No parent takes a small child to Mass for the pleasure of coping with it, sometimes under a cross-fire of disapproving looks. Family circumstances may make any other arrangement difficult, or, in a one Mass parish, impossible.
Or the parents may have convictions, which should be respected, about going as a family. Participating in Mass, the People of God are one in Christ, and who is to say that the baptised infant is not as welcome as its seniors?
We should never think of "my Mass" or "my prayer", but "ours". And we should remember that distractions which are not wilful, and which are suffered in charity, can be a source of grace. St. Therese in her Carmelite chapel suffered agonies daily from an annoying habit of one of her sisters, and did not complain.
In contrast, I have known mothers who have stayed away from Mass, because they lacked courage to face the manifest disapproval of their neighbours, and had no-one with whom to leave their children.
Properly supervised creches sound a wonderful idea, but many very young children will not go to a stranger. And one cannot guarantee that any child. however good, and of whatever age, will not occasionally cry, or be distracting. I have frequently been more disturbed by children of 11 and over, with or without their parents.
Let us, for a change, give credit to the parents who undertake the exhausting task of preparing several small children for Mass, trying to teach them, however inefficiently, how to behave in God's house, and how to join in worship.
Theirs is often no happy peaceful Mass, but a welter of distractions and frustrations, however well-disciplined their children. But who will deny that their prayer is often worth much more than other people's more satisfying devotions? (Mrs.) M. J. Reid Cleobury Mortimer, Salop
Sir,—Could we have a Mass for children? Not creches or crying rooms. Those who fear distractions could go to another Mass. The sermon could be for the children, and I'm sure we would all benefit. There could be songs—which would drown the noise of the crying babies.
Clarissa Quail Richmond, Surrey Sir,—It may interest your readers to know that for the past year the Social Service Club, run by the girls of St. Maur's Convent, Weybridge, Surrey, has provided a free baby-minding service for parents who wish to go to Sunday Mass together, so that neither the parents nor the rest of the congregation need be distracted in their prayers. Such a service seems to have been much appreciated and could be easily set up by the young people of any parish.
(Mrs.) Mun Wah Bentley Walton-on-Thames.