To Discourage Clapping in Church sign now

Dear Father,

Re: Clapping in Church

We, the undersigned, would like to thank you for the wonderful work that you have done for our Parish of St Ignatius Church in your tour as our pastor; most recently, for the effort you put in to make Holy Week a meaningful and spiritual event for us.

We would like to draw your attention to the clapping that takes place in church, especially after Mass. Clapping turns the most Holy Mass into a form of entertainment, removes the sacred atmosphere of the church and draws our attention away from the sacrifice of mass.

We found this especially to be so during the Easter Vigil mass this year, when great applause erupted from the crowd after each set of baptisms and during the re-entrance of the newly baptized, during the thanksgiving hymn, Easter Song and after the final hymn.

We understand that this is done with the best and sincere intentions of giving the choirs of St Ignatius the due recognition and appreciation they deserve for their upstanding performances and effort; and to welcome the newly baptised into our Catholic family. However, the clapping of hands has always been a universal sign of appreciation for performance. When this is done after a baptism, it makes the holy sacrament akin to a performance on ones part and not a solemn outward sign of inward grace that it truly is. When it is done after mass, it makes the choir seem as though they are performing for us and not for God, turning the mass into a performance.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, has made clear his stance regarding clapping in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000),

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liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.

Thus, it is clearly evident that even the Holy Father, who sets the example of how mass should be celebrated, does not approve of this. The mass is not ours, and it is certainly not a performance for us, but the sacrifice of God.

We also know that you, Father, are strongly not in favour of applause as well, and we sincerely hope that this petition will encourage you to completely discourage this great abuse in our church so that we may give God the full glory and praise that he deserves. After all there are many opportunities to thank the choir and welcome the newly baptised after mass and outside the church.

We strongly believe that continued catechism and reminders from the pulpit as well as in the weekly bulletins would certainly aid our congregation into this habit. We also propose the removal of the final hymn at the end of mass. The removal of the final hymn, which is unnecessary and not an actual part of the liturgy has only benefits. It will only encourage our congregation to maintain the sacred atmosphere and prayer after mass as well as to discourage clapping in appreciation for the choir.

We thank you for taking time to consider our concerns and suggestions and wish you a most blessed and joyous Easter. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

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Sallie MacdonaldBy:
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Parish Priest, St Ignatius Church, Singapore

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