Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
February 15, 2009
Are Bad Manners Excusable in Church?
Over the past two months our parish has been making an effort to rectify some bad habits we have all, in varying degrees, been guilty of. This is not to say that we have bad intentions or that we do things purposely to be obnoxious or disrespectful or perhaps distracting to our fellow parishioners. In fact, the majority of these habits are simply that, poor habits. A habit is often begun unconsciously. However, if no one brings it to our attention we can continue on this road forever.
A few weeks ago, one of the weekends when we had a major snowstorm and many people were forced to stay home, our pastor focused his homily on this very topic. A couple of weeks later he wrote a follow up in the St. Peter bulletin. It is worth taking a serious look at this matter for our own spiritual well being.
A couple of weeks ago, heeding St. Paul’s injunction, in his first letter to the Corinthians, to “glorify God in your body”, I mentioned in the homily that when we come to Mass, we worship God in our bodies. I would now like to put the practical applications in writing.
Since we are worshiping God in our bodies, all of our effort must be put into it. So we come to church in a different way than we do to attend an event at the Verizon Arena. The Eucharist is not a spectator sport. It is a drama where we re-enact the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us and for the whole world. We do not come to Mass in order to watch the priest “do his thing” or what the lector is wearing, or what the choir is singing, or what the cute little altar server is doing. Rather, we participate with our whole bodies, alert in mind and present in heart.
So, there are many simple things we can do to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Eucharist in a fitting way: silence cell phones and pagers, abstain from food and alcohol, mints and gum, coffee and juice etc. We should also refrain from conversation during the Mass. (This last problem has become more prevalent over the past year or two.) We must realize that constant talking during Mass prevents us from focusing on what is truly going on. In addition, we have a duty to the others who are at Mass, including the celebrant, to not be a distraction to others by talk or inattention. We make an effort to arrive on time and not leave before the end of Mass. The hustle and bustle of late-comers and early departers is a disservice to the congregation.
We must also remind children to go the bathroom before leaving home in order to prevent a constant flow of traffic during the Mass. Again, this is very distracting to others. I am not speaking here of an infant who wails or falls, nor of an emergency that often arises. I refer to adults, seniors, young men and women and children who know better. Members of the congregation, the Christian Assembly, have an important part to play in the Mass. So, all of us make an effort to worship god in and with our bodies, our entire beings. I conclude by making my own the admonition of St. Paul in today’s excerpt: “I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Fr. C. Peter Dumont
Lorette P. Nault