I REFER TO the article "Are toddlers welcome in church?" (CN, Sep 3, 2006) by Marie Lim Puay See. I empathize with her and all anguished parents who feel a sense of guilt when their little children distract the congregation during Mass.
Suddenly, we all seem to be very intolerant of theses tiny tots, probably because we are distracted or irritated by their crying or the noises they make during services.
Were we not once an infant or a child? Our parents had no maid to look after us then, at home or in church. Did we not cause distractions to others then?
As adults aren't we amused at times when a little girl echoes the celebrant's "Gloria" albeit a little off-key? Isn't it a joy to see a little boy clapping his hands during Mass as though he is at a Charismatic session?
Would Jesus have asked them to leave as they disrupted his sermon? I don't think so. I am reminded of Luke 18:16-17: "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."
We can leave them in a childcare environment during Mass, but we will still have to expose them to the service sooner or later. Let them grow up in this environment. Let them enjoy the sign of peace even if it is just soliciting a kiss or a hug from their mother.
Let them shake hands with the congregation. Let them be a part of us. Let us also think of the feelings of the parents of these children who feel guilty bringing them to Mass because we are intolerant. Let us not just give lip service to "Love". Let us all live Love and Tolerance.
To all parents, I say, "Be proud of your children whom God has entrusted to you. God does not disapprove of it and Christ welcomes them. That is what is important".