Should food be sold in church?

Our pastoral council has decided to have coffee and cookies available at the back of church after Mass on Sunday. It’s a distraction because there are people making the coffee and bringing out the tables and cookies while Mass is still being celebrated. It also makes it very hard to maintain any kind of reverential prayer after the Mass is finished since everyone is standing around in the back of the church eating, drinking, and chattering.

We have a perfectly good hall across the street but our pastor agrees with the council that people probably won’t walk that far!

Perhaps you might ask your pastor this question: Which is more important: Preserving the dignity and solemnity of the Mass and protecting the ability of congregants to pray in a place supposed to be set aside for worship, or making extra money selling coffee and cookies to the parishioners?

Certainly an announcement can be made at the end of Mass letting the parishioners know that refreshments are available in the parish hall across the street if they would like to drop by after Mass, but disrupting the Mass itself like you describe could be compared to vendors hawking their wares at Calvary. Perhaps the pastoral council might reflect on two Gospel texts: the indignity Jesus suffered when Roman soldiers gambled for his clothes while he suffered on the cross (John 19:23-24), and Jesus’ reaction to commercial ventures taking place in his Father’s house (John 2:13-17).

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