On December 15, 2014 Catholic World News reported:
Calling children’s tears “the best sermon,” the Pope told parents of children baptized in the last year that “children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.” ~ http://www.catholicculture.org
What does it mean when Pope Francis says God’s voice is in a child’s tears at mass? What is God trying to say? Why shouldn’t children be removed from church?
I believe the children’s tears are God’s invitation to us. I believe they are God’s invitation to grow/respond/act virtuously. God is giving is an opportunity to tap into His Spirit and His grace and respond as He would instead of responding as we would – selfishly.
A selfish response would be to throw ourselves a pity party because now we can’t hear or can’t pray. A selfish response would be to think critical thoughts about the parents. A selfish response would be to wish that baby wasn’t there. A selfish response would be to respond in anger or with “a look.”
But those responses are not the responses Jesus would do. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9. Instead Jesus would want us to respond to His invitation with virtue – with faith, hope, and charity. Instead Jesus would want us to welcome the little children as He did in Mark 10:13-16 “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
A virtuous response to God’s invitation would be to be to thank God that people were obeying His command to be fruitful and multiply and fulfilling their marital promise to raise the children in the faith. A virtuous response would be to pray for that baby that he/she would not stray from the faith as he/she grows. A virtuous response to God’s invitation would be to see the future and the present of Church in that baby. A virtuous response would be to love that baby as a fellow child of God. A virtuous response would be to offer the parents assistance. A virtuous response to God’s invitation would be to smile compassionately at the parents and encourage them in living out their vocation. A virtuous response would be to encourage other parishioners to respond virtuously too. A virtuous response to God’s invitation in those tears would be to offer up the sacrifice of not being able to hear for all those couples who are struggling with infertility and long to have a crying baby. A virtuous response would be to offer up the distraction in prayer for all those who have lost a baby.
Thank you, Pope Francis, for helping us to see beyond the physical and into the spiritual. Thank you for helping us to find opportunities for “acting as his children and of meriting eternal life.” Thank you for pointing out when we can open ourselves to “the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.” Thank you for calling attention to when we can practice virtue.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1813: The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.