It’s Possible Pope Francis agrees: Children Don’t Belong in Cry Rooms, and Neither do You

[NOTE OF CLARIFICATION: While the Holy Father has expressed a fairly clear opinion regarding nursing in church, he has not opined (so far as I know) on the appropriate use of a cry room. He’s only stated that “the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise.”]

One of the most commented posts on this blog was from last September entitled, “Children don’t Belong in a Cry Room, and Neither do You,” in which I stated:

Children belong at Mass. Period. Efforts to remove children for “special liturgies,” “CCD”, “religious ed”, “nursery care” — or whatever else — is not in keeping with the traditions of the Church or its precepts. Loud children and their parents (whose sin is that they have dutifully brought their kids to Mass) should not be relegated to segregated, soundproofed rooms for the convenience and comfort of people who complain about the noise or distraction at the expense of the good of the whole community.

**********

Children have always been, and should always be present at liturgical celebrations. Their presence, especially in overwhelming numbers, is a sign of the great blessings showered by God upon His people. The most joy-filled, spiritually enriching celebrations of the Eucharist that you can find often involve the prominent presence and participation of young people and children. It does not matter if you attend the Mass in the Novus Ordo or the Extraordinary Form, when young people are present, Jesus is happy, because the growth and life of the Church is something that ensures a healthy, dynamic and living faith for future generations.

When our Holy Father told our young people at World Youth Day to go make some noise, he did not also say, “but only in the cry room.”

In response to one commenter who accused me of manipulation, deception and conflation of the topic, I wrote: “Ok, it’s a conflation. Let’s ask Pope Francis where babies belong.”

francisbaptNow we’re closer to knowing, because this past Sunday, in connection with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis repeated the tradition of baptizing babies in the Sistine Chapel. The Pope invited 32 babies to be baptized in one of the holiest places in all of Christendom, in the very room (frescoed by Renaissance master Michaelangelo) where the Pope himself was elected.

Did Pope Francis suggest that babies who were loud or disruptive should be removed to the Sistine Chapel Cry Room? [Hint: there isn’t one.]

No!

Instead, he invited mothers to nurse their babies. In the Sistine Chapel! The Pope told mothers to have “no qualms about breast-feeding them there.” (These words in quotes are not attributed to Pope Francis, but the writer of the linked article). In his 300-word homily, the Holy Father was quoted: “Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” he said. “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here…

According to the Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis, the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of infants who make noise. Of course, this should not be a surprise, in light of Our Lord’s own words, to “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them.” 

Case closed, says Quartermaster (and those who agree). Children don’t belong in Cry Rooms, and neither do you!

Pastors, in light of the Holy Father’s words, perhaps if you have a Cry Room but not an Adoration Chapel, you should make the change to something more… Catholic!

[RELATED FOLLOWUP POST: For Anyone who objects to Nursing Mothers in Church…]

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76 thoughts on “It’s Possible Pope Francis agrees: Children Don’t Belong in Cry Rooms, and Neither do You

  1. I rather hear childrens crying then hearing adults talking like if they are in a corner of the street. I wished that our pastor will do something to stop people from talking in the church.

  2. I always enjoy when someone voices an opinion about something and then says, “Case closed.” As if there can be no opposing viewpoint. In my mind, it always weakens their position.
    The Pope was not speaking Ex Cathedra, as if what he said is infallible! I personally think he is wrong. However, perhaps at a mass baptism where the involved parties are family and friends of infants being baptized; in this context the loud crying and breastfeeding could be excused.
    However, I truly cannot understand why an infant or child must breastfeed during a Sunday liturgy, given the availability of breast pumps, bottles and refrigeration n this modern age. And if it needs to be the breast, why a mother would not seek a place in the church of relative privacy and act with discretion, I’ll never know. It is not a matter of shame, it is a matter of modesty. Breastfeeding is an intimate moment, not one persons outside the family care to share with the mother and babe.

    • The “case closed” comment was tongue in cheek. Since you state the obvious in pointing out the Holy Father’s opinion is not infallible, I’ll state the obvious in response: you dissent from the opinion of Pope Francis.

      • This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will
        DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH
        I think sometimes people, including myself sometimes, forget when we comment on the Pope that we are speaking of the Vicar of Christ. Its too easy through the internet to comment without showing the rest of the world in what high esteem we should hold to the office of the Vicar. I think most here are good practicing Catholics. we just have to try to remember not to let satan divide the body of the Church which is Christ.

      • Usually a breastfeeding mother sleeps very little and is extremely tired. Producing milk is very energy consuming for the body.

        Breast pumps…..painful, takes time, who goes out to buy the bottles? with what $$$ , who cleans the bottles, who carries the bottles to church , who warms up the bottle in the church ? the mother can hardly stay awake or move her tired body…..looking for a place to hide the crying baby?

    • Amen, Bonnieoo. I wonder how the pope would feel if some Boob of a mother suddenly lifted up her shirt and ripped out of a panel of her bra to feed Junior, no blanket, etc. Because that’s how too often the retarded “earth mother” is feeding these days. Yes. “look at meeeeeeeeeeeeeee” Feed kid before you go in. Your baby won’t die. If you MUST sit in back with a cover up and do your thing there.

      • I’m not following how Anna’s comments manage to be sinful?
        I’ve known entirely too many mothers who’ll insist on doing precisely as they wish because “it’s natural” or “well, don’t look if you don’t want to see” or some equally contemptuous attitude.
        Women have done a great deal of damage to their own credibility by insisting that they may do as they wish and everyone else be damned if they don’t like it. Makes a meaningful dialogue..very difficult.

      • qmbarque on January 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm said:
        “Know what else makes meaningful dialogue difficult? Over-generalization.”

        I haven’t overgeneralized, qmbarque.

      • You mean, like this? https://www.facebook.com/nysbreastfeeding/posts/629722933719998

        This is what the Pope thinks of nursing in public: http://t.today.com/moms/what-would-baby-jesus-eat-pope-supports-breast-feeding-public-2D11765613

        ““There are so many children that cry because they are hungry,” the pope said in the Sunday interview. “At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it.”

        “I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry.”

        “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied.

        “Please give it something to eat!” I said.

        “She was shy and didn’t want to breast-feed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.””

      • Ah, yes, so now let’s please abuse the Pope’s comments.
        Our pope, in an interview, recalls an occasion when he encouraged a young mother to feed her child. Because of this, because we can’t stand to listen to common sense wisdom regarding modesty, we must even ignore the cultural differences between an image of the Madonna breastfeeding Christ in private and a common woman breastfeeding her child in public.
        We must do this because we must allow women to exercise their adamant contempt for any other person’s sensibilities.

        Before someone accuses me of over-generalizing again, I point out that I’ve been through entirely too many circumstances where the Church encouraged one MINOR change to some rule, so many of those who liked the idea–and many in the secular world as well–imposed a MAJOR change on everyone else because they insisted the Church had changed something. Any appeals to the contrary fell on deaf ears and were met with cold stares of contempt.

        ..And all this comes about in the course of insisting that a reasonably common practice like a “cry room” can’t possibly be allowed.

        If we’re wondering why there’s so much discord in the Church these days, we’ve found one cause: Too many insist on ripping a Pope’s suggestions out of context, using his ideas to bully others into submission.

      • Maybe if we just tried to stop suggesting that certain individuals don’t belong at Mass, using personal aggravation/distraction as a pretext….. If you’re gonna smell like sheep, it helps to be around a few of them.

      • From what I know, the kid can’t be fed before going in if the kid is not hungry……..or the people at home ( father, others children) take away from the mother the time to relax , so her body would produce milk again……

    • So the mother should be removed from the ceremony and denied the mass because her child happens to be hungry? That is exactly the exclusion that Pope Francis is trying to avoid. Feeding a child is a natural process–it is how the child thrives. As the mother of three, I used to do everything to make sure that my child was ready for mass, but sometimes children have their own schedules. There is nothing immodest about breast feeding. That is why God blessed women with breasts. Their purpose is to feed. The act of feeding a child is a miraculous beautiful one. If YOU choose to breasts and their puropose into something else and sexualize them, that is your problem. Catholic means open. We spend so much time pushing people out and then wonder why our numbers are dwindling? I was inspired by what the Pope had to say and I believe that he is the change that we need.

    • Well, women that “plop everything out” without covering themselves are indeed not modest (and disgusting),but I have no problem if they cover themselves with a baby blanket. That’s what I plan to do. The “cry room” at our parish is so much of a separate room that they have a TV/webcam in there so you can see the mass. When the baby starts screaming, then I walk in the hall on the side (you can see the altar from the window in the door).

      Oh, and, some FYI. When a baby is being breastfed, they are used to that feel. If you try to give them a bottle (even if it’s with the mother’s milk) they won’t want it.

    • How about this: Our Blessed Lord’s Words Are Infallible when he says “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them.”
      Ha! Case Closed!

    • Your opinion of breastfeeding in public as something intrinsically immodest is really sad.

      Happily, our Holy Father is not weirded out by babies filling their innocent tummies.

    • Are you actually implying that women should not do as God designed them to do naturally? In God’s own house? Shame on YOU for your offensive comments, and NOT on the feeding mothers.

      • I don’t see that women commonly breastfeed in public, but I have seen women breastfeeding at Mass with their breast almost totally exposed and I believe that is immodest.

  3. Breastfeeding is not an intimate moment. Pushing, breast pumps and bottles serves to discourage breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a natural, God given means providing perfect nutrition to your baby. I nurse all my babies (7th on the way) on demand. If I sought out a place of relative privacy every time the baby wanted to suckle, I would spend the first 2 years in a back bedroom. Practicing modesty means that your are not dressing or acting in a way that invites or encourages sexual attention. Does having a little skin of your breast possibly showing while a baby is suckling really tantalize? Does the action even invite attention? And to answer the question as to why a mother can’t just pump or use a bottle. Because for some women if you use bottles then your fertility returns. Furthermore, not every woman can pump a lot of milk. I don’t know why in this modern age we are not yet comfortable with breastfeeding since it really is the way mothers are designed to feed their babies. In fact, with all the medical research that clearly demonstrates the health benefits for mom and baby, I don’t know why we don’t constantly encourage and support breastfeeding. Yes, the pope did not speak “ex cathedra.” He just injected a little common sense into his homily- If your baby is hungry, feed your baby. Don’t have our precious, vulnerable little child be uncomfortable during this time because you have decided to use your breasts for what God created them for. Not dogma, just common sense.

    • Most of the women that I have ever seen breastfeeding seemed quite capable of covering up both the breast and the child, even while feeding. I’m hard pressed to explain why that’s a bad thing. I don’t mind your feeding your infant in Mass, just be bothered to keep your privates–including your breasts–private. I have no need to see them.

      • I agree – I think women who sit there with their breasts exposed are inconsiderate of others. I don’t want to look at a woman’s breasts at all, thank you. I don’t come to Mass for that. I wouldn’t expect to see that in a cafe either.

    • Yes… showing skin of the breast while breastfeeding does indeed attract the eyes. My mother breastfeed of us (six in all) and she was modest and used a baby blanket in public and church. That’s the way I’m going to do it. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it should be exposed.

  4. I have been at Mass when parents would allow their child or children to cry, fuss, fight through the entire Mass. No regard for others around them who might want to hear the Homily. I personally think crying rooms are the answer for parents who want to take small children to Mass. We all love little children but it can be very distracting for the priest and congregation when
    you have an unruly child disrupting the entire Mass. As for breast feeding in church ——-feed the baby before Mass. I have breast fed two children and never found it necessary to breast feed in church. Let’s take into consideration everyone’s comfort.

    • I agree entirely. And I don’t see how Pope Francis’ actions on the cited occasions must lead to the conclusion that every parish should immediately close its crying room. In the first case, the Pope told a mother to feed her crying baby — an action which would usually tend to QUIET the child (if hunger was actually the problem). Why would he suggest this if he thought the child’s continued crying was beautiful and appropriate in that context? In the second case, a Baptism, obviously the infants HAD to be present to receive the sacrament. Sleeping or waking, silent or screaming, they had to be there, right then. That’s very different from the situation at a Mass, where the point is to participate, for one short hour, in the liturgy — both the teachings we hear and the Holy Sacrifice we witness — so that we can grow in the love of Christ in the way that only the Mass provides.

  5. Parents should know how to keep their children quiet for one hour (ever heard of a pacifier?) Women and their low cut shirts and short skirts in the congregation and up on the altar also need to show respect for whose Holy place it is. And no, I’m sorry, keep your breasts inside your shirts. No one wants to see you naked in church. And parents who think everyone in church came to focus on their children instead of hearing the Gospel, please think again. Thank you.

    • Grow up Sandra. Those who complain about children crying probably haven’t had children of their own. If they are a married couple who are able to have children, they might ask themselves why not. Contraception and abortion were still forbidden last time I checked. If they are otherwise unable to deal with the noise, I can only put it down to immaturity and selfishness. Once they mature a little more, have more life experience, grow in the virtues, are able to offer inconveniences for sins and sinners, they will find peace in the midst of the noise God created to come out of a child’s mouth.

      • Paul, It is insulting to suggest that those who complain about children crying haven’t had children of their own. The topic is about Mass, the Eucharist;, providing and participating in an environment of prayer. All of us are God’s children.. not just the little ones. While it’s important to recognize the child’s physical needs (of immediate hunger and fulfillment) it’s important to recognize that the rest of us are there for spiritual sustenance. Since we are all God’s children, let us observe each other’s needs and share and care for each other as Christ would want us to. One “side” is not more important than the other. A caring mother and child will want to accommodate other parishioner needs. A caring (older) parishioner will understand the exceptions that need to be made for a Mother and Child. One “side” is not more important or better than another. Let us be Christians.

  6. What does Canon law say about bringing children to the Mass? Canon law says that it is perfectly acceptable for Catholic parents to leave the children at home until they reach the “age of reason,” which is 7 years old. I think what the author is doing in this piece is using a particular subjective opinion expressed by the Holy Father (which is in line with the author’s own thinking) in order to justify a kind of sophomoric one-upmanship, or trying to claim moral superiority in an honest disagreement which persists between fair-minded Catholics on either side with but over which no Catholic is necessarily obliged to agree. But in light of Canon law it is perfectly reasonable and indeed perfectly licit for other Catholics to hold the opposing viewpoint, whether that’s for or against crying rooms.

    I resent this post because I support crying rooms for entirely different reasons than the author of this post alleges. I’m not some old codger who hates the sound of children. I’m the 26 year old uncle of three very loud and very rambunctious little nieces and nephews. It’s how they play. They don’t know what an indoor voice is. So be it. Quite honestly, I was probably the same way when I was their age. And since I care about these kids I’ve actually grown quite fond of their racket. Indeed, I’ll be sad the day I realize they’re grown up and I won’t hear it anymore.

    But that being said, the Mass is a solemn occasion and the commemoration of Christ’s Passion and death. Very bittersweet things indeed, and I’d like to be free to contemplate all of that and to take it all in. I am an adult living since my childhood with a severe case of non-hyperactive attention deficit disorder and it’s extremely difficult for me to concentrate on the Eucharist as it is, without 3 or 5 year olds running up and down the pews, tossing missalets, toys, or Cheerios. If an adult committed behavior during the Mass which even approached the level of disruption which I’ve described, it would be a mortal sin. I mention this because the Church asserts very strongly that the Mass is a time in which distraction should be minimized or even completely eliminated to the extent that it is possible to do so.

    I think the author has forgotten that in many Parishes, that is how lax modern parenting has become. Crying rooms have evolved only because parents refuse to be firm with their children. So if you want your child to run wild, take the child to the crying room. So, needless to say, I lose a lot from the Mass when parents don’t have the courtesy to control their children. The fault never rests with the children. Children are completely innocent. But the blame rests with the parents of wild children. I am a doting uncle and I have nothing at all against children and I resent the insinuation of such by this author.

    I have no problem at all with young children or babies in the Mass, and like the author I think it’s a good to inculcate as young as possible. However, I don’t see the Christian charity in letting your kids run wild to the detriment of others present. Pope Francis wasn’t saying that anything goes. If the children brought noisemakers with them to Mass, it would be perfectly reasonable for the parents to be encouraged to excuse their children.

    • Indeed, Pope Francis didn’t say “anything goes”; what he said was that the presence of small children, and the {natural} noise they make, are beautiful things of inestimable value. He compared their beauty to that of the Sistine Choir.

      Sometimes we all struggle to focus at Mass. But when the distractions are people, it’s not very nice to wish them away.

      • Sorry to disagree with you, but Francis is giving the impression in many things that anything goes except for what he approves or disapproves.

        I think crying rooms are not a bad idea.
        Some children crying too much and it is difficult to concentrate or hear the homily when this is going on.

      • When the distraction is a noisy child who doesn’t let up it is more than Normal to at least wish him or her into the crying room.

    • I’m the 27 year old father of a very rambunctious son who makes plenty of noise at home while playing. We take him (and our six month old daughter) to Mass and he is perfectly quiet, remaining in the pew and never raising his voice above a whisper. He is also not allowed to bring toys or books into Mass (our rules).
      You’ve hit the nail on the head: it’s a lack of discipline by the parents that is to blame for kids making a huge racket in church. Perhaps our PPs need to spend more time preaching about the importance of parents disciplining their kids, instead of attempting to direct parents into the crying room as soon as they show up with a baby in their arms.

  7. All right, qmbarque, I will be quite blunt:
    Your original posting provided pretty much zero competent evidence for why a “cry room” should be verboten; Pope Francis’ effort to praise having little children who make a “joyful noise” merely demonstrates why I dislike his “shoot-from-the-hip” mentality.

    You argue that worshippers in the catacombs didn’t have separate rooms for children and the Sistine Chapel doesn’t either. I counter that many worshippers in the catacombs may well have either refrained from bringing very young children with them precisely because of the risk OR may have been rather ungentle in quieting them when needed. Then too, if you attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form anyplace, you’ll have a tough time hearing or seeing much of anything unless you’re within the first several rows. ..And let’s admit it, most worshippers probably didn’t comprehend enough Latin to make sense of the celebrant’s prayers anyway. Thus, worshippers at Mass in 1645 who didn’t sit near the front would not be able to see or hear much of relevance regardless, so a screaming kid wouldn’t have bothered them much; “active participation” as a concern aided by Vatican II didn’t even begin to be a concern until someone gave the celebrant a mic.

    Let’s remember too that most cry rooms are not physically cut off from the congregation in the manner you imply. Most will be separated by glass, but still have a reasonable view of the altar area; most priests are mic’d these days, so that feed can be given through a speaker in the room. Saying that these are “cut off”..simply doesn’t reflect reality very well.

    I also take issue with the suggestion that we should embrace a howling kid in the sanctuary. I hate to guess how many times I’ve been in the choir loft, but been stuck trying to hear the priest’s sermon whilst a howling three-year-old almost straight underneath me made hearing anything else virtually impossible.
    ..And if you have four kids yourself, you should be well aware that a parent who’s dealing with the howling kid..won’t be focused on the Mass at all, thus rendering the participation factor rather null.

    I would very much appreciate if Pope Francis would bother to acknowledge the reasons for why most rules of decorum or practice exist. Telling us time and again that this practice or that rule doesn’t matter..doesn’t leave me inclined to give him much creedence.

    • John, does the fact that he is the duly elected Vicar of Christ, chosen by the Holy Spirit, and ordained the successor of Peter “give him much credence”?
      The foregoing debate aside, what I am getting tired of hearing is the complaining and criticizing of Pope Francis on the part of so many Catholics, as though the head of the Church ought to be taking their preferences into account before he has the audacity to speak.
      Like it or not, Pope Francis is a put-your-money-where-your-mouth is moment for many Catholics. Either the Holy Spirit chose him as Pope, or he didn’t. If the Holy Spirit chose him, then you and I and all Catholics are called to get in line and follow our leader, even if that means leaving our comfort zone, because the Holy Spirit didn’t choose this man, at this time, for this sacred office, by throwing a dart at a list of the cardinal’s names and then groaning at the result. If the Holy Spirit didn’t choose him, then the Church is exactly what our detractors say we are, a manmade institution putting on a clever show to coerce obedience and financial contributions. In that case, its time to throw the whole 2,000 year project overboard and despair of truth and salvation.
      What we know is that Francis is our Pope. What we don’t know is whether you are willing to submit in obedience and follow. But just remember, if you choose to continue carping and criticizing the Holy Father, it isn’t Francis, or even the cardinal-electors you are railing against, its the Holy Spirit.
      Me, I’m going to shut my mouth, get in line and follow in faith, even though his style often lies well outside the comfort zone of this JPII/Benedict XVI devotee, as well. I believe 100% that twenty years from now I will look back on the Francis pontificate and say, “Yup. I get it. Well done, Holy Spirit, and thank you. And Pope Francis, pray for me to keep the faith and keep following Christ.”

  8. I was one of the mother’s who took advantange of the cry rooms in the churches I attended over the years with both my children. I never felt seperated or removed from mass because I used those areas – if anything, I felt more relaxed knowing I wouldn’t have to stress about keeping my son quiet and in the pew during mass. After all, it isn’t forever – just long enough to get past the “oh look, Mom – I have legs and lungs – catch and shush me if you can” years! I hoped that my kids wouldn’t view mass time as “Mom is stressed” time. When my children got older, and found it harder to understand the readings, I began teaching Sunday School lessons (small town, small church, perfect for a beginner like me). Being able to introduce your faith in ways that children can grasp and understand made us all eager for each Sunday. Untimately, the choice is for each parent or family to make, irregardless of how everyone else may decide for you 🙂

  9. With all due respect, and I am not saying anything for or against cry rooms, I think you are putting words in the Pope’s mouth.

    The Holy Father said nothing about cry rooms in the Sistine Chapel because there ARE none–a fact you readily admit.

    It appears to me that you are simply trying to jump on whatever came out of the Holy Father’s mouth in order to justify your opinion of cry rooms.

  10. Our culture is distancing children just as it distances the old. This leads to an ” its all about me and my experience’ attitude on the part of the adult/ able bodied. God is being worshiped and the sacrifice continues even if YOU can’t hear it for a few minutes!!! In the absence of a built-in grandparent at home a very young infant should absolutely be taken to mass. The earlier children come, the sooner they adapt their behavior. You may have to take them out a couple times when things get extreme, but those times will be fewer the more they go. They must be taught to be still and be quiet. This will NOT happen in a cry room. Our son’s were at mass from their first month. At 7, my oldest read the OT reading at his grandmother’s funeral and at 8 he was serving. My children are special to me but by no means exceptional. Experience is the best teacher and that truth also applies to adults when learning patience around natural child behavior. Besides – in parish culture there will generally be certain masses that fewer children attend. As for breast feeding – big deal. Get over it.

    • I entirely agree with this… I grew up with parents who ran us outside at the least peep we made and so we learned early on to be quiet and respectful during the Mass. I did the same with my first two, whom everyone remarked on because they were the only children not being sent out to the “children’s leRning time”. I believe they need to see me praying during mass to be able to learn to do it. However, my third child has a very different temperament and seems to need to make a noise or just move around. My husband works every other weekend, so I am on my own with the three of them.
      The issue comes in the parish itself. No one has spoken to meor introduced themselves in the many years I have been there. How do I run the noisy child out and leave the other two unattended with people I do not know? How can I sit and allow for noise when I have older members of the congregation swearing under their breath when they hear any noise from children around them?
      Since then, I have been taking them to other denomination churches in the area due to not having a car or other means to get to the next Catholic parish. And I see so much more community everywhere else – no matter how often people see us, they are friendly and welcoming and pleased to see children being encouraged in faith.
      Any suggestions on dealing with this would be welcome… At a bit of loss for how to continue…
      Thanks!
      Andrea Cross

      • You have my empathy. I remember well those days. In fact, one of our ushers is always telling visitors and new parishioners how the lovely young lady helping with bulletins used to lay in the middle of the aisle during the procession screaming her head off. It was horrible. It was embarrassing. It was “I wish I could crawl into a hole and die”…and it was every week.(She was the middle of 3, and at the time, the baby was to small to be put down, and I didn’t have a car seat I could take in and out of the car, and DH was not going to go to a Catholic Mass) But, I stuck it out. It actually turned into a great ice breaker. One of the older ladies started asking to hold the baby, saying she was suffering from “frustrated grandma syndrome”. Now, I really hope and pray none of your children do THAT….but, stick it out. You can’t get the Eucharist in the denominations. And when your kids are older, they’ll realize how important it is to you (at least, until they are teenagers and know everything), so it must be important. Also, I came across a great “discipline” tactic when my older kids were little. Instead of counting to 3, I count to 4. When they were too little for Confession, they got a real punishment to fit the offense (time out, extra chores), and a talk about the 4th commandment. As they got older, I quit punishing them at all, just reminded them they needed to get to Confession before Mass. Even the oldest, at 17 (and a 1/2, he reminds me) usually gets himself together before we count to 2. You have my prayers and long distance hug…it will get better!!

  11. Years ago the cry room was not a play room. They were used to teach the children how to act in Mass. There were speakers so the parent and children could hear the Mass.
    Do you think the older children are affected by a screaming baby? Teenagers should have a quiet, peaceful Mass. There is so much noise and chaos in the world the Mass is the one place they can have peace. How can a teenager listen to God with a lot of distraction from crying babies? Yes, babies have a right to be at Mass, but in a cry room learning how to act at Mass. They still receive the graces even in a cry room. Please understand that older children need the quiet, prayerful Mass, so they can listen to God.
    The answer it seems, is to not use cry rooms as play rooms and have speakers in the room, so the parents can hear Mass.

  12. The sounds children make are music to His ears and I have no problem with a baby babbling or laughing or other sounds they make during Mass. It’s the full on tantrums that some of them have that I think should be removed from the room. We had one at Mass this past Sunday, which fortunately was in the cry room, but this one was pounding the walls, the booms nearly drowning out the priest’s prayers. I know if that had been me, my mother would have blistered my behind and I don’t think she would have waited till we got home.

    I agree with another commenter when they said that the Pope was not speaking ex cathedra when he made those statements. I know where he’s coming from and I can’t entirely disagree. If anything his comments are food for thought, but until he DOES speak definitively about it, the dioceses and parishes should be free to have a cry room if a child threatens to become too disruptive, even as a temporary measure, and they can rejoin the rest of the congregation as soon as things settle down.

    • “The sounds children make are music to His ears”
      I have never heard the Church offer any sort of definitive teaching on this. Rather, this seems more an excuse to bully people into tolerating behavior that shouldn’t be imposed on people.

      • I think it would be an idea to give Pope Francis a burst of the full on antics that I hear at Mass most days and on Sunday where as soon as they enter the church many children play up – as soon as Mass ends they’re quiet. Why? Because they’ve got used to their parents letting them run around and do as they like in church and it’s like a playground to them. If Pope Francis experienced a dose of that I am sure he would be the first to complain, as he complains about everyone and everything else..

  13. I was the oldest of five, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. There was a 17 year distance between me and my youngest sister. Our family never went to Sunday Mass together. My mom would go to the 8:00am Mass and my dad to the 10:00 service. There were always young ones in the family so one parent stayed with the little ones so the other could attend Mass without distractions. When one of us reached the first grade, were allowed to go with one of our parents. It was a “big deal” for the sibs because they graduated to be part of the adult world and behaved accordingly.

    The basics of our faith were reinforced at home while we were small. Mass was something special and we treated the experience as such.

    It seems now that some parents go for the economy of “two fers” to save time rather than individually focus on the mystery of what happening in the sacrifice on the altar. Just an observation…..

  14. Satan loves it when Catholics fight each other! Probably spits his foul, bloody saliva everywhere as he laughs. Just a thought.

    Perhaps a happy medium makes the most sense? Perhaps we strike a balance? When I was single and a baby disturbed me (very easily disturbed, I am) I would simply pray for that baby or child to be quiet. Try it. If you are holy enough, have faith and are sincere God may just grant it, if it is His will. Smile at the parent who is struggling. When the child becomes utterly unruly, parents: take them out for the consideration of others. When they are calm, come on back in. Step over me if you need to! Let the little children come to me! What if I miss a moment of my prayer? For the love of another? How do you think Jesus views that?

    Go ahead and breast feed in church! HOWEVER, do NOT expose yourself in doing so. It simply is not necessary. (OK maybe for a second until latched on.) My wife uses a simple, beautiful light covering. Men, if it bothers you, look away. Be thoughtful and respectful of what she needs to do. Women, yes, be aware that it does trigger a NORMAL response in men. Have compassion for men who wish to be pure! If you cannot believe how the typical man works, just image every man (who isn’t your husband) is a terrible sinner, prone to instant lust after seeing a womanly figure for a tenth of one second, then have mercy on them all. Do your best to be thoughtful is all.

    Why is this hard? It’s hard because we wish to impose our will on others. We want them to do as we wish. Isn’t that what Christ taught? Have no patience for the sins (or even the non-sins) of others?

    If we all were more patient and kind, if, when disturbed, we were SLOW to anger, then what? Is that so bad?

    • I agree, JB. There are certainly infinitely more important issues that should unite us as Catholics, and many more important issues that should be the channel for the outpouring of our emotional and spiritual energy. Our love for one another, especially in disagreement, is what Christ told us must set us apart as His followers.

  15. At one holiday Mass, I was once surrounded by a large number of little children playing and it was very distracting. I felt like I was in pre-school.

    At a church in this area, the children leave at the beginning of Mass to have lessons and then return at communion time. I cannot believe this to be good, either for the children or for the instructors who miss so much of the Mass.

    .

  16. I agree with Devan. Well put and reasonable. St. Robert Bellarmine’s mother would take him as a baby with her to church to do the Stations. She would make him sit quiet or accompany her in the devotion. She had the luxury, however, of living near a church and she could discipline her children outside of Mass so that they would behave rightly in church at all times. Few mothers can do this, I know. But perhaps after Sunday Mass, they could use the time (15 minutes) to discipline the child to be still when no one is there.

  17. Pingback: For Anyone who objects to Nursing Mothers in Church… | Quartermaster of the Barque

  18. This is just silly. Try sitting through Mass with a two-year old boy who has lots of energy. Don’t blame active children on a lack of discipline, either. As a parent, I end up feeling very self-conscious, walking out to the narthex and spending the rest of the hour there. What’s wrong with a nursery to keep the little ones busy while the parents actually get a chance to pray without worrying about offending everyone around them who’s glaring / looking / even smiling? As a Catholic convert, I think the Church needs to put into practice some measures to help parents of lots of young children rather than touting grandiose theology that doesn’t work. So, children’s liturgy, cry rooms, nurseries…..bring them on!!

    • Ann Marie: I sit through EVERY mass with a 10-year-old, 7-year-old, 3-year-old, and an infant. They are ALL “spirited”, and the fact is that they actually behave, almost ALL of the time, because they actually ATTEND Mass. It works.

      • the web page Holy Heroes has information for kids about the upcoming Mass. They have a video showing the upcoming Sunday Mass readings with kids sometimes putting on a skit about the reading. They have a coloring page that my kids do the day before Mass that pertains to the readings. they have a question and answer page that my kids, 8 and 10 take to Mass. It asks what color are the priests vestments or “in the reading today what did Jesus say when he cured the blind man?” It helps them to focus on what is being said. then they are rewarded after Mass for a completed worksheet. all of this is free to download.

  19. I nurse at Mass because I feel that attending to my child’s needs (and hunger is a definite need in babies, whose blood sugar can drop very quickly) is a key part of my vocation.

    My baby has never been able to tolerate a nursing cover, but I don’t think they are any more discreet than good nursing clothes (a number of companies make shirts and dresses specifically for nursing without any exposure). None of my nursing tops show any skin at all, whether or not I am nursing.

    There are options besides 1) hiding in a cry room under a cover or baby blanket and 2) pulling down your top to expose most of the breast.

    I think many contemporary reactions to breastfeeding demonstrate just how far our culture has descended into unchastity. There is nothing less sexual or immodest than a baby eating in the way God has designed. Only our oversexualized culture has taught us otherwise.

  20. I just visited The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine Florida. What a beautiful Chapel! It is a Shrine of devotion to Mary as a nursing mother with a statue of her doing just that, the statue of Our Lady of La Leche. Quote: Thousands of visitors and pilgrims make their way to the Shrine every year. Many ask for the blessings of motherhood, beseeching the intercession of Our Lady of La Leche that God will grant them a safe and happy delivery, and healthy children.

    Mark 10:13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

  21. I’m a father of 6 (well, actually 12, but only six are living). here’s the deal – Mass is not some kind of private devotion when I go to be absorbed in meditation. It is a public act or worship were were are suppost to be laying down our lives in as an offering on the altar. This is the work of the liturgy. In this light, children who prevent others from performing this public act of worship should be taken out. Ordinary children who have a lot of energy, and – God forbid – make some noise during Mass should be encouraged to participate as best they are able. Excuse me if my children interupt your precious ambience, but maybe you should be focused on offering your life with the sacrifice of Christ Jesus insteed of how much children annoy you. Maybe what is missing is the half hour to an hour of mental prayer each day to prepare you for the Mass. Maybe you should fullfill your duty through marriage to populate the world. Then you would not have so much time to be annoyed by others.

    • Yes! This! Mass isn’t about us and what we get out of it. Sure, take the truly unruly kids out–outside. We do it with out 3 year old when we have to. But Mass isn’t our time to indulge in quiet meditation. Mass isn’t Adoration; it’s Mass. Adoration is Adoration. And for the record, children should also be brought to Adoration when possible and taught how to behave, even just for a few minutes.

      • I’m starting to see a pattern in these comments. Those who are not in favor of crying rooms are suggesting that Mass is not a time of reflection (which is absolutely absurd), in order to (it seems to me) justify a child’s bad behavior and a parent’s refusal to marshal that child’s bad behavior sufficiently. I think it’s rather presumptious that parents such as yourself have the gall to tell me what kind of spiritual nourishment I’M supposed to be getting out of the Mass. Christ said “you must become like little children.” Imagine how a child behaves in front of the person he/she looks up to. I’m an an uncle to many little children so I see this a lot. Children are enthralled, meek and adoring in the presence of their heroes. Indeed they hang on every word and deed that person says and does, and that’s a virtuous behavior which adults should emulate.

        I’d invite anyone who believes the Mass is little more than a gathering of the townspeople to read what popes have said about the Mass. For one, Benedict XVI taught that the Mass is a sacred occasion, because it is a supernatural event, where man comes into an intimate encounter with his creator and his deliverer.

        I think the sense of childlike wonderment in the divine encounter between man and God which is the Mass, has been lost on any of these parents who say, in more artful words, “shut up and put up with my kid or God doesn’t like you,” and I think that’s precisely the antithesis of the childlike attitude Christ was getting at. Some parents are blasé about the Mass because I think for some of them at least it is something they take for granted. Secondly, the Mass is an occasion to recall that by His wounds we are healed,” and that none of our good works are sufficient to merit eternal life and that should move us to humility.

        I recognize that the Mass is no time to rebuke or reform the behavior of other parishioners so I’ve kept my observations to myself and have always held my tongue. But once in awhile I would like courtesy and compassion for others at the Mass to enter the hearts of parents dealing with an unruly child, and with feelings of love (not embarrassment) for the others around them, move a parent to spare other parishioners the distraction posed by such a spectacle.

  22. Various considerations are in order here. First, kids do belong at mass. They are the future of the church. Second, each family has their own way of parenting and that needs to be respected. Some parents and kids can pray the mass better from a cry room while others claim their kids do better in the front bench. This is a parental decision only. Third, the ability of others to pray the mass must be taken into consideration. A giggle, a squawk, etc. are not a big deal. But constant, loud disturbance by an energetic and vocal child is another matter. This is not always a matter of “discipline” but simply being cognizant of age appropriate and possible behavior in light of various temperaments. Parents need to employ common sense and politeness in this regard. Fourth, children’s liturgies can have the same place as a cry room in the sense that the parents will know how they want to parent and what is best for the edification of their children in the faith. In our area, we have lost many young Catholic families to evangelical churches because these churches have nurseries and Sunday school options that the kids like, get a lot out of, and which free the parents to really “get something out of” the service. Many young families simply give up because it is too hard to weather the infant/toddler age when they “feel” like they didn’t get anything out of mass, much less even hear 3 words of the homily, because they spend the whole hour wrestling with their kids. Considering Pope Francis’ call to really rethink evangelization, there is definite need to continue with an option of a children’s liturgy although more traditional and solid families may choose not to send their kids. As mom of 3 boys and 1 girl, I support a prudential judgement by each family regarding the use of a cry room and the children’s liturgy.

  23. We have both a cry room and an Adoration chapel. I’m not sure what one has to do with another unless you feel it is ok to also have screaming kids in the Adoration chapel also. If you don’t feel that is proper than whey would you think it proper to allow kids to act up during Mass and not take them to the cry room?

  24. Maybe it is the parents’ problem walking about with a toddler who is being quiet and comes between the communion rails and the pews section which is just as disruption, if not more, than a crying baby.

  25. Seems like a good way to drive more single catholic men away from mass. Which would be great because we know there are way too many of them going to church as it is.

  26. I am a mother of six children. children need to be settled down. The pope says “feed the babies”. While eating they are quiet. My children know the reverence due to God in the Eucharist. While I believe children belong in mass I don’t believe they have a right to hold the church hostage. I work very hard to get to mass. I work very hard to settle the children down. I bring the small ones to mass hungry. I feed them either by breast or a bottle of warm milk which will put them to sleep, if I have woken them early and decided that I should hear their fussing at home instead of the people at mass. Little children as well can snack on cherrios. Given one at a time. Just as Jesus food to us so too can a bread be fed to a fussy child. (clean your mess when mass is over). Fathers lack in their roles at mass. Daddy’s”Get Up” and take the young one out for discipline. This is how life is done. God is calling you here to see that here at the mass you can rear the child in his life. You have but 5 short years to prepare baby for the world. Mass is one of the best places to begin. Mass is not Chuckie Cheese( restaurant for children). I come to Commune with my LOVER, Jesus. When I commune with my husband at home I do a series of things to make sure the children are settled down and quiet. My husband deserving of an attentive wife. I show no less devotion to My Love Jesus. Much of the discussion does not deferrentiate between newborns, infants, toddlers and young children. Anyone who has more than one child will tell you that baby #2 learns how to be at mass from baby#1 so on and so on. The lack of grandparents teaching their children how to raise children is what is the problem. Older Mothers have a lot to teach younger mothers. Everyone has so much to say about the children, what about those elderly people who have raised their children and now come to mass and have nerves that are frayed from raising many children over their lifetime. Having many children a few very late in my biological years I can attest to both. There is nothing more beautiful than a large catholic family filing into mass. Why can some families settle their babies and a few others cannot. Sometimes it may be that the one responsible for getting the child to settle down doesn’t want to bet here themselves. In many protestant gatherings their worship is very loud. There needs to be some sort of order for Jesus is a God of Order not Chaos. having children does’t give you license to disrupt the HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS. MEG

  27. Pingback: More Fodder for the Cry Room Debate | Quartermaster of the Barque

  28. Pingback: Verdict: The Quartermaster is Right about Cry Rooms | Quartermaster of the Barque

  29. I’m bothered by the parents who arrive for Mass and immediately make a sharp right turn just inside the outer doors and head into the cry room with loads of toys, coloring books,food and grade-schoolers – kids who are plenty old enough to show an hour’s worth of attentiveness. After all, they do so in school, don’t they? Those of us standing in the vestibule for Mass can often hear the bumping, thumping wilderness within throughout the Service.

    I suppose one problem is the unfortunate pews in our church. We have the entirely too common ridiculous curved fan-shaped congregation arrangement, with an entirely too stagelike altar in the middle. The long curved pews leave too many people reluctant to give up the prized real estate on the ends and slide over. Parents don’t want to sit in the middle with kids. Old timers who may have to go out to the restroom during Mass don’t want the middle, either. Everyone knows the embarrassment of having to bump your rear in the faces of half a row of fellow parishioners to leave (or should you turn around and put your crotch in their noses?) with a child, and having experienced that, you won’t want to return to your seat.

    We’ve bribed 4 year olds with donuts after Mass, or when candles were still a dime or quarter, those were the most successful bribe to a 5 or 6 year old. You only had to say ‘No candles’, or ‘No donuts this week’ once or twice to get the point across. Now that the parish has jacked candles up to two and five dollars, that bribe’s out of a lot of parents ranges, not to mention that the tall candles aren’t manageable to kids.

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