I’m sitting here in bed on a Sunday afternoon thinking about how I should be at church today.
I’m sitting here in bed on a Sunday afternoon while my toddler rolls around in his crib not napping because he’s been crazy all day, thinking about how I should be at church today.
I’m sitting here in bed on a Sunday afternoon feeling massive amounts of guilt for not being at church.
I should be there because I should take my toddler to model good behavior.
I should be there because it’s a religious obligation.
I should be there because the fatigue and depression that comes from being at the end of three long days of solo parenting isn’t a good enough excuse for not going to church.
I’ve been discouraged from going by the massive undertaking it is for me to take my toddler to church by myself and get him to not throw a temper tantrum in the pew.
I’ve been discouraged from going by priests who have insinuated that church is no place for a toddler.
I’ve been discouraged from going by priests whose mansplaining how to take care of my children at church has gotten me particularly enraged since they will never know what it is like to have young children of their own.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me,” when his disciples were rebuking him for blessing them. Some things never change.
Children belong at church.1 I wish that some priests would remember that. A solemn liturgical environment is important, of course, but I would argue that raising children who will, from a young age, get into the habit of regularly practicing their faith is more important. The last thing a mother needs to hear is that she should be discouraged from bringing her children to church.
- Beth Meleski’s recent “Worth a Fig: Harvesting My Children’s Faith” in America (9 May 2016) is a reassuring perspective on children in church, but unfortunately it’s one thing to have other parishioners be welcoming to children and it’s quite another to have the priests themselves be welcoming (or not). ↩