QUAERITUR: What rubrics to follow at Mass in case of gunfire?

From a reader:

I have a question for you. Suppose during a EF Mass, a gunman or threatening person enters the church, and opens fire. What can be done within the rubrics to protect the Blessed Sacrament, the priest, the servers, and the congregation? Please keep in mind that the congregation is made up of slow, aging men, who no offense to them, really can’t protect anyone.

Lemme get this straight… what rubrics are followed in case of gunfire…?

I believe there is a little known rubric which calls for the deacon and subdeacon (who in any event should be packing) to take out, reverently, their .9mm and return fire.  As I read it, they are to recite the Maledictory Psalms while firing.  At the change of a clip/magazine, they may bow, or duck. 

In the case of, probability actually… of the mention of the Holy Name, it is still necessary to uncover.

If one crosses the sanctuary, however, honorifics are not to be observed.

In the case of an incapacitating wound, it is permitted for the priest celebrant, or one of the sacred ministers, or any priest in choir, to give the assailant, et al., last rites. 

Any bishop present ought immediately place himself in the line of fire between the assailant and the priest celebrant and then begin to remonstrate with the attacker, invoking the help of St. Michael.  He is to wave his arms and shout: "in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum".

At the conclusion of the gunfire, it is permitted to sing the Te Deum…. unless it is Good Friday.

Mass (or the service) continues afterward from the point it was interrupted, though it is not necessary to start in the middle of a word; going back to the first word of the sentence is sufficient.

Alternately, if the sacred ministers are not packing, there is no reason why a group of religious could not be formed as a sort of liturgical militia against such an eventuality. 

I believe in this case, the gun stock must have a ribbon of the color of the days.

There are different rubrics for when four armored men sent by the King attack troublesome priests with swords during the singing of the office.

Seriously, I don’t think we need to consult rubrics for this.

The basic principle is that the ceremony goes on even during some sort of disturbance, within reason.

If I am a celebrant, and someone is shouting, I will go on, hoping that the congregation deals with the wacko.  One good way to do this is for everyone to stand up and sing Holy God We Praise Thy Name at the top of your lungs until the idiot stops.  In the meantime, call the police: it is generally against the law to disturb religious services.

If I am a celebrant, and someone is shooting, I will probably hit the deck and get everyone else to do the same.

If there is an earthquake and the church starts to cave in, I think I would probably stop what I am doing and leave to ensure that everyone else does too.

So, the overarching rubric here is common sense.

If you have a chance, try to avoid getting shot and stop the guy who is shooting.


From the old De defectibus:

"32. If, while the priest is celebrating Mass, the church is violated before he has reached the Canon, the Mass is to be discontinued; if after the Canon, it is not to be discontinued. If there is fear of an attack by enemies, or of a flood or of the collapse of the building where the Mass is being celebrated, the Mass is to be discontinued if it is before the Consecration; if this fear arises after the Consecration, however, the priest may omit everything else and go on at once to the reception of the Sacrament."

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  1. cuaguy says:

    Father- thanks for posting this. I really needed a good laugh tonight, and this supplied it. Thanks again.

  2. The Astronomer says:

    Are those the virgins a devout Muslim is greeted by when he enters Paradise? ;-)~

  3. Marius2k4 says:

    Simply amazing.

  4. dirtycopper says:

    Sound advice Father. In the interest of Police rubrics always remember, we change magazines. Clips are for girls hair.

  5. dirtycopper: Thanks for the more precise rubrics.

  6. DominiSumus says:

    After a very long day, this was exactly the post I needed to read. Thanks Fr. Z!

  7. ghp95134 says:

    Regarding the 10-gun “Vigilance Committee” pictured above ….. We’ll have nun of that, buster!

  8. ghp95134 says:

    And don’t forget to ask for St. Gabriel Possenti’s help!

  9. ghp: You are suggesting that they also watch for liturgical abuse.


  10. An American Mother says:

    Clips are for girls’ hair, except in the case of my Short Magazine Lee Enfield. They hold five rounds each.

    LOL. I’m glad to see that somebody has considered this weighty question.

    But seriously, back when we were Episcopalians, my husband was Head Usher at the 11:15 High Mass. Without disclosing any trade secrets, I can say that he and his team (all ex-military or law enforcement) were well prepared for any eventuality. They never had to deal with gunfire, but given the environment and the time (the runup to General Convention 2003) there were loonies and demonstrators, some of whom crossed the line into dangerous. Everybody was dealt with quickly and quietly, and no-one was ever hurt . . . or at least the demonstrators only endured a little temporary discomfort.

    I think it’s worth while for any pastor to identify the people in his congregation with military and law enforcement experience, and put them to good use.

  11. wanda says:

    Wow, great post, interesting question. We are, after all, The Church Militant.

  12. An American Mother says:

    Btw, it’s 9mm, without the initial decimal point.

    Decimals are for the more traditional English/American calibers, which are measured in subdivisions of an inch, e.g. .38 S&W, .45 Long Colt, .455 Webley, etc.

    And I think the rubrics should be revised to prescribe that the deacon and subdeacon carry a caliber beginning in “.4”.

  13. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Say the Black.
    Do the Red.
    Duck when necessary.

  14. “but Father, But Father!”

    LOL! What is amazing is… after attending Mass in Detroit… and now here in Alaska… I have seen/heard guns in Church and they mean very different things in my two circumstances. Many of times I have wondered the same thing while in Detroit.

    Here in Alaska though… there are open carry laws… so ANYONE can have guns on them at any time… (mostly for the bears) so I wondered if it is inappropriate to bring them into church?

  15. EXCHIEF says:

    I can certainly see why some might view the question, and the way it was posed, as slightly humerous. However as a law enforcement officer who does carry a concealed weapon (yes even in Church) this precise sort of scenario and what to do has entered my mind…as recently as yesterday on the feast of the Immaculate Conception when a clearly troubled individual entered our small Church and appeared ready to become disruptive.

    I probably need not remind readers that in-church shootings have happened including one in a Colorado church where an armed security person shot the gunman…so it could happen.

    I wondered briefly yesterday, before the troubled person left the Church, what would happen IF he drew a weapon. I knew what I would do but really wondered what would happen if I had to use deadly force inside the church to neutralize a gunman. What would the priest do to expeditiously conclude the liturgy in a proper fashion as local law enforcement and medics would immediately respond. The Church itself becomes a crime scene and everyone inside at the time becomes a witness who must be interviewed immediately.

    Yes we can all say such a thing would never happen—but the fact is it has happened and will again at some place and time. Probably be a good idea to have (as Fr. suggests) a common sense but pre-planned protocol in place so that the liturgy is respected, so that people can be dealt with medically and emotionally, and so that the necesary and legally required investigation can be conducted.

    Before I am accused of a morbid focus let me remind readers that I did not post the original posting on this subject but did take it seriously.

  16. EXCHIEF says:

    I meant HUMOROUS

  17. Gwen says:

    Father, I much prefer a .45 for self-defense (if a shotgun just won’t fit the rubric and you must use a handgun). I like the very big holes they make; you don’t have to hit the ‘center of mass’ to stop them cold, as you must with a 9mm.

    Here in Nevada, we have open carry and concealed carry (the latter with a permit).

  18. bookworm says:

    Years ago, the Catholic newspaper I once worked for carried a story about a priest who was celebrating his 50th anniversary. The most memorable incident of his priesthood that he shared was the time his church nearly got hit by a tornado in the middle of Mass. Everyone could hear the “freight train” sound of the approaching tornado, sirens were going off, and the congregation were diving under the pews, but this priest was right in the middle of the Consecration, and decided that he “couldn’t quit” at that point. Fortunately the tornado missed the church.

    This occurred in the mid 1960s before the NO took effect, so I assume he followed the rules you posted above, about what to do if you fear “collapse” of the building after the Consecration (just go straight to Communion and cut everything else).

    Not to get off topic — I realize this isn’t the same as dealing with an armed intruder — but are there any Tornado Alley parishioners out there who have had experience with either an TLM or NO Mass being interrupted by a tornado warning?

  19. MargaretMN says:

    I know there to be some carry permit holders at my parish and I wouldn’t be surprised if they carried in church. Many churches in MN display the signage that allows them to ban guns on their premises. Mine does not. I have thought about what would happen if gunfire did erupt in Church, all those stone walls, I think we’d all hit the floor immediately for fear of ricochet. I think that Mass once the threat was over unless it wasn’t possible. If there was an earthquake (unlikely in MN) or fire, I think we’d move to another building and continue the mass or have it outside.

  20. Desertfalcon says:

    I agree with Gwen, Father. Nothing says, “Respect God’s house” like a 230gr .45ACP jacketed hollow point.

  21. chonak says:

    Pope John Paul II interrupted an outdoor Mass in Miami during a storm because of the risk of lightning. The crowd was sent home and the Mass was completed in a sheltered place.

  22. trishamtan says:

    This makes me so glad I decided to cater to my insomnia and check the computer again.

    Incidentally, should lethal force be used (and extreme unction duly administered) in this situation, would that lethal force cause the church to lose its consecration?

  23. In 1994 while celebrating Mass in my parish in the southern Philippines there was a commotion, during the Offertory, I think. I saw people scampering to the sides and immediately thought that there was a bomb in the church. Only a few weeks before, at Christmas, as I recall, a bomb had killed worshippers in Davao Cathedral. Then I saw a young man, his bare chest covered in blood, coming up the aisle. I felt a sense of relief – ‘It’s only a crazy guy.’ He knocked over and broke the overhead projector. A woman, who happened to be a teacher but was also very small, approached the man quietly, put her hand on his shoulder and he immediately calmed down. We continued the Mass shortly after.

    The following Easter Sunday night, when there was a farewell party for me in the rectory, as I was leaving for a new assignment the following day, a drunken policeman was firing around the house and shouting at us for an hour before any help arrived. Thank God, nobody was hurt, but it was scary.

    Only a couple of months ago a bomb killed some people across the road from Cotabato Cathedral in Mindanao while Mass was going on.
    In 1999 an off-duty policeman, singing in the choir, overpowered a man with a sword and kitchen-knife who injured 11 people during Mass in a London church: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/1677884.stm

    In other words, the question is not as crazy or funny as it sounds.

  24. Gabriella says:

    I find Fr. Z’s addendum to the rubrics very interesting!
    Apart from the humour, there are countries in this small world of ours where such things do and can occur!

  25. PS I enjoyed your response to the question, particularly the photo.

  26. trespinos says:

    Many years ago, there was a human interest story in The Catholic Northwest Progress about a recently deceased man who had attended daily mass at the diocesan seminary for years, and was a great and good friend of the seminarians and their Sulpician instructors. He was described as an intensely prayerful figure, but rough as any old Westerner could be, and yes, he packed a gun to church all his days. The story didn’t speculate about the man’s reasons, but I imagine he saw himself as given the task of providing protection for his beloved priests-in-training.

  27. MattW says:

    Given that the situation is covered in the De defectibus, I guess it’s really not that outlandish a question. As Gabriella points out, there are places in the world where this isn’t a remote possibility.

    In any case, Fr. Z’s rubrics are so much more precise !

  28. Manrique Zabala de Arizona says:

    “to take out, reverently, their .9mm and return fire.”

    This made my day, Pater.

  29. FrCharles says:

    LOL! Thanks for the chuckles, today, Father. In all seriousness, though, I have been offering Mass when lunatics have entered the sanctuary to disrupt things or make crazy announcements. My policy: wave servers into the sacristy, protect the Sacred Species (if necessary) and try to give an example of calm to the people.

  30. Rob Cartusciello says:

    If we’re talking pre-1962 reforms, any subdeacon worth his salt should be carrying a M1911 45cal ACP. Post ’62, you can carry any caliber pistol you want, so long as that caliber starts with a “4”.

    Of course, any cathedral or basilica should be covered with the M-2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun. Any soldier will tell you that “When Ma Deuce talks, people listen.”

  31. Tim Ferguson says:

    Questions for the Sacred Congregation: If the deacon and subdeacon wear bandoliers, should is be worn over the alb but under the dalmatic or tunicle? Or may only an ordained deacon wear a bondolier strung from his left shoulder to his right hip?

    May a commissioned acolyte serving as straw subdeacon utilize a blessed, or merely an unblessed gun?

    In the chanting of the maledictory psalms, may the doxology be omitted to obviate the need for bowing in order to keep focused on firing?

    If the deacon and subdeacon accidentally hit the pile of guitars, tambourines and banjos in the corner for use at the later “contemporary” Mass, is that considered a vice or a virtue?

  32. medievalist says:

    Perhaps the good Don Camillo, who has some expertise in firearms, has something to say…

    But seriously, those pre-Vatican II books thought of everything!

  33. Tim: I believe that if they hit guitars, bongos, etc., they get a partial indulgence – plenary if they are being played.

  34. Kerry says:

    This possibility is one I have thought about a lot. I think if someone entered the church and began shooting, the immediate response from those in the pews would be immediate silence, then screaming and disbelief, and, without some training to both take cover and hurl books at the assailant, (perhaps the very best use of the Gather hymnal), I expect people to be paralyzed by fear. What might be the nature of such an attack? Two possibilities, someone enters during the service and starts shooting. Or, someone with the intention positions themselves in the pews and begins shooting at some point during the Mass. It is a question of whom is the target, anyone, or the Priest, Priests. Another question, one assailant or more than one? Using a pistol, a rifle, a semi-auto rifle? (A rifle in church would be most difficult to defeat using returning pistol fire.) The nature of the assailant has something to say about the attack. Is it someone just plain nuts, a meth-crazed person, an anti-Catholic type, a Jihadist? (In the case of the latter, I suspect the larger churches would be the target, like the Cathedral.)
    My planning and thinking assumes an attack on the Priest. Where I go to mass, there are some six entrances, including three through the parish hall. These latter would give greater concealment,entering through the front or side doors less so. (But then, these people don’t wear signs saying, ‘THREAT’. (Perhaps the progressive-secular-atheistic left will get around to that law.) Accordingly, I have positioned my self in a spot where I can either see the entrances, or quickly get to cover behind one of the nice, limestone pillars. Fortunately I am not the only one with response capabilities.
    Those ‘Bans Guns’ signs in Minnesota merely announce the existence of ‘Gun Free-fire zones’. Again, while I think it very unlikely that my little Church could be a target, I want no, “If only…” nightmares.

    P.S. The folksy quips of ‘Anything starting with a 4’, and Ma-duece undermine the seriousness of this issue. It is not a matter for levity. To those who made those remarks, nothing personal I assure you.

  35. Unvanquished says:

    A number of years ago, I was hearing Mass in the EF at St. Mary’s in Washington, D.C> when a young woman on the second row stood up and put her hands in the air. At first, it looked like she was going charismatic on us (certainly not an everyday occurrence at Old St. Mary’s), but then, all of the sudden, she jumped the pew and ran straight for the altar. The priest celebrant was of course oblivious to all of this (it was a Low Mass, so there was, if I recall, but one or two altar servers), so there was a collective yelling out of “Father!”, and he turned around, which caused the woman to equally inexplicably stop in her tracks. Meanwhile, a couple of men from the front pews had approached the altar and quickly hustled her off, and she was carried away by the police eventually. In the meantime, there was a bit of “buzz” in the air, but it died down almost instantly when the priest turned back toward the altar and picked right up where he left off. The Mass went on as if nothing happened, and this impressed me as much as anything else.

  36. irishgirl says:

    Yikes-I wouldn’t want to be in a church where there’s gunfire going on! I’d probably be paralyzed with fear and end up getting hit!

    But I like the photo of the ‘gun-toting nuns’, Father!

  37. Re: someone killed in church

    If somebody is killed in church, I believe the church is deconsecrated, I think on account of desecration. (It might just be “murdered”, though.) Same thing if other desecratory acts occur.

    However, the church can be reconsecrated by a priest; the pastor at my old parish had to do this after some bad vandalism which included the Blessed Sacrament being thrown around.

    (They went to a lot of trouble to translate the ritual into English, with permission from the USCCB. It didn’t strike me at the time that it was a bit silly to go to all that trouble when you could just read what was written, especially since nobody but priests were there in attendance. But there you go. I also didn’t wonder at the time why the archbishop or the local dean wouldn’t have wanted to come up and support our upset pastor and shocked parish, but I guess I was just used to our archdiocese expecting everybody to do stuff on their own.)

  38. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Kerry, please accept my apologies if I gave offense. There was at least a small invitation to lightheartedness in the original post.

    Given the experience of friends in Iraq & Afghanistan, I do stand by “any caliber as long as it starts with a 4”. Our home defense choice is a 20 gauge Mossberg in bantam configuration, since my wife is 5′ 1″ & 110 lbs.

    The substantive issue of security in our churches is an important one. In the mid 80’s, a mentally disturbed man wielding a candlestand killed an usher at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

    In the past five years I can name at least four times where there have been disturbances involving persons carrying a firearm. In one of those cases, the attacker was brought down by a private citizen with a handgun. I thank God that that particular (evangelical) church had the wisdom & foresight to organize a security team.

    We would be well advised to take (discrete) measures to ensure the security of our churches & parishoners. The recruiting of law enforcement officers (active & retired) would be a first priority, with additional support from private citizens with carry permits who have taken appropriates course in firearm safety & tactics.

  39. Sid says:

    Fearsome events require some fearsome thinking. To deal with disruptions of all sorts is one of the jobs of an usher, who really is a kind of bouncer (one reason an usher should be male).

    1. The pastor should have a plan for disruption and a plan for violence. He should train all of his ushers in the plan. For a plan I suggest the following:

    2. One usher should have a cell phone, turned on, in the silent mode. He should know the directions to the church and its street number. At the first sign of any disruption, he should dial 911. I’m told that in my city the police respond quickly on Sundays. This usher should stay on the line.

    3. Three other ushers should do the following:

    i. tell the other people in the pew with the disruptor and in the pew in front of the disruptor to leave the pew.
    ii. One usher stands in front of the disruptor, blocking the view of the altar, and two other ushers on the disruptor’s right and left.
    iii The ushers tell the disruptor to leave, immediately, or face prosecution (#4 below)and a tort, and that the police are on the way.
    iv. if the disruptor doesn’t leave: in North Carolina the disruptor really can’t be bounced unless he is a threat to life and limb. Instead, we have in our state a “gentle hands” law: the ushers try to guide the disruptor out by using hand on his shoulders.
    v. When the police arrive, the usher with the cell phone directs them to the disruptor, the other 3 ushers let the police close in and remove the disruptor.

    4. The pastor should prosecute to the full extent of the law:
    i.disorderly conduct
    ii. disrupting a religious service, a misdemeanor in NC
    iii. trespass. Once one is told to leave and doesn’t leave, it’s trespass.
    iv. If the disruptor resists “gentle hands”, press charges for assault.
    v. If the disruptor refuses a police order, then that’s against the law also.
    vi. begin a class action civil suit against the disruptor for violation of the congregation’s civil right under the First Amendment to free exercise.
    vii. A restraining order or no-tresspass order should be taken out against the disruptor. If the disruptor even darkens the door of the church ever again, it would be Contempt of Court, and the disruptor will spend the night in the poky.

    5. A disruptor who brandishes a weapon or shoots might have to be shot.
    i. The pastor might wish to authorize one usher to carry a concealed revolver (say, a S&W .357 Model 340)or a concealable .45 pistol, in his pocket, in a concealable holster, or concealed under his belt. (Of course those of y’all in states that forbid conceal weapons, or any personal weapons whatsoever, are at the mercy of the assailant.)
    ii. This usher should be well trained in firearms and a crack shot.
    iii. At the first sight of a brandished weapon or a shot by the assailant, the ushers order everyone to hit the floor.
    iv. Then the armed usher takes aim and, if necessary, shoots.
    v. Sometimes an assailant can be persuaded to drop his firearm if he’s in the usher’s gun sights. A laser on the usher’s firearm often does this trick, esp. if the assailant see the little red dot right at his heart. (He’ll likely have some unclean underwear as a result).
    vi. Again, full criminal and civil prosecution, this time for a felony — brandishing a weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder 1st degree.

    But then, what do I know?

  40. Magpie says:

    I live in Northern Ireland, and we’ve had our share of armed violence. I only recently learned of this ‘open carry’ issue. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but it seems completely insane to me to have civilians walking around with guns on their belts!

  41. Random Friar says:

    Faith is a gift from God. So are prudence and syndereris, or if you will, plain old common sense. Rubrics do not and *cannot* cover every contingency.

    I remember once when I was celebrating Mass (OF), when I looked up at the Preface the police were taking away someone in handcuffs. The ushers had managed to deal with the situation posed by an unstable individual prudently, quickly and quietly and as charitably as possible. Those guys were great.

    No firearms have been used in a Mass I have celebrated so far, and never ever, God willing.

  42. Kerry says:

    Dear pica pica. If one makes no distinction between aggressive violence and defensive violence, then of course the issue is not the violence but the tool. This is fallacious. But it would not be prudent to morph this discussion on Father Z’s blog into areas more completely covered on firearms blogs and forums. However I recommend you google Luby’s shooting and remember, “Those without swords can still die on them”.
    Rob, none taken. Mossberg 500 dittos.

  43. Tom in NY says:

    To borrow a phrase from another faith tradition, the celebrant and faithful could “duck and daven.” The Church has to live in troubled neighborhoods to fulfill its mission. Pray you don’t get the call.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  44. ghp95134 says:

    Magpie writes, …but it seems completely insane to me to have civilians walking around with guns on their belts!

    You’d be amazed at how “polite” people are when everybody is (or might be) armed.


  45. Steve Girone says:

    Another post about communion in the handgun, eh?

  46. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Kerry, none taken here, either.

    I worked for a time at St. Anne’s Parish in West Kingston, Jamaica. Shootings in the neighborhood were a regular part of life. I recall one day where I had to walk through the neighborhood to get to work about thirty minutes after three people were shot (gang violence). A year after I left, a handicapped man was killed on the front steps of the rectory. It was a terrible time.

  47. RichardT says:

    Indeed the deacon and subdeacon should be armed. While Mass is being said this is their duty, not the role of the laity; as the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

    “According to the “Apostolic Constitutions” belonging to the end of the fourth century the guarding of the door of the church during the service was the duty of the deacons and subdeacons. Thus the doorkeepers exercised their office only when service was not being held.”

    Unless it is an Eastern Rite church however, in which case it seems to be the subdeacon only:

    “In the Greek Church, subdeacons prepare the chalice at the prothesis and guard the gates of the sanctuary during the Holy Sacrifice”

    But what is the authority to support the contention that “If one crosses the sanctuary, however, honorifics are not to be observed”?

  48. bnaasko says:

    Hey, this actually happend in Denver in 1908.


  49. Dr. Eric says:

    “We will now read from the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and… DUCK!”

    -Blazing Saddles

  50. Tradster says:

    Odd, I never noticed before now that there are only five sisters in that photo, not ten. But five are more than enough to handle whatever comes at ’em.

  51. EXCHIEF says:

    In all seriousness in this day and age it really is a good idea (and a Pastoral responsibility I think) to have a plan in place and some training of the congregation as to how to respond to an armed assault. Sid has provided a good basic outline though I disagree with some of it, 5v in particular.

  52. pelerin says:

    I agree with Magpie – it seems insane for the general public to be allowed to carry guns. Does not violence breed violence? I cannot imagine sitting on a bus knowing that the person next to me could be carrying a gun. Or rather I can imagine it and would never dream of visiting the United States as I would not feel safe there at all.

  53. MichaelJ says:

    Not to detract from the levity of this, but I have often wondered about the point that pelerin makes. Basically, does prudence demand that we presume malicious intent on the part of another individual? If we encounter a “civilian” carrying a weapon, should we automatically assume that he intends harm?

  54. EXCHIEF says:

    Not to derail this into a rabbit hole but in 43 years in law enforcement in both large urban areas (South Central Los Angeles) and currently rural I have never encountered a “civilian” who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon involved in criminal activity with a weapon. You have much less to fear from one who has completed the required training course and has a valid concealed weapon permit than you do from a criminal or mentally unbalanced individual who is illegally armed.

    If you encounter a civilian who openly displays the fact that s/he is armed I would be cautious because responsible cops and those with concealed weapons permits do not advertise the fact. I carry a model 1911A1 .45 calibre semi auto but do so in such a manner that no one in Church or elsewhere will ever know I am armed unless bad stuff happens and I have to use it.

  55. JohnMa says:

    Glad I am not the only CWP holder to have put a lot of thought into the subject.

  56. chironomo says:

    Is this Mass in either Texas or perhaps Crowley Louisiana? If so, no need to worry… there will be sufficient cover fire for the priest to continue safely…

  57. Kerry says:

    Pelerin, “safe” is not a feeling. Happy, scared, excited, forlorn, angry etc., are “feelings”. Again, like Magpie, (pica pica, did no one get the Latin?), do not confuse the object with an ill intention. Clarify your perceptions about the phrase “allowed to carry guns” please Google ‘Oleg Volk.’

  58. Thomas S says:

    This post put me in a good mood. When you brought up earthquakes bringing down a church I pictured the Cathedral in Los Angeles imploding.

  59. Widukind says:

    I remembering reading about singing “Holy God” if there was a commotion in ther midst of Mass. I also read that if for some urgent reason the celebrant had to leave the altar, the servers were to stand guard over the Holy Eucharist. It happened to me that a parishioner keeled over just prior to Holy Communion. As the person was in some distress I was called to give absolution and annoint her.
    I called the servers over, told them what to do, took care of the person, and the returned and continued Mass. Or was it better that I remained at the altar and did nothing?

  60. pelerin says:

    Strange comment from Kerry. No ‘safe’ is not a feeling but neither is ‘happy, scared, excited, forlorn, angry etc’. ‘Security, happpiness, fear. excitement, sadness, anger’ are feelings. Perhaps in American English you don’t talk about ‘feeling safe’ but here in Britain we do.

  61. Magpie says:

    Widukind I think that was the right thing for a priest to do imho. It is something that I’ve thought about before: a person dying and in need of the Last Rites, a priest only a few feet away, but the person dies without the sacrament. I think that would be bad.

    As regards guns, I think the cultural thing is obvious: in Britain and Ireland, a civilian carrying a weapon would be very disturbing to anyone I can think of (except for a hunter out shooting ducks with a shotgun, deerstalkers etc…), the police would be called etc… whereas in America, there is a totally different attitude/approach to guns. Also, from the Irish perspective, I feel safer knowing that (most) people I pass in the street are not carrying guns, or knives, or extendable batons, cs gas etc…

  62. Kerry says:

    Well pelerin, as Twain said, the Americans and British are separated by a common language. But to believe one is more secure, that is protected from predatory violence when the law abiding are disallowed the human right of self defense by “the higher authorities”, (oblique Great Escape quote), is ,I think, and illusory conclusion. I will not allow my wife nor myself to be victimized by such a tyranny. (Father Z, sorry to hijack the levity.)

  63. gambletrainman says:

    angelsdefendus said that in Alaska, anyone can have guns on them at anytime, mainly for the bears….is it appropriate to bring them into the church?

    My question is–bring what? the guns or bears into the church?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  64. ghp95134 says:

    Gambletrainman: …My question is—bring what? the guns or bears into the church?

    Protect your right to arm bears!


  65. Widukind says:

    .. what about the right to bear arms?? So, in Alaska can I use just the paw with claws (a “hand” gun?) or must I use the whole limb when defending myself? (Never mind how I “de-armed” the bear of his defenses in the first place, to get “bear arms”, I just have a right to them!!)

  66. Mitchell NY says:

    “This occured in the mid 1960’s before the NO took effect”. So the tornado did hit the Church, just took a few more years to get there. The old rubric posted, once read, brought a level of understanding and sense to me. A trust and confidence in truly being in the Lord’s hands. I guess it was written in a time when so much made sense in the Catholic Church. Rules, obedience,and finally trust.

  67. pelerin says:

    Bringing bears into the church conjures up an unusual scene! However in 1906 bears were actually used to protect the parish priest of at least one church in the French Pyrenees during the ‘Inventaires’. I have a photograph showing a parish priest standing safely behind two huge bears each standing on its hind legs with parishioners looking on. Don’t think the bears were armed though!

  68. Maltese says:

    pelerin: “I have a photograph showing a parish priest standing safely behind two huge bears each standing on its hind legs with parishioners looking on.” Lol! Love to see that one!

  69. Andy Lucy says:

    magpie said, “Also, from the Irish perspective, I feel safer knowing that (most) people I pass in the street are not carrying guns, or knives, or extendable batons, cs gas etc…”

    You might be very surprised at the people surrounding you who carry concealed weaponsagainst the law.

    With a little practice, you learn to spot who is packing and who isn’t most of the time. Given that “most of the time” is not 100%, I assume that everyone is.

    Our local shepherd knows that should the wolves ever come at his flock, he has a few sheepdogs, ready to protect both him and the flock.

  70. wanda says:

    Ah, the smell of incense and gunsmoke in the morning. I think they might blend rather nicely.
    Just watch out for the cross-fire. Have pity on the contemporary groups instruments, even in light of gaining an indulgence.

    I don’t have any doubt there are one or two off-duty policeman in church during Mass. They are usually required to be armed. You won’t be able to tell – unless duty calls.

  71. pelerin says:

    Maltese – if you type in on Google ‘Cartes Postales inventaires Cominac’ you will see a couple of pictures on this subject. Mine is slightly different but probably taken on the same day. As you can see the bears were on a chain so were obvious ‘dancing bears’ and not wild ones but probably equally menacing to the authorities.

  72. Mariana says:

    I’m with Pelerin. And, MichaelJ, if “prudence” really demands carrying weapons, surely we then really do “presume malicious intent?”
    Sorry to be such a bore. I loved the Catholic “Houris”, what a nasty surprise!

  73. rinkevichjm says:

    We have one slightly mentally challenged person who comes to our parish Masses: if the assembly does something irregular (say clap after someone gets blessed, or recognized, for example when the people who are going to join the Church at Easter enter their names in the book during the first Sunday of Lent.) The Mass would pause momentarily to allow the ushers to escort him from the building. It is for situations like that for which I wish the greeting translation of “Dominus vobiscum” and its response were translated as:
    P: The Lord commands ye [or you].
    R: And with thy [or your] spirit leads.

    This person would argue that he should protest, but if that greeting were used the ushers would merely point out that it is the priest’s job to lead and he should have been respecting the priest, who was leading, which he had already acknowledged, therefore, he should remain quiet.

  74. Catherine says:

    Thank you, Father. This posting was so funny that I howled out loud while reading it. I’ve sent it on to several friends, and they all think it is hysterical, too.

    I love demonstrating absurdity by being absurd.

    Thanks for the giggles.

  75. irishgirl says:

    I remember the St. Patrick’s Cathedral incident. A disturbed man [naked no less] came in, yelling incoherently. He ripped out a prayer stanchion and killed an elderly usher [the father of a NY archdiocesan priest] by hitting him in the head with it. The police came and he ended up getting killed by gunfire. Cardinal O’Connor had to ‘re-consecrate’ the spot in the sanctuary where it took place.

    A police officer who was directly involved in the incident lives in Upstate NY and is a member of the Perpetual Adoration chapel that I go to. He sometimes gives talks about his experience. He was injured by the attacker and had to retire from the NYPD.

  76. MichaelJ says:

    Good point which I have to admit I had not fully considered. It is slightly different though. One can carry a weapon for reasons that do not include making a rash judgement about another individual.

    I am not so sure the same can be said about a person who becomes afraid because he sees another with a weapon.

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