Unwelcome Mass?

My wife and daughter are out of town and looked for a Mass. The hotel gave them the info for a Traditional church, so that’s where they went.

They left after the Gospel. Not only did they not understand what was going on (which obviously isn’t the fault of the Church/church), but all the women were in veils (again, no blame there), but they very definitely got a cold reception, felt very conspicuous, and people seemed to make a point of not sitting near them.

I had thought a Tridentine Mass would be an interesting experience, but after hearing this, I won’t be attending one. :frowning:

Many masses are not welcoming places. I have been going to the same parish for over twenty five years. Not once has anyone come up to speak to me or welcome me. I have always considered myself to be a fairly well dressed professional and am always well groomed by a picky wife. It would be different if I reeked of alcohol or looked “off”.However I could not give a damn as I come to worship Christ not to go to a Pentecostal group hug. We have to understand the group dynamics of sometimes closed groups and be more tolerant within a culture of reserve and personal space.
I have always seen going to mass as similar to getting the same bus to work. You often sit in the same seats; you recognize the same faces; you often give a smile on eye contact, but you have never met them nor know their names.You can often go to the after mass coffee meetings and no one can approach you.
Does it matter. Yes in so far as the evangelical happy clappers are much more friendly and get the people looking for community. But in terms of your personal spiritual life, not a bit.

I mostly agree with you, but there’s a point at being made to feel unwelcome.

Oh don’t let that one experience make you feel uncomfortable about the Tridentine Mass! It’s a wonderful Mass that I would ask you to attend again, the whole time this time! Don’t let the fact that because people do not sit beside you be a factor you won’t be attending…just sit beside someone yourself! :stuck_out_tongue: Tell them you are new to this type of Mass and ask for assistance.

I believe that they will, or at-least should, have English-Latin translations.

Ever since Vatican II, chapel veils are no longer required for women but many of the Traditionalist women prefer them…

ALSO, make sure that your traditional church that you attended is NOT the SSPX or any group that is schismatic from the Holy Father.

Groups that ARE in Union with the Holy Father are: FSSP; Canons Regular; Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest; and many more…

Chance attendance at a Latin Mass was a huge part of my reversion. You are encouraged to dress more modestly (including the mantilla or hat) but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so I don’t cover my head. I’m working up to a mantilla!

Sometimes, I can sense a small degree of disapproval from the traditionally covered crowd, before Mass begins, but it doesn’t bother me.

I’m there to worship the mystical body of Christ in a holy and mystical setting.

I totally understand your perspective on this but even so, it’s sad. I have only been attending Mass for a few months and yet people who sit near me have been friendly and helpful. As I was leaving today, one man said he’d bring me some DVDs about prayer which I would find interesting. The elderly man in front of me asked how I was. The lady sitting next to me had a chat with me. I know their names, too. It’s a great place, but I am a sociable person by nature, I have to say.


This has been more or less my own experience, except that my wife and mother usually team up on the grooming bit! :stuck_out_tongue: As you said, the Mass is a Sacrament; the fellowship aspect is secondary. And I tend to be a little reserved, so “happy clapping” isn’t really my style. I tend to squirm when asked to lift up my hands, hold hands with the person next to me, tell them “I love you. You are special”, and other “novelties” that some of the enthusiastic priests at my parish come up with.

Shouldn’t let that bother you. Those folks faced a lot of hostility in trying to hang on to a tradition, I experienced it myself. So they are naturally a little suspicious at the appearance of someone they don’t know and trust. Of course, your wife and daughter may have been imagining things. Hey, I’ve been in my parish over 30 years and few people speak to me, even at " donuts and coffe " aftet Mass.

The coldness of Catholics is an environmental effect of the exodus of people from the cities into suburbia after the war. The old communities are gone forever, those comfortable places where everyone knew everyone else.


I believe what the poster’s family experienced, that has been a repeatedly reported experience on CAF, but I would approach it in a different way. I would speak with the Pastor of that church and let him know that the coldness shown by the parishoners has had the effect of turning people away rather than attracting them. No Pastor wants to hear that.

My parish, used to be perceived as very big and cold and perhaps snobbish. That is until we got a Pastor who turned things around by directly addressing the congregation about it at Mass. Then he began to set things up for the parish to be more welcoming. Of course, some did not like it, but little by little our reputation changed, and we have been pleasantly surprised by a number of people after a diocesean reorganization choosing our parish to join because it was so welcoming. People WANT to join our parish now. And the succeeding Pastor has continued with helping form our parish into one people want to belong to.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a friendly and welcoming parish or seeing community as important. Our relationship with our brothers and sisters is of supreme importance and is related to our relationship with God. The Bible distinctly states that we cannot love God if we do not love one another (1 John 4:20-21). Jesus saw the love of neighbor as of enough importance to give a commandment about it. Surely we love God above all else–but that in no way diminishes our responsibility to love our neighbor. How can we say we love our neighbor if we sit in a church and refuse to acknowledge them?? Or look upon them with disdain because they don’t meet the “dress code”? Or criticize them if they don’t meet our expectations?

And if we have been paying any attention at all to Pope Francis, we all know he preaches community, love of neighbor, etc. As did St Paul. It is very wrong to downplay the importance of Christian community–how else was the Church built? It does not exceed the love of God, nothing does, but it certainly goes along with it, and without it, there is no Church. Read the New Testament carefully and see how important the community was to the early church and to Jesus himself.

The few times I’ve attended a traditional Mass, I’ve felt the same way. Not only have I gotten an unwelcoming vibe, but also a judgmental one. The feeling is one of being less Catholic.

I have a relative who attended traditional Masses, which I attended with her when I’ve visited them. When I was with her, the parishioners were warm and friendly, but before she met me there and at the coffee and following the Mass, when she left me to get her children from the nursery, I was the recipient of stares and cold looks.

I know that the Mass is not an occasion for socializing, but we are all social animals. I think we make a big mistake by not emulating our Protestant brothers and find ways to also create a community. The usher who greets people at the door with a smile and friendly greeting is rare in my experience; it’s one of the things I love about my parish. When we attend Mass at the Church to which my DD’s in-laws belong, the ushers, who are females, look like they’ve been sucking lemons. My Protestsnt friends have multiple opportunities to join women’s or men’s groups; there’s a group that prepare and delivers home-cooked meals after the birth of a baby or to ill parishioners; their individual Bible-study groups have monthly pot lucks for the entire family.

I wonder if we wouldn’t be stronger in our faith if we had the support of a like-minded community.

Almost the same here, which is why I keep switching parishes for Mass to no avail. I just keep telling myself most of them are there just for the obligation. There’s a senior center right in the middle of town if one wants a free meal and a bridge partner. :slight_smile:

Let me get this straight. They left after the gospel because they believed that people did not like them? :confused: How can one actually know what is going on inside the heads of total strangers? Sounds like a number of assumptions were being made. And if the point was to attend a Mass while out of town (i.e., fulfill Sunday obligation), why would they walk out? Even if their clairvoyant perceptions were true, that causes someone to not attend the Holy Sacrifice? Something seems missing here. :confused:

It depends on the parish. I would say the majority of Catholic parishes are friendly places where people understand that a major part of the Gospel message is about how we allow Christ in us to shine as welcome beam to others. There are then a number which can appear slightly cold and lofty but I think this can often be explained by an overwhelming focus on devotion. But there are indeed parishes, where pieity and superiority rule, where a closed community somehow give the impression that they are more imprtant than others - these parishes have no place in the Universal church. I hope and pray that your next experience will be more postive and an example of true catholicity!

I quite agree. We are told at the end of mass to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your love” If a simple welcome can’t even be afforded to our brothers and sisters in Christ at the end of the mass then really people miss the point about how we are required to live out our faith.

I think, for me, the feeling of unwelcoming comes from the fact that some Catholics believe that they must be so solemn because they are coming to worship the Lord, which i agree, but their idea of being “solemn” is this painful scowl or or frown from trying to be serious.

Kind of like when you want a good picture of your child and tell him/her to smile and you get this evil forced grin that looks like they are having a difficult bowel movement…

i think some traditional Catholics believe they have to have that stone face that is so unfriendly. Trust me, i dont think God will mind if you have a pleasant smile while you worship him, after all, i am so delighted that the good Lord wants me in his house to worship him.

I’m with those who are wondering about more detail on what happened. For example:

What does “a cold reception” specifically mean? What do they usually expect on arriving at church? What did they expect in this case?

(I don’t expect you to name names, but I’m also with those wondering about the status of this particular group–not because I necessarily expect differences in behavior based on the group but because I’m curious about what the hotel found them. :p)

I had thought a Tridentine Mass would be an interesting experience, but after hearing this, I won’t be attending one. :frowning:

How would you react if someone said in another case, “I had thought a Catholic Mass would be an interesting experience, but after hearing this, I won’t be attending one”?

I might be a little knee jerk with this. My impression is that certain Catholics tend to have a dour view of other Catholics.

Our parish tends to be more “Protestant” in our openness than others I’ve been to. We always do a “say hello to the people around you,” before Mass. I have to admit, I HATED that when we first started attending there. But I quickly learned that it’s not touchy-feely, it’s sincere friendliness.

And I’m no stranger to unfriendly parishes. My in-laws’ parish is very cold. No one shakes hands at the Sign of Peace. The give each other a silent, solemn nod. Their whole comportment during Mass is that they’d rather not be bothered by anyone, even a cheerful priest.

So maybe it’s not the fault of the Traditional parish. Maybe it’s just the parish culture. Or maybe they’re German Catholics, like my in-laws.

Oops. I shouldn’t have said that last part…:rolleyes:

Thanks for the candid comments to clarify the OP. My concern here is the sweeping judgments that are being made about people in general, most of whom are strangers. Different parishes do indeed have different cultures, just as other societies. It bothers me that someone would see people who prefer to nod to acknowledge others during the peace, rather than shake hands, as automatically cold and standoff-ish. That is drawing an unwarranted conclusion, as if there could be no valid reason for doing so. Such people are often products, not only of traditional Latin Mass communities, but of pastors who have attempted to rein in over-the-top practices concerning the sign of peace at Mass, especially moments before receiving holy communion. Others may have been made aware of health concerns, especially during flu season. Others may be in a more prayerful disposition before receiving Our Lord. The usual handshake exchange is something that has been in vogue for only a few decades, so surely we won’t judge many folks by a very modern standard, will we?

I myself am quite the extrovert, and if I met you and your family after Mass, in the parish hall, in front of the church, in the parking lot, etc., I would warmly welcome you and speak with you. However, at the peace, I am one of those more prayerful people who prefer a nod to a handshake. That doesn’t make me cold or judgmental, and certainly nothing to leave Mass over.

I,am sorry to hear about what you feel,but most women in our church wear veil,s on their head,that is why when you went in people looked at you ,because your wife wasn,twear a veil,but don,t let you get to you,just remined your wife to have one with her incase you go into a church wear women wear veil.s.

By their fruits you shall know them.

This is the reception I’ve always received at a TLM. That’s a shame because it’s the highest and best form of Catholic worship. Too bad so many in attendance are insular, paranoid, and unwelcoming. I’ve started to think that the trad mindset is a spiritual sickness rather than a genuine love for tradition and the truth of our faith. Wish it were otherwise, but this is the conclusion I’ve reached after 30+ years of periodic attendance at the TLM in several different cities.

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