If you’re a parent, you know what it’s like to worry about your children’s behavior during Mass. Mass with young ones can be a particularly exhausting event—between keeping them quiet, sitting nicely in the pew, not picking on their siblings, and paying attention to the liturgy, you probably didn’t find any time to pay attention yourself! If they’re having a bad day, you might start to sweat, worrying about stopping a meltdown or catching them from running up and down the aisles.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone in your struggles. Last Sunday on the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis presided over Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel during which he baptized 32 newborns, 17 boys and 15 girls. During his homily, he had some special words of encouragement for the families gathered there—and for the families across the world who worry about their children at Mass.
He told the moms and dads that they should not be afraid to attend to their children’s needs during Mass—even Mass with the pope! He said:
“Just a warning. Children are not used to coming to the Sistine, it is the first time! They are not used to being cooped up in an environment that is also a bit hot. And they are not used to being dressed like this for a party as beautiful as today. They will feel a little uncomfortable at some point. And one will start crying… – The concert hasn’t started yet! – but one will start, then another… Do not be afraid, let the children cry and shout. But rather, if your baby cries and complains, perhaps it is because he is too hot: take something off; or because he is hungry: nurse him, here, yes, always in peace. Something I also said last year: they have a ‘choral’ dimension: you just need one to give the go-ahead and they all start, and the concert will start. Do not be afraid. When a child cries in church, it is a beautiful sermon. Make sure the baby feels good, and let us get on with it.
Don’t forget: you are bringing the Holy Spirit into the children.”
There you have it, folks! The pope acknowledged that your child will cry at Mass, and it’s not only okay, but it’s beautiful! Your crying baby is a sign of life in the Church, and you should not be ashamed.
Next time you see a parent struggling with their children, offer some support or encouragement. A helpful smile goes a long way to set a young mom’s nerves at ease and show her that her family is welcome in the Church.