Don’t Hush That Child

By: Carolyn Hileman

The first time I heard those words I was mortified, my youngest son whom always seemed light-years ahead of most adults in his ability to reason was sure he knew the answer to a problem that our priest was addressing. So sure in fact that that he blurted out “hey Father” right in the middle of his homily. I like any self respecting mother clamped my hand over his mouth and proceeded to look for a hole to crawl into and as you probably have guessed there was none. My embarrassment was not to end there though since Father Ben told me right in the middle of his homily “Don’t Hush that child…” He then proceeded to tell me and everyone else in that room that we should never, ever silence a child because that is our churches future, that those small voices would one day grow up and that we wanted them to feel as though they had a voice in our church otherwise those young voices would turn to somewhere where they could be heard.

While I would still take my child out and beat their little bottom if they were being disruptive in church I really don’t think I would be so easy to clamp my hand over my child’s mouth again. Jesus said let the little children come to me, he did not add bound and gagged and stuffed in a room where they could not be heard, he told us that if we were not like them we could never enter into Heaven, now I doubt he meant that it was OK or even required that adults act childish I believe he meant that we should have faith like that of a child. The young children you hear in the church are the churches life blood, they are the future of the church, they do not have the fear of embarrassment we adults have, they can listen without being cynical, and in some cases they can even have some good ideas, but not if they are locked away in a closet so that they do not interrupt our nap at church.

I have had the occasion to experience the polar opposite to Father Ben, and at those moments I have found myself wishing Father Ben was still alive to give that person a swift kick in the rear. You see when you shun those children you are shunning their parents as well, no one that I know ever wishes for their child to act up in church, far from it those parents are embarrassed and if you or your pastor or priest makes an issue of it on the Alter you have just told those parents they are not welcome in your church. Jesus says let the little children come to me and the church says only if you can keep them quiet. How confusing that must be to young parents, to people just looking for a place they can call their spiritual home, many will never darken the doors of that church again. It may not be how you envisioned your Sunday service to be, it may not be perfect, they make some noise, they might even cry, but I would think it would be better than the total silence when the future of the church has finally been silenced so Don’t hush that child.

In the End,
we will remember
not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Voice

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About The Author Carolyn Hileman:
The Voice

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