A Joyful Noise
We’ve been making a concerted effort, my husband and children and I, to attend daily Mass as noon. There have been good days, when all the kids have somehow managed to pretend to be silent angels, and not so good days, when I’m certain I threatened everything from spankings to Nintendo confiscation to I believe something akin to never leaving the house again ever ever ever. I admit, that one was a bit far fetched. For the most part though, we’ve been doing just fine. The older kids try to pay attention and the younger kids try to sit still. I think that’s all that I can hope for when my oldest is only eight.
Lately, my youngest has been a little bit of a trouble maker. She’s happy baby, so she hasn’t been crying or screaming, but she has been noisy. I like to think of it as a joyful noise, but I am biased. Right when she should be most quiet, she starts up with her shouts of “joy” and her “singing.” It’s not entirely her fault either, since half the ladies in the church are waving at her and smiling, but I digress. She’s noisy.
Recently, during a homily, our new priest (as in fresh out of the seminary new) stopped whatever it was he was preaching about (I confess, I couldn’t hear because of the baby’s noise) to point out that he didn’t mind her noise. Even though he meant it in the best and most sincere way, I was mortified. The priest. Called me out. In the middle of Mass. Seriously? Then I started listening to what he was saying. And I was happy. This priest gets it. I’ve been in parishes where no one gets it, and it’s not just the people in the pews. It’s a parish culture and it starts at the top. If the pastor doesn’t see the necessity of taking little ones to Mass, even on noisy days (or during a particularly noisy phase), then why on earth would the parishioners?
Children aren’t quiet. It’s not how God made them. They’re hardwired to be noisy and messy and silly, and to laugh, a lot (case in point, my own children, giggling uncontrollably in the next room as I type this). They’re made to make “a joyful noise.” Last I checked, God, their Creator, knows this. And yet, He still said to bring them to Him. Huh. Funny how that works. God wants the little ones to be at Mass, even when they’re too little to understand what’s going on; even when they’re being noisy; even when it’s a little disruptive. So, I’ll keep bringing them, and whenever I see another family with a bundle of noisy joy, I’ll give them an encouraging smile, and be hopeful that they’re remember this, and stay strong in their conviction that children belong at church.