Wednesday, January 2, 2013

An Open Letter to the Church Lady Who Yelled at My Mom

I am noisy in church.

Dear Church Lady,

You probably recognize me as half of the people you yelled at in the Adoration Chapel before storming back into the main church to continue reciting your rosary.  I was the one banging on the glass.  My mom was the one trying to squeeze in a few moments of prayer after 6:30 am Mass.

You might also remember that the next day she came up to you to talk, figuring there had been some sort of misunderstanding, thinking you had had a bad day.  Maybe you even wanted to apologize?  (I tried to warn her that it probably wouldn't be a good idea, but she almost never understands me.  That's why I have to be so loud.)  Boy was I right.  Instead of apologizing you took that opportunity to tell my mom a lot of stuff including that she is "a big distraction in Mass" and "everyone thinks so".  Ouch.

Now, my mom and I both know you are wrong.  I've been coming to this Mass with my mom since before I was born.  These people are crazy about me.  "EVERYONE" seems to me to really like seeing young families at Mass.

It also seems to me that there are plenty of old ladies at daily Mass, but not nearly enough moms and kids.  I heard somewhere that Jesus liked kids.  I bet he's happy to see me, even if you're not.

You have probably noticed that my five older brothers and sisters are very well behaved at church.  But I'm kind of a stinker.  I like to shriek.  I like to bang on stuff.  My mom tries her best, but she can't always keep me quiet.  

Still, like I said, the people here at Mass love me.  Plenty of people have come up to us to say how happy they are to see "the little ones" coming to daily Mass.  I don't even know how many.  I can't count.  And you are the only person who has ever said anything negative to my mom.  But it was a real doozy.

And now it's all she can think about when she's at Mass.  She's more worried than ever about every little noise I make.  And she gets all sweaty and uncomfortable when she needs to walk past you.

Yes, Church Lady, you have taken away the feeling of peace and serenity my mom used to get to have at Mass.  But you would be the first one to point out that that's just what she did to you.

So now what?

Well, here's what I have to say about that: Who says you get to have peace and serenity at Mass?  Either of you?

You can be hair shirts for each other.  And maybe it will make you both better people.  

You will make my mom more conscious about how our behavior affects the people around us.  And that's probably a good thing. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be nicer to the next baby who starts coming to daily Mass since my mom was too stubborn to turn tail and run.  My mom can use that burning feeling she gets when she sees you to remind herself of the stuff she does wrong that she doesn't get yelled at about.  I know there's some stuff.  I'm with her all day long.  Mass is a great place to remember that.

All right Church Lady, that's all for now.  Those block towers aren't going to smash themselves.  But I'll see you tomorrow morning.  And pretending you don't see me just makes me try harder to get your attention.

Love,
Frankie




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41 comments:

  1. Dear Frankie,
    If I were an adoration chapel window, you could bang on me all day long.
    Love,
    Your Godmama
    Ps if I ever get my hands on her, I swear....(hair shirt, hair shirt, hair shirt)

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    1. Love this I would be there with you Grandma

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  2. Well said Frankie :) You have an AWESOME mommy.

    Blessings, Vanessa G.

    Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

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  3. Frankie, Jesus loves you, and I think you're pretty special, too. Give your mama a big ol' hug from me...you can bang on things in Mass next to me any time.

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  4. Dear Frankie,

    What I wouldn't give to hear your joyful noises!

    The next time you're in the chapel just say this Irish prayer. I think it will make Mommy feel better too. Here it is:
    " May those who love us, love us.
    And those who don't love us,
    May God turn their hearts.
    And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
    May He turn their ankles,
    So we'll know them by their limping."

    All my love,

    Your Southside Irish Grandma

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  5. Hey Frankie,Just remind your mom that the sound of children in church is a sign of our Church's life...when it is completely silent, there is no one there to talk to our Lord!
    Patty A.
    PS, Someday Frankie, you will be as well behaved as your siblings in Mass and people will tell your mom what reverent children she has.

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  6. Only feel bad about actions of which you are guilty. Church lady obviously has a cold and lonely life. We will pray for her.

    Love, Dad and Mom

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  7. Go frankie!

    You build those towers and smile at that church lady while you do it! Hug your mommy and tell her not to be worried, anxious or sweaty because you both have a right to be there. Keep smiling Frankie and ignore people who try to hurt your family's feelings! You are in an amazing family! Your parent love you and so does God! Love

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  8. You make a very good point. Why should we expect to have peace and serenity at Mass? Hair shirts for everyone! And as we used to say when I was growing up, offer up the sufferings. Keep on keepin' on. My New Year's resolution is to go to daily Mass. Your family is an inspiration to me.

    Trina

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  9. Dear Church Lady,

    I understand that you have been praying for less birth control and more vocations. I am the answer to your prayer. . .

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  10. WOW, what an experience to have happen at Church of all places. I have to admit though I'm not suprised. Sad to say I've had a "church lady" tell me a thing or two in the adoration chapel as well. All I did was go everyday with my children and meet my husband there during his lunch time. We just sat there in silence and sometimes my husband I would hold hands. This woman came up to me and said she needed to speak to me. So we went out and she proceeded to tell me that she was bugged by me and my family. WHAT??? I realized then that Satan is very present in the place you expect him least. He works hard to disrupt our peace and cause us to doubt if we should be there at all.
    I have met some of the most beautiful holy people who love that I wwould take my kids and have stopped me to tell me so. "Too many to count", as you say.
    You don't know this but every time I am at a meeting at church or some type of gathering, the Tierney family comes up in conversation and I always hear them say they love seeing your family at mass. You all are quite the witness to so many people who are lifted up by your presence.
    Let me finish by saying that I believe God brings those people into our world so that we would pray for someone who might not have anyone to pray for them. Isnt Jesus great? He always knows how to bring the good out of a bad situation.
    Praised Be Jesus Christ!
    Deborah

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  11. Everyone is fighting their own battle and it sounds like God chose your mom to be the punching bag for this woman because that's what he needed of her at that time. We never know why God chooses these kinds of things for us, but it is all part of His plan. Tell your mom not to take it so hard. She stepped up to the plate when He called her to it, and that's all that matters.

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  12. Hey Frankie!
    You and my AJ should talk sometime :) You two could sit next too each other - you can bang on something and AJ can shout "mama" louder than the last time, every 2 minutes. Just tell your mommy that some people are just grumpy and you can't care about them too much....
    xoxo,
    Mrs. Peate

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  13. The Church Lady strikes again. I think she pops up somewhere in everyone's life (sometimes over and over and over again). My family moved to a small town where we were not wanted and many of the people there were quite nasty to my parents. My mother's motto through the whole mess was "Kill them with Kindness." I thought she was nuts being overly kind to people who went out of their way to be nasty. But I saw people change and I saw people visibly jolt when my mother smiled and said something kind to them when they were unkind to her. Some became our friends and others just quit being openly hostile, but either way things became less tense and ugly. My sweet mother reminds me to "Kill them with Kindness" on a regular basis. It doesn't always turn an awkward situation into a good one, but if nothing else...it makes the other person squirm in their seat just a little.

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  14. Dear Frankie
    I guess God knows that Church Lady needs prayer and that through her encounter with you and your mom she would get it! I pray Church Lady's heart will soften and she will take all of her burdens to The Foot of the Cross.
    Lesley

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  15. One time, sitting in the back at a daily mass at St. Rita's, my daughter who was one and a half at the time, started to shriek during mass. An older man stormed out the back door, holding his head. I was practicing what I would say to him after Mass was over when a little something told me that the holding the head part was an indication that maybe he wasn't just a jerk. It gave me that little ounce of mercy that started a beautiful friendship that I will have for the rest of my life although Bill is now past away. After Mass, the old man came to me and said he was sorry for being rude and that the babies can't help it. But when he hears the shrieking he hears artillery shelling. From when he fought in WWII. Sixty years ago. (at the time) Bill had been suffering from PTSD for all these years but instead of feeling forsaken by God, decided to go to Mass every day. I had never felt so small, yet so grateful, so in love with a human being I had just met and so happy to cross paths with him. He has literally changed my life, I regularily thank God for him and pray for his soul now that he is gone.

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  16. I always have to remind myself of these things (in no particular order) - 1. That not everyone loves children the way I do. (this one is real hard for me) 2. Some people are rude. (they've be rude for so long that it's the only way they no how to be) 3. God always gives us opportunities for grace (though sometimes I miss it altogether) 4. God has a purpose for all things (pleasant or unpleasant)

    Kendra I am sorry it happened anyway and Jenney B. you made me cry and reminded me again of number 4.

    Tami

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  17. Dear Frankie,
    I am sad your ma got hollered at in Church. It seems like some grown up's (the ones who holler in church), usually do not have very happy lives. I think you probably holler cause you need to tell everyone how happy you are (or maybe cause you don't talk that good yet?). Some people holler for the opposite reason...to tell everyone how miserable they are. Jesus loves us all...but he holds little kiddo's especially close to his Sacred Heart. I'm sure your ma already told you that though. I am gonna pray that God helps that lady to be happier (especially when she see's a miracle straight from God like a new person!).
    I hope to see you come swim at my house when the weather gets hot again. Your Friend, Mrs. Hensley

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  18. Jesus would much rather hear the sounds of children than the gossipy whispers of older ladies who should know better. Daily Mass is how children learn to love Mass and become the next generation of adorers.

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  19. Hi Frankie,

    My name is David and when I was your age my parents had taken me to St Paul's Church near UCLA. They didn't have a "crying room" and I began making noise and received comments from a man right behind us. My Dad rose with me in his arms (he did this alot), but before he could turn to exit the pew a much older man put his hand on my Dad's shoulder and asked him to sit back down. He looked me in the eye and whispered in my Dad's ear "Let the other one leave. I like you sitting next to me". We stayed there for the rest of Mass and I don't remember making too much noise.

    Aren't people incredibly different; sometimes a blessing and a curse so close to one another?

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  20. Hi there! Just found your blog. I had the same thing happen to me on All Saints' Day. I've got six kiddoes as well, ages nine and under, and I took all of them by myself to noon Mass because my oldest boy (who is nine years old) was to serve the Mass. It's a good thing I went, because if we had not gone there would have been no server.

    I was in the back with a two year old and a baby who were both very fussy. My five year old was in the pew with his six year old brother and his eight year old sister and started swinging his feet, apparently; I wasn't there because I was in the back. Apparently my children were able to be heard because I sure got it from the "Mass police" myself. I listened to them go on and on about how lousy my children were, and then my son issued from the sacristy.

    I then turned to the old ladies and said, "Well, I know this much; if my son hadn't been here, Father wouldn't have had anyone to serve Mass. My husband had to work today, and I'm sorry if we annoyed you, but I am a homeschooling mother, I'm doing my best, I have tried to raise my children well, and I plan to continue to try. That includes taking my children to Mass because if you want the Church to continue, you need to raise them. I assumed you knew that. Why do you think my son can serve Mass? It's not because I kept him home all the time lest he annoy somebody. And I don't have a babysitter down the road, nor can I afford to pay one whenever I want to come to church. I'm sorry if you are offended by my statement, but you have offended me a great deal."

    Well, it wasn't quite THAT good, but you get my drift. :-)

    They went on about how "now they could understand why my children behaved the way they do" but I just turned around and left. I take my kids to Mass a lot during the week because my oldest serves so much, and I often am by myself with them. We go to the Fraternity of St. Peter parish in our diocese, so my son serves the 1962 Latin Mass.

    When people are rude, even if they're your elders, sometimes they just need to be told off. I'm sorry if that bothers some people but it's a real problem. They end up encouraging contraception and anti-family attitudes. One time my husband and I, when the oldest children were really small, had to spend time outdoors with a fussy child (due to there being no cry room) and a priest who was famous for two-hour sermons. The child already had a cold, and ended up with a very serious bronchial problem after being out in the cold and wind.

    Most of these "Mass police" are completely out of touch with the reality we have to live with that they didn't necessarily have to deal with. We do not leave our children home when they are babies; there isn't anybody to leave them with anyway. We cannot rely on the local Catholic schools anymore.

    Charity begins in the pew!

    YOU GO, GIRL!

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  21. I am sorry this happend to you. I think older people forgot how hard sometimes it is to bring young children to mass. I have had a few older people tell me that they use to take turns with their husbands going to different Mass times just so they didn't have to bring the kids. And...while I agree, that is is nice to be able to go to Mass sometimes alone, that is not where I am earning graces.
    And you know what? These same people who did not take their children to mass way back when...have grown children that don't attend now. It could be for any number of reasons...but I at least want to try my best and if something as tragic as my children losing their faith happens, I could at least say to God, "I did try my best".

    Some older people might die with the faith, but will they die for it? Will they pass it on? Isn't that what we are supposed to do?
    I admit that we mothers must be diligent and try our best to keep the children quiet and teach them manners, but it won't happen if we don't bring them.

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  22. Dear Frankie,
    I know just what you mean. My mom gets all uptight about all the cranky old people who glare at her because I like to stay busy at Mass, I occasionally throw church books at my siblings (or whoever happens to sit ahead of us) and I find the aisle irresistable to try and make a break-away before someone grabs me (before I can try to swing on the holy water font. Yes, I've tried that. It's fun.)
    I think you have just the right attitude, Frankie...and I think our moms and all those cranky old people could learn a thing or two from us.
    Hey, my Mom is wondering if she could republish your letter on her blog EquippingCatholicFamilies.com. Maybe our moms could talk. See you at Church sometime,
    Adam
    (Thanks for linking to Catholic Bloggers Network!)

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  23. I'm so sorry if I missed something.I do have small kids too and I know some people are really bad about that at the point to say that kids should not go to mass! But!!!

    I did not get what kind of noisy Frankie was doing and for how long and he said something about ADORATION chapel were it is expect to have silent.

    I take my kids to adoration everyday 15 minutes before ends and after we have benediction and mass. If they start make too much noise (banging??) I take all of them outside..

    I know...it is not fun and tiring but...the "cross" and what adorable cross! it is mine....is lack of charity to others too keep your noisy child inside of adoration chapel.

    Keep taking yours kids to the church do not worry about what others think...they will grow and become holy but respect others too!

    God bless your family....your kids are beautiful

    In JMJ,
    Fernanda


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    Replies
    1. Fernanda,

      I didn't include the exact details of what happened that day because, frankly, I think it would be really boring. Suffice to say, my baby was absolutely being noisy, but I felt (and still do feel) that I had an adequate reason to linger a few moments more.

      My entire intention in writing this post was to share with others how I have grown as a result of having this experience.

      I hope it helped you. I'm sorry if it didn't.

      Thanks!
      Kendra

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    2. You will grown much closer to the Lord and get abundantly graces for you and whole family if you learn put others before yourself.

      I can understand that those ladies are kind mean and this really hurt us but again we are supposed to give (up) everything for others out of love to God withou counting the cost. Even though you cannot see any fruit right now.

      A church is a place to pray and God speaks to us in silent....if we keep our noisy kids inside the church where in this world people are going to be able to listen to God???

      If people could pray and listen to kids screaming at the same time they would pray in the playground...honestly that lady has done a favor to you...and hopefully you will recognize her act of mercy sooner than later.

      In JMJ,
      Fernanda

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    3. Thank you for your great concern for me, Fernanda. I feel that we have not understood each other, so I'm going to sign off this comment thread with a request that you pray for me. Thank you so much for reading.

      Delete
  24. Dear Frankie,

    You do not have much of my sympathy because you did not write this, your mom did. Your mom should not use you as a tool to try and make other people feel guilty for yelling at her, especially after being so presumptuous to think other people should tolerate your banging on the windows during adoration; how do we not know that the time these other people spend in adoration is not the only time they have to pray either? Your mom should take to heart our holy father's Tweet to the busy American mom who asked him how to find time to pray amidst so many of the day's activities: "Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you." Your mom has every moment of her day to offer to God. She should not feel bad for having to remove you from the adoration chapel sooner than she expects, and angry at others for stating to obvious to her, in order to charitably and considerately offer to others the opportunity to be able to focus on their prayer. She should trust in God that he knows her good intentions and that someday soon as you get older that you will be able to attend adoration with her for increasingly longer amounts of time.

    I am a dad myself and have to make the same acts of trust in God. I missed 99% of the Mass last Sunday and did not even get to receive Holy Communion because my two-year-old son was making so much noise in the small chapel where we attend Mass which has no cry room. That's just the way it has to be sometimes, and we do not always have to make our own problems those of other people by stirring up so much drama just because things don't go our way.

    In Christ,
    Richard

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    Replies
    1. Richard,

      Please see my response to you below. You might enjoy this wonderful post by Fr. Ryan Erlenbush called Crying children call to mind the mystery of the Mass but then again, you might not.

      Kendra

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  25. I may not have your sympathy Richard, but you have mine! I'm so sorry you had to miss receiving Holy Communion, and I'm sure you are doing the best you can with your son.

    Thank you for your advice. I have a lovely Grandfather Clock, actually built by my actual grandfather which chimes every 15 minutes and is a wonderful reminder to me to center my thoughts again to God.

    I guess I wasn't able to fool you. My 15 month old is pretty smart. But he's bad at typing.

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  26. I just wanted to comment that it is often a child who brings me back to what was happening at Mass when my mind wanders (I need to remember to buy X at the grocery store, remember to tell Y that we have an appointment on Monday afternoon, etc.) - especially during the readings or the homily.

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    Replies
    1. What a lovely perspective you have! And boy, you sure seem to know a lot about what going on inside MY head at mass! Thank you.

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  27. Ohhhhh! I love this! Not too long ago my hubby and I moved to a church that didn't provide "Kids Church" in favor of the family worshipping together. It was a hard transition for us- to the point of it ALMOST being a deal breaker for this new found congregation. I was that lady that yelled (under her breath mostly) at the distractions to my enjoyment of the sermon. But then I was that mom trying to shush her child so not to BE the distraction. I have finally come to peace with all that your cute post said! Jesus likes kids- they are the future. Those little screaming ones will ,one day, be very influential for his kingdom! Why not train them up now!
    Good for you mama- for standing your ground!

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  28. Frankie, I'm gonna pray for you. Your mom has clearly had more children than she should have had (Being Catholic is not an excuse for uncontrolled fecundity, God expects us to take responsibility for our sex lives and restrain ourselves to that we can provide for the children we have had - but that's a whole 'nother post). And because your mom has too many children, she's needing to put her own spiritual time (in chapel, not even at Mass) ahead of your needs. Bum deal dude, it's likely that she's gonna let you get away with all sorts of bad behaviour. So I'm gonna be praying that somehow you come across people who care enough for to correct your behaviour when you're out of line, and to remove you from situations where you don't have enough self-control.

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  29. Oh dear, Anonymous, I can only imagine you've misread this post and haven't read anything else on my blog if you've come to these conclusions. My children are the joy of this life for me and I have exactly as many as I should have and would welcome more. I'd encourage you to read some of my other posts like those about our recent travels to Italy and the way our family celebrates the liturgical year.

    I hope you'll come away with a different impression of me, my family, and big families in general. But I fear that you are directing some feelings of your own about mothers of many children towards me, so perhaps even a closer examination of my joy-filled life wouldn't help. But I hope it will.

    There are people who honestly enjoy having many children, and who feel called to it as a vocation, I am one of those people and my children are loved and happy and well behaved. I am so grateful that I have the life I do. I appreciate your prayers.

    Kendra

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  30. My husband plays the organ at Mass so that leaves me alone with our 4. They are mostly good, but I do have a 2 year old and, well, you know how that goes... I will also mention we belong to a very small Parish with very few small children. I have the largest family of small small children (sadly). So there's an older couple that the kids and I routinely end up sitting behind (not on purpose but because I am generally rushing out of the house at the last minute, etc...you get it...). They will talk loud enough for me to hear about how my little one is up and down and making noise, etc. It hurt my feelings for a long time because I do try hard the kids really are good in Mass, the littlest is just a wildcard. Then last Christmas Day I took my kids to Mass like always and again we were sitting behind this couple. My children were singing their little hearts out because they just love those Christmas hymns. And the wife of the couple in front of us started crying and told me how beautiful it was to hear children singing. Ever since then, that couple saves my children and me a seat at Mass. So, there is hope.

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  31. Kendra, I found your blog through Jennifer Fulwiler's Conversion Diary. I'm sorry you had to endure this women's ugly comments. However, this reminds me of one of Jennifer's posts that has stuck with me. You may or may not be familiar with it. Here's the link:

    http://www.conversiondiary.com/2008/05/looking-for-tow-truck-driver.html

    "Maybe it’s not about you at all. Maybe it’s about the tow truck driver."

    It sounds to me as if the Good Lord is working through you and your family to bless this woman. Please keep her in your prayers.

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  32. I stumbled upon your blog and oh my thank you so much for this post! I was yelled at by a church lady when my 2yo wasn't being saintly quiet. I approached her to apologize and let's just say the conversation didn't go well. She actually said church is not a place for children!!! I was appalled. Anywho - we pray for her every night and we'll start to extend that prayer to all the church ladies of the world. Goodness knows that they need a reminder as I am sure they had children at one time too!

    Thank you for articulating this so well. :) Glad we are not alone.

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  33. I really appreciated this post, so thank you for writing it! When my oldest was about 10 months old we were "kicked out" of the adoration chapel at our parish because it is "not an appropriate place for babies." I could cite the Bible to prove otherwise...but...I ended up leaving in tears. And could not bring myself to return even without my child for over a year. In any case, it kind of feels better to know it's not just my children that bring out these reactions in others and that there is some benefit to the situation - your hair shirt analogy. Good work.

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  34. Thank you for writing this, Kendra. I LOVE the sound of kids crying at mass. I hear our Catholic future in their cries. Such an awesome sound if I do say so myself!

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