Chatting before, during, and after Mass

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Karl_Keating

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At my previous parish I was an usher and so sat in the back at each Mass. The parish catered mainly to tourists (who accounted for 80 percent of the attendance), which let me get a sense of how people probably act in their home parishes.

One thing I came to realize is that Catholics no longer are very good at keeping their lips zipped. Before and after Mass they chat loudly in the vestibule and somewhat more softly in the nave. Even during Mass some chat.

Then something else occurred to me. If I had been asked beforehand who it was that most likely would chat vs. who most likely would be quiet, I would have said: The young ones will tend to chat, while older Catholics, who might remember old customs, will be quiet.

Not so. What I found, consistently, was that it was older Catholics, especially elderly Catholics, who chatted most–not just before and after Mass but even during Mass.

Have you noticed anything similar?
 
I’ve noticed that too. I think, for one thing, many elderly are hard of hearing and don’t know how loud they sound.
 
I go to daily Mass sometimes at a church near my work. Once they are done with the Rosary, often there are some elderly women who obviously meet every morning, and they enjoy a nice loud whispering chat before the Mass begins. I’m not sure whether to be annoyed or amused, but I figured out where not to sit pretty quickly. They are happily oblivious…
 
Karl Keating:
At my previous parish I was an usher and so sat in the back at each Mass. The parish catered mainly to tourists (who accounted for 80 percent of the attendance), which let me get a sense of how people probably act in their home parishes.

One thing I came to realize is that Catholics no longer are very good at keeping their lips zipped. Before and after Mass they chat loudly in the vestibule and somewhat more softly in the nave. Even during Mass some chat.

Then something else occurred to me. If I had been asked beforehand who it was that most likely would chat vs. who most likely would be quiet, I would have said: The young ones will tend to chat, while older Catholics, who might remember old customs, will be quiet.

Not so. What I found, consistently, was that it was older Catholics, especially elderly Catholics, who chatted most–not just before and after Mass but even during Mass.

Have you noticed anything similar?
Yup! It’s especially bad when they have difficulty hearing so they compensate by talking louder.

I think a great deal of this stems from a lack of fellowship before and after the Mass. A truly good coffee and doughnuts program after Mass would do a lot to end the chatting in many parishes.
 
Another thing about the elderly is that this might be one of their few social outlets. Maybe they don’t get out that much and perhaps live alone. They might have limited opportunities thoughout the week for interaction with others.

Also, perhaps some of them have lost a little perspective on what is acceptable. Their social inhibitions might have become altered as they age.
 
Father Brown in Orlando delivered a great Homily regarding this about a year ago by making a point that the sanctuary is not for socializing nor being a social club. He said if you want to chat, do so at the parish’s cafeteria. Before his Homily, there have been (and still are) signs at the entrances of the Santuary asking people to observe the Sacred Silence. I totally agree.
 
Well, to be honest, in the parishes I’ve attended almost everyone seems to talk before, during and after the Mass, so it’s hard for me to single out just the older folks.

However, there is a bit of an attitude among some older folks I’ve met that is, I don’t know, exuberantly defiant of the traditions in which they were raised. It’s as if they felt unduly burdened, or at least someone told them they should have felt burdened, in the bad old days before Vatican II and now they’ve been told they should feel free to treat the church as their living room so they will just chat away and carry on because they want to be up-to-date in their Catholicism, doggone it.

Frequently I find these are the same adults (some younger and some not so young) that prefer to attend the Life Teen Mass despite the fact that there haven’t been any Teens in their homes for many decades. I don’t know, is it too simplistic to say that the attitude is: well, young people these days don’t pay any mind to the old customs and we don’t want to appear old, so we’ll act just like the young people (or at least how we imagine them acting).

The hard of hearing argument works just as well for me, or better actually.

It took me a while to adjust to the realization that one was not supposed to chitchat in church at all, having come from a megachurch background where one frequently brought in note-taking materials along with one’s Bible, as well as the occasional latte!

I grew up commenting and critiquing (well, criticizing) all the various components of a service, during the service!, especially the music since my mother is a professional musician and employed by her church as such. What horrible snippiness I engaged in!

Now, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to shush my husband while not offending him or his attempts to be loving (distract me?) or ask questions (convey his boredom?) during Mass on those few occasions when he does attend with me.
I wish just once we could get through Mass without the free-for-all of hugging and back-slapping that goes on during the sign of Peace. Talk about disruption of the Mass! But that topic has been well covered on another thread…

the Hidden Wife
 
I am a massage therapist who has a large elderly clientele. I think the reason is that they are so hungry for conversation & interaction with others. It is quite possible that for some, church on Sunday is the only opportunity. I have some clients that I just allow a few minutes extra to chat before expecting the next client, cause no matter how politely you try to say that you’ve gotta go, they just won’t go!

Hidden Life - I went to a neighboring parish whose Mass started an hr after my own parish one Sun when we were running a little late. Well, we didn’t know it was LifeTeen. I was shocked by the huge no. of retireees. My 14 yo daughter hated it & said “I feel like I haven’t even been to Church”
 
I usually attend Mass at my own parish. It seems that quite a few people of all ages carry on conversations before, after and during Mass.

Over the past few years, I have also frequently attended at the parish in which I was raised. The atmosphere is quite different: quiet and reverent - before, during and after Mass.

I believe the main difference between the two is the location of the tabernacle. In my on parish, Jesus has been moved to a separate chapel. At the other He remains in the main sanctuary.
 
Our parish is are pretty Orthodox and people young and old respect the silence before mass. We used to have a problem before Mass due to the Gathering Space being so visible to the main Church Worship space. He had a separator of sort’s built in the hallway to separate the spaces further. It is better but not perfect.

After mass it is irritating sometimes as the buzz starts the minute father has processed out of the main church into the Hall between the main Church and the hall and the Gathering space. Father has tried to quiet that down too but so far to no avail.

We have a mixture of offenders. Many oldster’s…(I am not one of those oldsters who do it btw) do tend to gab. I find it annoying as they of all people should know better and set a good example. The young couples with children seem to do it after Mass but not before. I think their parents are doing a stellar job of raising them right. But after Mass, they have a hard time corralling the kiddies to get them out into the acceptable space.

I have always thought (JMHO) of course, that a lot of it has to do with the way our parish is built. 1976 modern no frills. Although, our priest has tried to rearrange it to a better reverent space it still lacks the old feeling of awe in design.
Our Tabernacle is properly placed in the center of the Altar. (It’s ugly as sin btw, but it’s noticeable.) Sigh! We are slated to build a new church in the next 8- 10 years. If father has his way and we have our way, it will be beautiful and a return to reverent architecture.
 
During a confirmation Mass I attended, everyone was talking loudly before the Mass started. Such disrepect in the Church. Even worse one time, I have seen people go up in the altar and wander around.
 
I frequently see this, and worse. Throughout my diocese (Dallas) children are running wild in the church during Mass. They are talking, playing with toys and eating. The parents encourage this by, of course, providing them with the toys and food during Mass. Three weeks ago a child with a toy car was running down the aisle during Mass, pushing the car along the back of the pew. Absolutely terrible, and frankly quite depressing.

Its hard enough to try to be a devout Catholic nowadays, when our Church is being assaulted from absolutely all sides and in some cases rotting from within. Can we not even have reverence and peace at Mass? The cumulative effect of all of this has sometimes lead to a crisis of faith for me, I’m sad to say. I’m not leaving the Church or anything like that, but it hurts.

I agree with Elizabeth – maybe part of the problem is the removal of Jesus from the sanctuary. When I was a kid, I was always taught to be respective and reverent in church because Jesus was there. This was reinforced by genuflection. Do people even genuflect anymore?

Thank you for letting me vent, and I welcome your comments.

Matt
 
My former pastor actually encouraged talking in church before the Mass. His thought was that no one should be a stranger to the ones sitting next to you. Ugh!
 
I’m very fortunate. In my parish, you can tell the “visitors” by their lack of reverence. They are ususally there for a Baptism or First Communion. Our parishioners and our priest are not shy about asking people to respect the Sacred Silence.
 
Yep, it’s the same in my neck of the woods. One day the chatter (from children!) was so bad the priest just before the closing prayer reminded folks that they should control their kids and that a “crying room” is available for uppity children. Now all we need is a “blabbing room” for the adults.

I think the lowest point in the parish I attend Mass was when a cell phone went off. Again we got a reminder from the priest to turn off cell phones because it is disrespectful. What a disgrace he even had to remind people of it! :mad:
 
What is up with the morning greeting right before Mass? At at parish I visted, a cantoress told us to greet everyone before Mass. Anybody have greetings right before Mass starts?
 
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Iohannes:
What is up with the morning greeting right before Mass? At at parish I visted, a cantoress told us to greet everyone before Mass. Anybody have greetings right before Mass starts?
This takes place at my parish before most Masses. I personally don’t care for the practice, but because it’s done outside of the actual Mass, there is no prohibition against it, other than good manners.

What I detest is when then cantor announces “Good morning. You’re all so quiet this morning. Giggle, giggle, giggle.”

That has finally stopped, thanks be to God.
 
Should anyone be so shocked that it would be the elderly that are so chatty before and after mass? If you do a little math it shouldn’t take too long to figure out that if they are 65-85 now, that would have made them 30-50 years-old in the '70’s, is that not when most of the liturgical rebellion began? Who do you think was leading the way? As I’ve noticed it, the most solidly liberal Catholics are the older ones (my dear sweet mother-in-law being one of them!). Beyond that, I find the more liberal the parish, the more yackity-yack.
 
Apart from the demographics theories, I think there is also a correlation between the type of sacred space and the activities it encourages in the same individuals. For example, parishes with meeting room type set-ups (chairs in lieu of pews) and light, “modern” designs with lots of windows and horizontal lines tend to have more folks talking before and after mass, and reaching across and behind their row to grab a hand for the Our Father. Older style churches with more verticality, fixed pews, tabernacles, and stained glass tend to quiet people, make them feel as if they have entered a sanctuary rather than a meeting hall.
 
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Marie:
I have always thought (JMHO) of course, that a lot of it has to do with the way our parish is built. 1976 modern no frills. Although, our priest has tried to rearrange it to a better reverent space it still lacks the old feeling of awe in design.
Our Tabernacle is properly placed in the center of the Altar. (It’s ugly as sin btw, but it’s noticeable.) Sigh! We are slated to build a new church in the next 8- 10 years. If father has his way and we have our way, it will be beautiful and a return to reverent architecture.
I have to agree here, our church looks more like a gymnasium than a place of worship.
 
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