We haven’t actually spoken in person. I think we’ve probably seen each other a handful of times, crossing paths at the occasional Mass. I don’t know your name, and I’m sure you don’t know mine either, so it’s a bit forward of me to write to you in this manner, I suppose…
But tonight you were really mean to a friend of mine.
My friend is a hardworking dad, trying to raise his four beautiful children in the Faith. He brought them to Mass tonight, as he has for the past several nights, because he is trying to lead his family to participate in the “novena” his parish is putting on in honor of St. Margaret Mary’s upcoming feast day. His kids got just a little noisy at times, as toddlers are wont to do, but it wasn’t anything out of hand. He and his wife deserved your respect and commendation for bringing their children to Mass, for leading them in their prayers, and for doing their best to raise them up in the way they should go.
But you decided to walk up to him at the end of Mass, and in your calm-but-pretty-clearly-annoyed tone of voice, said to him “did you know there’s a cry room?!”
And maybe I shouldn’t be as irked at that as I am. Maybe you’ve had a bad day, and you just found an easy target to aim your feelings at. Maybe you’re just being a crotchety old baby boomer (Heaven knows there’s plenty of them wandering around Florida…), and you haven’t really got a filter on what you say anymore. And I can have grace for that.
But you seem to have forgotten something: my friend’s children are baptized Christians. And in the words of Greg Popcack: “As far as Catholics are concerned, babies are not merely tolerated. They have a right to be in Church. IF YOU ARE BAPTIZED, YOU BELONG. PERIOD. END OF STORY.”
Or, to borrow another quote from Dr. Popcack: As a Church, we do not believe in contraception and we certainly should not be promoting contraceptive sanctuaries.
You see, I believe that we go to Mass not to be entertained, or to have our personal needs met, but rather, we go to Mass to worship Jesus Christ. And if Mass is about Jesus Christ, and Jesus said “let the little children come unto me,” then really, you ought not to be trying to shoo them into the cry room, should you?
Furthermore, I believe that, if our parishes and our dioceses are to survive and to grow, we need the young families that come to Mass. Heaven knows we’ve got plenty of people in the pews from your generation, but we don’t have too many young families. And it pains me to no end that you see them as an annoyance, rather than the hope for the future of the parish you attend. Perhaps you could have offered them a caring encouragement; perhaps you’ve raised kids yourself and you could have offered them a knowing smile and a pat on the back. It wouldn’t have taken much effort on your part at all!
And it just may happen that, someday, when we are both dead, and my as-of-now-two-year-old-son is sitting on the throne of St. Peter as Benedict XVII (taking his regnal name from the Pope Emeritus, with whom he shares a birthday), my boy will remember his old man looking him in the eye and saying “son, when you become Pope, the first thing I want you to do (right after you’ve banned contemporary music at Mass, on pain of mortal sin) is to forbid cry rooms, because really, where in Catholic ecclesiology is there even any room for the existence of such a monstrosity?” And as the wrecking balls go flying into the cry room walls on my son’s orders, and he’s appointing my friend’s misbehaving son as bishop of this diocese, you’re going to feel pretty embarrassed sitting next to me and my friend in Purgatory…
Madam, I do pray that we both grow in grace, that we both grow closer to the same Jesus who was present at Mass tonight, and that, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, whose intercession at the Battle of Lepanto we remember tonight, the Church will overcome the thoughtless and uncaring comments of crotchety old ladies who ought to have learned how to be polite by the time they reach your advanced age.