Dear Anonymous has replied most graciously to my last post on the behaviour of children at Mass. Most of the text is shown below, but I have added my own comments in bold.
1. Parenting is really, very hard work, a type of difficulty against which all others pale to nothing, which cannot be known properly by those who do not have children. This is not the kind of 'hard' one ever stops to consider because, when one is presented with the one's first baby, you just get on with it. By the time you have three in (nearly) four years, the work is near constant, as are the anxieties (too numerous to count, but try 'How do I form my children in a robust Faith?'), the contingent work (wage-earning), organisation, housing (especially if you do not own a place), and of course education, to important to be entrusted to normal schools. And so on, and so on. In short, when some parents seem to let their children run riot it is because they are so tired they do not know what to do, are too overburdened to think a behavioural situation through.
Yes, but would they let this happen in a restaurant or at a concert. No, they wouldn't take the children, they would find a baby sitter or go without such luxuries. Now is Mass a luxury, of course not. However, one reason why parenting is so difficult these days is the lack of an extended family, people to leave children with whilst you go to Mass with your husband. The primary aim of marriage is offspring, the secondary is the sanctification of your partner, spiritual time together is very important.
2. The children who are misbehaved may well be unwell, have ADHD or somesuch (be it nature or nurture induced). Again, although I have no direct experience of this, and one tends to think 'Bloody give them a clip round the ear', this doesn't actually work with mentally disabled children.
Unwell is fine at Mass, unwell and unruly needs thinking through, if it is going to distract the priest, then it is not good, they can be under enough assaults from the devil during Mass as it is. Children are rarely living saints, they can vehicles for ill (because of their self-centredness), even without sinning. Pray to their guardian angels.
3. The Mass may be the only time in a week a parent can get to be with the Lord in the Eucharist. Should they give this up so you can have some quiet?
No, that is a silly argument. The answer remains the same as the one to point 1.
4. Your concentration is not relevant to the reality of the Mass; God happens, so you have to be there. This is a reality of great importance to parents. In the nearly five years since I had parenthood sprung on me, I have actually felt like I prayed at most a dozen times at Sunday Mass. My children are immaculately behaved, (for children - see below) but this takes continuous low-level concentration on my part. I can never loose myself in praise.
Yes, the action of the Mass takes place irrespective of the worthyness of the priest or the concentration of the congregation. But, there is a danger here of presumption, the presumption that reverence is not necessary (I'm not referring to your family here, only really bad behaviour). Reverence is vital, Calvary deserves reverence. Yes, it is MY problem BUT the assaults of the devil and the occasions for sinful thought when children are misbehaving are great.
5. Don't expect children to behave like adults. They are not adults and do not behave like it. Even mine, who are, as implied above, quiet and engaged, will find themselves amazingly excited by some seemingly pointless thing and fall over themselves to explain it/ fall about laughing/ squeal with excitement/ whisper at the consecration/ etc.
That is all good, there is no problem with this.
6. The Latin Mass in its current incarnation creates amongst the congregants an attitude of sighing intolerance, a real 'people set apart'. 'Did you not know, Latin Mass is for the truly devoted?' I have experienced this in about five different churches. Nobody likes the de-sacralised, jumble-sale shtick of the average NO Mass, but nobody wants us at the Latin one (except the Franciscans of the Immaculate in Stoke). So what do we parents do? Trudge along broken-hearted to an event we are confused (at best) about, passing on only frustration and disappointment as the fruits of a Catholic life to our children?
But you have just said that the Mass is the Mass. I must say, I regularly attend Latin Mass is two different diocese and there are far more children there than other Masses, they are behaving like children, not adults, but they are welcomed and there is no irreverent misbehaviour.
I could go on, but my point is simply this: If the Catholic Church is going to survive in this country, and outside of the major university cities this is actually not likely, we need children to get the Faith. There is no one blueprint for the Faith, but if the children aren't praying at home and building a relationship with the Blessed Trinity, the Mother of God, the angels and the saints, then no amount of Mass attendance will work. They will not get the Faith in school, even less of it in Catholic school (statistically true), and are normally raised in functionally Protestant households (85-odd percent of Catholics are contraceptive, contra God and his Church) Our best Catholics are so often converts or reverts who really discover Faith in adulthood. If they don't go to church and receive the full grace of God by baring witness to and eventually participating in the Mass, from where is it supposed to come? Turning up at Mass does not magically bestow grace on anyone.
Question: Sanctifying grace is a habitual gift...a supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God (CCC 2000), we know this grace by its fruits, are the fruits really there if chaos reigns supreme and a child who is old enough to know better, is bent on destruction and mischief?