Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hold the applause, please

"Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy, because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment." Even though Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was talking about liturgical dance when he made this statement in Spirit of the Liturgy, it applies to applause for all human achievement at Mass.

People at my church routinely applaud for the choir at the end of Mass, after the recessional hymn. True, Mass has ended, but people are still standing in the presence of Jesus, who they have just received in Holy Communion, and Who just reenacted His Sacrifice on Calvary. Shouldn't this time be spent in interior recollection and prayer for an increase in grace from the heavenly food that is present within us, nourishing our soul? Instead, the focus is on the choir, and the need to show appreciation for their efforts. We don't clap and applaud for Jesus as He sacrifices Himself to His Father for our spiritual benefit at Mass, and neither should we applaud each other.

As Pope St Pius X said,"It is not fitting for the servant to be applauded in his master's house."


AquinaSavio: said...

Oooo!! I love that quote from Pope Pius X. :D

jim klasz said...

Can't say it any better than Pope Pius X.

Manfred said...

Gee, you must have attended Mass at my parish in Andover, MA, since the choir, or even just a cantor and organist, are ALWAYS applauded at end of Mass, for as long as I can remember.

But, hey, that's nothing compared to all the back-slapping that goes on after the Easter Vigil cir, er service; there isn't ANYONE who doesn't get acknowledged, some just for being there. For this - and other reasons - chiefly, the cantors and audience sing an interactive, dumbed-down "Exsultet" - I refuse to attend this service.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you!

I recently met a woman who attends a local liturgically-lazy-and-innovative parish, and she commented how she likes the applause after Mass, etc.

The next time I see her I can provide her with these quotes.

They speak so profoundly.

Rosemary Bogdan said...

Very interesting point. I think I agree with you.

Michael Leggett said...

& You wonder WHY People are NOT Inspired by the Novus Ordo Mass.

Michael Leggett said...

Ever since the DRAMATIC Change in Liturgy, it became moreNaturalistic & self-oriented:

It 1st showed in the Confetior, & then in the Offertory

Unitas said...

I was looking for the quote and found this flier, there's quite a few more quotes as well, maybe they would be good to hand out:

Therese said...

I have a friend that has an incredible voice. She use to sing once a month in a parish that we were a part of. After she had sang a couple of Sundays the congregation would applaud and she and her husband were both very embarrassed by it. They didn't like it happening at all.

Michael Leggett said...

& my Latest Latin Mass Post is up;

Some woman in Queens talks all about How The Mass has come alive for her in the Novus Ordo;

I challenge her

Cygnus said...

I don't have a problem with applause at the end of Mass, largely because I'm a former choir member.

Are you (and by extension, Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Pius) saying we also shouldn't applaud when a baby is baptized into God's kingdom, as we are always prompted to do?

I think we could be treading into scrupulosity here.

Shirley said...

What bugs me is when the priest thanks everyone from the choir to the altar servers and invites applause. He has just given us Jesus in the Eucharist and he wants us to focus on ourselves???? I agreee; I'd much rather be thinking about and giving thanksgiving to our Blessed Lord.

paramedicgirl said...

Cygnus, when a baby is baptized, or the person receiving confirmation is sealed with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, or when a priest is ordained, those are all accomplishments of the Holy Ghost. Applause is prescribed at this time to recognize the workings of the Holy Ghost, and is commendable. It is for the workings and achievements of man that it is inappropriate to seek or give applause during or immediately following Mass.

If you were standing at the foot of the cross, would you clap? Since we don't applaud when Jesus is sacrificing Himself on the altar in the representation of Calvary, why would we applaud a lesser, human, achievement?

Anonymous said...

You all should attend my parish.
90th Birthday---applause. Boy Scouts get a badge--applause. So-n-so is leaving or entering parish employment--applause. The sisters are moving out of the convent---applause. The little kids who sing are cute---applause. A baby is baptized--applause.

I am beginning to think it is me. My fellow parishioners are simply enraptured by this. They clap, they hoot and grin from ear to ear. I find myself and a few other people just standing around without clapping like dummies.

Sue Sims said...

The Latin Mass (ordinary form) I attend is free from all this sort of stuff (actually, in the UK we don't do applause nearly so much anyway): but there was one exception, a month ago, when the priest who sings the Mass for us each week had his 50th jubilee: he's a Jesuit, so he's in his eighties. We presented him with a card signed by everyone who attends that Mass, after the Ite Missa Est and the blessing but before the recessional hymn, and we applauded - that seemed the right thing to do.

Cygnus said...

Charismatics applaud during Mass all the time. It might not be a bad idea.

Rubrics? Canon law?

Mark said...


Chapter 3 of Spirit of the Liturgy may be read here. You might want to read it before buying the book. :) It's a remarkable book, and not very expensive; it is a real help in understanding and getting a deeper sense of actual participation in the mass, per the call of Vatican II, which is what this post is about.

Cygnus said...

Appreciate it, Mark, but until I see anything that says such applause either violates canon law or the rubrics, I'll consider this a question of taste, regardless of what the Holy Father wrote.

PG conceded that this takes place after Mass is *complete*. I thought the time after receiving the Eucharist was when to contemplate Jesus' sacrifice that we just received.

I don't think I'd want to be part of a parish where no one made any noise after Mass. Before Mass, silence is certainly appropriate.

Again, we're quibbling about preferences, and I just want it known that I don't agree with the premise of this post. I'm traditional, but not THAT traditional. But I'm not a fan of "liturgical dancing," either.

paramedicgirl said...

Cygnus, did you know that silence is prescribed in the General instruction of the Roman Missal five times?

The first says this:
Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence [to] be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner."

Silence is also prescribed in the GIRM as follows: It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily.

As for applause, I can't find the text, but it is actually prescribed for ordinations, as the faithful are asked to welcome the new priest.

So no, I don't see silence prescribed after Mass so that people can use that time in thanksgiving to God, but the saints have had much to say on the topic.

You may want to check out this link for why applause is not appropriate in Mass.

Cygnus said...

Maybe we SHOULD applaud the consecration, no? It's that profound.

I'll leave it here, agreeing to disagree, and thanks for your viewpoints.

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

As Pope St Pius X said,"It is not fitting for the servant to be applauded in his master's house."

Amen to that!

Mark said...


As you are probably aware, under liturgical law, nothing explicitly called for is permitted, which is quite different from civil & criminal law, where nothing explicitly forbidden is permitted. That being the case, applauding the choir after mass is another case altogether, being outside of the mass. It is proposed in the post that applause denotes a failure to understand the mass, and I find it intersting that you, and many good people, prefer you own judgment to that offered by our supreme pastor.

It is a natural thing to want to give thanks and affirmation to those who have given us beautiful music, and we are without a doubt a clap-happy culture. However, I offer for your consideration that by applauding the choir, you are inadvertantly doing the devil's work. How is that so? because the temptation you are offering is for the choir members to accept and take credit for what was offered to God, and if they do so, rather than passing it along to Him, they loose the merit that serving in the choir would have obtained for them in heaven (they have received their reward [Mt 6:2,5]). I had this explained to me by a bishop whom I had complimented, it was very sobering. Jesus himself said that at the end of the day when all has been done, to consider ourselves as unprofitable servants [Lk 17:9-10]

If you do not find this convincing, there is another and perhaps greater consideration. Charity. Do we seek to please ourselves, or should we not follow Paul's advice, and not offend our brethren? here is a short read, written by a friend a few years ago, asking for quiet, please read it.

Reverence at Mass

May our gracious Lord grant us due consideration for those around us.

God bless,

Mark said...

Interesting article by Fr. James Schall SJ quoted by Fr. Z that bears on this topic in a broader sense:

In conclusion, I think that the words cited from Benedict in the beginning from Summorum Pontificum strike best at what I want to say here. The concern of the Supreme Pontiffs is that the Church of Christ offers "a worthy worship to the Divine Majesty." It is offered first "to the praise and glory of His name" and secondly "to the benefit of the all His Holy Church." When he promulgated this motu proprio, this is what the Holy Father had in mind. He intended precisely to "benefit" the Church, but one can only do this if we "glorify" God as God Himself has directed us.

this is an outstanding article.

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

What an utterly excellent post.

I'm thinking I'm gonna steal it from ya!!