I left a comment at Dr. Greg Popcak's Patheos blog earlier today. I've edited it a bit as a standalone blog entry here.
The headline of Dr. Popcak's post, featured at NewAdvent.org, is Why You SHOULD Bring Baby to Church. But the issue is not so much about merely bringing babies to church; the illustrative photo he provides, of a toddler in full tantrum mode, makes it clear that the real issue is Why It Shouldn't Matter to Anyone That They Can't Hear Anything Over Your Child's Fussing. And why, if it does matter to you, you're just being uncharitable. Or you hate kids.
Though my child is grown up now, I vividly recall her toddlerhood and preschool years, so I approach this topic as a fellow parent.
There are many good techniques to be found in Dr. Popcak's post, aimed at helping parents and children deal with the challenge of coming to church. What I don't see there, however, or in the enormous train of comments that follows, is sufficient pity for others at Mass whose spiritual needs may be different from those of parents and their children. For example, for the adult whose faith is hanging by a thread, who nevertheless forced himself to go to Mass that day, and who desperately needs an focused hour at that Mass to let his frayed emotions be calmed, and get his confused intellect reconnected with Truth, to let God's grace work through to his tormented heart. Imagine such a person trying hard to understand the message of that day's Gospel, but hearing instead something like this:
"At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees, I am the Good SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! lays down His WAAAHHHHHHHHH! know Mine and Mine know BANG! WAILLLLLLLL!!!! The Word of the Lord."He hangs on through the Homily, hoping for the guidance he craves, but since whole sentences are inaudible over the din, that's reduced to incoherence, too.
Perhaps at that moment, something gives. His life is already full of distraction and disappointment. He can't take any more. Parents, he won't be the one scowling at you. He's beyond that. He's the one with head down, shuffling out quietly before the Credo, concluding that not even at Mass will God grant him an hour's peace.
And just outside the church door, the Enemy is waiting for him.
Parents, in your commendable efforts to bring your children to Mass, don't forget about that man who left early. That's all I ask.