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I had a family that brought their toddler to Mass this evening. For the most part he was well behaved, maybe a noise here or there, but nothing significant. After communion I was purifying the vessels when he had a little tantrum. I was a little nervous at first.
I talked with them after Mass. This is what I said: “Thank you for bringing your kid to Mass. I know it's difficult. I know they can be fidgety and noisy, but I want to say thank you and to let you know that he really didn't bother me, because this is his Mass too."
I've been wanting to say this for a while, especially after a few experiences. Some people are upset by crying children during the liturgy, because it interferes with their silence. The liturgy, by definition, is the work of the people.
This is especially true for the Sacred Liturgy. It is the work of the entire baptized from infants to the elderly. It is the summation of the entire body of Christ formed into one.
It is therefore not an individuals time for personal prayer, though it is deeply personal and transformative. It is the Church's prayer by which we are brought together as one and conformed and transformed to the likeness of Christ.
If a child is noisy or fidgety, doing what a child does, then that is that child's offering to God and his or her prayer. And if we are annoyed by the child's noise because it interrupts our personal silence, then I promise you that child's plight will be heard more than our own.
If our prayer is so distracted by little ones, how can our life become a living prayer to God? Let the little ones come into the arms of Mother Church, let them pray as they need, not as we desire.

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