12 March 2013

Is It Charitable?

I'm having trouble with something. Is it charitable to "give in" because others have a problem with something, and, if so, in what cases? I've had the charity card pulled on me before in regards to breastfeeding openly at Mass, and now it's being played in regards to where I sit and how my children act at Mass.

So, for example, if you find out the priest gets distracted easily, is it uncharitable to continue sitting in the front? Is it uncharitable not to remove my three kids at the slightest noise? (Edit: my priest has not said anything to me, so it's just a question)

If I know people around me are distracted by my children, is it uncharitable to continue sitting there? If a recovering alcoholic is going to be bothered by someone drinking alcohol, I try not to drink in front of them out of charity, but is that at all the same thing?

And what about my children? I sit in the front specifically so thy can see and learn; if they aren't with me, I don't usually sit in the front. Their behaviour is worse if we sit where they can't see the altar, so then they'd disrupt people still. Their behavior isn't bad, and certainly not atypical for their ages. They are mostly quiet, though Charlotte moves around and talks, because that's how she is able to process things. They may not always appear to be paying attention, yet this past Sunday Kieran sang the Sanctus, in Latin, and Charlotte wants a statue of Mary and her own mantilla, so obviously they're getting it.

And then I wonder about humility/pride and obedience. I think of some of the Saints who obeyed their superiors even when what they were doing wasn't bad (thinking specifically of Padre Pio obeying the order not to celebrate Mass publicly for a time). But then I've taken no vows like that, and the Church as a whole has made no declarations about my predicament, but instead gives us great freedom in such things. I have enlisted the help of another parishioner who has agreed to sit with me when we're both there, because I feel I should accept appropriate help when available. I declined the offer of another to help by watching Kieran so I could remove Charlotte, as I don't feel the need to remove her unless she's actually throwing a fit (rare) and because Kieran is fine on his own for a few minutes.

Someone also point out Jesus' silence before His accusers, which some took as giving up or a sign of guilt. Does that apply here?

I know I'm stubborn to a fault at times - am I just being stubborn here? If it were something about me and that just affected me, I'd willingly comply, but it isn't. My children are affected, and if I know they do best and learn most when sitting where they can see the altar, should I move? I know I can't be stricter and expect perfection, because when I do that we all get stressed and they beg to miss Mass; when I don't do that, Kieran gets upset when we miss.

So what's the answer? I really would appreciate feedback, please.


  1. I think there is a difference between distracting and disruptive. I am sure if your children were disruptive you would sit elsewhere. But, no matter where a family sits their children are likely to distract someone. I think it's a lousy excuse and complaint to try and force you to move. I wouldn't move to please someone who sits near me. I might move if they continued to harass me about it and it was a hindrance to MY ability to focus on the Mass. The only exception would perhaps be your example of a priest asking you to sit elsewhere. That is one request I would take seriously. Unless he was rude, in which case I might not. Maybe I'm just stubborn, too.

  2. God bless you for your sincere heart. I would chat with the priest and tell what you've mentioned here about your intentions. It's wonderful to have the help of a friend if you are the sole parent at Mass, and a thoughtful thing to do.

    My husband seems to notice every disruptive kid at Mass. He doesn't get mad or anything, just mentions it to me. I, on the other hand, seem to be totally oblivious to everything kids at Mass do, and likewise am that way in most public places. My takeaway on this is that some people are more easily distracted than others, but you're raising little saints for heaven and that should take precedence over everything, especially if your kids aren't disruptive.

  3. You won't like my opinion - it's fairly negative - but here it is.

    I'm opposed to "assigned seats" at mass. Just about everyone has theirs, of course. We are fortunate in my parish that the choir loft serves as a "cry room" for children old enough to climb the stairs. From there, there's a great view of everything.

    There was a time when my son wanted to sit in the front row. I told him he had to be perfect. He was about 7 at the time and pretty much could be. But he wasn't quick enough getting to communion, as we were the first in line. He sensed my frustration and now doesn't want to sit in the front row.

    I think clergy dislike the front rows being empty. I've overheard priests and deacons discuss amongst themselves about being distracted by children their parents can't control. On rare occasions, I've seen it on their faces. There's a commotion and they glance at each other.

    For our own sakes, my family sits in the absolutely last row. But I'm naturally self-conscious and have never liked the feeling of anyone behind me.

    1. See, and that's what works best for you, so that's great. We're all creatures of habit who tend to sit in the same general location. I don't care so much where we sit as long as the kids can see the altar, which pretty much limits us to he front. I do prefer one side to the other so I can avoid EMHCs, but that's just me. I know some EMHCs aren't as comfortable distributing on he tongue, so it helps us both. :-)