Should we clap to celebrate Mass?

A debate ensued in our Catholic Women’s group this morning. Some of the converts really enjoy clapping to the beat of the music in Mass while others are highly offended by it. The ladies who enjoy the clapping said they feel moved to do it, so why shouldn’t they? Also, if the Mass is a celebration, why shouldn’t they be able to use joyful expression.

I agree somewhat (good music often draws me to Mass), and yet I know there is a line between allowing the Mass to deteriorate into an hour of entertainment rather than an hour of reverence. Where does one draw the line? And how can I back this up when the topic comes up again?

Thank you!

Dear mkmmom,

There are times during the liturgy when clapping is not only appropriate, it is required. During the ordination rite when the bishop asks for evidence that the man before him ought to be ordained to the priesthood, the congregation applauds its approval. But this does not mean that clapping is always appropriate.

It is important to remember what Mass is. It is the sacrifice of Calvary brought concretely into our lives on the altar. If we were standing at the foot of the cross so many years ago, would we really want to clap?

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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