I traveled yesterday with my five children to attend my niece’s confirmation. It was a beautiful event that was so well attended my kids and I had to park in a nearby neighborhood.
But there’s a reason I’m telling you the story. Look, I know it can be difficult to have kids in church. Believe me I know. I’ve had kids knocking their chins into the pews and crying, I’ve had kids vomiting and then crying that they vomited, I’ve had kids accidentally tearing the missal and crying because they thought they’d be in trouble. But I couldn’t believe what I saw yesterday at the confirmation Mass.
Mind you, the church was packed so my children and I were standing and couldn’t see a whole lot but in my limited field of vision I saw at least five kids either texting or playing their Nintendo DS in their pew. And I’m talking 9,10,11 year old kids on their DS while sitting right next to their parents.
But the worst part happened later. I saw one 11-ish year old girl walking up to the altar to receive Communion while playing her hand held video game. I guess we all should’ve just been thankful that she had it on mute. The usher who looked like Bowzer from Sha-na-na stood there not knowing what to do. I could see he wanted to say something but he simply looked perplexed. He implored with his eyes Nintendo girl’s parents and an older woman I suspect was her grandmother as they walked past him. But he was ignored. As Nintendo girl walked up the aisle her face reflecting digitized glory I could see Bowser looking around at a nearby usher who also mysteriously looked like Bowzer for an answer on what to do. Bowzer 2 simply shrugged his shoulders as in “Hey watcha gonna do?”
The Church seemed intent on playing “Speed Jesus” because there were probably a dozen Eucharistic ministers. The line moved double time and Nintendo girl got to within about twelve steps of the altar rail before closing the DS, shoving it in her pocket, putting on her solemn face, and receiving the Eucharist.
And while you can blame the kid, to me the real fault lies with the parents for not conveying to their children the importance of the holy sacrifice. And clearly, this child’s parents didn’t feel she was doing anything wrong. Or they knew it was wrong but they just didn’t care.
And let me tell you, before Communion the church was standing room only but right after there were plenty of seats available. So my kids and I sat down in an empty pew like those people at ballgames who move into box seats in the seventh inning after all the people who were just there for business left.
My eight year old daughter looked shocked when she saw a young boy playing a video game and the boy’s sister crowded up next to him watching the screen and whispering instructions. As I looked at that my two year old fell over the kneeler and bent her fingers back and she cried. Loudly. And then -get this- Bowzer 2 looked at me like I was a terrible parent.
I guess he thought that if she had a Nintendo she would’ve at least sat still.