Now I Begin,
Now I Begin,
I once sat in a crying room with my infant son, a mid sized room enclosed in glass with several rows of pews. Children ran about the room while abandoned coloring books strewn about were trampled. My daughter was six at the time and she sort of stared in disbelief and fidgeted a little more than usual. The whole time I sat there praying, “Lord, please find my soul in the crying room.” I left mass that day unfulfilled and annoyed. What had my six year old daughter learned from our brief stint in the crying room? There was a place in church to play. We did not return.
So what to do? Where to go?
The front of the church.
Baby-proofing the home? Get down on their level..literally. What will they see as they crawl and toddle about? What will be within their reach? Now think about church. Imagine you are a child in the back of a church. Did you know that young children tend to be more nearsighted than farsighted? At the back of the church, the only thing they can see is the back of someone’s head. What is interesting about that. It is no wonder young children will invent ways to entertain themselves, ways most adults would deem inappropriate.
Send the children to the front of the church.
In the very front they can see. In the very front are vibrant colors of reds , greens, and gold. In the very front is the source of the voice that can only be heard in the back. In the front are older versions of themselves assisting and serving, something to relate to. In the front is the choir singing.
You are worried, already feeling hot and turning crimson at the anticipated stares of disapproval when the novelty wears off and Little Sue pitches a fit. Who is wrong? Not little Sue. She’s a child, still learning. The ones at fault are those individuals who perpetrate and encourage the idea that children do not belong in church until they are old enough to sit still. At fault is the dismayed looks and raised eyebrows when Little Joe decides to crawl under the pew. What is wrong is making anyone feel unwanted because their entourage contains several individuals between 22 inches and 3 feet tall. Cue massive eye roll.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them,
but Jesus said, ” Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Children are not second class citizens, unable to appreciate God’s grace. They are the future of our church.
Send them to the front.
But the noise, they won’t be quiet.
Quiet? Mass is a celebration of God’s love for us. Yes, it is a time for reverence. But who said reverence has to be quiet? It is joyful.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
What about joy is quiet? It is unconstrained, unmanageable, effortless, and effervescent. If you want solemn quiet worship, adoration is a really good option. I mean this with all sincerity. Instead of crying rooms there should be quiet rooms, a place where people can worship in the solitude of their thoughts.
As a Catholic we are called to respect life, embrace it, be open to bringing it forth into this world..yet when those little lives make their way into the church we want to shut them up in a room with a glass window most of them can not even reach to see out of.
Matthew 18:3-5 usccb.org
He called a child over, placed it in their midst,
and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
and whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
Down with the quiet room.
Send them to the front.
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