Tag Archives: faith

Make babies, but don’t bring ’em to church

7 Nov

That’s pretty much how Andrew and I are feeling about our church right now. This is not the first time a Catholic church has made us feel this way either. We’re disheartened and it all stems from the perceived attitude our church has toward children.

Here’s why: after church today, we were very nicely told that, “Father doesn’t want the children to color or draw in church anymore.” The usher said even the most neat kids can accidentally color on the pews. Ok, sure. But now what?

Coloring has been the one way we’ve been able to keep Nate calm, quiet and well-behaved in church. He colors during certain parts of church and participates in the prayers, peace and singing. He’s too little at four years old to be able to pay attention – it’s hard enough for some adults to – and there’s no children’s liturgy or nursery at our church. He’s supposed to just sit there without making a peep for an hour. Right.

The congregation has already been continually reminded about the “cry rooms” for noisy kids. You might as well not even go to church if you have to be in there. You can’t hear anything that’s being said and kids get the idea that it’s ok to talk loudly in church.

It’s just so disheartening because we are trying to do something positive for our family, as a family. They should be encouraging that, not making it more difficult. You’d think they’d be happy that a young couple is bringing their children and their monetary support to the church. I mean, they have this big “Catholics Come Home” campaign going on now and they are always reminding us that the children are the future of our faith and we need to be tithing as the Bible says. I know it’s wrong but, right now, I feel like making my children the future of another faith and informing this church that my tithe is going to find a place that practices what they preach. (We were born and raised Catholic but I went to Greek Bible school, a Baptist Pre-School and adult Bible study and Nia went to a Methodist Pre-School. We are not boxed in our denomination.)

I just want to be a part of a church community that is genuinely happy that youngens are in the pews or at least provides a Sunday school/nursery where they can learn about the Bible age-appropriately. Somewhere where I’m uplifted and leave feeling a little better about things. Not helpless and unwanted – for coloring inside or outside the lines, no less.

*Editor’s note: Since I wrote this, I’ve received a few comments/concerns and I’d like to clarify that my feelings are not directed toward the entire Catholic faith. We’ve been a part of some wonderful Catholic churches that never made me cry after Mass. The cases I’ve written about don’t always reflect the priest’s attitude either. Once it was an usher. Another time, a member of the church – a church we loved. The last priest of our current church was great toward children, actually picking Nate up and playfully throwing him in the air after Mass. He gave high fives out to the kids as Mass ended. Nate was happy to go to church and wanted to pay attention to what Father was saying. The funny thing is, Andrew and I actually enjoy/learn from our current priest’s homilies. We even recently signed up to volunteer. We are trying and will continue to try – and hope for understanding.

Wanted: Child-Friendly Church

29 May

Is there any Catholic church out there that actually genuinely welcomes children?

I just read a new announcement concerning children on our church’s website and it left me really downhearted.  It is basically a list of rules our church wants parents and children to follow.  While I understand the need to have rules because many people are rude and don’t respect property or clean up after themselves, it still makes me feel like our children are not wanted there.

It would certainly not be the first time.  I recently wrote about my concerns with having Nate in church, but before that, I experienced the feeling at two different Savannah churches.  One when Nia was an infant and she had started to get a little fussy.  I was already sitting in the last row and was about to get up to take her outside when an usher came up to me and told me that I would be more comfortable in the nursery, oh yeah, and you’re not allowed to have food (Cheerios to help keep Nia occupied) in church either.  The next experience happened this past winter.  Andrew, Nia, Nate and I went to church with Anna Marie, Ella and Maggie.  We were there early and sat in the back of the church at the end of the pew for easy escape.  An older man chose to sit directly in front of us even though he saw we had 4 small children.  Of course they are going to make noise.  They are children.  Two of them are toddlers.  If the noise level even hinted that it was going to be distracting, we’d take the culprit outside.  That wasn’t good enough for the man in front of us.  Just as Andrew was getting up to leave with Nate, the man turned around and said, “You know, there’s a cry room for children like yours.”

We were so disgusted.  Andrew replied, “Yes, I know sir” and got up and walked into the standing-room-only cry room where he was about to go anyway to calm Nate.  When Andrew got back to the pew, he and the man exchanged some words which led to the man asking Andrew if he wanted to “step outside.”  What?!  Not only was that crazy because the man was like 70 and walked with a cane, but as Andrew said to him, “Are you serious?  We are in church!  You’re ridiculous.”

Shouldn’t church be the one place you can receive compassion and acceptance?  Shouldn’t it be where people offer a helping hand or a sympathetic smile not a sigh of annoyance or a look of disdain?   Shouldn’t it compel people to offer even the smallest act of kindness like letting a car pull out in front of you in the church parking lot?

All I want is to worship and feel like I’m part of a community.  To feel welcomed and loved, not scolded and filled with resentment and discouragement.  Here we are, trying to raise our children to follow a religious path and to be loving, patient and accepting as we’re told to be by the Bible, but we keep hitting roadblocks.  I thought church is supposed to help clear the road, not set up the obstacles.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m expecting too much out of church. I just know what I feel and need.  All I can do is pray for the grace and strength to not let those obstacles push us off the path.  I believe all that matters is that we keep God present in our lives and keep trying to do the right thing – no matter how many bumps we hit. After all, that’s the way it should be, right?

Can I Get an Amen?

12 Mar

I’ve never been an ultra-religious person.  I believe in God.  I believe in Jesus. I had weekly religious education classes as part of the Catholic faith but I was young and didn’t pay much attention. (Did I ever mention that Andrew and I grew up in the same church?   I mean, how was I supposed to pay attention to anything when I knew I might see him?)  Also, I’ve missed more Sunday masses than I’ve attended and now even when I’m there I’m not really there. It’s not because I don’t want to be (I actually really want to be), it’s because I’m a mom and moms with kids in church just don’t get to pay much attention to what’s being prayed about or preached.  So wouldn’t it figure?  Now that I want to learn and want to be there, I really can’t.

It’s something that has really been weighing on me because right now I’m experiencing a true need to be taught about God and Jesus and benefit from the guidance and strength offered through the Bible.  But now I dread even going because Nate is a maniac in church and understandably so.  He’s two years old and we’re trying to make him whisper and not act like a caged animal for roughly an hour – even when we’re in the “cry room.”  (And yes, we’ve tried every trick in the book to help him through the hour.  Snacks, toys, crayons, blankey.  Nothing works.)  Trying to teach him how to act in church (or just to be quiet) while trying to walk away from mass with something inspiring or encouraging is nearly impossible. I end up leaving frustrated and disappointed that I didn’t get anything out it.

Amazingly, I’ve found something that is uplifting me but it’s not through our church.  I never thought I would say this and truly believe it but it seems God has lead me to what I needed.  Each Wednesday, I take Nia to a nondenominational Bible school for children at a local Baptist Church.  (One of her friends invited her to it.)  Because she is so young, I am supposed to stay on the church grounds while she’s in the 90 minute school.  At first, this was awful to me.  I thought, what am I going to do during that time?  I don’t think they have have free wireless internet.  I don’t really want to just sit in the hallway and lurk while I read or book or something.  That’s when the extremely friendly director of the Bible school guided me to a room with a sign that read “Ladies Bible Study.”

Just those words intimidated me.  What business did I have entering that room?  I’m only vaguely familiar with some of the “big” Bible stories and I was certainly not one of those ladies.  They are all in the same Baptist club right?  Will they all hiss at the Catholic and hold up the Bible if I cross the threshold?

Never could I have been more ignorant.  They were so wonderful and welcoming and at the end of that study I knew I was meant to walk in that room. It’s helping me in so many ways and I’m learning things about the Bible that I never knew before and I’ve also just realized, while writing this, that I shouldn’t rely on my Sunday morning church service alone to inspire me. Inspiration and guidance is all around me everyday.  In my family, in the Bible, in my friends, in good deeds…

From now on, I will walk into church with a light heart knowing that my healthy, happy little boy is going to want to play and I am more than likely not going to hear a word of what is being said. As long as we are not bothering anyone else, I will do better to not let it bother me.  I will use the time there to thank God for His ways and show my faith to Him with my family. Maybe I’ll even get a prayer or two in as well. (For Nate to be quieter could be one of them!)

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