Sunday 27th May 2018

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A Leaven In The World… “Let The Children Come” To Mass

May 14, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Many of us realized that Facebook was profiting on our personal information long before the legacy media made it explicit. They were forced to expose Mark Zuckerberg in reportage on his Capitol Hill testimony as part of the alleged Russian election-meddling saga. Whether or not investigations reveal that Russia influenced our political process in the last presidential race, there has been a lot of resulting collateral damage, and one of those is the charge that Facebook violated the privacy of millions of users.
Facebook, however, wouldn’t have any of our information if we simply chose not to use it. But when family members chide one for missing out on baby and reunion photos or pet videos, it becomes harder to resist the social media trend pressure. Those who get pleasure out of sharing news about their lives with friends online have found these sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others, to be a boon of convenience. Put the information and photos out in one place and leave it there for anybody who wants to see it.
I have been running a Facebook public figure page, “Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick,” for years with between 2,000 and 3,000 followers, a very modest number compared with the potential reach of popular celebrities who peddle dissent like Fr. James Martin, SJ, with 564,000 likes.
The page gives me a place to post photos and news about parish life and personal milestones, such as my silver priesthood anniversary and retirement from the military last year. I can keep in touch thus with friends and acquaintances who prefer that platform. My Italian friends don’t use email and we don’t communicate by phone, but some of them have followed me at my Facebook page since they befriended me during my two-year stint as a chaplain in Naples. They surface occasionally with “likes” and comments and we are thus able to keep, though somewhat superficially, in touch.
Social media can and should be used for more than just personal news: It can help marriages and families find help, answers, and support as they struggle and juggle to balance all the modern pressures and activities along with practicing the faith, raising their children to be holy and being faithful to their spouses as well as to God. The responses to what we post online can tell us what’s needed, seeking as we do to be of service as priests and Catholics to others near and far, those in our parishes and those we will never meet in this life.
This turned out to be the case with a recent item I posted.
I also use my personal page for sharing articles, stories, and photos with the desire to build up the faith among my followers. A recent post about children at Mass is perhaps my most popular Facebook post yet with, as of this writing, 8,054 people reached, 71 likes, 61 shares, and 18 comments. The item is a screen shot of a Facebook post by Fr. Kyle Doustou, a priest of the Portland, Maine, Diocese, that first popped up in my Twitter feed where it had been posted by another priest.
Fr. Doustou in the post lauds a young father who brought his four children, two of them toddlers, to Sunday Mass, soloing as a parent that day because his wife had a medical appointment for which the family had arrived from out of town. His children happened to be among the number providing some aural distractions to the sacred proceedings in the sanctuary and as a result drew, as Father called it, some “overtly annoyed and angry” reactions.
“I was afraid the poor man was to get berated after Mass,” Father wrote, “so I made an announcement before the blessing thanking him for coming and said that his children are a loud and beautiful reminder that we have a future.”
Some of the comments on my page mentioned the experience of getting the “stink-eye” when children are sometimes heard at Mass despite the fact they may be so small as to hardly be seen. I have no doubt that many other priests have observed this phenomenon as well. They perhaps find it as disappointing as I do that so many of our Catholics have not sufficiently matured spiritually to realize that such comportment is incompatible with the serenity of prayer appropriate for fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Our parish welcomes every week, among the growing number of children and families, a severely autistic girl who attends with her mother and grandmother. As she grows older she gets louder and there are times when I struggle to hear myself speak during the homily. Thankfully the mother escorted her daughter to the cry room recently at such a moment for the good of everyone else attending. It’s not easy for us to welcome such a guest and sometimes we struggle with cheerful hospitality. We will continue to do so because the Church should welcome everyone.
The inhospitable attitude evident in rude comportment in the presence of loud children reveals a faulty conception of what we do, or rather, what Christ the Lord does for us, through the liturgy of the Holy Mass. We would never fail to feed our children natural food or omit anything necessary to physical life and health. Neither should we omit what is necessary for their spiritual health and life.
Anything that is important for the faith of our children should be done consistently, early and often. The Holy Mass is foremost among these. The Lord God taught, “Let the little children come unto to me” and He didn’t qualify it by saying something like “only after they reach the age of reason.” We cannot quantify how, and how early, our children begin to learn. Though perhaps when they are very small, parents should spell each other, one babysitting while the other attends Mass as my parents did for a period. But this practice should be ended as quickly as possible.
Many of our parishes are struggling to get families to go to Sunday Mass together and consistently. In this as in all things the parents must lead by example. Our children are very quick to say, “Well, I didn’t do this yesterday or last week, why is it important today?” It is hardly possible to say how much consistency and perseverance in doing what is right are important for raising our children. Keeping the Commandments is not least among these.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
@MCITLFrAphorism

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