Q. Not too long ago, I moved to a different town and now attend a new parish. I have a question about the behavior of children at Mass. In my old parish, the priest would stop Mass and have the ushers assist a mother with a crying baby to a separate (and soundproof) “cry room,” which I thought was a good practice.

But at my new parish, toddlers (not so much crying infants) are forever making noise and causing disruption and nothing seems to happen. Our priest is young and new to the parish, and I think he doesn't want to rock the boat. Couldn't there be a particular area of the church set apart for parents with children? (Iowa)

A. I think that a having a “cry room” is a good idea, both for crying babies and disruptive toddlers. (In our parish, the entire gathering area serves such a purpose, with a speaker system and large glass doors offering a full view of the interior of the church.)

I would be leery, though, of stopping Mass and asking ushers to escort a noisy family to the cry room. Most parents, I think, would be grandly embarrassed at being singled out this way and might never come back.

In an ideal world, all parents would exercise infallible discretion as to when to take their child out, but nothing human is perfect. An occasional notice in the parish bulletin can help — a simple reminder that a moderate amount of sound and movement is to be expected from small children, but if the point is reached where those nearby are distracted from worshipping attentively, then the “cry room” is available.

Q. When I met my husband 10 years ago, he had three sons who had been baptized as Catholics but were living with their non-Catholic mother and never went on to make their confirmation. The middle son is now 21 and is a self-proclaimed anarchist and atheist.

As devout Catholics, his father and I have tried to help him to see the error of his ways, but he blatantly refuses. He blasphemes against Catholicism and religion in general and says foul, hateful things about Jesus on social websites.

His destructive and high-risk behavioral lifestyle also saddens us deeply, and we wait daily half-expecting to hear of his demise. My husband is his next-of-kin and would be charged with making funeral arrangements, and his current dilemma is whether to have a Catholic funeral Mass and burial service since his son's beliefs are no longer Christian. (Louisiana)

A. A Catholic funeral Mass serves two purposes: first, to gather friends so that, together, they can pray for the salvation of the deceased; and second, to give spiritual comfort to the family as they remember and celebrate Christ's promises of resurrection and of mercy. So even if the deceased person has been nominally a Catholic and hasn't practiced regularly in years, a Catholic funeral may be held should the family request it.

In the circumstance you describe, however, a Catholic funeral service would clearly ride roughshod over the wishes of the deceased and therefore might well expose the church to criticism and even to ridicule, particularly from the young man's non-Catholic friends. Better in this situation, I think, is that following a wake and a secular burial, it's better simply to request Masses for the deceased at a local parish or through a religious order.


Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, N.Y. 12208.