Sunday, July 12, 2009

Clapping in Church

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI): "Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment."

Pope St. Pius X: "It is not fitting that the servant be applauded in His Masters House".

Hab. 2:20: "But the Lord is in His holy temple, silence before Him, all the earth!"

Zeph. 1:7: "Silence in the presence of the Lord your God!"

Cardinal Francis Arinze is prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome. When His Eminence speaks about the liturgy, our ears should perk up and listen. He stated that “…when we come to Mass we don’t come to clap. We don’t come to watch people, to admire people. We want to adore God, to thank Him, to ask Him pardon for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need.” [Adoremus Bulletin; Vol. IX, no.7, Oct. 2003]

I wanted to give some food for thought on what currently goes on in Catholic Churches. We clap for anything nowadays. Boy scouts, the choir or the newly married couple. The question is WHY?

What is our reason for going to Mass?

To worship God.

What is the Mass?

The Mass as "Unbloody Sacrifice":

Very early on, the Church saw the Mass as a mystical reality in which the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is renewed. Responding to Protestant sects who denied that the Eucharist is anything more than a memorial, the Council of Trent (1545-63) declared that "The same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner" in the Mass.

This does not mean, as some critics of Catholicism claim, that the Church teaches that, in the Mass, we sacrifice Christ again. Rather, the original sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is presented to us once more.


The Mass is us standing once again at Calvary, watching the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
Why during such an awesome moment would you want to pull your gaze from Christ to focus on anyone or anything else? Why would you desire to clap at such an occasion?

My father in law has a saying : "People more attention pay to what you do than what you say"

If a non Catholic would walk in to our Church and see us applauding any tom, Dick or Harry for their accomplishments would they think that we TRULY believe that Jesus Christ is present in our Tabernacles? If as Catholics we TRULY believed that Christ was present in the tabernacle would we turn our attention away from that to clap for the newly married? or the boy scouts? the Choir? or our local softball team?

We have to remember that as Catholics we are always preaching our beliefs to others......and as St Franics said:

“Preach the gospel at all times.
If necessary, use words.”
Saint Francis of Assisi

When my husband and I got married we got someone before the Mass to inform the congregation that there was to be NO clapping at Mass. Once we got to the reception, they announced Mr and Mrs Grant Gil and the place went nuts with applause, in the proper place and at the proper time.

We as Catholics need to remember that everything has meaning and we need to keep God the center and focus of the Mass, we are secondary.

God Bless!


  1. Amen! Great idea to start a blog like this. We all need to be reminded of what's right and wrong.

  2. This is interesting and it is a huge pet peeve of mine as one of our priests (retired) leads clapping for the choir, boy scouts, & altar servers - none of which DH & I participate in. However, it never occurred to me that clapping at the end of a wedding or even to welcome a newly baptized member was inappropriate - those being Sacraments, I guess I never felt it was celebrating a soley "human achievement." I coordinate the weddings for our parish w/ many visiting priests and have never had a Priest not do this, so now I am intrigued. I did notice that our new Pastor (very conservative from Ireland) does not have clapping at baptisms, but I have yet to do a wedding with him. With the baptisms, I assumed it was because they were in the middle of the Liturgy. Now, I have a new set of questions to discuss with him. Thanks for the food for thought.

  3. Ann, it's still taking the focus off the Eucharist. And again with the Mass representing Calvary, clapping for anything seems out of place. That is one reason I love Pope Pius quote so much

    Pope St. Pius X: "It is not fitting that the servant be applauded in His Masters House".

  4. Hmmm, that is very interesting. I am LDS and there is NEVER any clapping in any Chapel whether it be during Sacrament Meeting on Sunday or for any other activity during the week. I thought we were the only religion that did this! At times it can be awkward after a very moving musical performance (and I have wondered why we do it at times) but when put as you have in this post it makes sense :)


  5. We did the same thing at our Wedding...partly by choice, but mostly because the priest highly discouraged clapping in church (we had an awesome priest marry us).

    We NEVER participate in clapping during church. In our Church it is rare (and only if we have a visiting priest that for some reason something like clapping would happen) that anyone clap. It is awkward when we attend Mass or Weddings at other parishes and are the only ones clapping. Pretty sure that NO ONE knows why we are not clapping.