Welcome back from summer holiday time and a few months without a parish bulletin. This is as good a time as any to introduce to all our parishioners a new designation of our former ‘Chapel’ as our new Quiet Room for parents and their younger children. In former days parishes often called these types of spaces Cry Rooms which was almost begging for screaming children to fill them. Our designation of the former chapel to serve now as a Quiet Room is intended for parents, whose children may not be quite ready for an hour in church, to be present to the Mass. At the same time it provides their child the opportunity to be trained for when they will be better equipped and ready for the liturgy in the pews in the church itself.
It’s a touchy issue over children in church who may be prone to talk and play throughout the Mass. While it is absolutely true that children have as much of a place and a right to be in church with their parents as any other parishioner, it is also true that a noisy child in the pews is a distraction for all who are trying to worship. While most parents will take their child (who may be cranky, acting up or noisy) out of the church for a bit of a breather, some don’t.
The local parish church is the place where Catholics come from their often busy lives to sing, pray and give voice to their faith in Christ. But it is also a privileged time when we participate through periods of silence and quiet reflection on God’s Word. St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans (10:17) that “Faith comes from hearing.” And so if any of us, younger or older, are distracted from hearing the Gospel, the Homily, as well as the Eucharistic Prayer, then we need to be concerned about how this affects our spiritual growth.
While the parish church is a place like no other building in our town because it is truly God’s House, all of us would accept that a noisy child would not be permitted (much less tolerated) in a movie theater during a movie, and it’s not just because the people in the theater paid to get in.
On the other hand, no one would expect or demand that small children be absolutely silent in church nor would anyone expect that children be perfect. None of us are. We would expect that all of us have a respect for one another’s choice and right to be able to hear what is being said, sung and prayed for the spiritual benefit of all.
That is where the Quiet Room comes in. It is a large enough room with lots of light and good speakers which carry well the audio of the church even better than in the church itself because there is no echo. This is a training space for children to learn to keep their voices down and to respect the need for others, and like them, to hear what God wants to tell His people each Sunday.
Because the Quiet Room is a training space which seeks to prepare children for the larger church, we ask that no food or drinks be brought into this space in the same way that they would not be appropriate for the parish church itself. Anyone, young or older can go without food or drink for an hour, with the exception of course for nursing babies at feeding time.
We also ask that children be trained to sit and stand at the appropriate times throughout the liturgy and that the Quiet Room not be seen as a playroom to keep the children busy and occupied. Children’s religious books that are oriented toward the bible, the Mass and about Jesus are appropriate to this space during Mass (and are available from the Cherub’s Cupboard Catholic Gift and Bookstore in Oshawa, which come to our parish quite regularly throughout the year).
We would ask that the present seating arrangement with the three pews and 16 folding chairs be left as it is and that chairs be left as they are with a clear view of the sightlines of the pulpit and altar. Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to sit in this room if you can’t see the pulpit or the altar.
We ask that adults without children not use this room as it will be solely for the use of parents with small children in training.
Our parish is also an exceptionally young parish and we want all of our parishioners to feel at home in their church as well as able to participate in the liturgy of the Mass without unnecessary and avoidable distraction. One of the hallmarks of Christianity is that we love each other in word and deed. We hope that this Quiet Room will be viewed as our parish’s intention and desire to all the more include small children and help their parents in preparing them for “full and active participation” in the liturgy of the Church which is of tremendous importance and benefit to us all. (Fr. Charles)