Friday, July 29, 2011

Mass Decorum

One of the reasons, among several, that I feel more comfortable in the Latin Mass—the Extraordinary Form— is that there is a notably deeper quiet and degree of respect for the holiness within the church during Mass compared with that at the Ordinary Mass.

Everyone dresses modestly and I have never heard anyone speaking above a whisper at the Latin Mass, yet at the other, it happened daily.

This article from the Catholic News Agency addresses that.

An excerpt.

“Today, a very casual attitude pervades all our social interactions. Proper church etiquette, like all civil behavior, suffers greatly in our day. The way that we dress for church is casual. Sometimes more suited for the sports field or beach! Our observance of silence is casual as well. Not infrequently people chew gum in church, keep their cell phones on and talk during the liturgy.

“The way that we behave in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament has changed much in the last two generations. Genuflecting when coming before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle is rarely done. At funerals and weddings, as some come to receive Holy Communion, they stop and chat with others instead of approaching the Lord in prayerful recollection. In some places, reverence to the Eucharist is withheld when the mandated rituals of purification of the sacred vessels after Communion are laid aside for a more casual disposal of the fragments of the Eucharist and the remains of the Precious Blood.

“To begin, when we come to church, we are not coming to just an ordinary building. We are entering a sacred place. Yes, the church is, first of all, the People of God “made one as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one and … the temple of God built with living stones, in which the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth” (Order of the Dedication of a Church, ch. II, 1). Nonetheless, the church building is made holy not simply by the worshiping community, but by the very Presence of God.

“Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres…and market-places: but [in church]…there should be stillness, and quiet and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose” (St. John Chrysostom). We are not attending a performance. We are participating in liturgy, the very worship of God. In church, we are most visibly before God. Even our dress should acknowledge this. As St. Cyprian once said, “The dress of the body should not discredit the good of the soul.”