Top Ten Tuesdays: Things Not to Do During Mass
During my many years of going to Mass, I have noticed how often things are either done with little reverence for the Mass itself, or done completely wrong. These issues may appear small, but, when looked at more closely, there are important reasons as to why these things should NOT be done. Without further ado, here are the top 10 things that should not be done during Mass. Please be aware where I’m using sarcasm and where I’m completely serious.
10. Talking with your neighbor: Unless it’s a response or a song or a sign of peace or something super important like “Good sir could I bother you for a tissue?” or “Madame the pew your kneeling on is crushing my foot” then you should try and keep talking to an absolute minimum.
9. Not blowing your nose, or blowing your nose loudly: I can understand not wanting to get up from the pew. You’ve claimed your spot, it’s nice and warm, all your stuff is there; but when you’re constantly snorting up all the snot in your nose , it can be very distracting, not to mention gross. It is most gross when I see you wipe your nose on your hand and then, later, hold your hand at me with a smile and want me to shake your hand. Of course I won’t refuse, but inside, there is a small part of me saying “GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF!”. If your nose is runny, excuse yourself politely and go to the bathroom and blow your nose. Proceed to wash your hands. If you acquire a tissue some other way, such as your grandmothers purse and you have a bad habit of blowing your nose so loud it sounds like a duck singing opera, then please excuse yourself politely to the bathroom. Wash your hands. Thank you. =)
8. Holding Hands: This one, while it’s not as disrespectful as clapping, takes away from meditative and more focused prayer. When you’re in the pew and someone is grabbing at your hand and squeezing it, how on earth are you going to pray the Our Father without being distracted? This occurrence of holding hands may have erupted during Masses for the younger audiences. I’m not sure. This is again one of those things that isn’t horribly wrong or sinful or anything, but the main problem is when people feel that they HAVE to do this. Many will argue they feel a sense of unity when holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. However, reciting the prayer together already brings about a sense of unity, just like when we all recite the Apostles or Nicene Creed. The act of holding hands is just one of those things we really just don’t need to do. Our attention shouldn’t be turned to the people holding our hands. We’ll be making a sign of peace to them later on during the Mass.
7. Texting or Checking your phone: I saw this all the time during my highschool Masses. Mass only takes an hour. Solemnities may take longer. People pull out their phones or try and discretely hide their phone in their laps to avoid the gaze of teachers. Turn off your phones. Look to Jesus. His words are way more important than ‘lol’ or ‘n2m sup with u’.
6. Sitting behind the choir when you have a baby that screams, cries, or is rambunctious: The main issue here isn’t that it can bother the choir. The bigger issue is that in front of the choir members there can be very sensitive microphones. If we do the math, analyze the frequency of the pitches of the screams, and look at the volume set on the microphones, we can therefore deduce that when you sit behind a microphone with a screaming baby or extremely talkative child, the sounds will become projected and very distracting. Please read MamaJ’s post for further details.
5. Wearing clothes that you shouldn’t wear: This is becoming more and more of a concern. There are some things you should definitely not wear to church:
- Shirts that say things or have emblems on them such as: I’m with stupid ->, I ❤ Marilyn Manson, or I love poop, are definitely things you shouldn’t wear at church… or at all for that matter.
- See through shirts with just a bra on. I don’t care if this is ‘fashion’. It is just bad. Really bad…
- Pants that are too low. Seriously guys. It’s Mass. Wear a belt. Seeing boxers, underpants, or bums can be very distracting.
- Cleavage showing shirts. As a woman who was graced with… womanly charms, this is an issue I come across a lot and am constantly trying to fix. However, there are solutions that are my go-to in those situations. Not too long ago, tank tops were invented. They are very useful for wearing under shirts that without a tank top, would show a little too much. Another useful item that can solve the problem of immodesty is the scarf, which has existed for centuries. If you are still struggling, perhaps it may be time to make some alterations, or go to R&W and Co. and buy a very nice tank top that has extra coverage.
- Short skirts or short dresses. No. Just no.
4. Clapping: It drives me up the wall when someone initiates clapping while Mass is going on. Thanking the choir every week or clapping after they have done the music for the day. Thanking people for making breakfast downstairs. Thanking people for the Christmas Decorations. It’s not really needed. A quote by Pope Benedict XVI sums up what applause can represent when it is not needed: 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).
3. Dancing: Clapping AND Dancing is just not okay during Mass, even during the closing hymn. Having just celebrated the Eucharist, should we not be reverent to Christ within us and be respectful to the sacrifice he made for us? To sing a joyful hymn is a lovely thing to do in order to celebrate, but as soon as you’re dancing in the pews doing all the dance moves to Trading my Sorrows, the attention is directed to ourselves and enjoying some kind of follow the leader dance party. It’s totally okay to dance and clap at a rally. It’s not okay to dance and clap at Mass.
2. Sitting at the end of the pew: Unless you have a good reason (like IBS, urinary incontinence, the flu, a broken limb, small children, a wheel chair, or mobility issues) don’t sit at the end of the pew and just stay there when people are trying to get a seat too. There is nothing more distracting than watching some poor family or elderly couple have to cross over another person who wants to sit at the end of the pew so they can leave Mass early. The pews are big. Sit in the middle if you don’t want to move. If you want to leave your pew after Mass in a timely fashion, then simply stand up and let the other people into the pew so that you can leave at the appropriate time, which is after Mass. If you’re in no rush, then move along the pew and sit in the middle.
1. Leaving Early: This one is a pretty bad one. What happens is that people will leave right after Communion so they can get out of the parking lot before it becomes too crazy. It’s a known fact though that the mass is not over until the priest says “The Mass has ended, go in peace”. My parish is one of those parishes where it’s often a tight squeeze, and if you arrived late you might have a hard time getting out of the parking lot after the 11 o’clock Mass. To wait the five extra minutes for the Mass to be over really won’t make getting out of the parking lot less or more difficult. When a large majority of the church community are retired folks or families with the day off, is there any reason to leave Mass early just to get to Tim Hortons before the drive thru is completely full?
I now conclude with this clip. Learn from Mr.Bean what NOT to do.