Our parish offers a baby-sitting service during mass on Sunday. It has been advertised in the bulletin and encouraged by our pastor. Now, this is not the children’s liturgy where children sit with their parents through most of mass and leave only for the readings and homily. For the baby-sitting service, parents drop their children off at a separate room under the rectory, go to mass, and pick up their children after mass.
Now, I’m not condemning parents who use this service – after all, our pastor has been encouraging parents to use it, so they may not have a second thought about it.
However, James and I have a grave objection to the so-called “service.” Since the parents go to mass, it is safe to assume, if not all, at least the vast majority of these children are baptized. And at their baptism their parents promised to raise their children in the Roman Catholic faith and doing this means attending mass. The only exemptions I know of from going to mass are for health reasons or if one is truly incapable of getting to one. There is no exemption for age. Even if they are too young to understand the mass, that does not mean they do not benefit from attending mass, hearing the hymns, seeing others pray, or receiving grace from simply being in the presence of Christ. This “service” is not only a disservice to the children but is in fact the breaking of the promise their parents made at their baptism!
As for why a priest would encourage this disservice and breaking of a promise made to God, my only hope is that he does not realize what he himself is doing.