ASK FATHER: Talking in church. What to do?

From a reader…


Hello, Father! As a high school religion teacher, our department has been discussing the impact talking in church has made on our young people. On an average Sunday morning, most people mill about the church building, talking to friends and neighbors with no discernable difference in the way they speak anywhere else. I think our students see this, because they do the same thing after school Masses. This to me also seems connected to the students’ lack of zeal in prayerful participation at Mass – if our experience of the divine is nothing more than an on/off construct of our own imagination and initiative, the objective reality of God’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament seems to be lost, no matter what kind of catechesis I do in the classroom, or the amount of piety or personal devotion I recommend the students to partake of.  Am I wrong? How do we get the kids to not only “be quiet” but also engage in the spiritual realities our Church passes on? How can we build up this culture in our school and church?

Thank you, Father! I greatly enjoy your blog and use it frequently.

Thanks for that.

The beset catechesis on sacred worship, liturgy, is sacred worship itself.

Therefore, I renew what I say often: We need more and more celebrations of the older, traditional form of Mass.

Lack of liturgical decorum?  Young people don’t know what’s up?  Reason #8 for Summorum Pontificum.

Classroom? Give them the straight stuff! Give them the basics of hard identity Catholicism.  Make the memorize, too: it sinks in that way.

Teach them about what Sacraments are.  Teach them that Mass is first and foremost SACRIFICE and what that Sacrifice did for us.  Teach them about the distinction of the sacred and the profane/secular.  Teach them what Sacramentals are, and what blessing and consecrations do.  Teach them that the church building itself is a sacred place.  Talk to them about mystery and the transcendent.  Find stories and saying of the saints about Holy Mass.

Teach the basics, stuff that every Catholic needs to know.

That’s the classroom.

That said, clearly the way Mass is celebrated in both forms is a huge contributing factor here.

In the older or newer forms, the way Father says Mass has incalculable effect… a knock-on effect.  The priest’s ars celebrandi will have a lasting effect on the way people in the congregation participate.  This must, per force, expand outward into their overarching perception of the sacred, which must also come to embrace a recognition that there are sacred things, people, times and places.  A church is a sacred place. We must not behave in church in the same way we behave in our living room or at a public swimming pool.

At the same time, as their elders behave, so too shall the young.  Lack of decorum is rampant now.  We are all children of our times and these times are marked by a cretinous lack of attention to dignity and behavior that rests on the good, true and beautiful.  It cannot be helped.

That said, I think that preaching and direct catechesis can help.  Friendly reminders in the bulletin and from the pulpit are in order.  The good examples of congregants can contribute.  But decorum in church depends a great deal on the choices made for the ars celebrandi of the place.  Therefore a great deal depends on the priest himself.

If Father is a rube and celebrates Mass as if he were David Letterman, if the music is unworthy of a circus calliope, if the vestments, vessels, decorations, gestures betray the premise that what is being done there isn’t about the transcendent in contact with the human, but rather is all about the horizontal, the human merely, then… good luck with decorum in church, friend.

Reason #8 for Summorum Pontificum, that valuable tool for the New Evangelization.

Want decorum?  ¡Vaya lío!  Work for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum where you are.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Priests and Priesthood, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jfk03 says:

    This rings a bell for me.

    I attend an Eastern Catholic parish where talking is NOT permitted before, during, or after the Divine Liturgy. I also fill in as an organist at a nearby Latin parish. The contrast is like night and day.

    I usually play dignified, quiet music before the Mass, something uplifting (Bach cantatas) and conducive to prayer. Recently, a group of older men were chatting LOUDLY about the upcoming super-bowl, making it difficult to concentrate on my music. They kept at it, even after I gave them a hint by depressing the swell pedal on the organ.

    The priest has attempted, unsuccessfully, to break this parish’s habit of discourteous chit-chat, to no avail. Unfortunately, the same habit appears common in many Latin-rite parishes I have attended. It appears deeply ingrained in the post-Vatican II culture. I find it both offensive and disruptive of any attempt to engage the Lord in prayer before the service begins.

    Something needs to come down from on high. Individual parish priests have a hard time dealing with ingrained boorishness.

  2. acardnal says:

    Interesting that you posted this today when I received a link to a YouTube video wherein a deacon explains how his parish functions. One is that he promotes conversation before holy Mass. It’s terrible what he is promoting and reminds me of what goes on in some Protestant services. I hope someone sends the video to the Archbishop.

    A quote from the video’s own description says it all:
    “. . . Deacon Sandy Sites is our Parish Director; No kneelers; baked unleavened bread for communion; bow to presider, bow to assembly; ask assembly for prayers for world and individual concerns; communal bow before receiving Eucharist; ”

    It’s all about us and not Christ.

  3. JaneC says:

    Teachers can train children not to speak, in the same way they train them to behave appropriately in other situations. I work at a K-12 Catholic school. Our chapel is too small to fit all the students, so normally the elementary school go to Mass on one day and the high school on a different day. Sometimes we have Mass with all the students, and for that we have to use our multipurpose room–the same room where students eat their lunches, play on rainy days, rehearse for plays, etc. I have never heard a peep from a student after Mass that was not immediately hushed. When they go to Mass in the multipurpose room, they behave exactly as they do in the chapel (except for genuflecting), because even the littlest ones have a sense of what the Mass is. They may encounter all sorts of things at their parishes on Sunday, and their parents may not provide a good example, but the kids know what’s up and what they need to do.

  4. jacobi says:


    For what it’s worth, I normally go to the Novus Ordo Mass, and it’s all very jolly. We have 2 to 3 greeters, are welcomed, and issued with at least three pamphlets/hymn books, and so on. The atmosphere is that of a social occasion with much chattering, waving to friends and a general hubbub. If anything, the noise, chatter and laughter is even greater on the way out. It’s all very nice.

    The Reserved Sacrament in the central tabernacle is ignored.

    But of course everyone, but everyone troops up to receive Holy Communion.

    This is in stark contrast to the congregation at the Vetus Ordo which I go to as and when I can. Respectful natural silence and prayer, before and after Mass.

    Conclusion. Reports that up to 80% of so called “Catholics” no longer believe in the Real Presence are probably true.

    Reason. The clergy do not teach Catholicism anymore, so, what else should we expect?

  5. benedetta says:

    I agree, ars celebrandi, and all that connects to it, and, I would add another: adoration for young people, time for silence in adoration and prayer in the church with the Blessed Sacrament. Maybe those of us who are all to fast to chatter and make a lot of unnecessary noise in the church have never known what it is or means to pray, at all, in silence. As to the older generation, could it be for them as well that they never learned to pray as well?

  6. Joseph-Mary says:

    The following short video is what many of us had to endure for decades. I know I did. Talking was encouraged! After all we are the ‘sacrament’! And we stand because we are a ‘resurrection people’! Yes, I have experienced all this along with the denigrating of those who wanted to cling to ‘rituals that have lost their meaning’.
    The deacon in this video explains Mass as he sees it. No mention of sacrifice or worship. THIS is what far too many know about the Mass. So why not go where the entertainment and music are better?

  7. There is always yakking at my parish before and after Mass, and sometimes even during Mass. The worst offenders are the clergy, the ushers and the old people, all of whom know better.

    When Pope Francis called a worldwide hour of adoration, the hour happened to fall between the first two Sunday Masses. When the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the altar, it was like the difference between night and day. Everybody was praying and not yakking. I asked for adoration every Sunday at this hour, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Perhaps a big part of the answer is adoration between Masses. Make the Real Presence obvious and visible. It is not without its effect.

  8. mdinan says:

    acardnal and joseph-mary,

    That is, unfortunately, still par for the course in Soviet Rochester. Pray for Bishop Matano, for he has his work cut out for him.

    It is a great shame that nearly twelve years after the retirement of the sordid reign of Abp. Weakland that Cardinal Dolan and Abp. Listecki haven’t even broached this mess.

  9. Mike says:

    One wonders how much time is spent by the average parishioner either preparing for Mass or giving thanks afterward. Not that I’m any great example. Were I to allow grace fully to infuse me with the belief I profess in the Real Presence, I think it would knock me onto my knees for considerably longer than the three or four minutes I spend after Mass.

    I pray that I may stop impeding that grace with my worries and plans, to say nothing of idle chatter.

  10. Nicholas Shaler says:

    I attend a very large Catholic high school. (2,200 pupils, second largest in America. The largest is a Christian Bros. school on Long Island.)

    I think we would have more reverence if we knelt at mass when we go. I will do so on my own in the future to follow the example of another student, who for sake of anonymity I shall refer to as Patrick.

    Apparently, Patrick kneels both during the Eucharistic Prayer (improvised on the spot by our new chaplain) and after the Sanctus. An example I shall soon follow.

    Nicholas Shaler

  11. Supertradmum says:

    One reason I would never go to a teen Mass or one in a high school gym. The surroundings lend themselves to talking.

    But, the worse offenders in my area are really old people-older than myself. Same was true in England.

  12. Genna says:

    My experience is the same as Supertradmum. It’s the elderly – not much evidence of the under-50s at my parish – who can’t stop chattering before and after Mass and it’s mostly the women. The louder the organist plays the voluntary at the end, the louder they talk. It’s only when the organ stops playing that they get up to continue their conversations outside the church. I can’t imagine what the children’s Mass must be like.
    As you say, Father, it’s down the the celebrant. Ours likes to process down the nave before the service greeting all and sundry and then greets everyone again once he’s on the sanctuary and has begun the opening prayers. It doesn’t make for a prayerful start to the Mass.

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  14. Will D. says:

    Talking before Mass was a serious problem at my parish, until the pastor drafted some of us to begin praying the Rosary aloud prior to mass. Now, most either join in the Rosary as they enter, or pray quietly. It’s made quite a difference. It’s still a complete free-for-all after Mass, but it’s still a start.

  15. Glennonite says:

    I haven’t been to Sunday/Saturday eve Mass for two+ years. I attend at noon on Friday in our Adoration Chapel. It’s a small gathering and a reverent group (except afterwards when the dinner-party atmosphere immediately ensues despite the Blessed Sacrament being returned to the monstrance).

    I do attend an hour of Adoration on Sundays at 8pm in lieu of Mass.

  16. nemo says:

    Children pick up on reverence immediately. I attend an FSSP chapel. There have been several families who (never having previously experienced the EF) have wandered into our Sunday Mass, whose 4- and 5-year-old children have asked the parents, “Please can’t we go to church here.” They do not know Latin either!

  17. incredulous says:

    The yacking leads to the highly disrespectful clapping immediately at the conclusion of communion because the choir mooooved them so much with their communion hymns. (Bongos and a Les Paul can really move even the hardest hearts.) It’s all sooo emotional they can’t help themselves. Perhaps if the congregation were at Golgotha and heard some good tunes, they’d break their attention from the Crucifixion for a few seconds to applaud the band.

    It makes me duck for cover trying to dodge the lightening bolts I envision are imminently coming from somewhere above the tabernacle.

    Ah, but I heard Satan laugh with delight…

  18. yatzer says:

    Interesting that you mentioned a calliope. In one parish I belonged to (the one immediately before dropping out of the Church in discouragement for 10 years) the organ was played exactly like a calliope.

  19. Bob B. says:

    As a Catholic teacher, I always began the year telling students and parents two things: you want on my bad side, “mess up” during Mass and that they’re responsible for everything that is said or done in Religion.
    I had all my students learn some Latin, know how to serve the Mass and know all the altar vessels (even my non-Catholic students), we read a Catholic novel together in class, and I’d branch out to other areas (because the textbook was nonsense and not worth the ink it was printed on) such as the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.
    I was fortunate enough to be able to take two classes to the local Norbertine Abbey, where their Latin helped them during Sext.
    There is so much beauty of knowledge to be had in being Catholic that is there for the asking.

  20. Sonshine135 says:

    The reader’s letter hit an absolute hot button with me. The Parish Priest absolutely sets the tone. When I went to the Parish I am currently registered in (and no longer go to), I found out the Parish started in a movie theater. Three Priests later, they still act like they are in a movie theater. The current Priest came from the Cathedral, and is absolutely aloof to anything in the Parish. He would rather disobey the Bishop than do something contrary to the Parish’s desires. The Priest is well read, so it isn’t to me like he doesn’t know better. He just refuses to take a stand against Sister (think Nuns on the Bus type), and the Protestant Choir Director in fear of losing his membership. Is he buying time? I have to think so. Maybe Bishop sent him there with a promise to be made a Monsignor later. I can’t imagine any self-respecting Priest wanting the Parish. I don’t know how this type of abuse continues without intervention. It is one of the things I often struggle with in our church. This could be a whole other topic though. I’d love some insight.

  21. Giuseppe says:

    @Supertradmum – In my parish, it’s the old folks who are loudest during mass. At least at church the hearing aids do not buzz loudly like at the opera or concerts, which can be terribly distracting to those under 60 (the only ones who are biologically able to still hear the high pitched pulsating sound of a hearing aid experiencing feedback). Don’t get me wrong, I love the old folks’ coming to the OF. They are often the only ones who actually remember how it was celebrated before the 70s. (I was christened in the OF in 1969, but I have no memories before the vernacular mass in the mid-70s.)

  22. Nicholas Shaler says:

    -Bob. B.

    May I ask if the school is JSerra in So. Cal? I would have gone there instead of Mater Dei is it didn’t add 30 min. to my drive every morning.

    -Nicholas Shaler

    P.S.- You did not specify the Abbey, what St. Michael’s singing is most beautiful.

  23. Lin says:

    I have recently been told by two religious brothers in their 70’s that memorization is too old fashioned and would not work with children/teens today. And our pastor had a similar opinion and he is around 67. Memorization worked for me and many in my generation so I totally disagree! I did not always appreciate/enjoy the process in school, whether it be the Baltimore Catechism or the Gettsburg Address. But I can still recite a lot of this information to this very day! Catechism, catechism, catechism! Very important and severely lacking in most parishes! And with the “spirit of Vatican II” priests, our Catholic mass has become more and more Protestant every week and many parishioners do not even notice it!

  24. Tamquam says:

    Oh, boy! Pet peeve hot button! Except (usually) for the food and drink behavior before and after Mass is indistinguishable from the food court at the mall. I try and sit in a pew with an aisle behind just so I won’t ever again have to listen to a discussion of The Bachelor during Mass. Try and get people to pipe down and they get bent out of shape.

    I’ve been helping out with the Confirmation program for three years now, and have finally been in a position to actually teach a little (before it was all about passing out the pencils, etc). Don’t yet know what the results of my efforts will be but I certainly made it clear that they wouldn’t behave that way in the White House, and God is a far greater host than the President in His own house, how much more reverent must we not be? Further, you mean to tell me that you can chat all day long with your friends but have nothing to say to Jesus? Really! Nothing at all? If you don’t have something to say to Jesus ask Him to say something to you, then shut up and listen. And if you can’t do that don’t imagine that you won’t be held accountable if God has something to say to your friend which he didn’t hear because you wanted to talk about your clothes or your breakfast. This is what is right, you know its right, so you do what is right no matter what anybody else is doing.

    Grrrr! LORD, forgive them for they know not what they do. And send your Spirit to straighten them out. Please, before I go out of my mind.

  25. Sal says:

    Dear Father Z,

    Ever attend a mass in Calabria or other parts of Southern Italy?
    People come late and leave early. Chit-chat all during mass to the irritation of the priest, who often scolds the congregation. Men outside smoking while their wives are inside.

    People who complain about a little chatter in American churches should see how much worse it could be.

  26. Bob B. says:

    Nicolas Shaler: Yes, it’s St. Michael’s Abbey – I forgot to mention that we did a version of the Medieval Morality play “Everyman” there, too – my students (we came from Annunciation Catholic School) and the parents that attended all agreed that it was the best field trip they ever had.
    Lin: I used the Baltimore Catechism for students to memorize such things as, “Why did God create you?” and The Cardinal or Deadly Sins, etc (though it was considered to be “wrong” for some odd reason). I can say with certainty that it is a great way to have students memorize things in order to set the floor for further instruction (though there are some who think “technology will set you free” and plainly state that memorizing is passé – prayers and multiplication tables can be brought up on their iPads, so why bother memorizing?). I also agree with our comment on the “Spirit of Vatican II priests” – though I am slightly younger, what they don’t know or have forgotten is amazing (I was once put on the spot by a priest during a regular weekday Mass to explain to everyone there, including students, what the Golden Legend was and how it applied to the Annunciation).

  27. C N says:

    This bothers me too, especially when my non-Catholic family members insisted on small talk and chit chat before my confirmation Mass, wedding Mass, and both my boys’ baptismal Masses despite telling them every time not to talk. Being charitable has not gotten me anywhere with them.

    The (only) TLM available to us (almost an hour away) has a lot of attendees, although those people find it appropriate to say all of the servers’ responses loudly as if we are still in a novus ordo. This bothers my husband and I more than anything we put up with at the novus ordo. The priest hasn’t corrected the behavior (that I’m aware of), although he doesn’t wait for them to finish their responses either if the servers have already finished their part. We just try to be grateful we have a TLM available to us at all.

  28. Our last PP simply told us straight out that we were too noisy, and to keep quiet and not talk in the church – to do the talking outside.

    Everyone did. But it takes a priest with courage to do that – and to do it again each week if he has to, until the message sinks in. Or to put laminated notices on the pews to this effect. And on the doors. And on the walls.

    Having said that, the worst offenders before weekday Mass are my two elderly parents, both rather deaf, and both prone to speculation about whether Father will use the Common of Pastors or Common of Doctors of the Church today.

    Complete with rustling of thin missal pages.

    Well, it’s time off purgatory for someone, anyway …

  29. Dutchman says:

    I teach at a large Jesuit school and mass is always torturous because the feeling among the powers that be is that kids need to be entertained rather than pious. I once commented on the rotten behavior (sleeping, talking, lack of special dress) to my superior ( a priest) and he said, ” do you blame them? I find it boring, too.” We are admonished via email before every mass not too correct our students too harshly because “we want them to associate mass with something positive” .
    Again, no focus on the Holy presence of a God. I feel that this attitude, that in order to keep people Catholic we have to lower the Church to the lowest common denominator and that discourages pious people.

  30. knute says:

    I think it depends on where the talking occurs. Talking in the narthex is just about as widespread as versus populum novus ordos, and I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done about it. Case in point: I went to an FSSP church a few weeks back, and people still talked in the narthex, despite the prominent signs asking that the congregation not do so. One of the people talking to me was an FSSP seminarian. If talking in the narthex can’t be helped, even at an FSSP church, I don’t hold out much hope for the rest of us. The only solution I’ve seen to this issue is to have a compact narthex that people can’t really mingle in. The church with the EF mass I go to has a very short narthex (maybe 3 feet from the entrance to the nave), and I’ve never seen anyone mingling there and talking before or after mass.

    Talking in the nave, however, is another thing entirely. THAT needs to go. And I completely agree that it tends to be older parishioners who are the most cavalier about talking in the nave. My home parish in Florida is a snowbird parish for about 6 months out of the year, and the elderly northerners who make their way down here are the ones talking the loudest in the nave.

  31. New Sister says:

    60-75-year olds are the WORST offenders of holy silence & are defiant when spoken to about it.

    @jfk03 – As one easily distracted at prayer, I do appreciate your efforts, but sadly, Novus Ordo chatters have pedernatural abilities to talk over any organ. I once approached two old men such as you describe with, “my brothers in Christ, I hate having to say this, but could you please have your conversation in the lobby?” (they were literally 2-3 paces from the door) Their response shows the futility of speaking to this generation about talking in church: “young lady, we’re OFFICIALS [ushers] here!”

  32. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    It’s gotten so that on Sundays, I have resorted to trying to have quiet time with Our Lord at home in front of the virtual Blessed Sacrament. On the computer. And afterwards for thanksgiving, as well. Because before, during, and between each of the Sunday morning Masses, the levels of activity and noise in the church itself might best be compared to a cross between a popular theme park during peak hours and a studio set of “Jeopardy” during the broadcast.

    Not good. Not conducive to prayer. And we have a nice spacious vestibule, which leads directly to a cavernous auditorium just steps away. Which latter is almost always nearly empty. So there are other, convenient places people could go – right under the same roof as the sanctuary – to visit and to chat, to run, to hop, and to play (children). But they don’t seem to want to.

    Thank goodness that my schedule permits me to attend daily Mass often. After those Masses a few dozen or so other souls remain behind to pray the Rosary as a group, and afterwards, to pray silently.

    Makes up for what I miss out on Sundays.

  33. pledbet424 says:

    Bob B.
    We sent our son to St Michael’s Prep, and it was the best thing we ever did for him. Anyone who is within driving distance should experience their 11 am Sunday Mass if you want to experience a quiet, reverent Mass with NO talking allowed.
    My wife is friends with Father Francis at the Abbey, and after Mass she approached him and quietly whispered a question, which he refused to answer until he had ushered her outside.

  34. NBW says:

    I was at a Tridentine Mass and while the priest was giving a homily, a woman was briefly talking on her cell phone! It was a distraction as well as disrespectful.

  35. Mike says:

    It’s cultural and generational, too. For the last 44 or so years, there has been a program of de-sacralization of both Holy Mass and Churches; when that happens, then why do we wonder that everyday life loses its splendor? that we become depressed? that we fail to see the hand of God in the moving of a branch, the fall of a sparrow? The sacred Liturgy by its luminous beauty and intrinsic grace SHOULD elevate our very being to see that, indeed, all things speak of God.

  36. Palladio says:

    So true, Mike, and so well said.
    Today at a usually quiet and collected Mass an allied problem raised its ugly head; as an elderly parishioner put it none too quietly, ‘The deacon always reads as if he had marbles in his mouth.’ It’s quite discouraging, combined with other problems of the sort. The celebrant means well, but is young and awkward, with English not his native language. So I have a hard time imagining him, despite so much good in him, correcting the ancient deacon. Only because the church is large is the church, before Mass, reasonably quiet. Anyway, at least the parishioners seem to want to hear the Word.

  37. NBW says:

    Well said, Mike!

  38. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Medieval churches were full of chatter and so were Byzantine ones. It is always going to happen if priests don’t preach order, which is why St. Paul wrote about it. It’s a sign of indiscipline, not disbelief.

  39. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Not wanting to divert the conversation off-topic, but Mike, would you (or anyone who knows) tell me something about the “program of de-sacralization” you alluded to above?

    I’m puzzled, but I think I know what you are talking about . . . but I don’t know, exactly.

    I want to resacralize! (“We are Church! – yes!”) But I don’t know how; don’t know anything.

    So, talk! please. Thank you.

  40. Palladio says:

    I’d say, start with what seems small, Marion Ancilla Mariae. My wife and I continue to bow during the Creed, the only ones to do so in our parish. We receive on the tongue, in a minority. Our pastor knows our feelings on liturgy, albeit by a stroke of good luck more than by our own doing. Read GIRM online, if you haven’t already, for some direction, and be patient. Pray before the Tabernacle before and after Mass. Pray the rosary–there, too, I am often alone. Encourage by notes to your priest what they are doing that is right. One of ours says the Ave, Maria at the end of Mass and includes Latin in celebrating. We also thank our priests for their reverent celebration.

  41. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Palladio! Check! Thanks! more, more more . . .

  42. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    P.S. Not to take the thread too far off-topic, but I’m thinking that maybe also this is what Saint Josemaria Escriva was speaking of when he preached “sanctifying” the world through one’s everyday work. We’re not in church all the time; there are homes, highways, offices, for us to sanctify just by being as Christian as we can be while in them, and praying . . . (?)

  43. Sofia Guerra says:

    “It will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest ofthe nation. ” Jane Austen from Mansfield Park .

  44. Palladio says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae, yes. It all falls to the ground if we are vicious outside of church. But giving God his due in the House of God militates against that, by grace, by our participation in grace. It is doing God’s will. No better place to start.

  45. Mike says:


    You know, in regard to my parish, I think it would be bordering on offending against charity to ask folks not to talk in Church as if it were a bar. Even the elderly ones.

    The Pastor, after all, sets the tone.

  46. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Agreed, Mike, to ask someone not to talk in church would seem a breach of good manners, unless the requester were someone ordained or a religious.

    Once during a Christmas Mass, I asked a lady sitting on the opposite side of the church to stop taking flash photographs. The flashbulbs illuminated full-on in my line of sight to the altar, dazzling me, and she kept taking them every 3-5 minutes. After awhile I couldn’t see well anymore – there seemed a sort of sparkly white cloud between me and the altar. I asked one of the friars who was a custodian of the church, if he would ask the lady to wait until Mass was over to take any more snaps with flash, but he refused – didn’t want to get involved. So I did.

    One and only time.

  47. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    Would you mind I add a suggestion? :^)

    We (that is, our family) kneel down after father processes out the vestibule doors, and the… um, *din* begins, and we pray a Hail Mary, to honor our Blessed Mother. Then we pray the St. Michael prayer. I suppose it is mostly for example because, as most who comment here can confirm, it *does not* stop people around us from talking in church. It is so depressing. The majority of the time the talking is *after* Holy Mass. I say “most” because I had an unfortunate experience the other day *before* Mass.

    I usually get to the church an hour before the Holy Sacrifice. I like to pray, meditate and read to prepare for Heaven touching down here on earth. The other day members of the choir came early to prepare. They were speaking out loud as if they were outside. It was non-stop and very distracting for me (usually they prepare quietly, God bless them!). Finally, I could no longer take it. One lady would simply not cease her chatting about… well, nothing). I went up to the loft and saw the main culprit blathering on and on about where she was going to be vacationing this summer. She saw me and stopped. I simply looked at her and said, “Please, we are trying to pray.” She replied, “I’m sorry, I did not see you down there.” (actually it was myself and one other person)

    I was not rude. I was not huffy. I made sure the expression on my face was one of sincere yearning for prayer to the Almighty. The woman was fine with my approach (thank you, Jesus!) and that was all that was needed to be done/said.

    As most here say it has to come from the pastor. If it nothing is said the taking in church will continue unabated. (sigh)


  48. Lack of an Interior Life, of contemplative prayer is the crux of the problem causing disrespectful behavior in church. Chattering in church not only ignores reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, this obliviousness demonstrates the void of a real prayer life.

    We are brainwashed with ‘individual rights’ and self-indulgence while ignoring the rights of God also.

    It does help when a priest makes it clear that silence and reverence is non-negotiable. One priest I know regularly would stop abruptly any conversation he might be having, march into the church and loudly state that respect must be shown to the Blessed Sacrament and to please continue any conversations outside. Father might also mention charity in allowing others to pray. He was polite but firm and succinct. Chatterers would stop and exit the church.

    As with Martha and Mary, Mary chose the “necessary part”. A homily, “We must have an Interior Life to rest with God” dated 2013-11-03 of Audio Sancto Catholic Sermons [download as podcast or go to their website] offers insight into this loss today of the interior life and the misunderstanding of prayer. Father cites the confusion promoted by Quietism, Buddhism/Eastern paganism, Protestant active participation/fellowship and other beliefs that obscure the true nature of contemplative prayer. “…the Traditional Latin Mass, especially the silence of the Canon, would be foreign to them because it demands an interior life…”

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