A comment on applause in church

I found this great image over at True Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. EXCHIEF says:

    There should be no applause during the liturgy. However, applause results from something being said to the congregation which, in lay environments, would appropriately result in applause as a form of recognition. That “something” is usually an intentional comment by the presider relative to something like “didn’t our choir “perform” just beautifully today” or, it’s “Mrs. Smith’s 90th birthday”. Such comments are generally made at announcement time which is often just before the final blessing which is really the conclusion of the liturgy. Perhaps those causing applause in Church, rather than those engaging in it, could control the circumstances a bit better. I have long thought that announcements should be given after the final blessing, not before it. That way any announcments which might result in applause would be outside the liturgy itself. I would have much less a problem with that than the current arraingement.

  2. Nora says:

    Like the image, but love the quote and have ever since I first heard it. It is a touchstone for what is wrong with a great deal of the “pastoral” steps what can intrude into liturgy if a constant watch over the sacredness of worship is allowed to slip.

  3. doanli says:

    Have never felt comfortable doing it.

  4. Sandra_in_Severn says:


  5. Sacristymaiden says:

    What a great quote!
    On the side, I’ve never felt comfortable clapping in church either. It just doesn’t feel right to be clapping for a (99% of the time) pretty ordinary event in God’s house. While the mentioning of those events are nice thoughts (most of the time), they would have much more meaning outside of Mass (and the church) besides being more relevant to the place and the rest of the congregation.

  6. Philologos says:

    What a great quote–I was actually going to send an email about this very subject today. My five month old son has not cried at Mass once (NOT ONCE) until they decided to applaud the choir this morning. — Also regarding babies, for those who don’t like to shake hands during the sign of peace (Will this be an iron vice? A floppy fish? Fist bump? Accompanied by awkward hippy half-hug?) having a teething baby drool all over your hand is a great way to ensure no one wants to engage in such tomfoolery with you.

  7. JonathanZ says:

    As a church organist, ocassionally a few people will sponteneously applaud after I finish the postlude. Usually they aren’t within speaking distance though, so all I can do really is point to the sky and hope they figure out I mean to give all glory to God.

  8. Father G says:

    How providential!

    I was just thinking today about looking for this quote. I want to phase out applause at the end of Mass. The image is worth printing out and posting on the church doors.

  9. Antioch_2013 says:

    Sounds like Pope Benedict has been reading St. John Chrysostom’s tirade against applause in church :)

  10. Paula says:

    What a coincidence–our priest today asked us to applaud a baby who’d just been baptized. I felt a little better about that than I would about, say, a musical performance.

  11. Norah says:

    As a church organist, ocassionally a few people will sponteneously applaud after I finish the postlude.

    Jonathan, I take it that you aren’t playing the organ in the choir loft?

    Our Blessed Sacrament church in the city moved the choir from the choir loft to the space between the High Altar and the table altar. Since they seem to be performing for us they sometimes are applauded but when they were in the choir loft it was recognised that they were singing to offer worship for God and thus weren’t applauded.

  12. Ringmistress says:

    We used to have applause following baptism at one of the parishes I used to attend. It always made my skin crawl, but I think for the most part, the people just had no idea how to properly welcome and show their joy at receiving a new Christian into the Church. Granted, I grew up in a parish that continued to baptize privately, rather than during the Mass. At the Anglican use parish I sometimes attend, they handle this problem by having a formal reception prayer recited by the congregation following by a processional hymn. Takes the wind right out of any applause sails since there’s already a more appropriate form of reception and joy worked into the ceremony. I’d still prefer baptisms weren’t during Mass, save during Easter, but if we’re going to do them, that’s the way to handle it. Not holding the poor naked baby aloft to applause…

  13. Timbot2000 says:


    At my Byzantine church, where liturgy is both ancient and alive, the congregation breaks out in a rousing chorus of “as many as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, have put on Christ, alleluia!” Notice we do not worry about rhyme.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    It was said during JP2’s funeral, that applause is an italian custom. Any one know any more on this?

  15. Warren says:

    The sooner we rid the liturgy of any and all applause the better. If people really feel the need to offer thanks to the musicians (or altar servers or ushers or…), then go up to them after Mass and offer a personal and meaningful statement exactly why their service is appreciated. Better yet, make a donation to a parish and direct it to the pastor for sheet music purchases (preferably Palestrina and Byrd and…).

    Rant alert!

    And, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of announcing the hymns and thereby restrain music ministers from interjecting some lame invitation that puts the focus on the congregation instead of Almighty God. Post the hymn numbers on a board.

  16. Kaneohe says:

    Ringmistress – would you possibly have a copy of the reception prayer mentioned in your post? Many thanks!

    Warren is absolutely correct in saying “If people really feel the need to offer thanks to the musicians (or altar servers or ushers or…), then go up to them after Mass and offer a personal and meaningful statement exactly why their service is appreciated.” That’s what I do and I am assured that all those individuals, from altar server, musician, singer, or flower arranger – are much more touched by someone going up to personally thank and encourage them after Mass than they are by hearing thoughtless audience applause.

  17. Kate says:


  18. New Sister says:

    Dear Father G – you did not solicit input, but if I may tell you from the perspective of a layman — there is no need to “phase-out” things like this. Just tell us to stop. Explain why. It is much better for us this way. We like to know what’s right and we like to do it. I think the idea of putting the sign by the Holy Father in the bulletin is a good idea.

    Thank you for being a priest.

  19. southern orders says:

    I wonder how the Holy Father feels each and every time he celebrates Mass–there is applause throughout. On Friday, coming in, going out and during the homily. I suspect he must have had a change of heart on this issue. But I do agree that in parish settings applause should be limited, but it is a sign of approval in the Liturgy of Ordination to applaud once the candidate is accepted by the bishop for ordination. I’ve heard applause in church at the most inopportune times, like at the end of an anthem sung by young people which was were beautiful and prayerful, only to have it turned into entertainment by the applause. I would prefer invitations to applause over anything that could erupt spontaneously, like in a musical setting.

  20. lux_perpetua says:

    i go to a church sometimes which makes a habit of having all visitors stand before the final blessing so we might clap for them. for… what exactly i don’t know. fulfilling their Sunday obligation? it really bugs me

  21. Michaelus says:

    It all depends on if you are at Mass to worship Christ or to worship each other.

  22. bookworm says:

    What if the applause is at the end of a homily on the state of the parish’s finances — complete with exhortation to those in attendance to increase their giving? Yes, I actually saw this happen yesterday! It WAS a very good homily, by the way.

    It is only the second time in the last 5 years or so that I have seen spontaneous applause break out after a homily. The other time was in a different parish, for a lengthy but hard-hitting homily on pro-life issues.

    Imagine that — the two topics many pastors most hate to address (abortion and parish finances) actually being APPLAUDED!

    I understand the objection to applauding musicians for their performances, or inviting various persons or groups to stand up and be applauded, etc. but when parishioners applaud their pastor at the end of what they realize was probably a difficult homily I don’t think that’s quite the same.

  23. apagano says:

    At the local NO church we attend occasionally one of the Priests has the habit of singing a song at the end of his homily. Which in itself drives me and my husband crazy. But then, to make it worse the parishioners always clap. This last week he did point to the cross/tabernacle, and in the past he has said that it’s for God’s glory……but the vast majority of the parishioners don’t get it. Clapping….please just go away.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:


    For what it’s worth, here’s the Episcopalian ‘reception prayer’ for after baptism:

    “We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim His resurrection, and join with us in his eternal priesthood.”

    Episcopalians don’t applaud in church, not for any weighty theological reason but because it’s tacky.

    Our Catholic parish still does private baptisms after Mass. The Episcopalians used to do that but switched to baptisms during the service some time between when I was baptized (a long, long time ago) and when my children were born.

  25. susanna says:

    A couple choir members wanted to sing happy birthday to the priest right at the end of Holy Thursday service. Was I wrong to refuse? Left this worship-us church for worship-God church after that.

  26. Frank H says:

    At weddings, it seems to be the practice at the end of Mass, just after the blessing and before processing out, that the priest will introduce “the new Mr & Mrs John and Mary Doe”, which, quite logically, is met by great applause. At a recent wedding I attended, included with the applause were whistles and shouts of approval, as though we were at a rock concert or something. When/if my daughter gets married, I plan to suggest this practice be omitted. Perhaps, since it is after the final blessing, it is not “during” the liturgy, but it is still in church, and is most undignified. There is plenty of opportunity for such enthusiasm at the reception.

  27. AnAmericanMother says:

    At least applause at our parish is limited to after announcements and before the final blessing . . . . it’s usually for things like a new altar server or a choir soloist.

    As a choir member, I agree that it’s better for people who are pleased to come up to the choir loft and tell us so. When somebody stops me and thanks the choir, I always thank them back. But it’s even more important to complain to us if something’s the matter. “If you’re unhappy with us, tell us. If you’re happy with us, tell the management!”

    None of the hippy-dippies have had the nerve to complain about the Latin Mass or Palestrina though.

    Warren, I am with you 100% on getting rid of the hymn announcements. They interrupt the Mass, and besides the ‘announcer’ is always slow getting up to the lectern. We have a service leaflet anyhow because we don’t have an official hymnal.

  28. Wayne NYC says:

    May God continue to bless Pope Benedict.

    Pope Paul VI was the first modern pope to
    start getting on planes and visiting the
    world’s parishes. His first trip was to
    N.Y.C. in 1964. When he entered St.Patrick’s
    Cathedral deafening applause broke out.
    Today this is expected but then this was
    a topic of conversation for quite some time.
    Either a scandal or a sign of aggiornamento.
    “Be still and know that I am God”.

  29. JonM says:

    I think that one change that can single handedly reduce this practice is the Priest turning around to face God in the tabernacle, at least during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is a very, conspicuous, jarring, and easily interpreted action that shows who is the focus of the Mass.

    Without question, better translations were needed for English books because the current one is not well aligned with the MR. And I think this is a good step to inculcate better understanding of some basic theological points.

    But I don’t think the new books are going to significantly correct widespread ignorance. This is in part because the prayers still lack a consistant sacral manner of speach (thy’s, thou’s, and -eth’s would have gotten attention.) But moreso, I think that as the saying goes ‘actions speak louder than words.’

    The prayer might seem to indicate worship of something, but the action of the Priest speaking with the Congregation in a back and forth way strongly suggests a ‘closed loop’ as Pope Benedict (God preserve him) has dubbed it. And that is why there is a natural tendancy to celebrate ourselves and our accomplishments when it is, with full attention, Christ we are supposed to be commemorating.

  30. AnAmericanMother says:


    Do they baptize babies NEKKID in your church? Good gracious alive!

    Our babies are generally attired in more clothes than they have ever worn before in their little lives, what with christening gown, robe, embroidered cap, and matching receiving blanket . . . . and I had to make all that stuff by hand (Vogue has an excellent pattern) because when I saw the prices in the stores my eyes bugged right out of my head!!!!!

  31. Thom says:

    It’s hard to imagine anyone applauding during a traditional Mass.

  32. chironomo says:

    I agree with the very first comment here….there ae a few distinct types of “applause” that can happen at Mass. Pope Benedict seems to be speaking about the applause for musical performances, etc…which are misplaced and come about as a result of misunderstanding on the part of those applauding. Such persons see the liturgy as performance, and this is encouraged by liturgical ministers (use that term loosely) who see themselves as performers and act accordingly.

    Another type is “appreciative” or “recognition” applause… Mr. and Mrs. McGillicuddy celebrating their 50th Anniversary…”Let’s hear it for ’em..!!” says the priest. What else are we to do but applaud? If the Priest hadn’t asked, it wouldn’t have happened. This has to be addressed at the “Priest” level.

    Another type, which I’m still undecided about: The Pastor gives a powerful homily about the evil of abortion and our need, as Catholic faithful, to ACTIVELY oppose it at all levels. He calls on us to reclaim our faith and promote the Gospel of Christ, not only in Church on Sunday, but out there in the world every day. He challenges each one of us to really BE Catholic, not just to put on a pin when we walk into the Church that has our name on it and say, “See…I’m a Catholic”. When he finishes he walks back to the chair, and the assembly stands and breaks into spontaneous applause. Not sure if that’s “innapropriate”, even if it is in response to some “human acheivement” (the homily). What do you think?

  33. Mike says:


    Once, in the 90s, I heard a terrific homily at the National Shrine in DC; a soft, spontaneous round of applause broke out. I think it’s the only time I’ve ever thought is was appropriate.

    I think if I showed this pic of B16 to my pastor, he would think I was insane.

    I am serious.

  34. medievalist says:

    May get blasted for this but…

    At baptisms, weddings, ordinations, and so on, I don’t see huge problems with applause because at that moment we are recognizing God’s action in the sacrament. Yes, we can praise God with silence, prayers, and music, but ‘clapping’ appears in the Bible, so why can’t we praise God for his good graces and gifts in the sacraments? Catechesis may be needed, but as long as are praising God’s actions instead of the baby, the couple, the new priest, then what’s the problem? With this thought in my mind I have and will continue to applaud the appearance of the sacraments in our midst, but not the accomplishments of man in the liturgy.

  35. Konichiwa says:


    The thing that I notice is that when such applause occurs, a bunch of , “Yeah! Man!”, “Woot! Woot!” or “Woohoo!”, and other forms of cheer break out from the teenagers and a few men and women who haven’t matured to within the “national 50% percentile”. People just start acting inappropriate in most if not all of the church’s I’ve been to.

  36. kjh says:

    But wait… We went to a Mass (at a different church) this weekend (not that ours isn’t getting more & more into the ‘applause thing’… sigh…) because we were out of town, and (they) sang “We are the Light of the World” – certainly we are worthy of applause because of our great light…. oh, wait, no? …

    Actually, the whole Mass was a little strange (from the priest with a pony tail… and wearing denim jeans, which were just visible below the alb. And there WAS a baptism during Mass, after which the priest held the baby up for applause, and then paraded the poor little child around the church. At least the child was robed in a beautiful white baptismal gown.) All-in-all, I felt that “theatrics” was really the focus of the day. Almost felt like we should go to another Mass. My wife, who is usually more tolerant of these types of things, actually said that she was thinking about walking out! A thought which also crossed my mind, frankly.

    As the weeks go on, I’m thinking more and more “TLM”…

    I guess that it makes me feel somewhat like my feelings after the Corpus Christi thread – always being distracted by these little innovations and surprises makes it extremely difficult to participate in the Mass.


  37. bernadette says:

    Konichiwa, I have had the same experience at my parish of hooting, cheering, and whistling along with the applause. It really makes me cranky.

  38. MaryRoseM says:

    Fr. Z, I’m glad you liked the image. Thank you very much. :-)

    The comments are interesting. Since I left a rather rowdy group within the non-denominational churches, the silence and reverence of the TLM touches me very deeply. I remember attending Mass as a little girl, and never hearing applause. In fact, the first time I heard it, it just “felt” wrong to my ears. Now, decades later — I’ve attended some Masses where I’ve heard applause at the beginning (for someone’s birthday), after a priest’s homily (in probably one of the most liberal parishes in town as he spoke about social justice), and sometimes at the end after the worship band is finished.

    I agree with Kaneohe about thanking a worship team, choir, or the organist after Mass for their service. I think it means something. Whenever I hear applause, I can’t help but think “entertainment.” The only time I don’t is when we’re welcoming new converts into the Church. I’ve not been to a baptism that has happened during Mass.

    One of the many reasons I love the TLM is that there is no applause. The silence helps me focus on what’s happening for us, and my response. I’ve had quite my fill of applause during my days in the non-denoms!

  39. irishgirl says:

    I love that picture of the Holy Father-and the quote attached to it!

    I don’t like applause in church, either. It can get out of hand.

    This picture should be printed up and posted prominently on all church doors!

  40. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I recall a certain Sunday at St. John Cantius (Chicago) in the mid-90’s where a visiting priest gave a stirring homily on the Reform of the Reform. The congregation burst into spontaneous applause. It really was that moving.

    This Sunday our NJ congregation applauded when our newly ordained deacon served. I didn’t mind that. Applause after the overly-long contemporary Communion Meditation was much less appreciated.

    Does the Manual of Episcopal Ceremonies provide for applause during the Rite of Ordination as the congregations affirmation of the ordinand’s presentation for ordination? This was mentioned in the programs of several ordinations I have attended, but have never seen a rubric for it.

  41. dcs says:

    And there WAS a baptism during Mass, after which the priest held the baby up for applause, and then paraded the poor little child around the church.

    I recently went to a service just like that for my nephew’s baptism, except it was a Protestant service and not Catholic.

  42. To Wayne in NYC:

    Pope Paul’s trip to New York wasn’t his first. He had already been to the Holy Land (first) and then to India (second) in 1964. In addition, he came to New York in 1965 not in 1964. The rousing applause with which he was greeted in St. Patrick’s was certainly nothing new and didn’t set any trend. People had been applauding for popes in church for centuries by then. IN addition, when Pope Paul visited St. Patrick’s it wasn’t to say Mass. He was simply greeting people outside the context of the liturgy.

  43. Serviam1 says:

    This practice (abuse) occurs with greater regularity than many wish to admit in parishes within the Archdiocese of Boston. It is a regular practice in Liturgies (at the Cathedral, but not exclusively), when the Cardinal or his Auxilary Bishops are presiding. This unfortunately sets the tone for Liturgical practice throughout the diocese. It is as if we now have an “Introductory and Concluding Rites of Affirmation” as part of the liturgical boiler plate in most parishes and would seem odd if it were missing to many.

    This may be an example of how therapeutic thinking has crept into the Church over the last 40 plus years. I suspect pyschology has influenced both clergy and laity in our understanding and accepting what constitutes “Best Pastoral Practice”. It seeming fuels a misplaced (or disordered) emphasis on human respect (the Natural) at a time we need to be focused on the transcendent reality of God (the Supernatural). Applause simply drags us back down to the natural level. I suggest, instead of ‘running the credits’ to recognize and thank individuals (thereby encouraging applause) before the Liturgy is concluded, how about encouraging Laity to spend some time in thanksgiving following Holy Mass so the Laity can develop a better sense were their attention should be focused.

    This begs the question, “What influence has “Cultural Psychology” played and continues to play in both Seminary and Catechetical formation, in our time?”

    Maintaining prayerful silence within the House of God is another cultural habit that has been lost in parish life and reflects another behavior that puts the natural before the Supernatural. This is a closely related topic that may dovetail with this discussion.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    Excellent quotation and excellent book. There is clapping at our parish for visiting choirs, kids doing good things and other human accomplishments. It is jarring and does show a lack of understanding for what is or has happened at the altar.

  45. Allan S. says:

    I don’t understand – how can you clap and work those big puppets at the same time…?

  46. kjh says:

    to @Serviam1

    I am in the Archdiocese of Boston, and I agree – I have been to services at the Cathedral (Ordinations, etc.) and the applause is definitely encouraged. Our new pastor (and the previous ones, too) in my home parish are very encouraging of applause. (Even for the most mundane things.) None of our recent pastors have been at all encouraging of a time of silent prayer after Mass – even to the point of saying (to me) “we don’t want to discourage the fellowship between parishioners.” It is so bad that almost as soon as the recessional procession passes by, people are jumping out of their seats and going to start a gabfest with their neighbors. I have witnessed many a time where people are standing in front of the Tabernacle in a group, talking (the Tabernacle is not located in a place of honor above the main altar, but on a side altar near the most often used entry / exit to the church) – and never even having consideration for the one or two people who do pause to kneel there and offer a prayer of thanksgiving… it’s appalling! Even in the event where an Extraordinary Minister returns to open the Tabernacle to take the Blessed Sacrament to a homebound parishioner – the gabfest in front of the Tabernacle continues unabated! There is such a total lack of respect for the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

    It would definitely be a welcome thing for the local leadership in our Archdiocese to take the sacredness of the Mass more seriously and try to curb so many of these practices that profane the Liturgy. It doesn’t seem to be on the top of anyone’s list…


  47. Will D. says:

    That quotation has been in our bulletins off and on for some time now, though not as beautifully rendered. Father is trying to stamp out the practice of applauding the choir after mass. The applause is slowly dying away, with just a few (as Rumsfeld might put it) dead-enders still clapping away.

  48. People whistle and “Woot!” around your neck of the woods instead of just the stupid applause????

    Oh, man, is this what we have to look forward to? I hope not.

    We’ve actually had less of that, the last few years. I don’t know if it’s B13, or the fact that the pastor now is not exactly Mr. Gladhand; but I’m fine with it either way. (I loved our old pastor and he was reverent, but he did encourage more of this stuff than he should have. And he ran our parish for a zillion years, so it really does point to him.)

    Thanking people in the bulletin would be sufficient. Doing it at some big parish party or picnic would be more fun, and would probably make the extroverts happy. But either or both would make a lot more sense than just lumping everything in the world into Mass. Everything in the world is supposed to _wait_ on Mass, I’d think.

    You can always sing happy birthday to the pastor in the vestibule, or as he sneaks outside from the sacristy. Maybe on Holy Thursday, you just leave a note under the door…. Then after Easter, you sing him Happy Unbirthday instead. :)

  49. sawdustmick says:


    Thanks, I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    It all depends on if you are at Mass to worship Christ or to worship each other.

  50. It has been my understanding (I could be wrong) that when dancing and clapping occurred in the Bible, that it occurred outside Liturgical context, but never inside the Temple Liturgy itself.

    If putting hymns in Liturgy gets rid of the applause, I’m all for it. When I was in choir, I cringed at the applause, I kept trying with hand signals telling people not to applaud us. (Of course what can you do? We were located behind the altar)

  51. Geremia says:

    I am surprised no one has noted here that that quote comes from his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, in which he is very openly critical of some of the absurdities frequently occurring in Novus Ordo liturgies.

  52. AndyMo says:

    Honest question:

    Is it deceptive to attribute to “Pope Benedict XVI” things he said while he was not yet pope? Obviously, he’s the same person, but remember that he was Cardinal Ratzinger when he wrote The Spirit of the Liturgy. That doesn’t make his statement more or less correct, but something the Pope says has more weight and authority than something a cardinal says.

    I suppose I’m asking if we should attribute to Cardinal Ratzinger things he said before he became Pope, and to Benedict XVI things he said after. Otherwise we might see a rabbit hole of claims that “the Pope” said such-and-such, even mistakenly, long before his papacy was even on the horizon.

    All that aside, I think this is as important a point as any made in The Spirit of the Liturgy.

  53. lux_perpetua says:

    would someone mind writing out the quote that sparked this whole discussion? thanks!

  54. MichaelJ says:

    How about if instead of applause, we all carry bic lighters with us? That way, after a particularly stirring homily, or a well-played piece of music, we could simply light them and wave them over our heads. I imagine we’d need a new Pastoral Ministry of Disposable Lighters though….

  55. AndyMo says:

    At baptisms, weddings, ordinations, and so on, I don’t see huge problems with applause because at that moment we are recognizing God’s action in the sacrament.

    Specifically in the OF rite of Ordination, the Ceremonial of Bishops says (525):

    “…The bishop concludes the presentation of candidates by saying, “We rely on the help of the Lord God,” and all say, “Thanks be to God,” or give their assent to the choice in some other way determined by the conference of bishops. (emphasis mine)

    This is reflected in the ritual books as well. Of course, we must ask whether or not applause is a form of assent determined by the conference of bishops, and whether or not this is a good form of assent.

    All that being said, I don’t think this was the kind of applause that the original post was meant to address.

  56. MaryRoseM says:

    AndyMo, that’s a good point. Maybe I shouldn’t have the photograph of Pope Benedict XVI and instead, find one of him when he was a Cardinal and attribute it to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger? Now you’ve got me wondering…

    lux perpetua: The quote is from the book written by the Pope when he was a Cardinal, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

  57. stjoeky says:

    ‘I’d still prefer baptisms weren’t during Mass, save during Easter,’…

    OK, now I’m confused. It was my understanding that Baptism during Mass was preferable because the child is becoming a member of the Body of Christ and a part of the parish community.

  58. Charivari Rob says:


    Usually, in a descriptive reference in text, I think I’ve seen people use phrases like “…the then-Cardinal Ratzinger…”, “…the future Pope, when, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, he was head of the CDF…”, or something like the phrase MaryRoseM used at 1:24.

    I don’t know if I would call it deceptive to do otherwise, but I think this makes things more explicit. If some headline editors made the effort, it would save us from gems like Pope Refused To Defrock Abuser Priest!, since he wasn’t Pope then (in addition to all the other elements of that headline that contributed to an incomplete portrayal of what actually happened)

    Of course, I suppose a bibliography reference or a footnoted direct quote would cite the name as given in the source document.

  59. teomatteo says:

    the applause thing? i just think its going to be real difficult to stop that ‘tradition’ when it goes real south….

  60. John 6:54 says:

    I’m with the no applause for human effort, but are not Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, & Ordinations the work of God?

    Our priest complemented the kids singing at the end of Mass last night, a chorus of applause followed. I’m sitting there thinking we just received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ and we are applusing the musicians? Yes they have God given talent but I didn’t show up to Mass for their singing, and I would have received just as much from Mass without their singing because I received our Lord.

    Yes I agree with Pope’s quote, the essence of litury dissappeared when the applause started last night.

  61. medievalist says:

    Re-reading this quote several times, it seems that the then Cardinal Ratzinger is distinguishing between two types of applause. That erupting on account on ‘some human achievement’ (i.e. a beautifully rendered Allegri’s Miserere) and, the corollary not mentioned in the quote, that arising on account of God’s work (i.e. in the sacraments). The problem is to teach people to discern the difference. JonM’s suggestion of ad orientem, at least at the Canon, is a suggestion made in the same Spirit of the Liturgy and truly would go a long way to helping correct our orientation and disposition at Holy Mass – that is, towards God and His works rather than ours.

    The whole issue of applause, then, is not necessarily an issue of poor catechsis (though it contributes) or even poor manners, but goes to the very heart of this blog. It is (and quite literally a light bulb just went on in my head as I saw this whole blog in a simple clarity I hadn’t seen before) a liturgical issue and an absolutely concrete example of how liturgical practice and abuse affects inner disposition.


  62. eulogos says:

    At a Divine Liturgy to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, celebrated in the same Byzantine Catholic church as was the marriage, there were grandchildren and great grandchildren from out of town who had been raised Roman rite. At some point, when the priest addressed the couple, some of them thought it was time to clap. The LOOKS they got from people in the congregation stopped it cold, after a few claps.

    I recently accidentally attended a baptism in the Ukrainian rite. We were traveling and we meant to attend liturgy there, but they had just switched to their summer schedule with only one liturgy, earlier, which we had missed. We didn’t think it would make sense to rush around town trying to find a church with a mass after 11, as we had no internet access while traveling to look up churches or mass times. So we stayed for the baptism and hoped God would accept our good intentions.

    Although the baby started out fully dressed in all the fancy white clothes described by “An American Mother” but when it came time for the baptism, they laid her down on the pew and undressed her completely. The font was deep enough to immerse her completely, but the priest dipped her in only to her bottom and shoulders. She cried anyway, so I think he might as well have thoroughly dunked her! After that, she was wrapped in a white towel, and the priest carried her around the altar. This is impressive, since lay people seldom go behind the iconostasis and certainly not women. But at baptism, to the altar. The people, (in this case three men, as the other people at the baptism did not appear to be Eastern rite, as they did not know when to cross themselves and didn’t make any of the responses-I joined in as soon as I caught the chant melody) sang “All those who have been baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.”

    Clapping would have been unthinkable.

    We have to move towards that point of of solemnity in liturgy at which clapping is unthinkable.

    One of my children was, probably quite illicitly in 1985, baptized using the old Latin rite, with salt, and exorcisms. We didn’t clap. While I wouldn’t say that just the use of this rite would prevent clapping among people accustomed to clapping, I would say that it would go some distance towards bringing about that point of solemnity at which clapping is unthinkable.

    Susan Peterson

  63. AndyMo says:

    I don’t know if I would call it deceptive to do otherwise, but I think this makes things more explicit. If some headline editors made the effort, it would save us from gems like Pope Refused To Defrock Abuser Priest!, since he wasn’t Pope then (in addition to all the other elements of that headline that contributed to an incomplete portrayal of what actually happened)

    Exactly. Cardinal Ratzinger has a good reputation as a liturgical theologian, too, so using that name doesn’t take too much away from the sentiment he offers, either.

  64. AnAmericanMother says:

    Susan P,

    That seems to be the custom in all the Eastern churches, whether Catholic or Orthodox. Even if you’re a grownup, at least in the Greek Orthodox church with which I am familiar (one is expected to wear a modest bathing suit though).

    In the case of the babies, I’m always afraid that all that olive oil is going to make the little one terminally slippery . . . but I suppose the priests learn the knack of hanging onto a well-oiled wriggly baby!

  65. Father S says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment is appreciated, and just as soon as he or some official with authority makes applause at Mass illegal, I will continue to announce items at the end of Mass, which invite applause. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it. And at the end of Mass, I’ll bet the current Pope doesn’t either. But I could be wrong. The comment about all the applause at Pope John Paul II’s funeral, calls attention to the fact that Pope Benedict could have made a declaration about the inappropriateness of it soon afterward.

  66. Mike says:


    “We have to move towards that point of of solemnity in liturgy at which clapping is unthinkable.”

    Awesome point!!!!

  67. catholicmidwest says:

    People shouldn’t clap in church. They shouldn’t chew gum, shake hands, wave hi to each other, eat cheerios, drink water and a ton of other things they do.

    The most amazing thing happens as soon as mass is over too. Christ in the tabernacle is totally ignored immediately after mass. It’s like He becomes part of the furniture or something with most people. It’s disgraceful.

  68. New Sister says:

    I have to say – if there ever was a time I felt like applauding (or shouting amen), it was after Bishop Slaterly’s homily at the Pontifical Mass!

  69. Ringmistress says:


    From the Book of Divine Worship (Rite 2):

    “We receive you into the household of God.
    Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his
    resurrection, and share with us in his eternal

    It is in fact the same prayer said by the Episcopalians, and does not have an equivalent in Rite 1 (based on the old BCP when the English still sounded like real prayer).

    An American Mother,

    Thank goodness, no, not at my current church. Here’s the outline of the last few years:
    NO Church that will remain nameless to protect the innocent in West Texas: babies baptized nearly naked, dunked into warmed font on dais stage left of the altar, lots of clapping
    Anglican use parish: proper baby attire, baptisms during Mass with hymns bookending the ceremony, metal shell used for pouring, no clapping, nice reception prayer
    Current TLM: proper baby attire, baptisms outside of Mass although invites frequently extended to the parish, metal shell used for pouring.

    We have a lovely heirloom baptismal gown made by my mother-in-law. It was quite a to-do when our son was baptized at the church is West Texas because they insisted the baptismal gown was not to be put on until after the baptism, being the “white garment” received. We compromised and had our son in the under shift for the baptism and put the gown on following.

  70. Ringmistress says:

    I should add, though it ought to go without saying, that we don’t clap at the TLM parish I currently attend.

  71. AnAmericanMother says:


    What a wide range of choices you have! Anglican Use has never caught on here, as the TEC diocese is traditionally “low” and there were never very many “high” parishes – now there’s only one, plus one that is high in ritual but crazy in theology (our former parish which went stark raving mad over Vicki Gene Robinson – much like “Smoky Mary’s” in NYC. Most of us orthodox ‘high-churchers’ just paddled over the Tiber on whatever skiffs, flats, or innertubes were handy.

    I am becoming increasingly suspicious that the ICLE translation and the ’79 BCP were a product of collusion.

  72. Henry Edwards says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment is appreciated, and just as soon as he or some official with authority makes applause at Mass illegal, I will continue to announce items at the end of Mass, which invite applause.

    I attend both OF and EF Mass regularly, and not least among of the differences I observe is that no one at a TLM — whether lay or clerical — ever needs a specific law or pronouncement to know what is and what is not appropriate behavior at Mass. An ineffable instinct for liturgical decorum must come with the traditional territory.

  73. Thomas Francis says:

    I’m gonna do it till someone tells me to stop.

    There in lies the problem with the post Vatican II Church.

  74. Nathan says:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church : 1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”

    Can’t you just hear it? “C’mon, everybody, let’s give the centurion and his soldiers a round of applause for being so efficient, and the ladies as well, for weeping in such an inspiring way.”

    In Christ,

  75. poohbear says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment is appreciated, and just as soon as he or some official with authority makes applause at Mass illegal, I will continue to announce items at the end of Mass, which invite applause.

    And herin lies the problem :(

  76. poohbear says:

    Can’t you just hear it? “C’mon, everybody, let’s give the centurion and his soldiers a round of applause for being so efficient, and the ladies as well, for weeping in such an inspiring way.”

    Several years ago I attended a Good Friday Stations of the Cross service which was ‘hosted’ by the youth group. It was complete with power point slides and pop song solos. Sadly, people actually applauded at the end. I turned to the person behind me who was clapping loudly and asked if she realized she just applauded the crucifixion. I only received a blank look in return. People have no clue why they are in church anymore. It’s all just a performance.

  77. Thomas Francis says:

    “People have no clue why they are in church anymore. It’s all just a performance.” (poohbear)

    And the poor souls don’t even realize it. I often say prayers for them.

  78. Father S says:

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal makes clear that announcements are to be made after the Communion prayer. Given that some don’t think applause can be a part of that because Christ has been crucified in a representation at Mass. What do announcements have to do with that. Yet, there they are during the Mass!

  79. MichaelJ says:

    Father S, did Caine sin when he killed his brother? It happened after all, before God delivered his 10 commandments.

    Now, I am in no way equating applause during Mass with murder, nor am I even disagreeing with your conclusion that applause is appropriate. I am only pointing out that the premise on which you seem to be basing your conclusion – it is appropriate until someone in authority tells me otherwise – is faulty.

    There are many things, as others have alluded to, that Catholics simply know are inappropriate. Is applause one of those things? I do not know for certain, but since you are advocating a practice that the Holy Father (while he was Cardinal Ratzinger) decries, I think it your responsibility to demonstrate that applause is not “a sign thet the essence of Liturgy has totally disappeared”

  80. Father S says:

    Indeed, Cardinal Ratzinger, expressed his opinion about the liturgy. However, The Pope has not done so. In fact, it is his responsibility to clarify as Pope. I repeat that I would be happy to put up with the difficulties of a lot of things leading the liturgy if the proper authorities would be clear, but they do things to hint at what should be done without alienating folks, e.g. the Pope has a kneeler for those who receive from him; he goes here and there and has a Mass ad orientam. I would truly love it if he just said: “kneel, face East, no applause” but they don’t in any authoritative way. They don’t seem to get that things have been going on a long while now, as far as people understand it. If I can’t document it, then it goes trouble that is simply not worth it. For example, when I DISCOVERED that we really were SUPPOSED to be singing Latin here and there in the Mass, we started it and I documented it. People didn’t like it, but there was nothing they could say or do. THEY KNEW. So let’s kneel, let’s face the EAST, let’s cut the applause . . . when Rome really decides to deal with those issues as they have done SO SLOWLY with the new and better translation of the Novus Ordo.

  81. Mike says:

    Father S just made me think of this: With the new English translation coming down the pike (yah, in the right hand lane, doing 30mph on a good day!), the Pope may, just may, consider that enough change for now. It is going to be tough on cantors (oh the humanity!) to adjust some of their drecky bits to the news translation, and so there will be that to consider. Kneeling, facing east, no clapping, yes, sign me up, but when the Vicar of Christ appears to be saying, whoa, one step at a time, we ought to listen, wait, and pray, no?

  82. Henry Edwards says:

    Our Holy Father seems to hope that good priests will do good things if he gives them a good example to follow. It’s not clear that he thinks laying down the law is the best way to go.

    Maybe it’s not. Would anyone argue that simply obeying the letter of the GIRM will guarantee beautiful and reverent liturgy?

    Or that rules and regs alone can make an exemplary priest out of an indifferent one? Or will we just have to wait for a generation or two of inadequately formed priests to pass, and be replaced by the fine young priests now coming out of seminaries?

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