I refer to the article, Show Reverence For The Mass, Please (CN, Dec 5).
Let me take a quote from the Second Council of Lyons, AD 1274, which basically gives us the basic idea of how we should behave in Church:
“It is fitting that He Whose abode has been established in peace should be worshipped in peace and with due reverence. Churches, then, should be entered humbly and devoutly; behaviour inside should be calm, pleasing to God, bring peace to the beholders, a source not only of instruction but of mental refreshment.”
Although some adult dressing inclinations, distracting activities of children and the act of texting and gossiping while attending Mass are disrespectful, it is more an issue of Church etiquette rather than of reverence.
Let us now look at Mr De Cotta’s three points of view:
Children drawing, playing with their toys, eating and drinking in the pews, or running around during Mass.
Most children will misbehave or be restless so some disturbance is expected. What is important at Mass is to create an ambience for reverent worship, and silence at Mass plays an important role.
So, if allowing the children to draw, play with toys or eat and drink can help maintain this silence then this is not a bad thing. However, if the church has a “crying room” then it is advisable for these children to be in this room, and if there is no such room, then it would be advisable for parents with children to be seated near an exit that allows them to be led outside when the need arises.
Adults in bermudas or shorts and slippers and women in miniskirts, spaghetti straps or bareback tops.
Dressing at Mass is a show of respect and should not be a matter of showing off one’s finery. God does not differentiate between the well dressed, the poorly dressed and those who may dress inappropriately.
Why do we worry about such things? God welcomes everyone. It is more important to remember to dress modestly if possible.
Let us not forget that many attendees may not have fine clothes to wear and many may also be rushing to/from work or to/from other activities just to attend Mass. Do we embarrass or discourage people from attending Mass just because they are dressed in bermudas or spaghetti strap tops?
I have seen Church wardens try to police these in church and I ask you, who is the greater sinner? The one who may be inappropriately dressed or the one who tries to embarrass and discourage those who may seem inappropriately dressed from attending Mass? The Catholic Church is universal and for all manner of people.
Gossip and texting on mobile phones.
Gossiping and texting during Mass are both examples of bad etiquette.
Many, if not all, churches flash notices or make an announcement to have mobile phones turned off or put on silent mode. This is the correct position to take and it is certainly bad etiquette to use them during Mass. Those who need to text during Mass should politely get up from the pew and do so outside.
As for gossiping and chit-chatting during Mass, this is probably worse than those who text as texting is usually done quietly whereas gossiping can be very distracting.
Finally, as good Catholics, we should refrain from being judgmental simply because we do not know what our fellow Catholics’ situation and/or circumstances are.
So, it is wrong to criticise or scold those who do not dress to your expectations or do things not in accordance with your ethics, or even for those who come to Church late for we do not know what prevented them from coming to Church on time.
It is more important that we welcome everyone who attends Church with love just as Jesus would.