Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hearts Can Change

I posted on Friday about how I was given a note telling me to take Anthony to the crying room by someone who was obviously annoyed by him.  The note had me very upset.  So upset that I felt the need to write a letter to our pastor about it and at the urging of Bryan, also to share a picture of the note I received to our parish Facebook page.

On Facebook plenty of people responded in a short amount of time.  Those who knew me were outraged, and several other's were also upset that someone would feel the need to leave such a note rather than just approach me face to face to discuss what she felt was a problem.  There were some good discussions coming out of that post, but ultimately, our pastor asked that it be removed.   By that point my letter to him had already been delivered outlining the issue and asking what he felt the best way to handle the situation would be.

This morning at daily Mass we all got to hear his response to my letter.  He made it abundantly clear that none of us should have a problem with the sounds of children in the church.  He also talked about how leaving notes like the one I received on Friday was not a Christian response.  Posting about the incident on social media was also addressed, since he felt it had the ability to fan the flames of an issue that can cause division.  So clearly the logic behind the post and it's subsequent conversation was revealed.

In all, Father's homily was top notch.  He explained to those present why some parents choose to avoid the crying room, citing that it is a circus room and not a place where parents can teach their child how to behave at Mass.  He addressed that it's not a problem to have a child making sounds during Mass, but how in cases where the child is wailing and unable to be quieted, how it would be prudent to remove the child for a time.  That we have done, and most people we have seen with little ones have done that as well.

I felt one of his best points related to the dropping fertility rate and how as people have chosen to have fewer children, we have created a society that is less accepting of the sounds of children.  He pointed out that these little ones have something to teach us and should not be excluded.  Because our society has become less child friendly, it has essentially gotten many of us to a point where we expect not to be bothered by them or their sounds when out in public.  He made it a point to state that when you attend a public event, such as a Mass, you cannot expect or anticipate that there will not be children or other distractions around you.  He let people know that that quiet some of them expect at Mass can be found in our adoration chapel.  I know that's one place I don't take my little ones unless it's empty, and if other people show up while we are there I always leave so we don't disturb them.

After Mass there was a lot of talk about the homily.   Many of the people there that know me were aware of what happened on Friday so they felt as I did that the homily was very well done.  I do wish the woman who wrote the note had been there this morning, but she wasn't. (I do think she sat in front of us at Sunday Mass.)  Grumpy Cat Lady, however, was there.  Over the past six or seven weeks I've been making it a point to say hello to her, hold doors for her and ask her how she is doing when I see her.  Today as I was walking out of the church with Anthony she came up to us with a big smile on her face to tell me how well behaved she thought he was today.  She even told Anthony he was really good.  So hearts can change.  It was such a welcome exchange and gives me hope that we will win her over in time.  Bryan thinks the homily might have played a big part in her change of tone, and he might be right.

So if you're the mom of the noisy baby at church and someone says something unkind or leaves you a note telling you where you should take that baby, take a deep breath before you respond.  If they don't run off as soon as saying something, tell them why you're not going to be pushed into a crying room or why you'll continue coming to the church.  Maybe you're like me and you have more than one little one.  On days when it's just me, Anthony and Katie, I know if I get up to take Anthony out of the church the noise level will escalate to fever pitch because Katie will then have a total freak out.  So sometimes what looks like the logical choice to an outsider is the lesser of two evils.  If, as in my situation, the person does an attack and run approach, write a letter to your pastor or approach him about it and let him know what happened and how you feel such a message can become a problem not just for you, but for other families as well.  If you have priests who are not shy about welcoming children at Mass they may just be your biggest ally in getting the rest of the parish community to accept the little ones.

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