I just want to say thank you—thank you for bringing your kids and grandkids, your nieces and nephews, all the friends who come over for sleepovers, to Mass. Not always easy, it
is truly a labor of love and a great sacrifice. Many times, parents will spend a year or two at Mass only hearing snatches of the Gospel and homily. Depending on the number of children, that can stretch into many years of prayer that is more chaotic than you would otherwise choose. The temptation can be to think that what is chaotic is fruitless. Nothing can be further from the truth—indeed love sustained during the most difficult of times often grows the stronger.
I bring this up because of an experience on my recent vacation. One of the great joys of that week was the Mass my brother and I would celebrate with them each day. With five small children ranging from nearly seven to six months old it was always exciting. As I told my friends I am not sure what is more enjoyable—watching and hearing the antics of kids at Mass or watching and hearing the responses of the parents! Different days we had other families join us, so the number of kids would only increase.
To make things more interesting the room that worked best was the sunroom/toy room, so the kids were surrounded by temptation. Indeed, many funny things happened. One child needed to be pried off of the rocking horse mid-Mass. Others got into fights over someone’s seat being taken (that doesn’t change much as we get older because we all get attached to our particular pews). One time I looked over to see a child flat on her back pretending to be an inchworm as she scooted across the floor to the great delight of the other kids. Being honest, she was doing a pretty good job of being an inchworm before her parents got to her.
I cannot tell you what a blessing all of this is. I think we tend to read the Gospels where huge crowds gathered to hear Jesus preach and we think everyone was sitting neat and orderly. There is no way that is how it was—I am sure there were herds of children on the outskirts playing with each other at different points during those events. And much like our modern parents, from time to time I am sure those kids received the look from their parents as they were reigned in. At different times those kids may have been louder than Jesus was. From time to time the loudest voice in the Church is the child who just discovered that their voice makes an echo in the Church. I think that if the Gospel of Life is louder than me at times that is not a bad thing.
Psalm 84:1-4 says this: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.”
What a blessing when our children are brought to the foot of the Altar, that Altar of our King and our God. So, thank you!