…When I was younger (and even more idealistic) and directing the choir, Fr. Ozemik whom I looked up to (I took my confirmation name in part after him) acting very out of character asked the congregation at the end of mass, “Didn’t the choir do a fine job? Let’s give them a round of applause.” Not usually one to counter elders I none-the-less marched in to the sacristy and said rather sternly, “Don’t you ever do that to me again. This is my ministry and unless you are going to clap for the servers and the women who ironed the linens, and the men who volunteered to fix the pews, and Mrs. C who mended your vestment, and the ushers, readers, EMEs, and everyone else who had a role in this mass including the congregation don’t you ever do that again!”
Surprisingly he took it very well. More amusedly I think than anything else. But we never clapped again and once or twice he suggested to people that if they liked the music they should go tell the choir.
I spoke about this to a seminarian yesterday at lunch. He was equally as irritated. “We used to do that at my (Catholic) high school," he said, “We were told not to clap during the mass anymore so we took up a bunch of time afterwards to acknowledge everyone after mass and clap for them. ‘And now for the choir . . .and now for the EMHC . . .’ I don’t know why we didn’t clap for the congregation that did a great job praying or for Jesus Christ who was kind enough to show up.”
He then goes on to give more arguments against this. For my part whenever I have heard applause at Mass I always thought it was disruptive and took away from the solemnity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That people have forgotten that Christ’s sacrifice is re-presented and we are present at Calvary and Jesus’ live-giving sin-destroying sacrificial act. Would anybody think it was appropriate to clap at Calvary?
If applause is a good to show appreciation in the context of the Mass, then shouldn’t we be doing it at the consecration?
Some of the parishes where I have heard applause I have also experienced another thing. That after Mass the priest will start asking who is from out of town, who has a birthday or an anniversary, etc. I keep waiting for them to ask "Who is annoyed by this phony act of community" so I too can stand up. I am sure they have the best of intentions, but we have just received Jesus Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and the last thing we need is to be focusing back on ourselves once again. Speaking from experience I know I am very good at doing that myself without any outside help.