I am always amazed at the reverence found within the walls of the Catholic Church. I observe families kneeling, older couples genuflecting as they enter the pews and families squeezing onto the kneelers to say hello to Jesus. When you enter the home of someone, do you say hello? Of Course you do, why not say hello to Jesus present in the tabernacle? As parents of young children, we teach our children to genuflect when we enter the pew. We train our children to genuflect at the presence of Almighty God in the Tabernacle.
I am sad when I look up and see someone chewing gum in Mass. Would you be chewing gum in the presence of a hostess? Upon receiving the most precious meal, would you offer you child a bag of Cheerioes? Mass is usually over in an hour. I know my toddler is able to make it through two episodes of a TV show, say Curious G*orge or Clif**rd without a snack or sippy cup of milk.
I am guilty of taking goodies, food and toys in to Mass with our first child. After all, I had to keep her quiet. After a while, we realized, she could make it though the one hour without a treat or snack. Over time, and watching other families as examples, we have worked on teaching our children one at a time to show reverence to Jesus with our actions. We have learned by others around us that children can make it through Mass without picking their finger nails or biting their cuticles. Children can make it through mass without a toy truck or Leaps*er toy. When the child cannot make it, we walk out and then we return. For most, reverence is not something you have instantly, it is more something you learn by observation. When we can model for our children and those around us, reverence is so apparent. I notice it right away when I see an older gentleman genuflect when approaching the altar. I see it when I see a mother touch her child on the shoulder as they enter their pew. I see it when I see a child fold their arms over their chest as they go forward at a young age towards the Eucharist. The entire church is quiet at the beginning of Mass. Families, couples and people lower the kneeler and offer their Mass up for intentions close to their hearts. The church is quiet. The church is filled with respect for our Lord, present in the Eucharist. I love it. I love to see families file into the pews. I love to see the stair-step children in between the parents. I love to see the older men with prayer hands approach the altar towards Jesus. They know something…. Jesus is here…. I love the reverence in the Catholic Church. I love the quietness of the church before and during the Mass. I love what I see and who is present at every Mass i attend. No matter where I am, Jesus is also. I pray I may be the kind of parent who raises my children to be reverent out of choice because of the examples we set for them as a parent.


11 thoughts on “Reverence

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! When I began attending Mass the reverence was one of the first things I appreciated.

  2. The thing that I find most distracting and disrespectful is the gum thing. People of all ages violate that. I’ve seen (and sometimes heard) whole families chomping away. I just can’t get my head around why anyone would think that was okay.

    My 4 year old rarely sits still for 30 minutes of television (no matter how desperately I might want him to for half an hour!), but he manages to be mostly still and usually quiet and not distracting (and participate to a degree and even behave somewhat reverently) for an hour of Mass. It’s possible even for kids who “can’t” normally sit through a television program. They just need to be taught that this is the standard and they really can be taught.

    • I was mostly meaning get through the hour without the need of a snack or sippy cup. … my toddler is busy busy, but can make it until “snack time” to eat or drink something.
      You are so right, they can be taught. I pray I can set a good example for my children so as they grow up they know how to show reverence.

  3. I have to say it drives me a bit nuts when parents bring food, toys & at times a toddler size backpack full of things to “entertain” the child. Ironically most of the time that child is still squirmy, loud and not usually content even with all those things. Even more frustrating is when the parents ignore the chaos and don’t discipline him/her.

    I think one thing we forget is that we do not go to Mass for the sake of ourselves and to see what we can get out of it. We go to Mass for God. The fact is whether we remember what the gospel and the homily was about or not, we have still been given Graces. This may mean, as parents of little ones especially, that those Graces were given not because we got a message through the homily, but because we attended to our children for that hour.

    We have 4 boys and generally they do well. However there are some Sundays they are very restless, chatty (they are great at whispering…loudly) 🙂 and simply naughty.

    The key is to stay consistent. Just as a mother and father need to discipline at home and sometimes spends the whole day saying, “please do not hit your brother. you must sit in time out and apologize” it is the same at Mass. Every time we head to Mass we have a 2 min discussion about our behavior and where we are going etc.

    Children CAN make it an hour or even an hour and a half without a toy or food or going potty. It takes work from the parents and practice, just like anything else in life.

    • I once heard that our morning prayers are our children. We are there for them from the minute our feet hit the ground and don’t stop.
      You are so right too about the children still being squirmy and unhappy despite having been given a snack.. I am not here judging what other parents choose to give their children. I did it too with my ( now 13 yo) I just wish they wouldn’t.

      It is also distracting when you are trying to teach your own child how to fold their prayer hands, when to kneel and when to stand and they are focused on the noisy ziploc of cereal spilled into the pew behind you and asking you why they can’t have some too. Thanks Sandra for your comment.

  4. What a nice reflection. The best advice my dad ever gave me about kids and church was: “Just take them to mass. Sit them down in the pew. Never sit in the crying room or they won’t learn to be quiet. Don’t give them anything to distract them. Teach them that they can be thoughtful for an hour.” I followed that advice, which at times proved to be quite difficult! Our church had a crying room at the time, (no longer) which now and then someone would remind me of. I persevered, because, as you mentioned Emily, reverence isn’t a given – it’s something that takes time and energy to foster. I was often lacking in it myself! At the time, I had three kids under the age of 5 and my husband was not yet Catholic (yea! He is now!), so I was taking them to church by myself. I usually felt like I had run a marathon by the time I left mass. However, before I knew it, they could all three sit quietly for that hour. I like to think that with three teenagers now, I’m reaping some of the graces of those difficult times! God bless you.

  5. The key is to stay consistent. Just as a mother and father need to discipline at home and sometimes spends the whole day saying, “please do not hit your brother. you must sit in time out and apologize” it is the same at Mass.

  6. Thank you Emily for this wonderful post. You have written so beautifully just how my husband and I feel. You see, we are converts to the Church. We both grew up in the Baptist church. There, as in most Protestant churches, the children do not attend the church service with you. That is what nursery is for. Just an hour for them to go and play, and when they’re a little older, there’s Sunday School for them when Mom and Dad are in the church. So for us, it was quite an adjustment to bring the children with us to Mass. (My MIL still doesn’t understand why Catholic Churches don’t have nurseries!) Now, to NOT bring the children with us would be so strange. We go to Mass as a family, not just to drop the kids off somewhere else. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is such a tremendous gift to us, and we love being there together, teaching our children (now five of them, thanks to the Church! HA!), bringing them to Jesus every Sunday. God’s richest blessings on your beautiful family.

  7. Marcie, thank you for visiting! I Joined the church in 1996. I remember going to Sunday school and then to church with my parents, and leaving for children’s church during the sermon. I also remember all of the music. I just love seeing families sitting in Mass with a stair step of children between the parents. May God reward your openness to life and trust in Him in bringing up your five children in the Faith!

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