And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16)
My dear friends,
There’s something that’s been weighing on my heart since late June that I’ve been wanting to share with you. During the last Sunday of June, I had two families come up to me with a concern that quite frankly was heartbreaking and did not reflect well on our parish. One of these families approached me after the 9:00 a.m. Mass and the other family approached me after the 5:30 p.m. Mass on precisely the same day. These families had an infant or toddler along with other children that they lovingly brought to Mass, and they both approached me with great sadness. I could tell they were downcast as they approached me, and I asked what was the matter. In both instances, they told me that during Mass a parishioner had rebuked them because their child was too loud or was crying and had told them, and not in a charitable way, to go the vestibule or outside.
I have to be honest with you, my dear parishioners, while I was sad that they had to experience this lack of charity and hospitality, I was also furious especially when I heard that it had happened twice in one day. This conduct is unbecoming of a parishioner of the Church of the Little Flower. It is unbecoming of any Christian! We should rejoice that we have children around us at Mass and that their parents are making a supreme effort to bring the entire family to Mass. It is not easy. Read the gospel passage above: Jesus became indignant with the disciples when they prevented the children from approaching Him. The children of the parents who sit around you are your children too. They are vital members of this parish. I read a great line recently that said: “I prefer a church full of screaming children than a church full of dead pews.”
The noise children make delights the Lord, and yes, it also delights your pastor and his brother priests. Case in point: two weeks ago during the 10:30 a.m. Mass, we were celebrating the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Virgin Mary. I was in the middle of the prayers of consecration and focused solely on this solemn act with the Sacred Host in my unworthy hands. All of the sudden as I raised the Host and as the bells rang, a child from the back starting singing “Alleluia.” As I placed the Host on the paten, I genuflected, smiled, and looked up at the people who were also delighted in this little girl’s song of adoration. Before I continued, I simply said to the people: “Well, she’s not far off. She knows the Lord is here.” This child’s Eucharistic witness was more powerful than any of the homilies that my brother priests and I have been giving on the Eucharist the last six weeks.
So, I ask you and implore you: please be patient and kind and more importantly hospitable to parents with little children. Our Lord wants them here. I want them here. WE want them here. I will never build a cry room. I will never send the kids over to the school or the hall for a “Mass Daycare.” They belong in the church with us. We must excel in hospitality because these children grasp God far better than you and I do, for the kingdom of God is theirs!
God bless you all,