Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Right to Offend vs The Right Not to be Offended

Confession time.  I wrote this title and then saved it because  life's duties called me away, including Noon Mass.  The priest had just said "Let us pray" when some one's cell phone went off and they answered it.  Now, the offender in this case is an increasingly physical and emotionally fragile creature who looks like the next unkind word toward him might very well cause his demise.  With whatever intelligence and dignity he has left, he seems drawn to the Mass and adoration afterward.  Sure, what he did was wrong, but what followed was worse.

A woman, who, God forgive me, has a flair for drama, came leaping across the aisle, tripping over the other people in her row, to chastise this individual for allowing his phone to ring at Mass.  She was so loud, that I could not hear the words of the collect.  It took every fiber of my being not to leap across the people in my own row and tell her to sit down and shut up.  The priest rolled his eyes but said nothing about the incident.

At the prayers of intercession, the bad habit of opening the floor to input from the congregation lead to another spectacle, with the Drama Queen imploring the congregation to have more respect for the Lord and His Church with appropriate behavior at Mass, as though what she had just done was appropriate.

You don't know how hard it was NOT to offer my own prayer of intercession in response - that those of us carrying logs in our eyes resist the temptation to reach across and pull the speck from our neighbor's.  To do so would surely have reduced this already-compromised Mass into a free for all of people insisting "I'm right, no I'M right, etc"

I have found the fragile offender to be somewhat annoying in the past, but it's clear his engine is no longer running on all 6 cylinders.  The Drama Queen, on the other hand, is someone whose very presence I find repulsive, and I have to keep begging the Lord's mercy for the feelings she provokes in me.   I've never been warm to people who take signs of piety to extremes while at the same time forgetting about charity.   Then again, sometimes I think the Lord  puts people who are extreme in our paths because it's the only way we'll see our own faults.

How many times has some yahoo answered their phone at Mass where I didn't want to leap across the aisle and throttle them, or, at the very least, smash the phone to bits?  When we God's forgiveness for sinning "in thought, word, and deed" does it mean that thinking something isn't as sinful as doing it?


I saw a post on Acts of the Apostasy where a couple who own a Vermont inn are being sued by two lesbians from New York for discrimination. The inn keepers are devout Catholics and it would be a compromise of their faith and of their Church's teachings to allow  the women to hold a "wedding" reception at the inn but also for the inn's owners to profit from it.  As the blog's author rightly pointed out, you can't discriminate against lesbians having a so-called wedding reception, but it's ok to ban children under the age of 6 from eating in a restaurant?

Here are a few things that offend me. Some of these things are chock-full of ironies.

-People who can't keep their butt-cracks and cleavage contained within their own clothing
-People who foul the air while I'm taking a walk with cigarette smoke
-Public displays of "affection" that border on lewdness
-Other people's cell phone conversations that are liberally spiked with profanation of the Lord's name
-Dog owners who don't pick up after their precious pups
-So-called intellectuals who mock Christianity and Catholicism in particular
-"Mothers" who beat and berate young children
-Women who wear lingerie in public
-Able-bodied Catholics who can't be bothered to genuflect before they enter a pew at Mass
-People who are for abortion rights but who foam at the mouth at the mention of euthanizing a dog
-Militant vegans who support abortion rights but won't kill an ant

That's it for now.  That's all the crankiness I can muster in this heat.


  1. for the majority of your list i completely agree with you. someone letting their phone ring at Mass let alone answering it is just unacceptable though. in a way this post is quite amusing....

    God Bless

  2. I take the donated food items my church collects and transport them to the food bank.

    I would like permission to add to your list people who donate woefully out-of-date or opened packages (Obviously tasted and spurned!) of food to the poor.

    Today I found a jar of Cheeze Whiz in the donation basket that had expired in 1999.
    1999. The last century.
    It had separated itself into something like one of those sand paintings with many layers of different hues--an inch of oil at the bottom of the jar, then a strip of brown, then day-glo orange...Um, you get the idea.
    This is not an isolated incident, sadly.
    What goes through people's minds?

  3. Julie, you most certainly have my permission. Once I tried to organize a Thanksgiving food drive at work and I was shocked when a woman told me I'd have to wait til she went through her cabinets to look for stuff she didn't want/had expired. No shame about it whatsoever. God bless you for the work that you are doing.

    Issac, it is unacceptable, but the woman's behavior was twice as disruptive as the phone call was. You had to be there (be glad that you weren't lol)


  4. Sometimes those of us who are new, who are waiting to start RCIA, forget to genuflect. We're learning. Please be patient with us.

  5. Anonymous, it's one thing not to do so because you were never required to do it before and are just learning the faith. It's the life-long Catholics that know better to which I'm referring. Good luck and God bless you on your journey.

  6. Joyce, what a great list! I totally agree. And relative to Julie's comment about expired food, I would add donating tattered, stained clothes and used(!) underwear to collections for the poor as well.

  7. Oh my, what a scene at Church. I think I would have been embarressed for all involved. I can't imagine it going that far.

    I don't know if I told you this story before. A few years back there was a young priest giving a mass I was at, and his homily was a sort of fire and brimstone sermon on being respectful in church. He mentioned many of the things you have mentioned in your various blogs: dressing respectfully, babies crying, talking, and cell phones going off. And then shortly after the homily, somewhere during the Euchrestic prayer a phone goes off. And no one answers it or shuts it off. It keeps ringing and people are looking around - who could be the guilty one. It must have gone ten rings and there's no sign of it stopping. Suddenly the priest reaches under his vestment and pulls out a phone from his pants pocket and shuts it off. LOL, the congregation kind of giggled and snickered and the priest turned beet red. But then he continued with mass and it was forgotten. It was incredible that he had mentioned that very thing in his homily. I told this story to a friend later on and he thought the priest was set up. I don't know, but it was some coincident.

    I saw that story too today about the Catholic who refused to allow a gay marriage on their property too. I find it outrageous. If you look at the details of the story, the Catholic owners had no problem renting to gays, and they had done it many times. But they did not feel marriage was appropriate.

    This already is getting very long, but I like your list too.

  8. You know, I forgot to mention my actual reaction,and not just what I was thinking. I covered my face with my hands until it was over, it was that painful to watch. Manny, I've seen that happen to priests before. Do as I say, not as I do lol. That's why my phone is ALWAYS on vibrate.

  9. Ha, I leave my phone in the car. ;) If it's happened to other priests, maybe this is someway priests do pennence. It just seemed too coincidental for it to just happen.

  10. Joyce: Reserve a little indignation for the pastor of your Church who allowed things to get to the point where anyone, irrespective of their mental status, is answering a telephone at the Holy Sacrfice of the Mass. While her behavior was outrageous, one has to wonder what kind of abuse had to persist, over what period of time, for a parishoner engage in such behavior. It seems rather akin to children assuming parentified roled in the absence of functioning parents.

  11. Anonymous
    First off, this did not happen at my parish. I'm not able to get to my own parish most of the time during the weekdays. Second, I have observed the behavior of both of these people in the past. If this man is chronically disrupting things with his phone, as she claimed, wouldn't it have been better to call him aside BEFORE Mass began and remind him to turn it off? But yes, I also blame the pastor who runs this church. There should be an emphatic announcement before Mass begins about turning off cell phones and the kind of people attracted to this church (patron saint of impossible causes) are often the kind who need such a reminder. But getting back to the Drama Queen - it is such that if she sits near me, I move because her own behavior is so distracting. She sits in wait for anyone to make a noise, be it throat clearing on an infant cooing, and then she turns on the offender with dirty looks and loud "shhhhs". I know I'm easily annoyed, but this takes the cake. Meanwhile, when SHE first sits down, you have to endure a lot of heavy breathing, sighing, and "Dear Lord, help me." Apparently, when SHE annoys people, it's ok. No matter how badly other people bother us at Mass, it kind of defeats the purpose when the action taken to correct the behavior causes an even bigger distraction. And there is NO excuse or justification whatsoever for someone to correct another person so loudly that the collect can't be heard. I never have any shortage of sins to confess, as this post clearly indicates.


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