Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we approach the end of summer, please allow me to once again call your attention to a few friendly reminders regarding our church etiquettes for the sake of fostering a greater sense of reverence in the House of God, and a greater respect for one another in the worshiping community:
– Please come on time! – If you are consistently late to Mass, you are missing out on the very important Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word. If you come late enough, you don’t even fulfill your Sunday Mass obligation! Barring unforeseen emergencies, coming to Mass late on a regular basis is simply an indication of poor planning. When we come to church early, we may have adequate time to recollect ourselves and prepare prayerfully for the Mass. By avoiding the distraction caused by needless movement and traffic in the assembly, especially the constant opening and closing of church doors, you will add to the prayerfulness of the Mass and help everyone to be more focused on their encounter with the Lord.
– Please wear proper attire! – Meeting the Lord Himself in His House is not like going to a grocery store or to the park. I urge everyone to dress up for Mass, giving God the respect that He deserves. It doesn’t mean having to wear expensive clothes. It simply means wearing our “Sunday best” whatever that may be for each person. And, of course, please always come in modest attire. This is especially important for those who serve as liturgical ministers, i.e. Lectors, Altar Servers, Sacristans, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Musicians, Ushers, etc., since they are representatives of the Church and our parish.
– Please do not bring food or drink! The only eating and drinking that should take place in church is that of the reception of Holy Communion. Other than that, the church is simply not a place to eat and drink. The chewing of gums, of course, is always inappropriate in church. In our parish, many people have had the good habit of bringing canned food and/or used clothing and toys to share with the poor. This was good when we had an active Food Pantry at St. Margaret Mary Chapel. Now that the Chapel and its Food Pantry has been closed, please do not bring such items to church as we do not have enough personnel or volunteers to dispose of them. If you have good clothing to donate, please contact St. Mary’s Church Clothing Drive at (718) 529–6070 or visit their website at https://stmarysclothingdrive.com to schedule a free pickup at your home.
– Please observe holy silence! – Since the church is a place of prayer, silence should always be observed. The greeting of our friends and neighbors is appropriate for after Mass outside of the church or in the vestibule so as not to disturb the prayer of others. This is particularly true in the transition time between our Masses on Sunday.
– Please show the greatest reverence! As we enter the church, we should make either a genuflection or a profound bow toward Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle prior to taking a seat. It is a way of acknowledging and reverencing the Master of the House, the Host of the Banquet of Life to which we are invited.
As one who hears everyone’s grievances regarding matters of church etiquettes all the time, I often feel hapless because it is simply impossible for me to keep an eye on everything that goes on while trying to concentrate on leading the community in prayer. I do wish that there would be fewer distractions in church. However, when they do occur, I also think of them as steppingstones toward holiness. Whether it’s a couple of noisy children, the strange appearance of a fellow parishioner, the inaudible voice of the priest or deacon, the off-key singing of someone behind you, or the lack of courtesy on the part of someone who blocks your entrance to the pew, let it all pass. Patience, tolerance, politeness, and good manners would be more helpful than voicing complaints to the pastor. And should you find yourself to be one of the sources of distractions to others, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just try to improve next time for the honor of God.
Grateful for the admirable reverence and respect that most of you already show in church—the Lord’s House and our common spiritual home, I remain
Devotedly yours in Christ,