{Holy Week} Baby Birds and a Grumpy Old Man

This weekend, we attended Palm Sunday Mass on Saturday evening.  The weather was gorgeous and I had high hopes that it would translate into wonderfully behaved children at Mass.  Oh, I dream.  When we arrived and saw the ministers of welcome passing out the palms, Scott and I both looked at each other and gave each other the look of understanding.  How did we forget it was Palm Sunday?  I mean, we knew it was Palm Sunday, but we didn’t remember what all that entailed.  The Passion reading – it’s a long ‘en.  But, we leaned into it, found a seat near the front and prayed for the best.

The thing with Luke and Mass is that he’s not particularly loud, he’s just incredibly busy.  You know, because at age 2.5 it’s completely age appropriate.  Add to the fact that he’s started using words and we hesitate to dampen his newfound excitement for all things spoken.  I mostly want to cry when he babbles in Mass because I’m so proud.  So…when the really old couple in front of us started making comments like, “I have no idea what the priest just said, I can’t hear a thing” or “Why don’t they take him out?” or “My goodness, this is ridiculous” I could feel my blood pressure rising.  Add to the comments, the not-so-subtle stares and heavy sighs and I was just about to lose it.  I started picturing myself pulling them aside after Mass and saying this:

“I’m sorry our two-year-old was distracting during Mass.  But you know what, he has every right to be in here.  Do you know what he’s been through the past two years?…”  Yeah, you can see that would not have been a positive conversation.  Just before the Gospel reading, I picked Luke out of Scott’s arms and we headed outside.  Not just to the narthex, but outside, outside.  Never in my eleven years of motherhood have I been that heated.  I could feel the anger bubbling at the surface.  It was Palm Sunday for goodness sake and I was being shamed into taking my not super loud, but slightly busy child out of Mass.  That really ticked me off.  Luke and I went to the back side of the parish office and I actually got down on my knees and started praying.  I prayed for guidance, for patience and for God to give me some peace about the whole situation.  I was just so angry.

And then Luke patted me on the shoulder and gave me a kiss.

For the next half hour, we sat outside.  I sat on the park bench and Luke happily picked dandelions, blew on them and then picked more.  It was the most peaceful half hour I’ve had in a long time.  I didn’t hear a thing that happened in Mass, but I suspect God had his own plans for me this weekend.  As Scott and I drove home, we reflected on our experience.  He, too, was just as angry.  Then we remembered that it was, in fact, Palm Sunday.  Didn’t Jesus have every right to look at the crowd and stake his claim?  To yell to the people that they were acting like children, choosing to free a murderer rather than the Messiah?  But he didn’t.

I know now that venting to that couple wouldn’t have changed a thing.  It might’ve made me feel a little better, but ultimately I would’ve felt worse at the end.  They’re 70+, change doesn’t come easy.  Sometimes Mass isn’t always about the readings or the homily or the beautiful music.  It’s always about the Eucharist.  Because in our brokenness, Jesus offered up the same sacrifice for me, as he did for everyone else there.  It just took a grumpy old man to remind me.

The baby birds?  That’s part two.  You’ll have to tune in later today.


  1. Carri on April 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Thank you for sharing the very real struggle of having toddlers in Mass. And for the great reminder that Jesus did not yell and scream so neither should I. Thank you for giving me a different perspective today.


  2. Dianna Kennedy on April 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

    My heart breaks for you, in this post. Sigh.

    I commend you for even going through the struggle of taking the small ones to Church. I am SO Blessed that we have only ran into one parish in our area where I felt like I was catching lots of grief about having a baby or little one there.

    I’m so glad that you found some peace in that situation. I’m not so sure I would have reacted so gracefully.

  3. Michelle F. on April 5, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Kathryn, your post was beautiful. I am amazed at your ability to not say something. That was commendable, and an inspiration. How awesome that Luke was being a “normal” two. (Whatever that word “normal” means.) With older children who struggle mightily with special needs, some days more than others, we get shamed often at Masses and it does, indeed hurt. Hearing how you handled it is an excellent reminder of how we should be extending grace even when others don’t. God bless your family.

  4. […] boy, should you say something?  My Palm Sunday Mass was a lesson in patience, my greatest test yet.  An older couple in front of us was not enjoying the kid chatter behind […]

  5. Kraft on April 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I love you, K. I’ve been trying to put into words something along these lines for awhile. We’ve haven’t had the same struggles, or anything close to the same degree, but boiling blood I understand. O and I being chewed out for being too loud (in the cry room) meant me choosing her over our then-parish, since I just couldn’t handle being in that building with her waiting for the next time someone chewed us out.

    It seems to me that while, in theory, our parishes are welcoming, that when it comes to kids, we aren’t welcomed. Sad and painful realization, but the only one that fits all of the looks, comments, and whatnot. There are those far and few individuals who make positive comments, but not the norm.

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