“We are a Church called together by God, not a self-organized mutual admiration club,” writes the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in his letter for Lent. “The breaking of the Bread is a commemoration of the violent death that the Lord went through. Who claps while others are in pain? It is pain with love; yes, but it still pain.”
Manila (AsiaNews) – Clapping during Mass has become an issue. For Archbishop Socrates Buenaventura Villegas (pictured) of Lingayen-Dagupan, the practice has to end.
“Who would have clapped at Calvary?” asks the prelate, who chairs the Episcopal Commission on seminaries. “Would the Blessed Mother and John the Beloved have clapped?” Villegas writes in a Lenten message he issued today.
“Ash Wednesday, which opens the season of Lent, gives us a good occasion to reflect on the value and importance of sobriety, silence and self-restraint in the pursuit of holiness of life.
Indeed, Catholics should refrain from inappropriate clapping at Mass, notes the prelate for the Eucharist is a "happy feast” but also “a memorial to Calvary". Thus, clapping, “if not nipped early, can rob us of the true meaning of Christian liturgy and worship.”
Looking at the “so-called motives for clapping,” whether before or after the eucharistic celebration, Mgr Villegas wonders whether it is an “antidote to boredom in the Church”. “Is clapping in the midst of the homily or after it, a sign of liturgical vitality? Is not this boredom coming from a misunderstood sense of worship and prayer?”
Unfortunately, The community of prayer seems to have become “just an audience in need of entertainment” with “liturgical ministers [as] performers; and preachers [as] erudite toastmasters. It should not be so.”
To makes his point, Archbishop Villegas cites what two important popes said on the subject. Saint Pius X banned clapping in his honour inside St Peter's Basilica, saying “It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in his Master’s house.”
More recently, Pope Benedict XVI explained that “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 replaced by a kind of religious entertainment”.
Clapping to show appreciation or gratitude is thus inappropriate for the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan. It “can be shallow and cheap,” whereas, “We are a Church called together by God not a self-organized mutual admiration club.”
Priests, Mgr Villegas adds, should “Refrain from using applause to keep our parishioners alert and awake during the homily. A well prepared, brief, inspired and inspiring homily has a longer lifespan than intermittent clapping as you preach.”
If a post-communion message is needed, to congratulate a group or someone for their work or donations to the Church, it should be done “outside the Mass”.
“Do not clap for me after Mass when I visit your parish or chapel. You and I are both guests in the House of God. We are only waiters at the Table of the Master. [. . .] The breaking of the Bread is a commemoration of the violent death that the Lord went through. Who claps while others are in pain? It is pain with love; yes, but it still pain.”
The archbishop’s message ends noting that “The season of Lent has a sombre purple colour. It has a sober and calm aura. The altar decors are restrained. The musical instruments are subdued. We fast from pleasure and restrain our appetite.
“Let us add more abstinence to this sober season. Let us abstain from applause in Church. May this abstinence from clapping flow over into the other days of the year.”