Q – I get frustrated when I see people at Mass that talk, text, etc. – just a general lack of reverence before God in the Blessed Sacrament. I just get hurt that people come to Mass and act the way they would during a lecture or class, and are ignorant that others may wish to pray quietly. Can you help?
A – Thanks for the question. The first thing I would like to explore, before I answer your questions, it to ask why people would act in this way?
- Ignorance – Maybe they don’t understand what is going on with the Mass – so they are ignorant of the sacredness of it.
- Culture expectations are different – Maybe they are visitors and at their local parish they are used to it or possibly not even Catholic & don’t have a cultural expectation to fall back on.
- Awkwardness – Maybe they are uncomfortable in church and want to talk to comfort themselves or visit with another person.
- Disability – Maybe they are hard of hearing and don’t know how loud they are being.
- Concern for others – They may be concerned about their neighbor who just walked in and want to know how they are doing.
- Other reasons – There are a multitude of other reasons someone might talk in church.
So, what are you to do about it? I would offer it up as a sacrifice. Your annoyance, frustration, and pain are nothing compared to what our Lord feels because of my sins and your sins. We need to set a good example and shushing people, giving them angry looks, or asking them to keep it down will not draw them closer to God. In fact, it is most likely to drive them further away, esp. if they are on the fence about going to church in the first place. Also, we need to learn that we cannot control other people’s actions, but we can control how we react to them. Therefore, I believe it is best to offer up prayers for those people and thank God that they are in Mass and not just wasting the Sabbath.
A while back, I had to deal with loud conversations before Mass. It took a lot of effort, but I offered up my personal frustrations and ended up having some great prayer time.
Now if this is a continual problem, I would voice the issue with your pastor and let him decide how to best handle the situation, which is really his problem, since it is his flock that is having the issue.
I hope this helps.
A note to the talkers who might read this – even if it isn’t uncommon for people to carry on a conversation that others might hear before, during, or after Mass while in the sanctuary, in most situations, this is inappropriate. The majority of these kinds of conversations (most likely) should not happen in church. Even if you are visiting, not praying, bored, etc. there are still others that would like quiet time in prayers. So, as a reminder to the church-goers who like to talk in church, please be respectful of others and wait to have your conversation outside of church (or at least in the Narthex, if your church has one).