Being Driven Crazy at Mass


I was at the vigil Mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. There was a lady in front of me, by two pews.

She was swaying from side to side while she was sitting and standing. The only exception was when she was kneeling. She did this the entire Mass. Although I would not do it actually, I pictured myself interrupting her to ask if she wouldn’t mind not doing that.

Aside from the people who are talking in church before and during Mass, there are the people who do distracting things like this.

This is partially my fault, because I sat in one of the back pews – I just took a chance and lost.

Just before the start of communion, somebody’s cell phone went off, and the phone seemed to answer itself, and there was a man’s voice saying “hello…helllo…” which could be heard across the church to where I was. The priest broke his composure at this moment to direct that the phone should be shut off. It didn’t work. The ringing of the phone and the voice of the man-caller was heard again “hello?..hello?..hello?”

I thought we could be spared announcements since this was a Friday evening…but no, there was an announcement by the priest that he was leaving immediately to head to the local college for another Mass celebration. He did not want anyone to be offended about his brisk departure, not shaking hands with folks as he usually does after Mass.

He also broke my train of concentration when he interrupted his homily with a digression about his seminary education. If his homily was about the Immaculate Conception, that was totally lost on me.

I think I have PTSD, one of whose symptoms is “hypervigilance” – getting overly upset about nit picky things. – the distractions bother me, and the fact that there ARE distractions bothers me more.


She may have a medical condition.


Exactly. Or rocking a baby. It’s hard to see babies sometimes if they are in a carrier.


I think it’s decent and charitable of you to place the responsibility for your “distractibility” on your self instead of blaming everyone else.

You have a syndrome, PTSD, which has certain symptoms, e.g., getting upset about nit picky things." You recognize this, and you do not expect the world to kowtow to you and your syndrome and be absolutely silent and not move at all–good for you! I like people like you who are willing to allow for the eccentric tendencies and weird little habits and preferences of all the rest of us!

In a country like the U.S., with so many ages and nationalities and races and income levels and religious backgrounds all stuffed together into a church nave for Mass, we all have to expect that other people may behave a little differently than me, myself, and I do it.

Until the Church actually makes a binding pronouncement against a behavior, then live and let live. Sit somewhere else. Close your eyes.

In recent months, I’ve gone from one of those half-kneels to no kneeling at all. I just can’t–the pain consequences afterwards are simply too great, and include not being able to put weight on the knee, which means not being able to walk. I’m sure that there are people who see me and judge me, but I also know that many people in the nave around me know me well enough to know that I am not irreverent or rebelling against the rubrics.

Remember me when you see others doing something that drives you crazy. There may be a good reason why they do it–e.g., using a phone or tablet because they can enlarge the print and see, and they may want to read it instead of just listening because they have hearing impairments.


Yes, I am trying to overcome my sensitivity in a number of ways. Aside from having PTSD, there really are people out there in church swaying and with their cell phones turned up on high, etc.

I have a hard time listening to Mother Angelica or Fr. Mitch Pacwa, because the set directors have their microphones turned up to such a high sensitivity, that, if you pay attention, you can hear them inhaling air. That drives me crazy listening to them suck in air. You don’t normally hear that on TV. It doesn’t happen with the guests on their programs or other EWTN programs, just with these two personalities. Listen – it’s there.

EWTN always has that cute advent wreath on the screen. It used to be in the lower right corner. But, in that location, it overshadowed other graphics on the screen. I complained about that ( a couple years ago, and I see that finally they moved it to the upper right corner of the screen, to avoid the conflict with graphics.

Yeah, what get’s me about people talking in church, is that often, they are the only ones talking – like, don’t they realize that? they’re the ONLY ONES talking? what are they thinking? Yes a couple rows ahead of the lady who was compulsively swaying, there was an older married couple who were talking before and during Mass.


I spent years rocking one child or another at Mass.
Once they were grown enough, I spent years rocking out of habit.

I didn’t even notice it until a friend pointed out that I was still rocking my children.


Midnight Mass, 2017.
During the readings someone had their cell phone ring.
Not a big deal since we have a phone somewhere go off at least once a month.

However this individual then answered and proceeded to have a conversation.

I told myself that it may have been an emergency given that calls over the holiday at that time of night are typical of EMS personnel.

This hope was dashed when the conversation ended and the individual explained to the rest of the pew whose house the next party was at.

I was tempted to violence.


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