Thursday, March 11, 2010

Applause during Mass?

I recently received a note from a DOR reader who is concerned about applause during the liturgy.  He/she mentioned that a family member had counted seven rounds of applause during a recent Mass at their parish.

My correspondent is aware of the rubrics but, leaving that aside for the moment, he/she went on to note that applauding for everything and everybody is not much different than ending every sentence with an exclamation point.  We end up giving the same acknowledgement to everything from, say, a birthday to a CYO basketball victory to an excellent performance by the choir to a couple celebrating 50 years of marriage. In treating everything the same we lose sight of inherent differences, of relative importance.

In my experience applause is most likely to occur near the end of Mass, during the time reserved for announcements.  While still something of an interruption, applause here seems less disruptive than it would at any earlier point.

In doing some research for this post I learned that Rich Leonardi had dealt with a related topic a little over a year ago. Rich's concern was applause in response to homilies and the comments of Father Edward McNamara in that regard seem well thought out and balanced.  (See here.)
Father McNamara reminded us that, while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, our Holy Father once wrote,
Whenever 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liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 198)
To put this in context, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was commenting on applause in response to so-called liturgical dancing during Mass, not in response to homilies or announcements near the end of Mass.  Still, his point is well-taken: When applause is a response to some human achievement, it is problematic during Mass.

My correspondent was wondering how common applause during Mass is in DOR. To answer that question I have decided to conduct my first poll - see bottom of left column.  Please feel free to participate.

1 comment:

Dr. K said...

Applause is very common in many inner-city parishes, as well as the very large suburban parishes. In some of these, it has become a weekly routine before the final blessing.

~Dr. K