Is it easier to pray in your car in the parking lot than in church before or after Mass?

Today on the digital, full version of the UK’s best Catholic Weekly, The Catholic Herald (to which you can subscribe from anywhere in the world), I found a good letter to the editor, an image of which I post, below:

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are saying, “This fellow sounds like an old curmudgeon.  Isn’t church our Father’s house?  Shouldn’t houses be filled with life and activity and, yes, the chatter of the Father’s children?  Vatican II said we ought to talk in church! You are mean and so is he.  We are Church and community no matter what you papist throwbacks want.  You hate Vatican II and I’m a Eucharistic Minister!”

In the face is such reasoned objections, how can I respond?

I’ll bet YOU can!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "But Father! But Father!", "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Is it easier to pray in your car in the parking lot than in church before or after Mass?

  1. Clinton R. says:

    Another reason to hope and pray the TLM is restored as the ordinary form of the Mass. I can never figure out why the reading of the announcements is part of the Mass. Isn’t that why we get a bulletin upon leaving Mass?

  2. Denise says:

    During the course of my travels, I had the misfortune of attending Mass at a parish in Virginia Beach that I have since taken to calling “Our Lady of the Powerpoint” because instead of a Crucifix or any other image of Christ they had a rear projection screen behind the altar. All during Mass they displayed various “inspirational” pictures that were supposed to correspond to the different parts of the Mass. In addition, when I arrived for Mass, there were no kneelers, just folding chairs. Everyone was chatting loudly. People were even walking around greeting each other, laughing, and generally carrying on like it was a cocktail party. When it was time for Mass to begin, they blinked the lights a few times just like they do at the theater. People return to their seats and some Marty Haugen ditty begins for the entrance hymn. When I asked the pastor about the lack of silence before Mass, he responded that the fellowship occurring before Mass was part of their liturgy. Their tabernacle was off in another room so at least the din was not before the Blessed Sacrament. So yes, I can see how it might be easier to pray in the car in the parking lot instead of trying to pray inside the church.

  3. rodin says:

    The difference is stunning at the Latin Mass. The silence before and after the mass is golden. The only screeching in the church is done by the infants and they are usually carried outside until they quiet down. Disorder created by adults during masses are not uncommon for the novus ordo and I have attended far too many and walked out of some.

    I am a fan of the “old curmudgeon.”

  4. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Go on curmudgeoning away, I say. This is a real problem.

    I am a pastor of a parish where the post-Mass chatter level rises to the din of a small sports stadium. My parishioners do not seem to feel the least twinge of remorse about the fact that there are a few brave souls trying to pray after Mass amidst the cacophony. I honestly believe that most of them have no idea that this is rude and disruptive to them, not to mention an affront to the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle.

    This is a culture I inherited, from the days when the tabernacle was relegated to a corner, and previous pastors focused on holy Mass as a communal supper. I am looking to change the situation, and looking for advice from others, especially priests and pastors, on the most effective way to re-catechize the people and make the transition back to a reverent silence.

    If any reader has successfully navigated this transition, I would certainly appreciate pointers about the best approach to take (what worked, what didn’t). One possibly relevant particular: my narthex (vestibule) is inadequately small to accommodate much socializing, and we do not currently have funds to expand it any way.

  5. SegoLily says:

    Interesting that this topic should come up. I am on the “Courageous Priest” mailing list, and a week or so ago, the topic was the horror of leaving Mass right after holy Communion. I and my kids do this only at one parish where it is a true circus atmosphere in the ritual of “the blessing of the children”. The children are skipping, dancing, chorteling, or being led crying to the altar, while others are babes in arms. The priest and deacon then have a row each of laying hands on the children. The parents are beaming and are more excited than the kids. I guess it is not a bad thing, but does it belong as a part of Mass? I wrote the author of the mailing and he re-iterated the sinfulness of leaving before Mass is ended, likening it to snubbing The Bride of Christ, and suggested I sit there and pray for the priest that he realize his error.

  6. Maltese says:

    Mr. Hall,

    I agree with you, and the new mass went much further, and traded an Offeratory of Sacrifice for one of meal.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    The 2,000 year axis/praxis of the Church changed/switched, overnight, with the stroke of a pen!

    But, that’s OK, Christ is ultimately in control!

  7. JP Borberg says:

    When I (heaven forbid) have to go to a NO Mass, I arrive as late as possible to avoid the horrid singing, the flaccid homily and the woman and layman taking part in reading the Gospel (this is in the Cathedral. No, I’m not making that up). I miss absolutely no praying on my part, and avoid a good half an hour of being angry.

    I stand at the back, as far from the ‘music’ group as possible, insisting that no, I don’t want to take a seat (thanks), I don’t want to take up the offering (no really, thanks) and I don’t want a copy of the hymn booklet (really, trust me on that one, thanks). I try not to pay too much attention during the consecration, as an overly dramatic priest earnestly telling me that Christ shed His Blood for all somehow makes me pay even LESS attention, and after the Agnus Dei I slip outside before chaos descends on the Church and I have to pretend to be comfortable at a scarily friendly stranger.

    When things return to relative calm, I sneak back to watch the Priest (and the 9 or so EMHC) take communion (unless it’s THAT priest presiding, who receives communion AFTER the congregation) then leave, lest I miss actually speaking to God at some point on the Sunday. I don’t go up for communion as, apart from the scandal that receiving in my usual manner would cause the rest of the congregation, whatever state my soul was in before Mass, it in no state to receive The Lord by communion time.

    So yeah, I can see the appeal of spending Mass in the car park. That, or at the Greek Orthodox church down the road.

  8. SegoLily says:

    Yesterday at another suburban parish, where there is no blessing of the children, we stayed and listened to the announcements. The deacon asked for a round of applause for the priest who was fillling in for the bed-ridden pastor. A mighty round of applause then ensued, as if he was an understudy in a Broadway play. Then the final hymn was sung (ghastly stuff by ghastly musicians) and another roaring round of applause ensued. At the end of Mass, I chatted with the priest, a young man from Kerala, India and told him of my discomfort of so much applause during the Mass. He seemed taken aback that I didn’t like it, attributing the applause to being part of the American culture, though he seemed to agree that it was odd, at very least. The Mass should be the same reverent expression no matter where one attends in the entire universe. We have been reduced to a bunch of Bable-ites, each trying to interpret the culture of the other. The Mass should be unitive, but instead it has elements of divisiveness.

  9. Jenice says:

    I have been paying attention to this situation for some time, and have concluded that: 1) there is rarely a need for announcements at any point in the Mass, or before or after. Almost everything is in the bulletin. If something truly important comes up–like the bishop asking for prayers for religious liberty–that didn’t make it into the bulletin, I think it is OK to announce ONLY that, and 2) I alway want to hang out and chat with fellow choir members or parishioners after Mass. I have been in churches where there was no place to do that, so it happened in the church. I think the need for fellowship is legitimate, and should be considered when building new churches, or remodeling old ones. In the meantime, parishes should look for other ways to solve this problem so that the church remains quiet for prayer.

    At the parishes I have attended, silence before Mass seems more expected than after. However, some places have solved the problem by praying the Rosary before Mass, or having the choir chant Lauds.

  10. flyfree432 says:

    Cincinnati Priest,

    I am not a priest myself, but have worked closely with a pastor who sounds a lot like you the past 5 years. Our pastor catechized our parishioners over a few years continually introducing Catholic elements back into the liturgy a little at a time (things like a crucifix, tabernacle, sacred silence). He used the homily, the parish bulletin, the worship committee, and already existing Bible studies to re-teach the faith. Most of the faithful eagerly welcomed the changes – some even breaking down into tears of joy when the crucifix and tabernacle were moved back into the central axis behind the altar. Others, mostly older parishioners and ex-nuns fought him and gossiped about him. Overall though, moving slowly worked well for him, and we are still in the process of improving the liturgy and architecture. He posted signs on the doors to the nave asking for silence and he keeps most of the lights off until just before the beginning of the Mass. I’ll just say there is an unbelievable amount of money out there when you are looking to return things to what they should be.

  11. tzard says:

    So it sounds like the author is saying the announcements are a distraction – turning our attention to matters of the world too early. But as the dismissal is imminent, this would seem the most opportune time to do this. They’re going to have to start making decisions on living the Christian life in minutes – if even on how they’re going to choose to drive their car. However, we’ve (maybe) just received our Lord or at least been present for it’s re-presentation, so it’s probably a good opportunity for prayer time – in a spiritual sense, rather than a merely practical sense.

    So, is this a defect in the Ordinary Form of the mass? Is just having the option or just making an announcement making people chat it up after Mass? Does merely changing the atmosphere not only an occasion to distraction, but is it causing people to sin? (dont’ fall down that slippery slope)

    I’d say it isn’t. We’re not robots. We don’t behave based solely on what “message” we hear (the typical liberal reasoning). The problem is with individual choices, and individual failings.

    It seems to me they aren’t catechised enough, parents are neglecting their children and not correcting them, people are not paying attention to what’s happening and having a pious attitude, the priest is not putting his foot down and telling people to “CUT IT OUT”.

    Were the good Pastor to come over the PA system and tell them to stop, I bet they would. Were one of those troublesome announcements be to remain silent after mass, I’m sure it would work. (hey, bring out the KofC and have them tap people on the shoulders to remind them). Turn out the lights right after Mass. What do do about those who obstinately refuse to do so is a separate issue.

    You don’t see chatting in the chapel at a convent or at a Trappist Monastery, so it can’t be the Mass itself. “But they’re told they aren’t supposed to chat” you might say. Exactly.

  12. Sword40 says:

    Since January 1, I have been to only two OF Masses. All the rest have been EF. At last I am cured!!!! I highly recommend to take the “cure” for the sake of the Soul. Its even better than Mystic Monk coffee.

  13. asperges says:

    I agree with Rodin above re EF Masses.

    To get up at the end of the EF Mass immediately instead of spending at least 5 minutes or so in quiet thanksgiving is almost to cause scandal. Not to bolt for the exit or engage immediately in noisy chatter after the celebrant leaves the sanctuary in the NO has a similar effect.

    The common factor comes from the sense of the sacred or its lack and the importance of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament and how this is recognised. One rite underlines it, the other plays it down. No-one should be surprised at the results of this contrast.

  14. poohbear says:

    This is because so many people have no clue as to why they are at Mass. They have no clue that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. They see it as no different than meeting up with their friends at the mall. It is very sad.

    I think if priests spoke more about the Blessed Sacrament and the fact that Mass is to worship God, who is present there before us, maybe, just maybe people would start to understand that attending church is something special. You don’t usually see this problem at daily Mass, only on Sundays and Holy Days.

    Also, if, after Mass, as the priest is greeting people he spoke in a quiet voice it might set the tone for others. I have seen parishes where the priests speak very softly inside the church and people tend to follow suit. I have also seen parishes where the priests are waving and shouting to people across the church and its common for the parishioners to follow along.

    Lastly, if you go to a parish like this, wouldn’t it be better to find a new one instead of getting aggravated every week? It took me over a year to find a parish when I moved to my current location, and I have to drive into another diocese, but the ability to worship at a stress free Mass is worth it.

  15. NoTambourines says:

    Our pastor has noticeably streamlined some extra-liturgical things from Mass since he arrived. In particular, speakers who at one time might have turned up after Communion (for projects or special causes) more often do so before Mass has started.

    But before the Saturday evening Vigil Mass, at least, the recitation of the Rosary and Prayer to St. Michael, which finishes about 10 minutes before Mass, has the welcome side effect of setting a quieter, more reverent tone, and also provides an opportunity for the kids to learn some of their prayers through consistent weekly exposure, if they’re not being taught elsewhere.

  16. jbas says:

    Catholic churches were once known for their quiet, and Catholics for their quiet piety. That’s one thing that attracted me to the True Church. The meditative clink of the veiled, elderly grandmother’s beads as she prayed her rosary, or the old farmer on his knees before the Saint Joseph altar, convinced me more readily of the truth of Catholicism than did the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
    But today, you either have to go to the E.F. Mass, as others note above, or to some pagan temple if you want quiet in a Latin Rite church.

  17. AnnM says:

    Steady on – things aren’t always rosy at the EF Mass. I know one where there’s plenty of gossiping afterwards. But one thing that works well is the organist playing a tremendously loud burst of music a couple of minutes after the final hymn’s ended. After she’s finished, the church is pretty empty – people who want to talk have fled outside and the ones who want to pray have the church to themselves.
    Before Mass, some good church ladies pray the Rosary, which also keeps the gossip down. However I have a different problem in that respect. If you want to pray silently, other people saying the Rosary can be a big distraction. I hasten to add that it’s wonderful that they do it. I just find it difficult as I’m a silent-prayer sort of person. My solution is to go out and take a few turns around the block before Mass – though I get some funny looks and offers of a ride to church!

  18. fajalou says:

    Hey Father Z,
    Can you direct people in the right direction to fight against the (wrongheaded) idea that the reason for Communion is for the entire community, and that the communion hymn, the final hymn, et cetera are ways to “pray together”? I know that this is a bad argument — just at the Original Post states, Churches turn into concert halls after Mass, so you can’t pray even if you wanted to!!! But the GIRM seems to support it?

  19. The Cobbler says:

    I second AnnM’s reccomendation regarding the organist and the Fiery Burst of Music After the Closing Hymn.

    Also, as far as legitimate desire to meet up with people after Mass goes… most of the traditional-leaning parishes I have been to have this thing called “the donut social in the parish hall after Mass”. Most of the non-traditional-leaning parishes I’ve been to have even larger, multi-tiered parish halls for some reason (I think it’s so they can host multiple outreaches and whatnot all in the same evening — they’re certainly not all being used up right after most Masses)… seems to me that since they’re so socially inclined as to frighten Aspies they should be eager to adopt ye old donut social praxis… sure the going-to-get-skinnier-than-thou diet-maniacs wouldn’t come, but everyone else could…

  20. Steady on – things aren’t always rosy at the EF Mass. I know one where there’s plenty of gossiping afterwards. But one thing that works well is the organist playing a tremendously loud burst of music a couple of minutes after the final hymn’s ended. After she’s finished, the church is pretty empty – people who want to talk have fled outside and the ones who want to pray have the church to themselves.

    The organ technique does not work at my parish. It just makes people talk even louder, in order to be heard over the organ.

    I will agree about the EF Mass to the extent of saying that one single EF Mass is not necessarily enough to cure the yakking. For example, I watched the stunning webcast of the pontifical High Mass for Candlemas out of the Archdiocese of Miami in February, and was saddened to see just as much yakking and carrying on in the church after that Mass as there is in my own parish. But if your memory as a Catholic goes back more than 15 years, then you can remember a time when the quiet atmosphere that had once been fostered by what is now known as the Extraordinary Form still prevailed. I think it’s only in the last 10-15 years that the noise problem has gotten really bad. When I was growing up, the din that is now commonplace in churches was unthinkable.

  21. BenFischer says:

    It’s the Liturgy of the Announcements and there’s no solution. I actually heard a pastor and new parochial vicar argue about whether it was better to have announcements before Mass or after Communion. “None of the above” apparently never occurred to them. You’re Catholic: you’re supposed to do penance. This, along with the Haugan and Hass, is it.

  22. Bob B. says:

    Our parochial vicar has us sit for the final prayer so he can say the announcements and introduce people who want to talk about this and that from the altar. There are so many talking and socializing before Mass starts that when the choir director has everyone greet each other, it gets worse. Then we go into Kumbaya….

  23. RMT says:

    Everything he said in the article about the noise and chatter after Mass is true for the majority of parishes today. I must say however, that leaving when he does from the Mass to go sit alone in his car, he is cheating himself out of the priest’s blessing–I know that I can use all the blessings I can get.

  24. RuralVirologist says:

    Announcements … are they that bad?

    At the nearby SSPX chapel, after the reading of the Gospel, we have the readings again in English, followed by announcements (usually on the state of SSPX/Rome relations, sometimes announcing retreats or finance issues) followed by the sermon. Very clear demarcation between announcements and the sermon, because the sermon begins with the sign of the cross.

  25. Sid says:

    Ann M said “But one thing that works well is the organist playing a tremendously loud burst of music a couple of minutes after the final hymn’s ended.”
    Miss Anita Moore said “The organ technique does not work at my parish. It just makes people talk even louder, in order to be heard over the organ.”

    Try the following from the organ works of Oliver Messiaen:

    “Dieu parmi nous” from La Nativité du Seigneur
    “Transports de joie d’une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne” from L’Ascension
    “La Résurrection du Christ” from Livre du Saint Sacrement

    That’ll shut ‘um up!

  26. mamajen says:

    Other than health reasons or some kind of emergency, there is NO valid reason to take off after receiving Communion. As Fr. Z has said on numerous occasions, “Just deal.” Why can’t he stick out the few extra minutes and then go pray in his car?

  27. Marie Teresa says:

    Saw the headline and did a doubletake … I do just that … Father, how about a poll?

    Before Mass, I pray in my car. People have no sense of givIng a few moments to God either before or after Mass. I’m virtually the only person kneeling in prayer.

  28. The Cobbler says:

    “At the nearby SSPX chapel, after the reading of the Gospel, we have the readings again in English, followed by announcements (usually on the state of SSPX/Rome relations, sometimes announcing retreats or finance issues) followed by the sermon. Very clear demarcation between announcements and the sermon, because the sermon begins with the sign of the cross.”
    Seen the exact same format at a non-SSPX TLM, for what it’s worth… and think it’d do nicely in the Novus Ordo as well (sans repeated readings if they’re already read in English, but where they have the Novus Ordo in Latin they could probably do the readings in Latin for the sake of worship and then have ‘em in English like this for the sake of the people’s edification). It just feels better all around than interrupting the close of Mass for announcements or starting or preempting the Mass with a lay announcer making it feel like a theatre production. Perhaps there’s something fitting to putting it right before the priest’s five to ten minutes to make a point on his own (which is part of the rubrics but the content of which is expected by those same rubrics to be whatever he thinks his people need to hear; not meaning by “on his own” to imply that he isn’t to be preaching the Faith and drawing on the Church’s vast tradition to do so).

  29. Mrs. O says:

    I have entertained ear plugs but not leaving after Communion. If it can’t be addressed in an adult way with adults doing as they are asked, then the alternative sounds appealing – EF. The WDC letter which focused on silence is important. We are so saturated that studies have found that people have more thoughts in the shower now because that is the only time a person isn’t listening to something and can process things!

  30. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sid,
    Continuing the French riff, I would advocate
    Henri Mulet: Tu es Petrus
    You only get the full effect out front and about three minutes in — when our music director played this one time full throttle, the folks downstairs were peeling themselves off the walls.
    Another alternative worked extremely well – we had a large crowd for a special Mass one time, and there was a lot of rustling and chatting downstairs before the service began. The choir began the Byrd “Ave verum corpus” pianissimo, and the effect was instantaneous and amazing; everyone downstairs stopped talking, turned around, and stood there with their mouths at half-cock.

  31. AnnAsher says:

    Ugh. I was taught in my ‘beloved’ rcia that the Gathering Rite is for talking and greeting your neighbor. These folks are so confused. Also the dont seem to know what the offeratory is for. Poor souls.

  32. Vivus In Christo says:

    The sad truth is that it is very difficult to pray in church when Mass has ended. I’ve been tempted at times to leave without giving thanks, but something inside tells me to just kneel down and “OFFER IT UP.”

    Who knows? If enough of us will just kneel and thank God (even pray for those who insist upon talking!) – and encourage our priests to promote the atmosphere of sacred silence that our souls long for – we might just see that silence and reverence return one day, if it is God’s will. It CAN happen… There is a parish just up the road where this is already the case – whether they have just finished Mass in the OF or EF!

    As for those who want nothing to do with the OF of the Mass, may I offer this thought??…

    There is a wisdom (mysterious as it may seem) in allowing us to pray in the vernacular. As one whose primary language is English, I not only speak it most fluently, but I also THINK in English! If my heart cries out to God, isn’t it first in my primary language (before any translation)? You might say that – for any of us – our primary language is the most direct path from our hearts to God!! :) While I have been blessed to experience both forms of the Mass and have SO loved the sacred silence that I’ve found with the EF, there is NOTHING that can even come close to Mass being prayed in my first language, from the HEART, with so much REVERENCE and sacred SILENCE!

  33. AnnAsher says:

    Rural virologist,
    I don’t mind a few announcements. What I do mind is 30 minutes of announcements plus special awards and recognitions and a second sermon. I wonder if y’all think it’s ok to make an exit of I’ve said my prayers and despite Mass clearly being over the priest refuses to say Ita Missa Est ( or whatever choice in English bc I’m talking NO here).

  34. aviva meriam says:

    One of the reasons I adored attending my prior parish’s weekday mass was the quiet reverence of everyone inside the church. There weren’t any rousing renditions of “Gather us In”…. and everyone was intent on prayer. There was an enormous willingness to engage in fellowship…. AFTER mass was over and OUTSIDE of the building.

    Also, even though it was an NO mass, the priests made a real effot to provide seamless catechesis (as they saw the same people most days), in a way that was more substantial then they provided on Sundays.

    Those daily masses were incredible opportunities for prayer and communion with God… and the contrast with Mass on Sunday was painful.

  35. Andrew says:

    It would be easier to pray at a packed football stadium then at our church at the end of a Sunday Mass. (OK I am slightly exaggerating here, but not much).

  36. Joy says:

    I agree with Mamajen, and stay through the final blessing. Unfortunately, we have a very noisy group as well, but our building is designed as a multi-purpose building – chairs, no kneelers, everything shouts “temporary”, and the space was originally designed to be the parish hall with a Church to be built at a later time – except Mass has been heard here for nearly 10 years. Since I see attendance dwindling, I doubt things will change. Since attending elsewhere would entail nearly a full day’s commitment, I have learned to bear the noise (and hand-holding, and Hass and Haugen, and…..) even though people probably think I’m anti-social when all I really want is some quiet time for prayer!

  37. jhayes says:

    Announcements are part of the Concluding Rites, according to the GIRM:

    D) The Concluding Rites

    90. To the Concluding Rites belong the following:

    a) brief announcements, should they be necessary;

    b) the Priest’s Greeting and Blessing, which on certain days and occasions is expanded and expressed by the Prayer over the People or another more solemn formula;

    c) the Dismissal of the people by the Deacon or the Priest, so that each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God;

    d) the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers.

  38. Will D. says:

    I don’t like all this racket after Mass any better than the letter writer, but if you’re leaving Mass before the priest, you’re doing it wrong.
    Also, BenFischer: your comment deserves to be bronzed. I loved it, and it is entirely correct.

  39. I have to say, regarding silence in Church, I terribly miss the days of beautifully built Churches and absolute silence and respect in the presence of Jesus Christ, truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament. I never saw those days, being a young man and a convert to the Church, but I miss them nonetheless. There’s just something so… sacred about walking into a Church one hundred, one hundred and fifty or more years old, and the ambience it brings, and praying in the pews to absolute silence. You can hear Christ speaking from the tabernacle to your heart.

  40. Malvenu says:

    I blogged about this a couple of months ago at http://quamangustaporta.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/silence.html.

    Personally, I wouldn’t leave early and go and sit in the car, but i can understand it. In my (NO) church at Mass during the week there is silence before and after Mass. There is an early Sunday Mass that is similar, that I prefer, but the family Mass that I usually attend with my family is sometimes nothing short of an ordeal, before, during and after. Some noise is inevitable, but the chatting like it’s a social club or something is, at best, not edifying!!

    I finished my own post by wondering whether, because of the noise, a Catholic from a few generations ago would wonder whether they were in a Church or not, then perhaps have the same doubts when the liturgy began! I am thinking more and more that there is a very definite, totally un-coincidental link between the two…

  41. coeyannie says:

    This is not going to stop. The only solution to the problem is if the priest asks the people to exit the church quietly, and requests the people go outside and talk. He may have to do that for a few weeks, because those people are such dunderheads, nothing penetrates the brain cells. It doesn’t make any difference if the Tabernacle is present or if it isn’t. They talk anyway. But I have been observing that the celebrant (conservative-orthodox) in a parish not far from my house yuks it up with the parishoners after Mass. The church I go to for the EF Mass on Sunday has a very orthodox pastor, but every so often, it sounds like they are having a big party in the sacristry. In fact, one Sunday, people were coming in for the 11:30 Latin Mass, and there were leftovers from the 10:00 Mass. There were three or four groups of people standing in church talking and laughing. One of the men who was there for the Latin Mass, approached them and asked them when they were going to put an end to the conversations. One group stopped immediately, one group which included the music director continued to engage in a long noisy conversation, ignoring that people were trying to pray in the pews. The pastor was in the sacristy and said nothing. So, if the priest does not say anything, it isn’t going to stop. St. Agnes in St. Paul is the quietest church I have been to. Since Msgr. Schuller died and Fr. Welzbacher left St. Agnes, I noticed that some people stand around in the pews after Mass and talk. It is so damn annoying. I am praying for a FSSP parish to come to Minneapolis/St. Paul at some point. But, probably not in my lifetime. By the way, today there were five EHM’s at the Mass I attended and the church was anything but full.

    Pray for our Church.

  42. John Nolan says:

    The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) decreed that to fulfil your obligation of Mass attendance you only need to be there from the Offertory to the Priest’s Communion. This ruling remains in force. Parish notices were traditionally read from the pulpit before the sermon; when they were moved to their present position in the 1960s the reaction was puzzlement. That bastion of liturgical common sense, the London Oratory, has them read out just before the Bidding Prayers.

    In one parish I know there was a lot of noisy chatter before Mass, as well as a number of liturgical abuses, including self-intinction. When the incumbent retired his replacement had to explain that this was illicit, and why. He also addressed the congregation before the start of Mass, telling them firmly that their chatter was inappropriate, and again explaining why. It worked.

  43. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    Every so-called “regular” church (by regular, I mean Novus Ordo) I’ve been to has people chit-chatting after Mass… It’s as if… people don’t realize they’re in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament… However, this does not happen at churches with EF Masses, EF-only parishes in communion with Rome, SSPX chapels, or Byzantine/Uniate Catholic Churches…. Hmmm….. If it were to happen in these places, it would be a scandal… What implications does this have for liturgy/Vatican II?…. (Guess!)

  44. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I was camping this weekend and with trepidation braced myself for an ordeal at the local parish. The “presider” cracked bad jokes in between prayers throughout Mass and thought it would be cute to spend 3 or 4 minutes collecting all the small children from the pews so they could hold hands with him around the supper table for the Our Father. Awww, so adorable…

    The dismissal was like a gunshot announcing that the auction/race was ready to begin. Couldn’t hear myself think, let alone pray. Of course the presider was there glad-handing everyone and thrilled to be the center of attention.

    Sigh, why did I have to leave my Lefebvredryl Plus home?
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tKsF0P0UBzk/T5wZrScO7ZI/AAAAAAAAAaM/C_Uaj-0l4Tw/s1600/Lefebvredryl.jpg

  45. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Quaeritur: Can the celebrant repeat the readings in English from the pulpit right before the homily—in the Novus Ordo? You know, do the NAB schlock and then either the RSV or D-R.

    Would love to see that.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    On two local parishes, two of my friends went to the priest about talking before and after Mass. One priest said he could do nothing about it. The other said to go and talk to the ladies and gents who were talking. This did not work and created hostility.

    I feel that it is the duty of the priest to instruct the laity on the proper behavior in the Church, before, during and after Mass. Needless to say, the EF Masses do not have these problems, at least the ones I have attended.

  47. Kathleen10 says:

    How wonderful and entertaining the comments! I so enjoy it. It’s edifying to see so many of us have such similar responses to similar circumstances, i.e., the noise level in the church. I’m old enough to remember how it used to be, and yes, I miss it too.
    I agree with the small steps, and think this is up to Father to lead. There are usually gracious ways to introduce pretty much anything. I think it is important to be heard, because Father may really not know it is an issue for anybody, and a short, polite note can be enough to get him thinking? Please Father, could we try to encourage silence after the Mass, etc. A congenial request would probably be considered and maybe, acted upon. If a few people do it, so much the better. If nothing else, at least you asked, and now you can rest, even if not completely happily. It’s a good opportunity to give Father a word of encouragement. I often say “thank you for giving your life to the priesthood Father”. Their is often a look on Father’s face…hard to describe.

    Short of heaven these are the things we offer up I guess. It must be we all yearn for the peace and communion of being with Jesus face to face, and there are so few moments to sense it….
    We’ll have our fill someday, and that will be everything we hoped for here.

  48. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    This post and the comments got me thinking: why can’t pastors invite people to visit and converse in the vestibule, in the auditorium, in the social hall, what have you, but not in the sanctuary area, and announce this request from the altar? Why can’t he ask that out of respect for Jesus in the tabernacle, that all extra-liturgical talking should be done anywhere but within the sanctuary?

    I think it may require some weeks or months of repeated admonitions by the pastor, followed up by admonitions from one of the liturgical ministers or the cantor, but eventually the regulars should “get it.” And once the regulars “get it”, the less regular visitors will catch on.

  49. I feel that it is the duty of the priest to instruct the laity on the proper behavior in the Church, before, during and after Mass.

    Amen to this. Alas, the priests are often the worst offenders (with ushers following as a close second).

  50. lh says:

    It is almost impossible to pray with all the chatter before and after Mass. On more occasions than I can recall i’ve walked over to some groups and whispering asked them to please keep it down as there were some of us who were trying to pray. One day I finally had enough, raised my voice and asked them to leave if they could not be quiet. In hindsight perhaps I should have just gone to the parking lot.

  51. Skeinster says:

    We have only the briefest of announcements before the homily, usually things that didn’t make it into the bulletin. Both of our priests have to travel fairly often, so Mass cancellations can come up at the last minute.
    Our church is separated from the parish hall by a vestibule, in which there is a large “Silence” sign.
    Perhaps other parishes might try that?
    We are EF only, so silence in church is not really a problem.

  52. heway says:

    Our little country church has no organist. It has a very small vestibule. And in the winter no one wants to stand outside and visit.We all come pretty great distances and some only see one another on Sunday after Mass. We have not used our hall this past year because of finances. Every now and then at the conclusion of Mass the parish council chair will make an announcement that asks you ‘to be quiet leaving, so others can pray’. It works for a while and then she has to announce it again. I truly believe that the Lord smiles at all this – his children being children.

  53. heway says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention that the church is very quiet before Mass. We pray the Rosary beginning 30 miniutes before. Father also hears confessions at that time. Our little church is open 24/7. We have a little sign in book in the vestibule, where poeple may leave intentions and requests for prayers.. Yesterday our visitors where from Paris, France!

  54. Marg says:

    My grandaughter (16-17) gives the people talking outloud near her after Mass, a big SHHHH.
    They are so surprised to hear this from a teenager that they usually leave the church (much to the enjoyment of her mother).

  55. Cassie says:

    We live in an “it’s all about me” society – and we’re fighting an uphill battle with this. I feel for our priests. They are wonderful. They are reverent, they are great preachers, they teach constantly on the real presence, the importance of reverence, worthy reception of the Eucharist, proper reception, the importance of realizing what is going on during Mass, etc. etc. etc. We are a NO parish but we have one EF Mass weekly. This is, by far, the most reverent parish to which we’ve belonged (thanks to the very good and holy priests assigned here) but there are still people who blithely carry on before and after Mass.
    This is, like so many others, a situation that begs for a change in people’s hearts, and the only one who can effect that change is the Holy Spirit. Since we just celebrated Pentecost, perhaps we should offer up a prayer to Him for our chatty pew-mates and at the same time ask Him to help us be reverent, humble, and Christ-like examples that will hopefully rub off on those around us.

  56. Gail F says:

    Oh please. It is not a mystery, you just have to tell people what’s expected of them or else they do whatever most other people around them do. And it is not inherent in the NO. Are there NO parishes that this does not happen at? Yes. Therefore, it is not inherent in the NO, which could be celebrated a lot more reverently than it generally is. I’ve been to NO masses, in English and in Latin, that were reverent and prayerful and inspired silent prayer. That said, it does take some leadership to change anything people are used to doing. The best way to accomplish this probably varies by according to the makeup of the parish and staff, and the personality of the pastor. It would be nice if people who have accomplished this answered Cincinnati Priest and told him how they did it.
    I sure wish my pastor would just get up and tell people to at least talk very quietly so that people could pray, and tell people not to clap at the end of mass. I have been to other masses at our parish, and no one clapped. It’s the crowd at the usual mass I attend, I guess. Anyway — same neighborhood, same wider population — one group claps after mass and one doesn’t. Neither is an inherent response to the NO mass, any more than talking in the aisles is. There are no expectations of behavior at mass, and that’s exactly what you get… any old behavior at mass.

  57. oblomov says:

    The EF Mass I occasionally, and with increasing frequency, attend is wonderfully reverent and everyone is respectful of where we are. Less so after the Mass than before but either way it is a far change from my NO Mass where flocks of friends and family and occasionally Priests, joyfully chatter before and after Mass.

  58. Hidden One says:

    Domus mea domus orationis vocabitur.

    His dictis, suspiravi.

  59. BLB Oregon says:

    A local parish has a pointed announcement a few minutes prior to the start of Mass to a) silence your electronic devices and b) prepare ourselves in silence for the Holy Mass. It seems hopeless to get everyone quiet before that, but at least there are a few minutes of quiet to start.

    Some people in that parish, however, have been known to hide in the bride’s room or a confessional in order to find some quiet before Mass. Some have also found that “cry room” is often empty until very shortly before Mass starts, too, so ironically they go in there for some quiet. After Mass? In the few minutes immediately after Mass, there is a lot of jostling, but if one watches their watch, the building actually empties very quickly. When they lock the church, anyone still there is allowed to stay, and let themselves out.

    People have also become so welcoming of the natural rambunctiousness of children (not a bad thing) that they have forgotten how deep the spirituality of a child can be if only her or she is given to know how to spend time in quiet with God. Children also need quiet; that is too often forgotten.

    I don’t think our noisy churches are necessarily a symptom of the NO Mass, but that fellow Catholics trained in the contemporary discomfort with an absence of noise cannot bear the TLM. They don’t appreciate how precious it is to set aside a place of quiet. We used to be more quiet while cleaning the church than people are now in the 10 minutes before and after Mass begins! The situation reminds me of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and a story she related in Story of a Soul. This poor saintly Carmelite was mightily distracted by a fellow nun who rattled her rosary beads too loudly. She decided to make a meditation on the sound of it, but noted that what she managed to offer was not the prayer of quiet. It was obviously a penance for her.

    If Catholics aren’t trained to love quiet again, legislating the TLM as the only form wouldn’t automatically make every Mass like TLMs typically are now. Some Catholics would be changed, no doubt, if there was only a TLM to go to, but I suspect it would mostly ruin the quiet of the TLM and tempt a lot more people with this problem to neglect their Sunday obligation because the lack of noise upsets or bores them. Rather, I think Catholics in general need to be taught to love quiet, which probably means they need to be taught to regularly engage in mental prayer.

  60. ivan_the_mad says:

    Hmm, I disagree with a lot of the assessments in the comboxes. My parish’s NO (both Latin and English Masses) is wonderfully reverent, every bit as much as its lone EF or any other EF I’ve attended. Please, please avoid “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” arguments.

    Also, for everyone who is so busy complaining about lack of reverence etc in some OF Masses: What are you doing about it? And no, avoiding it in favor of EF Masses and parishes is not Doing Something About It.

    Finally, CHRIST IS REALLY AND TRULY PRESENT AT MASS, EF OR OF. So take care of your criticisms and how you approach a Mass in OF. Becoming annoyed at abuses is one thing, but carrying hardness of heart into Mass where the Eucharstic sacrafice is offfered merely because it is the OF is something else entirely.

  61. Banjo pickin girl says:

    My parish is so quiet before and after Mass you can hear the dust fall. That’s how you can tell there are visitors, there is talking. Silence is not only to be found with the old Mass.

    Ivan, you are not so mad.

  62. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Noise after Mass makes me crazy.
    I once had a pastor who always would be in the back of the church greeting the exiting parishioners. He was a kind and involved priest, looking for ways to interact with his flock so he could convert them. If he heard talking in the church, Father would immediately interrupt any conversation and storm into the church and loudly tell everyone to continue their conversations outside. He might mention that those praying needed silence, or that silence must be observed in the Holy Presence, or something like that. It was short and quick and without anger. Then he would calmly return to the line and continue pleasant conversations. He did this at all his parishes and the effect was always immediate. He also preached on the Blessed Sacrament, and might mention in a sermon, church etiquette or respect to the Blessed Sacrament. [He would also weep if a Host was dropped and take great sighing care to clean that spot after Mass]. Father was an excellent orator and educated many hardened liberals, turning them into devout friends.
    For those nervous priests who want to correct this behavior, don’t overthink it or make long explanations. Just fearlessly do it, quick and immediate, without rancor. Also consider your own behavior and how parishioners view your attitude towards the Blessed Sacrament.

    AnnM: Yes the group Rosary can keep some from silent recollection. When the rosary is said immediately after Mass, as with most parishes around here, the silence I need for thanksgiving and recollection is utterly hijacked. I prefer the Rosary before Mass rather than after receiving Communion.

  63. jhayes says:

    John Nolan, I’m not sure where that is in the Constitutions of the Fourth Lateran Council. Can you give me a lead?

    Here’s a 2007 response by Fr. Timothy Johnson, who agrees but adds some comments:

    I have read in older moral manuals that the “obligation” is fulfilled by being present from the Offertory until the Priest’s Communion.  I do not believe that the “legality” of that requirement has changed; however, I do not[e] that an emphasis is put in more recent pastoral works to move beyond a mere sense of obligation to the response of a deep love and devotion to God that would entail an individual do everything reasonable to be present for the entire Mass.

    I am certain that people will always be late, just as much as the poor will be always with us.

    But I have to say that any person coming as late as you describe, even coming in while others are going up to receive Holy Communion, seems quite unreasonable as a common and habitual practice.

    I am sure it is safe to say that the obligation is fulfilled by being present from the Offertory until the Priest’s Communion; but one is failing in something serious when he or she would treat even this “legality” as their common and habitual practice.  I just don’t see any deep devotion of love of God in such an attitude.

    HERE

  64. Jael says:

    Playing the organ loudly after Mass is not the way to foster recollection in blabbermouths. How about the priest teaching the people about the benefits of both inner and outer silence? These talkers desperately need this teaching.

    Also, the chatting will never stop unless the priest requests it. The talkers will never listen to fellow parishioners. They just get mad and uppity. They do listen to the priest.

    Signs also help. At my mother’s liberal suburban parish, signs ask for silence in the small chapel before the weekday Mass. It works. However, after Mass they all stand around talking. My mother leaves to pray in her car.

    Soft organ music or chant before Mass might work. One parish here plays chant tapes before and after Mass. I’ve only been there on a weekday, so I’m not sure if that also works on Sundays.

    Our people are generally quiet before and after Mass. However, having a group pray the rosary before Mass is annoying. I go to confession before the weekday Mass, and the rosary is said at that time. If I’m in line when the rosary starts, I wear earplugs. If it’s going on after my confession, I do my penance in the car. What about people who don’t have a car? (The rosary is better than random talking, however).

    I’d go to the EF but the people give me the evil eye when I pray my part out loud. It’s the opposite problem.

  65. Jael says:

    RE: Donut hour. Talking in the social hall after Mass is a great idea. However, very few people in our parish want to eat donuts, loaded with sugar and trans fats. The social hall is nearly empty during donut hour. Why not have bagels, or some other healthy choice? It’s not about “being thinner than thou.” It’s about avoiding a stroke or heart attack. As one medical doctor says, “Instead of saying grace over the food we serve at church, we should be praying for forgiveness for what we are about to eat.”

  66. Nathan says:

    Tina in Ashburn: We are fortunate in the Arlington diocese to have a number of priests who think about this, aren’t we?

    Like most of the commenters, I love silence after Holy Mass to make my thanksgiving. I do think that, though, especially in parishes where there are a large number of families with small children, a balance should be achieved. If people are doing their best to get out with a minimum of hubbub and a quiet wave and whispered “hello” to someone they pass in the aisle, I’m not sure that laypersons giving the mother and father a “hairy eyeball” is the most effective approach.

    It may be that I’m spoiled, but even at my local OF Sunday Masses, there’s a little buzz, but not enough to interrupt my prayers. And (because my little ones are now big enough to go outside and mind themselves) in a few minutes, the blissful quiet descends.

    Tina is right, a kind and involved priest goes a long way towards fixing this problem.

    In Christ,

  67. mrsschiavolin says:

    There’s a lot of noise in the parish after mass, but the acoustics of the place make it pretty tolerable from my point of view. Lots of folks stay after to pray in the pews or in front of the Mary & Joseph statues.

    The car is the last place I’d want to pray, since that’s where my tired, hungry, screaming kids would be! ;)

  68. Laura98 says:

    After reading these comments, I am very thankful that our parish Priest has things under control. We have a few announcements before Mass begins and that is it. After Communion it is blessedly quiet for several minutes. I do have other minor issues with the Mass at our parish – but this is not one of them (though with the “Teen” service… this is not true, and I refuse to attend that one ever again!).

  69. akp1 says:

    Our previous Parish Priest tried playing chant at a low level before Mass; but the people just talked louder over it!I try to encourage anyone who comes to talk to me – ‘outside, after Mass, not now’ but I do find that so many people don’t get the hint at all. I tried putting a quote in the newsletter – at the top in bold – “Before Mass talk to God; during Mass let God talk to you; after Mass talk to one another (outside!)” but it didn’t make any impression! I can ignore it and pray anyway; but I know others get very upset about it.

  70. ArtND76 says:

    At our church there is simply a lot of talking before and after each Mass, since there is usually less than 30 minutes between Masses. If I do attempt prayer and meditation either before or after Mass I am fully aware that it will likely be interrupted, and likely more than once. I find the talking to be easier to “tune out” than a rosary, since I usually want to spend time in Lectio Divino or praying the few Psalms I have memorized, and the rosary is too much for my ADD mind to “tune out” during those times.

    RE: Donuts in the church hall: We have that at times, but we also have something better. We have a bible discussion group that meets on Sunday mornings between the English OF Masses (we also have Spanish OF Masses). In that way at least the group of us that attend the discussion can become more of a “community of faith” rather than just a “community”.

  71. Jael says:

    ArtND76: I wish we had a Bible discussion group. Our parish has no way for a single woman to find fellowship.

  72. irishgirl says:

    An American Mother @ 4:57 pm May 28: I went on the link you had for the ‘Tu Es Petrus’ organ piece.
    Whoa! That would definitely cause people to ‘be peeled off the walls’! Loved it!
    Okay, back on topic: I go to the TLM exclusively, and we try to have silence before and after Mass. Our chapel is only a mission, so the Blessed Sacrament is not normally reserved in the tabernacle. The only times that It’s in the tabernacle is when we’re going to have Exposition and Benediction after Mass, or when the priest is going to be going on a sick call right after Mass.
    I would like to see silence restored in our churches. But I know that I’m as guilty as the next person when I catch myself ‘yakking’ in church….mea culpa, mea culpa….

  73. AnAmericanMother says:

    Pretty neat, eh?
    Thereby hangs a tale — when the Holy Father visited NYC and celebrated Mass in St. Pat’s, the cathedral music department put up a program of the music on the internet. We watched with our cheat sheet in hand, but when it came time for the postlude the organist rolled into something that was obviously BIG and sounded French, but was unidentified on the internet program.
    So the next morning I asked our music director, who knows everything, but he hadn’t watched the whole Mass. So I tried the direct approach — I Emailed the music director at St. Pat’s and asked what the postlude was. He very kindly Emailed me right back and said it was Mulet’s “Tu es Petrus”.
    Choir practice was Thursday night, so I told our music director, and he said, “Oh, yes. Henri Mulet. Quit at the height of his career to raise chickens in Provence.”
    Sunday morning, guess what the postlude was at our parish? (I’m afraid the congregation applauded.)