by Apostoli_Viae


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

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liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does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

    Theresa Schwartz

    So important for many to know this, I take for granted that people have similar knowledge that I have sometimes, which is complete ignorance on my part!
  • Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    Thank you! So now how to send a memo to all in the Church?
  • Dan Burke

    Dan Burke

    @Teresa - right - I think God did that through all these Popes...
  • Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    Yes, I agree Dan. But so few have heard or even realize this is inappropriate. I hear people say I come to the 8 am Mass for the music. Oh isn't it great how so and so's daughter reads at Mass( the daughter is a 2nd grader)? Let us show appreciation for so and so's service at X parish with a round of applause. I am sure each of us could go on and on. Fortunately, I had read Ratzinger, Pius X and Pope Francis' stance but I sought to find this. Living in a world which is used to being entertained, one thinks there is kindness in their applaud...showing an appreciation. So instead of the anger and disbelief I once had, I realize "many do not know what they do not know". Lord help us as we learn more to share in love with others so we are reverent in our worship. Thank you for sharing this and also the additions made to the article. Is there a way to share this post?
  • Judy Silhan (AV)

    Judy Silhan (AV)

    Teresa, I know it is not always prudent or easy to leave a difficult parish; but I have no regrets for leaving my former parish in CA, where there were so many Liturgical abuses, including clapping, conversations right in front of the Tabernacle (the pastor continues to allow it), refusal to allow kneelers, etc. Very happy to have migrated to the beautiful Cathedral here in Birmingham. (As I said, not everyone can or should do this, just happy I could do so.)
  • Diana von Glahn (AV-M)

    Diana von Glahn (AV-M)

    This is awesome. I recently started celebrating Mass at an FSSP parish very close to my home (thank you, Jesus!) and have only recently realized how often the Novus Ordo (post Vatican II) Mass is more about the people and “performances”—the readers, the choir or cantor, sat up by the altar so everyone can see, the altar kids, etc—and NOT about God. As someone who used to often read and cantor, I now feel that, at the Latin Mass, I am where I belong, worshipping God, focusing on Him and giving thanks for the sacrifice of the Mass, instead of worrying if I read too fast or sang out of tune. It’s not about us. It’s about HIM. Also, I hope it’s ok for me to share this: our pastor recently shared with us the fact that between the Sanctus and the Our Father, both species (bread and wine, body and blood) are present on the altar. As God is the maker and Lord of Time, He makes that moment the same moment when Christ is on the cross—the sacrifice is the same. So, in that moment, we are taken back in time (in God’s Tardis!) to the actual crucifixion, during which we can adore Christ and give thanks for His sacrifice in a way that is unlike any other. This is why, he said, at least in the Latin Mass, this time during the Mass is silent. We are to adore. Nothing else should happen at this time. Anyway. After he said that, I don’t think Mass will ever be the same for me. And it makes me laugh, walking through those front doors of the church, I think I am entering through Christ, as we recently read in the book, but also waking into a time machine that brings me back to the most important moment in all of time and space. It blows my mind.
  • Jeanette Woodley (AV2)

    Jeanette Woodley (AV2)

    I'm in the choir and unfortunately the people clap for us after Mass. It seems to be a habit after every Mass with every choir. There is clapping after someone makes an announcement and if they are particularly amusing, there is even louder clapping. Our priest encourages it by his smiles and pleasure with these actions. God help us!
  • Dan Burke

    Dan Burke

    @Diana - thank you for that testimony and I am encouraged by the joy and enthusiasm. Only one caution which I am sure is not necessary for you but might be for those who read this... The issue with the Novus Ordo is not the rite itself but the distortion of the rite. I would prefer a Latin or even more a Maronite Mass but, by God's grace, we are gifted with a High Novus Ordo every Sunday at the Cathedral in Birmingham. By His mercy, it is getting more reverent as time goes by. Anyway - I want to be sure that all Apostoli Viae members express appreciation for all valid masses even when pointing out the challenges. Grateful to hear your joy and delight. You are a gift.
  • Diana von Glahn (AV-M)

    Diana von Glahn (AV-M)

    @Dan Absolutely! As you say, the Holy Spirit wasn't asleep during Vatican II! :)
  • Dan Burke

    Dan Burke

    @Diana - it is a joy to watch God at work in you.




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