ASK FATHER: The inevitable “Rite of Thanking” at the end of Mass

thankyou_languagesFrom a reader….


I’m curious about your reaction to a part of the Mass I’m calling the “Rite of Thanking”. While it seems that it is especially common with bishops at most liturgies they celebrate, it also happens at times with the pastor. On Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (I wasn’t at the Easter Vigil), after the post-communion prayer, the bishop celebrating made it a special point to thank the laity who attended (why?), along with concelebrating priests, deacons, seminarians (serving as acolytes), altar servers from the parish, readers and of course, the cantor and choir. At least on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the bishop did not induce applause which was vigorous on Easter Sunday. [Deo gratias.]

I of course understand why they might be doing this, but wonder about the appropriateness, [decorum!] especially due to the special solemnity of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. In my past liturgical service, where I was a reader, EMHC and member of the choir, this would actually cause me embarrassment since I was not there to receive public thanks from the bishop or priest, but to serve God as humbly and as well as I could in these roles.

I’m tempted to write the bishop in all charity to suggest that he poll some of the people performing these liturgical roles and ask them for their reaction to his thanking them for their service. My guess is that while some appreciate the acknowledgement and might be upset if it wasn’t done, many would have the same reaction I have. Perhaps you could test it in a poll with your readers.

I am reminded of…

We, as you, can understand why a bishop or priest would want to express gratitude to all the people who made something big happen.

Should this be liturgical?

I think not.  Especially because these rites of thanking can be both cringe worthy in awkwardness and soul-annihilating in length.

There’s nothing that kills a buzz from a beautiful Mass or other rite than the THUD that comes with these Post-Communion interjections.

I recall one bishop who was such a stickler about this thanking business that, when he was jocularly imitated (oh… yes, seminarians and priests do that), we fictitiously thanked every possible person down to the mothers of the people who folded the napkins, etc.

It can become ridiculous and painful, especially because, once you start, you have to get everyone in. But if you say that you can’t get everyone in, then… why not just stop there?

If the bishops are so grateful, they could occasionally send a note to the people involved. That would make a real impression.

A POLL you say? I’ll take a stab.

And I’ll thank everyone in advance NOT to write, “You left out X!”, or “You should have done Y!” Please. I have enough critics. Instead, just thank me, okay?

Choose your best answer and use the combox (if you are registered) to add your thoughtful 2 cents.

I need two polls to cover this properly.

When the list of "thanks" comes at the end of Mass, when I am involved ...

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When the list of "thanks" comes at the end of Mass, when I am NOT involved ...

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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, Decorum, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, POLLS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. oldconvert says:

    We have a little parish newsletter in which Father periodically put a note of thanks towards those who have helped in various roles – surely that is the decorous way to do things? And he never mentions individuals by name, thus avoiding the twin pitfalls of embarassing those who are identified and offending those who are omitted.

  2. QuietContemplative says:

    Jocularity!!! Heh, that poor, put upon protestant man being one of the only real points of morality in the entire show. RIP Father Mulkahey.

    That word will for ever and a day make me think of him and that part.

  3. Mike says:

    All of this when we should be on our knees silently thanking Him Who died to redeem us and who has just given Himself to us in Holy Communion so that He could enjoy this intimate moment with us.

    It really makes me wonder how much faith Novus Ordo clergy and prelates have in the Real Presence. If they stopped to think about what and Whom they’re abusing, one wonders that some of them wouldn’t die of shame.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Thankfully, this is rare, but I’ve seen it in the last year or two, what about “introducing” everybody in the cast…uh…servers, EMHC’s, etc.? I can’t remember if the ushers were introduced, but you get the idea. Auughhhkk…

  5. ajf1984 says:

    Here’s something on the other end of the spectrum that I observed during the Triduum at my parish this year. Our pastor made a special point of reminding us that, due to the solemn nature of the events we were commemorating on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we were asked to depart in silence from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (those who didn’t accompany Jesus in the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose) and from the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. For which, of course, I was grateful, as ours is a parish that descends into a gab-fest in the nave once the final hymn is over. However, I couldn’t help but thinking, “Aren’t we doing what we do at every Mass? If so, then why aren’t ‘regular’ Sunday Masses important enough for us to keep our traps shut?”… /cynicism.

  6. ChesterFrank says:

    I am unsure how to answer your poll. Thanks given after Mass is so subtle it is unobtrusive. It also might not be a routine occurrence. Therefore it’s appreciated and non offensive. Kathleen brings up a good point. The announcement beforehand can be troublesome. Does the name of the priest and servers need to be mentioned? Do I need a summary of the Mass “theme?” I think I would rather hear the Entrance Antiphon suddenly proclaimed

  7. dbonneville says:

    It’s not just the thanks that grate, it’s the inane applause. We all know what Benedict XVI said about it:

    “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation” (Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy).”

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “…these rites of thanking can be both cringe worthy in awkwardness and soul-annihilating in length. There’s nothing that kills a buzz from a beautiful Mass or other rite than the THUD that comes with these Post-Communion interjections.”


    * My one-word agreement with Fr. Z on this matter should not be construed to imply endorsement of Fr. Z filing this post under “Liturgy Science Theater 3000” without a Trigger Warning. Also, my one-word comment was typed on a dolphin-friendly computer that does not own stock in an Israeli company. [Mystery Science Theater has been rebooted BTW. And I went to HS with some of the original creators.]

    I arrived at work today to use said computer by driving a Prius while drinking a half-soy half-kale chai latte and eating avocado toast. I typed this footnote while enjoying a free-range radicchio salad, and “El Condor Pasa” played on Peruvian pan pipes. This footnote has been cleared by the Berkeley Racial Antifa Transgender Society.

    I noticed while typing this footnote that I was not wearing yoga pants and Uggs. Therefore, I stood in front of assembled office personnel and duly chastised myself for persisting in my masculinity. I was then offered a cleansing tea of dolphin-friendly willow bark and cruelty-free kale by a transgendered lesbian half-male.

    I drank said tea while listening to NPR, a drum circle, and a CD of whale songs recorded at an uncharted bay in New Zealand. The entire office then joined in self-affirmations while drinking tapioca-yogurt smoothies without straws, as a dolphin may choke on said straw. Thank you!

    [Testosterone levels are dropping as we read… except at Fishwrap, where they can’t drop anymore.]

  9. SundaySilence says:

    Thank you, Father!

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    Actually, the thing I hate is when we are greeted by the celebrant on Christmas or Easter in the name of “the whole parish household” including not only the clergy but the paid lay staff, as if they were more a part of the parish family than the rest of us. To me this honestly strikes a wrong note.

    Then there are the various special Masses where 75% of the the seating in the Church is reserved for special groups, ranging from the clergy to the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre to the people that ordinands gave tickets to, I think I recently even saw a section for the people who gave at least $1000 to the diocese in the the past year. It’s not that I consider any of this actually unjust. I am not so much offended as hopeful that sitting in the little section for people who aren’t necessarily special is its own kind of privilege and there is special seating at the heavenly liturgy for the people who were not given good seating on earth, and the wedding reception of the marriage feast of the Lamb the saints and angels will be excited to hobnob with people who persevered in charity even though they were considered rejects and of little account in their earthly life.

  11. Andrew says:

    I’d like to thank my parents for making this night possible. And my children for making it necessary. (Victor Borge)

  12. Elizabeth D says:

    Also in heaven the choir will consist of people who got kicked out of the choir on earth for not singing very well. It’s not that it was unfair they got kicked out of the choir. It’s just that the last will be first, and I am trying to imagine that. But even imagining how it will be can be self serving. How can any of us know what is just and what we will receive until God judges us?

  13. iamlucky13 says:

    I don’t think the terms being used here are quite correct. There’s not a specific “rite of thanking” in the Missal. [OF COURSE there isn’t!]

    It’s actually all under the general category for the third part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Bulletin: closing prayer, announcements, litany of thank you’s, final blessing, and lastly the recessional concert.

    While some might consider needing verbal affirmation of one’s participation in the Mass from the priest to have shades of clericalism, the more introspective of us see the communal aspect of the priest voicing what we are certainly all thinking.

    Also, I don’t know how we can have a discussion about the Liturgy of the Bulletin without bringing up the fact that there still is no consensus whether spiritual folk music or Christian rock should be given pride of place in the recessional concert. It’s been over 50 years since the Sacrosanctum Concilium applied the term “pride of place” to Gregorian chant, and we still haven’t authoritatively discerned what the spirit of the council actually intended that passage to mean. The result is continuing arguments that the tambourine should be “held in high esteem” over the drum kit and vice versus.

  14. Persistant says:

    I honestly don’t mind the “thank you rite” as long as it’s brief and happens not too often. My pastor does it on special occasions and he’s brief, so I’m ok with it. I appreciate when I’m thanked, although I wouldn’t care if I wasn’t, I don’t do it (help my parish when I can) to be publicly thanked, I do it for the Lord, his Church and my salvation.

  15. xgenerationcatholic says:

    There are worse things. The old priest who does one of our daily masses says thanks to all for coming, and the few who help, how glad he is to see so many during Lent or whatever. I don’t mind at all, the thanks is mutual.

    [Most of the time these are nice guys trying to be nice.]

  16. APX says:

    At every Easter Vigil I’ve attended celebrated by the priests, deacons and seminarians of the FSSP, right before the sermon the priest has always made a point of thanking “all those who were involved in helping in anyway with the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum, especially the choir, the altar servers and their parents and the seminarians who came up from Nebraska in order to have solemn Masses.”

    As a member of the choir, while I don’t expect to be thanked, being thanked for the time and effort put in to extra practices, does cover a multitude of hours of missed sleep, schedule re-arranging, and time spent away from my family. While a personal note of thanks would make a huge impression, I really don’t expect that from a priest.

    Furthermore, I have no issues with legitimate people being thanked (thanking the congregation for being in attendance really is too much) during Mass even if I’m not being thanked. After driving past the church one Holy Thursday during the day and seeing all the servers and our priest and seminarians outside in the cold and snow practicing for the Vigil while I was out and about doing my Holy Saturday errands, I developed a huge appreciation for our Altar Servers.

  17. APX says:

    BTW: It would be interesting on the first poll to have an option “I’m not personally involved in helping with the Mass”. Not because I think everyone needs to be doing something at Mass, but just to get an idea of how many people here who complain about people being thanked for their effort are actually the ones putting in the effort.

  18. Serviam says:

    Was just in a similar situation last evening. As the rounds of applause occur immediately after Holy Communion, instead of thanking our precious Lord and Savior for becoming our Sacred Sustenance and begging Him for help to overcome our many faults and strength to carry on in this crazy world, people were instead asked to clap for the choir, etc…..

    Heart breaking. His, and mine.

    “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I beg pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.” (Repeat until clapping subsides)

    Jesus will thank YOU ;-)

  19. Christine says:

    Sometimes after the priest has processed out, people will clap for the choir (who never met a Haugen/Haas et al. song that they didn’t love to play). In my mind I’m thinking that they just failed as church musicians because their role is not to draw attention to themselves, but to draw everyone’s attention up to God.

    If you serve the Mass in any way such as a lector or an altar boy and get irritated that you were not thanked, you have a lot to learn about service.

  20. APX says:

    Elizabeth D,

    In order to help with church upkeep and operating costs, there used to be the annual pew auction where pews were assigned to the highest bidder(s).

  21. Maynardus says:

    The “Rite of Thanking” bit gave me a chuckle, even as the whole topic touched a nerve… in my experience: the bishops are the worst, and; one can always tell when they are cueing the congregation to applaud… as bad as applause is during Mass it is so much worse when it is contrived…

  22. Discerning Altar Boy says:

    Whenever I serve the Triduum or Paschal Vigil, I dread the approaching of this rite. I find it especially troublesome when I am one of those to be thanked. The 5 minutes of applause for everyone could have been taken up by using the Roman Canon rather ?than EP3 or the short form of the readings. A simple mention in the homily or bulletin would perhaps suffice. I know that all sense of solemnity is sapped when the Final Prayer is followed by the thanking, and that it has lead me to the occasion of the sin of rage. Suffice to say, I’d like to see this ended ASAP.

  23. jilly4life says:

    My biggest problem, is that our priest has a difficult time speaking off the cuff. So he inevitably loses his train of thought, which leads to awkward silences and stammerings and makes the “litany of thanks” take twice as long as they should. And yes, it disrupts more solemn moments.

    I do understand why they do it, because I have also been privy to the whiny protestations of Busy-body Church Lady who isn’t appreciated enough, and will take her considerable talents elsewhere, where her pure busy-body genius is appreciated…

  24. armywife says:

    I am a cantor/choir member, and for me, there is nothing worse than applause during mass. I did not perform a concert to entertain you. I proclaimed the word of God and led sung worship. I certainly appreciate compliments from pastors, but I would prefer them to be given after the mass.

  25. Rich says:

    I thank God in heaven that I have no idea what the “Rite of Thanking” is. I will say, however, that it seems to be yet another added appendage to the Mass whereby the people are led to take their focus off of God and onto…MEEEE!!!

    I seriously doubt that any parish who tacks on this “Rite of Thanking” to the Mass makes such an explicit, direct effort to prompt the faithful to thank God as it does to thank one another.

  26. It seems to me that priests who encourage applause, and encourage those getting the applause to revel in the same, run the risk of draining all the merit out of the acts of service for which applause is solicited.

    Besides which, it’s an abuse of their captive audience to detain them at the end of a three-hour Mass at 11:30 p.m. and delay the dismissal in order to focus attention on themselves. “A babbler is feared in his city, and the man who is reckless in speech will be hated.” Sirach 9:18.

  27. idelsan says:

    Although I do not like it at all, and I know it’s not liturgical, it’s one of those things that it’s expected from the parish priest in a small community. After the Paschal Vigil I just thank everyone who has helped to make posible the Triduum celebrations (without mentioning by name or anything) and that there is some cake and champagne outside the church. It takes 30 seconds to say it. In the parish newsletter I specified the different groups that have helped.

  28. frmh says:

    I am completely opposed to any notices or thanks in the post communion period or after Holy Mass, this is completely protestant and is from the Evil One.

    If there are notices let them be before the ceremonies or prior to the sermon.

    The post communion period is about thanksgiving but thanksgiving to God!

    If you want a ritual for this you could go no further than the list of thanksgiving prayers given in the 1962 missal.

    Just as evil is the priest going to the door and shake hands. There will be no renewal of devotion to the real presence while these two protestant innovations continue at Holy Mass.

    Mass Ends, get on your knees, and that includes you Frs, your graces and your eminences.

  29. ray from mn says:

    A Cardinal (?Arinze?) fairly recently noted that those lay people who assist at a Mass are Ministers and do not need recognition or applause, especially by name: deacons, servers, lectors, choirs, choir leaders, ushers, etc. Only in the most unusual of circumstances will I applaud.

  30. AMTFisher says:

    At the end of the Easter Vigil at the parish I went to this year, the priest had us welcome/congratulate the 12 people who had entered the Church (6 baptisms, 6 receptions into full Communion) with clapping. (He made a distinction, quoting Cardinal Ratzinger on applause in the Liturgy, between applause and congratulating.)

    It is a very traditional OF parish (ad orientem started 3 Advents ago, Gregorian chant at almost every Mass, and we are currently in the transition phase of putting in an altar rail [a row of kneelers placed at the front of the sanctuary]) so it is not a very normal occurrence to have any sort of clapping, but it was fitting. As a convert from Methodism and Episcopalianism, it felt like the right way to congratulate our new brethren.

  31. Mike of Arkansas says:

    When the bishop gets down his “Thanks, Guys!” list to the gaffer, key grip, best boy, and foley artist, you’ll know it’s time to head for the exit.

  32. cengime says:

    Last year, the newly assigned parochial vicar, after celebrating Mass on a holy day of obligation, could not resist mentioning that he had never seen a church so full on a holy day of obligation, and then, he invited us to give ourselves a round of applause. God forbid.

  33. frjim4321 says:

    It’s not just the presiders who do the thanking, its the [strong]expectation[/strong] that people will be thanked.

    And the [strong]expectation[/strong] that the presider will add, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy New Year,” “Happy Easter,” etc. And God forbid if the past does not say, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

    I got reamed once, “You didn’t say Happy Mother’s Day,” by a woman leaving mass. And it was the SATURDAY, not the SUNDAY!

  34. Rosary Rose says:

    No no no. A million times NO. It is all about Jesus. I am singing for Him, our worship should be all for Him. In a nutshell, this is what our Mass lost after VII – it’s no longer ALL About Jesus. When Our Mass lost that focus, so did Our Church.

    Sweet Mother Mary, help us get our focus back.

    Thank you Father Z. :)

  35. Kathleen10 says:

    frjim makes a good point. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s just not easy being a priest. I don’t know how you don’t all end up terrible cranks. But God bless our priests for doing it!

  36. PTK_70 says:

    @frjim4321…..It’s not right that a moralizing, imperious woman should hector you. In addition to fixing our liturgies, here’s a plea that we also fix our manners and decorum.

  37. surritter says:

    I occasionally fill in as organist at our parish, and the “thanks” stuff has been dished out only a few times, usually followed by applause from the congregation. My feelings: I HATE IT! ARRRRGH!

    Look, when I play the organ or when the choir sings, it is our form of prayer. How would any of us like it if someone comes up behind you and starts applauding when you finish your prayers? Then please show the same respect for the musicians and DON’T APPLAUD.

  38. araustin02 says:

    Even worse at our Easter Sunday Mass, after all the thanking and applause, Father listed how many hours he had been working at the church each day during Holy Week, as if the sacrifice we were celebrating that week was his. This turned the post-Mass greeting time into a procession of thanks to the pastor.

  39. Phil B says:

    “I’d like to thank Jesus Christ for making this Holy Sacrifice possible, and all the parish for making it necessary.”

  40. YellowRoses says:

    Every Christmas and Easter (and only Christmas and Easter) before the final blessing (along with the announcements) Father will briefly thank the groups of people who helped make Mass beautiful, including the choir. I know the choir director appreciates the thanks, but as a choir member I’d appreciate it more if people wouldn’t turn around and grin at us like we’re some performers or something.
    I suppose Father is trying to publicly express his gratitude and implicitly tell everyone that it was a communal effort (humilitas est veritas).

    As for applause, the only time it ever rings in our church (thankfully!) is alongside Sacraments. So, Confirmation, First Communion, Baptisms, we’ll applaud to show our congratulations. I think it’s in line with what Pope Benedict says as it is technically a Holy Spirit––not human––achievement…

  41. AnnTherese says:

    I don’t mind one way or the other. I believe it’s done with good intent and sincere appreciation. Better at end of homily than after Communion.

    I have a bigger problem with announcements– especially when they are repeating everything that is in the bulletin. Unless it’s an immediate event like, “Hey, don’t forget that the youth group is serving brunch in the parish hall right after Mass. Join us!” And even that’s too many words…

    The older I get, the more I appreciate the simplicity of daily Mass: no music, no announcements, no parades, no thanks, no homily (or mercifully brief). Just what is essential.

    The Easter Mass I attended this year had no music. Not on purpose, I think, just circumstances. I must say, it was… different! Instead of the usual charged, joyful energy of Easter Mass, it seemed empty and joyless to me, especially when we spoke the Gloria. So this offered me a good opportunity to let the celebration of The Resurrection be enough joy!

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