Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let all mortal flesh keep silence (and cover it up, too, while you're at it)

A disturbing trend at many Novus Ordo parishes is the volume of conversation that goes on before Mass. Despite weekly reminders to keep a respectful silence in church out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, Sunday Mass sometimes resembles a social hour more than the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist. What's worse, the offenders don't even wait for the final blessing to begin chatting. Those assisting at Mass who wish to communicate with Jesus after receiving His Body must put up with incessant and inane chatter from people who clearly do not have their priorities straight. I don't know how the priest maintains his composure sometimes.

Assuming that those who engage in this mindless chatter came to church with good intentions, that is to worship the Lord on the sabbath, we can say "well, at least they show up for Mass", especially considering how many don't. But just showing up isn't what it's all about. I may not participate in these gab-fests, but I'm not always entirely present either. While the exterior chatter is certainly disrespectful and annoying, I'm convinced the distracting thoughts I struggle to put out of my mind are equally insulting to Our Lord. He knows our human frailties and weaknesses and loves us in spite of them but that doesn't excuse us from our obligation to do better.

First, there should be no chatter whatsoever before, during or after Mass unless dictated by charity. Second, we should give careful thought to what we wear to Mass. Today I saw an attractive young woman who may as well have donned a swim-suit . To wear clothing that may lead others to sin is wrong, but to wear it to church is far worse. If women insist on wearing such clothing outside of church, the least they can do is wear a jacket or shawl so that they do not become a distraction to those around them. Third, Mass is not the time to wear a cleverly-worded t-shirt to convey a message or make a political point. If you want to take your life into your hands by wearing a Cowboys jersey on the streets of Philadelphia, by all means, go ahead. But it's not the attire to wear to Mass. Too many times the Communion line begins to resemble a walking advertisement for sports teams, sandwich shops and favorite brews. It's not about us, it's supposed to be about Him and our clothing should reflect that.

Then there is the bolting out the door before the priest even genuflects before leaving the altar. How many of these people would bolt out the door if their favorite singer or movie star was about to come down the aisle? Priests marry us, baptize our children, bury our dead and bring us Christ in the Eucharist. Shouldn't they garner at least as much respect from us as a celebrity? Put yourself in that priest's position for a minute and consider how you'd feel to put your heart in a sermon and see people reading the parish bulletin, checking their phones for text messages or talking to someone during the homily. What you do to your priest, you do to Christ.

God only asks an hour from us each week. We should want to spend more time with Him but for practical reasons many cannot. Therefore, let us make the most of the little time we do devote to Him . Let our actions, our dress and our attentiveness show how much we love Him, He who humbled Himself to take on our humanity and continues to humble Himself in the guise of bread and wine so that we may not feel too poor to approach Him in the sacraments.


  1. i love this post. I have actually been reprimanded for shushing a noisy parishioner before Easter Sunday Mass. then i was promptly told by her that the priest at that parish actually ENCOURAGES them to socialize before Mass. oh, and that she was the director of religious education at the parish... some people

    God Bless

  2. I find it very irritating when people talk and gab before mass like they are at a country club!


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