Dogmatism or just being pious?

Hi all,

I don’t know if anyone else has experience this, but what is the point between veneration and religous dogmatism? I’m not expecting an answer, and I am sure there is a different one for different people.

But what is the point between rigidity at mass and joy? An example would two people quietly chatting before mass, while someone near them is getting mad because they are talking.

Or, someone getting mad about people not wearing dressy clothes to mass on Sundays.

Or another, people being allowed to receive the Blessed Sacrament on the hands, as opposed to only on the tongue.

I struggle with not becoming too uptight in regards to ‘Church etiquette’ or mass virtue, while at the same time not wanting the mass to devolve into something which is disrespectful, or degrading.

One of my personal things is how people no longer kneel during the consecration. I do it out of reverence I suppose, as Indianna Jones said, “Kneel before God”. But at the same time, I hope to lead by example as opposed to confronting people about this.

I guess the above statements are just examples of the main quesiton I have of where to draw the line between dogmatism and piousness? Being too dogmatic and ‘holy’ can hinder a relationship with God, as well as going down the other way.

Any thoughts?:slight_smile:

Gratia et pax vobiscum,

A very rich and provoking question.

I might argue that our Lord and Saviour dismissed the modern distain of Righteous Indignation when he entered the Holy Temple of Jerusalem and proceeded to throw out the money-changers. So be not so overconfident in your belief that all tolerance is a virtue.

Through Holy Scripture there are many examples of Holy Men and Women coming before the Lord Our God and they are preceded by trial or preparation but all of them experienced grave fear and trembling before the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. In fact, I can’t find one example where such an encounter was a time of idle-distraction. Perhaps in our day and age such ‘presence of the Lord’ has been dulled and the Divine Liturgy has become more of a social gathering and Church a social club but I would encourage you to look deeper. I would encourage you to look at the Church as the Temple of God where the Holy of Holies is opened up to us who have been invited into His Family, into the New and Everlasting Covenant of God.

When we look deeper, when with prepare ourselves for Him we encounter the same fear of the Lord that the Prophets encountered, the same Awfulness of His Presence in the true sense of the word Awe-Full! For those of Faith these moments are mixed in a complex mingling of Fear and Joy for it is a Fore-Taste of His second coming. At such moments, we join with the disciplines at Emmaus with burning hearts in the Presence at the breaking of the bread and we find ourselves ‘face-to-face’ with Him but for that brief moment of stillness before the Worldly distractions and petty illnesses reenter into our minds and we are once again pulled away.

The strictness of our formalness is recognition of the gravity of the encounter. We, His lowly creatures, are coming before The Almighty Creator of Heave and Earth. Such things were always of grave importance and such grave matters could never be taken without much thought and preparation. Such precautions expressed the gravity of the situation. We cleansed ourselves both spiritually as well as physically. We prepared the space in which our Lord would become present. We prepared formal means of expressing our Thanksgiving and Praise and we trembled humbly before our Lord and our God because we felt His Presence.

Although, in our modern day, we think so little of such matters we really should give them deeper thought.


First of all, I would remind everyone that a dogma is a truth belonging to faith and morals revealed by God or defined by the Church.

Wearing your best appropriate and modest clothes to Mass is not false piety…it could be internally, of course, but externally it is showing proper reverence towards God and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Most people no longer kneel or genuflect…and when they do genuflect, they do so with no reference to the actual location of the tabernacle. This is disturbing to me because it indicates that they may no longer think about or believe in the real presence…where Our Lord actually is in the Blessed Sacrament…He is not everywhere, He is in the tabernacle, body, blood, soul, and divinity.

We should expect others to do these things as they are good and lead us to greater holiness. We can lead others better by our example, rather than just our words. And, as well, we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not posess. We work on ourselves first…then the others will follow us because we are good and virtuous…they will see the goodness in our actions…not in us.


That’s why we have social norms. Society tells you how to dress for church, how to receive communion, when to kneel, and the like.

Normally the right thing to do is to obey the convention. Just occasionally you might feel very strongly that the convention is wrong and needs to be challenged. In this case, be aware of what you are doing.

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