Each Sunday I take the girls to church. Sophia sees it as a play group. She meets her friend, O and they lie in front of a row of pews colouring in and chatting. Other mothers, sensing a budding playgroup wander over with their toddlers and then sneak away. Lessons are quickly learnt about the need to share and not fretting because your prize pink Crayola twistable is being inserted by a toddler into its nose.
Sara hops between scribbling in a pad and mooching over to me in search of a hug. Sophia loves the “sign of peace”. She sets off, paw out-stretched, determined to shake the hand of every congregant. “Just a representative sample!” I call after her as she makes her way down the aisle like Bill Clinton at a fund-raising hog-roast.
After mass is done, they both rush to light a candle. I have never heard Sara’s prayer. Sophia always asks God to look after our long-deceased cat. If he is in (what I assume must be called) Purrgatory, his soul will be flying out of the other side like a furry nerf bullet whilst others languish. The sheer consistency of the petitioning is bound to catch the attention of the Almighty. Thence to Holy Communion preparation classes for Sara. Today the parents were asked to stay for a session of our own. It began with the cathecist explaining the Trinity in a way which appeared to have been closely modelled on the Sabellian or Modal heresy. She then moved on to suggest that we should always bow to the cross in church as that was where Jesus was present. That seemed a pretty textbook case of idolatry. They worry me these people. Next time I’m going dressed as Torquemada.
Sister D then rose to address the topic of how children should behave in church. I couldn’t catch the exact words but I’m confident I have the gist:
– God is grumpy and disapproving.
– God abhors the sound of children.
– Though the kingdom of heaven may be belong to little children, they must behave as much like adults as possible at all times.
– Church may be a community but don’t let children greet their friends during mass.
– The purpose of some rules is to allow you to demonstrate obedience. There is no need for any other purpose.
– Silent conformity is a key element of respect.
– Needing the loo is disrespectful to God.