Is It Okay to Applaud at Mass? Here’s What Four Popes Have Said About It...

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Has this happened at your parish?

It is fairly common to experience or hear about people applauding during or at the end of Mass.

Whether it be for the priest after a homily, for a cantor, or even for the choir after the liturgy has concluded. Is this really okay?

Recently, YouTube personality Lizzie Reezay brought the point to light:

Her tweet reads, “THIS PAST SUNDAY a ton of people at my parish applauded for the cantor and pianist once mass ended. It made me SO uncomfortable and this helps me understand why.”

Below her tweet, she reposted a quote by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (before he was  Pope Benedict XVI).

Here’s what he said about applauding at Mass:

“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liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does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." (The Spirit of the Liturgy) 

Also, here is a video by Catholic Answers Live that gives us a little bit more perspective on the issue:

In the video, a caller, referring to the parish’s choir asks, “Is it appropriate to applaud for the choir after Mass? Is this an approved practice?”

Fr. Vincent Serpa said, “Absolutely not. It’s most inappropriate and it’s the responsibility of the pastor to make sure that the congregation understands this. The choir is not singing as a matter of entertaining anybody. They’re singing to worship God. We don’t clap for prayer. We pray.”

He continues, “Again, that is not an option. If we were someplace else it would be a different matte.r But Liturgy is liturgy. It’s the worship of God, and it need to be done in an appropriate way as the Church sees fit. It’s good that they appreciate the choir, but they can thank them outside. Applause is not appropriate at that time.”

Fr. Vincent adds, “There are times when that’s called for, as in the ordination ceremony when you are asked to give the response to the worthiness of the candidate for ordination. But this isn’t that. This is something else. You don’t clap at the end of Mass because you had a good time. That’s not what it’s about.”

Pope Saint John XXIII also said as people waited for him to arrive to a church outside of Rome, “I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’" (‘The temple of God is the temple of God.’)

In a very powerful quote, Pope Saint Pius X said, “It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in his Master’s house.”

Finally, Pope Francis, not known for his interest in a more traditional perspective on liturgy also called the faithful to silence both before and after Mass, when he said,

“When we go to Mass, maybe we arrive five minutes before, and we start to chitchat with those in front of us,” the Pope said. However, “it is not a moment for chitchat.”

“It is a moment of silence for preparing ourselves for dialogue, a time for the heart to collect itself in order to prepare for the encounter with Jesus,” he said, adding that “silence is so important.”

The bottom line, there is no good reason for applause and chitchat. We spend very little time in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and we should use that time to turn our hearts and minds completely to God. We have plenty of time outside of Mass for fellowship and community engagement and applause has its place but it is not within the Mass.

 

 

This article has been edited but appeared in its original form in ChurchPop and is used with permission.

Image: Three Popes - Public domain Wikimedia Commons

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