A blogging priest posted some new rules he devised for his parish's new sanctuary in the bulletin.
Now, being in the midst of our parish's building campaign I can understand the priest's frustration with the mess and lack of reverence for Our Lord's house he details below. However, I wouldn't feel comfortable in a church that seems this draconian about the Mass behavior of small children. If these rules were in place at our parish I would feel very hurt. We try our best to keep our little ones quiet and respectful, but some of my best tools are keeping something in their mouths and something for their fingers to do.
Our TLM parish is like all others. There are parents who keep all of their children in a row intent on the priest's gestures and their picture missal. There are those who allow their toddlers to be unattended in the pew, racing noisy cars up and down the seat, rattling keys, and distracting all around them. And there are the rest of us, allowing our littlest to color religious coloring books, nibble on Cheerios, and drink diluted apple juice so we can possibly get 10 minutes of prayer and adoration into our Sunday morning.
If you just so happen to be from Mars, you might not know about the great debates about every aspect of parenting these days, the bottle vs breast debate, and the work vs stay-at-home, ad nauseum. Equally as passionate are the Catholic Mass with children debates, no snacks vs Cheerios, nurse only in the cry room vs in the pew, coloring allowed vs no distractions... Perhaps these discussions were just as vocal in the past, but I'm of the mindset that many choices parents made about their children long ago were made privately and did not require a public defense. Somehow, "I chose to do X,Y, or Z," turned into, "I do X, Y, and Z, and therefore you are a bad parent if you do not do the same."
I don't have any suggestions to the blogging priest. But after yesterday's Mass involving 2 squirming, fussy toddlers I would have blown up if I had been handed a copy of an edict from on high of "no bottles and no pencils permitted in the door or the priest and your fellow parishioners will chew you out."
Over the last month or so, several incidents have occurred that necessitate reiterating the obligation for each parishioner to work to keep our church clean and new. Parents have allowed children to draw on the baptismal font with crayons, to draw on the pew seats with pens, to walk on the pews with shoes, to litter the pews and floor with snacks, and spill drinks with no effort to clean up afterwards. Lest you think this is just a problem with careless parents, older people have used the kneelers as foot rests, failed to replace the missalettes and hymnals in the pew racks, and left their trash in the pews.Our church is the house of God. It must be treated with care, reverence, and respect. (It is not a playground or a family room!)
Please observe the following rules:
1-No gum is to be chewed in the church.
2-Silence cell phones before you enter the chapel.
3-Save conversations for the entrance area or the social hall.
4-Please do no let children draw in the church with pens, pencils, crayons, or markers.
5-If your small child must have a snack during, it is YOUR responsibility to clean up after them. Also, no snacks that are sticky or have the potential to stain.
6-Please no juice or milk in bottles. Water only in the church.
7-Don't let children walk on the pews wearing shoes or to stand with their shoes resting against the pew seats.
8-Kneelers are for kneeling. The are not footrests.
9-Straighten up your own pew before you leave. Replace books in the rack, take any trash with you, and leave the kneelers in the upright position.
All parishioners, please help us keep these rules. If you see someone who is out of line, please gently remind them of their obligations.