It was a pleasure to
read your question. I will try to answer it in parts below...
First, you are most
definitely not wrong. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is NOT a "jovial
party" but a solemn sacrifice. We can be sure that St. John & the Blessed Virgin
Mary were not "chatting" as they stood beneath the cross and watched Christ shed
every drop of blood for our sins.
and the saints are quite clear...
"But the LORD is
in his holy temple; silence before him, all the earth!" (Hab. 2:20)
"Silence in the
presence of the Lord GOD!" (Zeph. 1:7)
"As in all the
churches of the holy ones, women should keep silent in the churches, for they
are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But
if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it
is improper for a woman to speak in the church." (St. Paul under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 14:33-35)
becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and
baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such
doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet,
and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor
of the Church)
"Let all mortal
flesh be silent, standing there...in fear and trembling; for the King of kings,
the Lord of lords, Christ our God is about to be sacrificed and to be given as
food to the faithful." (St. James)
"When you are
before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are
amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing
by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and
earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and
veneration." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)
"They shall also
banish from churches all those kinds of music, in which, whether by the organ,
or in the singing, there is mixed up any thing lascivious or impure; as also all
secular actions; vain and therefore profane conversations, all walking about,
noise, and clamour, that so the house of God may be seen to be, and may be
called, truly a house of prayer." (Council of Trent, Twenty-second Session)
Third, this noise,
unfortunately, has been a "trend" for a while now in many parishes. It is far
from uncommon with
Novus Ordo Masses. It is, fortunately, a "very rare" occurrence at
'Tridentine' Masses (Traditional Latin Masses). One could argue that it is
because of confused theology of some Novus Ordo adherents (or simply ignorance,
or "following the crowd"). Unlike the clearly sacrificial nature of the
'Tridentine' Mass, the Novus Ordo Mass often gives a "festive party" atmosphere
so many people do not see the problem with socializing. [Note: If you are
interested in some of the many significant differences between the 1960's Novus
Ordo Mass & the Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass, please visit
locate a Traditional Latin Mass in your area, try
I wish I could say
this trend was "passing by", but I am afraid that would not seem to be the case. In
fact, it is (wonderfully) surprising that this was a new experience for you. It
is a rather common experience out this way (California). And, in fact, many
priests actually encourage this type of socialization. This is very unfortunate.
Again, though, please remember this situation is peculiar to the Novus Ordo Mass
(the 1960's Mass which is said at most parishes today). It would be a "rare"
occurrence at a Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass. [Note: It is your
right to attend Mass – and all other sacraments – in the traditional rite, as
confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. If you'd like more information, please visit the
Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition Section
Lastly, I'll include
links to some resources that might be of interest, especially if you have to
attend Mass at the "noisy" parish again or if you plan to speak with other
Catholics about this matter. I hope you might find them helpful... (click links
Silence in Church Reflections (quotations from popes, saints, etc.)
Flier Re: Silence in Church (6 per page, handy for purse/wallet) [direct
link to .pdf file]
Flier Re: Applause in Church (also handy for purse/wallet) [direct link to
Other Fliers (including women's silence, proper behavior in church, etc.)
Discussion of Proper Behavior in Church
Again, thank you for
your question. It really was a pleasure to read.
God bless you.
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