Complaint Regarding Music Written On Back Of Donation Envelope


I just attended masses throughout triduum and during the gospel at one of the masses piano music was playing softly. When we got up to leave I noticed a donation envelope with a note scrawled on the back. I read it and it was a complaint regarding the music. For whatever reason this person decided not to place it in the basket BUT they obviously made no effort to dispose of it, hoping that someone WOULD find and read it. I called the parish office and left a vm for the Father. This really bothered me and I was wondering if this is some.kind of new fangeled way of protesting what a parishioner might view as an liturgical abuse?

Thanks for your input. Much Love and Blessings, Mary


People find different outlets to voice their complaint, like right here on CAF


People do a lot of silly things. A parish I used to go to had people putting monopoly money in the collection baskets…with notes saying “when you send us a real priest, I’ll give you real money”.
Nasty stuff.
Ignore things like that. Folks with legitimate complaints are free to converse with the Pastor.


After Masses, we routinely pull little items like this out of the pews, novenias, “magic prayers”/chain-letters, etc… we take the item, check it for an offering and either add it to ours or use a guest/visitor envelope and toss the original material in the trash.

As for the complaint itself: If this person couldn’t approach anyone on the Parish Council, the Music Director, or the Mass Celebrant with their concerns then they are either not of the Parish, the complaints are not that important, or this a very awfull, presumptuous, and passive aggressive way to complain and one shouldn’t feel obligated to do someone else’s work.

Of Course, in my Parish, the Pastor and Assoc. Pastor have their emails in the bulletin and the members of the Parish Council are all well known along with the members of the liturgical committee and our contact information is easily available from the rectory or the parish directory.


Add an attitude problem to that and it’s a great way to get banned.


Cowardice, and pride. :rolleyes:

Anonymous notes in the pews or in the donation baskets get thrown out; no one pays any attention to them.

For best results, complaints need to be made in person, and with the proper respect.


Passive aggressive


indeed! :wink:


What a terrible thing to post. :frowning:

The number of people that have been banned on this forum is quite telling and sad. I noticed a day or two ago that someone with over 11,000 postings had just been banned.


Well, they could be a horrible evil person, or they could be shy, or somewhere at the high end of the autism spectrum, or a new Catholic convert, or anything. There’s nothing passive-aggressive about it. That’s not what passive-aggressive means.

They felt strongly enough about it to leave a note, but didn’t feel invested enough to e.g. take time off from work to meet with the pastor, or figure out who else at the parish is the right person to contact (and if you’ve never been involved in the music at a parish, you might have no idea who to ask), contact them, and initiate what is likely to be an unpleasant conversation about it.

By all means, ignore the note if you want, but there is no cause to vilify the writer.



First, you need to actually understand what passive-aggression means and what behavior actually constitutes PA, so, don’t take my word, take that of a peer-reviewed journal in the field of psychology:

From this professional source (I hope you read thru each of the listed articles, I did, most enlightening) it would appear that I have used the term correctly. I will not argue the point any further. Either accept that I have used the term in a clinically correct manner or don’t; however, if you chose to not accept the clinical term, then take it up with the psychologist that are responsible for the definition.

Now let us take each point in order:

  1. “they could be a horrible evil person”
    I did not describe the person, I addressed the act:
    " very awful, presumptuous, and passive aggressive way to complain "
    AWFUL: very bad or unpleasant: disgusting, horrible, terrible, dreadful, ghastly, nasty, vile, foul, revolting, repulsive, repugnant, odious, sickening, nauseating;

however, not evil…

Passive-Aggressive people can be very nice, sometimes even honorable individuals, that have learned to avoid conflict via “passing the buck” and getting others in trouble for doing what they should have done themselves.

Please don’t place words in my mouth. I get into enough trouble with my own foot-in-mouth without any help from a third party (^_^)

  1. “could be shy”
    And they had other options such as taking their notes to someone that they trust - and I know a lot of “shy” students and adults - they always have at least one person that they trust enough to take something like this too.
    No, this is simply a statement of enablement attempting to excuse an PA-behavior and “shy” individuals tend to be extremely PA!

3)“high end of the autism spectrum”

  • High functioning autistic do not typically behave in this manner. They tend to want to have an interaction with the people around them. Furthermore, these individuals would not normally be attending a large social gathering unless they were either with someone they knew and trusted or in a very well known social situation. In either case the HFA individual would have most likely expressed the situation verbally to their trusted associate or the the trusted individuals around them.

  • Nor do those within the high functioning Asperger Syndrome respond in a PAB, no, the reaction is typically a fairly aggressive “rage-state.”

  • Also, as I mentioned above, most people with high-functioning autism or asperger’s syndrome tend to want to be involved with others. They simply don’t know how to go about it in a socially acceptable manner. If this person suffered from HFA/HSA they’d be more likely to address the matter directly.

Now you start moving out of the 70IQ range autistic and into the lower functioning and start altering the routine and familiar settings and they more than likely would have simply shutdown, avoiding all social interaction… including writing notes.

  1. “new Catholic convert,”
  • Perhaps I’m spoiled, all of our RCIA catechumens and candidates are required to have a sponsor - someone that they can trust to help guide them in the faith and to help them within the functioning of the Church and to help them address something like this.

  • Furthermore, we teach our RCIA groups the proper manner as to how to handle such situations. Who to talk to, or how to pass the information along.

Finally, here my Church, we have a suggestion/comment/donation for the poor box in the back of our Church for just such a thing. So do the other three Churches within the local parishes and the ones that I have visited in other states. Now, I’ll admit, this may not be the norm; however, it does seem to be a common enough practice that this is something our “note writer” should have checked out themselves.

  1. that was a rather silly way for the parishioner to deal with the frustration

  2. it’s not a matter of if someone “views it as a liturgical abuse.” Either it is, or it’s not. And by he way, if you’re playing music during the gospel, it is indeed a liturgical abuse.


I often seen scribbles by children on the extra contribution envelopes in the pews. Maybe it was a young person


Good advice. Unless the person is willing to make a direct complaint, ignore it. To much time is taken up in a parish from a couple of disgruntle people who will never be satisfied no matter what is done and are often uniformed as to what is really liturgically correct. Many times there are other issues in their lives which come out in such ways. We always keep them in our prayers.


One parish I was in people would put in
Mexican money and take out the amount in
American. Haha! Talk about currency exchange!


I hope those people were relying on an honest conversion table :wink: but as a mexican I have some doubs​:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I think that is EXTREMELY inappropriate on multiple levels. Not only are we trusting their honesty, but who knows whether the parish is losing money in the conversion? Someone in the parish must not take the money to a bank and have it converted to American dollars - perhaps paying fees and such along the way. Extremely inconsiderate and inappropriate. I hope the priest spoke out against the practice.


Disclaimer: Seriously, it wasn’t me that did it. Honest! You guys have to trust me. :smiley:


Psychology Today is not AFAIK considered a peer-reviewed journal. It certainly wasn’t allowed as a reference for any research paper when I got my psychology degree. In any case, I didn’t see a definition of passive-aggressiveness in the link you posted, and I’m not sure what aspect of passive-aggressiveness you think applies here. There is no covert anger (which is the basis of passive-agressiveness) that I can see in the situation, and there isn’t that “agreeing to do something and then quietly not doing it” which is the epitome of passive-aggressive behavior. Unless the note was nasty or abusive or something, which the OP didn’t say, there isn’t any evidence of anger at all.

Conflict avoidance is not the same as passive-aggressiveness. But this isn’t really the place to debate psychological terms, and I’m sorry I started it. However, the term tends to get over-used, and a lot of people think they know what it means and don’t (I mean people reading the accusation of passive-aggressive behavior, not necessarily people making the accusation), so it doesn’t convey information in a very helpful way. Communication only happens when both sides agree on what the words mean. :slight_smile:

My real point is that there is no evidence that the person in question is behaving in an awful or presumptious way, or that they had any hidden motives, or that they knew what the right thing to do in the situation was. When you consider how many Catholics don’t even understand the true meaning of the Eucharist, it seems likely that there are lots of Catholics who don’t know how to contact the Parish Council, or whoever’s appropriate. The only obvious person to contact would be the person playing the music, but it’s hard to see how you could talk to them directly without hurting their feelings. The person who left the comment may have even done something like, “Well I’ll leave it in the pew, and then if the Holy Spirit guides someone to read it, then He does, and if He doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be read.” I’m not saying that the person is in any way right in this assessment or tactic, just that they may be well intentioned, and charity requires us to assume the best until we have some evidence otherwise.

It’s just that I could see in my imagination, some shy person, maybe an older person and/or one with less-than-perfect hearing, feeling strongly about how it was distracting and harder to hear the Gospel with the piano playing through it, and not knowing what to do about it, and just writing the note something like a message in a bottle–leaving it to God or to chance whether it gets read. Sometimes people who are hard of hearing become very diffident about it, like they don’t really have a right to complain about having a hard time hearing things, because they feel (incorrectly, of course!) that it is somehow their fault that they can’t hear.

Admittedly, it is an imaginary person I am describing (although I know some people who could behave that way), but so is the proud, cowardly, passive-aggressive person trying to get someone else to “do their work” that others are describing. Maybe the complaint was nasty or insulting or something, but the OP didn’t say it was, so I’m assuming that it wasn’t.

And I admit that I am unavoidably biased by the fact that the complainer was right, and people shouldn’t be playing music during the Gospel. :slight_smile: I think (hope?) my analysis would be the same even if I disagreed with the comment, but I am a sinner, so I can’t guarantee it. :smiley:

Anyway, it’s fine to ignore any comment received anonymously if you want to. But you do it because that is the established procedure, or because the comment requires explanation that you necessarily can’t get from an unknown person, or some reason like that, not because you assume that the person was doing something bad in making the comment, or that they left it anonymously because because of some character defect.



Okay, let’s assume the anonymous writer was angry about piano music being played during the Gospel. A few people have said that this does constitute liturgical abuse.
So how exactly does one talk to the pastor about this? “Gee Father, I know that maybe some people might like the soft music during the Gospel, but actually it’s a liturgical abuse! Good thing you have me to set you straight! Because I read the answer on CAF!” Don’t you think that the pastor knows this isn’t correct, and allows (or even causes) it to happen? Maybe other strange things too at this parish. People in the pews do get upset because they feel like they have to look up all the weird things that happen at Mass. :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit