Mass Texts… er um… Texting During Mass. Another angle.

20120712-101807.jpgThe USCCB blog has an interesting post, about a bishop encouraging people to use their mobile phones during Mass. Yes, you read that right.

During the 4 July closing of the Fortnight for Freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, …

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who concelebrated the Mass, called on the congregation to open their cellphones and text the word “freedom” or “libertad” to 377377. It was part of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty text campaign, and in two minutes about 2,500 people suddenly joined the effort. Those who texted signed up to receive text messages about the campaign, which still continues. [Did you get that?  We must not stop.] Archbishop Lori admitted that asking people to turn on their phones at Mass was a first for him – and likely a first for everyone in the congregation.

(People who want updates on religious liberty can still text “freedom” or libertad” to 377377.)

This was a “one off”, I think. We will, I am sure, agree that texting during Mass is sub-optimal.

People on call in emergency professions might need to respond to texts, calls, “pages”.   They can go out.  But the rest of us?  Not so much.

Unusual circumstances aside, when Mass begins it is best to turn off the phones or at least switch off the ringer.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    EWTN’s two hour video of the mass is available on youtube at

    After Cardinal Wuerl said the Prayer After Communion, at the time when a regular parish mass would have announcements, then Archbishop Lori made his comments (about 1 hr 42 min into the recording).

    He started by thanking Cardinal Wuerl for his leadership. Then applause.
    Then thanks to the Apostolic Nuncio, and thanks for the Holy Father’s leadership. Then applause.
    Then thanks to Archbishop Chaput for his homily. Then applause.
    Then comments on his recent trip to Rome (to receive the pallium), and his address at the Religious Liberty Observatory. Here he spoke (preached) for a while about threats to religious liberty, and the participation of so many. Then applause.
    Finally, at 1 hr 50 minutes, he got to “So as we leave this basilica today, and as our Fortnight draws to a close, whether you are here present in our nation’s capital, or elsewhere….Now this is probahbly one of the very few times when you will be told to use your iPhone or other mobile device in church. (laughter) But I would like to really encourage those who have not yet done so to participate in our texting campaign.” Then he gives instructions, and continues on immediately with his comments; there was no pause while he waited for people to actually pull out their devices and send a text. Perhaps it was actually an instruction given “in church” to be carried out later. He thanks everone for their participation. Then applause (at 1 hr 53 minutes). No sign of anyone actually texting during the liturgy.
    At 1 hr 54 minutes, Cardinal Wuerl is concluding the liturgy with solemn blessing.

    Perhaps “in two minutes about 2,500 people suddenly joined the effort” is a bit of joyful, journalistic hyperbole. How many of those 2,500 were watching or listening from other locations?

    Watching the video, I do not see any real precedent for texting during mass, in spite of all the fun that various journalists and bloggers are having with the spin. Deo gratias.

  2. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Two thoughts:

    1) Any time applause breaks out during the Liturgy in recognition of purely human accomplishment, the liturgical action is destroyed, the nature of public ritual denied.

    2) If the Primate of the United States can urge people to send text messages during Mass — which he did, in effect, by urging them to turn on the telephone during Mass — this new development will be in the 4th typical edition, and there will soon be a ministry of communication. (Ministry of Silly Walks is more like it, but that has too many English associations, and changes the meaning of ministry.) A more thoughtful bishop (say, Trautman in Erie) will soon assert that, following some liturgical avant garde, “since the Mass never ends”, everyone should have his (their?) text messages going constantly: OMG its IHS, for example, at the Consecration? Maybe there should be a new translation of the Mass, in 140-character units?



  3. Chris, a cynic might suggest that a texting period is already provided in the OF Mass–in the period of artificial silence following the sermon. Since obviously no can begin any meangingful prayer or reflection during this time, not knowing in advance how long the celebrant will remain seated, rather than simply day-dreaming vacuously, as presumably most do now, one could catch up on his texting, in convenient 140-character blocks, however many fit into whatever period of empty time it turns out to be.

    [Irony. Like a master.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. TomG says:

    Chris, as to your point no. 1, the Holy Father (I believe as Cardinal Ratzinger) said almost exactly the same thing. Good authority on that one. As to point two, I don’t know …

  5. JKnott says:

    Just another very sad ‘spirit of Vatican II” innovation.
    I suppose it would have been a remarkably new idea to urge the entire congregation to go to confession and for all to join in the Miserere in reparation for the sin of contraception either promoted or ignored by the Church in the US for many years and other abuses of our faith, before asking God to have mercy on us and change the hearts of those who would take away our freedom of religion.
    Here is Judith
    [9:16] For thy power, O Lord, is not in a multitude, nor is thy pleasure in the strength of horses, nor from the beginning have the proud been acceptable to thee: but the prayer of the humble and the meek hath always pleased thee. [17] O God of the heavens, creator of the waters, and Lord of the whole creation, hear me a poor wretch, making supplication to thee, and presuming of thy mercy. [18] Remember, O Lord, thy covenant, and put thou words in my mouth, and strengthen the resolution in my heart, that thy house may continue in thy holiness: [19] And all nations may acknowledge that thou art God, and there is no other besides thee.

    Text messages and tweets now replace the holy aspirations to God recommended to be said throughout the day to keep us in His Presence. I just think the Lord must look at this pathetic kind of arrogance and weep.

  6. Mike says:

    Totally agree with Chris.

  7. asperges says:

    Perhaps texting could replace the bidding prayers….

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Y’all are sure Gloomy Gusses today.

  9. Kathy C says:

    Uh … yeah. Way to quash the enthusiasm with prim Pharisee righteousness. If Fr. Z can get behind it, I won’t worry about it being a sin.

  10. ddoyle1220 says:

    fvhale- 2500 in 2 minutes is not a journalistic overestimation by any amount. There were double that amount in the Great Upper Church alone, let alone the multitudes watching on EWTN and CatholicTV. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that at least half of the people in the Basilica itself texted that number, let alone those watching online or on TV.

    And I agree, a one-time deal to protect our first amendment right to religious liberty is allowed.

  11. Mike says:

    The whole virtually endless rounds of applause are almost more offensive than the texting…

  12. AnnAsher says:

    Ya know … If the Bishop wants a text during his sermon so be it. It was in context. The sermon is really a transitional point to the Mass of the Faithful. I think there are bigger problems. Like Bishops who want to order their diocese to remain standing at/after the Agnus Dei.

  13. NescioQuid says:

    I just want to point out that some of us regularly use our smartphones in Church to access daily readings and other prayers. I do NOT text during mass or in Church. smart phones have replaced the need for me and others to carry around a load of books including the Bible.

  14. NescioQuid says:

    P.S. I also do not access my email or any other function separate to prayer on my phone in church! So there is no need to be scandalised by smart phones.

    P.P.S I also use an ebook reader.

  15. drea916 says:

    Leave your phone in your car. Mass is too important to have it going off accidentally or even “silently” (cause those around you can hear it when it vibrates.)

  16. homeschoolofthree says:

    I am still greatly upset by an incident I observed several years ago. A lady sitting in front of me did have her phone on vibrate but when it rang she answered it, “Hello…oh nothing really, I am just at Mass….”and continued talking in a whisper through the Consecration, then she said, “I gotta go”, hung up and went up on the altar to be a cup minister! Yet another reason I drive 45 minutes passing several churches on my way to a church that does not use extraordinary ministers!

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