Recently, I was serving Mass with a good priest friend of mine at a parish in Baltimore. During the Mass, a small toddler got restless, starting crying and every few moments, the baby would let out a piercing scream. The poor parents of this child were trying in vain to quiet the child. They pulled out toys, passed the boy back and forth, hugged him and rocked him, all to no avail. Now, the parents did not take the child out of the Church because the father was being received into the faith and needed to be present during the Rite of Acceptance. Nonetheless, I must admit, one part of me was annoyed because I found it hard to concentrate.
Should I really be annoyed or thankful?
Sitting on the altar, I noticed others in the congregation getting annoyed as well. Well, right when we could not stand it any more, right when the mother and father were about to surrender and leave the Church, my friend the celebrant, said to the parents, “Don’t worry about the crying child. All of that crying just means that the Catholic Church has a future.” He went on to say to the rest of us, “If you go into a church that does not have a crying baby, that church is in trouble. It has no future. So, let us thank God for crying babies.”
Cries of joy
That simple statement changed my mentality as well as that of most of the congregation. I still think the parents of an older child who should be disciplined may still rightfully garner a few scorns. But an infant whose parents are trying the raise the child in the faith deserve a bit more sympathy. So, next time you find yourself annoyed and distracted by a crying baby, thank God; the future of the church is being secured.
I will share more “less-than-obvious” reasons to thank God in the coming days.