Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Catholic Church-Lady Complaints Department

So, now you want to kick them out of church?

Crying babies, restless children at Mass?

The Pope says, "Let the children be."  I agree.
Calling children’s tears “the best sermon,” the Pope told parents of children baptized in the last year that “children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.” - Source
People complain about a lot of stuff at Mass - especially single people.  They claim they don't feel welcome.  They claim they don't fit in.  I've heard the very pious claim people are too noisy, kids uncontrolled, the sign of peace too much.  These are church-lady complaints.  These people have unreal expectations.

I love kids at Mass, babies who cry, developmentally disordered kids - and sometimes adults - whose presence is impossible to ignore.  Kids who escape the pew and run towards the altar - or do something else to embarrass their parents.  It is life.  Are we pro-life?  That is life.  We can still pray and worship - we have that freedom.

If single people feel unwelcome or find kids annoying - they may want to examine their conscience a bit more closely...

Crowded churches at Christmas - an irritation for the pious?

Ever hear of 'Submarine Catholics'?

A friend sent me an article from a Catholic website discussing those Catholics who return to Church for Christmas Mass yet never step inside the church throughout the year.  So she cleverly calls them 'submarine Catholics' because they surface once or twice a year.  Actually her article was a positive spin on how to evangelize them and make them feel welcome to come back regularly.  That's nice.

Imagine complaining that Mass is too crowded, no place to sit, and worse, no place to park.  Imagine complaining that people at Mass might sit where you normally do, or might ask what's going on, or dare to speak to the people they are with?  How very dare they.

Nice Christmas spirit, huh?  Yet despite the exclusive reputation church-people have, there is something about Christmas which attracts even the most secular, the most alienated ... the Infant Jesus wants his house to be full.  How can you complain?  Why would you jump in with your learned evangelization techniques and pamphlets, when these folks were never welcomed by you in the first place?  These souls were brought to Midnight Mass or Christmas Mass during the day by the Father - as Jesus said: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me."  Leave them alone.  Let them take in Christmas.  Smile, be kind, and let them receive Christ-Mass.

It should also be remembered that many people who crowd the churches are simply returning family members and friends - home for the holidays.  Are we pro-family?  That's life.

All are welcome?


  1. "How very dare they" I love it when you use that line. I used to think this way, I have to admit. But your postings cleared my head, gave me something to think about ... especially how you meditate on Jesus about to be thrown over the hill at Nazareth by the throng and yet He "...moved through the midst of them." That's good lectio. I still get chafed if someone takes "my space" in the pew, but just as easily remember what a blessing it is to be surrounded by my brethren -- even if they wouldn't want *my kind* there. :p The Church is like Noah's Ark I read somewhere ... it's crowded & smelly, but where else you gonna go?

  2. We don't complain about the Christmas crowds at Mass; we just avoid them altogether and go to a TLM held in the basement of a Church nearby. There's never any "extra" people there; in fact, there are usually fewer, because some of the regulars go to an "eye candy" TLM Christmas Mass [as Fr. Z calls them] in the city of Chicago. Submarine Catholics (I like that expression) rarely are strongly devout, and their presence [in throngs] takes away from what the Christmas Mass is supposed to be all about. [imo]

  3. Back in the day, we used to call 'em A&P Catholics, for ashes and palm, because they only showed up when the Church was giving something out. But that was way back when the A&P was still around (supermarket chain -- Atlantic & Pacific, I believe it stood for).

    I love babies in church. The droolier and naughtier, the better. Some homilies need the added entertainment. Just sayin'.

    The local-to-my-apartment church (but not the one we go to on Sunday) is St. Patrick's on Mission Street, and it has come to serve a mostly Philippino community. It's also pretty central to the financial district and SoMa so they get a lot of homeless people wandering in and out all day long, which is fine as long as they don't disturb anything, or disturb the Masses. The Philippino priests seem to be extraordinarily tolerant of this. It's not unusual to see some poor lost person wander up on the altar, only to be gently guided back to a pew, or the door by a tiny, elderly Philippino usher. In some ways it's scary, because you never know if someone's going to be violent and because the church is mostly full of tiny, elderly Philippino men and women (I feel like a giant in there, always) who aren't going to be able to handle a crazy situation, but in other ways it's kind of sweet how there's no fear and no anger and no tsk-tsking or complaining or snobbery, just quiet acceptance and caretaking. Which, of course, is as it should be.

  4. Last Sunday 4 kids were baptized in my parish. They were between 1 - 4 years old. During the consecration the youngest of the bunch kept walking/crawling to the altar. I said to Hubby later - that one might become a priest, look how attracted he is to the altar! Maybe that's a bit silly...but maybe it's not.

  5. As the parent of a very mischievous one year old - I love this Terry. Keep up the good work. God bless, Damian

  6. Once, when I was a new mom, a church lady told me that the priest didn't like me coming to daily Mass once a week because my kids were distracting. I was mad at her, and because I perceived her to be a mouthpiece for him, I was mad at Father! I kept going to daily Mass with the kids anyway. Years later I mentioned in passing to Father that I try really hard to keep the kids in check during daily Mass so we don't disturb him. He was genuinely surprised after I told him what she had said. So it all worked out.

  7. I loved reading this post. So filled with faults and frailty. And, so human. I've seen my share of "misfortunes" during Mass and with age, I've come to regard them as opportunities for patience and compassion. And, as opportunities to help, if needed.

    Also - It's amazing what can be tuned out when one wears a veil. When I started veiling again, it became a great way to also block out the distractions and sharpen focus on what is truly importance. This Sunday I'll have my notebook with me and take advantage of yet another way to block it all out. There is always something in the homily (even a poor speaker might have a good word). Listening attentively, I miss the distraction, find the gold and write it down for reflection later.


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