Thursday, May 18, 2023

Take children to Mass


My latest on Catholic Answers.

The presence and management of children at Mass is an issue that can generate more heat than light. I would like to tackle it here on the basis of a slightly deeper set of principles than is usual.

Full disclosure: I am a father of nine; my youngest has recently turned three. We have had to manage a child under five at Mass since our first was born in 2003; for most of the time, we’ve had two under five. That may sound extreme, but a couple who have three children at three-year intervals will have a child under five, and sometimes two of them, for fourteen years. This is a big chunk of your life.

The first question is whether bringing small children to Mass is good in principle. Children under the “age of reason” (usually about seven) are not bound by canon law to attend Mass. Often parents have no choice but to bring them in order to attend themselves. But supposing they had the choice—if they could attend different Masses, or leave the children with friends—is the ideal to bring them or leave them behind?

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  1. Well said. A possibly blindingly obvious point: the peripheral status of the Latin mass creates extra challenges. We have 2 small kids and go to an 11am Latin mass, thanks be to God. But 11am is already too late for them, and the mass is preceded by a 30 minute drive on hairy London roads. We would absolutely go to a 9am mass or earlier, which would minimise disruptions to our brethren, but this mass is our only Latin mass option. Similarly some people are just highly strung and easily distracted and therefore don't like being around kids - there should be a 1730 mass for them to go to, but again, if they like the Latin mass, there isn't.

  2. Apologies if I missed it but one thing I have regularly encountered in cry rooms / spaces for young children to pray is that the adults also stop following the Mass. Either directly playing with the children or just chatting to other parents.