I wondering if some Catholics feel uncomfortable with the idea that “joy” is part of “solemn” because of their training while growing up, either with parents/grandparents, and/or in parochial school.
Because of their immaturity, which is perfectly normal, BTW, children have a difficult time discerning and acting upon appropriate limits.
If adults teach them that it’s good to show joy during Mass, many children would not be able to correctly interpret what the boundary is–they might laugh out loud, giggle, wiggle, etc. and then get confused and question or even defy the adult who tells them, “that behavior is inappropriate for church.” The children aren’t being deliberately naughty or defiant–they just aren’t mature enough to discern when they are being inappropriate in church.
So instead of giving them the option of showing their joy, their parents and teachers teach them that it is never OK to laugh or show their joy on their faces during Mass. That’s a more black and white teaching that children can grasp and act upon, and leads to a more peaceful Mass for everyone, especially in school crowds.
When they are older, some children eventually learn that it isn’t so black and white, and that it’s GOOD to show joy in the Mass.
But other children never learn this for various reasons, and they grow up believing that it’s “wrong” or “sinful” to smile during Mass, or to feel any kind of exhilaration or joy during Mass. In other words, it’s yet another manifestation of false Catholic guilt, which is a subject that I wish that several learned and trustworthy modern Catholics would write books about!
As a Protestant, I didn’t grow up with any of this. We were taught from babyhood that JOY is the natural result of experiencing Jesus Christ’s love, and we were taught to SHOW that joy on our faces, in our singing, our praying, in our verbal reactions to the preaching and singing (“AMEN!” Hallelujah!" Preach it, brother!" “Sing it, sister!”), and in our testimonies.
One of the first church songs that I ever learned as a child was called “Heavenly Sunshine”–“flooding my soul with glory divine, Hallelujah! Jesus is mine!” And of course, there’s that great little children’s song, “I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy Down in my Heart,” “Where?” “DOWN IN MY HEART TO STAAAAYYY!”
As more and more Protestants come into the Catholic Church, I think Catholics will be challenged by their joyful countenances and outward expressions of that joy!