Parenting: nintendo during Mass, Communion

Some food for thought for parents and for priests alike.

I remember once how I caught hell from a weak-kneed pastor because I wouldn’t give Communion to a girl quite obviously chewing gum.

Nintendo DS on the Communion Line

I traveled yesterday with my five children to attend my niece’s confirmation. It was a beautiful event that was so well attended my kids and I had to park in a nearby neighborhood.

But there’s a reason I’m telling you the story. Look, I know it can be difficult to have kids in church. Believe me I know. I’ve had kids knocking their chins into the pews and crying, I’ve had kids vomiting and then crying that they vomited, I’ve had kids accidentally tearing the missal and crying because they thought they’d be in trouble. But I couldn’t believe what I saw yesterday at the confirmation Mass. [Remember… above, he was calling it a “beautiful event”.]

Mind you, the church was packed so my children and I were standing and couldn’t see a whole lot but in my limited field of vision I saw at least five kids either texting or playing their Nintendo DS in their pew. And I’m talking 9,10,11 year old kids on their DS while sitting right next to their parents.

But the worst part happened later. I saw one 11-ish year old girl walking up to the altar to receive Communion while playing her hand held video game. I guess we all should’ve just been thankful that she had it on mute. The usher who looked like Bowzer from Sha-na-na stood there not knowing what to do. I could see he wanted to say something but he simply looked perplexed. He implored with his eyes Nintendo girl’s parents and an older woman I suspect was her grandmother as they walked past him. But he was ignored. As Nintendo girl walked up the aisle her face reflecting digitized glory I could see Bowser looking around at a nearby usher who also mysteriously looked like Bowzer for an answer on what to do. Bowzer 2 simply shrugged his shoulders as in “Hey watcha gonna do?”  [Indeed.]

The Church seemed intent on playing “Speed Jesus” because there were probably a dozen Eucharistic ministers. The line moved double time and Nintendo girl got to within about twelve steps of the altar rail before closing the DS, shoving it in her pocket, putting on her solemn face, and receiving the Eucharist. [Beautiful.]

And while you can blame the kid, to me the real fault lies with the parents [D’ya think?  And there is the priest.  What has his liturgical style tacitly condonned?  By his preaching and his ars celebrandi has he communicated that what happens in church is important?  Maybe he does… and those who go to church would hear it.  But I suspect that lots of those confirmands don’t go too often.] for not conveying to their children the importance of the holy sacrifice. And clearly, this child’s parents didn’t feel she was doing anything wrong. Or they knew it was wrong but they just didn’t care.

And let me tell you, before Communion the church was standing room only but right after there were plenty of seats available.  [Beautiful.] So my kids and I sat down in an empty pew like those people at ballgames who move into box seats in the seventh inning after all the people who were just there for business left.

My eight year old daughter looked shocked when she saw a young boy playing a video game and the boy’s sister crowded up next to him watching the screen and whispering instructions. As I looked at that my two year old fell over the kneeler and bent her fingers back and she cried. Loudly. And then – get this – Bowzer 2 looked at me like I was a terrible parent.

I guess he thought that if she had a Nintendo she would’ve at least sat still.

Let’s save time.  Just station some unnecessary ministers of Communion outside before Mass so people don’t even have to be bothered to come in and wear out their batteries.

This raises some questions about Catholic identity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    As has been pointed out before, you won’t ever see this at a TLM. Of course there’s a selection bias in the quality of parent who will drive there children a long distance for a good liturgy, but the children do indeed know what is going, and with what reverence those around them are acting. Maybe we can just have a NO video game for the kids to play in Church instead of having a children’s service, and we can keep everybody happy.

  2. Shadow says:

    This may sound rather harsh but I am going to say it just the same. When I was a kid, both myself and other children in my parish would not dare do this kind of thing. All that it took was a straight look in the eyes from our respective mothers for us to sit quietly and respectfully in our seats. Unfortunately many parents seem to have lost the real ability to parent under the liberal, nonsensical rationalization of boosting self-esteem.

  3. Joe in Canada says:

    I suspect that if the Minister of Holy Communion simply gave the child a blessing, the child wouldn’t know the difference (until much later).

  4. Thomas S says:

    To be fair to the pastor, Father, it was a Confirmation. It’s entirely possible these children were not FROM the parish, so I wouldn’t assume anything about the culture he fosters with his celebration of the liturgy.

    That being said, I would be strongly tempted to pluck the electronic device from the offending hands and chuck it up into the choir loft. It would serve the dual purpose of getting a message across to everyone in attendance AND it would be satisfying as hell (excuse the expression).

  5. anniemw says:

    A few years ago, my son received his Confirmation at a parish we no longer attend [because we’ve moved]. I loved the parish because there was great reverence: people were silent before and after Mass, they showed up early and prayed ahead of Mass starting; Communion was received reverently. When we arrived, very very early [small church, large crowd], we were stunned at the noise level of others there for the Confirmation. All we could conclude was most of them were not parishioners, but were invited guests who did not normally attend Mass at our parish, or perhaps they were not Mass-goers at all. Father had to come out three times to remind everyone that Jesus was truly present in the tabernacle. There would be a momentary “lull in the action”, and then it would start again. It was truly sad. Let us all continue to pray for a restoration of reverence in our churches. Such callous disregard must wound Our Lord’s Sacred and Adorable Heart deeply. In Christ – amw

  6. Gregorius says:

    Sadly, my experience shows that even good, reverent liturgy is no guarantee kids will behave well, or even pay attention to what’s going on. I remember visiting a parish in Virginia, a thriving young community with a new HUGE church building, clean facilities, and respectful parishiners. They had a noon TLM, and by the book NO for the rest of the times. The Mass I went to was PACKED to the brim with young families, standing room only. The sanctuary was in good taste, had altar rails and the tabernacle at its proper place. There was an army of servers, all boys, of various ages. They had the full ceremonial, and the ministers executed it like clockwork. Now the biggest distraction there were these kids behind me. They running around, talking and yelling in a normal tone as if nobody else was there and nothing was going on. Throughout the entire Mass. And not one word from their parents, wherever they were. I was shocked and angered because these were not young children either, and should definitely have known better.

  7. contrarian says:

    I agree with everything said on this thread, but especially the comment from Thomas S: this kid probably wasn’t part of the parish anyway. The craziest (and most maddening) Masses I’ve attended have been first communions and confirmations. If the Catholic Church is rightly defined as ‘Here Comes Everybody’, then such events can be defined as ‘Here Comes Everybody’s Extended Family, So Brace Yourself.’

    Incidentally, the worst behaved of the lot are usually adults.

    Ugh. Just be thankful that such events don’t happen all of the time.

  8. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Just station some unnecessary ministers of Communion outside before Mass so people don’t even have to be bothered to come in and wear out their batteries.\\

    Don’t laugh! On one Catholic blog a person was complaining that he had to wait 25 minutes after he walked in to receive Communion and didn’t understand why he couldn’t receive immediately.

    \\If the Catholic Church is rightly defined as ‘Here Comes Everybody’, then such events can be defined as ‘Here Comes Everybody’s Extended Family, So Brace Yourself.’\\

    I could tell you stories about Antiochian Orthodox and their counterparts, Melkite Catholics, on Palm Sunday.

  9. teechrlady says:

    Last night I went to the parish close to our home and saw various annoying things that made me want to cry, but the be all end all was at the closing of mass.

    After the deacon said, “Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord”, a boy (10-12 years old) said very loudly as I was a few pews up, “Yes sir!” and started snickering. I turned around (shocked) and gave him my mommy glare, but his mom sat idly by. I don’t know, but I’m assuming this young man had just received Holy Communion.

    No reverence whatsoever.

  10. kab63 says:

    This is a horror story (at least the kid pocketed the DS before she got to the head of the line!) but I’m going to be a Pollyanna and say that this story also presents a blessing. How often when we parishioners pray in Mass do we have the objects of our prayers before us? I’m grateful to pray for the Pope and our Bishop, but they are ephemeral figures at that moment. Here, though, in front of our eyes is a breathing human who desperately needs prayers. How incredibly focused I can become! And really, to what better use can you put your frustration?

  11. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    Father, I understand from old Western movies that some bars used to require customers to check in their guns at the door – perhaps it would not be unreasonable to have all over-indulged little “darlings”check in their Nintendos at the door of the Church. Or, here’s a radical thought – perhaps the Priest could preach something the people didn’t want to hear – in this case “get your act together and parent your children properly!” OK, that last was a bit extreme.

  12. Mark01 says:

    I will never forget a few years ago when an older priest at our church said during his sermon that people who left immediately after recieving communion were no better than Judas. Let me tell you, not one person left church early that day. :)

  13. jdcarriere says:

    I’m so confused. I thought the new Mass was engaging and relevant. Maybe he should have used Eucharistic Prayer #367.5.02B For Masses with The Digital Generation and Their Largely Useless Parents.

  14. Alice says:

    Let’s not be too hard on the priest. I was a music director for seven years. The behavior at Masses and weddings where there are lots of non-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics was appalling no matter what we tried. Music was drowned out by the pre-Mass chatter unless Father or the DRE (who is tall, male, and not easy to ignore) specifically told the congregation to be quiet and listen (and if it went longer than a few minutes, that didn’t work either). I don’t remember ever seeing a Nintendo DS, but as smart phones and cell phone games became more common, I saw plenty of adults (not people I ever saw on Sundays) playing with them. Let me add that this parish had Adoration and Benediction every week and I sometimes witnessed the priest stand up to wedding photographers about reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

  15. Philangelus says:

    As an act of charity, we must assume that those playing with electronic devices are actually accessing the Missal on those devices, or the Bible, or maybe another book of prayer.

    That was tough to do in my old parish, though, where the kids in the cry room were not only playing the handheld Nintendo games, but they left the volume on. The cry room there was a proximate occasion of sin for me. :-b

  16. benedetta says:

    OK. (Deep breath. Pause. Sip of decaf Mystic Monk…proceed). Well. Two weeks ago at my parish a mom sat in the pew ahead of us with two children I would say about 8 and 10. The older child, during the readings, seemed to disappear…it appeared that he was lying on the mother’s lap. I just assumed he was an affectionate child…or something. Then, quite distinctly, I heard during the homily, snoring. The mother just sat there and with the other child. At the offertory a children’s bell choir nearby startled him awake. He sat up, scratched his head and looked around. The week prior I received Communion and noticed cheerios on the floor near the altar. I regularly see and hear children, old enough to go without for an hour or so, munching pretzels, cheerios, cookies etc. Most children seem to receive Communion in the hand in this area and then consume the host while leisurely or casually walking away. Very few parents have their children dressed appropriately for Mass. Yet children are supplied with nintendo ds, ipod touch, the latest jeans and sneakers, all quite costly to provide. I also have noticed parents, at different times, both male and female, carrying on chummy conversations with their adolescent children. When I tried to sing over their voices, they spoke louder. Apparently this is their special time with their child or teen and do not care to be rudely interrupted by hymns, prayers or…”whatever”! And the parents and children dress alike, jeans, sneakers, shorts, flip flops… Of course, at my parish the entire congregation vigorously applauds the “performance” of the choir each week after Communion so I gather for many Mass attendance is part obligation, part “hobby”, part “edutainment”. Who to blame…pastors, Bishops, catechists, parents and, even the children who are old enough to know better. It is a pervasive issue and the happy clappy interpretations of the Mass only encourages more of the same for the future. Funny that the whole “empowerment” of Vatican II theme has only resulted in empowering a select few to institutionalize their whimsical interpretations of the Mass, sacred music, even behavior and posture of the faithful…we are at their mercy and they wield their power like despots.

  17. I once saw a young boy (8ish) playing a video thingie like that while waiting for Mass to start. Fortunately he did put it away before Mass began, but he and his family are members of our parish.

    I admit I haven’t read every comment, but I wanted to say one thing. I’m a mom to 3 children (expecting #4 in the Spring) but my oldest is still only 4 years old. We have a strict no toys, no food, no beverages rule in Church (nursing babies exempt of course). All our children are allowed to bring are quiet books (quiet teething toys for teething babies/toddlers exempted). We sit in the front row to help keep them interested and focused on Mass. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it all becomes absolutely impossible when children sit near us with crayons or food or action figures or other toys. Our children only then begin to wonder why they can’t snack or play during Church. I understand not all parents apply the same rules we do (another reason we sit in the front pew) but it is amazing how quickly those things can distract children. One question I’d have for the author was what her kids, particularly her younger ones, thought of seeing these other kids playing video games in Church. From my perspective, they not only hurt the child’s experience of Mass and offend God, they also harm other children who are still learning what is and isn’t appropriate during Mass.

  18. Girgadis says:

    I could tell you horror stories of what used to happen when our church held Confirmation. Because we’re only one of a cluster of parishes to offer CCD, we often have families that don’t belong to the parish who make it quite apparent that they’re unfamiliar with the Mass as well as appropriate behavior. About three years ago, the church was packed to the hilt for Confirmation. I sat in the choir loft next to an elderly parishioner who was a regular at that particular Mass. None of the ill-behaved people who sat with us went to Holy Communion and when we returned to our seats, they’d been taken by a gaggle of rude children who talked throughout the entire Mass . What was I going to do? While I had the Lord on my tongue, nothing, but offer it up and pray that they would be enlightened. At a Holy Communion, our very holy pastor had to stop purifyng the vessels to go to the lector’s microphone to admonish the people standing in the back of the church who were behaving as though they were at a sporting event. I was heartbroken for him, and for the Lord, because this priest had just administered Holy Communion to the children kneeling and on the tongue, perhaps for the only time in their lives, and their parents were oblivious to the sacredness of what had just taken place. Since then, I would imagine a great deal more effort is made to educate the children AND their parents on appropriate behavior in church because I haven’t seen a repeat of that atrocious behavior since.

  19. Del says:

    But Father, But Father…..?

    If you were celebrating at Mass, and I saw the children in front of my playing video games, what would you have me do?

    Should I stand quietly?
    Should I tap on the parents’ shoulders, and mention that their children are too old to be playing with toys during Mass?

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    They need to confiscate them at the door. People’d only bring them once if they thought the precious things might get lost or stolen waiting in a pile on the floor til mass is over.

  21. Jerry says:

    “As has been pointed out before, you won’t ever see this at a TLM.”

    While such behavior may be less likely at a TLM, it most certainly can occur. While I’ve yet to see kids playing with electronic games at our TLM, we’ve had our share of disruptive children (old enough to know better and to be able to control themselves) and parents who silently ignore the transgressions week after week.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    Liturgy Science Theatre 3000? LOL, Fr. Z.

  23. chloesmom says:

    I saw similar behaviour at the Saturday evening Mass my husband and I go to — just day before yesterday. The confirmation candidates attended with their parents, and about two/three pews ahead of us, there were 2 women chatting constantly throughout Mass, with the husband of one of them looking on benignly. In the pew in front of the women were a bunch of children who were conversing at full volume as my H and I entered our pew. I made a loud “shhh!” which quited things down for a nanosecond, then the racket started up again. At Communion time, a younger boy and a girl came back to the pew, with the Host in their mouths, chewing It as if It were a piece of gum. They were giggling, and their attitude was pretty derisive — again, the parents did nothing. I had to say the ACt of Contrition several times before I reached the priest distributing Communion. I’ve come to dread seeing this group at Mass because I know what’s going to happen. Stuff like this makes it really difficult to focus on, you know, actually worshipping the Lord, which is what we’re there for! Next time this gang shows up, I’ll sit on the other side of the church and hopefully minimize the occasion of sin!

  24. chloesmom says:

    Sorry, meant to write “quietened down”!

  25. What’s next: A drive thru window for Holy Communion?

  26. raitchi2 says:

    Meh… I don’t really see anything wrong here. I find it hard to believe that peasants in medieval Europe were with the mass at all. I have to admit I find it creepy when children are too well behaved. I’m at the very least happy people still show up for sacraments.

  27. The Cobbler says:

    So, how much of this do we chalk up to an inability to see the Mass itself as more than entertainment, and how much do we chalk up to an inability to go five seconds in life doing anything without entertainment? And is this phenomenon greater or lesser among Japanese Catholics? (I’m not joking, just to be clear: I’d actually be interested to know; although I suppose there is something funny about the question..)

  28. I found an old book this week on the internet, which I’m trying to find again. It consisted of all sorts of excerpts from Catholic papers on various little topics from the 1800’s, reprinted for convenient use by Catholics. The complaints about people talking in church or reading frivolous reading material were pretty scary! The only good thing about it was that it goes to show that US Catholics can go from yakking to kneeling within just a few years, if we put our minds to it.

    OTOH, some guy seemed to think it was a big discipline problem if you sat or knelt there praying along quietly with what he called “vacant eyes”. Apparently he wanted completely visible active participation, with the pages flipping in your book in a regular way, or it didn’t count as going to Mass! He apparently didn’t appreciate his quiet prayerful congregation much….

  29. raitchi2,

    You might want to read a blogpost I wrote some years ago after I observed parents in a traditional parish I had just joined.

    Something was very different from my experiences of watching little ones with their cheerios, toy cars and dolls, and yes… Nintendos. It’s a pro-life parish, so there are many, very big families. I was in awe at how a family could fill a pew, and the parents were quite relaxed throughout the Mass, as the children sat relatively well behaved, and without the need to be entertained with toys and food.

    When people don’t want to bother to teach their kids that Mass time is not their time, but God’s time, that’s when there are problems. More often than not, it is simply ignorance on the part of parents who themselves have not been taught.

    Read my post for a little insight: Shhhhhhh ….. the secret to quiet and still children during Mass

  30. DominiSumus says:

    A few weeks ago, there was an excellent editorial in the diocesan newspaper:

    Sadly, I suspect the majority of people at the Confirmation Mass were unchurched. First Communion and Confirmation Masses at my parish turn into circuses. I have even seen people eating hamburgers in the pews during First Communion Masses.

    I wish more priests would be bold enough to use the opportunity to explain at what the Mass is before Mass begins. I don’t think they mean it to be rude or irreverent, I think they really are clueless.

  31. DominiSumus says:

    I forgot to post part 2 of the column, which is also excellent:

  32. stpetric says:

    Just a mild tangent… I find it instructive that the writer refers instinctively to “the Communion line”. Evidently he hasn’t been adequately instructed that it’s not a “line” but a festal procession.

    The kid might be forgiven for mistaking the Communion procession for a bus queue…where playing with her Nintendo is a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time.

  33. Dave N. says:

    I’m with those who just sort of hold their breath at occasions where lots of non-Catholics show up: weddings, baptisms, Christmas, Easter….and confirmations.

    Reminds me of one confirmation mass I went to where there was a bit of a hubub between two of the confirmandi on the way up to communion. From their conversation and actions it was apparent that one of the confirmandi was trying to figure out how one receives communion (when to make the Sign of the Cross, etc.). I’m guessing he probably hadn’t received since he was 7 and had forgotten how to do it.

  34. Leonius says:

    This happens because priests do not love God as much as they should but instead seek the fickle love of men.

    No priest in love with God could allow such behavior just as Christ who was utterly consumed with love for the Father could not tolerate the presence of the moneylenders in His Fathers house.

    And if the priest does not love God then how can he inspire this love in the the laity ?

    They are like a certain kind of parent that seeks the love of their children by allowing them to do whatever they please thinking that in return they will be loved by the child.

    Such parents succeed only in turning their child into a cross and a servant of hell as the child grows under their government to be consumed by it’s own egos to the point where there is no room left for love of parent, love of God any other kind of love other than that self love which enslaves the soul and keeps it bound, trapped in the darkness.

  35. Jack Hughes says:

    Last Corpus Christi our transfered (as usual) celebration in Bristol was awful, lots of kids fighting during Mass; I tried to restore order but gave up and said words to the effect that they didn’t need my permission to go to hell.

  36. abiologistforlife says:

    What happened to belief in the Real Presence? I was taught that understanding the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was *supposed* to be a requisite for Communion.

    I wonder how many Catholics’ actual beliefs about the Eucharist are closer to the Protestant just-a-symbol model?

    @benedetta: “Funny that the whole “empowerment” of Vatican II theme has only resulted in empowering a select few”

    I really do not think it is the Council to blame here; the late 60s and early 70s brought in a flood of nasty social changes, at least in America; a sort of ‘perfect storm’ of errors which set the Culture of Life back centuries at the least. These elements have twisted Vatican II to their disparate causes, yes, but I think they would have done the same with something else had VII not happened.

  37. ckdexterhaven says:

    I wonder if a lot of this might have to do with the new way they build churches. Back in the day, a church seemed like a church. The architecture, stained glass windows, beautiful statues, etc, inspired holiness. People didn’t talk before Mass because the building demanded reverence.

    Why did the very first comment on here have to gloat about kids at TLM masses? (sigh)

  38. Even those of us who regularly attend the TLM have those Sundays where nothing goes right:

    Our family has gone through phases of ‘better than gold’ child behavior and seasons where the cry room is an absolute necessity. Just because a family goes to the TLM does not mean that they automatically are holier and quieter than children who attend the NO, but they do in time learn to be more outwardly pious, which may lead to holiness and silence.

    I have observed many times (we are only able to attend the NO during the summer) that my 6 children are complemented on their behavior multiple times every Sunday after a NO service, but never at the TLM. They aren’t different children, but to have a family pay attention, dress appropriately, and receive on the tongue from the priest is such a novelty at the NO that seems to spark comments.

  39. cpaulitz says:

    ‘ckdexterhaven says: Why did the very first comment on here have to gloat about kids at TLM masses? (sigh)’

    He wasn’t gloating, he was simply telling the truth. I’ve never in 10 years seen anyone with a handheld device at my TLM. I’m a Father of 3 and I would never allow that from my children. They’re not even allowed a snack or water at Mass past infancy.

    Maybe we should start to ask the real question: is it the Novus Ordo itself that demands that type of behavior? The question was pretty much rhetorical. It does.

  40. Joel says:

    I read this and think back to an event in my youth that has stuck with me to this day 30+ years later. I grew up with not only Catholic friends but I lived on the east coast of the US and had many Jewish friends as well. As such I had the opportunity to attend more than one Bar Mitzvah.
    Imagine if you will a group of 15 or so boys who were of various religions in temple for a Bar Mitzvah service. The majority of us had never been in temple, we did not speak Hebrew, and we had no idea what was taking place. In typical boy fashion we got fidgety and restless. We started the routine of going to the bathroom or the lobby to “kill time” . We were esentially becoming diruptive and with no ill intent, disrespectful.
    Rather quickly, some of the elder gentlemen of the temple decided they were not going to stand for our bahaviour. Without pause or second thought, we got not only “the look” but we were in no uncertain terms told to sit and be respectful, or to leave. Oh, and you could not just leave on a whim, at cetain points during the ceremony, if one of us tried to get up to leave we were respectfully directed to remain in our seat until it was appropriate for one to excuse themselves. (I think this must have been while there was reading from the Torah)
    What struck me at the time and forever since was that these people were serious about what was taking place. There was a certain amount of respect expected and demanded while in their holy temple. It was as it should be. Even though this was just before the dawn of political correctness, there was no regard or worry about hurting some young boys feelings, or those of their parents for that matter. It was all so clear, we were welcome to be in their temple, but if we were, we were going to behave according to their standards and culture, and at a minimum we were to be respectful. And obvoulsly, something important was taking place in their eyes for which they had an obvious love and respect for, so much so that they would not tolerate behavior which in any way would desecrate the moment.
    You will never see this in a Catholic church. It always saddens me to see ushers walking about seating people at any time during a Mass as if there was not someone reading from the Bible, or a priest was not doing something important. It is also too bad that many of us parents and elders do not have the fortitude and courage to call out bad beahvior as such. We have no Catholic culture to speak of anymore. We must bring it back.

  41. AJP says:

    I agree with Cobbler that much of this behavior is due to a larger problem in our culture of shortened attention spans and a loss of a sense of formality. One shouldn’t have to be a Catholic or well-versed in Catholic doctrine in order to understand that it’s inappropriate to play video games in church or dress like one is going to a nightclub in a church.

    I have many non-Catholic, non-religious family, friends, and colleagues who still would know better than to behave like that during Mass, even thought most have no clue what really goes on at Mass. They know better because they have a sense of etiquette. But so many people – secular, Protestant, Catholic, non-practicing Catholic – have no sense of etiquette anymore and as a result you will see this appalling behavior in church. But you see it so many other places as well – yakking on cell phones in restaurants, inappropriate clothing at work, etc. Just read Miss Manners’ column for an idea of just how off the rails our culture has gotten regarding basic respectful behavior towards others.

    I don’t know how to solve this. As many have pointed out, this becomes an issue even in parishes where priests are orthodox and Mass is celebrated with appropriate dignity. Confirmations, First Communions, Weddings, etc tend to be especially bad because of the number of guests who probably never attend church. Perhaps in the weeks before the big event, pastors could tell parishoners who will be inviting friends and family something to the effect of “remind your guests about proper behavior/dress in church, we’ve had problems like (fill in the blank) in years past.”

  42. irishgirl says:

    Thomas S: I wouldn’t just throw the offending device up in the choir loft; I’d smash it instead! Grind it up into little tiny pieces!

  43. momoften says:

    I have seen it all. It breaks my heart. I almost wonder if there shouldn’t be ushers handing out cards at events explaining to Non Catholics how to behave as guests in OUR LORD’S HOUSE. Unfortunately because of the lack of manners in Society today, and lack of reverence in many of our Catholic Churches I am afraid they would still show great rudeness. I have many children, and speaking from experience, it is necessary to spend the time in church (even if it is distracting to yourself)to keep your children disciplined. It pays off later, and it is a sacrifice that must be made, and part of your vocation as a parent. Who ever said parenting was about the parent’s needs is crazy.

  44. benedetta says:

    @raitchi2: I don’t know if that is true, that “people show up at all” for the sacraments, as a general matter…this account was of a Confirmation Mass. People may come “as they are” with Nintendo games, etc etc and let it all hang right out, before/during/after/on the way to/ receiving Communion, I guess, however the same does not seem to apply to all of the sacraments, that people are at least “showing up”, including Confession, the Sacrament of Matrimony, Holy Orders…are we in the end a lot better off for having received Communion the way things seem to be going, or not? And people in the “Medieval times” didn’t receive week after week after week, no matter what.

    @abiologistforlife: You are most correct! It is unfair to lay the blame entirely on Vatican II. It is though, that the interpretation or spin some have taken license to assign to it has taken on an extreme form, without real validation or basis. In essence, we must often submit to others’ whimsical or cute ideas about liturgy on the basis of their “authority” alone, which is worse than the state of things prior when at least one could fall back on the tried and true, the doctrine, the deposit of faith.

  45. Papabile says:

    What gets me is when people treat the cry room as a playroom/wrestling ring.

    We go to a great parish in VA, but I would much rather take the kids to the narthex, behind a door, than go to the cry room.

    One enters the cry room in our otherwise wonderful parish, and one immediately will see seven and eight year olds wrestling. Kids running around, and yelling. Mothers talking about their evening meals. It’s literally unbelievable.

    Look, I have five kids 7 and under, and if they can’t sit tight, we bring them out, and calm them down.

    Of course, the irony is the people who don’t want to walk inside the parish proper are annoyed by crying in the narthex. But, if we went to the cry room, it would be impossible to focus their attention.

  46. Frank_Bearer says:


  47. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Thank God I have not seen handheld devices in play at any Mass around here. My husband and I too have used our iPods to read parts of the Mass, so its not always bad. [iPod users check out ‘iPieta’ with Latin, English, OF and EF, prayers, etc.]

    I wish all of the readers here could teach or assist a Religious Ed class – its way worse than you imagine and pervades from the older generation, through parents down to the children, while sometimes including bad example from priests too. I helped a few years ago for a year – in this Confirmation class of about 30, only two kids regularly attended Mass. They did not know about fasting [or not chewing gum] before Mass, nor did they know that missing Sunday Mass was a mortal sin, meaning you had to go to confession before receiving again. The ignorance of the Faith was at a depth I could never have imagined. NOT one child in this fairly conservative parish had any idea what the Mass was about. The very first class, the experienced teacher asked salient question she knew would be problems. Only two children in the class “agreed” with us that Jesus Christ was God for instance. Oh, but they all understood reincarnation! Well at least they came to class …

    Anybody that takes researching this seriously will learn from the popular media such as Dr Phil or Dr Laura that children are inundated with the anti-parent message in ads, movies, books, music, etc. On top of that, we have parents who are afraid of their children! The popular ‘Doctors’ will exhort parents to remember that they are in charge and must ‘be The Parent’. I know personally the struggles that most church-going parents go thru just to get a teen to attend with them — you wanna dress like a prostitute or play a video game if it means coming to Mass? well…okay.

    So combine a breakdown of family authority with unfathomable ignorance about the Mass and the Faith. Mix in a frightened priest who can not handle confrontation [or a cranky, moody one who scares everyone off] along with a lack of catechizing, loving and disciplining their flock. [I see signs in the clergy who behave as if the laity is the ENEMY!]. Good priests who speak up and kindly help the flock are rare – although our Diocese is blessed with some of the best.

    And thus, you get the scenarios described in this thread.

  48. my kidz mom says:

    Attended First Communion/Confirmation yesterday. Pre-Mass chatter was deafening. Teen boy in front of me playing Nintendo. Thought “WW WDTPRSers do?”. Asked if he was Catholic; “yes”; “could you please do that outside”. He said sure, turned it off, tucked it in his back pocket.

    Momoften, yes, heartbreaking. And Tina, yes, I’ve taught Religious Ed and can confirm your reports. Was actually taken to task by DRE and parent for mentioning the devil.

    St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.

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