Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mass-ive disruption

Yes, those kids have been running around throughout the entire opening prayer. I think one of them is wearing tap shoes. Yup, that's them again, doing a jig, as it seems, in... no, on the back row.

This has happened during Mass in a pew just far enough away from you to pique your interest. You've felt the event going on behind you bore a hole in the back of your head. It wanted you to look at it.

Chances are those moms and dads who hear kids playing in the background sympathize with the parents of the noise-makers, but sometimes they just can't help shedding a little attention on the free show. Most parents, at one point, have tried to keep their kids from bunny hopping in circles around the stroller during a funeral (I truly hope this has never occurred), so they know the seesaw of stress:
  • Stop it! People are staring!
  • Let them stare, they have no idea!
  • Oh my gosh, I can't believe my kids are doing this to me.
  • They're kids, this is what they do.
  • I need a nap.
At the beginning of a recent Mass, a family of 233 kids started frolicking in the back. I think they were setting up a carnival, or at least a Skeeball machine.
Another from the visual diary

We, the crowd, divided between those-who-shall-ignore-and-never-look (my peeps) and those-who-will-look-if-they-damn-well-please, while the poor mother was doing her best to wrangle her children back onto the bench. There were probably only 3 kids, but that's a guess. Remember, my anxiety prevented me from turning around.

I started getting irrationally upset at the people who turned around to shoot the death stare with their irrationally upset eyes. Then I realized: this is pointless and I've completely missed the beginning of the hour of devotion.

To those who turn around and investigate "the problem:" Think about what you're doing. You're annoyed by the kids or by the kids' parents because YOU can't concentrate.

Kids make noise. If you haven't picked up on this, I doubt you can even hear the disruption to begin with, so why are we having this discussion? (Elizabeth, stop talking to yourself)

Secondly, when was the last time of complete quiet in you life? When will there ever be a time of quiet? When, other than in childhood, have you been able to live life without interruption?

There will always be someone within the speaking hall with Tourette's, someone at church who will mess up the Eucharist line because they don't know any better, someone who wants to drive a wedge between you and your faith, someone who is shaking his paper cup filled with coins at you as if to say, "Hello? Can't you hear me?," someone on the phone in the highway lane next to you, and some kid distracting you from your prayer life.

To those who get mad at those who look: you're no better and you're still letting judgment cloud your present mind.

Tie your happiness and your patience to Jesus Christ. Center yourself in the midst of the distractions. It's not God's job or any person's job to clear your mind for you. That's your job. Look at yourself.


Lisa said...

Great read, Liz! Thank you! I once heard Deacon James Keating (director of priestly formation at Creighton) talk about this very thing. His suggestion is during that moment when you are praying at Mass, in adoration, etc., and whenever something like you describe above takes you out of your prayerful state, then YOU have some more praying to do. So, for example, you could pray: "Lord, I have no idea why that crying baby is getting on my nerves. First, thank you God for my life. I was once that crying baby, too. Please, help me be more patient. Build in me a steadfast desire to praise you always, regardless of distraction." (or something similar). What I love about his suggestion is that whatever "distraction" takes you out of prayerful state is probably something that you should praying about anyway. So thank the crying baby after Mass for shining light on your weakness so that you can pray about it! :)

Elizabeth said...

Excellent point, Lisa!

vercfamily said...

Is it bad that my inclination would probably be to turn around and smile at the kid??
...I hope we haven't been distressing people at Mass with our little squirmer!

Elizabeth said...

No, that's a good inclination. The reason I don't turn around is because I worry the mom or dad is going to think, "I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN! STOP LOOKING AT ME!"

A could never bother anyone!

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