Hi, I am the mother of two difficult, energetic children, whom I bring to Mass so they can learn to be good Christians; we sit on a bench, not in a pew, that faces a tall glass window between us and the sanctuary where the privileged Christians get to sit. Today, my view through the window was of the back sides of several college aged young persons, in shorts– plaid shorts in one case, boat shoes, flip-flops and sneakers, hairy legs and their asses at my face level FOR THE ENTIRE MASS.
Now, it is a LARGE church, with a massive number of places to sit and a LOT more wall than the 12 foot or so of glass that fronts the benches where the mothers with babies and toddlers sit. NOT ONE usher thought to move them along or take them down the side aisle to sit in one of the empty pews I cannot use because my children at their best are still too squirmy and noisy to be welcome.
You see, it is bad enough that mothers and babies are second class citizens, relegated to a space out in the narthex, who have to wait until everyone else receives the Eucharist before it is our turn to stumble from the very furthest reaches of the church, down the long aisle to the front with our small children, but you add insult on top of disrespect by flashing your tight buns in my face for the entire Mass.
Did you know that I would much rather my children and I be able to see into the sanctuary at least to see the crucifix up high on the wall up front? Well, I really would!
And young men, not all of you were oblivious, some of you turned and LOOKED at us, sitting there, banished from the “good company” of perfect Catholics who don’t cry and possibly cause someone to miss a word or two. You simply did not care.
Pastor, did you know that the women struggling to reach their children with lessons of Faith and devotion to Christ are treated shabbily in your parish? Probably not, after all, you spoke to me only a few days ago as I talked to you about the struggles I am having and you said you hoped to see me at Mass with my kids– and you did not even so much as glance over at the benches of mothers with small children as you chatted with a deacon because you were early and then walked through to begin Mass right on time. You didn’t see me because you never looked. I was there.
Our society does not value women with my vocation. They dislike seeing or hearing children. Large families are reviled by many quite vocally. The Catholic church with its rejection of contraception and abortion ought to be a place where mothers of small children feel safe, respected and welcome; sadly, your parish is just like the rest of society and not at all like Christ who said, “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.”
So the next time someone in a parish laments that they are losing all the young persons, think about this blog post about how your parish treats parents of small children and the unspoken messages those young persons received from your parish as they sat at their mother’s knee looking at a row of asses.
Dear Lord, please help me find a parish where people treat mothers with respect and value the presence of children even if they are difficult. Please help me find a way to teach my children to love going to worship You in spite of their only view at Sunday Mass being of the bare legs and buttocks of three young men. +Amen