Timely article on small children at regular Sunday mass

The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper of St Paul, Minneapolis, recently published this welcoming article by Joe Towalski. He offers a practical and simple way that regular parishioners can make young families feel welcome in the pews: speak up before the people who don’t want children in the mass have the chance.


  1. Having witnessed disapproving looks and comments from parishioners & pastors (and as the father of two [now grown] children), my comment to this issue has always been the following: “One doesn’t teach a child to play piano without letting them sit at the keyboard; a child can’t learn how to play soccer without ever setting foot on the pitch (i.e. the soccer field); we certainly can’t expect children to learn how to pray and to develop a love for the liturgy if we don’t allow (and at times tolerate) their (not always perfectly behaved) presence at Mass.”

  2. Thank you Kimberly,
    In light of our discussion on the Directory for Masses With Children, this is certainly timely. Perhaps negative reactions to the presence of children at Mass is reflective of a time where passive obedience was expected from children. We should know better now. Karl Rahner’s theological anthropology offers some perspective. Rahner’s approach – humans are fundamentally orientated toward God – includes children! And, the God of mystery is revealed in the experience of childhood.
    Mary Ann Hindsdale’s essay “‘Infinite Openness to the Infinite’: Karl Rahner’s Contribution to Modern Catholic Thought on the Child” in Bunge, Marcia J. ed. 2001 The Child in Christian Thought, makes the claim that “children” is a neglected theme in Catholic Social Teaching (407). She may be correct.

  3. I dunno. I have a 1 1/2 year-old, who simply put is a distraction to everybody. Maybe I have nothing to worry about, since I’ve never received the evil eye from anybody, and everybody seems to be quite amused by her shananigans (sp?). it is obvious, however, that they are distracted by her. I find it impossible to concentrate on and follow what is going on at church when I’m the one taking care of her. That said, my daughter loves going to church, seeing the people, hearing the instruments. I think she’d be heartbroken not to go. On the few Sundays when I’m essentially not at all engaged in the liturgy, I duck out to a later mass by myself. But it’s tough, and it’s not getting any easier.

  4. It’s good that parents bring their children. And it’s not unreasonable for young children to act up a ilttle. They’re children, they don’t know any better. But the parents do. At a Mass I attended recently, a couple next to me had a baby with them; it gave a few yelps and gurgles, which was fine. But after a while, it started bawling. And what happened? One of the parents took it outside! Kudos. I don’t get grumpy at babies acting like babies, but I do get a little grumpy when parents do nothing about it (or, worse yet, encuorage it by bringing noisy toys for the child to play with).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.