Skip to comments.Spring fever: First Communions, weddings and “people who act as though they are at a ball game”
Posted on 04/28/2013 5:48:02 PM PDT by NYer
My blog neighbor Fr. Mike Duffy notes that it’s that time of year again: the season for weddings and First Communions. Unfortunately, as Fr. Duffy notes, these events are often the very definition of a “mixed blessing”:
I would never want to be cold or discourage anyone from coming to Church. But I do hope that anyone who comes to a church ceremony would be respectful. Unfortunately, some people dont know how to compose themselves in Church any more. Ive found those experiences to be incredibly discouraging. As someone who loves the Church and her sacraments its hard to fathom how people can act in church as though they are at a ball game.
The good father has some advice on how he has learned to handle these things:
Read the rest. Also worth noting is some experience from our other Resident Padre, Fr. Dwight Longenecker:
The wedding party turned up for the rehearsal on the Friday and, as usual, people were in high spirits, but in this case there was some rolling of eyes and poor behavior from some of the non Catholics. I was told by one of the assistants that they were mocking the Catholic Church and making light of what was going on.
So, as I conducted the rehearsal I explained about the Catholic view of marriage and discussed Gods love and our human loves and what the different elements of the ceremony actually meant. Then, the next day, as the wedding began I welcomed everyone and explained that we call this ceremony the solemnization of marriage and that, while it is a joyful event, it is also a solemn religious ritual. I explained that God is present here and I invited them to join in with the prayers and treat the ceremony as solemnly as possible so that it would be as beautiful and meaningful as possible for the bride and groom.
The marriage went on, and I noticed that everyone actually responded. People who had been casual and slouchy were standing erect and tall and silent. They had put their cameras away. They knelt reverently and listened carefully to the readings and homily. They were caught up in the ceremonyand this was especially noticeable amongst the non-Catholics.
Then when it came to the blessing of the rings the ten year old boy stepped forward with the rings pinned to a pillow and he was weeping freely. I looked across and saw that one of the beefy groomsmen was also wiping away a tear. The matron of honor was weeping and so was another bridesmaid. Now I know people always cry at weddings, but this was quite extraordinary and I sensed that what was making them weep was a real and tangible presence of Godand that their awareness of his presence was empowered by the fact that they took my words about the solemnity of the ritual seriously.
How beautiful it is, and how necessary, therefore for all of our sacraments to be celebrated with sacred solemnity.
Solemnity? What’s that? I think too many of our faithful have forgotten.
I had a harrowing experience a couple years back, at a baptism involving a whopping 14 babies — a personal record for me. Add in the parents, godparents, grandparents, relatives and hangers-on, and we had a couple hundred people filling the pews. Some were clearly not Catholic; many had not set foot in a church in years. As the baptisms commenced, families would gather in the aisle to pose for pictures, chat, laugh, coo at the baby. It got to be ridiculous. And rude. When I completed the baptisms and needed to continue with the rest of the rite, I literally had to scream to get everyone’s attention and try to bring things back to order. It was nuts. But I learned my lesson. I now begin every baptism with a cautionary word: “We are in the presence of God, in His house,” I remind them. “This isn’t a catering hall or an amusement park. And this isn’t a party. It’s a celebration, yes. But we are celebrating a sacrament. What is about to happen here is something sacred. Remember that. Please. And please act accordingly. Respect God, whose house this is, and respect the other families who are here for this sacrament. No running on the aisles. Don’t act like paparazzi taking pictures of Britney Spears. Stay in one place. And remember to act like you are in church. Because you are.”
It’s amazing to me that things like that have to be said. But they do. I haven’t had any problems since.
Weddings are another matter. Among some people, there’s the temptation to turn the ceremony into a frat party. (I once heard of a bride who was so drunk on her wedding day that she threw up as she processed down the aisle.) But the biggest problem we encounter at my parish is tardiness. We charge a late fee ($150) if the wedding doesn’t start on time. But if you’re spending 20 or 30 grand on the big day, that’s peanuts, and it doesn’t discourage people from arriving for the ceremony 30 or 45 minutes late. If they’re really late, it’s not uncommon for us to have to change a Mass into a ceremony, to get people out of the church before the 5 p.m. vigil mass on Saturday night. (Generally, we won’t have a wedding after 3 p.m. for that reason … but when they don’t show up until 4, well, that’s a problem.)
So yeah: I understand exactly the sort of thing our blogging priests are talking about. And I suspect you do, too. But in an age when fewer people are going to church, what can we expect? It makes all of our jobs harder.
I can only echo what Fr. Mike said at the end of his post:
It can be very discouraging when it seems as though no one else in the church gets what is going on. But then there are those celebrations that truly remind us what we are doing there. The couples that truly get it. The kids that attend Mass regularly. In the end, every Mass is perfect. Jesus Christ is present, the couple is married, the person is buried, the child is confirmed. Would that we could all attend Mass in a respectful and dignified manner. Would that we all realize just what is going on. It all starts with me. It all starts with you.
We’re all familiar with A & P catholics. Perhaps we should refer to this group as C & W catholics?
Sounds like people who’ve never or almost never been at any indoor worship service, be it Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic or whatever. That is more and more common today in the USA, sadly. They weren’t familiar with the expected decorum where people are always respectfully paying attention to whatever is going on in the ceremony. The fact that they respected the officiating person’s request showed that the problem was mostly one of unfamiliarity.
Weddings can run over for a variety of reasons. I remember one I played piano at where the power failed and the rain was drenching. People took shelter inside for over an hour till the rain let up and the power came back. Then the photographer finished up.
Hmm....Can’t say I know what an A&P Catholic is. I know C&E Catholics (Christmas & Easter)....
I remember years ago at my sister’s wedding rehearsal at their local Catholic Church, this type of respect was commanded right off the bat as the priest came marching into the Church, banging on his bible and loudly saying, “It is entirely too loud in here! I don’t know how you Protestants do it, but we Catholics remain quiet and respectful in the Church!”
Problem was, it was the Catholics that were making all the noise. :-)
At the time, my sister and I were not Catholic. I converted in ‘92, my sister a couple of years later. The look on my dad’s face that day when Father did that was priceless. I swear I saw steam coming out of his ears.
At the wedding, up in the choir loft, a woman beautifully sang Ave Maria. But it was much to long for Father. When she started the second stanza, he glare up to the loft and rolled his eyes.
We learned to like that old codger over the years though. He’s quite a funny old guy.
Ash Wed. / Palm Sun. (a quick google turned it up)
Does Deacon Kandra have something against Texas Ranger fans? ;-)
Being in NY, I figure that’s why he used that pic.
Lol, it wasn’t the Protestants yacking it up at that one!
It’s an issue when starting many Evangelical services. My bible church pastor took care of that one by scheduling the first hymn right at the get-go, as the last note of the prelude echoed away. The yackers HAD to stop....
Blame the Church Pastor and Bishops. Nearly all of them have failed the Church miserably. Roger Mahony is EXHIBIT #1
The priest at my church refers to these as HMDs, e.g., “hatch, match and dispatch” folk. Occasionally, they even make the Easter service.
Agreed. One thing our pastor has done has backfired just as I predicted it would. He got tired of people leaving early, so he moved the announcements to before Mass instead of after. Now people come in late and the ones that leave early still leave early.
This is the time of year that is very dangerous in that kids are out playing in the street, riding bikes and such.There’s graduations, weddings, proms, kids out for a good time, most driving for their first time.Young people are having fun, not always concerned about how they’re driving or drinking.. lost a couple of friends that way many years ago. “April is the cruelest month’’. Just be careful out there folks, nothing so important you gotta go breaking the speed limit for.
According to the Urban Dictionary:
“”Catholics (or any form of Christianity, basically) who only goes to Church on days when they give out free stuff; namely Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.
“Bob: Do you ever go to Church?
Steve: Only on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, when they give out free stuff.
Bob: Dude, you are such an A and P Catholic!””
I am not sure that I believe this. Ashes and palm fronds don’t have much value.
Solemnity? Whats that? I think too many of our faithful have forgotten.
Just look at how many come dressed as if they are attending the ball game.
The folks who show up for "giveaways" - Ashes & Palms.
I know C&E Catholics (Christmas & Easter)....
I had forgotten that expression. In this instance, I intended it to mean (First) Communion & Weddings. They also appear at Confirmations ; - )
Good for you! Priests are not cast from the same mold; they come with unique personalities. Some parishioners might feign offense at his actions. You, on the other hand, were more broadminded.
I visited one Catholic Church (I don't remember where now) where the pastor had printed in beautiful script across the inside, upper thresholds of the doors: "At the first Mass... Judas left first."
All parishes should have that above every door.