Where Has "Common Courtesy" Gone?


#1

I've read and experienced a great deal with regard to the different Catholic sacrificial liturgies. I am well aware of the many perfectly acceptable (officially per the Church) variations/options when it comes to celebrating the Mass. But I have to ask:

What happened to common courtesy?

When I attend Mass I am appalled at the talking before, during and after Mass inside of the church. I am appalled at the crude behavior of those who set-up for Mass. They seem to treat the sanctuary as their stage. I am often appalled at the "get it done" behavior of the celebrant. The list on goes on and on.

The reason I ask is that I was out of two last weekend. I went to the Saturday night Mass at a local parish and it was DEVOID of all this garbage. I was rather stunned in a positive way. I went back the next morning and it was the same celebrant, the pastor and the same reverence.

After Mass I thanked him and said that he should be very proud of his "crew." I said I wasn't used to that sort of sublime behavior in church anymore. He said (and I quote) "it takes great respect for God and common courtesy...and some courage once in a while." I agreed, we shared a knowing nod and I was on my way.

I have searched at the local 11 parishes for this sort of common courtesy. Why is it so scarce now when it used to be found in just about every Catholic parish?

The his not about the OF vs. EF Mass, this is not about contemporary vs. traditional music, this is not about EMsHC or female altar servers, this is about common courtesy and the respect for God that comes with it. Where did it go?


#2

I'm not sure what you're addressing here. Sure, there's lots of talking in Church. It's common courtesy to greet people you know and rude if you don't. I fully expect there to be some talking even during Mass -- if nothing else, parents are admonishing children or explaining what's happening; ushers are finding seats for people; musicians are whispering about the next song; people are whispering for the hard-of-hearing; and so on. Granted, talking about the ball game is for later; but heck if I'm going to walk past a friend whose wife is in the hospital without asking him how she's doing, even if we're in the sanctuary, and even if Mass is starting in a few minutes.

I haven't seen "crude behavior" of people setting up for Mass, so I'm not sure what you're alluding to; and I have no idea what you mean by a "get it done" attitude of the presiding priest. I'll have to leave those for others to address.

I've seen some discourtesy in Mass, of course; I imagine most of us have. But the idea that Mass is supposed to be a mausoleum is simply incorrect.


#3

I guess I must be lucky. I belong to an ethnically Polish parish in NYC.
The Pastor and his assistant were born, educated and ordained in Poland. Likewise, the vast majority of the congregation are either Polish immigrants, or first generation Polish Americans. There are only two Masses in English a week.
Anyway, the respect and reverance shown by both the Clergy and laity in that Parish is identical to what I remember from my childhood and youth (pre- V II). Back then we went to Confession on a weekly basis, fasted from midnight the day before receiving Communion and knelt to receive it on the tongue. We were taught that only the Priest was allowed to touch the Host with his hands. The only contact with the Host that the laity was allowed was on their tongue.
In our Parish, every so often, a homeless person will come into the church during Mass and try to panhandle the congregation. I have seen the priest stop the Mass and order the person to stop and demand that they respect the presence of God. When there are no ushers, or only one, several men from the congregation will handle the situation, most often by gently escorting the miscreant from the church.


#4

If this is a serious question, it would be better addressed one issue at a time.


#5

[quote="Exorcist, post:1, topic:296710"]
I've read and experienced a great deal with regard to the different Catholic sacrificial liturgies. I am well aware of the many perfectly acceptable (officially per the Church) variations/options when it comes to celebrating the Mass. But I have to ask:

What happened to common courtesy?

When I attend Mass I am appalled at the talking before, during and after Mass inside of the church. I am appalled at the crude behavior of those who set-up for Mass. They seem to treat the sanctuary as their stage. I am often appalled at the "get it done" behavior of the celebrant. The list on goes on and on.

The reason I ask is that I was out of two last weekend. I went to the Saturday night Mass at a local parish and it was DEVOID of all this garbage. I was rather stunned in a positive way. I went back the next morning and it was the same celebrant, the pastor and the same reverence.

After Mass I thanked him and said that he should be very proud of his "crew." I said I wasn't used to that sort of sublime behavior in church anymore. He said (and I quote) "it takes great respect for God and common courtesy...and some courage once in a while." I agreed, we shared a knowing nod and I was on my way.

I have searched at the local 11 parishes for this sort of common courtesy. Why is it so scarce now when it used to be found in just about every Catholic parish?

The his not about the OF vs. EF Mass, this is not about contemporary vs. traditional music, this is not about EMsHC or female altar servers, this is about common courtesy and the respect for God that comes with it. Where did it go?

[/quote]

Have you tried going to a Tridentine Mass ( one that is has been sanctioned by the Church) you will find the people dont talk, dress properly, and respectuful in Church I personally was amazed at the difference plus the proper due care and respect given to the Blessed Sacrament. Came away with a different feeling entirely. Try it.


#6

Maybe it's the broader culture. We are a much coarser society that we were only a few years back.

The talking before and after Mass is disconcerting, but it isn't the thing that surprises me most. That would be the come-when-you-can and leave-when-you-want arrivals and departures.

Last Sunday, people were arriving at Mass until half way through the creed. There was another Mass starting in just over half an hour, so I really didn't get that one. It is getting more and more common.

It's now standard to see people leave after receiving, but then they remain just outside the church which has clear windows to chat before going to their cars. The celebrant remarked about how he was shocked, but it goes on. In that case, it's pretty hard to miss when the people outside are in full view of those who stayed and are only a few feet apart, separated by a pane of glass.


#7

I experience everything you mentioned on a weekly basis at my parish.

I certainly think the coarse society we live in today has something to do with it, but popular culture has always been coarser (sometimes far coarser) than what was once commonly experienced inside just about any Catholic Church. Something else has changed.

I think by and large many pastors have ceased being leaders. They and the bishop set the tone for the Masses in a diocese and some seem to fail miserably. If my belief is true then the next logical question is why did so many pastors stop being leaders or shepherds?

I have also come to believe that many of those that exhibited the most common courtesy in the past have either passed away or they have stopped attending Mass.

I am going to try and contact the pastor of that parish and see if he can lend any insight.


#8

I'm not interested in hearing about the EF Mass or communion-on-tongue or female altar servers, or Gregorian Chant or the wearing of mantillas, etc. Please take those matters to other threads.

NONE of those caused people to act indifferent or downright rude at Mass. None of those things stripped away common courtesy.

Something(s) changed. Expectations for one. This issue really interests me because like it or not, it has done a real number on the Church and innumerable souls over my lifetime.


#9

It left in search of its cousin, “common sense.” :frowning:


#10

This actually depends on the parish you go to..each one has a different "approach" to aspects of the Mass, including the music, homilies etc. The best thing is to try a few parishes if you have the option, and then pick one that suits you. But don't forget it's always the same God you are worshipping! :)


#11

The new Pastor at our parish celebrates a very respectful and holy liturgy and I'm hoping that at some point his attitude will spread to the folks in the pews. I have seen some improvement, but I do hear what you're saying.

People still feel that it's perfectly OK to have conversations throughout the entire liturgy, which are only amplified during the Sign of Peace. I don't care where you're going to dinner after Mass, I don't care what time little Johnny's practice is tomorrow, or what time Aunt Sarah needs to be at the MD on Tuesday. These are NOT things that must be discussed during the readings, the homily or the Eucharistic prayer. You have time before and after Mass for this stuff.

People talk all the time, everywhere now-so I guess this shouldn't be a shock. I don't go to movies anymore because the chatter never stops there either.


#12

This is one of those things, like abortion, contraception, etc., that tends not to get mentioned in homilies for fear of offending the "faithfully attending and giving yet doctrinally lax" crowd. I've shown up many Sunday mornings where I could barely hear myself think while trying to pray. I've had Masses where people around me only quit talking (and quite loudly at that) when they went to take Communion. I've had people get upset with me because I told them I'd talk with them outside after Mass but not beforehand when we're supposed to be praying. I've had people lean back and drape their arms over the back of the pew because they thought I was being rude for kneeling when they or their kids wanted to sit back and talk. I've listened to complete cell phone conversations during the readings, gospel and homily, and have listened to the nearly non-stop ringtones of people carrying on texting conversations that last the entire Mass. I'd love to hear a lengthy homily about how all of this is unacceptable.


#13

Considering a couple of generations have grown up without a clue as to how to behave appropriately in a variety of occupational, business, public, and social situations, it's not at all surprising that the same lack of decorum is displayed in places of worship, including Catholic churches. Even if they manage to be unobtrusive in the church building during Mass, the squealing tires and near-misses in the parking lot after Mass demonstrate the lack of regard for others.

The behavior you describe at Mass is sparked by the same sort of thinking that makes one feel entitled to drive down the road with overpowered speakers blaring contemporary obscenities that pass for music, that gives one the license to have small children running amok in a high-end restaurant, and that grants the go-ahead to allow one's driveway to harbor a variety of unregistered vehicles in varying stages of decomposition. People simply think that they have the right to "do their own thang," regardless of how inappropriate it is. In the case of Mass, I doubt that they consider the Real Presence. In fact, I doubt that they even think!

As for the cell phone conversations during Mass: I can't see any situation, short of an experienced neurosurgeon talking a junior doctor through a situation at the hospital, where a cell phone call would be necessary. Take it outside, folks!

Basically, courtesy is just a generally accepted codification of considering the needs of others. So if you have a culture that overly values the prerogative of the individual as opposed to the needs of others, common courtesy evaporates.


#14

[quote="RenataRemedios, post:10, topic:296710"]
This actually depends on the parish you go to..each one has a different "approach" to aspects of the Mass, including the music, homilies etc. The best thing is to try a few parishes if you have the option, and then pick one that suits you. But don't forget it's always the same God you are worshipping! :)

[/quote]

WRONG.

I mentioned all the legitimate variations/options. This is about common courtesy. I also mentioned I have tried all 11 local Catholic parishes.

There is no excuse for this loss of courtesy in Catholic parishes.


#15

[quote="Gordon_Sims, post:12, topic:296710"]
This is one of those things, like abortion, contraception, etc., that tends not to get mentioned in homilies for fear of offending the "faithfully attending and giving yet doctrinally lax" crowd. I've shown up many Sunday mornings where I could barely hear myself think while trying to pray. I've had Masses where people around me only quit talking (and quite loudly at that) when they went to take Communion. I've had people get upset with me because I told them I'd talk with them outside after Mass but not beforehand when we're supposed to be praying. I've had people lean back and drape their arms over the back of the pew because they thought I was being rude for kneeling when they or their kids wanted to sit back and talk. I've listened to complete cell phone conversations during the readings, gospel and homily, and have listened to the nearly non-stop ringtones of people carrying on texting conversations that last the entire Mass. I'd love to hear a lengthy homily about how all of this is unacceptable.

[/quote]

Something is definitely broken in a great many parishes.


#16

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:3, topic:296710"]
I guess I must be lucky. I belong to an ethnically Polish parish in NYC.
The Pastor and his assistant were born, educated and ordained in Poland. Likewise, the vast majority of the congregation are either Polish immigrants, or first generation Polish Americans. There are only two Masses in English a week.
Anyway, the respect and reverance shown by both the Clergy and laity in that Parish is identical to what I remember from my childhood and youth (pre- V II). Back then we went to Confession on a weekly basis, fasted from midnight the day before receiving Communion and knelt to receive it on the tongue. We were taught that only the Priest was allowed to touch the Host with his hands. The only contact with the Host that the laity was allowed was on their tongue.
In our Parish, every so often, a homeless person will come into the church during Mass and try to panhandle the congregation. I have seen the priest stop the Mass and order the person to stop and demand that they respect the presence of God. When there are no ushers, or only one, several men from the congregation will handle the situation, most often by gently escorting the miscreant from the church.

[/quote]

I have a Polish friend who often speaks of how traditional Polish parishes are both in Poland and in the U.S.


#17

[quote="po18guy, post:9, topic:296710"]
It left in search of its cousin, "common sense." :(

[/quote]

Please explain ... :confused:


#18

I remember watching a "Journey Home" episode on EWTN. A musician who was a Pentecostal had an interest in the Catholic Church so he went to Mass with some friends years ago.

As they entered he was taken aback by the quiet. He told his friends "so this is a church and a meeting hall, huh."

Something has changed.


#19

[quote="odile53, post:13, topic:296710"]
Considering a couple of generations have grown up without a clue as to how to behave appropriately in a variety of occupational, business, public, and social situations, it's not at all surprising that the same lack of decorum is displayed in places of worship, including Catholic churches. Even if they manage to be unobtrusive in the church building during Mass, the squealing tires and near-misses in the parking lot after Mass demonstrate the lack of regard for others.

The behavior you describe at Mass is sparked by the same sort of thinking that makes one feel entitled to drive down the road with overpowered speakers blaring contemporary obscenities that pass for music, that gives one the license to have small children running amok in a high-end restaurant, and that grants the go-ahead to allow one's driveway to harbor a variety of unregistered vehicles in varying stages of decomposition. People simply think that they have the right to "do their own thang," regardless of how inappropriate it is. In the case of Mass, I doubt that they consider the Real Presence. In fact, I doubt that they even think!

As for the cell phone conversations during Mass: I can't see any situation, short of an experienced neurosurgeon talking a junior doctor through a situation at the hospital, where a cell phone call would be necessary. Take it outside, folks!

Basically, courtesy is just a generally accepted codification of considering the needs of others. So if you have a culture that overly values the prerogative of the individual as opposed to the needs of others, common courtesy evaporates.

[/quote]

So the list grows in my opinion:

  1. Lack of leadership by many priests and bishops.

  2. A feeling of entitlement to do as they please by many at Mass.


#20

As was mentioned earlier, this is an unfortunate shortcoming of our society and culture today, and it has reached into Church. Sadly, it was bound to happen.

When my sister and I were children, our parents often took us to nicer restaurants that were more suited for adults than families. Many times people would come over to our table and complement my parents for their "well behaved children" and my parents were proud of us and flattered to be acknowledged. That was almost 50 years ago.

I have offered complements to well behaved families myself, but it is not a typical occurrence. More often it seems the parents attitude is to just let the kids do whatever they want. And eventually, even good kids will find mischief if left to their own devices. So I look at the parents and question them.

I see this same dynamic in our "Mothers' Chapel" when parents feel that it is an enclosed area and there are lots of families, so I will just let the kids run wild and it won't bother anyone. But then there are families with kids that are quite reverent (age appropriate) with the parents guiding them.

So now I am wondering, is there much difference? Were my sister and I exceptions to the rule? IF we were not, then why complement us? :shrug:

On the priest/leadership part of the equation, I tend to agree. However, we have a new (15 months) pastor who followed a 15 year pastor (retired and lives above the rectory garage).
We have a huge parish and there are bound to be those that like and dislike this and that, including the pastor. It's kind of like the current political spectrum; there is such a divide, half the people are on one side, and the other half is the opposite. A tough situation for a leader. I think that is where prayer comes in especially helpful.


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