From a reader:
I was in a discussion with someone about eating in the Church not necessarily at Mass AND use of the Church for plays, community events, shelter, etc. What are the rules for behavior inside a Catholic Church? Is there a list of such rules anywhere? Where would one find such rules?n
In general.. don’t be eating in church.
That said, it may be in some place that church is the only place available for gatherings.
In Rome I frequented a tiny church entrusted to the Chinese. They really had nothing other than that space for their fairly large group. After Mass, the seats/benches were instantly pushed back, saw horses and boards and cloths produced and people brought out food they prepared at home for a large pot luck meal. When it was done, they left they cleaned with celerity and left the place spotless and in good order. Always. They really had no place else to go.
But in general… don’t be eating in church. Under normal circumstances there will be a place for people to meet apart from the church. Eat there.
There was a medieval practice of having mystery and morality plays in church. Eventually they were kicked outside. Today? I suppose the same strictures would apply to plays and other performances as would apply to concerts in churches. There is a Vatican document on that.
The church is a sacred place.
There are sacred things, people and places. When a church is consecrated, it is set apart for that which pertains to God. It is not a secular building, for secular purposes. It is the place where the sacred mysteries are celebrated.
Off the top of my head, perhaps it would be good to see, say, Murder in the Cathedral, in a cathedral.
Moses put his shoes off of his feet because he was on holy ground. Our churches should be treated with respect.
Sadly, from the way some churches are designed and constructed, you would not know that they have any other than a secular purpose. I have seen nicer municipal airports than what was foisted on the people as a new church. Therefore, it does not surprise me that some people would be confused about the uses of church spaces.
Some protestants call their whole church building a “sanctuary”. And they’ve.. well… got nothing.
We should treat our sacred spaces with the respect they require, for our own sake and that of children who learn about the sacred through our choices.