Under another entry commenter "Allan" posted the following, which is worthy of consideration on its own.  My emphases and comments.

I’ve been wondering where to post this, but under the theme of “brick by brick” I think there’s a lesson here in not undoing the foundation by pulling out the bricks[Right.  Sometimes people, perhaps in their zeal, harm their causes.]

I took my 14 year old son to his first EF Mass on Easter Sunday. [You know the old phrase about how many chances we have to make a first impression, right?]  We sat off by ourselves and were engaged in a quiet pre-Mass discussion (whispers) about the divinity of Christ (14 year olds have a lot of questions, and parents take these opportunities as they come given teenage attention spans).

Well, from long across the church this lady approaches us, speaks directly to my son telling him to “Shhhh!” and hands him a pre-printed card telling the reader it is inappropriate to talk in church and to “Be quiet!” [Wow…. I would be tempted to buy a couple of cases of those, actually.   But this delivery was not very well thought through.] Now this lady was nowhere near enough to have actually been able to hear us talking, but clearly lived for the opportunity to hand out these cards and assume control of the church and the people in it.  Not exactly a “welcoming” atmosphere. 

I explained to my son afterwards that:

1)    As his father, it’s my standards of public deportment he needs to worry about, not what some stranger in a church thinks
2)    This person was not speaking on behalf of anyone in authority (i.e. was not clergy, a rector, etc.)
3)    There was nothing inappropriate about the topic or quiet nature of our conversation
4)    One person does not a congregation make: there were a great many people there (well, not too many) who did not (apparently) take exception to us, and the whole congregation should not be judged by the actions of one old lady

I think we should be careful not to remove any bricks during the construction. IMO.

There are a lot of good points to discuss here, so long as you are very careful and really think about what you are tempted to post as a comment.

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  1. Ken says:

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a parent to go outside the church to talk with his child. Would you want someone chatting as you are trying to pray? Keep in mind the acoustics of a traditionally built church — every whisper is heard by many.

    Plus, talking in church is not a precedent that should be set. Most examinations of conscience list it to think about while preparing to make a confession:
    “Did I misbehave, play or talk in church?” (for children)

    Could the situation have been handled better? All situations could be handled better. But please don’t let that be an excuse for talking in church. Come back to the traditional Latin Mass with your teenager after having an educational conversation with him before entering the church. A handmissal may help as well.

  2. TNCath says:

    I can fully identify with both sides to this issue. While talking in church can be extremely distracting to others, I also find the SHHHHHHSSSSers to be equally annoying. In fact, their “SHHHHHHHing” is usually louder than the talkers. I have a friend who considers it his mission in life to tell people to be quiet in church either by telling them to “SHHHHHH” or saying that he did not come to church to listen to them talk. While I agree with him in principle, in this day and age, I am also waiting for the day when somebody is going to ask him to step outside for a knuckle sandwich. I’m sure the dear lady meant well, just as my friend does, but I do think it a bit presumptuous of her to say something to a 14 year old rather than approach the adult in a polite manner. Had she said something like, “Hello! Happy Easter! I heard you talking quietly and just wanted to see if there is anything I can help you with?” Dad could have then explained what he was talking about with his son, and then the lady could have backed off gracefully.

  3. Mike says:

    While this was a teaching moment about busybodies it was also a teaching moment about propriety of behaviour. As a parent I well understand the curiosity of youngsters but holding a prolonged conversation in the Divine Presence while others are preparing themselves for Mass was wrong. If after the second brief question is was evident he had more than you should have pointed out to him that it wasn’t the time or place. I have taken it to the vestibule or on rare occasions spoken in shushed tones from the back of the church well after Mass is complete. There are two biggies with Father, dont’ hasssle newcomers about really casual attire, let them learn from our example, and No Talking in church.

  4. TJM says:

    Reminds me of the officious woman in charge of the Altar and Rosary Society when I was an altarboy. I was just new at my job and I made a little
    mistake. She came up to me after Mass and criticized me very harshly. Fortunately my pastor overhead and told me in the sacristy to pay her no heed and that
    she took the same approach with him. Actually these folks need to be pitied and prayed for. In my decades of being a Catholic, there have
    been a handful of times when I thought a person’s behavior in Church required correction. Most people act as they should. Tom

  5. Allan says:

    Wow, my comment rates a post! Thanks (I think?!).

    I’ll lurk and see what people say, and maybe respond later. I think the danger in what transpired is that it sort of plays into the whole (hopefully false) notion of the “clubbiness” of the TLM. Right or wrong, nobody would have told my kid off at our usual NO Mass (and yes, I get that maybe some people think he should be, but I’ll leave that aside for now.)

  6. cathguy says:

    The sort of actions this woman is taking do not help. Rather they hurt.

    I agree that the Church should not be a place of socializing and lots of noise, but rather quiet prayer. However, a father whispering to his son does not qualify as inappropriate behavior, or socializing. The pastor going around and encouraging conversation and loud greetings and louder conversation is one thing. Whispering to one’s own son religious instruction is quite another.

    I can envision all sorts of scenarios where some quiet words are called for:

    1) The pastor coming out before Mass and whispering a request to a parishioner is no abuse. (ex. “Hey, Phil, little Joey is sick, can your son serve?)

    2) A father whispering to his son: “Remember what we talked about in the car. Best behavior. Jesus is on the altar, and we need to respect Him. If you get out of line this week, there is NO WAY you will qualify for McDonalds after Mass… got it?”

    Even a whispered greeting may be appropriate: “Jen, I heard your husband was in the hospital. I will offer my prayers at this Mass for him.”

    Why is it some people need to go to such extremes?

    In effect, I think it can be argued that the person handing out the silence cards may have done something that is offensive to the Catholic conscience: undermining a father’s God given authority to teach his son. “Look at that stained glass window. That is the Annunciation. Isn’t it beautiful? Do you remember what the Annunciation is? We’ll talk about it after Mass.”

    This is, perhaps, the problem with SOME who are attached to the Extraordinary Form: they over-react against every perceived abuse. They get over the top. They become the liturgy police… and they drive everyone else, even those who agree with them on the beauty of the Latin Mass, NUTS.

    When this occurs it hurts us all. Stories like this get passed around. The priests of MANY MANY parishes have ingrained ideas about those who love tradition anyway. Often-times these ingrained ideas are NOT positive. Lets say someone perceives a REAL abuse and respectfully and carefully brings it up. The priest may be inclined to reject the parishioner as an extremist simply because they have heard of actions like this being taken.

    This is definitely food for thought.

    I am known not to keep my mouth shut. I may have told that woman “I am speaking in a whisper to my son, and YOU are being offensive. I would appreciate an apology.”

    None of us need to put up with abuse. That includes the woman who may be abusing every other parishioner because she is over-the-top.

  7. Michael J says:

    Is the only reason we should not talk in Church so that we will avoid the possibility of disturbing others? I am not entirely certain, but this is not my understanding.

  8. Patrick says:

    I wonder what Our Lord would think of this woman who interrupts a father bringing his son to Him. I’m betting He wouldn’t mind non-disruptive whispering.

  9. robert says:

    While the lady was a bit harsh, engaging in any prolonged discussion, even if it is theological, can be a great distraction to those trying to pray before or after Mass. I think it is really rude to talk in church, because it is so simple to step outside or into a parish hall.

  10. Janet says:

    I agree that the woman with the card didn’t do anyone any good, but at the same time, anything more than about 15 seconds of whispering really needs to be taken out to the vestibule.
    My parish is Novus Ordo, and the problem of people carrying on ‘whispered’ casual conversations that can be heard from 20 ft away is very bothersome.
    Since giving them a stony look never seems to do any good, I’d sure welcome hearing about some successful methods for getting people to shut up so others can pray before Mass.

  11. “Now this lady was nowhere near enough to have actually been able to hear us talking”

    If that is so how did she know you were talking?

    You would be surprised how well sound carries in a church with good acoustics.

    Mass is not the time for catechism class, especially not of a 14 year old!

    There is a right way and a wrong way to do it, but it certainly does need to be done with those who do not know how to behave properly in a church. Thank God for women with the courage to do this kind of thing.

  12. There is an easy way to stop the SHHHHHHSSSSers if you don’t like them, don’t talk.

  13. Gloria says:

    Our St. Stephen’s parishioners have been admonished not to consider ourselves the policemen of the parish. Any corrections are the prerogative of the priests. Just before summer begins there is, for a few weeks, a notice in the weekly Bulletin about the appropriate dress expected, heat wave or not, usually with the quote that “clothes are meant to conceal rather than to reveal.” Shhsshing comes under that admonition, as well. Notices on the vestibule bulletin board, and items in the Bulletin take care of most problems if they are prevalent and are called to the attention of our clergy.

  14. Giving a ‘no talking’ card to a young boy who was quietly whispering in his pew is rather like taking a fire extinguisher to someone puffing in the ‘no-smoking’ section of a restaurant. While technically there is fault in what he was doing, her actions are completely disproportionate. It is also impolite to give out to children in front of their parents. Take it up with them instead.

  15. Charlie says:

    I have to go along with cathguy on this one. It is a situation that if left unchecked could escalate and become catchy. I have seen this at a first conession celebration where the church imitated a bingo hall. However in this case that woman could have turned off a Gentleman and his son especially if they were straddling the line as to their faith walk. I much prefer to see attachments to Parish bulletins handed out at mass to inform folks rather than some overbearing bitter woman loudly clicking her heals coming across the pews after me or anyone else. We need to practice tact.

  16. Jerry says:

    Conversing while others are praying is a problem, I’m constantly trying to keep a six and three year old engaged and quiet at our OF Parish.

    That said, for whispers to offend someone clear across the Church, resulting in the pre-printed card (wow !?) indicates to me that this is a “REALLY BIG PROBLEM!” at least for that referee.

    I shudder thinking of leading my family to our local EF Parish, my Wife already suspicious of “the cranks” (my 13, 11, 9 year olds love the EF Parish) and having a whistle blown at us.

  17. Romulus says:

    Silence in church is important, but not for its own sake. The purpose of silence is to allow all to prepare for the Sacrifice. Allen assures us that he took every reasonable precaution not to disturb others. Only Allen in his conscience knows if this is truly so. If it is, then the intervening woman was the one who created the disturbance — and neglected her own duty to prepare for Mass.

    The Lord had something to say along these lines: the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Pious observance is all very well, but to obsess over it is to miss the larger point.

  18. The Feds says:


    I think there are a lot of good points being raised by both sides in this discussion. Regarding the question you posed as to how someone could tell two people are talking if they weren’t making noise… Have you ever seen two people communicate with American Sign Language? They’re having a conversation, without noise. Now consider, the father and son clearly could have been out of earshot, but the visual cues of two heads close together, lips moving, eye contact, etc… could clearly indicate a conversation taking place without noise.

    Just a thought!

  19. RichR says:

    Many TLM-er’s are of a “melancholy” temperament. They are detail-oriented and find joy in order. However, they can also fail to see the forest for the trees. How do I know this? I tend to be one of them. I have had to make a personal effort to try and see the big picture and not let my “zeal” turn into an excuse for micromanaging things. Order can only be taken so far. If you strive for liturgical perfection, then you will undoubtedly be disappointed. Remember, the only perfect liturgy is in Heaven. Even the 1962 Mass is not perfect.

  20. “1) As his father, it’s my standards of public deportment he needs to worry about, not what some stranger in a church thinks”

    You just taught him to be arrogant and selfish and not to worry about how his actions effect other people.

    2) This person was not speaking on behalf of anyone in authority (i.e. was not clergy, a rector, etc.)

    This is not necessarily true, such people are sometimes appointed by the priest to make sure the behaviour of the laity is appropriate.

    3) There was nothing inappropriate about the topic or quiet nature of our conversation

    The thing that was inappropriate was that you were having a conversation, Mass is not the time for conversations and your are setting a dangerous example by showing your son he is more important than God, it suggests you are an overindulgent parent.

    4) One person does not a congregation make: there were a great many people there (well, not too many) who did not (apparently) take exception to us, and the whole congregation should not be judged by the actions of one old lady

    Most people don’t mention it or try to ignore it, I know because I am one of those people, you would never know to look at me that these kind of things bother me, but they very much do.

  21. Michael J says:

    Are you sure that “The purpose of silence is to allow all to prepare for the Sacrifice”? It has nothing at all to do with the fact that we are in the presence of Christ Himself?

  22. meg says:

    For what it’s worth the TLM I attend is utterly silent. It’s filled with lovely devout people and no one is handing out any cards. Let’s not paint all EF Masses with that brush.

    The silence isn’t for us. We are in the presence of the Holy Eurcharist. Silence is totally appropriate. This is something to aspire to, not be annoyed by. I understand the card lady was annoying but the silence isn’t.

    I will say that when we first switched over from the Novus Ordo we messed up once in a while and chatted because we were so used to a noisy church. Nobody corrected us – we corrected ourselves. There was lots of chit chat before and after Mass in our old NO parish (and sometimes during!) and old habits die hard.

    The woman with the cards was out of line but to play devils advocate, maybe that particular parish has a lot of newcomers who are chatting too much (and other things) and she in a very inappropriate way was trying to do something good.

  23. Susan Peterson says:

    I was involved in a situation in which I am sure the father felt the same way about my action towards his son, as Allen feels in this case. Iwas the Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and this young man reache d out, took th ehost from my hand, and walked back to his seat with it before consuming it. Of course I was watching him out of the corner of my eye. After mass I went up to him and explained, as gently as I could, that the host should be put in the mouth as soon as we receive it. The kid just looked embarrassed and didn’t say anything. The father drew me aside and said that “We are just glad they will come to mass, we don’t need people picking at them about little things.” I tried to explain that when I was trained to be an EM I was told that it was our responsibility to make sure no one walked out with a host. ( I once saw the priest that trained me, follow someone up the aisle who did this.) I told the father that I thought kids would take church more seriously if they thought adults took it seriously. He was not appeased.
    Now, talking before mass is different, but I suspect for that woman, her action also involved protection of the honor of the Blessed Sacrament and the House of God where it resides. I think she went overboard and was tactless. But that is human nature, mine too, often enough. I think with your explanation, your son won’t take harm from it.

  24. You are a great dad, Allan. Kudos to you on every level.

    Is it appropriate to talk quietly in church? Well, that depends. It is appropriate if you are catechizing someone or speaking of spiritual things, or simply offering a quiet but welcoming greeting to a guest.

    Clearly such a woman has little sense of what makes up authentic piety. Can you imagine her “shushing” people in the Temple or Synagogues of Jesus’ day, and perhaps while He was teaching, handing out little scrolls that told people to be silent? I’m all for maintaining the sacredness of a place. But the catechesis of a young boy by his father – perhaps even explaining the sanctuary or the iconography – is VERY appropriate in a Church.

  25. EDG says:

    RichR, that was an excellent point (about order and the love of order as a personal characteristic of many TLM people) – not to mention a very humble and charitable statement!

    I wish those lucky enough to attend the EF had a more “missionary” approach; very few if any of the people who bother to come to an EF mass are going to be disruptive chit-chat types, and certainly a father explaining something to his son might have been better dealt with by someone simply stopping to ask if they had any questions, were curious about something, etc. It could be a moment for helping people to understand better or to feel more at ease in a situation that generations of Spirit of Vatican II types have assured them would be stressful, harsh, and unpleasant. They’re already a little nervous when they arrive.

    I agree that silence for prayer before mass is important, but at the same time, if people want complete silence, they should go pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament at some other non-mass time. If there are other people around, chances are there will be some level of noise, if only the rattle of rosary beads on the pews and the hissing of elderly ladies whispering prayers (as I remember from a very distant past).

  26. Geoffrey says:

    Compared to what I witness and overhear at Mass on a regular basis, hushed whispering between father and son regarding sacred topics is a welcome relief!

  27. The Astronomer says:

    Methinks some of the people commenting need to lighten up and have a root beer.

    “You just taught him to be arrogant and selfish and not to worry about how his actions effect other people.”

    wow…no wonder the Vatican II types can paint RC Trads as officious busybodies…even, dare I say, prigs. I’m all for proper norms of behavior and respect in the presence of Our sacramental Lord, but if a young teen son of mine were to quietly and respectfully ask me his dad about the Real Presence in Church (emphasis on quiet and respectful), I see nothing wrong with it.

  28. DavidJ says:

    Nitpicking here, but people saying that “Mass is not the time for conversations” are missing the point that this was not during Mass. I’m not saying that you should have a full conversation sitting in the sanctuary before Mass starts, but this is not a case of conversing in the middle of the consecration.

  29. Barbara says:

    The main point here is not the other person’s behavior, but our own. Time before Mass should be spent in recollection. That was the teachable moment! Catechesis should be done outside of Mass. As a young child I was not allowed to talk (unless I was going to faint which happened in the hot summer) or even turn around if there was a noise. It was quite restrictive and I didn’t get it then. I get it now and am thankful that my parents taught me to be still and quiet before Mass which enables me to prepare to meet Jesus.

  30. Sorry – silence is demanded by the Presence of Christ?

    I’d like to see something authoritative on that…

    Every Church is a house of prayer, to be sure. Silence is to be maintained out of respect for those praying.

    It would seem to me that there is a balance that can be struck between the circus type atmosphere I have seen in some modern Latin parishes and a Carthusian monastic atmosphere some seem to think is the “ideal.”

    The Cathedral (or parish) is no monastery. Respectful, brief or quiet conversation is to be expected at times – and may even be necessary for the spiritual good of souls.

  31. Michael J says:


    Why on earth would you expect your son to believe what you say about the Real Presence if you act as if He is not present?

  32. Patrick says:

    People some times confuse “talking” with “instructing.” (“if all else fails, use words” -St. Francis kind of idea).

    The irony is there for those who see the non verbal (anathema to our noise laden world) quiet (provoking depth and “God listening”) environment promoted here as being “explained” by words. I am sure the intent was very well meaning, but this can also be a teaching moment for dad. The son will get over the shhh. Lots worse things have happened to folks in churches. Part of our problem today with boys is we want to always watch out for their sensibilities being “assailed,” and this is teaching a lesson as well, a bad one. Let us teach them to rather let these kinds of “non incidents” roll off their backs. Manliness, Christian manliness, demands this. This can be in short supply in our churches today.

    I have brought non Catholic boys to the EF and sat in the front, and the need can arise to say a couple of words, but the questions involving discussion can be better handled over a breakfast afterwords (after words? fail? can disturb?).

  33. cathguy says:


    Your argument brings a parallel argument to mind.

    You say “If you don’t like the sushers… don’t talk.”

    I was speaking to a friend about the amount of garbage on television recently and he said:

    “If you don’t like it… change the channel!”

    I see a direct parallel in the reasoning and the response both of you have given.

    I must point out that I am unwilling to cede the high ground to the woman in the story by adopting your line because I would find anyone taking that line to such an extreme offensive and would also find it a serious blockage to peaceful contemplation of Eucharist and preparation for the Holy Sacrifice (that is the reason for quiet, right? Not our own proclivities one way or the other… its supposed to be about Jesus).

    If its about Jesus (which is the only reason we should do anything. The reason I love the old Mass is I think it is more centered on Jesus in the Eucharist than the new) then I must point out that the Jesus I believe in would not be aghast at a father was whispering to his son a short bit of religious instruction before the Mass to make the experience more meaningful. Quite the opposite. Why become so rules oriented that we lose sight of the fundamental reason for silence and reverence…. the fact that Jesus is present? Obeying the letter of the law while offending the spirit of the law is just plain…. weird… Common sense has a place… even in Church.

    It seems to me that the argument those who support the sushers are making amounts to this:

    “I find someone whispering before Mass distracting while I pray about Jesus. It bothers me. Therefore, I oppose it and hand out cards.”

    But, WHY be silent before Mass? To allow worshipful prayer. For and to whom? For and to JESUS OUR LORD. If Jesus would not be offended by a potential action (a short word of instruction to a child, a short word of condolence, or welcome) then neither should we be.

    And (I am not saying you are weird… please don’t misread me) some traditionalists are just… plain… weird. They take the exterior stuff to such extremes that the interior stuff (what would Jesus have us do?) gets lost.

    There are many questions that may be asked here: What does it say about one’s own disposition if one is so concerned about others that one went to the expense of having pre-printed cards made to hand out in Church the minute anyone steps out of line?

    This is the sort of stuff that drives people away. Short bits (I agree with the poster who said around 15 seconds) of conversation are acceptable, and at times necessary. Some people will find it necessary to speak to a son or daughter or friend a short whispered greeting or word of caring and they don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of this sort of abusive (that is what I think it may be) treatment.

  34. There was some sort of commotion at our Pascha Liturgy. I sing in the choir so we stand up at the front on the south side of the iconostasis, and I had to turn around to see what was going on, but there were so many people crammed into the church, I still don’t know what it was. It didn’t sound like children. We teach our children to be quiet and respectful in church, but are very tolerant of those too young to understand. I still don’t know what the noise was about. And praise God, we baptized and chrismated seven children and chrismated twelve catechumens on Holy Saturday, so nineteen had their first Holy Communion at Pascha!

    Christ is risen!

  35. Patrick says:

    ( cont.) ….

    … that said, I can concur with Fr. Deacon Daniel that usually “absolutist” tendencies can be of base as well, and this is a balancing act.

    Michael J. — brilliant and in keeping with what I propose, that modeling is paramount, then later, explaining, that is, if still necessary. Why is the kid at 14 still not knowing about the divinity of Christ? I mean, I am sure there might be some good reasons, like a harsh divorce situation, or the dad is a recent convert, but, goodness, normally speaking..

  36. dodie says:

    I agree with the woman with the card to ask for silence. Jesus has been disrespected for far too long. We come to be with Him and we are in His Presence, but still choose to speak to each other instead of Him. We have another 23 hours of the day to talk to each other, in person, on the phone, on the internet or mail, so why not for that one little hour, completely concentrate on giving your mind heart and soul to Jesus alone? Give Him company, give Him your thoughts, your cares, your worship, your adoration, your praises and mostly your love; leave talking to others outside the Presence of God Who waits for you to be there with Him. Don’t make Him watch you visit with others, or distract others from trying to be completely immersed with HIM. If you are a Sunday only Catholic, then you have 167 other hours of the week to communicate with other people. Give Jesus every moment while you can, and let others do as well.

  37. mpm says:


    I have to agree with Fr. Deacon Daniel and rightwingprof on this. A parish Church
    is not a private chapel, and the iconography, layout, etc., have a reason for being.
    If the gothic Cathedrals were supposed to be some kind of living catechism, I doubt
    that the serfs were catechized without someone pointing out their existence, and if
    needed, their meaning.

  38. I got hushed for responding “Et cum Spiritu Tuo” at a TLM sponsored by the local Latin Mass Society (before Summorum Pontificum). It would prove to be not my only experience of priggishness and intolerance with these people and I will now have nothing to do with them although I still strongly support the EF.

    I know that traditionalists have often endured harsh treatment from Church authorities over the years (as did I) and this seems to have embittered some of them but remember that the 12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost begin with Charity and Joy.

    There seems to me also to be a tendency for traditonlists to be very conservative, especially politically. In my pre-Vatican II days one’s political views as a Catholic were irrelevant. All Latin Rite Catholics assisted at the TLM and all of them were (at least publicly…one can’t read minds) orthodox in their faith.

    Believe me, it is vital that traditionlist Catholics should radiate charity and joy and the only demands made upon peoples’ opinions should be in matters of Catholic orthodoxy.

  39. Baron Korf says:

    I see nothing wrong with some whispered teaching before mass. It sounds like a father helping his son prepare for the Holy Sacrifice. True this is not the ideal place, but you take the opportunity as the Spirit provides them, especially with teenagers.

  40. peregrinator says:

    Just my two cents:

    Perhaps I am off-base, but I am absolutely in accord with Allan’s understanding of the importance of siezing any catechetical opportunities with his son. Certainly, this siezing of opportunities must be done with prudence and consideration for public deportment, but parents have a solemn duty to catechize their children that must not be taken lightly.

    I think if you spend a significant amount of time with children (and, yes, 14 is still a child) you realize what an enormous (though fleeting) opportunity to teach a child’s honest & pressing questions are– much too precious to pass up, even if they are asked a less than ideal time. And believe me, a child will remember a parent’s or teacher’s answer to a pressing question much more thoroughly than he may remember what he is taught in a more formal setting.

  41. Justin says:

    The idea that a hushed reverential whisper between father and son about the nature of the holy sacrifice is something to be chastised (yes, I’m looking at you Volpius) is alien to the Catholic mentality. Just like the pious grandmother who whispers a Hail Mary in front of the statue of our Lady, the drunk man snoring away under the stern gaze of the statue of St Peter, the mother gently hushing her crying child, the chink of the thurible, the clanging of the kneeler against the stone as a family rushes into a pew, the young brother and sister gawping at the stained glass window…these are all part and parcel of what goes on in the church. The sacred murmur of the nave, as the family of God gather together, each in his own way making some preparation for the Mass – the building itself teaches and enlightens.

  42. I think that silence in a church is a form
    of reverence to the Most Blessed Sacrament
    reserved in the tabernacle.

    However, I do not see why people cannot whisper in a church.
    Especially parents educating their children about
    the Mass and what it will look like, etc.

    When I first went to the EF, I had someone sit down
    next to me and show me the parts of the Mass in
    the missal. He was quiet as a mouse about it
    and nobody else blinked an eye.

  43. KBW says:

    As a relatively new parishioner at the Byzantine rite I find more and more that I appreciate the way children are included. Yes, they can be disruptive, but to see a little one reverently receive Communion is unbelievably precious. Not that his has any bearing on a TLM, except that perhaps Allen and his son would like to try a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, if they can find one.

    A larger question that people seem to be missing, or only hinting at, is the way we instruct our youth, and how fellow parishioners can help (or hinder) parents. This Sunday a single man and his young son sat in front of me. I had not seen them before. The man kept reprimanding his son for putting his hands in his pockets or for not joining the other children fast enough during the Gospel reading, and sent the boy up for Communion alone while he remained at his chair. This was clearly a father struggling and, at the minimum, in need of prayers. Afterwards, though, I chastised myself for not offering a more palpable help. Would he have welcomed my interference? Would he have appreciated me leaning over and explaining to his son what my own children were doing (in approaching the altar) and how he could follow them? The only help I actually offered was prayer, and it’s all I can continue to offer.

    The formation of these young people into ardent Catholics (and not the Pelosi definiton of ardent) is essential, and each parent struggles, no matter how “good” the kids are. IMHO, the most important answer to Allen’s post is: what action will bring his son closer to Christ?

  44. paul zummo says:

    Talk about taking a sledgehammer to hammer a loose nail. While I get a little perturbed at people who carry on conversations before (and sometimes) during Mass, this women certainly overreacted. That said, I must take issue with one thing Allan said:

    As his father, it’s my standards of public deportment he needs to worry about, not what some stranger in a church thinks

    This comes close to being a relativistic stance where you’re implying that only your standards of public deportment should matter to your son. I understand what you’re trying to say, but what if your standards were out-of-whack with general societal standards of conduct? I’m certain that they are not, but there may be a different way to phrase this that doesn’t make it sound like your the only guide by which your son should base his conduct.

    Hopefully your son was not discouraged by the over-reaction and appreciated the Mass.

  45. Petrus says:

    This is why I almost never go to the TLM around here anymore. If you do not go every week, or if you are new, you are looked down upon because it is your first time or you cannot make it every week.

    I pray for a parish to open here that is run by the FSSP or ICRS. I don’t see it happening any time soon however. I’m in the Archdiocese of Washington for the record.

  46. Ken says:

    cathguy — your logic reminds me of the driver who refuses to move out of the left lane on a highway, even when there is clearly someone (usually me) behind him trying to get the slowpoke to leave the fast lane. The person knows he is out of sync, but won’t change behavior based on pride.

    If you’re in the passing lane and cars are behind you, move over. If you are chatting in church and worshippers are trying to pray, stop talking. It’s common sense and courtesy.

  47. Romulus says:

    It has nothing at all to do with the fact that we are in the presence of Christ Himself?

    Michael J: Churches tend to be especially quiet on Good Friday, when Jesus isn’t home. So this is about more than just presence.

    What the presence of the Lord enjoins is reverence. True, silence is frequently a very good external manifestation of reverence. But discreet, brief catechesis at an opportune moment can be as well. Please do not mistake me as an advocate for pre-Mass chatter. All I am suggesting is that externals are not always correctly read as clues to the interior disposition. I cannot help thinking that anyone who makes a habit of coming to Mass pre-armed with handouts to admonish transgressors has a beam-in-eye problem more pressing than her neighbor’s mote.

  48. Will says:

    I don’t think Allan and his son have anything to apologize for. A quiet catechetical discussion prior to Mass is to be lauded, not condemned. If Allan had been whispering about the Indians demolishing the Yankees, [well….. that’s a good subject also in church…] or speaking loudly about anything, then I would sympathize with the shusher.
    And going to the effort of getting pre-printed cards to hand out strikes me as particularly obnoxious.

  49. Jim says:

    I have been attending a Byzantine Catholic church for the past two years. Children are included; they are everywhere and mostly well behaved. When they get too squirrely, the parents take them out of the church temporarily, then bring them back when they have calmed down. It is remarkable how many young children are able to sit (or stand) through a 2-3 hour Divine Liturgy. Baptised children, including infants, receive the Eucharist. They are definitely a part of what is going on. But you never seek children, or their parents, talking in church.

    The thing that bothers me the most when I visit a Roman rite parish is how acceptable chit-chat has become before and after Mass. It really intrudes into one’s ability to pray and worship the Lord. This never occurred before Vatican II. It is something that needs to be reformed, and the sooner the better. I have no problem, however, with kids being in church . . . even if they are fussy. Kids should consider themselves a part of the action!

  50. meg says:

    C’mon cathguy – there are “weird” progressive and NO Catholics, too. If you love the EF perpetuating this kind of characterization isn’t at all helpful to those who are considering trying out the EF for the first time. The card lady is destructive to the EF but so are you in a different way when you do this.

    Everyone: I agree that the card lady was over the top. But consider that some traditionalists have adopted a “protectionist” attitude about the EF because they are so afraid of the abuses they’ve seen infecting the EF. I don’t really blame them. But it is off-putting to some.

  51. Mark says:

    I dunno. I’ve often thought of volunteering at my local Novus Ordo with a big fly swatter on a stick to swat anyone who holds hands or makes the “orans” posture during the our father (or that ridiculous looking “lifting up” gesture during the sursum corda)…

  52. Optimist says:

    At our EF Masses, the sounds generated by the large number of children under the age of 10 is a constant backdrop. We also have large numbers or tourists in and out during the Mass, families coming to light candles, etc. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have any trouble concentrating during all this. To me, it’s simply a delight to have the Missa Cantata, and the noise that occurs in its course is not going to rob me of that.

  53. leutgeb says:

    I was once heckled by an old lady at Brompton Oratory.

    I tip toed into the end of one Mass and was sitting reading the readings waiting for the next one to start. She thought I’d just been to Communion and complained loudly that I should have been kneeling and how disrespectful I was.

    It’s funny now, but I was very upset at the time.

    It reminded me that telling other people what to do in Church leaves you open to getting it very wrong and really upsetting people. I could have been a lapsed Catholic in off the street after all.

    Undermining parents is very bad too. Best stick to doing what you should be doing and leave the explicit instructions to Priests.

  54. Brian says:

    I’ve always been tempted to be shusher – but I always remind myself of St. Therese who offered the distracting noise to God as her prayer. Still, despite what the person wrote, I can hear the hissing of an ‘s’ from clear across a Church, no matter how faintly the person thinks they are talking. My personality makes these little persistent hisses very distracting. It is all I can do to pray for patience. Please, if you are going to have a conversation (particularly before Mass, but afterward too), do it outside. There is no reason it must happen then and there. Set a good example to others by preparing yourself for the Mass in prayer. Then your conversation afterward, outside the Church, will be graced by a well prayed communion with God.

  55. Dean Herrick says:

    Let’s see… FIRST EF Mass for a 14 year old. OK.
    Sitting away from others. OK.
    Engaged in a quiet pre-Mass discussion. OK, maybe. We don’t really know how long before Mass was to begin when the “discussion” took place.
    A full-blown “discussion” would perhaps not be so distracting if it were 45 minutes prior to start of Mass, but if Mass were to start in 15 – 30 minutes, and the “discussion” were more than a question or two with brief responses, then perhaps not so OK.

    I personally lean toward the “OK”, since they weren’t merely socializing before Mass, but the son was showing an active interest in what he was about to engage.

    But, OK or not OK, the actions of the woman were a bit extreme and not suited to the situation.

    From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002), paragraph 45:
    “Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in
    the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to
    carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.” (emphasis mine)

    Notice it doesn’t say that silence is “required” or “demanded”, but that it is “commendable”.

  56. okie says:

    Let’s be traditional if we are traditionalists. The father has authority over his son. The woman should have spoken with the father, if either of them at all. It was not her place to do that to the son. The only person with a higher order of authority in the matter is the Priest, whose responsibility over the liturgy supercedes a Father’s right to educate his children. If this truly was a problem, notify the Priest, and let him handle the situation in all prudence, after Mass even if he is already busy.

  57. Ken’s comments and others like them clearly betray a mindset illustrated by the woman handing out the “shh” cards.

    The assumption is that absolute Carthusian silence is a requirement for prayer in a Church.

    The other assumption is that silent prayer is the appropriate means of preparation for the celebration of the Mass. Catechesis, which happens in many and various ways and at many and various moments, may be the right preparation needed at that moment.

    Actually, I would think that chanting the Divine Office is more appropriate to prepare for the celebration, but that is another discussion.

    If you want silence, go to your prayer closet and pray. In a Church, others will not always give you that opportunity, especially as people and families enter for the liturgy. The demands of your personal piety should not dictate the behavior of other people. My goodness – do you think while Christ was upon this earth He demanded the same silence from the crowds that surrounded Him? Again, there needs to be a balance here.

    We are not talking about conversation about how well the Yankees did…we are talking about a father teaching his son about the Faith. And the inference made by someone else that because a 14 year old has a question that he asks his father about the divinity of Christ there is a problem with his fathering is just uncharitable beyond belief. I think the fact that he has asked demonstrates good fathering. He knew where to go – his father.

    Keep up the good work, Allan. Don’t let the rigorists get you down…

  58. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    This seems to be another case to insist upon the restoration of classical architecture–and I DO NOT MEAN 19th century neo-gothic–to churches. This whole business could have been solved with a good ambulatory outside the nave with well designed acoustics to control sound!

    Restore the Romanesque!

  59. Brian2 says:

    I think it would have been OK for the woman to ask them politley to be quiet but not to shush them. ‘Shhhing’ is terribley in general –it is condescending and rude. If one wishes another to cease speaking, a few actual words in a human language should suffice, there is no reason to make incohate sounds at the other.

  60. pdt says:

    “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

    Shaddup, will ya? we’re talkin’ ta God over here.

  61. Theodore says:

    “The other assumption is that silent prayer is the appropriate means of preparation for the celebration of the Mass. Catechesis, which happens in many and various ways and at many and various moments, may be the right preparation needed at that moment.

    Actually, I would think that chanting the Divine Office is more appropriate to prepare for the celebration, but that is another discussion.

    If you want silence, go to your prayer closet and pray. In a Church, others will not always give you that opportunity, especially as people and families enter for the liturgy. The demands of your personal piety should not dictate the behavior of other people. My goodness – do you think while Christ was upon this earth He demanded the same silence from the crowds that surrounded Him? Again, there needs to be a balance here. Comment by Fr. Deacon Daniel — 20 April 2009 @ 2:23 pm”

    I’m in total agreement with Fr. Deacon Daniel. But perhaps that’s because he has an eastern outlook and so do I.

  62. Or as my friend said when so rebuked: “Oh I’m sorry Madam, would you like to sit somewhere else?”

  63. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    As an additional thought…

    The worst thing about the Catholic Church is often Catholics themselves.

    We often hear about the biological solution for the progressive Vatican II generation, and I thank God for this. But thank the Almighty too for His accelerating biological solution for the pills among the pre-Vatican II generation.

  64. “wow…no wonder the Vatican II types can paint RC Trads as officious busybodies…even, dare I say, prigs. I’m all for proper norms of behavior and respect in the presence of Our sacramental Lord, but if a young teen son of mine were to quietly and respectfully ask me his dad about the Real Presence in Church (emphasis on quiet and respectful), I see nothing wrong with it.”

    ~The correct response is “ask me after Mass”, is it really so difficult to wait or must everything we satisfied immediately?

    If you are in the middle of a conversation with someone is it ok for your son to interrupt you or would that be rude? It would be rude likewise with this, the father and the son should both be talking to God. To disturb someone praying is just like interupting when others are in the middle of a conversation.

  65. Tod says:

    “Allan,” I give you the benefit of the doubt that you were speaking so quietly that no one would have noticed or minded. Were that more as thoughtful.

    The truth of the matter, however, is that most folks do not speak so quietly, or move to the back as they should. And it is very disruptive to the tone of the mass.

    In this, I imagine the lady in question was working on behalf of the greater good, or the more general problem in many masses.

    Even if she were wrong on this particular occasion, I applaud her with a deep tip of the hat for her silent service to many others (assuming she had priestly approval).

    Good topic to discuss!

  66. ryan says:

    This old woman is just plain wrong. A few points (many already made by others):

    1. Mass is not your private devotional time
    2. Her authoritarian approach was COMPLETELY wrongheaded
    3. It was not even during mass
    4. There is NOTHING wrong with quietly discussing the mass before mass in the nave of a church.
    5. Christ is NOT disrespected by people who seek to quietly catechize the young before mass.

    Some awful old woman once made my wife cry when our first was a toddler made some kind of noise in the pew. Her stare at my wife was so filled with hatred that my wife, who was already exausted by being a first time parent with a toddler, began to cry.

  67. MAJ Tony says:

    Paul: Regards below, I disagree. The father is lord and master of his son, and, as the father is answerable to society for his son’s actions, the son is essentially answerable to his father first and foremost. Or at least that’s how it should be. It has nothing to do wis a “relativistic stance” and everything to do with proper ordering of society and obedience to proper authority. In the military, what the lady did would be called “jumping chain-of-command” and that’s, as we say, a BIG “NO-GO,” in light of the fact that the proper authority (the father) was immediately present. “On-the-spot” corrections in the military are EXPECTED, even if the corrector is outranked by the correctee, but there’s a right way and a wrong way. A Private doesn’t upbraid a General, etc., but the same Private would be derelict if he didn’t tactfully, respectfully, and privately inform the General that his uniform was “jacked up.” The card was incharitably worded, so it seems, and addressed, in this case, to the wrong person.


    That said, I must take issue with one thing Allan said:

    As his father, it’s my standards of public deportment he needs to worry about, not what some stranger in a church thinks

    This comes close to being a relativistic stance where you’re implying that only your standards of public deportment should matter to your son. I understand what you’re trying to say, but what if your standards were out-of-whack with general societal standards of conduct? I’m certain that they are not, but there may be a different way to phrase this that doesn’t make it sound like your the only guide by which your son should base his conduct.

  68. Mitch_WA says:

    I give the shushers the same heed I give the old ladies in pant suits who try and grab my hand during the Our Father at OFs and glare at me when I don’t let them.

    They are obnoxious. I get wanting silence, but silence at all costs is not okay. Fr. Deacon Daniel has it right. I mean the Dad was instructing his son on the faith, and the Mass. That is perfectly fine. I have helped bring 3 people into the Church over the last three years, the time I spent with them at Church quietly explaining things to them before and during(very limitedly, yes or no answers to questions,etc.) Mass helped the most with their understanding of things. It is good and holy to help people better understand the faith, limited speaking in a Church for these reasons is fine.

    I have been sushed at Low Masses before for saying the response prayers, words, etc. like Et cum spiritu tuo. DURING MASS. I was shushed for praying. That is one of my biggest problems going to the EF, and has left me with a bad taste in my mouth for Low Masses. I like Dialogue Masses the best for Low Masses(or Mumble Masses as the pastor at an EF parish I went to called them), but unfortunatly so many traditionalists hate them, and frankly its really hard for a person used to the OF to have that as their first introduction.

    An old pastor of mine like to say a “parish with screaming babies is better then a silent parish.” Reason being: noise of children means the parish has a future, complete silence… where are the kids, where is the future? A Dad explaining the Mass to his son is a sign that their is a future of the Church! Not a sign of impiety!

  69. “And going to the effort of getting pre-printed cards to hand out strikes me as particularly obnoxious.”

    Or her attempt to not be a further cause of disturbance to all the other people who are at mass as well as them, cards mean she doesn’t have to have a conversation see ;)

  70. “When I first went to the EF, I had someone sit down next to me and show me the parts of the Mass in
    the missal. He was quiet as a mouse about it and nobody else blinked an eye.”

    Yes, oftentimes I go to to TLM and have heled newcomers with their missals, and showing them which text the priest is reading. A missal is often terribly confusing for anyone new to the Traditional liturgy. First time I went to TLM, I hadn’t a clue. I would’ve really appreciated someone showing me the various parts and wouldn’t begrudge anyone the same.

  71. “Or as my friend said when so rebuked: “Oh I’m sorry Madam, would you like to sit somewhere else?””

    Your friend is a rude, pompous idiot [Clap a stopper over this sort of comment right away.] who cant take correction like a Catholic gentleman.

    “He that loveth correction, loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is foolish.” Proverbs 12:1

  72. Mitch_WA says:

    This issue also seems to come tied to the issue of people who think that because they have been holdouts and stuck with the old Mass that they are the authority and that anyone who questions what they say is a blasphemer. Many of them don’t like the newcomers and can be extreemly vicious. (We have issues with that around here, what with CMRI people and SSPX, but especially CMRI)

  73. Allan says:

    As the father in question, and the author of the originating comment, I think I’ll wade in now.

    First, amazing contributions all. Even from V.L., who in charity we should presume is not advocating tossing my son and I bodily from the church. I think even he would rather we were there, than not.

    That said, I can’t help thinking “Pharisee” when this kind of thing happens. Remember, when you ask “What would Jesus do?” sometimes the answer is going to be “Kick over all the tables and trash the joint!” Not exactly quiet or reverent, that.

    I find it quite interesting that so many people consider talking pre-Mass to be a “no-no.” Call me “differently catechized”, but as a recent convert with his son attending a NO Parish, there is always chatter before Mass, and it never occurred to me (nor has anyone ever instructed me) that this was wrong. I for one have no difficulties offering up pre-Mass prayers with the constant din of chatter in the backdrop, and have trouble understanding why others would require monastic silence. I have no memories of attending church as a child; I never went.

    To those who say that this was the wrong time and place for a catechetical discussion, I can’t help but think – really? It strikes me as exactly the right time, at exactly the right place!

    But maybe that’s the problem – this lack of understanding. A friend of mine from Alberta talks about how where he’s from everybody always walks on the same side of the sidewalk, but in my City he has to zig zag his way through everyone. It drives him nuts, but I can’t quite figure out what he’s on about. Different background, different frames of reference. It’s wrong to presume that your standards of behaviour are automatically shared – or even known – by others, especially newcomers. It may also be wrong to assume that yours are “right”.

    May I end on a positive note? There was something that happened at that Mass that was even more remarkable than the lady with the cards. When I knelt at the rail, my son to my right, I watched him receive the Eucharist at my side, the sun bursting through the stained glass, illuminating the moment perfectly. I can’t quite explain it, but the image is burned in my mind. It was, dare I say it, extraordinary.

    And don’t worry, Fr. D.D. – I won’t!

  74. Subvet says:

    This post is a great example of why the wife and I won’t go to a TLM. Our two boys are 5 & 4, autistic and impossible to keep from fidgeting during the Mass.

    To those who would ban them, shall we just give up on raising them Catholic so the sensibilties of others aren’t offended? Would that be the proper thing to do in your opinion?

    Seriously, just what is the proper thing to do in our situation and where would the guidelines be found? After all, if the TLM is to be preferred over the N.O. then I’d guess it’s superior. Is it only for a certain sort of Catholic? Shall the rest of us just keep in our place while the betters amongst us enjoy the superior form?

  75. “Your friend is a rude, pompous idiot who cant take correction like a Catholic gentleman.”

    Charitable and fraternal correction should always be welcomed and received in the same spirit it is given.

    The “shhh’ing” in the situations mentioned above were neither charitable nor fraternal in either content or delivery.

    Nor were they at all necessary based on the descriptions provided…

  76. Pete says:

    WOW! I think all the discussion generated by this is interesting. Before Mass at my parish (NO only) it is a free-for-all! I am often tempted to tell someone that at the present time I don’t care about their latest recipe or who was visiting this weekend or who so-and-so is dating. To try to stop this stuff at my parish would be like trying to stop a freight train by myself. It drives me NUTS! But it is endemic in my diocese. I get fidgity, squirm and roll my eyes – then I get scolded by my wife. So, I tend to think that a quiet whisper by a father to his son, if that indeed was what it was, isn’t a big deal. But we do need to be sensitive to the whole issue of silence before Mass. I think that the lady could have handled it better. I only wish that this was the biggest problem relating to silence and conduct in church before Mass that I had to contend with.

  77. Rachel says:

    Sadly, there are people like this lady in every parish and yes, they like to go to the EF Mass. It was inappropriate for this woman to interrupt the father who was speaking to his son. This was done before Mass. It should have been fine. I know that trads (those who go to the EF) need to work on being more welcoming. This attitude is in part a backlash. For several decades most Catholic parishes have turned into social halls, especially before Mass with lots of talking, etc. So, this woman apparently didn’t want something like that to start at this parish.

    However, there are more and more people coming to the EF mass for the first time so it is appropriate for those who are experienced in it to guide them along. I agree with EDG and the others on here who have said that we need to be more “missionary” about the EF Mass and that includes showing a welcoming attitude. I like saying that we don’t bite but…….ok, there are some that do and sadly they are the loudest. It is a fault of ours and we need to work on it more.

    I hope this post is making sense :)

  78. JohnK says:

    Thanks to Fr. Z and all the commenters for such an interesting and revelatory discussion. You really let your hair down on this one, though in the nicest way, of course, and I’ve profited greatly.

    Gives me a lot to think about. Do I want to attend the Masses where people fix me with the evil eye for not shaking hands at the Sign of Peace, or the Masses where people fix me with the evil eye for whispering in Church prior to Mass? The Masses at which everyone, even the priest, says “he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became HUMAN,” or the Masses at which the congregation must never speak even one word? The Masses attended by unapologetic controlling New Agers, or the Masses attended by unapologetic controlling neurasthenics?

    Soooo many choices. One thing is certain, though: I need to pray a LOT more often than I do for pastors of parishes. Any parish. Without exception.

    I can barely imagine what you go through every day. And I thought getting up for kids in the middle of the night was tough.

  79. plisto says:

    “Your friend is a rude, pompous idiot who cant take correction like a Catholic gentleman.”

    Wow. what “nice” and veeery christian language this child of God is using….

    Just stunning. Makes me think. I am very glad I don’t live in the USA.

  80. Nathan says:

    Subvet: “This post is a great example of why the wife and I won’t go to a TLM.”

    For the love of God, sir, please please please do not let the (often well-intentioned) actions of the laity at a TLM keep you and your family from the treasures it has to offer!

    That said, I’ve had to scout out TLM locations over the years, just as I’ve had to scout out OF parishes. In fact, the former pastor of my OF parish (who left just before we arrived) essentially kicked all the children out of the main part of the church and would stop the Mass for a crying infant or for anyone making noise. Some TLM locations have people who honestly believe they have the responsibility to keep order, and do things like the cards or the “hairy eyeball.” And in some OF parishes I’ve scouted, the din before and after Holy Mass made it impossible to prepare for Holy Mass or to give thanksgiving afterwards.

    On the other hand, I’ve found (especially since Summorum Pontificum) an increasing number of parishes where the TLM is offered where the vast majority of the laity are understanding of families with special needs children and respect an honest attempt by parents to keep control or to catechize the children in the pews in a whisper.

    One of my high-school age daughters is on the autistic spectrum. She has done some wild and wacky things (from Dad’s perspective) at Holy Mass during the years, but in most TLM places (and OF parishes as well) the people have seen that we are trying to respect their devotions and teach the children as well, and after a few weeks of odd looks or folks moving to pews far away from us, we’ve reached a, well, understanding. And she’s the one who now insists we go to the TLM!

    My point is, the value of the TLM is much greater than the foibles of us sinners who sit in the pews.

    In Christ,

  81. Reform Supporter says:

    This is what gets to me: When certain parishioners who feel they are the boss of everyone talk loudly, then have the nerve to give children looks for whispering questions.

  82. Aaron says:

    Maybe in this particular case the whispering wasn’t out of line (although I think people often don’t realize how loud and distracting their whispering actually is), but obviously there does need to be a way to approach people and ask them to shut up—with kindness. Before Easter Vigil, while the lights were down and many people were kneeling in prayer, I could hear a couple girls whisper-chatting away a few pews behind me.

    Should I be able to block that out and pray through it? Maybe, but that’s often easier said than done, and if the whispering grows to 20 people, it might as well be talking. That’s also the same argument used by the people in other churches who visit openly and loudly with friends before and after the service: just ignore what others are doing and focus on Christ. I SHOULD be able to pray during an air-raid too, if necessary, but in a Catholic church I think it’s reasonable to expect the environment to work /with/ your devotions, not against them.

    Having pre-printed cards does make her sound like maybe she enjoys being the noise police a little too much, but I can see it being okay if the wording is right. (And it certainly should be given to the adult, not the kid.) Something like: “Welcome to St. Joe’s Church! If you are new to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the ushers in the vestibule will be glad to help you get started with the missal. Please be as silent as possible before and after Mass while inside the church, so that people can pray in Jesus’s Presence in the tabernacle. We hope you’ll join us in the hall after Mass and introduce yourself!”

    For one thing, many people have no idea the Real Presence is there in the tabernacle, or what a tabernacle even is. Surely there’s a way to approach them that’s both caring and instructive.

  83. Charlie says:

    I’m in the habit of bringing non-Catholic friends to Mass. Often, I need to offer explanations of what’s happening in the liturgy, why the church looks the way it does, what that “shiny golden box” is, ect…

    I make sure to whisper in a hushed voice.

    Charity makes conversions.

  84. Garrett says:

    What better place to discuss theological questions with one’s child than in front of God himself! We should be happy that there is interest still brewing in the young. I agree completely with the Father.

  85. Devil’s advocate: Is it not equally judgmental to presume that this person “lives for this moment” of handing out “Shush” cards?

    Seriously, though:
    Screaming kids at Mass do provide an opportunity for virtue so I guess it’s a two-way street.

  86. meg says:

    Subvet, I agree with Nathan. If you’ve never been to a TLM don’t let the blogs scare you away. If you have been to one and had a bad experience, try another. We have an autistic boy at our TLM and he’s sometimes noisy but I don’t even hear him. We are all buried in our missals. His parents are much more aware of his behavior than anyone else around them. They do tend to stay toward the back to make a quick escape if necessary. To my knowledge they don’t get any flack from anyone. Don’t stay away.

  87. Patrick says:


    At the risk of being seen as “uncharitable” and that “beyond belief:”

    I am sorry if my comments were taken as such. Let’s go a little deeper and perhaps this can be sorted out better.

    I think the divinity of Christ comment and whether or not a 14 Y.O. should possess that understanding… the inference was that barring a embattled or non existing stable home environment, and if this is a Catholic home, the issue is pretty much settled for most children early on, at least that was the case years ago, and if it is not, why not? That is not uncharitable to pose that as more of a general observation. And that is what is as meant as. I don’t know this man nor his son, don’t know exactly what went on, so the case becomes somewhat hypothetical in this kind of discussion.. Again, men in our churches are such delicate flowers nowadays, with their sensibilities so easily crushed, that we won’t dare ask the tough questions. I say fooee to that, and excuse me if that come across as too harsh. I mean, some old bitty in church said shhh, big friggin deal. “I am the only one my son answers to, this is not real authority,” this is the tipoff. Hello? At this point it is about this guy’s pride. His need to control, and that means the moment the kid asks, I have to answer or forever lost is the opportunity. Nyet. Then we have a priest saying you are father of the year. Well, I beg to differ. Not in my book. You may be not a bad guy, and otherwise well intentioned. But hey. (I would not think to ask my dad this kind of thing in church, and my dad WAS father of the year, and it was not because I could not ask him, but well… just was not appropriate and at fourteen, you KNEW that.) We are in the state we are in as a church because manliness has exited the building – that is if you ask me, and you did not, so I expect this kind of reaction as again, par for the “your stepping on my foot long toe” course.

    I mean, think about it, you are sitting in the church with your son, the son you have raised from birth, and at 14 he is asking, in church now, if Jesus is really God? or how does that work that Jesus is God and man. This is like first or second grade catechism, and while it may indeed now be true that this may no longer be the case, the idea of why this is the new Catholic reality, and again, in a general sense, is a subject for discussion. I don’t know the history of these two, and I mention that as a caveat. In the eastern rite I believe the children both receive communion and confirmation at a younger age. Who was it who said give me a child and at seven I give you the man? Or close to that quote.

    As we try to re-establish a Catholic identity, there should be room for give and take about what is appropriate behavior in church, and Fr. makes some fair points, and I am not necessarily defending this lady’s way of handling things. Some of the more pointed commentary on this subject is probably reactionary to the current state of affairs, where we see school principals and music directors prance through church with their Starbucks with the kids in tow, or sometime people even eating and carrying on as if if was Denny’s or Albertson’s. We should be able to have honest discussion without thinking that if I really say what I am thinking I will be blasted as “uncharitable beyond belief” (of course, we should measure what we say) and I am NOT offended by this, BTW, but the Catholic faith is “caught” more than “taught” and we are not giving much to catch, if you “catch” my drift.

  88. Aaron says:

    Subvet, if you were at my parish, I hope you’d come and bring your kids, and stay after Mass to introduce yourselves to everyone. You probably don’t want to walk up to people and say, “Hi, I’m Subvet, and these are my autistic boys,” but once you get to know people a bit, they’ll catch on or you’ll get a chance to explain your situation a little.

    There’s a young girl at our parish who has Down’s Syndrome. She sometimes hums (fairly loudly) to herself, or kicks the pew, or tosses her rosary beads on the floor. People are very fond of her, and I don’t think anyone would want her to stop coming. She’s a member of our parish family, not someone who just comes to church and makes noise and then leaves.

    One smart thing her mom does is that they always sit right up front. So many people with noisy kids sit in the back because they don’t want people to SEE their struggle, but most of the sound that comes out of the kids’ mouth is projected forward and shared with everyone. Sitting up front actually muffles her noise somewhat. It also means she has a very good view of the action at the altar, while a kid in the back of church may have nothing more interesting to look at than the backs of the people in front of him. (It’s no wonder they get bored back there.) And sometimes, just like with a crying baby, she takes her out of church for a while.

  89. Peggy says:

    Our territorial parish is a chatty and sappy-clappy musical parish (although I\\\’ve noticed some musical improvements since Advent, halleluia). The typical hand-holding and orems posture as well. In any case, my kids are so busy with behavior/neurological concerns, that we don\\\’t take them together. We split up every week. My younger son, almost 6, can\\\’t be quiet for any amount of time. I had to move him to the nave, however, since the cry room is obviously unproductive. In spite of the liturgical irreverence at the parish, it is very child-friendly and full of families. My kids\\\’ busy-ness can be tolerated to a greater degree than at some other parishes. I get uptight about him myself as one who would be irritated by chatty adults as well.

    I occasionally attend a nearby EF, but not with the children. My huz isn\\\’t open to it either. I can\\\’t imagine my kids getting through an EF. Maybe when they\\\’re older. They have a sign near the door on a stand requesting respectful silence of those who enter the church.

  90. I am not Spartacus says:

    Clearly such a woman has little sense of what makes up authentic piety.


    But, I guess this comment is ok?

    Now this lady was nowhere near enough to have actually been able to hear us talking, but clearly lived for the opportunity to hand out these cards and assume control of the church and the people in it.

    That’s pretty nasty and judgmental it seems to me.

    My kids never even whispered at Mass. I made it clear from the get-go that talking was ok before we went into the Church and ok after we left the Church.

    Part of learning self-discipline is practicing self-discipline (easy to do when I shot them my “Dad ” look when I told them they would NOT talk in Church.

    Questions can wait until after Mass.

    Can you imagine her “shushing” people in the Temple or Synagogues of Jesus’ day, and perhaps while He was teaching, handing out little scrolls that told people to be silent

    I can not only imagine doing that, I remember walking around inside St Louis Cathedral in N’Awlin’s and saying to The Bride, “Man, I’d love it if they let me be a Beadle in this Cathedral so I could wander around in here during the N.O, and whack folks in the head with my stick when they start talking in Church”

  91. I am not Spartacus says:

    Well, from long across the church this lady approaches us, speaks directly to my son telling him to “Shhhh!” and hands him a pre-printed card telling the reader it is inappropriate to talk in church and to “Be quiet!” [Wow…. I would be tempted to buy a couple of cases of those, actually. But this delivery was not very well thought through.] Now this lady was nowhere near enough to have actually been able to hear us talking, but clearly lived for the opportunity to hand out these cards and assume control of the church and the people in it. Not exactly a “welcoming” atmosphere.

    Once, at an NO Liturgy (they never call it Mass, do they?), prior to the Presider arriving at the Table to tell us “Good Morning,” I stopped praying for a moment and turned around, still kneeling, and said to the two women talking behind me: ” Are my silent prayers disturbing your conversation?”

    They did not seem amused.

  92. mpm says:

    Comment by Mitch_WA — 20 April 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    JACKPOT! bing, bing, bing.

    Excellent observations.

    re: Dialogue Mass
    I have no idea why it is so hated by some. I think it could be ideal for bringing
    about “reconciliation” within the Church (SP, 7/7/7), especially for those who have lost
    the true sense of dialogue from exposure to abuses in the OF. I’m especially thinking
    about Sunday Mass, but I remember experiencing the dialogue TLM, and how beautiful that
    was, just before the introduction of the NO. What a pity!

    My father (from rural PA) used to scold us with “you’re like a dog in the manger” when
    we wouldn’t let siblings use our toys, even when we weren’t using them.

  93. “The “shhh’ing” in the situations mentioned above were neither charitable nor fraternal in either content or delivery.”

    Les than 50 years ago if you talked in a library you could expect to be shushed by the Librarian, no one considered the librarian to be uncharitable, on the contrary she was encouraging the noise maker to act with some consideration for others, she was encouraging charity.

    There is nothing uncharitable about been shushed, that people think that this is such a terrible thing and that those people who do it are almost as bad as the evil one himself reveals a lot about what has caused the great decline of our civilisation towards barbarism.

  94. “Just stunning. Makes me think. I am very glad I don’t live in the USA.”

    I’m not from the USA, but I would hope that any man would have a problem with someone talking to a lady like that, such behaviour is utterly reprehensible.

    It certainly should not be bragged about and held up for emulation.

  95. booklover says:

    “When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. … Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. … I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do – if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner – then your task is so much the easier. All you have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?”

    – The Screwtape Letters, C.S.Lewis

  96. We have quite a few children at our parish. Children are children, and we make allowances for them. When they cry, parents usually take them out into the narthex. But small children will sometimes babble during Liturgy, and nobody thinks anything of it. Children are a blessing, and we believe that all children who fall asleep in the Lord before they reach the age of reason are saints, including the unborn. From what the deacon and others have posted here, I see our Eastern Rite brethren are again the same on this.

    Children have a somewhat different place in an Orthodox church than they do in a Catholic church. Children are christmated immediately after they are baptized, and then are given Holy Communion. While they are not yet accountable, they are still full servants and handmaidens of the Risen Christ. So while we are sticklers for reverence in church, if we react at all when children make noise, we smile. Certainly, teenagers should be pious in church, but a teenager and a five year-old are two very different things. And yes, you’d be surprised how long children can stand on their feet, if they’ve been taken to church regularly!

    Christ is risen!

  97. Gulielmus says:

    Is the issue not properly reverence rather than silence? Perhaps the long isolation of those attending the TLM has made them forget, if they ever knew, that in large churches and cathedrals there were frequently visiting priests saying Mass in the side chapels before and during Mass on the main altar. Quietly, yes of course, but the murmur was a familiar part of being in church when I was growing up. Since the woman in question could hardly have known what was being said even if she could hear the whispering, it seems uncharitable to assume it was anything other than what it was– which seems perfectly reverent to me. At all events, those who are so easily distracted from prayer might indeed emulate the Little Flower and offer it up.

    As the EF becaomes more common, we should be prepared for newcomers who may not behave the way we became used to during decades when no one was there without a fervent devotion to it, but also we should be aware that its history may not be what we had become used to, either.

  98. Jeff says:

    I\’ve talked in church myself. I can imagine being discombobulated by someone asking me to \”Shut the H*ll up!\”

    But I think in the end, the rude person asking me to clam it would be right. Or much righter than I am.

    We should not defend chatting in church. If we need to have a conversation, we should leave the sanctuary.

    The sanctuary should be a place of awe and silence and prayer.

  99. Michael J says:

    Where is the cultural sensitivity in all of those who would pillory this woman? Would any of you dare attend a Divine Liturgy and insist upon bringing in Latin cultural norms as your “right”? Talk about the stereotypical “Ugly American”.

    Like it or not, there are cultural differences between those who routinely attend the EF vs. those who routinely attend the OF. Is it really that difficult to slightly modify your behavior to accomodate the cultural sensitivities of those around you – even if you believe the “old biddies” (nice, that one) to be mistaken?

  100. Glen says:

    Father Z, What is proper decorum in the pews before Mass? At the NO Mass I attend the ushers, EMHCs and off-schedule readers are the worse chatters. I’m pretty sure there is nothing but petty worldly matters being discussed. Are we not supposed to be in prayer, preparing for Mass? Shouldn’t father-son teachings be done outside the church?

  101. therese b says:

    Like Ryan’s wife I came close to tears when I was shushed and “for G-d’s sake”d once by a chap in his 30’s (so no immediate biological solution there) when my 14 month old daughter was gurgling during mass. I just couldn’t face going to the church again for several years – that sort of confrontation makes me feel very nervous and panicky. There was no cry room, and she wasn’t crying anyway. I went to the neighbouring church for years afterwards. I always took her out if she was actually crying. Usually you can tell within 30 seconds if it’s going to be a proper tantrum. Please be nice to young mums. You really can’t reason with babies until they are old enough to be bribed.

    Once she threw such a wobbly in a restaurant in Ireland that I had to walk her around the streets for about half an hour. (We deferred my main course till my husband had finished his, and took his turn to go walkies – you see, even agnostic diners get my consideration). The noise was so loud that the monks were hanging out of the windows of the monastery looking on in horror. I think they went to bed that night very happy and settled in their vocation.

    If I saw a young mother struggling, I would quietly offer to mind the other kids in church if she wanted to go outside. If it was a 14 year old and his dad whispering – I would be earwigging to see if it was interesting. It is perfectly in order, however for the priest or Deacon to make general announcements about this, Communion on the tongue, and anything else he pleases – no-one should resent that as it is impersonal.

  102. o.h. says:

    “It is easiest to tell what transubstantiation is by saying this: little children should be taught about it as early as possible. Not of course using the word “transubstantiation”, because it is not a little child’s word. But the thing can be taught, and it is best taught at mass at the consecration, the one part where a small child should be got to fix its attention on what is going on. I mean a child that is beginning to speak, one that understands enough language to be told and to tell you things that have happened and to follow a simple story. Such a child can be taught then by whispering to it such things as: “Look! Look what the priest is doing … He is saying Jesus’ words that change the bread into Jesus’ body. Now he’s lifting it up. Look! Now bow your head and say ‘My Lord and my God’,” and then “Look, now he’s taken hold of the cup. He’s saying the words that change the wine into Jesus’ blood. Look up at the cup. Now bow your head and say ‘We believe, we adore your precious blood, O Christ of God’.” This need not be disturbing to the surrounding people.”

    -G. E. M. Anscombe, Catholic philosopher

  103. ckdexterhaven says:

    If handing out the cards was so important to this lady, then she should station herself OUTSIDE the sanctuary and find others to help her “man all the doors”, and hand out the cards.

    I confess I haven’t been to a TLM mass either, b/c I’m nervous. I have 4 children, I don’t have a mantilla for my head, and my husband is a convert. I would love to go, but I’m afraid of doing it wrong. I know enough to keep reverent silence which I think Allan knew also.

  104. MAJ Tony says:

    Volpius Leonius: “Les than 50 years ago if you talked in a library you could expect to be shushed by the Librarian, no one considered the librarian to be uncharitable, on the contrary she was encouraging the noise maker to act with some consideration for others, she was encouraging charity.”

    **And the Librarian has the authority to do so. Vive la difference.**

    “There is nothing uncharitable about been shushed, that people think that this is such a terrible thing and that those people who do it are almost as bad as the evil one himself reveals a lot about what has caused the great decline of our civilisation towards barbarism.”

    You’re apparently not comprehending what most people here are getting at. One of my soldiers told me his story about taking matters in his own hands as a young buck sergeant, the Command Sergeant Major said **”Great concept, poor execution.”** The lady was lacking in charity and made a poor judgement, **not in concept, but in execution.** Not to mention the possibility that she was operating without authority.

  105. Teresa says:

    “Let all mortal flesh keep silence” This is what one of our FSSP priests taught us to be thinking about as we come to church. Our silence should be first and foremost observed out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. We are also reminded that in church, we should only speak to one another when absolutely necessary.

    My children are the only people I have the authority to correct. If I am annoyed by any one else’s behavior in church, it just shows my own lack of virtue.

  106. MAJ Tony says:

    ck: don’t be afraid to go: you can’t really do it “wrong” unless you just don’t try. As for the maintilla, not all communities **require** women to cover their heads. It’s not law in the US anymore. I know the LMC in OKC area **does** require it, but I wouldn’t let that be an impediment. Holy Rosary in Indy, where I attend, tends to be on the liberal side regarding such things as mantillas and participation of the lay faithful in the responses and ordinary chants at High Masses.

  107. Michael J says:

    Major Tony,

    Setting aside, for the moment, that the lady lacked charity (truth be told, there really is insufficient information to determine if she was charitable or not), I wonder about your overall assertion that this is a simple issue of authority.

    Do you truly believe that only those “in authority” can act to correct (real or perceived) improper behavior?

  108. Hidden One says:

    Re: Screwtape Letters

    Beautiful quotation.

    Re: “Oh I’m sorry Madam, would you like to sit somewhere else?”

    It’d have been impudent, but I’d respond in Latin. “Tace et abi, amabo te.”

  109. ryan says:

    I would just like to add to therese b’s comment by noting that people who are mean to young mothers at mass should themselves be taken out and smacked around at the rear of the church. Young mothers have a hard enough time of it without some yuppie single or old geezer muttering about the children under his or her breath. Single parents or married parents who have to bring their children alone because the spouse refuses to go to mass especially deserve our patience and understanding.

  110. I dislike talking in Church intensely, but the woman was a complete jerk. If she had attempted to hand one of my kids a card like that she would quickly have had it handed back to her by me.

  111. Fr. A says:

    As a pastor of a parish, I probably would have told you not to talk in church too. You were giving your son a bad example by talking in church, no matter how pius the conversation was deemed by you.

  112. MargaretMN says:

    I think that when people criticize the young in a church setting, it needs to be done carefully and charitably and only if the offense is really egregious. In my experience as a student and a teacher, youthful confidence can be about a millimeter thick and a harsh word can really hurt (even if on the outside there is no mark) even years later. Is it really worth it to get it across to someone that they should not whisper in church if that incident will be used as a pretext by the recipient for disliking church or people who go to church? Granted, it’s usually never only about one incident that people distance themselves from their faith but how would you feel if you knew that your actions were part of that happening in some young persons life? Was it really that important to rebuke them in public?

  113. Andiclare says:

    In the scenario the OP lays out, the woman may have been rude or over-reacting, or her actions may have been an appropriate response to a disruptive conversation (or theology lesson) going on during Mass. We don’t know because none of us, save the OP, were there. Honestly I can see it having gone either way.

    Bottom line is, the Mass is not a time to chat. I agree with what Volpius said- if you don’t want to be shushed, then don’t talk. Makes sense to me No reasonable person would be offended if they were shushed for whispering in a library. So why not bring that same attitude to church?

    And if you *are* shushed– even if it’s an “unjust shushing” as it may have been in the OP’s case– just take it with grace and move on. This is how adults behave in these situations, IMO.

  114. michigancatholic says:

    Although that kind of catechesis is excellent, it shouldn’t happen during mass. There is a time and place for everything and it’s not all at once!

    Take the time to walk through the church when mass is not going on, and when there’s no-one but you and your son, to talk about these things while you look at the things in the church.

    Then you will be able to attend mass during mass, as should be the case. You must also think of other people. They are attending mass, not a lesson.

  115. elmo says:

    For those who think the woman was correct to “shush” but uncharitable in how she approached the situation, what do you think would have been the charitable thing for her to do? I’m curious because I can see both parties’ sides. I get annoyed when people hang out in the aisles and near the sanctuary after Mass. (I attend a NO, btw)

    I loudly shushed a guy once who got annoyed but got the hint and took his conversation outside. Now, I feel that there should be a better way to deal with the people who see no difference between the church itself and the basement where coffee and donuts are served after Mass (and where they could have a nice snack while they converse, if they want.)

    I think well, maybe the polite thing to do is to get up from my praying and go to them and ask them nicely to just take their conversation to the church hall. But then these counterarguments weigh in all of which add up to: these people who don’t know any better than to hang out in the church after Mass to gab probably wouldn’t understand why anybody would tell them to do otherwise.

    Anyway, I’ve been wondering what to do about this sort of thing and this thread is interesting because it seems like people are polarized either taking the woman’s side, or taking the father’s. We even got a subthread about people who glare at babies for acting like babies. Church etiquette might be due for a comeback.

  116. Again, amazed at the comments, especially from a pastor. Allan setting a bad example for his son by catechizing him quietly?

    It reminds me of a comment made once in a fast food restaurant where I worked as a teenager: “Boy this would be an efficiently run store, all the shelves and food warmers would be stocked, etc etc if it weren’t for all those darn customers!”

    Yes, a quiet Church can be a wonderful thing. It gets especially quiet when empty.

  117. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Allan, I agree with you and it’s great to see a convert so quickly appreciate the EF.
    Ubi Caritas

  118. Girgadis says:

    Although my children are older now and have the hang of things, there was a time
    when they felt compelled to ask me questions prior to the start of Mass. I would
    ask them to save their questions until the Mass was over because I didn’t want to
    disturb anyone at prayer with our conversation. However, as someone who personally
    craves silence, at church and just about everywhere else, I do wonder sometimes if
    our insistence on silence has more to do with us than it does with reverence for
    the Eucharist. Yes, the sacred silence should be observed, but there is such a thing
    as charity, and how charitable is it to shush someone and then make matters worse
    by demonstratively handing them a card? As I stated the last time you posed a
    question about silence, I’m not above going over to someone who is talking and gently
    explaining why their conversation should be taken elsewhere. I’ve made the mistake
    of sitting near a woman I call the gestapo because the minute someone so much as
    sighs, she hears it, turns around and either gives them a dirty look or a shush.
    Her behavior is much more disruptive than any whispered conversation could be. It
    is at the point that when I see her, I opt to go somewhere else for Adoration
    because I hate how she makes me feel. I suspect if that woman went through the
    trouble to have that card printed, she’s waiting for an opportunity to hand it out
    which is sad because it makes me think she is lacking interior silence.

  119. Wyatt says:

    I have been attending Mass with my ex-girlfriend since before she was my ex. My first few times, I had no idea what was going to occur, and so I had questions; I made certain to ask them at times, and volumes, that would not disrupt those around me. However, if I had been treated as the poor child was, given a card and rudely shushed, when I was trying to gain a greater appreciation for what I was witnessing- I would have walked out then and there, and likely not returned. I would not have had the chance for salvation I do now; the holier-than-thou (I believe the term appropriate here) woman would have chased me away from everything. If your prayers, meditation, and faith is such a shaky thing that a potential/recent convert attempting to learn more about the faith they are approaching can disrupt it… does the problem really lie with them?

  120. Cygnus says:

    We need more “shhhhhhh”-ers, and more people with the courage to be “shhhhhhhh”-ers.

  121. Athanasius says:

    This kind of nonsense displays a lack of modesty and a disrespect for authority. If she is that offended by someone talking in Church she should talk to the priest. The Father’s analysis is spot on. Even in Trad circles, these usurpations of authority are nothing other than an assault on Christ’s priesthood, as bad as the modernist assaults by making the priest one of the boys.

    There is a difference between someone quietly instructing their child, and someone carrying on about mundane things in Church. We need more priests to take their authority seriously and shhhhhh when appropriate, but that is not likely to happen while lay people disrespect that authority and fail to pray for him. It is little different than someone coming into your house and usurp your authority to correct your children. In the Church, we are the priest’s children and fall under his authority, not that of the hysterical noise police who think they own the place.

  122. Theodore says:

    A lot of the comments are rather shocking. I can’t count how many times I’m quietly explained what is going on to my children during Divine Liturgy, or explained an icon and then venerated it. No one cares as long as you are quiet. Buts that is in a Byzantine parish where people are capable of praying before, during, or after Divine Liturgy regardless of minor noises. Children might make noise, but it isn’t a problem unless it gets loud and then they will be taken out for a few minutes. Someone explaining what is going on to a visitor is perfectly acceptable just so you aren’t talking out loud.

    I have to wonder if the difference has to do with the intimacy of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. In the East, it just isn’t about finding “my private spiritual time with Jesus,” before or during the Divine Liturgy as in the Roman world, especially for those attending the EF. The focus is much more on communion in the Body of Christ, with the other people in the parish, much more focused on meditating on and emulating that perfect ineffable communion between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit found in the Trinity.

    The interactions of the clergy, cantors, and laity during the Divine Liturgy are a continuous naturally flowing conversation in worship of God within that communion. When the clergy give communion to the laity, they say their first name, “The servant of God, name, receives…” Every year we have Forgiveness Vespers where everyone in the parish asks for forgiveness of everyone else and kisses three times (on the cheeks). Parents, or people helping them, take their babies up for communion. Taking your infant up for communion, to receive the Eucharist, is an experience that is unforgettable even if it is expected and normal in an Eastern church.

    I guess what I’m thinking is that the lack of intimacy in the West within the Mass, especially within the EF world, could in part be a cause for the push for perfect silence and even isolation from other people attending Mass. There is that difference in perception about the greater sense of communion, a difference in the practical perception of the nature of corporal communion, and consequently a greater emphasis on individual communion and private time with Our Lord. Unfortunately, it seems that some take that difference in emphasis too far such as in the case of the woman mentioned in the letter.

    Christ is Risen!

  123. Martin T. says:

    The answer is to be more Christlike by being more human. Apologise to the Sssher for disturbing her then,maybe ask her one of the boy’s questions. Even if she says. “I’l answer later”. it gives you a chance to introduce and talk after mass.

    If you are a Sssher doing your “job” start with introduxing yourself then apologise for your weakness and inability to concentrate. If the person you are talking to tells you to “buzz off” now you have a little trial to offer up for your sins.

  124. Brian says:

    A few months back I was in line for confession at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In front of me, were two woman talking away in line as if they were chatting over coffee at Starbucks. No doubt, the “people of God” engaging in “fellowship.” I felt like asking, “What is wrong with you?” Instead, I prayed and said nothing. I’m sure that if I had gently requested that they not talk in the confessional line they would have thought I was a rigid, self-righteous, condemning, prude.

  125. SubjectOfRome says:

    Everyone should be preparing for Mass as best they can. The shusher. The father. And the son. No matter how much time is spent outside of mass teaching the faith, if the son has a burning question, he’s not going to be able to participate – fully and actively, you know – in the mass if he realizes that he doesn’t know something to make it make sense, and it’s the father’s responsibility to help him.

    I do hate whispers, though. They’re so much more disturbing than just talking quietly without whispering.

    His Holiness can make and enforce law for a priest in Milwaukee just as if he were his own bishop, but it would be a serious violation of the local bishop’s rights if he ignored the bishop and started flying over to tell the priest what to do, even if the priest was doing something clearly wrong. Similarly, a father has authority over his children and even the pastor shouldn’t correct a child in the presence of his parent unless it is truly necessary, let alone some random woman.

    The chaplaincy to which my bishop has entrusted my family’s spiritual needs is very welcoming to families and noisy children. Adults who are new and chat a little gradually get quieter as they notice that others keep conversation to a minimum, without anyone trying to shame them into silence.

  126. Athanasius says:

    Similarly, a father has authority over his children and even the pastor shouldn’t correct a child in the presence of his parent unless it is truly necessary, let alone some random woman.

    No, but he should correct the father in private, just as a father might correct a mother in private but not in front of the children. In this instance of course he need not correct the father since the father didn’t do anything wrong. He would need to shush the shhhhhhhher.

    Moreover, it seems to me better for the priest to make an announcement about keeping quiet in Church, and then privately rebuking talkers after that.

  127. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:


    Why does this kind of nonsense seem to happen so frequently at Traditionalist chapels?

  128. Supertradmom says:

    I do not think a fourteen-year-old is a “child”, but an adolescent who should not only be learning the beauty of the TLM, but proper manners and deportment. Why doesn’t the parent explain the Mass before going? There are many excellent resources for such.

    On the other hand, I do not think the lady handled the situation correctly, either. If the situation was truly interrupting prayer and becoming a distraction, one could speak quietly with the father,in an aside, rather than correcting the father in front of the young man.

  129. Supertradmom says:

    By the way, at Easter Mass, there was a teenager and a girl about nine sitting with their mom behind us, and they talked through the entire Mass, except for the Consecration. The discussions were on people, clothes, grandma, etc. in not so quiet whispers. We did not correct the mom or the teen, or the child, and we just offered the distraction up for our own short-comings. I have never seen the little family there before or since and assume they did not know church decorum. I think some priestly advice from the pulpit would help in some cases.

    Also, I do not believe that a father’s authority over a son covers insensitivity to those who are trying to pray, especially us moms and dads who have so little quiet time at home and can hardly wait to get to church for some time for reflection before Mass. Teaching belongs in the home, not at the Holy Sacrifice.

  130. Antiquarian says:

    As others have said, I see aspects of both sides of the argument, but the method of approach was not justifiable. There is no way the woman could have known the circumstances of the whispered conversation, and Father Z’s comment about the first impression is important; what benefit is gained if the Church quiets down and two people, father and son, are driven away from the TLM?

    I am reminded of the English women during WWI who went about the country handing young men not wearing a uniform a white feather, implying cowardice. The story is told of a smug young lady offering a feather to a young man in a railway carriage– who reached out to take it with the hook that had replaced his hands that were lost in the war.

    We do not always know why others behave as they do. To presumptuously assume that it is irreverence does harm to the cause of tradition and reinforces the negative stereotype of a holier-than-thou attitude among us.

  131. Athanasius says:

    Why does this kind of nonsense seem to happen so frequently at Traditionalist chapels?

    Because of a lack of the virtue of modesty. Some Trads assume that because they have the traditional Mass they are better than their counter-parts in the NO, which is a form of gnosticism, (although one can argue the liturgy is superior), and thus assume they don’t need anymore work. Then they throw their energy into correcting others, and become as our Lord described people worried about the speck in their brother’s eye and not their plank. Now it does happen in the Novus Ordo, it just has different manifestations. The problem is because trads have a higher percentage of it in proportion to their overall number, they are marked with that character.

  132. shadrach says:

    That Anscombe quote is lovely. There are sourpusses in every walk of life, but some are drawn to the self-righteous pose that a religious context facilitates. It’s a shame and drives some away from the Extraordinary Form.

  133. Brian says:

    I don’t understand the world sometimes, oh well, all the time, actually. Why must we be presented with two radical alternatives? Either you choose Protestant hymns and screaming children, or you choose absolute silence and an unwelcoming attitude. In one, the presence of Christ is completely overlooked, and in the other, it is imposed with a sort of viciousness that Christ would not have approved. So we ignore Him or use Him as a battering ram to control others. Lovely. Forgive me if it sounds like hyperbole, but that’s how I feel.

  134. Greg the Beachcomber says:

    I’m no fan of people talking in church, even quietly, but we have a very aggressive “Shhhh”-er in our parish, and it generally isn’t taken well.

    Much has been made of the fact that Allen was instructing his son, but he also mentions the lady with the cards had no idea what he was talking about. In charity, she probably didn’t think he was answering his son’s questions about the Faith, though there’s no way to know if that would’ve made a difference in her shhhh-ing.

    BTW, I’d like to add one more argument in defense of silence: it is the rarest of commodities these days, and oh-so conducive to fervent prayer. I very much look forward to Mass on Sunday (and Adoration once a month) in part because I know it will be the only time I’ll experience any semblance of quiet in my entire week, day or night.

  135. Sandra in Severn says:

    Oh that poor woman, may she never go to a pilgrimage church or to any of the wonders of our faith in Europe, where in some places – tour groups tramp in and out as Mass is going on, even with the placards and barriers erected!

    This was an example of two wrongs DO NOT make right, for this rite. I confess here, that on some things I am a bit officious and detailed for many, I can sympathize with the woman in this story, someone like Martha, the sister of Lazarus. The Father and his son were more like Mary, the sister to both Martha and Lazarus.

    I remember many such times as a child, too young for catechism, but not too young to not remember the Latin Rite Mass as it had been for centuries. And being young, asking questions (many questions) of my parents. One time before Mass our pastor heard me and made a point of explaining the answer during his homily. To my parents mortification. (And this story is retold at every gathering of extended family in Church since then.)

    In charity, be kind and respectful, little children and teens have many questions and we should not be too quick to silence them harshly. There are “better” times for some discussions, but sometimes the teachable moment is now.

  136. Anastasia says:

    This is a touchy situation. I really understand where the woman was coming from as it never fails I am seated behind or in front of people who decide to talk up a storm in a “whispered” tone before Mass and after Mass. I have been seated across the aisle from someone who answers his phone in the middle of Mass. I’ve had people sit in front of me talking nonstop about Jesus. While I understand that one feels spiritual conversations are appropriate in front of Christ? Why can’t we have silence for an hour or even two each week or day, when attending Mass. Why do our spiritual conversations have to take place in a Holy Space where people are trying to pray when we can step outside to have our conversation? When possible, I move, but many times I have endured the chatter that would not stop or if it is extreme a stern look or polite comment to quiet those intent on talking.

    I love seeing children at Mass and a brief question and answer doesn’t bother me or even the little noises young ones make from time to time. In fact, a quick, “Hi, How are you?” doesn’t bother me; however, a drawn conversation, especially with a teen, seems out of place before Mass. There are devotional aids so these issues can be discussed before or after Mass instead of during the time when one should be in prayer. In these situations, I believe our modern desire for having it now instead of waiting tends to take over. While the teenager needs instruction, I see no reason why the conversation couldn’t wait. If the point hasn’t been made before that Mass, it won’t hurt the teenager to say, “Let’s discuss this on our way home so we can respect other’s need to prepare for Mass and reception of our Lord.” Additionally, I think we think we are whispering or speaking in hushed tones when in fact we are louder than we realize.

    Having said all this, the woman in question was completely out of line. IF something needed to be said, it should have been said to the father not the son as the father is present, involved, and responsible for his son’s actions.

  137. Phil Steinacker says:

    It seems there reasonable positions have been expressed on both (all) sides.

    Here’s my take.

    Certainly, there are those who are trying to pray to take into consideration.

    Then there is the “small” matter of being in the presence of the Lord in His own house.

    In contrast to our expectations of what is appropriate in church, however, we are required to keep silent in a courtroom. Try offering comparable explanations about court procedures to your son when the judge is present and you’ll both get busted by the bailiff. The comparison here is not between court being in session and time spent before Mass, but between how we comport ourselves in the presence of a judge and in the Presence of the Judge.

    Imagine for a moment, Allen, what you’d be teaching your son about reverence, awe, mystery, and appropriate respect towards the Presence of the Lord by insisting quietly he hold his questions until later, or, if that won’t fly, by removing both of you to the foyer or even outside to have your chat. Taking such extraordinary steps to handle these competing issues
    might well have made even a stronger impression on your son than you perhaps did, according to how your story actually went down (that is not a slam on you, BTW).

    The lady acted out of turn, but she shouldn’t have had to feel it necessary to correct a situation that was yours to resolve without prompting from strangers.

    Finally, consider all this in light of the pathetic reality that we have a HUGE problem across the country with Catholics chatting away before and after Mass. I recently attended the Chrism Mass in Baltimore, and just before it began I prayed the Rosary in a side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was in repose. Even if they all had been whispering, 3,000 people had so much to say that the din from the cathedral nave was akin to that heard in a large concert hall prior to the performance. I am NOT exaggerating. I found it nearly impossible to remain focused on my prayers, but the issue here is not me but the total lack of respect towards our Lord.

    I am not comparing that experience to what you and your son were doing, but the difference is not one of principle but rather one of degree. Therefore, at this point, how will we ever begin to stop this rampant disrespect if we keep tolerating excuses from one another for continuing to chat away – even for seemingly legitimate reasons like those you offer?

    What is most important here: The impatience of a teen to ask questions in his own time frame (they are the center of their own little universes, aren’t they? lol!), the hesitation of a good dad to blow a teachable moment, or the respect for God that has been denied in His own house all these years since sanctuaries were reduced to meeting halls?

    I think your goals are laudable, but you need to step back and view the (much) bigger picture here. It ain’t about you or your boy, that lady, or even me – it’s about Him.

    Where – and when – do we begin the reform of our own behavior?

  138. Clara says:

    It is always unpleasant, in a setting that calls for a high degree of solemnity and decorum, to see others who seem not to respect that atmosphere. So, for example, it is irksome to attend a graduation, wedding, funeral, or other such occasion, and see people who are casually dressed or playing games on their cell phones. Similarly, when you have trained your own sensibilities such that you feel a hushed reverence in the presence of Christ’s Body, it is jarring when others around you do not seem to share this feeling. And that is invariably the impression you give when you feel free to carry on a private conversation, regardless of the subject matter.

    What surprises me is that more people haven’t responded to Allan’s own admission that he does think it generally appropriate to converse in the nave before Mass. (Presumably he would say that the conversations should be quiet, and not on vulgar subjects, etc., but still, his perception is that this talking before a Mass is a standard and even highly appropriate occurrence.) And he’s also added that he’s a recent convert and regularly goes to Mass at a Novus Ordo parish where talking in the nave before Mass is common.

    My response, then, would be: welcome, and I’m glad you and your son were able to assist at the Traditional Latin Mass! I hope you’re able to do so frequently. And when you do, please try to keep silence in the church as much as possible. Part of the reason for this is pragmatic — silence is optimal for prayer, and this time is particularly important for prayer because people are preparing themselves for the Sacrifice of the Mass. But also, doesn’t it seem true that we do keep a reverent silence at the most solemn occasions and in the holiest places? This reverent silence is one of the ways in which traditional Catholics especially like to do honor to Christ’s holy presence.

    I never have the nerve to actually shush others, but I can’t deny that I’m relieved when someone else does. It really bothers me when people carry on conversations in the chapel. It bothers me even more when people try to talk to me, even when the things they say are obviously kindly meant, like welcoming me to their church or telling me I have a lovely singing voice. That is generous, but really, these niceties are a distraction when I’m trying to pray, and it would be so much better if people would instinctively recognize that the vestibule is the appropriate place for exchanging pleasantries and having conversations, while the chapel itself should be a place of reverential silence.

    So my advice would be to dismiss this little incident as “just one of those things”, but for the future, to train your own sensibilities and your son’s. Rather than teaching him that Mass is, as you say, “the most appropriate place” for having theological discussions, accustom him to raising those questions at another time (perhaps in the car or at lunch immediately afterwards… a 14-year-old’s attention span isn’t so short that he can’t remember his questions for an hour or so) and teach him to feel instinctively, whenever he is in Christ’s presence, to feel a quiet awe that should make talking seem out of place.

  139. CarpeNoctem says:

    Worship flows from the virtue of reverence, not the discipline of silence.

    By being reverent, one can become interiorly silent. I can imagine that this young man faced with an explanation of what is going on at Mass might be approaching an apex mentis-perhaps only a foothill for a 14-year old-but a place nonetheless where one falls into timeless speechlessness before the mystery of God. I can imagine nothing other than the Holy Spirit inspiring this hushed conversation which is reportedly out of earshot of anyone who could have possibly heard it.

    By being silent, one is not necessarily reverent. I think that is self-evident in someone who by ‘living to give out these cards’ is looking for opportunities to be offended and to call out this offense. This seems to be the very antithesis of ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those…’ Rather than reverence, this person seems intent on seeking disorder and confrontation.

    My $0.02… What’s at stake here, according to the title of the post, is not he father’s embarrassment or the shusher’s ‘offense’, but it is the scandal or discouragement of this 14 year old.

    ‘Brick by brick’ is the motto here. Reverence at Mass, whether EF or OF, is something that needs to be reclaimed by small acts of courage and charity at all levels… ‘brick by brick’ rebuilding what once was and perhaps even building something even better, by the grace of God alone.

    The father who relates this story seems disheartened for what this was teaching (or taking away) from his son: a confusion of silence and reverence… perhaps even the subtle idolization of silence at the expense of reverence. The effect, apparently, was to tear down this young man’s appreciation for what was about to happen… and perhaps to inflame his heart with anger, shame, embarrassment, confusion, indignation, or one of a thousand other ‘loud’ emotions, that no matter how externally ‘quiet’ he was at the Mass to follow, his mind would be chattering during the whole Mass trying to make sense of what happened at the hands of this card-carrying vigilante.

    Yeah, I hate worldly idle chatter in church. I despise cell phones, Cherrio’s, cry rooms, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, crappy music, and digital watches. These are all unwelcome invaders as the veil is parted between heaven and earth.

    Short of the whispers of the priest (which, as I understand it, must be articulated to have a valid Mass- telling me that silence is only a relative good, rather than an absolute good) I cannot think of anything more reverent or sacred than a father teaching his son about God in the quiet before the mysteries are played out. This conversation is taking place for the good of his soul and for the building of the Church ‘brick by brick’.

    No, these conversations probably should not be the norm, but that’s part of the hazard of having any children in church, from the time they are newborns all the way until they themselves are frowning, elderly sushers. Luckily, until the age of hearing aids, God had a solution for this problem, but the same modern technology which begat the cell phone, electric piano, and digital watch disturbs this pattern as well.

    I’d say that if this father-son activity actually ‘distracts’ a nearby person who is prone to ‘sushing’, then maybe the Holy Spirit is meaning to include them in this ‘conversation’ for some sacred reason–perhaps even to put aside the rosary or breviary and offer some prayer for them and for the continued building of the Church.

  140. “Worship flows from the virtue of reverence, not the discipline of silence.”

    Beautifully said, CarpeNoctem! And the latter is at the service of the former, but not always.

    A hearty “Amen!” to your entire post.

    Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  141. si fueris R?mae, R?m?n? v?vit? m?re; si fueris alib?, v?vit? sicut ibi

    When you enter a new community you should adopt the ways of that community not expect them to change to accommodate you.

    The old woman has authority because of two things, one she is old and two she is a longer standing member of this community than the visitor, both of these things bestow a certain amount of authority.

    God help you if any of you visit Malta or the Vatican with the kind of attitude on display here, you are the same kind of people who argue with the lady on the door of St. John’s Co Cathedral about covering your shoulders. That lady would deal with you in what you deem an uncharitable manner as well, and God bless her for it, and that isn’t even a “traditional” community.

    Numbers are not the most important thing in the world, do not expect to be treat with the false respect and flattery you get for been a valued customer at some place like walmart when you go to church and fail to conform to the correct way of behaving in that community.

  142. Edward Martin says:

    I am coming a little late into the game here, but here is my $0.02.

    In line with the above two posts, we must be careful to not confuse silence with reverence.

    A year ago a new priest at a NO parish (we used to attend!) demanded that people do not kneel during Mass as the kneelers made too much noise.

  143. “When you enter a new community you should adopt the ways of that community not expect them to change to accommodate you.”

    This is true, Volpius. However it neglects another principle of equal importance:

    “Guests are to be welcomed and treated with charity and hospitality…and perhaps a measure of understanding and accommodation on the part of the hosts.”

    In my many visits to Japan I see how the Japanese show such regard for visitors, especially those who are not familiar with their customs. It would be easy enough to shame a Westerner who does not conform to traditional Japanese practices of courtesy. Very often it is enough that the attempt is made, however clumsy, or that the intent is not to offend. The majority of the effort expended is by my Japanese hosts who want to make me feel welcomed. As I grow in familiarity with their customs, I am slowly able to adopt them in their proper setting.

    The same is true for visitors to a Catholic Church. Suppose Allan had been still a Protestant who was exploring the Catholic Church and considering a possible conversion. His son, never having visited a Catholic church before, was unfamiliar with the iconography, the structure, the service, etc etc and asked a quiet question of his father. How do you think such “shhushhing” would be received then?

    Your concern about discourtesy is misplaced. Clearly the issue lies with the woman who was inhospitable to two guests who spoke in hushed tones. There was no blatant disregard here for church decorum. Charity to guests, the fulfillment of the law, was demanded of this “elder” woman, and she failed miserably.

  144. PS says:

    The lack of charity shown Allan et al at the TLM and here is pretty disturbing. I love the TLM and my sense of propriety is not offended by a father instructing his teenage son before the Mass. How does that hurt me? Silence is indeed commendable before the Mass (and during), but is not necessary. I would prefer someone be “prepped” for their experience so that they may better appreciate and love the TLM than have to squirm about in confusion. I cannot presume to know the mind of the divine on the subject but it would not surprise me if He felt similarly.

    I think, also, that if we stop praying at every whisper we are losing a great opportunity to strengthen our prayer lives. If a buddhist can become enraptured sitting on a bus, we, as followers of the one true faith should really not be bothered by whispering.

    More to the point, I go to the extraordinary form and TLM at an old church. By virtue of its acoustics and the number of young children there (who can’t sit still, though their presence is really a wonderful blessing) it is impossible for there to be any sort of silence whatsoever. I guess I’m lucky in that respect: I’ve never had a truly silent TLM and so I can sort of just pray and worship over the noise.

  145. Paladin says:

    Subvet wrote:

    This post is a great example of why the wife and I won’t go to a TLM. Our two boys are 5 & 4, autistic and impossible to keep from fidgeting during the Mass. To those who would ban them, shall we just give up on raising them Catholic so the sensibilties of others aren’t offended? Would that be the proper thing to do in your opinion?

    Seriously, just what is the proper thing to do in our situation and where would the guidelines be found? After all, if the TLM is to be preferred over the N.O. then I’d guess it’s superior. Is it only for a certain sort of Catholic? Shall the rest of us just keep in our place while the betters amongst us enjoy the superior form?

    :) Way to knock that one out of the park! You put your finger on the issue with more brevity than I ever could! (Paul and you seriously need to give me lessons, someday…)

    Is a quiet atmosphere appropriate and helpful during Holy Mass? Absolutely. Is silence to be encouraged as a general rule? Certainly. But I can only shake my head in amazement at those who are defending the “shushing” woman with her “hush cards”. The account plainly showed that the woman did not do so gently or generously (or take into account that this was a catechetical moment, and not just “chatter about my friend’s shoes”); I saw no evidence that the woman cared about the severity of her approach or the impact that she’d have–the ends justified the means, apparently?

    It’s *theoretically* possible for a “shusher” to be motivated by pristine charity and utter altruism; but, in my experience, the number of such “noble shushers” is vanishingly small. The vast majority (judging from their severe demeanour–which would suit emergencies such as wife-beating or grand theft quite handily, but which seem rather out of place when marshalled against a whispered catechism session ‘twixt father and son) seem to be indulging their own passions of the moment (i.e. “I can’t stand it, so I’ll put a stop to it!”)… which, if I remember correctly, is not a spiritually healthy thing to do, yes?

    Believe me: I have no wish to encourage chatter at Holy Mass–NO or TLM–but it seems that right reason and proportion have suffered some, here.

  146. elizabethk says:

    I was raised being quiet in the church/during mass – thus attempt to have our boys be quiet. But, that being said – I have a friend who stays home almost always with her younger ones because she doesn’t want to be hissed at or given the evil eye. Also a family with an autistic child doesn’t feel so welcome either. There is a distinction that must be made between noisy/rude people, and children just being children – etc. I also don’t love parents bringing juice boxes and treats and toys into mass either – OR having the kid stand on the back of my pew…ah, yes – there are so many disturbances possible during the mass. But – the older I get (and it is happening FAST!) – the more I realize, ALL are sinners (me the biggest) and should be welcome to mass, just as I was/am! Now, can we discuss whether talking in line at the confessional is a no no or not. ;-)

  147. elizabethk says:

    Oh, and I meant to add that at the mass in Roma on Easter Morning – we stood in the general audience amongst LOUD talkers, smokers, children racing around – non-stop picture taking…I felt faint at times! :D So, it could always be worse!…

  148. “I would prefer someone be “prepped” for their experience so that they may better appreciate and love the TLM than have to squirm about in confusion.”

    There is a time and place for that, perhaps if the practice of the Faith did no begin upon entering a church and end upon leaving it people would not try to cram the whole catholic experience into the short space of time in which a Mass takes place.

    The Mass is the time for worship.

    It is not the time to teach.

    It is not the time to socialise.

    If you try and teach a class and the pupils decide its time to socialise instead then they don’t learn anything and your attempts to teach will be in vain until you can stop the socialising.

    Likewise if you are teaching then you are not worshipping.

    If you try and bring the social aspect into the Mass then you get the many abuses that we are all familiar with at the new mass.

    Teaching, socialising, etc etc are all good things, very good things, we need more of them certainly, but let them be in their proper time and place, because one takes away from the other and nothing should be allowed to take away from the worship of the Mass, nothing, especially as it only occurs for most people one hour a week, such a opportunity to worship is to precious to be wasted on other things which can be done at any other time.

  149. Christine says:

    There are so many good comments above. I especially like the comment about reverence vs. silence. My husband loves the EF, but there is only one nearby. We went a couple of times. Now for a liturgical “treat” we drive two hrs away. Why not go to the closer mass? Because we have 5 beautiful children under the age of six (twins once) and the baby is 7 mos old. Two hours away is a vibrant, family filled Anglican use parish. At the nearby EF there were ZERO children present last time we attended. Of course there were a few grim looks directed our way. That is a good argument for sitting in front, by the way. Then people don’t get cricks in their necks from glaring, and I cannot see them. Disregarding the censorious looks, it is just plain weird to be the only family causing a disturbance solely by virtue of being the only family! The silence was not reverant there, it was oppressive. Of note, we firmly correct behaviour at mass in the age appropriate manner, and it is obvious that we do so. We also take out the two year old (always the worst offender) when appropriate. Yet, at the EF mass with no children, not a single handshake was offered after mass on the front steps – not a single smile for the kids, not a greeting, not a word of encouragment. Just coincidence? I struggle daily to be charitable, but I must admit . . . I got the impression that the others present regretted my family’s intrusion on their “silence.” And sadly, I felt there was nothing more appropriate than to leave them to it.

    I could be wrong. But is this not an example that charity dictates . . . well . . . charity? Further, is it really about the EF? Doesn’t it apply to Mass in general? In the original poster’s situation, why risk turning someone away from Mass? Is it worth it? Is it necessary? Aren’t there other more charitable solutions that promote reverence, instead of merely silence? In the OP example, on-the-spot and anonymous correction might be replaced by a pointed after mass invitation to return next week, delivered by the same lady, with a side note that whenever possible, conversations be restricted prior to mass. From a visitor’s standpoint, there is nothing that shows charity more than a “regular” introducing himself or herself, and sincerely inviting you to join their family, even with the added note that their family does have rules and guidelines.

  150. Volpius,

    Were someone to begin lecturing or to perform a tour guide routine, you would have no argument from me.

    But let’s treat this with the sense of proportionality and accuracy it deserves – a son simply and quietly asked his father a question.

    Further, catechesis is not “socializing;” it can, however, facilitate both reverence and worship.

    And the Mass had not begun, so your critique does not apply…

  151. Ron says:

    This reminds me of a a time when I got shushed for reciting the Office (in a low whisper) in church. I was essentially told to shut up and get out. But isn’t the Office meant to be recited aloud? So you can’t recite the Office in a church? That seems a bit counterintuitive.

  152. Clara says:

    Reverence is not equivalent to silence. However, those who are feeling particularly reverent generally do choose to be silent (except occasionally when their talking or singing is actually a part of worship) and those who are allowed some silence have an easier time feeling reverent. This is why people like Volpius and me would like for people’s sensibilities to be trained such that they instinctively fall silent upon entering the chapel, and resume normal conversational habits only after they leave.

    To my mind, endless debate over whether this particular incident should merit an exception is a distraction from the main point. Debating the tactics of the card woman is also mainly a distraction, because so far as we know, she’s not even reading this, and we have no further insight into her actions. What we do have is a man who has admitted openly that it seems to him perfectly healthy and normal to carry on conversations in the nave before Mass. It’s not a matter of him answering a single question and pleading that it was a very exceptional case. He has declared that the nave before Mass is “the most appropriate place” to have theological discussions with one’s kids.

    There’s no question of shouting him down — his action was clearly well-intended and innocently done. But we do have an opportunity to give advice about whether that is indeed an optimal place and time to instruct one’s children.

    In that light, Fr. Daniel, what would you say if you were to hear from multiple parents in your parish, “I like to talk to my children about theological matters, so I try to come to Mass early each week so we can sit in the chapel and discuss them.” Would you be pleased if parishioners took the initiative to hand out a “pre-Mass lesson for children” at the doors, urging parents to take one and go through it with the kids in the pews before Mass began? Or would you suggest that, as great as it is to teach kids about the faith, *after* Mass, outside the chapel, would be a more appropriate time? If you would, it seems to me that (without abandoning the point about hospitality) you should still be prepared to join us in this advice for Allan: just for future reference, the nave before Mass really isn’t a great place to have your theological discussions, and it would be better if possible to do it in another place/time.

    One reason why some of us are so eager to press this point is because long experience has shown us that these cases are *not* exceptional, and lots of people seem to think (as Allan apparently does) that talking in the chapel is really no big deal so there’s no reason to restrain themselves. Once people adopt that mentality, you can be sure that father-son teaching moments are not the only interruptions that will occur.

    Why can’t we ever spell out what the *ideal* should be without being accused of uncharity? Every time I opine that silence should be kept in the chapel, someone quickly accuses me of hating children. I don’t hate children! There are scores of them in our parish, and I don’t sit in my pew nursing resentment every time one makes a noise; in 95% of cases I can tell that the parents are trying their best and I’m more than ready to be sympathetic. But just because it isn’t always possible to achieve a beautiful, reverential silence in the chapel, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t specify it as the ideal! Once we shy away from that, then we pave the way for those parents who are offended at the suggestion that they should even *try* to control their kids, usually making the argument that, “in X beautiful worship tradition, children are loved and accepted exactly as they are and it’s a shame we can’t be so caring here.”

    We shouldn’t get too bent out of shape every time we don’t get a prayerful silence before Mass. But can’t we at least get together and agree that it would be a nice thing to have?

  153. CarpeNoctem says:

    I am wondering… is there an apparent difference of opinion here between clergy and laity (maybe we should say, laity without children)? I and Deacon Daniel and (I hope I am not putting words in your mouth) Fr. Z seem to be a lot less nervous about a little instructional murmuring before Mass than some of the other commenters. Does this mean anything?

    (snark) Or are clergy part of the problem because they are talking all through Mass themselves? (/snark)

    (Father, if you would fix the strike-out in my previous comment, I did not intend that… I just messed up the close of the HTML code for italics, I think.)

  154. Romulus says:

    Like it or not, there are cultural differences between those who routinely attend the EF vs. those who routinely attend the OF.

    I have attended the EF for almost 30 years — not only in my hometown of New Orleans but at a half dozen parishes (never illicit “chapels”) elsewhere in America, as well as in Italy and England. I can attest that in my experience the pre-Mass atmosphere is quiet and composed and reverent. But I do simply not recognise the Carthusian level of sepulchral silence that Michael J and others seem to claim as the norm. Where I have been, modesty, self-restraint, courtesy, and common sense have been in evidence: there is no needless chat, but neither do people go in fear of transgressing. Families with children settle in and no one suggests that the next generation of Catholics is not welcome. Women cover their heads or else do not, to the apparent indifference of those around them. Ushers (at least in my parish) actually smile at newcomers and make them welcome. Indeed, in my travels, I have been made to feel welcome — not as if I were intruding in a private club. So I am not able to accept the decorums that Michael J, Volpius Leonius, and others imply are the rightful expectation of all who assist at the EF.

    I do recall one incident from the past, when an infant chose an inopportune time to cry. The (visiting) celebrant interrupted his homily for five seconds or so, till the baby settled down. A minute later when the baby again let out a brief squawk, the priest cut his homily short, left the pulpit, and launched into the Creed (far more disconcerting to me than hearing a baby fuss). I never saw that priest in that parish again. I have always thought he’d behaved like a jerk.

  155. Will says:

    A year ago a new priest at a NO parish (we used to attend!) demanded that people do not kneel during Mass as the kneelers made too much noise.

    I almost sympathize with him. I just don’t understand why people can’t silently raise and lower the kneelers. At my church, which is even carpeted, it sounds like thunder when people bang them up and down during mass. I shudder to think what it would sound like with a wood or tile floor.

  156. Clara,

    Your question and example are good ones.

    As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I DO think silence is a good thing in church.

    I would certainly NOT favor any programmatic or deliberate attempt to encourage talking in church between parents and children, even about holy matters.

    Again, what we are dealing with here is a fatherly moment: a son asks a question quietly of his father pertaining to matters of faith. The father in the interest of his son’s spiritual growth answers it. Sometimes these moments happen. They cannot be planned. I know this as a parent who at one time was in the pews! Sometimes the “Spirit” moves! I think we – both laity and clergy – should have a measure of tolerance for these kinds of things in deference to the spiritual good that can come from them.

    I think handing out “shh” notes to kids with their parents is tacky, rude and uncharitable.

    That does not mean, however, that they such moments in church before the liturgy should be systematically encouraged, as you mention in your example. That is not what I am suggesting.

    Now, if Allan and his son made this a regular Sunday morning practice right before Mass, I would pastorally try to ascertain the subject under discussion, make myself available to assist in any way if he needed help with the topic and also encourage Allan – alone – to find other times to have these conversations…perhaps well after or well before the celebration of the Mass. I might also make it a homiletic point (without pointing out individuals…) out of respect for those who pray.

    So that is what I would say.

    God bless!

  157. Ms Jackie says:

    Just my .02 cents but it seems to me that some are suggesting that we throw out the Good (answering an important question about the faith to a child who is interested and one that would enhance his worship) and the Perfect- the silence for people to pray.

  158. meg says:

    Clara is right – debating the tactics of the card woman is fruitless since as Catholics we cannot presume to know her intentions and she is not here to clarify. For instance her use of the card may be to avoid the very conversation that a verbal explanation would require. I seriously doubt too that her pastor is unaware that she is handing out cards; maybe he has asked her to. We just can’t know.

    From the father of the 14 year old in question:

    “Call me ‘differently catechized’, but as a recent convert with his son attending a NO Parish, there is always chatter before Mass, and it never occurred to me (nor has anyone ever instructed me) that this was wrong.”

    This is merely his opinion as a recent NO convert attending the EF with his son for the first time. There is very definitely room for some instruction here. It’s not really about whether one father and son at a particular Mass were mistreated. Some conclusions need to be drawn.

    Clara makes the most sense. Father Deacon Daniel has also stated that if this type of discussion became a regular practice he would personally speak to the father and encourage him to find time before or after Mass for this type of instruction. This would seem to support the general conclusion that when assisting at the EF a reverently quiet atmosphere is in order.

    No one is calling for dead silence, that would be impossible with all the babies anyway.

  159. Michael J says:


    I never claimed a “Carthusian level of sepulchral silence as the norm”. I was merely offering an alternate explanation of why the lady behaved as she did. Most here seem willing to condemn her – I am not. There is a cultural difference though that Alan chose to disregard. I am sure this was not done through any malice, but a judgement was rendered that the normal cultural practices were not worthy of consideration.

  160. CarpeNoctem says:

    Wow, this might really complicate the discussion here, but let me take into consideration what Clara is saying, that this woman might have had the purest of motives and intentions as well. That’s a fair question to ask.

    Maybe the father should have taken the woman outside of the Church (as not to further discomfort her with further intramural chatter), and in charity, have attempted to explain to her what was going on and ask her charitable forbearance at this critical point in this young man’s faith formation?

    Wow, I simply cannot see anything good coming out of that.

    When the goods of this world are absolutized, they become idols. As good as it is and as much as I want it myself, I will not bow to the idol of absolute silence in church.

    Yes, we are in the presence of God, but we’re not incorporeal angels. The Holy Spirit is expressed through the groanings of us poor souls trying to make sense of the mystery of God. We do have a duty to teach our children reverence in church, but not at the expense of charity.

    The good nuns taught many of us well that we must have proper decorum in church. That worked for me as a child and it is still the presumptive posture when I come into church. That being said, absolute silence within a church or chapel would preclude all pious acts outside of the liturgy (I presume the liturgy gets a break on this ‘rule’). No instruction of youngsters… ok it might disturb some people or open the church to other pious actions that might not be in line with other people’s prayer… such as the public recitation of the rosary or stations of the cross. God forbid my organist need to come into the church sometime that week without locking all the doors, pulling the shades, and having the Blessed Sacrament translated to a soundproof vault so he can practice!

    I am trying to be a little silly and to stretch the context here a bit, but I think my point holds. SIlence is not an absolute good. It is not, in itself, a virtue. It is a tool and preparation for the real goal, reverence. A good musician or preacher or teacher will tell you that reverence need not be achieved by silence.

    I guess the interest I have in this argument is that this poor little lady who ‘lives for giving out these cards’ is opening herself up to be an unwitting victim by her own piety in material cooperation with hypocrisy and uncharity (two of the deepest criticisms our Lord had for the religious people of his day). That’s why I am suggesting above that maybe the father had an obligation in charity to help her get beyond herself and her own (apparent) narrow definition of reverence– as wholesome as her intentions are, her actions are serving to prove that that church or chapel or group or whatever that celebrates the EF are nothing more than a nest of loons who have not opened themselves up to hear the gospel message because they are really only dancing around the idol of silence or discipline or social control or culture or whatever at the expense of this young man’s accomodation. I know that the grace and merit of the EF and the Mass itself (EF or OF) is much more than an exercise in personal discipline.

    As a pastor, I know that the good of souls is served… indeed, souls are saved, by a little forebearance to things that would have not been accepted 50 years ago in the experience of parishes in the United States. The Church of a few decades back is nothing special in the grand scheme of things. People have been talking and others have been sushing in church since the beginning. (I’d love to hear what an Augustine would have to say about all of this!) If a young man comes off of his formative experiences of the EF, however, conditioned to believe that silence is more important than reverence or worship as conditioned by our age where we don’t have the experience of the great numbers of people milling about in noisy stone cathedrals where multiple Masses were being said on any number of altars, then we have truly lost the battle and rather than building brick-by-brick, ‘no stone will be laid on top of another’.

    What happens every morning at St. Peter’s Basilica? Dozens of priests celebrate Mass all over the place. Is it silent? No. There is an other-worldy murmur all around. Is it reverent? Unbelievably. Are children and visitors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, asking questions pointing at things and being instructed on the awesome mysteries taking place? You bet. Are people able to pray? Yep. Is God being worshipped through all of this seeming ‘chaos’. I would think so.

    It’s all perspective, my friends. The lady in the story would look awful foolish running around the basilica passing out her cards or waving down security guards and completely ignoring God’s presence in that holy murmur.

  161. John 6:54 says:

    In a semi-empty church prior to Mass whispers can carry pretty far and are very annoying to those in prayer. Your intentions were good but the conversation would have been best carried out prior to entering the sanctuary. Obviously this topic strikes a nerve with 150+ comments.

  162. Meg,

    I think you are confusing intention with tactics. No, we cannot know nor should we judge the intention of the woman handing out “shhh” cards.

    But we can and most certainly should judge her tactics and methods, which were most uncharitable.

    Also, I think a reverential silence as a general rule should be observed in all churches, unless one is alone praying the Divine Praises (Horologion) or it is otherwise impossible or if charity demands otherwise. In my own mission chapel, which is 1700 square feet of retail space converted into a church, the fellowship area is adjacent to the chapel area. It is a matter of architecture right now. We have made every effort to section the two areas off. In the near future, we will begin celebrating the Third Hour of the Divine Praises in anticipation of the start of liturgy. I believe that this will help others enter into a prayerful disposition for the liturgy.

    That said, I do at times give tours and help catechize people, especially first time visitors to a Byzantine chapel. This usually occurs after the services.

  163. meg says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel:

    I agree that a reverential silence as a general rule should be observed in all churches.


    We only know the card woman’s tactics and methods from the offended party – the father, who has stated that there is always “chatter” before the NO Mass he usually attends and it’s never occured to him that it’s wrong (and he’s never before been corrected). The use of the word “chatter” implies that people are discussing general topics of interest, not catechizing one another – where should we eat after Mass? etc. So he thinks chatter is OK. At this point does it really matter what he was discussing? He thinks conversation before Mass is OK regardless. Many posters are defending this instead of taking it as an opportunity to instruct. This woman for whatever reason did take the opportunity to instruct in a way that would not promote conversation which is the whole point!

    All I’m saying is maybe it’s a very small chapel (mine is) not a basilica and noise is a problem. Maybe since the Moto Proprio it’s been flooded with curious new NO converts who don’t know the ropes and need a little help. Maybe her pastor gave her the cards and asked her to help him by handing them out. Maybe the father was annoyed even though she was actually pretty nice about it. Or maybe not.

    We can’t and don’t know.

  164. “And the Mass had not begun, so your critique does not apply…”

    The time before Mass is an extremely important time of preparation, this is why traditionally the priest insists on silence in the sacristy before Mass while he prepares, this is why in the past it was quite normal to have a large sign saying SILENCE outside the sacristy, I guess priests were less welcoming in those days, and yet they were more successful at getting converts for some reason. But silence is something that should be maintained in church as much as possible by the laity whether mass is on or not in recognition of the fact that it is a most sacred space in which we should be full of awe and reverence these feelings are not compatible with having a conversation.

    Time before mass is for praying. My dad taught me just two things at church they were: Be silent & pray to God. He learned that from his dad, this is not something people like me are just making up because we are nasty folks who like to spoil peoples fun it is part of our tradition passed on to us by our families, I’m sorry so many people seem to have missed out on it.

  165. Romulus says:

    Michael J: I was offering my personal experience as evidence that “cultural” expectations you describe as normative are actually not so. Certainly I don’t doubt your word; I am saying only that my not inconsiderable experience differs from yours.

    I agree that Allan’s formation had not prepared him for the stricter observance of silence prevailing at more traditional liturgies. But I take him at his word that he was attempting to conform his behavior to the manners of the place where he found himself. In the ordinary form, we have become used to “ministers” of music, hospitality, and what-you-will. Evidently some EF venues are now blessed with Ministers of Noise Suppression.

  166. I am not Spartacus says:

    There are 168 hours during the week.

    Is it to much to ask that one of those hours be devoted to the silent, solemn, reverent worship of our Triune God in a Sacred Space Dedicated, Blessed, and Consecrated to that end?

    That leaves 167 other hours of time which we can use to ask questions about the Mass, the Faith, The Sacraments, The Divinity of Chirst, and to denounce our politicians.

    One of my favorite Priests once said –

    2 April 2009

    For the love of God… promote holy silence in your churches

    CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULA — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 12:38 pm

    I a Z-Chat session today one of the Z-chatters made the comment that at her parish, before Mass, people chatter like crows in church … including the pastor.

    No silence.

    No sense of reverence for the sacred place or what is about to happen.

    That is painful to me even to hear other people talk about!

    To the all priests out there I say.. for the love of all that is holy…

    Help your people to learn the value of maintaining a holy silence in your churches.

    Help them to learn to be recollected.

    Socializing can take place elsewhere.

    Help them change their bad habits.

    How does one move from chattering away and making a din in church to then having an encounter with the One Who Is Wholly Other, an encounter with MYSTERY, which is the whole purpose of liturgy?

  167. I am not Spartacus says:

    +++++++++++++++ begin quote +++++++++++++++++++

    The New Roman Missal, Fr. Lascance

    page 1796

    General Devotions: Examination of Conscience; Examination on The Ten Commandments of God: …

    3…Talked, gazed, or laughed in the church?

    ++++++++++++ end quote +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    To be fair to Card Lady, she prolly was habituated to doing these sort of examinations of conscience prior to her regular Confession (yeah, we were raised to receive The Sacrament of Confession at, a minimum, once a Month)

    Such examinations of Conscience were in all the old Missals we Baby-Boomers had given to us by our parents, Priests, and Religious Educators.

    And mini-versions of these examinations abounded in Parishes I grew-up and also in the Vestibules of Churches I vistied back in the day.

  168. Michael J says:


    I do not understand how you can say that my assertion that a stricter observance of silence is a general cultural trait of those attending an EF Mass and than go on to say that Allan was not prepared for a “stricter observance of silence”.

    All that aside, based soley on what he has written, it appears that Allan was not simply “unprepared”. Instead, he seems to indicate that he was completely indifferent (and even hostile) to the cultural norms. That was the entire point I was trying to make.

  169. Phil Steinacker says:

    Invoking the concept of absolute silence would be appropriate IF conditions in our churches were comparable to what existed prior to the post-conciliar “reforms” that blurred the distinction between the sanctuary and the nave, and the distinction between the nave and the outside world attached to all things vulgar, profane, and vernacular.

    IF, for the most part, the NORM today was that silence akin to what I normally experience prior to weekday Mass at 7:00 or 8:30 a.m. then I’d say this woman and others upset with such quiet discussion would not have had a just cause for approaching Allen and his son. That, in fact, is NOT the case. Conditions have deteriorated dramatically.

    Cradle Catholics old enough to remember how everybody once observed silence have a better chance of understanding this old lady, although apparently not all. Younger ones and converts naturally wouldn’t have a clue, but catechesis in the back of the church remains an inappropriate setting for the necessary corrective.

    The very fact that many of you frame this discussion as if it turned on a demand for absolute silence, or whether some folks actually equate silence with reverence, demonstrates to me a general failure to grasp the nature and depth of a profoundly serious problem in the way we deal with the question of how to approach our God. I agree we don’t need a code of absolute silence under pain of death, but even quiet conversation in the back of the church is inappropriate and unwarranted, and I am concerned how this once universally-embraced concept has been so widely forgotten.

    Suggesting a lack of charity on the part of the card lady fits a pattern of response typically encountered in the American Church since the mid to late 20th century seeking to deflect criticism that holds folks accountable for behavior once seen as unacceptable. Try stating a legitimate criticism of any behavior at all and you will be peppered with admonitions that you are being judgmental and uncharitable. We have seen them often on this blog and many others, and indeed that idea has already been floated a few times on this thread.

    Of course, by this standard St. Paul would have been considered uncharitable. This – in a way – can be best understood as a form of a mental or spiritual illness (an inadequate comparison, in some ways, I admit) that distorts our views so that words and behavior that warrant criticism are attacked – even by trads and conservatives – as judgmental and uncharitable. As a result, the communication so necessary to repair has, in turn, become impaired.

    The lady who approached Allen – like so many others who have witnessed the disappearance of our sanctuaries and seen our naves being turned into bingo halls where people yammer away (even on matters spiritual) – can be seen as rude in some ways, but a charitable view of her might permit us to see that she encounters an endless stream of talking in Church and this is just one more occasion. I don’t defend the glares described by some (and witnessed at times by me) but I can attest to the fact that I rarely saw those glares in the 50s & 60s because silence was universally practiced and exceptions could be occasionally tolerated. However, the exceptions are now the norm, and everybody has a good reason. Welcome to the relativist church, where each person’s rationalization is just as good a reason as your own.

    I shared above with all of you that the chatter in the Baltimore cathedral at the Chrism Mass was frightful, but we’re not going to make headway in ending any of that until we all get it that this has nothing to do with personal preference – EVEN IF some people actually DO prefer silence.

    It doesn’t matter who likes it or doesn’t like it and it’s not about that at all – it is about grasping the principle that we are expected to behave differently before the Blessed Sacrament from how we act anywhere else. If we don’t get this elemental idea then we are only kidding ourselves that our opinions on the subject are worth anything when we are actually re-writing our sense of what is holy to suit ourselves.

    You know, Yahweh wasn’t just fooling around when he admonished Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground, and I’m certain I stand on solid if not holy ground when I say that Moses didn’t respond by equating reverence with removing his sandals as instructed. Over the centuries since we’ve developed a number of customs connected to proper and appropriate worship like genuflection, making the sign of the cross, bowing our heads at Jesus’ name, kneeling after receiving Him and being quiet in church before, during, and after Mass – just to name a few.

    We do such things not so we feel reverent (although the side-effect is that we may feel it) – we do them because it is not appropriate to behave before the Blessed Sacrament as we would somewhere else. If you son asks a question at the school play, a few folks might consider that rude enough to turn around and “shh” you , also.

    Which setting demands silence more urgently?

    Up until about 1970 this multi-party discussion would not have taken place AT ALL, and not only because the Internet was not available at the time. Fathers would have done their own “shh!” act, albeit very low in volume and more likely in silence. This discussion is possible now only because we as a Catholic community (lower case “c” is deliberate) have drifted so far from understanding innately what is both appropriate AND reverent that folks are splitting hairs over all kinds of perspectives on the subject – as if the area of prime concern is that someone’s feelings might get hurt.

    If you take the kids to grandma’s do you allow the kids (and yourselves) to re-write the family rules for appropriate respect to grandma once you arrive? You know (and you make certain the kids get this) that when you get there no one is allowed to behave like they’re still at your house. This is grandma’s house, and we behave differently here (don’t we, kids?). The last thing we worry about is whether the kids’ feelings get hurt if they’re acting out. This is not a perfect analogy, but the internal logic of the two comparisons make it work.

    Yahweh said to Moses (in so many words), “When you’re in My House (holy ground), things are DIFFERENT from when you’re at your place. MY place is holy, and to even be allowed here I expect you to change how you are, how you dress, how you behave, and therefore, how you think. This is NOT a negotiation, and I am uninterested in your opinion and your possibly different point of view on the subject.”

    Why is it we feel it’s OK for us to draw down the degree of reverence we show Him when we visit His house? Let’s not get confused by focusing on whether we feel that reverence of not when we behave appropriately – that concern truly is not relevant.

  170. Supertradmom says:

    Just curious-why is the woman considered uncharitable by so many and not the father, who was teaching, albeit a good, at the wrong time? And how is a fourteen year old “scandalized” by even the worst interpretation of the woman’s action? I think adolescents of that age have plenty more things in which to find scandal than the over-zealousness, or even truly reverential feeling of the woman? And, I have known priests asks parishioners not only to give good example, but to encourage others to create a silent environment before, as well, as during Mass. Perhaps the method was far less than delicate. But, the father should have taken the hint and humbly, and later, explained to the teenager,(not a child), that he, the father, was doing something inappropriate. That would be a learning experience for the young man in true leadership.

  171. Bill in Texas says:

    There are moral absolutes. There are standards for behavior and decorum. There are norms.

    As human beings, we are (it seems to me) prone to get these three confused. Constantly.

    Silence in church was once the norm (though I don’t recall that meant absolute silence). Outside of cloistered religious communities, I don’t think it ever had the force of a moral absolute, but it was certainly the standard for behavior and decorum.

    In the modern world, and in parish churches, I doubt that absolute silence will ever be the norm in a parish church. Even if Novus Ordo goes away. There is a definite need for re-instating respectful silence as the standard for behavior and decorum in church, but reinstating it (let alone enforcing it) is not the job of self-appointed shush-ers. Father needs to communicate the standard, and parish leaders need to reinforce it (but outside of Mass).

    I “absolutely” have a problem with the self-appointed gargoyles who scowl at mothers and fathers when a child makes a noise. Yup, mom and dad need to take the kid outside, but there is no excuse for the browbeating/angry/furious/homicidal expressions I sometimes see on the faces of other adults who turn around and glower at the hapless parents as they deal with the child, or who make loud, rude, and utterly inappropriate shushing noises.

    A little charity goes a long way.

  172. Supertradmom says:

    No offense, we are not talking about children, who are allowed, hopefully, to make normal child noises in church. We are talking about a teenager and his dad. By the way, the priest in our local NO parish is trying to establish quiet again before Mass by asking the music ministries at each Mass to play respectful pieces and hymns, which begin about twenty minutes before Mass starts. It has worked in causing those coming in to not talk. Loud talking at the end of Mass is still a problem. Some of us just kneel and pray a thanksgiving prayer, and wait until most people are gone. I think example is the best way to teach decorum.

  173. Andiclare says:

    Supertradmom: “Just curious-why is the woman considered uncharitable by so many and not the father, who was teaching, albeit a good, at the wrong time?”

    Good question. I have another one…How exactly is insisting on silence before and during Mass “uncharitable” or “unwelcoming”?

  174. Girgadis says:

    We are called to see Christ in one another, not merely in the Sacred Host. Does
    anyone seriously believe that Christ would want us to treat a brother or sister
    rudely on His behalf if the behavior in question was innocent, as it was in this
    case? I doubt it. If the card-carrying mystery woman had chosen a different method
    of getting her point across, we wouldn’t be having this discussion because Allan
    would understand why he shouldn’t use the time before Mass to teach a catechism
    lesson. I occasionally attend Mass at the Carmelite Monastery, where there are signs
    prominently displayed throughout reminding people that in the presence of the
    Blessed Sacrament, there should be no conversation. And to reinforce this, the
    cantor also makes an announcement reminding the congregation of this before and
    immediately after the Mass. It’s a much more effective, not to mention charitable
    method of maintaining the sacred silence.

  175. “Does anyone seriously believe that Christ would want us to treat a brother or sister

    Point is it was not rude, she was in fact performing a work of mercy, what she did was a act of charity both towards Allan and his son in teaching them how to behave correctly and to all those other people who were trying to pray. Handing the card out was a much better way at preserving silence then starting a conversation about how people are expected to be quiet in that community before mass which would have defeated the whole aim of what she was trying to achieve.

    Also that sword cuts both ways, I consider people who make unnecessary noise in church rude as they are showing a blatant disregard for both the holy place they are in and also the other people in attendance.

    Your argument is based on the opinion that she acted rudely, but there is nothing to show that she did that.

  176. Andiclare says:

    Girgadis said: “We are called to see Christ in one another, not merely in the Sacred Host. Does anyone seriously believe that Christ would want us to treat a brother or sister rudely on His behalf if the behavior in question was innocent, as it was in this case? I doubt it.”

    With all due respect, this is an example of the least convincing kind of rhetoric people use on these discussions. First, (in your first sentence) you infer that correcting or rebuking inappropriate behavior isn’t Christ-like. Really…? Are we reading the same Gospels?

    Secondly, nobody is talking in terms of the father’s actions being innocent vs. being guilty. Those are terms you just made up and threw in there, for some reason. We are talking about whether what he did was appropriate in the context in which he did it.

    Thridly, you make the presumptuous and arrogant statement that you think you know what Christ’s own opinion on the matter would be.

  177. “And we beseech you, brethren, rebuke the unquiet, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient towards all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 [You misused this Scripture verse, I think. The word in Greek is átaktos, “disorderly”, but not in the sense not of making noise in a given instance.  Rather, this is military imagery describing one who has broken ranks, is “out of order”, “out of ranks”, not taking care of his Christian duty whatever it might be in his vocation.  The Douay-Rheims picks up the Vulgate’s inquietos, Jerome’s choice for átaktos.  Inquietos is not going to be readily understood unless you contemplate what state soldiers fall into when they break ranks.  In battle they panic.  In peace they get unruly.  It does not seem applicable to this particular instance: a parish church in which a father is whispering answers to his son’s questions before Mass.]

  178. Girgadis says:

    You will get no argument from me that it is inappropriate to talk in church, but
    I find the “Shhhh” of the busybodies like the one I described in an earlier post
    every bit as disruptive as the talkers, so I don’t agree that her behavior wasn’t
    rude. I would find her actions merciful as well as instructive if she had simply
    walked over, placed her finger over her lip, and handed the boy a card that asked him
    to be quiet out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. And it wouldn’t cost
    anything to smile faintly as she did it or, better yet, speak to the family after
    Mass and explain that they are welcome but should respect the sacred silence.
    Interior silence is every bit as important as exterior silence and when I find
    myself focusing more on what’s going on around me rather than between me and God,
    I know it’s time for some self-admonishment.

  179. Volpius wrote:

    “Point is it was not rude, she was in fact performing a work of mercy, what she did was a act of charity both towards Allan and his son in teaching them how to behave correctly and to all those other people who were trying to pray.”

    Such merciless mercy! Such uncompassionate compassion! Such charity-less charity!

    May God deliver us all from the delivery of such severe mercies…

  180. That’s very interesting Father Z I was not aware of the Greek aspect but with all that have I really misused the verse?

    Let us take your example of the soldier.

    Consider a soldier standing to attention, they do not stand around explaining one to the other how best to clean their rifle. They are standing to attention in silence, if they were to speak when they shouldn’t you can be sure the NCO would rebuke them, and he would do a heck of a lot more than give them a card to. [Since when is the the Old Card Lady an NCO. No… you have pushed this too far.]

    Mass is similar, we are standing or kneeling to attention before our Captain. [Well… not really. We cannot reduce Mass to this.]

    Fr. Deacon Daniel I feel you have been overreacting throughout this discussion please try to be a little less melodramatic [Okay… read what you wrote above…] and perhaps consider that you are not as familiar with the Latin rite practices of the recent past as someone who has been raised in them. [Volpius… enough, now.]

  181. Volpius,

    Actually, I think I have been quite rationale. I just disagree completely with your line of argumentation.

    I am quite amazed – staggers the imagination, really – that anyone could possibly equate what transpired between Allan’s son and this woman as a work of mercy.

    As a Catholic deacon, albeit of the Byzantine rite, I am intimately familiar with the works of mercy. One could say I have a “vested” interest in ensuring that such works of mercy are animated among and exercised by the lay faithful.

    Whatever high and noble motives we wish to ascribe to this woman, this was no work of mercy.

    So please do not attempt to patronize me nor to demean my perspective because I celebrate according to a different Catholic tradition. I am also intimately familiar with the Latin tradition – perhaps more than you realize. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in it on both ends of the liturgical spectrum. This has nothing to do with Latin, Greek, Ef or NO. It has everything to do with proper Christian charity, which is properly universal.

    So if you cannot engage me at the level of the argument (which you have not done so far), please save the “pats” on the kamilavka for someone else.

  182. Andiclare says:

    As far as the alleged lack of charity of this shusssher woman, I still think the larger issue (since none of us were there and saw the incident happen) is how offended should people be getting by things like this? She was just an older woman who asked some whisperers to please be quiet in the church before Mass. That’s all, but some are making it out like it was some great injustice or a redux of the Inquisition. Just be an adult and let it roll off your back, you know?

    I like what Phil said eariler:

    If you take the kids to grandma’s do you allow the kids (and yourselves) to re-write the family rules for appropriate respect to grandma once you arrive? You know (and you make certain the kids get this) that when you get there no one is allowed to behave like they’re still at your house. This is grandma’s house, and we behave differently here (don’t we, kids?). The last thing we worry about is whether the kids’ feelings get hurt if they’re acting out. This is not a perfect analogy, but the internal logic of the two comparisons make it work.

  183. Andiclare,

    I think the issue is not what Allan experienced, but his son. I’m sure that Allan can process through this just fine. But for a 14 year old, the range of experience and the level of maturity is different. I think he handled it just fine.

    Secondly, Church is not grandma’s house (although it seems this woman might beg to differ… ;-) ). It is God’s house and the place of worship for the household of the Family of God, the Catholic Church, which encompasses all nations and all generations. No one is arguing in favor of a lack of decorum. If anything appears exaggerated or out of proportion, it is her behavior, not Allan’s or his son’s.

  184. Allan says:

    OK, final thoughts from the Dad in question:

    1. There’s a lack of consensus on many issues, save one: people who currently form the majority of EF attendees (juxtaposed against – presumably – the legions of people they claim they want to attend EF Masses) like their churches quiet before Mass. I don’t need to get into a debate about whether or not silence should trump quiet catechetical discussions with children; it is enough to recognize that they were there first, so it’s their rules we’re going to have to play by. I think you’ve got your priorities screwed on backwards, but fair enough. Now I know.

    2. Many have wondered how we dealt with the card lady. After she handed the card to my son, he looked at me, I looked at her then said “Thank you. Happy Easter.” Then I promptly returned to the point under discussion so as not to lose either it nor my son. We were polite, but paid her no heed. Frankly, we were caught rather flatfooted and really didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. You all do have to trust me on one point, however; she really did live to give those things out. You had to be there, but trust me when I say (confidently) that we made her day.

    3. Some have criticized my 14 year old son for needing to discuss something as basic as the divinity of Christ. He converted with me two years ago, and neither of us has had much catechises. I even had to look up the word “nave” to follow some of the discussion in this thread. Sorry if we’re not smart enough for “your” Mass. Honestly, attacking a 14 year old boy? Can you imagine what would go through his mind if someone actually said that to him? He’d never set foot in a church again, let alone an EF Mass! Whoever said that, please: stay the heck away from my kid. Wear a sign or something, or drool, so we know to steer clear.

    4. While we’re on the topic, some have taken issue with my assertion that it’s “my standards of public deportment” my son needs to worry about, not card lady’s. Obviously, only the most twisted possible interpretation of this could mean that I think my son should not consider other people’s feelings. As he develops his own character, his conduct will be shaped in part by me, and my standards. As his parent, I’ll raise him as best as I can. Don’t worry though – when he grows up, he’ll get to correct all my mistakes just like I got to do!

    5. A final point: I think you need to ask yourself what the Mass really is, and who is it for? Is it just for those who follow special rules? Or have a certain amount of knowledge? Well then, maybe guards on the door and some kind of means test are in order. Or is the Mass, as someone else here put it, also for the “drunk who sleeps under the statue of St. Peter” and the rest of us who don’t quite measure up? What if, in other words, the Mass is for everybody who just happens to turn up for it? Think about it. We’ll return to the EF, by the way. Because we know the answer to that question.

    I am praying the Rosary today for the intentions of all who commented. I do it while walking down a busy street though, so apologies in advance for all the noise that will be in the background.

  185. Andiclare says:

    Fr. Deacon, thanks for your comments. About grandma’s house, of course that analogy was…well it was an analogy lol. The point of the analogy is that some standards are beyond our control, and instead of changing set standards so they conform to our own wills, we should instead submit to the standards that are already in place for a house of worship. In this case, a theology lesson is a wonderful thing but it shouldn’t be given in the silence before Mass. That’s the standard. Having this pointed out shouln’t be all that traumatic to a 14-year old, you know?

    If the woman’s behavior was inappropriate, I don’t know. None of us do really because we weren’t there and we’ve only got one side of the story anyhow.

    There is no way you can position this incident to make it a grave injustice or even an example of lack of charity. It was just a comment…right or wrong. I promise that Allen and his son, (and the shusher), will recover.

  186. Girgadis says:


    We are reading the same Gospels but apparently not through the same eyes. Think
    of the instances where Christ rebuked someone and tell me if the actions he rebuked
    are anywhere near on par with what Allan did. I did not mean innocent in terms of
    guilty and not guilty and perhaps ignorant would have been a better choice of words.
    I think it’s clear that Allan did what he did because he didn’t know better. As for
    your characterization of my opinion of what Christ would think of all of this, I
    would say my beliefs are rooted not in arrogance and presumption but complete faith
    and confidence in a God who humbled Himself at asked us to do likewise in our
    dealings with one another. I like the observation that Father Z made – that we
    don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and this was the son’s first
    Mass in the EF. As for my “rhetoric”, it’s something I learned from reading the
    writings of Mother Teresa. Whether you find it convincing or not is your business

  187. “I am quite amazed – staggers the imagination, really – that anyone could possibly equate what transpired between Allan’s son and this woman as a work of mercy.”

    Does it also stagger you when you read Christ rebuking people or the Apostles? Works of mercy do not always mean acting nice Father! [First… in a comment to you above, I said “enough”, right? Second, we are not talking here about Christ rebuking anyone.]

    “Whatever high and noble motives we wish to ascribe to this woman, this was no work of mercy.”

    You do not want to ascribe any positive motives to this lady at all, you have made that perfectly clear. She was instructing which is a work of mercy. [Which probably wasn’t her role in the parish unless she was assigned to that task by the pastor… which I doubt.] Doing a work of mercy without putting on an outward display of been nice does not stop it from been a work of mercy.

    An adult shushing a child is not offensive, abusive or harsh, nor does it suggest that the adult does not understand piety. What has happened to our society to make everyone become so sensitive and effeminate? [You are stepping over the line now. This is name calling.]

    I was not trying to patronise you, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt as to why you do not same to have the same understanding of this as I do, but I seem to have hit a sore spot. From your excessively defensive response [I said “enough”. I meant it.] I can see now why it is that you relate to Allen so much.

  188. Girgadis says:

    Thank you, Allan, I need all the help I can get! God Bless you and your family
    and thank you for having the humility to share this with us.

  189. Argent says:

    Seriously, how hard would it have been to quietly whisper to them, “Hello. I am so glad you are here to assist at Mass. How may I help you?” And then invited them to the narthex to continue the catechesis in comfort. Courtesy is not hard. You can gently correct without being harsh.

  190. Henry Edwards says:

    I haven’t commented previously because I don’t advocate either making noise in church or correcting those who do, and prefer to steer clear of unseemly disputes between people who do these things.

    However, it occurs to me to wonder whether — in reading the original post — a 14-year old might learn primarily that, when corrected, you don’t take personal responsibility, but instead come up with a list of reasons why the fault was really someone else’s.

  191. Let me pose a question to you.

    If you want to talk to someone but that person is praying what should you do?

    Do you:

    A: Talk to that person anyway because what you want to say is more important than their prayers?


    B: Wait until that person has finished praying and then talk to them?

    I was always taught B and this applied anywhere not just at church, it seems to me if everyone was taught this and everyone prayed in church like they are meant to then we would never have a problem of people talking when they shouldn’t and situations like this could be avoided.

    And shouldn’t that be the purpose of this thread, to find ways to avoid this from happening in the future?

  192. Origen Adamantius says:

    Volpius Leonius

    In regards to the reading of 1THess 4:15. Fr. Z. is correct that the primary usage of aktatous refers to the disorderly conduct of soldiers breaking rank, from that flows the secondary meaning of idleness or irresponsibility. The context is not a challenge to silence in liturgy but responsibility in Christian living– to be sober and alert.

  193. Doing one thing when you are meant to be doing another causes disorder, as I said before all things in their proper time and place, anything else causes disorder.

  194. Theodore says:

    It almost seems like you see your view of silence in church before, during, or after Mass as a doctrine of faith that we must except. It is not. We should be reverent, but there is some flexibility in how we show reverence depending on circumstances, culture, etc. There is not one rule. From everything we know, Allan and his son were not being irreverent or even rude to those around them. But you have in essence condemned them because they have not lived up to your utterly inflexible standards as to nature of reverence and politeness and decorum.

    Perhaps you could try applying economia to your thinking in this instance? But are you like so many other traditionalist I’ve encountered who are incapable modifying their views? Are you like so many other that see only the law, and often times only their personal law, and can not deviate no matter what the situation from the strictest interpretation of that law? Charity dies a terrible death when we live in this way.

  195. Ken says:

    Allan wrote: “We’ll return to the EF, by the way.”

    GOOD. This means you are smart enough to hear people out. For those who attend a novus ordo in pain because you’d rather clowns and candy over dealing with an orthodox old lady at a TLM, take note. Allan is strong in his faith. Bravo.

  196. I am not Spartacus says:

    I don’t need to get into a debate about whether or not silence should trump quiet catechetical discussions with children; it is enough to recognize that they were there first, so it’s their rules we’re going to have to play by. I think you’ve got your priorities screwed on backwards, but fair enough. Now I know.

    Allan. LOL Yes, my priorities are screwed on backwards.

    And you, a convert to the Faith, at your First EF Mass ever, think your instinct is normative.

    If it weren’t for, a few, of you new converts, those of us over the age of sixty;those of us born Catholic; those of us raised in a cult of sacred silence would have never realised what a cruel lot we are.

    BTW, Allan. ALL of us catechised our children. We just did not do it during Mass. There is a time and a place. For everything.

    You all do have to trust me on one point, however; she really did live to give those things out. You had to be there, but trust me when I say (confidently) that we made her day.

    Sorry, Allan. I do not trust you. I know women like the one you mention. I’d guess she lives not unlike Anna the Prophetess. (Maybe she even is a widow) I suspect she is a Daily Communicant and lives to assist at The Holy Sacrifice of Mass and lives for the reception of her Daily Supersubstantial Bread.

    I really do think your imputing motive to her is quite uncharitable and unchristian – unless you are possessed of an afflatic ability you have not evinced so far.

    Welcome to The Catholic Church, brother. We can be a testy lot and you make think that at your first EF Mass we turned your back on you you and your son but when your faith is tested you will find the lot of us will have your back.

  197. peregrinator says:

    Coming back to this discussion late, I see it has grown quite a bit. I think CarpeNoctem (appropriate handle) and Fr. Deacon Daniel are on the right track.

    Certainly there is more than can be concisely stated in a comments box that goes into any parent’s decision as to whether any child’s question needs an immediate answer. Considerations as to how not to discourage the child’s interest in the Faith, while also not violating standards of public deportment. Knowledge of the child’s character and habits; knowing where the child needs encouragement and where he needs to be restrained.

    Look, I give Allan the benefit of the doubt.

    I am assuming that Allan encourages his son to save questions for the most appropriate time. I assume he is able to judge whether his son needs to be restrained in this regard. I assume he judges whether or not the question can be answered briefly, how important it is, etc. I assume he tries and encourages his son to try to behave properly at church and be respectful of those trying to pray.

    I assume, given his original post, that he recognizes the his paramount responsiblity as a parent — to educate his son in the Faith and that his decision to answer his son’s questions was a prudential one. I assume (from his post, which is all we have to go by) that he has not repeatedly disturbed the silence in this particular church (he says it was his firt visit) with loud chatter, nor encourage his son to do so.

    As I said, I give him the benefit of the doubt. My only beef with the lady distributing cards is that she did not.

  198. MAJ Tony says:

    Michael J,

    Please reread my first post, and note that I stated that the chain of authority was bypassed unnecessarily being that the proper authority over the child was present, and that even subordinates are within not only their rights, but perhaps duty to correct superiors (the Private correcting the General) but tactfully and in private, and with due respect to the authority.

  199. I have just comes across a very interesting article that I think explains very well this kind of situation. I think the priest is a BLEEP!, but I can agree with 99% of it.

  200. peregrinator says:

    Continued here for the purposes of legibility.

    As implied in my above post, I agree the norm for churches ought to be an atmosphere of silence.

    1) The silence will simply never be absolute (in a non-monastic setting), so those who are irritated by small interruptions (like the occasional whisper) would do well to offer their irritation up.

    2) Frankly, the sacred, solemn obligation that parents have to their children simply does, at times, trump other concerns. It has to. If it did not, it would not be a sacred obligation.

    In my opinion, one of the times when that first obligation can trump other considerations, is the situation that Allan found himself in. It would of course be entirely different if Allan’s son had been asking questions during Mass, but he wasn’t. God has commanded us, Christ has commanded us, to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Understanding the Faith to the best of our abilities, is simply essential to loving and obeying God. Parents and teachers, I believe will agree with me, when I say that educating children is all about siezing opportunities. I think parents simply must be allowed to exercise prudence to judge that the great opportunity to lead their children to God, outweighs the less-than-ideal time & place.

    That said, I really don’t care for the idea of family Masses, but if I found that my instructing of my children was violating the customs of the place and putting obstacles in others’ way, I would find another place to attend Mass.

    Incidentally, I was brought up in an extremely “conservative” parish where silence before Mass was the norm. This did not deter people from the occasional whispered exchange, and I can’t imagine anyone handing out cards as this lady was doing.

    (Although we weren’t free entirely from the church police. I can remember being admonished in the confessional line when I was about Allan’s son’s age. My father was just ahead of me, and had had a particularly difficult time bundling six children (ages 2-14) and his heavily pregnant wife into the car so as to get to confession on time (the church was about 40 minutes away.)

    As a result we were wearing whatever we were wearing when it was time to go, and a little old lady passing by the confessionals took the opportunity to tell me (kindly) that I should not wear jeans to church. My father (who’s a better person than I; I would’ve lost my temper and had one more thing to confess) waited for her to pass and then turned around and told me that if I needed to go to confession, I was to go. What clothes I was wearing was a secondary concern, pious old ladies notwithstanding.)

    I think in the desperate effort to salvage traditions we have lost, we sometimes lose a sense of proper priorities.

  201. Volpius,

    So based on your reply to me, are you really elevating this woman’s method to that of Jesus Christ?

    Let’s be clear on a couple of points.

    First, as it pertains to the ACTUAL pedagogical method of Christ, in the Gospels when He chastises, it is usually directed at the religious leadership of either Israel or the New Israel in the persons of the apostles. We do not see Him acting in such a way towards the lowly, or most especially the young.

    This, of course, is fitting since those who are in leadership are often formed by the crucible of ordeals and very direct feedback. To whom much is given, much is required. We often fail in our study of the Gospels by applying everything Jesus said to the apostles to ourselves. He is not always speaking in an immediate way to all disciples in general. Sometimes He is simply forming those who will carry on His messianic mission as apostles. And yes, he had to chastise them from time to time.

    God Fathers us the same way. His Fathering very often involves accommodation to our weakness. He condescends in order to elevate us. He loves us infinitely and perfectly as we are, but too much to simply let us remain as we are. Sometimes that means suffering, and the difficult task of facing ourselves and our wrongdoing.

    Second, I never said the woman was abusive based on the description. But she was fundamentally uncharitable.

    Third, apparently you regard anyone who disagrees with severity and rudeness in manner towards guests, visitors and especially youths in a church as “sensitive and effeminate.” Perhaps you find that terribly self-affirming, to ascribe weakness and “femininity” to men who disagree with your preferred manner of handling things. But a proportionate response reflects wisdom and strength under control, also a decidedly manly – and fatherly – characteristic.

    I on the other hand would argue that the thin skin clearly rests with those “elders” who, based on the facts as shared by Allan, cannot bear the quiet whispering of a 14 year old in conversation with his father in a church before Mass. I think it takes far greater manly or womanly maturity to bear up under the pinprick of a whisper while praying than to overreact and “Shh!’ing” a teenager in front of his father during what clearly is not an intentional offense…and risking offending others and perhaps turning them away from the church permanently.

    As the Scriptures say, “the anger of a man does not fulfill the righteousness of God.”

    And Allan strikes me as being a pretty good Dad who was willing to instruct his son on matters of the faith when asked and who kept his cool and his “eye on the ball” if you will with his son in the face of the rude behavior of one of the “elders” of the parish. I think he demonstrated being calm under pressure and he handled it well with his son.

  202. “It almost seems like you see your view of silence in church before, during, or after Mass as a doctrine of faith that we must except.”

    No its not a doctrine of Faith however talking in church was listed as a sin which should be mentioned during confession in all the old examinations of conscience so it is not as low down as been mere personal preference either.

    “There is not one rule.”

    There are not any rules it seems, that is the problem. [No…. this is a situation in which people are free to disagree about what should have been done. I am increasingly convinced that you see only your way was being the only acceptable approach.] If rules are made to be broken, if they are not enforced then they are useless, they may as well not exist at all. This laissez faire attitude is part of what has caused the current problems in the Church we have today.

    “But are you like so many other traditionalist I’ve encountered who are incapable modifying their views?”

    I’m not a traditionalist, I’m just an ordinary Catholic who goes to mass at the ordinary form every Sunday. I am the product of my upbringing, my families methods of raising Catholic children has stood the test of time and has had a 100% success rate in my lifetime so forgive me if I am not wiling to discard it because you find it disagreeable to your modern sensibilities.

    Now lets look at what the result of those who have worked to support Allen in his actions and to provide him with a sense of vindication will be.

    Thanks to them Allen now feels that it is perfectly ok to talk in church. Furthermore he intends to return to the same church where this incident occurred and he will no doubt continue to talk when he is there. [Over the line.] AS a result this community will be ruined [!?] for the other people who are part of it and all because Allen has taken it upon himself to force his and other peoples lower standards onto the existing community which has higher ones.

    And so the culture of mediocrity that demands all things must conform to the lowest standards of any one individual instead of the individual been expected to strife to the higher standard of the community will win yet another victory. It will not be this old lady who is pulling out the bricks but rather individuals who think standards already in force in a community should be changed to accommodate them as if they are worthy of more consideration than all the other people who are part of that community combined.

  203. Simon Platt says:

    I have found this thread terribly sad reading. Why are we so keen to spring to the defence of this person, or to attack another, neither of whom in most cases we know from Adam?

    The only thing most of know for certain here is that the behaviours described, though apparently mostly well meaning, led to some discord with the possibility of forming unnecessary bad impressions. Can we not just leave things at that and learn from this story, using it to inform our own future behaviours?

    That’s what I will do, at least – trying to be both quiet and friendly in church.

  204. “Third, apparently you regard anyone who disagrees with severity and rudeness in manner towards guests, visitors and especially youths in a church as “sensitive and effeminate.””

    No Father I consider anyone who judges a old woman shushing a child to be acting in a severe and rude manner to be sensitive and effeminate.

    It used to be a normal thing before everyone became so sensitive and afraid of each other.

  205. peregrinator says:

    Volpius, I think you miss the point.

    I don’t doubt that most commenters on this thread desire and value silence before Mass.

    However, when faced with someone who is not strictly observing that silence, (I say this because Allan was trying to disturb the silence as little as possible in the stated case)(and not a “repeat offender”) I think the most appropriate response is to assume that those whispering have a good reason to do so.

    There’s always the risk, I suppose, that behaving with a little forbearance may unintentionally encourage bad behavior, but even though we lack God’s all-seeing eye and perfect judgement, it still behooves us to follow His example.

  206. But is it really such a terrible thing to be shushed in church? Come on its not a big deal, if it happened to me I would be embarrassed but the correct response to that embarrassment is to be quiet and accept the correction with good grace even if you do not agree with it.

    The way people are behaving you would think the old woman had shouted at them to shut up or told them to get out, all she did was go shush and give him a card asking him to be quiet. Whether you think her action justified or not and we can’t really know 100% having not been there, it does not warrant all this. Nor does this warrant someone flattering Allen as if he is Father of the year either.

    What happened to teaching children to respect their elders? Another good thing that has been abandoned by this generation.

  207. ssoldie says:

    “My house is a house of prayer”, if you want to talk to someone (your neighbor) etc. go out to the veastibule, outside, basement, as that is what we are suppose to be doing before Holy Mass begins …..praying.

  208. This has gone on about long enough.

    Make your final, respectful comments.

  209. peregrinator says:

    “What happened to teaching children to respect their elders? Another good thing that has been abandoned by this generation.”

    Volpius, the lady in question simply didn’t have the same authority over Allan’s son that Allan does.

    Allan’s son’s first duty is to his father, whom he obeyed.

    Similarly, the lady who commented on my clothing had no authority over me. I’m pretty sure my father would’ve been entirely justified in punishing me, had I insisted upon changing clothes before we left the next time and made everyone else late for confession.

    Unfortunately, one cannot teach children these days (could one ever?) that all adults are to be unquestioningly obeyed– even all adults in the church. I know quite a few people of venerable age who happily teach error and encourage unnacceptable behavior.

    As far as Allan himself respecting the lady in question, he had no reason to treat her as an authority either and he was respectful in his words to her.

    But, anyway, this is old ground. I think the source of the conflict is, is many posters here recognize that as a parent Allan has the authority to use prudential judgement in this case. And most think his decision was prudent.

  210. Allan says:

    As promised, I prayed the Rosary for the special intentions of “all who have or will comment” on this situation, especially “those with whom I disagree.”

    I am neither a perfect parent nor Christian, but I do my best. Obviously, Fr. Z knew this whole situation was a sore point, much more than I had guessed. I think if I get a chance I’ll ask the FSSP priest who says that particular EF Mass what he thinks (about what I should do, not about the card lady).

    If I’ve caused division here I’m sorry. I may not agree with you, but I am at least better informed (warned?). That can never be a bad thing.

  211. CarpeNoctem says:

    “As I said, I give him the benefit of the doubt. My only beef with the lady distributing cards is that she did not.”

    Thanks peregrinator, I think you have hit the nail on the head and made the point in one sentence that took me all sorts of wordage to only approximate. Thanks Fr. Z. for tolerating this (good) conversation as long as you have.

    “CarpeNoctem” as a handle is inspired by overnight work habits I had in the so-called “real world” before becoming a priest. While ‘keeping watch at night’, I basically read myself out of a job and into this vocation. So yes, I also think it is most appropriate handle.

  212. MAJ Tony says:

    To Allan: Don’t apologise for causing division. Seldom does one cause division, because division is usually latent in people. I would submit to you that you SHOULD not only ask about proper deportment, but also about the card lady, in a charitable manner, of course. It’s possible he may not be aware of it. Never assume…

    TO ALL: Frankly, if anyone disciplines one of MY Soldiers in my presence or proximity, all THREE of us are WRONG, BARRING EMERGENCY SITUATIONS, which should never occur. My Soldier for the wrong act, me for not correcting it, and the person who disciplined my Soldier for busting chain-of-command. This affects what no small number of you seem to not realize, or do not care to take into consideration, and is one of the very things you would say you are working for, which is the right ordering of civilization. It all boils down to this: a house divided amongst itself will not stand. “Jumping chain-of-command” when you should have taken it thru “proper channels” is a cause of this. It’s quite simple detrimental to good order and discipline to “bypass proper channels.”

    In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the Church teaches that it is the duty of the parents to teach the children faith, discipline, and morals, and no one can or should usurp that right or responsibility, even Holy Mother Church herself.

    Bottom Line: Two wrongs don’t make a right; the lady jumped chain when she had recourse to it, and that IS inexcusable, PERIOD! If someone in my Army did that, they’d hear about it and would be expected to cease and desist. Not only that, but IF she had no immediate recourse to the CoC, she SHOULD have politely asked the young man who his parents were, and of course politely asked the young man to respect the Lord’s Presence and others praying by being quiet in church, NOT obnoxiously SHHSSHING! She should then approach the parents, when found, likewise being charitable. If she is unable to do so in a charitable fashion, someone else should perform that function, if it is deemed necessary by proper authority, being the pastor.

    There’s a difference between “being nice” (not doing anything) obnoxiously “SHHHSHING,” and charitable, fraternal correction.

  213. MAJ Tony,

    Brilliant. Well said.

  214. Ch-CPT CarpeNoctem says:

    First, MAJ Tony, [*salute*]

    Secondly, Allan (and Fr. Z), re: asking the FSSP priest, I would like it if there could be a follow-up after asking you question… either here or ‘channeled’ through Fr. Z… Not to arrive at a final “right” or “wrong” in this debate, but for my own information/edification on how a priest who habitually celebrates the EF publicly and who is in this particular situation would handle it and counsel on it. Thanks, and blessings to you and your son.

  215. Supertradmom says:

    As a parent, I do not believe that my authority is “infallible”. If I am making a mistake with my child, I want to be instructed, kindly, of course, but I would rather know the propriety and truth of a situation than worry about the feelings of my child. If the child is actually a teenager, there is even more room for fraternal correction, if I am also in need of correction. Yes, parents have the ultimate authority over their children, but only when they are obedient themselves to either Church laws or Church customs. I actually appreciate the “Church ladies” who remind me sometimes of my own lack of sensitivity, such as clogging up a doorway when talking at the steps, or forgetting my missal, give me a booklet.

  216. Apologies to all who feel I overstepped the line.

  217. MAJ Tony says:

    Just one clarification on “emergency situations which should never occur.” If someone under my supervision was about to commit violence or was doing something that could seriously harm him or others (think life, limb, or eyesight) then it would ALWAYS be appropriate for an intervention. It’s actually expected. We hope that never occurs, but we all (should) know better.


  218. MAJ Tony says:

    To CH (CPT) CarpeNoctem: Wherever you are, **Deo Gratias** for your two-fold service.

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