Is the Vestibule or Gathering place part of the sacred space of the church? Our doors are always open during mass and as a lector I am distracted by the people coming in during the readings, I have asked that the doors be closed during mass to no avail.
I don’t think it is, but even if the doors were closed, people can still open them. I think locking the doors would be a fire hazard (what if one of the candles fell?). I don’t know where your located, but if the church is down south, maybe they keep the doors open because it gets too hot, and it’s too soon to turn the AC on?
In the case of our church, the vestibule leads to the organ loft, usher’s “room”/closet (used to be an entrance), and the church basement. There’s also mothers with babies who sometimes need a place to quiet their babies.
I’m not sure how much of a problem it is at your church, but you could always ask your priest to mention something about it.
I think the problem is people need to be on time for mass, not that the doors ought to be open or closed, per se. After all, it could be even more distracting or noisy to have people opening the doors to come in during the readings. Ours are usually open, probably just because no one thinks to close them after the procession. And it does make it easier for moms with babies to take them out–no juggling with a door.
I have been to a parish where ushers kept everyone who was late in the vestibule until the readings, which then didn’t begin until everyone was settled. It was kind of embarassing, since they would escort you to a particular seat, and it held things up. It was, however, a great incentive to be on time.
Perhaps you could ask the priest if he could make an announcement after Mass encouraging everyone to be on time? Or put it in the bulletin?
What my parochial vicar suggested (and what my parish does) is to not let latecomers in during the readings. As soon as the Collect is prayed, the ushers stand guard and do not let latecomers in until just before the homily. We have a sign that reads that Scripture is Sacred and must be respected. Latecomers wait in the vestibule until it’s time for the homily.
I have always wondered how much of the mass does one have to attend to fufil his Sunday obligation. The people described have missed the so-called Liturgy of the Word, and then they are allowed into the church. Does that count as attending mass?
They are indoors. The sound is piped through a loudspeaker and their is a glass door. The few times I have found myself in there (due to physiological need), I have seen the faithful follow along in personal missals and even join in on the responsorial psalm. Granted, it’s not a perfect solution (the ideal is to get their on time), but, things happen.
I am not really sure if there is a firm definition of “sacred space”. A church usually has 3 distinct areas:
- The Sanctuary containing the altar, ambo, lectern and (not always but hopefully) the tabernacle.
- The Nave in front of the Sanctuary where the congregation sits
- The Narthex or vestibule separated from the Nave but still inside the Church building.
Our Church has a small narthex separated from the nave by wood doors with glass panels so folks can see when Mass has started. Our general rule of thumb is that when the doors are closed, the narthex is separate from the nave (i.e. it is acceptable to take a crying child there or take an emergency phone call). When the doors are open (as when we have overflowing crowds at Easter), then it is part of the nave and you treat it like you would the frist row of pews.
In your case, since it seems for whatever reason the doors will not be closed, deal with the distraction. You have the privilege of reading the Word Of God to us. Trust that anyone coming in late has a good reason between them and God and just offer it up.
Technically the “gathering space” is not part of the sacred space, or Nave of the church. Have you asked directly, the ushers who stand at the back to close the doors after Mass begins? Have you brought this up at a Liturgy meeting?
Wonderful answer. In charity, we should always assume that someone who is late has a good reason for being so. And so it would always be appropriate to pray for them.
My understanding, and someone please correct me if I’m wrong, is that if you arrive during or after the reading of the gospel, you’ve missed mass, and therefore your obligation has not been met.
“The doors! The doors!”