yer late fer Mass agin!

An eternal criticism here. Sean and Gilbert went this week, a bit late. Sean and I have to tag-team Mass because we haven’t found anyplace that can work for Bede. I wonder if we will, or if it will just be how we do it until he’s a bit older.

It’s a difficult thing, autism and quiet pursuits. My Church compels me to go to Mass every Sunday and holy day, and I don’t get there very often anymore. I spent the last dozen times we went as a family in the church parking lot, walking laps with an autistic yelly boy and a (heavy) baby in the sling. There was nowhere for us to go. Bede is too big for the cry room* and lasted in the sanctuary for about 3 minutes.

When we went to Latin Mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago it was gloriously noisy. The whole place was packed, on a regular day in Ordinary Time. There were people waiting in line for confession during Mass, and at least two slightly unhappy babies making noise at all times. We fit right in there. Even with an autistic yelly boy, we’d have been just fine.

But here I just don’t know. I talked with my friend about it a while back, and she suggested a certain church in Midwest City, east of here. Apparently the priest there was open to a “special needs Mass.” I think that’s a really great idea, but we need Mass every week, and we’d much rather be welcomed and included, in a non-intrusive way, than given our own special Mass. Another priest at the church we used to attend told us that the earlier Mass was much noisier than the late morning one we had been attending. It would take some work to get everyone happily out the door in time for a 9AM Mass on the other side of town, but we should probably give it a shot.

It’s difficult. Bede has no social filter and not much language, so when he doesn’t like something he is very loud. And when he does like something he’s loud. He needs an adult giving him all the attention to be able to do something like that, to not bolt, or fling hymnals, take off all his clothes etc. That leaves Sean with five other children, one a ten-month-old. Not feasible, really.

I guess we’ll keep waiting.

*For my readers unfamilliar with the term, a cry room is a small room, usually pretty soundproofed, with a view of Mass and an audio speaker so you can hear the priest. It’s intended for parents and kids under about 3-4, I’d say. I haven’t ever been to a Protestant church but I’m told that usually kids too young to sit relatively quietly through the service are in the nursery. Some Catholic churches have nurserys but it’s far fromĀ  universal, especially given how many kids Catholics have. It’s certainly not unusual at all to see many, many small children in the church during Mass.

8 thoughts on “yer late fer Mass agin!

  1. We had a total pre-Mass meltdown here this morning and I ended up at home with the howling hoard, while Max went to church. It happens to us with some regularity, with just the two kids, so, really, you’re doing fine, I’m sure. (Our kids are just heavily nap-dependent and every Mass in this whole stinking town falls during someone’s nap. Ugh. We had much better luck in Texas, where there seemed to be a greater variety of Mass times.)

    The upside here (in South Bend, that is), is that the cathedral parish we’ve been part of seems to have a lot of special needs families and a very laid back cry room atmosphere. (No actual cry room at the cathedral in Austin, for contrast.) There are regularly families with school age children in the cry room at all of the masses. Maybe it’s just the culture of the diocese or maybe we’re just lucky, but I’ll pray that you’ll stumble across a good fit.

  2. Bre stayed in the nursery until she was seven or eight, regardless of age due to her emotional age. Usually the nursery is for children up to age four, I tend to want all of my kids over two in the sanctuary because I think an hour isn’t too long, especially with the half time (Peace) break. But the Sunday school director really worked well to find a nursery attendant who was well-versed in special needs and Bre loved it in there.

    Our church does have glass windows at the back of the sanctuary (between the sanc and the ingathering), so the plan for her now is to sit in the sanctuary until she can’t stand it, and then she sits out there in a row of folding chairs left for people who need them. She’s older though, and sometimes can sit by herself, sometimes I sit with her while friends keep the other kids in line (albeit not as quiet as *I* would like) or people take turns sitting with her (very nice because Sam and Dan are still young enough to need reminders and modeling for how to behave in church, and other parents aren’t as concerned with this even though it drives me CRAZY to see NT 11 yos climbing around the pews and tearing up paper and whispering and crawling UNDER the pews and….never mind)

    On a bad day (where I have no energy) Zane stays home with her. Today I had no energy, but Zane was working until 5am on some project, and I figured it wasn’t fair to leave him with her after three hours of sleep, AND it was the big parish breakfast. That’s more work for me though, with kids allergic to corn, wheat and milk and no one really understanding that. ONE person put ingredients for her casserole but they were just vague enough to make me laugh. Now I’ve officially hijacked your blog….meant to just say, here’s how our church is working (Catholic light) and hope you guys find something that works for you. Norman is very far, but I’ve heard very family friendly things about St Marks…and it’s a beautiful building.

  3. I’m LDS, and church is generally a noisy affair since we tend to have lots of kids. Even so, there have been times when we’ve wondered why we’ve bothered to even go when our kids are making such a ruckus. It seems to be getting better with Josh, at least, but now our 4-year-old is the ruckus-maker. Oh well, I’m sure that as we keep at it, they’ll get the idea. I’m not sure how families used to get their kids to sit silently during church. We certainly haven’t figured it out.

  4. i would love to go to church again. we have had no luck here. the congregations are all aging and intolerant of kids (and i speak from experience with many of the congregations here, not as a sweeping generalization). we have attended no fewer than 15 different churches here in 3.5 years.

    i guess our expectations are too high. they are as follows:

    -we want our kids with us in the service, not in some ‘class’
    -don’t talk about Jesus directly to my kids. please, well meaning church person, keep it to yourself.

    there is a catholic church here, we haven’t tried it because … well, we aren’t catholic, yk. can you go to one if you aren’t?

  5. Every time I hear a Mass story like this, I’m SO grateful for my tiny mission parish community. I’m so sorry for all of you who struggle so much with taking your kids to Mass!

  6. Omelay, yes you can go to a Catholic Church if you aren’t Catholic. You just can’t go to Communion. Give it a try, you might like it.

    Feebs,
    Try the church in MWC. The new priest is great and very family friendly. Explain what’s up with Bede beforehand and he won’t even bat an eye if he decides to “sing” during Mass. If he gets to be too much for you, you can take him to the Daily Mass Chapel. It’s quiet and dark and you can hear all of Mass in there. I should know, I’ve spent enough time in there with a crying baby.

  7. This has been a topic on my blog on and off over the years too. It is a re-occuring and difficult topic for a lot of SN families.

    I could write a blog again, but I will just say that the best course of action is to get on the phone and start calling children’s ministers and priests and let your needs be known. You can usually tell a lot by their reaction…if they are all syrupy and such, they are likely just giving you lip service. If they seem more real and working with you to find solutions, give them a chance. It can take some uncomfortable growing pains, but if all parties are willing, it is worth that discomfort.

    And, trust me, I had a horrible time making that phone call. I fumbled a few times before I knew what to ask, and I had developed a serious fear of calling by the time I got to this church and it took me WEEKS to pick the phone up, but I am glad I pushed through it because we are finally someplace that seems to be on the way to meeting the needs of everybody in the family. (I am still acting as Zane’s Para, but they are starting to offer more help in that area so that I can attend the adult sermon also, and Zane is getting more comfortable too)

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