Recently At A Novus Ordo Mass

When you are in front of the King of Kings, you behave accordingly.

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.



Posted on January 12, 2016, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. So here’s my conundrum, M. We have 8 children, 7 of whom are well behaved. The youngest is a very typical 1 year old boy. We go to a TLM about 30 minutes away, which only has one Mass available. I just can’t bring myself to regularly attend a NO, so I end up walking the halls with the little guy for almost half the time. I try to stay involved- watching and praying in the cry room, etc., but can’t seem to make it through an entire Mass in the church proper as he’s just too disruptive. I plan to do as always; shoulder through until he’s old enough to sit quietly. What do you suggest I do?

    • I assume your husband is with the other children (congratulations, by the way). Much as you might not like hearing this, my take on this is that the baby should not enter the church and you should stay at home with him (or in the crying room all the time) if no alternative arrangements are possible. The consolation for this is that soon you will have children old enough to take turn in staying in the crying room, allowing you to attend as you desire.
      BTW, I think you should bring yourself to attend to a NO mass if this is necessary, and offer it up to the Lord; but it seems in your case it would not even be necessary.

  2. I appreciate your take on this Mr. Mundabor. I’ve not read or heard much about about the value of silence in church for many years. And I truly miss it, especially after Mass, when the church can assume almost a carnival atmosphere. I think some parishes do try to set expectations for dress, posture, volume, etc., by placing signs at the entrance, such as a a parish I visited in Philadelphia last year, but they are indeed rare. Thank you.

  3. Another comment, sir, if I may. You have brought back some very fond memories of my late parents, may they rest in peace. I am the oldest of seven, born in the fifties and sixties, and recall that each of us were brought regularly to Mass by the time we were able to walk and to understand the word “no”. My Mother was very strict about behaviour in general and at Mass in particular: consequences for any of us even whispering were significant 🙂 to the offender. I need hardly add that there were no juice boxes, crackers, toys, etc. strewn about the pews, either.

    • Same here, Fidelityjane.
      I have an agnostic father and a vaguely deist mother. And even so, we were thought more respect for Christ and His church than many who nowadays consider themselves modern Catholics.
      When we went around visiting churches – that is: outside Mass – we were not even allowed to enter, and my parents visited in turn, when we were restless. This, in order for the sacred space of the church not to be desecrated, outside of mass.
      How the world has changed…

  4. It is quite possible that the individual you speak of, Mr. M, is autistic. If so, his behavior is unpredictable. (Not always so, but enough the case so his caretaker might well not have known what the “trigger” to this behavior was. His caretaker may also have overestimated his/her ability to de-escalate the behavior without removing him from the church. All of this is fairly common.) I am the father of twin boys with autism. Many was the time, when they were young, that their mass attendance was completely non-disruptive. On the occasion that it was, they were removed for their own good and the spiritual good of the congregation. Therefore, like all who assist at mass, their attendance was conditional on decorum. This is not discriminatory in the slightest. All have the same rule. They may have a condition that makes it more difficult to follow the rule, but it doesn’t change the rule. One of my sons is fully remediated (no recurring behavioral or communications impairments) and remains devoted to his faith among a peer group that is, in large measure, not. The other still has significant impairment, but benefits from assisting at mass just the same. Nonetheless, on the rare occasions he is disruptive, he leaves – and so do I.

    • It depends on the kind of disruption, Michael.
      If the disruption is of the kind I have witnessed and written upon, it is obvious to me that it does not make sense to sit in the middle of the pews. Then – if the episode is rare and not probable – one could sit or stand at the end of the church and immediately leave if this occurs.

  5. All children do, wherever and whenever they do it, is natural and adorable. Interference of any sort in the spontaneous flow of their creativity could upset them, and as a result – scar them for life. Didn’t you know?

  6. So glad you brought this up. My N.O. parish is plagued with this horrible behaviour- kids screaming, parents walking up and down the aisle to calm or distract children, some parents even playing with their kids at back (where I sit). I even had the experience of a child 2 or 3 yrs. old taking my prayer book to play, w,out mother saying or doing anything. I hate it. Am the oldest of 8 and as a child, my parents took turns going to mass. One would stay with the youngest ones, then she\he would come home so other could go. As we got older, us kids would take turns staying home with babies. If ever anyone of us even thought about talking or moving around or playing there would most certainly be hell to pay, all families used to be like that. Being at home was not an excuse either, Mom would play hymns on the stereo, after we said the rosary, so we knew Sunday was for God.

    • You had beautifully Catholic parents; but again, as you say, the mentality was widespread.
      That this thinking is only remembered by old-ish people speaks volumes about what has happened to our understanding of the Mass.

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