Reverence, Expanded

My post of last week about reverence has caused many reactions, which showed me that the issue is more pressing than your average Novus Ordo, V II, “let’s have an applause for Mrs Jenkins, who always greets everyone at the entrance”-priest would like to admit.

However, reader Michael Warning pointed out to something that, I think, needs reflection: there are Latin Masses that are disrupted, too.

I only ever experienced one of these masses. I did not find it as disrupted as your typical NO mass (by far not), but certainly, it was more disrupted than I expected it to be.

I noticed this and could only – sadly – reflect on this: that you can’t bring Sodom out of Lot. Unless there is a work of education of the faithful on the deep meaning of reverence at Mass, and on the fact that a disruption is still a disruption even if it is caused by a child, chances are that, among the young couples attending to a Latin Mass, there will be those who still struggle to grasp that “reverence” thing, and have no cultural instruments to understand that, in the end….

no, it is not OK.

It has been, in saner times, a constant praxis of the Church that children should only be in church when they can behave and cause no disruption (this will, of course, depend from the degree of maturity and self-control of the single child). Also, it has been a constant praxis of the Church that, if there is no possibility to leave a child at home when attending mass, there is no mass obligation for the person who minds the child.

So, if papa and mama want to attend the Latin (and not only Latin) Mass but have a small, noisy toddler, or a baby, and there is no reasonable way to park the child by grandma on a Sunday morning, the mother can and should well stay home with the child until such time as the child can attend mass without disruption (perhaps, at times, papa could stay, though I wonder how many Italian mamas would like the arrangement…).

How do I know all this, you will ask?

As to the second statement, I have it from a homily at a Latin Mass.

As to the first statement, I have it from frequent, lived, personal experience. In fact, I distinctly remember the many times in which my art-loving, but not churchgoing parents would not allow me to enter a church they were visiting (papa would go first, then he would get out and it would be mama’s turn), explaining it with the fact that I, a mere child, was not disciplined enough to enter the church. Later, when I was old enough to be allowed to enter, I was still forbidden to do so in days in which I was restless or noisy. This was because, even for my agnostic father, it was not OK that it would enter the sacred space of a church and even only cause a risk that the place, – mind, ***outside of mass*** -, be sullied by my unruly behaviour.

I also happen to remember ( I remember a lot of things of my early childhood; then I struggle to remember what I ate for breakfast…) that no one of my cousins was allowed to enter church, either; the village church of our early childhood being, for us, an inaccessible, magical place full of mystery and, in fact, tremendously awe-inspiring (and note here, my aunt and uncle did go to Mass!).

These things did not happen out of my father’s strange idea about reverence and, again, my father was agnostic and not at all church going. This can only have happened because of a concept of reverence that was deeply embedded in the Italy my parents grew in, something that was cultural before even being specifically religious. Today’s behaviour is what 50 years of happy clapping, guitars in church and aggiornamento do to people.

Mind, there were certainly exceptions and, perhaps, different regional sensitivities (in one of the Don Camillo movies, you can hear a baby crying during the homily; perhaps it was done for effect…); you can also say that I was raised strictly, and so were my cousins, and you would certainly be right; but yes, reverence was a big thing, no doubt about it.

When sanity comes back, the return to proper liturgy will have to be accompanied by a work of reeducation of the faithful; reeducation to, well, sanity, then it is a mystery to me how people can even chit chat in church before the mass starts. The naturally reverent Latin Mass will help a lot; but, on its own, it will not do the trick, because what is going lost is the sensus catholicus and the deep reverence that contributed to the Latin Mass in the first place.

Posted on November 21, 2022, in Bad Shepherds, Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Amen to Michael Warning 👏

  2. Very interesting. At one Latin Mass that I attend, visitors seated themselves in the front row. Their baby was noisy. An usher went all the way to the front to ask the father to take the child out to the cry room. I did not think that move was prudent since they were visitors; however, what I think has no power over the pastor.

    At another Latin Mass that we attend, the priests seem to be so grateful that there are a lot of small children, that they talk over them during the sermon. The speaker system works well enabling them to do that.

    Many Latin Mass attendees today live too far from the church to make the trip twice in order to leave baby home. My two-cents on this subject. Baby noises do not compare to the rabble often taking place at the Novus Ordo.

  3. I always found noise in church very annoying, but, ironically, less so since I completely ditched the Novus Ordo in favor of the TLM at the local SSPX mission chapel. Your post today causes me to reflect on why this should be so. I think it boils down to the fact that the chapel is just incomparably better than the local NO parishes:

    – There are no ADULT shenanigans at the chapel. In the local diocesan parishes there are always people yapping before, after, and even sometimes during Mass. Usually the yappers are old people, a major reversal from the days of my youth, when it was the old people who were most reverent in church. But some of the worst offenders of all are the clergy and the ushers, the very people who ought to be maintaining order. In the chapel, there is no yapping, and after Mass, people are quietly making their post-Communion thanksgiving. Also the horrible, cocktail-party-like “sign of peace” does not take place during the TLM. You can actually pray and recollect yourself. All of this is a huge relief.

    – The noises made by children at the chapel are almost always made by crying babies, as opposed to older children being allowed to run around and raise hell, which always goes on at the NO parishes. I find myself more able to tolerate crying babies, whose parents at least carry them out until they quiet down, than children whose parents turn a blind eye to their hooliganism.

    – The superiority of the TLM and of the preaching that I get, over against what happens in a NO parish, makes it easier for me to attend to the Mass and the sermons and ignore other things. The Novus Ordo, on the other hand, is just one huge distraction from prayer and recollection, from beginning to end. It frequently features actions that I can’t bear to watch, like the outrageous handling of the Blessed Sacrament, or listen to, like heretical preaching. When I’m already feeling harassed, other distractions are worse. I would rather listen to a screaming infant, than to a priest who, from the pulpit, quotes Marianne Williamson, or says that the Protestants have a better handle on Who the Holy Ghost is. (Yes, I have heard both of these things at Novus Ordo Masses.)

    – Finally, I guess I am more tolerant of crying babies because I see that it is the TLM families that are having tons of babies, and so it is not under tradition that a demographic sinkhole is opening up.

    You are right: we could and should do a lot better, in all sorts of areas, and we need to go back to old standards. But it is going to take time to undo all the damage that six decades of wanton destruction have done. In the meantime, we should probably cut our neighbors a little slack, especially when they are doing the best they can with what little they’ve got.

    Just my $.02.

  4. There are several families with young children and infants who attend the TLM I do. I have to say I am so happy they are there that the occasional crying baby (and a parent usually gets up and takes the baby out) does not distract me, at least not in a bad way. If the babies aren’t there, it means that someone is missing Mass to care for them. I say bring the kids, teach them reverence, let them grow up with it. That said, they should probably sit closer to the back where they can get up (for the usual bathroom trips as well) with minimal disruption, and by all means, if Baby is fussy or sick, stay home with them. I’ve seen babies and very small children behave surprisingly well. I think it helps them to see the young altar servers behaving reverently. I recall a N.O. priest who really did not like crying babies, and wanted to start a nursery to put them in to keep them out of the N.O. Having heard a few of his homilies, maybe that would have been a good idea.

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