Letter from Fr. David
Dear Friends in Christ,
You might have noticed in church this weekend we had the 1st Communion cloth hanging from the altar. On the cloth are the symbols of the Eucharist, the names of the children, and their handprints. After one of the Masses someone voiced to me a little concern that there were only four children for 1st Communion. The question posed to me was “what do we do about that?” I’d like to consider that question briefly here.
Obviously we cannot simply place an order for more children to “Mr. Stork” and have him magically deliver them on our steps! Sooooooooo…………..
The first thing we can and should do is encourage our young couples to be generous in bringing new life into the world. The Judeo-Christian traditions have always taught that children are blessings from God, and to have many of them around is a good thing. Our Catechism teaches that “the supreme gift of marriage is a human person” (CCC #2378) and that “the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its supreme gift, the child” (CCC #1664). Furthermore, “Sacred Scripture and the Church’s traditional practice see in large families a sign of God’s blessing and the parents’ generosity” (CCC #2373). Now that said, there are many complexities and complications that can arise in marriage and family life, and sometimes having any children is impossible or having many children is impractical. God knows the heart, and he knows whether couples are welcoming life or not, however it all pans out. We for our part encourage life, and we thank our couples who have children for bringing them into the world!
So that’s the first thing we ought to do to see more children around. The second thing is to continue to cultivate an atmosphere in the parish that is welcoming and positive for families with young children. Of course St. Mary doesn’t have a big enough narthex for a “cry room” or a large area where parents can walk their little ones during Mass if necessary. These are just not feasible, but still there are other things we can do. Whenever we see a couple at Mass with their young children we can thank them for bringing their children to Mass. If a couple sitting nearby in church is having difficulty with a little one, send a smile and give a little encouraging word. You parents of older children might remember when you brought your little ones to Mass. It often wasn’t easy, was it? Yes indeed there are those moments when parents should temporarily remove from the main church a child who is acting up during Mass, but we should all work extra hard to be patient, understanding, and encouraging. Life can be messy, and sometimes little children just make noise. Also remember that parents can be mortified when their little ones make noise during Mass, so the best thing we can do is show compassion and reassure them that they are not failures! Let’s not ever give reason by bad attitude for young families to not come back to St. Mary. And when it comes to babies specifically, whenever we hear one cry in church we should stop and say a prayer of thanks for the gift of that child. They are our future, and we need them, and we want them!
A final point for today is continuing to find more ways to engage the children and youth of our parish in their involvement with the church. This may help draw more families as well.
Sincerely in Christ,