Recently At A Novus Ordo Mass
And it came to pass that almost at the end of the NO mass an insisted, alarmed shouting emerges from the pews. Strong, persistent, and very loud.
The NO priest gives us the “What the Francis” face; but he does not say anything, and goes on.
The noise keeps coming. It's uncontrolled now, it's a very loud, shrill shrieking. The NO priest tries to ignore it, but then snaps, interrupts his prayer and says, in a rather imperious tone, “can this stop, PLEASE!”, or words to that effect.
The din goes on unabated. Again, it is a repeated noise, a very shrill, uncontrolled shriek.
Turns out a poor boy, evidently retarded or with some sort of brain damage, was sitting in the pews, and for some reason was having some sort of panic attack, possibly triggered by the honest attempts of the mortified parents to persuade him to be silent. My prayers went – as, I am sure, those of most of those present – to both the boy and his parents.
This episode led me to a reflection. A reflection that will not please the “Patheos” crowd; it will not because, while it is logical and devout, does not sound well in these ipersensitive, effeminate times of ours.
If the noise made by the crying baby at mass is not a desecration of the same – a desecration for which, obviously, the parents, not the baby, have to answer – then the insisted screaming of the poor retarded or otherwise brain damaged boy isn't a desecration either, and should be accepted in the same way.
If the noise made by the poor boy (and we can expand this, and easily imagine one of those poor boys who scream for fifteen minutes at a time, and not because of ill will) is not to be tolerated at Mass because it is a desecration, then the baby or the unruly child must not be tolerated, either.
I do not need to tell my readers – but it might be salutary for the occasional Patheos reader who chanced to land here because, say, some overweight bitch linked to me – that the fact that the crying baby does not allow you to hear the homily is neither here nor there. Whilst you are expected to be there and it does you a world of good, the Mass is not about you. I know: it is unbelievable that I have to explain this. Alas, such are the times.
We live in times of such distorted religiosity and community-fixation that parents think it quite normal that the screams in church desecrate the Mass; their excuse for this apparently being that after the desecration has occurred for some time they will get out with the baby; which is, by the way, another blatant contradiction: if it is not wrong that the desecration takes place, the baby should stay and everyone in the church happily rejoice at the gift of parenthood; if it is, the baby or the unruly child should not have been there in the first place.
Our priorities have been completely subverted, because our faith has been forgotten. I have it from an extremely solid and conservative priest that in Christian times it was considered a given that if there are no alternatives to a child desecrating the Mass, it is certainly appropriate and not sinful at all that the person who mind him does not attend. Granted: in past times extended families made alternative arrangements easier; but the principle remains.
Not so today. Today the priority is the “community”, the mass attendance, perhaps the desire to avoid the neighbour in the pews thinking that Mrs Jones “skips Mass”; and, often, the desire not to have the Sunday morning inconvenienced by having mom and dad going at two different masses as one spouse cares for the baby at home. Harrod's beckons, you understand.
Either disturbances at Mass are a desecration, or they aren't. If they aren't, let the boy scream for forty minute, poor innocent soul, and pray for him and his parents in the meantime. If they are (and they are!) let us be consequent on this, let us put Christ before the “community”, and let us start going back to the sound principles of old: that the Church must be attended to in the most reverent silence by everyone; that parents answer for their children; and that the parents should make alternative arrangements if they can, or one of them should stay at home if they cannot, without this being seen as an offence to the new god, the congregation. And yes, it is the sacred duty of every parent to teach a little child from the tenderest age about sacredness and appropriateness of behaviour, to enforce proper behaviour and to make it his care and his responsibility that his children are able to attend Mass and be a credit to God and family. It beggars belief that no restaurant nowadays would brooch the unspeakable din that goes on in many Novus Ordo Masses. It is the best indication of how far our Christian feeling has deteriorated.
When I was a child, every little child like me was so imbued with the sense of sacredness of a church, that he had to shut up and be silent I do not say inside – where he was not allowed unless there was total security of proper behaviour – but outside of it. There were even expressions, like in religioso silenzio, due to the obvious fact that silence is what you had in a religious setting! Similarly, people who wanted to indicate a situation of extreme silence used the comparison with a church. “come in chiesa!”
These linguistic usages are disappearing.
There is no silence in church anymore.
Thinking of it, there isn't much of religion, either.