A few weeks ago, I wrote about our challenges of keeping a toddler quiet, calm and occupied during Mass. While I wish I could follow up with a glowing report of a miraculous turnaround in our family’s Sunday Mass participation, I can say that we have taken a few baby steps (pun intended) towards addressing the issue.
The most fruitful and proactive step was to create a church book for S full of photos of the symbols and statues in our own parish, as well as pictures from his own baptism. He loves to flip through books and point to what he can name, so now at least we have a book that keeps us all focused on what we see and experience at Mass.
In searching for help on parenting a toddler during Mass, I had many good conversations with other parents. There are no magical fixes, but it helps to commiserate and to remind each other why we believe it’s important to bring young children to church.
I also came across articles on two websites I enjoy reading that speak directly to the same issue: what to do about fussy babies in church?
The first is from a pastor’s point-of-view. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School runs a fantastic Call & Response blog for leaders in Christian churches. Very thoughtful, sometimes provocative reflections on issues facing today’s congregations. I appreciate this pastor’s musings on the place of the cry room in churches – the messages that its presence can convey about who belongs in worship and who doesn’t belong. It’s worth a good ponder.
The second is from a favorite website of mine for Catholic young adults, BustedHalo.com. The website, run by the Paulist Fathers out of NYC, is one of the best examples I’ve found of how to bring the Gospel to where today’s young people are – namely, online. This writer and mother reflects on the humility of parenthood and what she learned when it was her own daughter acting up in the pew during Mass.
Two thoughtful reflections that assured me I’m not along in struggling with this issue (or thinking that it’s an important one for congregations to consider). And two entry points into some quality websites on faith, ministry, theology, family. Both deserve a deeper look around…