Surely, we have all had the experience of being in a Eucharistic celebration in which there are children crying, with a cry that at times is stronger than the priest’s microphone or the choir. What to do in these situations?
It is a very sensitive issue to address, and I want to do it with a lot of respect because I do not want any parent to feel personally offended by what I am going to say about it.
I want to begin with the positive. It is great that children are brought to church. It’s a great way for them to know it’s a fundamental part of our life at an early age. Most of the time it is beautiful to hear the voices and sounds of children and babies at Mass. In addition, Jesus himself has a special affection for children so much that he asks us to be like them.
However, we cannot ignore that children do not stop being children and that they do not have the awareness that we adults have of what it means to be in the church. It may be that the little ones are hungry, hot, or if they are not used to being quiet for a long time, they may be desperate. As a consequence, these children do what all children do when those things happen: they cry. The truth is that a child who is crying in the church is very difficult to control trying to cover his mouth, making threatening gestures, or with the famous “shhhh!.” Children will not stop crying until their need is met. If you as a parent of the child can hear the child’s loud cry, I tell you that this is how loud it is heard in the entire church.
Nobody knows your children like you do. You know best what you can do to control them. As a priest, it does not bother me that a child cries, because as I mentioned above, it is proper for children to cry to attract the attention of adults who can satisfy their needs. However, sometimes I do get distracted and I can see that some people are also distracted from it.
What to do then? I recommend that when the child cannot be controlled, step outside for a while so they can be distracted a little, they will be able to breathe fresh and pure air and so they can disconnect a little bit from the conditions that are causing the discomfort. If they do this, the first beneficiary will be the child. When the child calms down, the parents will avoid to be angry, at the same time the order of the Mass will not be altered, and the people who come to the Mass will be able to listen without interruptions.