Yucking it up in church. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Most of our churches are consecrated.  They are holy places.  Their walls are anointed with chrism.  They have been given a name.  They are sacred places.   Within their walls we participate in the most sacred act we little humans can be privileged to witness, which God Himself gave us to renew, before which the angels themselves bow and worship: the Holy Mass which is the Sacrifice of the Cross.

In Washington DC you find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  An elite corps, the Old Guard, maintain watch at the Tomb.  They preserve the decorum of the place.  They correct people who do not maintain proper decorum.

Here is a video of one of the sentinels silencing people who are talking loudly and laughing near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, crossing over the chains and boundaries, remaining seated when they can stand.

Remember this video, you … you… church-blabbers… when you yuk-it-up or shoot-the-breeze in your parish church, when you slap each other on the backs at the “sign of peace”or refuse to kneel when able, when you troop up into the sanctuary itself as if it were a Dunkin’ Donuts shop.

Sorry… am I not being fluffy enough for you?  ”Time’s have changed!”, you say?

I don’t think so.

If this level of decorum is expected at an outdoor secular tomb, how much more should we expect decorum within the hallowed walls of the place where Mass is offered?

Reason #75 for Summorum Pontificum.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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67 Responses to Yucking it up in church. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

  1. Pingback: Silence in Church | Father Jerabek's Blog

  2. Ellen says:

    Rant on! I get so heartily sick of church blabbers that I almost cry. I love and long for silence in church and seldom get it.

  3. kiwitrad says:

    Several times I have been driven out of my previous church in tears because of the lack of respect being shown before Mass. Loud laughing and talking and even shouting across the church was the norm and finally I was driven away. I now go to a different church although I live outside its parish boundary but there is such a reverent and prayerful atmosphere both before and after Mass that I joyfully battle the traffic and drive the extra miles.

  4. Thank you! The level of noise inside church that prevails today was unthinkable even in the nutso ’70s and ’80s. And I am sorry to say that priests and deacons are some of the biggest offenders. I think it’s because they regard what they do more as a job than as a sacred calling, and they view the church more as their workplace than as God’s house.

  5. Iacobus M says:

    We sometimes go to nearby church for confession on Saturday afternoons, where the LOUD chatter of people who have come for the evening Mass is very distracting, and, as I have always thought, disrespectful. In times past I have known elderly nuns who did pretty much what the soldier in the video does (let’s hear it for the Old Guard!): how bad would it be just to remind people not to act like they’re at a cocktail party in the presence of Christ in the Tabernacle?
    -Iacobus M
    http://vitafamiliariscatholica.blogspot.com/

  6. LadyMarchmain says:

    Thank you, Father, keep on ranting! We like ranting Fr. Z.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    The problem is this. In the old days, besides people having a sense of place and decorum, which is gone even in secular society, people in the churches saw each other during the week. Either they had kids in the parochial school, or were neighbors, or were close enough to be in each others’ houses.

    Fake community is only seeing each other on Sunday and catching up with “news”, which is more likely gossip.

    And, no offense, but the worst ones are 1) the older people who no longer get out because no one cares about them during the week; 2) converts who have not been taught that there is a different decorum in the church which houses the Real Presence. The absolute worse group of talkers in one of my parishes in the past are the forty or so Ordinariates who talk before and after Mass as they did before, apparently. And, the priest, who has been asked personally by several people to speak with them after these people failed to stop it after trying to discuss it with them, will not do anything.

    RCIA and other catechesis must include Church manners and respect for the True Presence. as too many people are used to the True Absence.

  8. MarkJ says:

    For those who are still unlucky enough to be in parishes where the din is unbearable, please speak to your pastor about it (repeatedly until something changes – the Lord deserves our boldness). As the soldier in the video made clear, there is a time for silence and respect, and also a time to speak up! I was in a church in Orange, Connecticut recently, and I couldn’t even hear myself think, let alone pray. Add to that it was THE ugliest church I have ever been to (despite the fact that the area is fairly wealthy), and the fact that the Mass was a mess, and I wonder what the parishioners are thinking really goes on there… and what the priorities of the parish are. To add to the picture, the church next door is a beautiful, ornate Greek Orthodox church, with a reverent and traditional Liturgy focused on worshipping God and honoring Mary and the Saints, and beautiful icons painted on every quare inch of the interior. Neighbors with very different views on Liturgy… my children asked why the Catholic church couldn’t be like the Greek Orthodox church. Pretty sad. But we need to act, and try to stop the modernist tide every chance we get. It’s noisy out there in the parishes, so make some noise for silence and reverence!

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    Amen Fr. Z.!! Rant on!!!

  10. Sandy says:

    Bravo, Father Z! Ellen expresses my thoughts exactly! So often I cry out to the Lord, silently, begging Him to give us reverence once again. To see the difference between now and the decades when I grew up is astounding. Yes, as said above, it is often the old folks who should know better, who should remember the silence and reverence we once had in church. Rant on, Father!

  11. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Thank you for posting this, Father!

    You know those electronic “Your speed is ___ mph” boards (with your car’s speed at that moment appearing on the screen) that the police sometimes set up along the side of the road? This very morning, after Mass, I had the most delightful idea that an enormous board could drop down from the rafters of the church after the closing prayers, upon which are printed the words “Your decibel level is _____ ” with an electronic read-out giving the db level.

    Some people still wouldn’t get it. They’d be like, “Wha-? Who cares?” and then keep right on socializing as if they were at a cocktail party.

    This is why it’s important that babies and toddlers who are clearly having an extended time of creative loudness should be gently ushered out by Mom or Dad until they are able to remain quiet. I don’t mean just crying or screaming, I mean also “singing”, i.e. solo and banging on the pew, i.e., toy trucks and cars being slammed onto the wooden seats during Mass as a form of play.

    In parishes where this sort of behavior from little ones is accepted as the norm, and the parents expect themselves and their loud offspring to remain in their pews while this is going on, there is little expectation that any sort of special awareness of quiet or other decorum is required from teens or adults, either. Why not talk and carry on after Mass, when throughout Mass itself the little ones have been allowed to squeak, squawk, vocalizing, banging, running, climbing – at length by their so-indulgent parents, and only when the decibel level goes through the roof, will some Mamas and Papas at last . . . sigh! bestir themselves to escort Amelia or Justin out into the vestibule?

    “Silence”? What’s that?

    If I want silence before the Blessed Sacrament, I stay at home and log onto http://www.savior.org, a remote real-time image of the Blessed Sacrament in a convent chapel. It’s not the same, of course, but at least it’s possible to actually, you know, pray!

  12. jaykay says:

    Miss Anita Moore O.P.: “And I am sorry to say that priests and deacons are some of the biggest offenders”

    Sadly, in my parish, that is the case with the priests, although our recently-acquired deacon, a youngish African man who has resurrected some splendid old dalmatics I hadn’t seen for donkey’s years and has started intoning in Latin the relevant parts for a deacon, maintains a dignified silence and merely smiles and nods politely at people who attempt to engage him in conversation in the church itself after Mass, then produces a most reverent genuflection at the tabernacle before disappearing into the sacristy. I think the gentle hint has actually been taken by a number of people. I see all this as I’m usually collecting the hymn sheets after Mass. I do wish our priests would take his example.

  13. Traductora says:

    I hate the “chatting in church” behavior we seem to indulge in now, but one of the things I have often wondered is if this is as common in (a) a church that really looks like a church; and (b) a church where the Mass is treated with solemnity. From what I have seen (granted, that’s not the entire country, but I do travel a lot), it doesn’t seem to be.

    In my opinion, people are merely responding to their casual, non-sacred surroundings and to the fact that the priest himself comes out and says “Gooooood Mooooorning!” (titter, titter) and then proceeds to tell a few warm-up jokes, starts the mass with a sloppy cross (when he thinks of it) , and heads for the high point of the whole event, his joke-filled homily.

    I bet that churches with a good liturgy and a good sacred space have nowhere near the problem of a Chatty Cathy congregation.

  14. teomatteo says:

    the only time some people shu,.. stop talking is when the processional hymn begins

  15. Bea says:

    I share your rant.
    We need more marine-priests demanding silence and adoration.
    Heart breaking to see the lack of reverence so prevalent today.
    But i’ve gone past the ranting stage. I just weep.

  16. Fr Francis says:

    I know that playing recorded music in church is not ideal – but over the last few years I have played Latin Plainchant (not too loud) for 30 minutes before Mass for the Sunday Masses.

    People like to listen to it. It creates a suitable atmosphere – and there is far less chatter in church now than in the past.

  17. Fr Francis says:

    Having force-fed parishioners with Plainchant for a few years, I hope to take it a stage further.

    In the next year or two I hope to get children singing the “Missa de Angelis” – as a project for the children after they have made their First Holy Communion.

    Fortunately there are very few “Spirit of Vatican II” types in my parish – but even they would hold back from criticising small children singing sweetly.

  18. Luvadoxi says:

    Thank you Father Z, for ranting. I love that video. I’m at the point now where I just can’t let it disturb my peace (but it does anyway). Our church looks like a church, and it’s like post-game after the Mass. Before the Mass it’s pretty quiet. But after….Katie bar the door! And you get run over if you try to genuflect as you exit the pew. We have a fairly reverent liturgy, so I just don’t see this atmosphere changing any time soon. It’s considered a *good* thing that everyone is so friendly. :::sigh::::

  19. One of those TNCs says:

    You’ll notice that the soldier did not say “excuse me,” “please,” or “thank you.” NO NEED!

  20. Luvadoxi says:

    Fr. Francis–I know we’re not supposed to have recorded music, [during Mass] but the time one of our parochial vicars used it it was *so* wonderful. It does calm people down. They tried that in the local high school–piping in classical music–and it created order and calm in the halls. Why not in church to soothe the savage beast…breast….whatever. :)

  21. Bea says:

    Traductora:
    “I have often wondered is if this is as common in (a) a church that really looks like a church; and (b) a church where the Mass is treated with solemnity.”

    We have a beautiful church (it resembles St. Francis in Assisi on a mini-scale) and the chatter commences as soon as father finishes processing out. People crossing across the aisle to greet friends and relatives. The handshaking (sign of peace?) part of the Mass is a social event. It seems the people have seen their sacred surroundings so often it no longer has any effect on them.

    One thing you mentioned, our pastor always starts Mass with a “Good Morning” to which everyone chimes in “Good morning, father”. Any decorum we may have been gathering up within ourselves before Mass starts is immediately shattered before Mass even begins.

  22. incredulous says:

    And can we PLEASE stop clapping for the choir. I know their bongo playing is exceptional, but the clapping detracts from the quality of the percussion. …not to mention the bloodless Holy Sacrifice…

  23. Tamquam says:

    I recall that Archbishop Angelo Roncali, prior to his elevation to the papacy, said, “Only two things should ever be heard in church: silence and prayer.”

  24. NBW says:

    AMEN!!!! Thank you for blogging about this issue Fr. Z.
    I really dislike the handshaking /sign of peace. It is a distraction.
    I find a lack of reverence at the Mass I attend. It is very distracting and upsetting to me. I find myself gritting my teeth when it’s time to go to Mass. This shouldn’t be the way one feels going to Mass.

    @Supertradmum: I agree RCIA should teach Church manners.

  25. No offense to the protestant denomination(s) I grew up in here in the south (southern part of VA), however, I thought all the chatter was just a phenomenon here in our area. Our Parish is THE Catholic Church in the area as far as size goes. Anyway, I just thought all the after Mass chatter was just part of being in the “south” or from a lot of converts from protestant denominations where you normally talk quite a bit after “church service” is over.
    Of course, they did not have the tabernacle with Our Lord present. They would have no idea what that was! I may have missed it already, but what is the advice if you are trying to silently leave the sanctuary and someone comes up to chat? Thank you!

  26. ocleirbj says:

    Bea said: “One thing [Traductora] mentioned, our pastor always starts Mass with a “Good Morning” to which everyone chimes in “Good morning, father”. Any decorum we may have been gathering up within ourselves before Mass starts is immediately shattered before Mass even begins.”

    Where we are, in all 5 parishes of our small city, the priest’s opening remarks have in recent years been reduced to this simple exchange of greeting. It’s so much better than the introductory paragraphs that we used to get! The most they might say in addition to this is “Today is the feast of [whatever]“, and state the intention for the mass, then off we go “In the name of the Father…”. By comparison, it’s not so bad.

  27. LarryW2LJ says:

    I echo …… Bravo, Fr. Z! Years ago, the good Bernardine Sisters would give us a whap on the ol’ noggin if we ever dared to act disrespectfully in Church. God bless their souls for doing so! They were as fierce inside the walls of the Church as that Old Guard soldier is at the Tomb, and rightfully so. Their example left a life long impression upon me – if I may ……. they taught us good!

  28. @NBW – I agree with the sign of peace as a distraction. I just wonder why it isn’t placed somewhere else in the Liturgy, like much, much earlier. My mind is already on the Holy Eucharist and then we start shaking hands and smiling and then you need to revert back to the sacred place you were before all of that. Just not a good spot for all of it. But, that’s just my very, humble opinion.

  29. When Pope Francis called for a worldwide Holy Hour, my parish joined in, and the Hour happened to fall between two Sunday Masses. The effect was astounding: none of the usual noise. Perhaps adoration between Masses on Sunday could be part of the solution.

    (Why don’t we have a regular world-wide Holy Hour, now that we have the communications technology available to make such a thing possible? Why don’t dioceses start organizing regular diocesan Holy Hours? There’s some New Evangelization.)

  30. Jim of Bowie says:

    Thank you so much for this post Father. It should be required reading for every priest. We actually left our old parish because of the party atmosphere before and after mass. The pastor at our current parish has posted signs at the entrance to the church requesting reverent silence while in the church, which seems to work before mass. Even so, there are still some who won’t heed it, including one of the deacons, and there is a lot of commotion after mass when people are trying to say their thanksgiving prayers.

  31. New Sister says:

    I love how he steps out of his lane and puts his weapon at port-arms to reprimand them!

    @Bea – FYI, “Marine” is always capitalized. The “Soldier” (also use caps) in that clip is US Army – huah!

  32. Mike says:

    At least in regard to preserving decorum at the beginning of Mass, I’ve been trying to do my part during the weeks I’ve acted as fill-in cantor at my parish, when the greeting duties, such as they are, fall to me:

    “Good morning [no pause!] and welcome to the Church of [patron]. Today is the [ordinal Sunday or feast day]. Let us rise and greet our celebrant, Fr. [celebrant], with Hymn Number nnn, [slowly] [title], number n-n-n in [hymnal].”

    Sacristan rings the entrance bell, the hymn begins, the ministers process, Father proceeds to and venerates the altar, the hymn concludes and Holy Mass begins with social amenities out of the way.

    I have no idea whether this formula meets the strictures of our parish’s Liturgy Committee, to whose meeting schedule and governance procedures I am not privy — which may be just as well. Should Father want any adjustments to the procedure in future, he speaks to me in the narthex after Mass and that’s that. “Yukking it up” has mercifully been absent from Father’s desiderata.

  33. ReginaMarie says:

    Our parish is very small, so even talking in a low voice in the narthex is readily heard in the sanctuary. More than once, Father has stepped away from the table of preparation behind the iconostasis to ask people to PLEASE keep a reverent & prayerful silence before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. I say Amen!

  34. @Marion Ancilla Mariae: hilarious idea, a church decibel meter LOL. And no, sadly, most wouldn’t even understand.
    @incredulous: LOL. stop clapping even though the “bongo playing is exceptional”. hahaha.

    Fr Z, yep. A worthy rant.
    Fortunately the parishes I visit around here preserve silence well, due to vigilance of the priests who instruct the faithful. For those as lucky, it is a shock when visiting the more irreverent noisy parishes. It is a great reminder to pray for the majority of clueless Catholics. These poor ignorant people don’t grasp reverence because they are oblivious to to the Holy Presence. Like churches with insufferable Greeters, to those I say as kindly [really hard as these people who promote focus on 'fellowship' rather than God incense me] as I can “I’m here to meet Jesus, not other people”.

    On the other hand, good Catholic community is desperately needed as we are marginalized more and more.

    This is all about emphasis. Its not that we should hate socializing, its that we shouldn’t socialize to the exclusion of God and the reverence due to Him, and certainly not at Mass, of all places! For those priests who don’t want to break up the party or suppress Catholic friendships, simply tell chatters to ‘continue their conversations elsewhere’. After Mass is a great way to meet and chat – so how about pancake Sundays, donuts and such things in another room or location.

  35. Public prayer of the Rosary before Mass is one thing, the chatter boxes that are various parishes give me total headaches. Adoration before Mass would probably help the silence issue.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    Of course, this is a matter of the enforced shift of the perception of the Mass from a sacrifice in which we are privileged to participate, although unworthy, to a meal in which everyone is invited. If everyone entering and leaving a Church were required to say simply say the Holy Name, it might go a long way towards helping people remember that it is His sacrifice we are lucky to have. Jesus only spoke seven words from the Cross. Why should we speak any more when in its presence?

    The Chicken

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    Did the blog go down, earlier, today?

  38. Nathan says:

    I concur wholeheartedly with you, Father, and with those in the combox. All good points, well taken.

    The problem is, when you compare our churches with Arlington, those of us in the churches are facing much more of an uphill battle:

    –The hippies never, ever, took over Arlington.
    –There has never, ever, been a guitar hootenanny conducted by the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
    –The people who come to visit Arlington Cemetery have never, ever been told that it’s all about them.
    –The people who visit Arlington have never, ever been ridiculed by the Old Guard or the Marine/Air Force/Navy Honor Guard for being reverent.
    –The Navy hymn has not been replaced at Arlington with “Gather Us In.”
    –There has never, ever been a movement, led by dissidents in the Old Guard or the Marine/Air Force/Navy Honor Guard, that claimed “We Are Arlington Cemetery.”
    –When Arlington Cemetery had leadership problems, we were never, ever told that “Arlington Cemetery is in a New Springtime.”

    In Christ,

  39. dans0622 says:

    Maybe you meant this compilation, Father, as it includes the infractions you listed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YIchQaISms
    I especially like the forcefulness of the man at 1:25.

  40. Nicholas Shaler says:

    I have on occasion been a chatter-box, though I have mostly stopped.

    Signs help.

  41. Marie Teresa says:

    Without exaggeration, precisely one person kneels in prayer after Mass. Following the Agnus Dei, some kneel; some stand. After Communion, the priest asks us to be seated, and people chat.

    Even so, how much blame for the lack of reverence falls on the people? Priests hereabouts have urged us to be chatty since the mid-seventies. Kneelers were removed about the same time.

    People have been poorly formed in matters of Faith for over a generation now. Re-forming the people has to come from the priests.

    … and until the Bishop requires a re-forming of the flock, it will go the way of weekday Mass, and scheduled Confession, and catechesis – none of which are available.

  42. Obumbrabit says:

    I call them Ecclesia-phila-loquarians — people who love to talk in church. It kind of drives me crazy at daily Mass when I am trying to teach my toddler son to be quiet in church and all the old ladies are talking. At least we have a Sunday EF with a reverent atmosphere.

  43. Fr. Denis Lemieux says:

    Agreed, agreed, agreed! That being said, it’s not exactly a new problem. Medieval sermons are filled with denunciations of ‘church-chatterers’ and it seems to have been the norm that people would keep babbling even through the service. Some of the medieval mystery plays show church chatterers being dragged into Hell at the Last Judgment, etc. So… yes, our situation is lamentable today, but we do have a history of it in the Church.

  44. Fr. Hamilton says:

    I shared the YouTube clip with several of my senior altar boys along with the humorous suggestion that maybe we need an announcement like the soldier’s before Mass begins. Guess what? My altar boys want to do it! We won’t do so, but it’s fun to imagine them in cassock & surplice walking slowly down the central aisle about 5 minutes before Mass, with processional crucifix resting on their shoulder. At the front center of the aisle they would do an about face and holler: “Silence before God in His holy temple!”

  45. Tradster says:

    I believe the talking and carrying on in church is a direct result of people coming to Mass so poorly dressed. Why would anyone expect people to treat the church reverently when they come dressed for a tailgating party? To paraphrase: “how you dress is how you believe”.

  46. Bea says:

    Thanks, New Sister
    Marine, it is.
    I’ll probably be chastised by my son, (a Former-Marine.)
    True, that’s not a Marine uniform, but I was (in this case) referring to the boldness of Marines.
    Ah-Ooorah

  47. Kerry says:

    The James S. McDonnell Planetarium building , in Forest Park in St. Louis is a hyperboloid of extension. So, unfortunately, is Sacred Heart in nearby Parkston, SD. In such a space, the focus simply cannot be the altar, but is the center of the building. (Is the inside of a black hole the same shape?) As one might imagine, after mass it is very, very chatty. However, another eight miles drive north is this beauty, http://saintspeterandpauldimock.blogspot.com/ And nice photos here too: http://windowontheprairie.com/2011/10/18/saints-peter-and-paul-church/

    Very little chatting. As a bonus, the Dimmock cheese factory makes excellent cheese, since about 1934. (An aside, if anyone is looking to move. In our tiny town of Tripp, population 647 , there is a beautiful 1901 craftsman house for sale. See at realtor dot com. We fled the utopia of MN and landed in America.)

  48. yatzer says:

    Someone in our parish dealt with the problem by starting a Rosary society. Before each Mass on the weekend someone begins leading whoever is there in the Rosary, beginning about 20 minutes or so before Mass. I’m sure Father was consulted, but it was a layperson’s idea.

  49. I think there’s an awfully simple solution to parish-blabbers. It consists of two bone-headedly obvious parts:

    1) Design your parish Churches with such grandeur that parishioners are intimidated in holy fear of God by entering, let alone disturbing the sacred silence.

    2) Priests, Deacons, for the love of God, please, demand respect. We’re in the business of repentance and saint-making, not communal fluff.

  50. Colette says:

    I showed this post to my 22 year old daughter – her response – “Could we have one of these soldiers in church…including the gun.” Why have people lost all common sense and respect for others? We have rows of families kneeling in church after mass, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the chatty Cathy’s leaving mass!

  51. Bea says:

    Fr. Hamilton:

    “At the front center of the aisle they would do an about face and holler: “Silence before God in His holy temple!”

    Do it! Do it!, Fr. Hamilton. I bet you would only have to do it a couple of times before the parishioners get the picture.

    Wouldst that we have courageous priests to do this on occasion.

  52. Mike says:

    As late as the mid-1970s, the rector of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in my home town of Wheeling, West Virginia, would not hesitate to pound the pulpit (literally) and excoriate those who were wont to bolt from Mass right after Communion.

    Don’t know how much irreverence he cured, but it put the fear of God into this kid.

  53. MF says:

    Yes, but when the priest is one of the yuck-it-up, church blabbers himself…

  54. Kathleen10 says:

    I extend the most profound appreciation and respect to that soldier and all our soldiers. He did well, silencing those people. I have to say I found it amusing though. What did those people feel. Oh my gosh I would have wished the ground would open up and swallow me if my behavior brought about that shouting. I would never have recovered. And they kept taping!
    In our church we are also now asked to “take a moment to greet each other in the presence of the Lord” or something like that. So now we get two opportunities for glad-handing and fake socialization. Lucky us!

  55. acardnal says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if permanent deacons would take on the role of the Old Guard as exhibited in this video?

    I remember being at a catechists’ conference in a church. It was packed! Unfortunately, it was very loud with conversations, too. Then I saw the retired Monsignor in residence slowly climb to the top of the ambo and remind everyone to shut up because they are sitting in the presence of God Almighty in the Blessed Sacrament reposed in the tabernacle. God bless him.

  56. Faith says:

    The blabbers get to me, also. One time I went to Mass and the organ music was blaring. No one could talk over it. It was really blasting. The choir was singing. Then I realized that the choir was practicing. It was loud but it was nice. We got to listen to a mini concert. Perhaps, music should be played before Mass.
    While we’re on the subject, I’m appalled by the behavior in the sacristy. Sometimes the laughter coming from there is embarrassing. Then the Lector will come out chuckling to himself, to announce. What the hell is going on?
    I’ve often wondered if the lights were dimmed after Mass, maybe people will take the hint and go outside to talk. Do you think that will work?

  57. New Sister says:

    @Nathan – hilarious; thanks for the laugh!

  58. New Sister says:

    @Bea – bless you for raising a Marine – semper fidelis! :-)

  59. LauraL says:

    This, and the failure to reverence the Real Presence in the Tabernacle before sliding into one’s pew…

    It’s not ideal by any means, but at the chapel where I play organ, I sometimes have to make announcements before Mass. I always begin, “I am sorry to disrupt your prayer, but….” Sometimes I want to add “HINT, HINT — this is Prayer Time, you haven’t forgotten that, have you?”

  60. trespinos says:

    The decibel level has been trending higher lately at my home parish. Several Sundays back, the young lady tasked with making the announcement that Mass is beginning tried three times to gain the attention of the faithful in the pews. The din continued unabated. Now, granted, her microphone was turned off, but anyone with eyes front and minimal hearing could have heard her attempts. Clearly the majority was too busy gabbing. Father, who was standing at the rear, missed his opportunity, IMHO, to jettison his “niceness” and give the blabbers “what-for”.

    Thanks, Fr. Z. You’ve motivated me to ask our pastor to install a sign requesting respectful silence on each door leading into the nave, as I have seen in a couple of parishes in our diocese.

  61. Deacon Don says:

    The volume level in our church has risen significantly … there may be many reasons why, but here is one observation I would make: we have become a “social” church.

    Three years ago a new pastor arrived. Mass now begins with discussion of how “good you all look today”, comments made about the weather or sports scores. Just prior to dismissal there will be a reminder about the games on TV this afternoon or how nice a day it is for a round of golf or fishing. Even the homily is peppered with comments current events or activities taken place … which usually are not connected in any way to what is about to follow.

    We have transitioned to a “meeting place” … the behavior in the pews mirrors the casual nature of the liturgy itself. The “off-the-cuff” and “folksy” approach to the Mass has generated the identical response from those in regular attendance … who now openly greet each other, talk, laugh and visit before and after Mass (sometimes during.) Who is out in the congregation before Mass shaking hands like a campaigning politician, the pastor.

    Is it right or wrong? It is what it is.

    When we remove most elements of reverence from the Mass … when we choose no longer to have incense or maintain silence, all reverence of the altar or reserve and adopt a “Here we are again, so let’s get-er done!” attitude … what follows, follows. Don’t blame the people who attend for following the model that is being set.

    The pastor believes that this casual nature is what is attracting and maintaining the congregation. He is the pastor … it is ultimately his call, even if it is a slippery slope.

    Unfortunately, I can’t go to a church up the road like others can … I am assigned here by my Bishop.

  62. priests wife says:

    Deacon Don- I’m sorry you are going through this- would the pastor allow you to incense the church? (I believe that is the place of a deacon in the Roman-rite if there is a deacon)- you could ‘sell’ it as a way to ‘participate’- the incense might inspire the pastor to remember that the Mass is a sacrifice

    I am inspired by this post- I can do nothing about the ‘mega’ Roman-rite parish where my husband is a permanent supply priest for the 6:30 AM Sunday Mass. He and the deacon process out to silence and then the people start talking (either about weather or sports). It’s not my parish. But at our missions – I think I will make myself in charge of recorded chant before and after the Divine Liturgy

  63. Uxixu says:

    @trespinos, great idea. I’m reminded of the twin signs at the EF parish I visit: one admonishes silence and respect before the Blessed Sacrament. The other similarly advocates modest dress with diagrams for those who need elucidation.

    @Deacon Don, curious if you tried to give some tactful feedback to the pastor? I shudder at the shaking hands you describe though, so it may be futile… I can just imagine the music that would follow from such… wonder if you could sell him on at least*a* Mass with those who desire a more traditional and formal experience. Are there associate pastors/priests under the pastor who might be more sympathetic?

  64. bobk says:

    That’s a great video. The Marine has good marching orders. In the earlier centuries the Church had Doorkeepers who were ordained for (I think) roughly the same purpose. They could be used now in many parts. I think especially of European churches with the occasional half naked protestors and Orthodox cathedrals in Russia with “riot” invasions.

  65. Pax--tecum says:

    In Europe it was until the 1950′s usual to have a pikeman at Solemn High Mass to guard the church and to make sure the faithful were well-behaved. In the Netherlands and Belgium this guard was usually called a “Suisse” (after the Swiss guards in the Vatican!). He would also wear a sash with the text “Eerbied in Gods huis” (Reverence in God’s house) or “Kerkpolitie” (Church police).

    I know that the Institute of Christ the King still uses a pikeman to lead the incoming and outgoing procession when a high prelate celebrates Mass at the Institute’s seminary in Gricigliano.

    In Germany there are still some examples of “Domschweizers”, notably in the Dom of Cologne. Last Christmas, there was a feminist who jumped upon the altar during the midnight Mass, half naked. The Domschweizers removed her from the Dom and handed her over to the police.

  66. Jack Phinn says:

    The soldier is not a Marine. He is a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the oldest active unit of the U.S. Army (hence the name, ‘the Old Guard’).

    I don’t attend noisy masses. I left the N.O. after witnessing Father and the Deacon openly laughing beside the altar at the end of the processional hymn.

  67. robtbrown says:

    Jack Phinn says:
    The soldier is not a Marine. He is a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the oldest active unit of the U.S. Army (hence the name, ‘the Old Guard’).

    Exactly. Some might have also seen the Fife and Drum Corps, also part of the Old Guard, in Revolutionary War Uniforms.

    Incidentally, the 3rd Infantry Regiment is under the Command of the Military District of Washington. During Reagan’s funeral, his widow was escorted by the 2 star who was its Commander.