An Encouraging Word – Bring the Little Children to Mass
My priest approached me as I walked a fussy toddler around at the back of the Church, before Mass began, “I’m so proud of you for always bringing your little ones to Church Maureen. Don’t worry if he is fussy, it doesn’t bother us”
Simple encouraging words all parents need to hear.
Thankfully, my Parish is very welcoming to young families. Our Priest often mentions during Mass that the crying doesn’t bother him and it shouldn’t bother others. That everyone should encourage these young families who bring their little ones to Mass. He even renovated the back of the Church to put in large glass walls and doors, so that parents who are trying to quiet a fussy crying baby still feel a part of the Mass.
After hearing his words, and settling our youngest down, I returned to sit with my family as Mass began. I felt great being reassured by my Priest that I was welcome with all my little ones at Mass.
That weekend we had a visiting Priest, and his Homily also spoke about families attending Mass, and little one’s being noisy. He spoke about how we as Catholics need to build community and be welcoming in our Parishes, and that community must include young families with little children. That it takes courage to bring little ones to Mass.
My husband and I were delighted by these words, and relaxed a little as our children wiggled in the pew, and occasionally dropped a book. They were being very well behaved, and we knew a trip to the donut shop would be happening as a reward for their excellent behavior.
But, during the announcements at the end of Mass, our 2 year old was very quietly chatting to herself, and happened to drop her children’s Bible, and it made a rather loud thud on the wooden pew. The older woman sitting in front of us, quickly turned around and loudly shushed her.
We were shocked! Our children had been better than they had been in weeks, and the Homily was about encouraging families with little ones. Clearly this woman had not been listening. We didn’t say anything, just tried to keep them as quiet and still as we could for those last few minutes.
If that moment had happened to another family, they likely wouldn’t have come back the next week. Possibly ever again! They wouldn’t have remembered the beautiful Homily encouraging them to attend Mass and bring their children. All they would have remembered was the woman who loudly shushed their child.
It didn’t turn us away, we know we are welcome at our Parish, and should be welcome at any Parish!
We are so blessed to have a Parish filled with more encouraging Parishioners than discouraging ones. Once and a while we might get a look from someone. But we are fairly quick to take our children to the back if they are being loud (The 7 and 5 year olds know to sit still, but its trickier to quiet the 2 and 1 year old). We often speak of our children’s’ “fan club”, the ones that stop by after Mass to say hello, see how big the kids are getting, and to always offer an encouraging word and praise the children for being so well behaved. But not everyone has this experience.
If you have young children, know that they are welcome at Mass. Know that it’s not easy to bring them, and you are doing an amazing job as a parent by attending Mass as a family.
If your children are grown, or perhaps you don’t have any, maybe you can offer an encouraging word to another family at Mass. Let them know they are doing a good job, and that it isn’t easy, and you are proud of them for attending Mass as a family.
As a Mothers Group Leader, I try to encourage my group to bring their children to Mass. Having that support system can help greatly. Knowing you aren’t alone in the struggle, and being reassured that what you are doing is good, is so very important.
Those children are the future of the Church, the future of our Catholic Faith, but they need to be welcomed at Mass during their present stage of life.
I invite you to pray for those all those Parishioners and Priests that need to work on being a little more welcoming, and should offer an encouraging word.
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