I click over from New Advent to read a post he's written as sometimes happens. But, like I said, I'm still sick, and found myself doing a bit of mindless clicking instead of what I was supposed to be doing (word count! word count!).
It seemed harmless, though; Father Z. had shared a cute story about an overzealous usher telling a woman her son's toy car wasn't permitted in the LATIN MASS, about which Father wrote:
Which seems quite wise and sensible to me, striking that balance that I think most parents would agree with: try to take a noisy child out of church when it is necessary, use quiet measures to keep the child quiet in church when possible, and use common sense to try to ascertain when the quiet measures (books, soft toys, etc.) no longer work and the trip out to the back is needed.
I think I would have been tempted to respond, “And what part of LATIN MASS gives you permission to walk around church, ignoring the sacred action and reprimanding mothers?”
Without having been there, it is hard to know what to say. But it strikes me that the usher was on pretty shaky ground. Sure, all children at LATIN MASS should look just like the sweet little darlings in the pastel artwork depicting young ones praying head-bowed, pink hands together at their bedsides as a guardian angel hovers over them. That’s what all children at LATIN MASS should be like.
In the meantime, on my planet when little Stupor Mundi is making too much noise, and how much is too much and I am not at all sure, then attentive parents – used to their prodigy’s din at home – takes the diminutive treasure out.
That isn’t always possible and children can be obstreperous. Even at the LATIN MASS! Do be sensitive to noise levels. You might be used to the noise your child makes. Others are not.
And, sure, as we've discussed here, the biggest problem occurs when a child is prolongedly and miserably noisy and parents seem clueless about both the rising decibel level and the rate at which the child is becoming a distraction even to the saintly great-grandmother of 97 (age and number of great-grandchildren) who is known to be the most patient person in the entire parish and is nearly stone-deaf anyway: what do we do when that happens? Fortunately, that situation is relatively rare; what happens more often is that parents experience a few moments of what we might call the betrayal of the power of positive thinking, in which their fierce hope that Johnny will quiet down in a second is so badly ruined--and then they still have to face the Walk of Shame to the vestibule well after everybody thought they'd be taking it.
Since I know, though, that the opinions of seasoned parents tend sometimes to clash a bit with the opinions of seasoned non-parents and the opinions of long-ago seasoned parents who are sure that nobody in their generation ever heard of coddling a child so much as to actually bring him to Mass, I thought the comment box would be...entertaining.
Unfortunately, some of it was scary.
Here are some bits and pieces of actual comments over there. I won't link to each comment this time, but you can read the thread yourself if you like (though as of this posting it's already up to 135 comments):
...I don’t get it. Parents are so darn tolerant these days. Kids just run the roost. When I was little, even very little, I was required to do as I was told, and if I was told to sit quietly, that’s what I did. If I disobeyed…well, heaven help me. I would have got a severe and immediate slap-down, fully approved of by any other adult witness in the vicinity. The very idea of indulging a kid with food or toys, or even books would have been off the map. Trust me, if properly trained and handled, even the youngest and most disruptive kid can sit quietly for an hour, if only the parent is serious about making them...And then, from a non-parent, this truly lovely--and I mean that--comment:
... The youngest is a boy, 22 months old. He is silent during the whole Mass (usually a Low Mass, lasting 50-70 minutes, but has also has been to a ~115 minute High Mass)...Before that his mother or I had to take him out of Mass every time he made a sound. We used the time as an opportunity to teach an invaluable, and infallible lesson — outside the church there is discomfort, pain, damnation, and Hell — ONLY INSIDE the Church is there peace and the opportunity for salvation. It hurt him when we had to take him outside. Thus in only 16 months, he learned to not make a peep at Mass. No toys, books, or food were involved...
...I have five children. The oldest is seven. My wife is in the choir. If one of my children misbehaves I beat them. They learn real quick that they need to sit and be quiet. If parents pray the Rosary as a family and discipline children during Rosary, expecting them to be at best behavior, this doesn’t become a problem at Mass....
...The idea that you should appease ill mannered children in church with talk, toys and food, is not just stupid, its EVIL. Quit kidding yourselves. You are in denial. You are NOT being good parents...Contrary to the New Age sycophants here, applying some firm discipline with the back of the hand, or as they grow older, a good leather belt, will not warp your little terrorist into hating Mass or leaving the Church. Quite the opposite, it will instill the necessary FEAR in the developing child...
I have nieces and nephews who have stopped attending mass with their spouses and children because the have felt that their young children were not welcomed thanks to sneers from their fellow parishioners and over zealous ushers. I have no children of my own, but I have 13 siblings 67 nieces and nephews and 43 great nieces and nephews. Many of them have gotten out of the habit of attending Mass on Sunday (or have even attended more “family friendly” evangelical churches)as they failed to go when their children were babies and toddlers.I'm really glad that the commenter who wrote the above took the time to do it. It helps a lot to know that the "Beat the little children until they learn that CHURCH is about SUFFERING!" crowd is not really representative of Father Z.'s readers. That group, I think, needs a nice time-out in the cry room until they can stifle their more violent impulses toward toddlers.
Now I might be foolish but when my church prepares babies and their families for baptism they are held up on the alter and introduced to the congregation a week or two prior to their baptism. I thought we welcomed them into our community. I think of them as ‘my/our” children in Christ. I enjoy seeing them in the pews with their families on Sunday. I enjoy watching them grow week by week, month by month, year by year. Sure they can be disruptive at times (What family member isn’t? Families are like that.), but nothing on earth brings me closer in heart to Jesus Christ than having the eyes of a small baby on his/her mother’s shoulder in the pew in front of me locking those eyes on me and then smiling…it is like Christ Himself has acknowledged my presents before Him. Without these children the Catholic Church has no future. I think ushers should default to Jesus Christ on this issue…It is His church after all. We are no more welcomed and no more invited than the small children. I think He may even favor them.