As I was trying to manage newly-turned 3 V and a 6-week-old Baby A at Mass alone a few weeks ago, I was reminded once again of that horrible ears burning, sweaty, heart racing self-consciousness that comes from children being children in the quiet of Mass.
And that feeling makes it so hard to get everyone dressed up, fed and out the door in time to get to Mass, to walk our little brood to a pew near the front (but on an end, because potty and screaming happen). It makes me lay in bed just a little longer debating if I really need to do this. Because a toddler and a newborn are legitimate reasons to miss Mass, right?
Why would we go through the effort and stress of taking young children to Mass, suffer through the fear and self-consciousness of getting through Mass with young children, when we can just teach them about Jesus at home? We can save a lot of energy and avoid the scowls and glares and comments about keeping children quiet or the reason for the cry room.
Why would we do it?
Love for our children. Love for ourselves. Love for others.
Love for Christ.
We have been called by God to this vocation of parenthood. He gave us these amazing, loud, messy, energetic children, to raise and love and get to Heaven.
How can we think these little but mighty blessings aren’t welcome in His home? How can we believe we can raise them how He calls us to without bringing them to Him in the Mass?
When the stats are showing our children aren’t staying with the faith into adulthood, and yet an alarming number of young families feel judged or self-conscious about bringing their children to Mass, feel they belong in the cry room, separate from the other faithful, separated from the Mass.
How can we be surprised our children grow up to leave the faith?
I’m not blaming parents for declining church attendance. We’re all to blame. But I’m asking parents, please bring your children to Mass. From the start. From the days when they snuggle in your arms and nurse or sleep through Mass to the days when they have to stand on the kneeler to see over the pew and loudly proclaim they have to poop or that something smells.
The good days, the bad days, the tired days.
Bring them and bring them often.
There will be days when you do need to stand in the back or the cry room with a child who won’t stop screaming.
Bring them anyway.
There will be days when your eyes will fill with tears as your toddler folds her hands and bows her head during the consecration or exclaims “Amen” with all her heart.
Our job as parents is to raise our children to know, love and serve God and to help them get to Heaven. How can we do that if we aren’t getting them to Mass, showing them it’s important enough to go even when you are tired or cranky or stressed. Take them there, to our Father’s house. Talk to them about it when you are at home. Show them how important it is.
And if you don’t have children or your children are older, encourage the young families at your parish. Greet them with a smile. Don’t even glance their way when their children talk too loudly or drop the hymnal.
Please bring your children to church.
All are welcome in this place.
And now for an awesome giveaway from Catholic geeky artist and shop owner of Door Number 9, Elisa. A cradle Catholic, Elisa has been sewing since she was 12, a geek since 16, and a professional artist since 18. Before pursuing her shop, she worked as a seamstress and designer for Dallas-Fort Worth’s biggest costume shop.
“I love to incorporate geekiness into my everyday life, sneaking a Tardis onto my wallet here, some Elvish script onto my ID badge holder there, and hitting the high points of my favorite storyline with the charms on my necklace. Little ways of connecting me throughout the day to the stories and characters I love and admire.
Then I realized that religious jewelry is so much the same. Little ways people use to connect themselves throughout the day to the God we love and his saints that we admire.
So whether you fall more on the geeky side or the religious side or embrace them both, I hope you enjoy perusing my shop and find a few things to inject joy and hope into your life and your days.”
Elisa is generously giving away a pack of these awesome parent Mass cards and a beautiful Marian ornament. Be sure to enter below for a chance to win them!