This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Should noisy adults be allowed in church?

One of my younger readers writes:

Dear Uncle Eccles,

What should we do about noisy adults in church? I am six years old, and I go to Mass with my parents and Lucy, my sister. Lucy is only three, and very well-behaved, usually either sleeping, reading a book such as Charles Kingsley's Water-babies - she scribbles on the heretical parts - or drawing pictures with crayon.

Water Babies

Warning: probably a book to upset Blessed John Henry Newman.

My parents are naughtier, but I am usually able to keep them under control by hissing "Ssshhh!" at them when they start chattering.

However, other adults are not so well behaved. Part of the problem is that they aren't trained to be quiet, as those of us who attend St Tharg's Primary School are. So we often hear adults chattering through those parts of the service that are less exciting than others, for example:

1. the bit before it starts, when worshippers are encouraged to discuss their neighbour's clothes and hairstyles;
2. the sermon - although I personally found it very interesting when the priest said he was appointed only for those who lived in the parish, and he wanted all visitors to get lost;

Punch cartoon

Welcoming worshippers to the parish.
First polite native: Who's 'im, Bill?
Second ditto: A stranger!
First ditto: 'Eave 'arf a brick at 'im!

3. the prayers, which always sound the same - I'm told that some churches make them more varied by saying "In our cycle of prayer we pray for all who live in Lembit Opik Terrace, for the people of Liberia, for the diocese of Luton and Bishop Loquitur, for all librarians, liberals and libertines, and for all limpets." But we don't do that;
4. the "peace", which the grown-ups just use as an opportunity to cuddle each other (yeugh!);
5. that Scottish song near the end, about someone called Angus Daly, which I don't understand.

Anyway, you get my point. People with short attention spans, such as grown-ups, need something to distract them. Of course they have their smart phones, and so they can (and do) send texts and follow the cricket score when things are getting a bit dull, but it's not enough.

Noah's Ark by Tracey Emin

Mrs Emin drew a nice picture during Mass.

So it's bit of a dilemma, really. Most adults are not really needed in order to make the service go with a swing, and there should perhaps be some nursery arrangements made for them, so that we children can worship without being distracted.

Oh, and one last thing. We kids don't like songs such as "Shine, Jesus, Shine" or "If I were a butterfly": we find them patronising. Give us "Salve Regina" or "Iam lucis orto sidere", any day. Then we'll know we're singing a work written by someone who was actually religious, rather than just a greedy entrepreneur. I know the adults like dumb hymns, but we kids do expect something better.

Love, Alex Smith (age 6).

quiet coach

A modern "quiet" church.


  1. The work is divided in my parish. Children scream, bang hard toys on the pew, rattle car keys, demand repeated visits to the toilet during Mass. The adults do their share afterwards, mostly rushing en masse to the door before Father's fairly out of the sanctuary otherwise talking loudly preferably next to someone trying to pray.
    And if one more person tells me that God loves the sound of a crying baby...

  2. As a Catholic (Homeschooling) parent, I appreciate being told I am not wanted. It is a good way of telling if someone is Christian or not, and I would not want my children attending a parish where the priest is not even a Christian. "You can always tell how they love one another"

    It is of course very important that the new generation of Catholic children understand basic biology and can tell the difference between a Shepherd, a sheep or a wolf.

  3. The NO stands for Noisy Oldens and Nervous disOrderlies, so there's more in this than meets the eye.