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And Out You Go! Why Fainting Is So Common in Church
Archdiocese of Washington ^
| Msgr. Charles Pope
Posted on 05/25/2016 8:40:47 AM PDT by Salvation
In my over 26 years as a priest (even longer serving in some capacity at the Holy Liturgy) I have witnessed more than a few people faint. Some just slump over; others go out with a real bang. Weddings are a big source of fainting spells, but just about any long Mass produces its share of lights out experiences. Some years ago, when I was serving as First Assistant Deacon for a Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the Basilica, we predicted prior to the Mass that at least one person would pass out. Its usually one of the torch bearers because they have to kneel on the marble for so long. Sure enough, right at Communion time, one of them went down, torch and all. It seems that such a Mass wouldnt be complete if at least one person didnt pass out!
In the warmer weather fainting spells are more common. Further, the height of wedding season is approaching. It might not be bad to ponder the topic of fainting.
OK, so whats going on here? Are people overwhelmed by the presence of God and then they just rest in the Spirit? Well, thats a fine and holy thought; perhaps I should just stop the article here! However, there are probably other explanations.
- Dehydration – The heat in some churches can cause dehydration. Dehydration lowers blood volume, which causes blood pressure to drop and makes it harder to get the blood to the brain. And then out you go!
- Anemia Some women are borderline anemic, especially at certain times of their monthly cycle. This reduces the number of red blood and thus lowers the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the brain. And then out you go!
- Stress In order to maintain appropriate blood pressure, there must be a proper balance between two chemicals: adrenaline and acetylcholine. Adrenaline stimulates the body, including making the heart beat faster and making the blood vessels narrower, thereby increasing blood pressure. Acetylcholine does the opposite. Fainting can happen when something stimulates the vagus nerve and causes too much acetylcholine to be produced at the wrong time. Pain can do this; so can situational stress such as seeing blood or just the prolonged stress that often occurs at funerals and weddings. Such things cause too much acetylcholine, which slows the heart, dilates the blood vessels, and decreases blood pressure. Because of this, not enough blood reaches the brain. And then out you go!
- Prolonged standing or kneeling This can also cause the blood to collect in the lower legs. The movement of the blood back from the limbs is assisted by the movement of those limbs. I was always taught never to lock my knees when standing because this slows blood flow and makes blood accumulate in the legs. It is important when standing to bend your knees slightly in order to allow for some movement of the legs by shifting your weight. This improves circulation and keeps blood pressure at a proper level. If you dont do that, then standing for long periods of time can result in more blood in the legs and less going to the brain. And then out you go!
- Low blood sugar In some cases, this can cause a person to faint. The brain requires blood flow in order to provide oxygen and glucose to its cells. Excessively low blood sugar can cause one to feel drowsy and weak, and in some cases to faint, especially if some of the other factors are present. Hence, if you have been fasting (rare today!) before Communion and also have a tendency to be hypoglycemic
out you go!
There are surely other causes of fainting (some of them very serious (though rare)), but let this list suffice. It would seem that Masses and other church services are overrepresented in the fainting department, due to any combination of the above factors.
It is surely a strange experience to faint. I have done so a number of times in the past, due to an asthmatic cough that I used to get. During an extreme coughing episode, the rhythm of the heart is disturbed, blood pressure drops, and then out you go. When I faint, everything seems to fade to black; the lights just go out. Sometimes I can even feel myself falling but can do little about it. I just hope I fall gracefully! I usually come to a moment or so later but it is a strange experience to say the least. The brain can only go without blood (oxygen) for a few seconds before unconsciousness ensues, and then out you go!
We are wonderfully, fearfully made, to be sure. And yet we are earthen vessels, fragile and in need of delicate balance. We are contingent beings, dependent upon God for every beat of our heart and every function of every cell in our body. Maybe fainting in Church isnt so bad after all because it helps keep us humbleand that is always a good posture before God. Before the immensity of God, it is good to be reminded of our fragility and our dependence upon Him for all things, even the most hidden processes of our body.
Enjoy this video compilation of people fainting (many of them occurring in Church) and consider well that To be absent from the body is to be present to God (2 Cor 5:8).
TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; fainting; health; msgrcharlespope; physical; weddings
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posted on 05/25/2016 8:40:48 AM PDT
To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...
posted on 05/25/2016 8:42:28 AM PDT
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
Left out overexertion.
Much more common when this guy shows up in a church:
posted on 05/25/2016 8:44:15 AM PDT
When I was a kid, in the 1940s,fainting was routine because of the fasting rules.
posted on 05/25/2016 8:50:28 AM PDT
I’m Catholic and it’s very rare if ever someone passes out during mass . Maybe we’re doing it all wrong .
posted on 05/25/2016 8:56:24 AM PDT
()-: ISIS is Islam without the lipstick :-()
To: Lionheartusa1; All
Im Catholic and its very rare if ever someone passes out during mass . Maybe were doing it all wrong .
In grade school (St. Patrick's School in Denver, CO, must've been about 1966) we had semi-mandatory Mass before school each morning; I used to pass out on a regular basis, for some reason; threw up a lot too. Got to be Sister Lawrence Marie would send me out as soon as she saw me getting 'peak-ed' in the pew!
posted on 05/25/2016 9:06:24 AM PDT
(Washington DC has become the enemy of free people everywhere)
If there's not a dozen knockouts at a Benny Hinn service, you've been cheated.
I recall reading a biography of Ben Franklin. When he escaped to Philly, he went to Quaker services. The services were particularly long, and they had "goons" with staffs patrolling the aisles.
Those that fell asleep would be not-so-gently prodded awake.
posted on 05/25/2016 9:15:57 AM PDT
I just about faint every time the Pope opens his mouth.
It’s one, two, three strikes your out, at the old ball game!
posted on 05/25/2016 9:28:54 AM PDT
(I before E, except after C. Weird.)
“Maybe were doing it all wrong.”
Looks that way!
posted on 05/25/2016 9:31:44 AM PDT
(Apparently I'm still living in your head rent free. At least now it isn't empty.)
As a youngster, my head hit the pew in front of me on two occasions. You are probably on to something with the “fasting”. I also recall altar boys keeling over more frequently than the congregation.
posted on 05/25/2016 9:33:02 AM PDT
(Don't make up stuff. It wastes time.)
Fainting never, but I have fallen asleep during a few homilies.
posted on 05/25/2016 9:39:09 AM PDT
(For the sake of His sorrowful passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.)
posted on 05/25/2016 9:46:53 AM PDT
When I was a kid it was sleep from boredom. One Sunday me and a friend of mine were sitting in the front row in the balconey, which was above and in back of the church. My friend let out a burp that was so loud it shook the walls. I fell out of the pew laughing just in time as the entire chorus looked up at us along with the entire congregation. He probably got his ass beat for that but man, it was so worth it. I’ll never forget that moment.
For years my family attended midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
One year, a woman friend who came along fainted, no doubt due to the concentrated body heat of the standing room only crowd.
People were so tightly packed, she couldn’t fall down. She just slumped against us.
posted on 05/25/2016 9:50:43 AM PDT
(My Glock goes to the ladies' room with me. It identifies as my bodyguard.)
I do IF(intermittent fasting) as part of my diabetic diet, which is much more strenuous than Friday fasting, but have never passed out.
posted on 05/25/2016 10:24:47 AM PDT
I passed out during a weekday grade school Mass in about fourth grade. My brother did one time at Sunday Mass. I remember the sort of muffled sound of people’s voices far away.
posted on 05/25/2016 10:44:55 AM PDT
(J"Trust in the Lord with all your heart" -Proverbs 3:5)
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