Hat-tip to @AudreyFaithSeah on Twitter, who tells us
Timeless wisdom on preaching for hearing people (from a 1924 issue of “the Catholic Deaf-mute” newspaper).
I've written about children and babies in church here (on Geoffrey Hull claiming that babies should not be there at all), here (on 'crying rooms'), and here (FIUV Position Paper on children and the Traditional Mass).
I don't think (and I don't think Fr Conroy really thinks) that we should prefer listening to a baby crying in church than to the sermon; the point is rather that the occasional noise of a baby is not something out of place, in a church, nor should it be a matter of regret, let alone frustration and rage. Parents should, obviously, do their best to keep their children quiet, and everyone else should do their best to make them feel welcomed and supported. This last point, sadly, needs making more emphatically than should be necessary.
Occasionally people claim that crying babies is a new thing in churches, but as far as anecdotal evidence goes Fr Bryan Houghton expected to see small children in church in England in the 1950s and 1960s (see the first link above), and people clearly expected to see them in church in the USA in the first decades of the 20th century. As I have pointed out in the linked post on Geoffrey Hull, what else are you supposed to do with your infants when you go to church?
Our Lord of course defended the participation of children in the quasi-liturgical event of his entry into Jerusalem, a participation recalled beautifully in the chant Pueri Hebraeorum used on Palm Sunday. Matthew 21:15-16: ‘And the chief priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: Hosanna to the son of David; were moved with indignation. And said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’
The kings, judges, and prophets of the Old Testament go one better, and actually command children to be present at liturgical events:
Deuteronomy 31:12 (at the command of Moses): ‘And the people being all assembled together, both men and women, children and strangers, that are within thy gates: that hearing they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and keep, and fulfill all the words of this law.’ Cf. Joshua 8:35 (at the command of Joshua), and 2 Kings 23:1-2 (at the command of King Josiah).
10 Joel 2:15-7: ‘Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bridal chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them.’
|Children at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School 2017|