Hold the Applause: Confessions of a Conflicted Clapper

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.  

The above words were penned by our Holy Father Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) on p. 198 of his book entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy.  I first read this book before our Holy Father became pope.  The book did three things to me.  First, it made me acutely aware that there was much about the meaning of the liturgy to which I was blind.  Second, it deepened my love for the liturgy.  Third, it put me in conflict with respect to how I needed to approach Mass.  One area of conflict was in clapping at Mass.  

Having read Cardinal Ratzinger’s words on clapping, I wondered how I could continue to clap at Mass in good conscience.  As one who has been to Masses where there was clapping for just about everyone, from musicians, lectors, altar servers and church decorators to priests giving homilies and lay people giving testimonies, I began to wonder why we clap at Mass at all.

Some liturgical clapping proponents claim we clap because Psalm 47:1 tells us to clap: “All you peoples, clap your hands….”   But we Catholics do not interpret scripture independently.  We look to Holy Mother Church, and her 2,000 years of teaching, to ensure our interpretation is authentic.  The documents on the liturgy (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Liturgiam Authenticum, and Redemptionis Sacrmentum) do not call for clapping at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  They call for reverence.

Rome wants irreverence at Mass to a stop.  “…let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence…” (Redemptionis Sacramentum 183).  The key question is this: is clapping a reverent action, or does clapping break the liturgical spirit of reverence which Rome is calling us to protect? 

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 am a Roman Catholic.  I don’t make up the rules for my faith or the Catholic Mass as I go along.  I receive them from God, through His church, as a gift.  I have faith in God, His church and its teachings.  I believe God reveals His truths through those teachings.  For that reason I want to honor them. 

To honor those teachings, and thus honor God, I had resolved at Mass to hold the applause when I was there.  Yet, I must confess that sometimes when everyone around me is clapping, or when someone stands up at Mass and asks me to applaud for someone else, I still succumb to clapping — albeit half-heartedly. 

In the midst of the applause, our Holy Father’s words spin sadly around in my head, thus causing me grief and making for conflicted claps.  The hands that clap at Mass these days are distracted and bewildered hands that would find a sublime joy if only they might be permitted to simply fold themselves in prayer to our God on that one special hour of the week devoted to Him.  This is an ongoing struggle in my life that revisits itself often on Sunday.  But please don’t clap for me.  Instead, I ask “you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

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  • ckcapecod

    Amen!! Finally! I have been in turmoil for years about this and have started to refrain from clapping in Church because it doesn’t feel right.

  • cnalty

    Don’t be so quick to totally discount clapping at Mass. At an Ordination, clapping is the liturgically correct way (mentioned in the Rite itself) for the congregation to express it’s assent to the Bishop’s decision to call a man to Sacred Orders. With that in mind, the comments from “Spirit of the Liturgy” have to be contextualized. He’s not talking about clapping per se, but the object of the clapping being a “human achievement.”

  • nezatda

    Causes for clapping should be kept separate from the celebration of Mass. Not that difficult if we are Christ-centered.

  • Klaire

    The mass is a prayer, period. We should no more clap for our hardworking priests, choir, or whomever than we would applaud anyone after they prayed a rosary. Not only is it irreverent, but it fosters the occasion of sin via pride. Only in humility can a “priest be the priest Christ needs him to be.” Properly understood, in true love for the Holy sacrifice of the mass and humility, it is in charity that we do NOT clap.

    Cnalty I respectfully disagree with your, IMO, “relative viewpoint.” An Ordination is a non sequitur. Most Catholics never experience one in their entire lifetime. Furthermore, to not believe Pope Benedict meant what he said is counter to his actions. Why do you think he has taken such efforts to bring back the Latin Mass? I grant you. The liturgical abuse is more than just clapping, but little by little, the holy mass in many parishes has lost its reverence and become a show piece. This isn‘t the place to give you a lesson in the mass, however you would benefit greatly from more in debt understanding of the Mass, including the Latin Mass where the priest is almost (and for good reason) invisible, with his back toward us, LEADING us to God.

    Mary Ann you make an excellent point in that it’s hard “not” to when everyone else is. I struggled with that myself. With prayer, via the Holy Spirit, I no longer clap, hold hands at the Our Father, or shake hands with zealous amigos who continue it into the Agnus Dei. Instead, I am more than ok in my often misunderstood “snobbery.” Through prayer I have come to understand that all of these things are not only wrong, but great distractions, perfectly designed by the enemy. Little by little, our “humanness” chips away at the Holy Mass. If it’s not clapping it’s hand holding, or hand shaking being more important to some than Jesus Christ on the altar (notice how many turn their back to Christ on the altar). It’s not even uncommon where I live in CA to see many come in with water bottles (short of a rare medical necessity, who can’t go an hour without a drop of water?). What will be next?

    And that’s the point. What SHOULD be next is that we pray for ourselves and each other. For the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially courage and piety. Do you have any idea how much of a “lesson” we give, when, in a crowd of many, you are one of the few who “don’t clap”, or “don’t hold hands at the Our Father”, instead, stay in prayer to Our Father in Heaven? I’m aware that the catechesis is horrible for many; consequently, the best way we can teach is by our own example.

    In conclusion, I remind all of what Pope Paul VI said. “The smoke of Satin has entered the Vatican.” That quote was misunderstood for years, until recently, an elderly Cardinal admitted that PP VI was speaking of the LITURGY. As he was correct in Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI has again proven himself correct in regards to the Liturgy. Little by little, Satan is making his way in to our greatest prayer, the greatest gift on earth, the Holy Mass. St. John Vianney once said “If we knew the true value of the mass, we would die of joy.”


  • mac315

    Klaire, I concur with your sentiments. I no longer attend Novus Ordo masses if at all possible due to the lack of reverence. That the mass is a re-presentation of our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary seems to be the furthest thing from the minds of people in these multi-cultural, “theology-of-me,” celebrations.
    Last week, I was speaking on this topic with another member of the TLM parish I attend. He related to me comments made in a sermon by Fr. Rutler, I believe, that were quite pertinent regarding how overzealous the handshaking, hugging, touchy-feely celebrations have become. I paraphrase, ‘There is a precedent for celebration in the sacrifice on Calvary; however, it wasn’t St. John, St. Mary Magdalene or the Blessed Mother at the foot of The Cross doing so. It was the chief priests, the Pharisees, the soldiers, etc. who cheered when Pilate washed his hands and mocked our Lord as he hung on The Cross.’

    I beg pardon for anything lacking in my rendition or if I have misattributed this citation.

    Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum,


  • kdpfam

    I know the difficulty of remaining seated when everyone else is giving a standing ovation or refraining from clapping when the rest of the congregation is partaking. This was made more difficult when I attended Mass with my family as obviously neither my wife nor my children wanted to be “differnent” or appear to be rude. They were finally won over when we sat down and looked more deeply as to what the Mass was, i.e. the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and what it was for, i.e. primarily the Church’s worship to God the Father. In this conversation, I asked my family to picture themseleves on Calvary at the foot of the cross with Mary, St.MM and St. John. I then asked them to picture St. John standing up and saying “Hey how about a big round of applause for Mary, Mother of Christ.What a gal!” I explained to them that in all liklihood, Mary would have gotten up off her knees, walked over to a centurian, asked to borrow a cross beam and then clocked St. John up side the head (charitably of course)for doing something that distracted from her Son’s sacrifice. While this got a chuckle from all concerned, amazingly enough, it brought the message home. Kim

  • Klaire

    Mac 15, or anyone else interested, if by chance you live in S CA, know that the PERFECT NO mass DOES EXIST at St. Margaret’s Parish in Oceanside, CA. Father Wallace is, I beleive, everything that we can hope for in a holy priest. (FYI, there are many holy Preists in S CA, this is not intended as a “comparison”, only what I experience at the 7am daily mass).

    Attend a 7am daily mass with Father Wallace at St. Margarets in Oceanside if you want to experience how the NO mass was intented to be.

    Firstly, you will notice, TOTAL SILENCE, BEFORE AND AFTER MASS. People are there to PRAY.

    Total reverence throughtout; EVERYONE (readers) stay in pray continually throughout the mass.

    Father Wallace does NOT use Eucharistic Ministers at daily mass (despite the growing crowd. I suspect, when appropriate, he will add one, as are needed at the Sunday masses)

    No one “hand holds” during the Our Father

    Sign of peace is reverent, short, and not “ring around the rosey” stuff; never going into the Agnes Dei.

    After mass, many stay in long thanksgivings. Tabernacle is at the center of the altar. Father Wallace is often among the “after mass crowd silently praying.”

    God Bless Father Wallace.

    On Sunday:

    Incense, Gregorain chant, total reverence,and awesome homilies at the two NO masses.

    6pm every Sunday is the Latin Mass; growing by leaps and bounds.

    It proves, that in obedience, the NO is as reverent and beautiful as intended.

    There are lots of devout Catholics in S CA and many holy priests. I just use Father Wallace and St. Margarets as a “pefect example.” By the same token, there are many “out of control” parishes, which IMO, have made Catholicsim into a social event. I will only add, outside of St. Margarets, I know of no other parish where there is total silence before and after daily mass. It’s amazing how much that “silence” matters.

    God Bless



  • Bruce Roeder

    I agree that silence after Mass is important.

    However I find it odd that you know of no other parish where this is silence after Mass. There are many parishes where this is observed.

  • bwnasca

    If you’re ever in Costa Mesa, CA try the morning masses at St. John the Baptist.
    Served by the Norbertine fathers, the N.O. masses are wonderful and are faithful
    to the GIRM………….bnasca

  • mac315

    Thanks for the invite but I’m all the way over on the “right” coast (pardon the pun). I’m glad to hear your TLM is “growing by leaps and bounds.” Deo gratias! And I agree that the NO, performed as intended, is beautiful and reverent. However, such a mass is likely more rare than a traditional latin mass. I don’t know that I have ever seen one. I feel fortunate to be within 30 mins. of a TLM chapel and to have an employer/employment that is flexible enough to allow me to attend daily mass at 8am (used to be 6:30am daily NO mass).

    To this conversation I would only add a reminder of the supreme importance of praying for the members of the clergy and for an increase in vocations. It is very sad to see the resistance to Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts to restore our Catholic identity through initiatives such as Summorum Pontificum among other changes he is recommending.

    I had the privelege of attending his mass in Washington DC. I must say I wasn’t sure if I should feel embarrased, ashamed or outraged at Archbishop Wuerl’s idea of how a papal mass should be conducted. Especially after BXVI had expressed his liturgical preferences well in advance. It was also interesting to observe those in attendance. One person said they really didn’t need to go to confession because they had gone a few months ago but was going to go just to get the priest’s blessing (this same person expressed a need for instructions on how to pray the Rosary). Others dressed as if they were there for a double-header. And someone needs to regulate the length of skirts on the uniforms of theses Catholic schools. Very few knelt during the pope’s consecration – why would they when the program told them to remain standing. And then the cheers of the different groups trying to get the pope’s attention after his homily – oy vey! However, there was no shortage of those charismatic types who like to make those hand gestures at the “and also with you” or when they “lift up their hearts.” It seems that this is the new/NO way of demonstrating your reverent participation.

    In my opinion, the Holy Spirit has truly ordained and is hard at work through the pontificate of Benedict XVI on a Church that desperately needs to be reined in from total self-destruction. I pray that we all have the grace of humility to see and admit the sinful errors of our ways and come to true repentance and unity.

    Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!


  • Klaire

    Bruce, if you reread what I wrote, I was more than careful to note that my review of St. Margarets was not a comparison; merely an example of a parish that has it as it should be (as does the Basilica of the Immacualte Conception in DC; down in the Crypt for daily mass). I have no intention of starting a “battle of the parishes in San Diego or the East Coast.” That said, we are all in total agreement of the importance of the silence.

    God Bless


  • Lucky Mom of 7

    I guess with all this silence and reverence going on, I better start leaving my noisy children at home. That’d surely make me and everybody in the church a lot holier.

    Sheesh, I really don’t like legalism. It’s the sin of the pharisees. Jesus hated it too.

    That being said, clapping during mass has always made me uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s inherently evil, though. It’s just fine to have a preference (notice BXVI hasn’t made a statement about clapping ex cathedra), but getting all worked up about something that is really trivial is a temptation from the evil one. If a parish claps too much, change parishes.


  • Narwen

    I’ve been blessed. The only times I have heard clapping at Mass has been at Ordination Masses, when it is apparently supposed to happen.

  • baptizedsoul

    Yes we too have a holy priest and a wonderful daily NO Mass. Daily our group of faithful who in the cry room pray the Litergy of the Hours for about 30 minutes. When finished there is another 5 or so minutes of silence, then the Rosary is prayed, after which the NO Mass begins. There is no holding of hands or clapping etc.. After the Mass is silence and adoration. The location of this Church and its faithful are in the high desert of Eastern California. These ordinary daily events take place up here every morning beginning about 5:25 a.m.. Also we have a true Perpetual Adoration, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. We rarely are in need of someone for Adoration for every hour almost always is filled. So, when someone gets an hour they hold on to it. My wife and I have hours at 5pm, 9am and 3am on three different days.

    If someone is looking for an out of the way place, parish and Church consider St. Ann Roman Catholic Church. When I concider how many more desirable locations there is to live in this country than in a desert, I am reminded of a passage from Apocalypse 2:12-17. For I know that California is where Satan has pitched his throne, thus it is here where the fight must take place. Where there is smoke there is war, that is where Christians need to be, for that is where the battle is being fought. So, friends in Christ, wherever you see smoke know that is where the battle is being fought for the life of this country and for God’s people and His Church. Our fight is not so much with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and with political rulers of this present age of darkness. Therefore let us each put on the armor of God that we may resist the evil one and steadfstly hold the high ground (adapted from Ephesians 6:10-17).

    Sincerely in Christ, with Joseph & Mary;

  • Michael T

    I agree, clapping maybe isn’t a good idea at mass, however I do not believe the celebration that is mass should be contained in an atmosphere that stifles spontoneity. Yes, reverence for the Eucharist is key, but the Mass is a PUBLIC activity that brings the Church together. If you want to be very reverant and quiet as you praise and acknowledge God, Jesus, you have plenty of time to do that in a quiet room at home with yourself or with your family. I think the more important deficiency at the celeration of the Eucharist is that people are too timid, they don’t sing, they respond in quiet voices and their presence in communing with others at the same mass is not held in high regard.

  • mac315


    The sarcastic tone of your comments speaks volumes to your character. That being said, you were the first on this page to use the term “evil.” No one said that clapping was evil but that it is out of place at mass. Its occurrence at mass is really a symptom of a larger problem – a loss of the true meaning of why we are there in the first place, which deserves greater reverence and respect.

    And, yes, thank you. If your children are noisy, I’d prefer if you took them to the cry room or elsewhere if they are unable to maintain discipline. The priest at my parish is not too shy to remind parents that such is the appopriate thing to do out of respect for the priest and others trying to pray the mass. I find it amazing that some parents just don’t get it. Sheesh, indeed!

    Dominus vobiscum,


  • lebowskice

    How about all those people clapping at WYD and when the Pope came to USA. The Catholic Al-quidah is out in force 🙂

  • lebowskice

    Hey Mac, “The priest at my parish is not too shy to remind parents that such is the appopriate thing to do out of respect for the priest and others trying to pray the mass” and you’re proud of that? It must be nice to receive a stare from you durng Mass because the little children is crying…and peace be to you.

  • Diane4257

    Hurray! Not to get rid of that hypocritical and distracting hand shake of peace and that Protestant habit of raising hands up with palms extended during the “Our Father”. Maybe when we get rid of these silly gestures, I will feel more comfortable attending mass and won’t have to give myself a pep talk before attending mass whereby I repeat ten times, “you are only going to receive the Eurcharest-it’s not about the people”. Somebody just tell me, when did we become Protestants? And why did we become sheep following in the footsteps (or should I say “handsteps” of the first self styled Catholic who began imitating the priest by raising hands in such a manner? Is that what you call priest-envy? Lets’ all imitate the priests now? Have we no real men priests left to set the congregation straight? Maybe that’s why the congregation is 90% women. Real men pray, they don’t vogue in church. Let’s leave that to the club crowd.

  • Robines

    What are we at Holy Sacrafice of the Mass for.. to pray and worship God. Yes we need to be reverent, prayerful and,…. loving. Sometimes people come in clothes we don’t aprove of, people clap, sometimes babies cry, ( I am just happy they are there so many aren’t)etc. Why do we see this instead of worshiping God. Maybe we need to worry about what we are doing instead of worrying about every one elseis doing, remember none of any of us are perfect!

  • trailblazer

    A fascinating exchange. I wasn’t sure what was meant by a NO Mass. No seems to stand for Novus Ordo or, the New Mass. Is this correct?

    Now I’m even more confused as what I read on the internet in the last thirty minutes seems to be saying that the Novo Ordo Mass is an attempt to infiltrate the Catholic Church with Protestant and even Masonic impressions as a prelude to even more sinister intents?

    Yet, everyone seems to be speaking of a NO Mass as something to be desired in that it seemingly reverts to the previous form of the Mass in which respect for the reality of what is taking place is restored? These notions seem contradictory but, undooubtedly, I’m missing something?

    Either way, I do believe that holding hands at the Mass is a purely human invention and, I don’t know what to say about clapping since I have rarely seen that happen. What would one be clapping for?

    I have, rarely, said “Amen” to a what I felt to be a powerful, truth speaking homily and I don’t think that detracted from my worship or understanding of what was really taking place. Nor do I think, however Protestant it may seem, that it was indiscrete? I could be wrong.

    I do agree that for a number of reasons mentioned, including attitudes and apparel, that it is sometimes, no, most often, difficult to concentrate on the Mass. I don’t think that I even fully appreciate the depth of what is taking place before me and, when I consider Mass as it used to be (yes, I’m old enough to remember), I do think there was more reverence and fewer distactions.

    On the other hand, I’m finding it really difficult to swallow the idea that our Popes including John Paul II whom I greatly admire are part of a conspiracy to destroy the Church. I don’t see anything in John Paul’s many writings that suggest anything other then a deep devotion to Christ and loyality to the Church He instituted. I have to admit that to believe that he is an instument of conspiracy would, at least momentarily, turn my world upside down.

    What happened to the idea that the Church is inafallible in these sorts of declarations, no matter the Pope, just as the Mass is what it is not depending on the personal holiness of the priest as long as the criteria for a proper Mass is met?

    I agree wholeheartedly that Vatican II gave rise to a vast array of misinterpretations on the part of those who wished to use it to derail the Church. Sadly, these people were many and the effect profound. This doesn’t mean, however, that Vatican II itself is anything other then a legitimate expression of Church teaching.

    I’m greatly confused about how one can speak of being Catholic and yet refute the Church’s teaching. Isn’t this tatamount to being a “cafeteria Catholic”?

    I do agree that there needs to be a great change in direction in our understanding of the Mass and the reality present in which we are called to particpate; including how we particpate. I do agree that in some ways the acitviy at Mass more close resembles a Protestant celebration with an emphasis on the social dimension. I’m not at all convinced, however, that claiming the Church is under attack by her own Popes is the way to accomplish such change.

    I don’t have any problem, for instance, with returning to a Mass where the priest faces the altar and not the people and where people recieve communion only in the mouth at the hand of the priest. I do though appreciate hearing the Mass in my own language no matter what diection the preist is facing and I have a really hard time understanding how this can detract from my understanding of or particpation in the Sacrifice of the Mass. I mean, really, you could say the Mass in Hebrew of Aramaic or some such langusage and make the case that it was the way it used to be but I don’t see how that helps me participate in the Sacrifice.

    I love the ability to have these conversations and learn. May all be richly blessed by the God of Israel who has come to set His people free!

  • nankpax

    I think the people being all sarcastic probably haven’t experienced clapping like it goes on in some areas. I moved a from pretty conservative area of the country to a very liberal area. After every Mass people clap. I whispered (while clapping along and bewildered) “what are we clapping for?” The answer was “I don’t know, we always do this.” So I quit clapping but I kept asking. Finally I asked a priest, he said the choir! Sometimes there is no choir and they clap. They teach the eneagram here, centering prayer, those round things on the floor, and the almost worst: one priest (monk) of a Catholic college doesn’t even read the Gospel. This is what is going on in some parts of the country. I have been so sheltered all my life.
    This everyday lack of respect for Jesus is not to be compared to clapping for the Pope and ordinations.
    Yes, Robines, I understand what you are saying, by like Diane, I give myself pep talks frequently.

  • SolaGratia

    Reading, soaking in, forming opinion (frustrated with those of you who are taking snipes at each other – if your brother offends you, don’t respond by being offensive, please – that’s human, but so not Catholic kosher!)

    In the meantime, as I am pondering – new priest assigned to our SE TX parish volunteered as a missionary from the Phillippines to come to US, was introduced to the parish at Mass this past Sunday & everyone responded to our pastor’s introduction (at the end of Mass during the announcement period) asking us to welcome him which all did by applauding enthusiastically. This is a parish of over 4K families. Opinions? Alternatives?

  • Brian

    Klaire spoke above about being a silent example of remaining attentive to the sacrifice of the Mass. I think that’s a great idea. However, let me suggest something to all of the commentators here who are disturbed by clapping/hand holding, etc.
    With the exception of a few blatant/purposeful dissident individuals and parishes, most people do these things out of ignorant good will. It is also out of a natural desire for community. This community was more naturally present 40 or 50 years ago when people didn’t move around as much, parishes were more stable, and you knew many if not all of the people in the parish. There were more opportunities for connecting with other Catholics outside of the Mass. They are there at Mass because they have a hunger for God and a hunger for community/connection. This does square with the 2 greatest commandments… Love God…. and Love thy neighbor. We are so separated today because of technology – Mass is a place that by default, people want to connect.

    Here’s the solution. If you are annoyed by someone who doesn’t get it and wants to hold hands, or extend the Sign of Peace too long, give your example of remaining prayerful, but then after Mass, outside the Sanctuary (to preserve the silence for those remaining to pray) in either the lobby or outside on the steps or sidewalk, seek that person out and extend a hearty bold greeting. Introduce yourself and shake their hand then. Initiate a relationship. People are starving for that type of connection. If they connect with you, you can then lead them closer to God by slowly teaching them by example about the importance of reverence in Mass over the next months and years.

    We in the pews are not to be the liturgical police. We are there to worship. I’m glad someone gently pointed out to me outside of Mass once, that the bishops have actually requested that we not hold hands during the Our Father and why. It seemed cold at first, but after the explanation, I started to grasp it. Now, I don’t seek to hold hands, but if someone reaches for mine, I just go along and don’t let it distract me from my prayer. If it’s that important to me that my brother in the faith doesn’t do that next time, perhaps I best start a relationship with him after Mass – outside the silence of the Sanctuary.

  • Brian

    Kids in Mass:

    I hope you who want us to remove our children from Mass can cut us parents some slack. If an infant is crying and isn’t going to stop within a short time, either my wife or I will bring them out. However, when the child gets a little older, they need to learn to sit still and persevere through the hour, which is a very long time for a toddler. How will they learn that when, as soon as they make a little fuss, they get taken out (which is what they want)? They get rewarded for bad behavior in that situation. Again – if it gets out of hand, then we bring them out and deal with it. But to expect total silence from kids like some people do, turning around and giving the evil eye, is not realistic. I truly believe Our Lord Jesus would rather a few of the cold hard hearts would excuse themselves until they develop the virtue of patience, than to expel the little ones which He said to allow to come to Him.

    Do you realize the challenge Sunday mornings can be while raising a Catholic family of little kids? Just getting to Mass is an ordeal, but then to be ostracized instead of welcomed is unjust. I, for one, will not lose my faith or cease coming to Mass because of a few harsh looks. But I am concerned about the lost sheep, who may be coming back to Mass after years away because they’ve wised up and want to now raise their kids in the faith the right way. Yet, instead of being welcomed, those sheep are driven away from the flock.

  • Lucky Mom of 7


    One parish where we lived clapped at every mass right after communion too. It was for the choir. I hated it and I mentioned to a few in leadership that I thought it was inappropriate. The choir director was, interestingly, hired to work in the parish and he wasn’t even Catholic. I often wondered if that was why he used to “perform” the grander songs during the time right after reception of the Blessed Sacrament when I prefer to be prayerful.

    Michael, you made me laugh. Thank you. 🙂

    Brian, I with you, Bro. I’ve known too many fallen-away Catholics who stopped going to mass when they left home and never returned to Church. Why? Because as children they were expected to act as adults and were persecuted when they couldn’t. Correct discipline is teaching, not punishment. Expecting kids to be any more or less than children is abusive. I just started taking my kids to a different parish because we were being tolerated, not welcomed. I won’t let my children be exposed to that toxic, anti-Christian, attitude which is in direct contradiction to Christ’s attitude. I bet the apostles tried to keep the children away from Christ because kids can be loud and unruly. “Let the children come to me.”


  • Klaire

    Good points Brain; I totally agree that most of it IS done our of ignorance and poor catecheisis. Likewise, IF we are able to find these people after mass, OUTSIDE, it indeed makes for some great teaching opportunities. It would be SO much easier if a deacon would simply ANNOUNCE the reasons and the whys for a brief moment before the mass, or, if there was a regular blurb in the Bulletin in some “friendly” reminder.

    Sola clapping for an announcement such as you describe is not out of line. The mass was over, and you weren’t being ask to clap for the mass or the choir, etc. Like ordination, what you describe was an introduction, a “one time type of thing.”

    Nanpax I suggest you find another church and or address the Bishop on those very serious matters. It sounds like your church has been infested with New Age, not uncommon sadly. As for the gospel, only a Deacon or a priest can read the gospel or give the homily. If that is not the case, I’m not even sure it’s a valid mass; suggest you call Catholic Answers or seek out a good Bishop.

    Robines, I agree with you that it’s God house; all are welcome. There’s a big difference between a crying baby and a irreverent adult (knowing or unknowing). They shouldn’t even be compared in this discussion. I also agree that we all have own faults to worry about and none of us need to be liturgical police. But…that’s not the topic of this discussion. We are talking about the “adding things to the mass; all that take away from the true sacrifice; that “smoke of satan.” As Catholics, we all have a right to a licit mass in silence, for it is ONLY in the silence that we can hear God. In our “plugged in noisy world”, more than ever we all need the silence before God.

    TrailBlazer I’m afraid you may have gotten some bad internet information. There are a lot of Catholic bashers out there, so be careful of your sources. Catholic.com has lots of tracks on almost anything. ALso, you can email or call one of the apologists at any time. FYI, rest assured Pope John Paul DID NOT do anything to lead us astray. Vatiacan II was Terrific. It was the EXECUTATION of it that lead to the “anything goes; priest and people now run the mass.” That’s what Pope Benedict is now working very hard to restore. As I said in one of my earlier, a NO mass done AS IT WAS INTENDED, is simply beautiful. It’s my perference even over the Latin Mass. If you tell us where you live, (city), someone reading should know of a reverent NO mass you can attend.

    In the meantime, one of the best insights I ever got on the Mass was from Bishop Sheens Catechism. Here’s a link for a free site.


    I STRONGLY urge everyone to listen at least to #45, THE MASS, and if possible, the ones on the Eucharist. I learned my faith from this catechism! It will blow you away. I also suggest Scott Hahan’s “The Lambs supper.” At least go to Amazon to read the reviews. I suspect most have no idea what they are missing; the greatest miracle, the greatest gift on planet earth. As Bishop Sheen says, “if we REALLY understood the mass, we would craw on our knees over glass to receive the Eucharist. ”


  • SperaInDeo

    I have always believed that if I should be able to clap at Mass then I should also be able to boo at Mass ! Neither of which I do, although I have been tempted to do the latter during some “liberated” homilies !

  • “It proves, that in obedience, the NO is as reverent and beautiful as intended.” — Klaire @ July 22nd, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I remember such masses from my childhood. Alas, the parish has closed up from lack of congregation, which is a real shame. The church was an absolutely gorgeous turn of the century building with an attached parochial school (1-8) and convent. All were either empty or nearly so when I last went, Christmas 2006.

    I’m now deep in Bible Belt territory, and I am grateful for my reverent priest, imported from the Third World for our tiny mission parish. I’m sure he does everything he can to keep his masses reverent, but the congregation doesn’t always follow along, and he’s understandably reluctant to be a martinet (for which I am also grateful). Pray for him and ALL who are given Holy Orders. Our leaders need your prayers at least as much as and perhaps more than anyone else.

    “I guess with all this silence and reverence going on, I better start leaving my noisy children at home.” — Lucky Mom of 7 @ July 22nd, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Even at my childhood parish, there were fussy children. The disapproval you see here is far more for chatty adults (though those old enough to be communicants can learn better as well).

    “I think the more important deficiency at the celeration of the Eucharist is that people are too timid, they don’t sing, they respond in quiet voices and their presence in communing with others at the same mass is not held in high regard.” — Michael T @ July 22nd, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Singing is part of the Mass and has been for a very long time. That’s why I sing as strongly as I can, in spite of having a hard time staying on note, in the hopes that it will encourage others to do the same.

    Robines @ July 22nd, 2008 at 8:34 pm: I agree with EVERYTHING you say.

    trailblazer @ July 22nd, 2008 at 10:10 pm: NO is shorthand for Novus Ordo, the mass instituted with the Missal of 1970. The problem isn’t with the mass itself, which was promulgated by our infallible Magisterium. Rather, it’s with the sort of liturgical abuse and innovation that people seem far more tolerant of, when it’s the NO mass, rather than the Extraordinary Form. There are those who think and act as if the greater prevalence of such abuses and innovations make the NO invalid, but I can’t see how.

    “I’m greatly confused about how one can speak of being Catholic and yet refute the Church’s teaching. Isn’t this tatamount to being a “cafeteria Catholic”?”

    Yes, trailblazer, it is.

    nankpax @ July 22nd, 2008 at 10:26 pm: having read fair amounts of conservative / Novo Orthodoxia Catholic blogs (e.g. http://catholic-caveman.blogspot.com/ ), I’m unfortunately aware of far worse abuses than I’ve been subjected to. Trust me, those who decry the irreverence they’ve seen are not exaggerating.

    Brian @ July 22nd, 2008 at 11:13 pm: I agree with everything you say.

  • Brian

    I wish I had a resource for this, but I read once and was surprised that some of the liturgical abuse and experimentation in Mass was happening even before Vat. II in the 1950’s. It was gaining steam up through the 60’s. The New Order Mass gave these agenda driven people an opening, so we saw a flood of abuse around that time. However, we may have ended up with much of the same trouble as we have today only it would have happpened more slowly.

    So Vatican II and the NO Mass get the blame, but many of the problems may have come along anyway.

    Now gratefully, the pendulum is swinging back. I’d venture to guess that if you took the sum total of liturgical abuses in the U.S. today, it would be less than in the 1980’s. My parish is a prime example. Slowly over time, due to great priests, they have reigned our parish back into being closer to a 100% correct and reverent Mass than a free for all. (You still here clapping at the end of Mass sometimes, but other things have improved. They’ve installed a proper crucifix, they’ve moved the tabernacle back into the Sanctuary, etc.)

  • xpm99

    Brian said: “I wish I had a resource for this, but I read once and was surprised that some of the liturgical abuse and experimentation in Mass was happening even before Vat. II in the 1950’s. It was gaining steam up through the 60’s. The New Order Mass gave these agenda driven people an opening, so we saw a flood of abuse around that time.”

    You’re correct, but the abuses began much earlier than the 1950’s. How about the nineteens? This was when illegal Dialogue Masses were begun in the vernacular. Read Fr. Gerald Ellard’s books hyping liturgical “innovations.” There’s no question in my mind that the Dialogue Mass led straight to the Novus Ordo and beyond. The key understanding here is that liturgical change can only beget more liturgical change. Whether legal or not, it becomes inevitable. That is why the “reform of the reform” is illogical. How does anyone know when the Novus Ordo has been reformed enough?!

    One final point. Notice how all major organized liturgical abuses follow a similar pattern: They begin illegally. Rome condemns them. Rome eventually allows them on an experimental basis. Finally, Rome makes the abuse completely legal.

  • Klaire

    I agree Brain, “Satan’s smoke” started early in the last century. Pope Leo XIII had a vision of the horror of what was to come. Google Bella Dodd and it will be an eye opener of how “attacked” the chruch was, is, and always will be. Many probably don’t know that (one of many attacks) communists were INFUSED into the church/priesthood (in the middle part of the last century) to “bring down the church.” It all fits with the sexual abuse as well, which was at it’s peak at the same time the liturgal abuses started.

    If we can gain anything from this discussion, IMO, for whatever it is worth, should be this.

    Thank God for the past great popes who have “fueled good orthodox men to the priesthood.” Fortunately, much of the “smoke within” is dying out, and being replaced by young orthodox priests. For the few on this thread who see us as “legalistic”, I ask you to first, understand the power and the importance of the Holy Mass, consequenly, you will then understand the need for the reverence.
    The mass is so important, Jesus would not even leave it to his apostles to “pass on.” Instead, out of his great love for us to “get it right and for all generations to be able to BE AT THE FOOT OF HIS CROSS”, he taught us the mass himself.

    Satan always works best by giving the appearacne of “a do gooder.” such as shaking hands, being social, “clapping” for our hard working choir. Outside of mass, these things are terrific, but NOTHING should ever take away from the sacrifice on Calvery, NOTHING. It’s the Eucharist, the Real Presence, that separates us from our Protestant brothers and sisters. If Satan has his way, we will no longer believe in the Real Presence. Jesus is no less real than if he were sitting incarnate on the alter. So, how could we even THINK about chattering, clapping for the choir, or all the other “Protestant like distractions” that, if not in the presence of Christ, would be acceptable. Never forget, WE are the church, and it starts with US. Don’t understimate how much witness you give when you don’t clap, don’t hold hands, don’t bring a water bottle, Bow or make a reverent gesture before receiving the Eucharist (it’s a sin NOT to), but keep your eyes on Christ the entire mass. It’s the REpresentation of Calvery, the greatest miracle on planet earth, “playing” 24/7 around the globe, with the entire body of Christ, on both heaven and earth.

    I know for myself I didn’t “learn” the mass until much later in life. Once I finally “got it”, I was HORRIFIED as to how I behaved at such an earthshaking event. Not only was I unaware of the offense against the Sacrifice of Christ, but even more so, of all that I had missed over the years, even the value of one, just ONE, well prayed mass! Please don’t make my mistakes. Nothing is more important on this earth than the Holy Mass.

    God Bless


  • Jan B.

    Dear SolaGracia,

    You ask what would have been the ‘right way’ to welcome your new priest. First, not within mass itself. The sacrificial nature of mass itself would have been presenved (in the NO mass it is first broken as soon as the priest looks away from God and says a cheery good morning to the faithful)). Instead, customarily, there would have been an announcement in the bulletin of the presence of a new priest, and an invitation to join the parish celebration held after Sunday mass in the parish hall. Those who wished attended and enjoyed as much applause, and coffee, and home made cakes and pies, as they could stand. Father met everyone, told jokes, mentioned his sports team preference, gave all the details about his family and aspirations for the parish.

    Just this morning I attended a NO week day mass here in Chicago in a large parish. As NO masses go, it was okay, no eucharistic ministers, Father goes to the taberacle himself, the people stay in their places during the handshake. So I risk going there rather than driving the thirty minutes to the traditional mass even there are still abuses (no paten, Father leaves the sanctuary for his handshakes, there’s no place to kneel to receive Our Lord, they are still using glass chalices, and they sing everything, all fifteen or twenty old folks present, the responsorial and the acclamation and all that without any accompaniment or direction –they don’t need no stinkin’ direction, thank you very much–and thus manage to sound like scalded cats).

    There is a major problem to prayer, though, there are two people who manage to start conversations both before and after mass. One is the cantor, although she does not lead these weekday masses, who absolutely always has a word or two here and a word or two there with her bf’s, right in front of the sanctuary, right in the middle of church, standing with her back to the tabernacle, and laughing and gesticulating as if she were in her own living room instead of between me and the Lord God of the Universe. Another is a very old woman who seats herself in the last seat in the rear next to the door and talks to absolutely everyone who enters or leaves. Most people, about as brave as those commenting on this page who feel compelled to clap if others clap, will stop, out of misplaced charity, and speak with her. Between the two of them, the cantor and the elderly woman, there is no silence in the church either before mass or after. It makes me mad every single day.

    But this morning, I went and knelt right beside the old woman, and putting my things down to kneel, I gave her and the woman she was loudly chatting with a long and serious look. Then I turned to prayer. They got it. The detainee immediately went to her seat, and the old woman composed herself and made a visible effort to pray.

    After mass I left with her and began a friendly and sustained conversation–about the beautiful weather, for one thing– in the vestibule which continued outside and to the corner. It will continue tomorrow at her house, because she told me she has no air conditioner, and she would like me to show her a trick I know and mentioned to her, about using one’s largest fan to exhaust air from the house in order to draw cooler outside air in at the windows. And I promised that I will also keep an eye out for a used air conditioner, as she said she could stand the electicity cost but didn’t know how to install one.

    It struck me later that all the talking and clapping we do in church doesn’t accomplish as much as good conversation outside church, which could get around to more personal and needed interaction, and even visitation. It struck me that all that talking and hugging in church is a good way to avoid really helping somebody, avoid really knowing somebody. It struck me for what it is, just posturing, or how did someone put it, vogueing. (Did you know that we’re supposed to help our widowed women faithful? Says St. Paul.)

    Tomorrow I’m going to kneel by the cantor. She’s going to be tougher, because she’s not lonely, she’s part of a crowd that, during the late eighties, decided it was their personal mission to make Catholic churches ‘friendlier, like protestant ones,’ by talking and laughing and flirting and expressing oneself right in front of God.

    But I’m tired of it. I’m tired of a few people making it impossible for others to concentrate in prayer. I urge you to do the same. Ask people nicely to be quiet, please, or show chatting people by kneeling near them in prayer that our purpose there is to worship, and that socializing is for outside the confines of God’s House. Father is NOT going to speak up. Benedict is NOT going to lecture anybody on it. But he’s hoping each Catholic will get some backbone and stand up and say, Enough! That’s why he’s not so much issuing rules (which have been completely ignored anyway, like Redemptionis Sacramentum) as about making appeals, and himself making the example.

    And yes, while we’re at it–stop clapping! Just stop! And shake your head and even make the dreaded, ‘No no finger waggle’ at clapping people. Would you not have defended Christ if you had been there? Well, you ARE there! He’s in the tabernacle, and He is suffering disrespect! All it takes is one look, because people KNOW it’s wrong. They’re just waiting for someone to say it. So say it!

  • Barbaracvm

    When applause start I say an Our Father. Silence before, during and after mass is a joke. The meet and greeters are busy telling jokes as people enter the church. The kids don’t bother me as much as the adults who talk all during mass. I have to admit some of the gossip is more entertaining than the sermon, especially when the floating mike garbles the sound, which is most of the time.

    I do not hold hands or shake hands. The dirty looks I get at times are funny. At the sign of peace I have started to say “GOD’s peace on our US soldiers” oooohhh does that get the ‘go to h&ll’ glare! ! ! it’s priceless ! ! !

    Going to mass where the priest and the band leader have a stand up comic routine during mass is ——–.

    Pick any parish you want they are all the same in this diocese.
    We do not have the bells at the consecration since Easter.

    This all brings tears to my heart.

  • nankpax

    Klaire, I have been to many churches in this area, all these abuses are in different churches.
    You know I never thought if the Gospel isn’t read, is it a valid Mass??? It’s not that someone else reads it, no one does. The first time, I thought the priest forgot, the 2nd time I went, there were a lot of visitors, he explained he did not read the Gospel and hadn’t for 20 years as he felt it was too much to have all the readings and the homily. (I think that was his explanation, I thought my head was going to explode when he stated he hasn’t read the Gospel in 20 years, since he became campus minister.) This is a Catholic college near my home run by an order. I only went there as I work shift work and they have a 7pm Sunday Mass. I haven’t been back. For a college run by an order, would you write the diocesan Bishop or I wonder if orders have bishops like the military does?

  • Prayznhym

    As a member of a congregation that occasionally claps, holds hands at the Our Father and raises up hands at times, I just have to chime in here. (Look out….some of us hug during the sign of peace too!!! ).

    First of all, if clapping is done at the end of the last song, it is indeed AFTER mass. Once we, along with Father make the sign of the cross and he says “Mass has ended”….then clapping is not DURING mass….it is AFTER mass. In the same way, BEFORE we do the sign of the cross in the beginning of mass, we make a point of turning around to the people around us and introducing ourselves and making them feel welcome. ( We keep the sign of peace DURING mass very short.) Only THEN do we make the sign of the cross to officially begin mass. The clapping after mass is not ‘for the music ministry’ but for our Savior and Lord. Our bishop claps right along with us too when he is visiting.

    May I also mention that we are also a parish that has 24 hour/7 day a week perpetual adoration (the only church in our diocese.) The mass that I attend is considered a ‘charismatic’ mass, and the others are not, but we are one blended community of conservative people who just love Jesus with all of our hearts in the way that we are most comfortable, while being true to the church’s ‘rules.

    Just MHO.

  • mac315

    lebowskice says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 6:27 pm
    Hey Mac, “The priest at my parish is not too shy to remind parents that such is the appopriate thing to do out of respect for the priest and others trying to pray the mass” and you’re proud of that? It must be nice to receive a stare from you durng Mass because the little children is crying…and peace be to you.

    So, I’m prideful and stare at people? At least I know from which direction the stones are coming.

    Before anyone else wants to castigate me as a pedia-nazi, I understand that kids will be kids and brief outbursts followed by prompt correction are to be expected from time to time. In TLM parishes, there are often many large families and it’s interesting to notice the difference in children’s behavior. The Naval Academy grad with four children could sit (and has) right in front of me and I’d hardly notice – he whispers “turn around” and his daughters obey. But another woman with the same number of children (at nearly the same ages) sees no problem in conducting a four ring circus in the FRONT ROW during the sparsley attended weekday mass – which I ‘ve noticed has interrupted the priest’s train of thought/prayer as well as mine. I find that to be rude and inconsiderate. Perhaps we might want to consider that an undisciplined/unruly child/children is really a symptom of a larger problem (i.e. the parenting skills or lack thereof) in SOME cases.

    And for those who want to cling to scripture verses such as, “Suffer the little children to come unto me…” (Mark 10:14) in order to enable/justify such behavior, here are a few more for you to chew on (taken from drbo.org):

    Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs 23:13-14)

    He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)

    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just…And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1,4)

    To get back on topic, for those interested in the history of the changes that occured in the way mass is celebrated, I would recommend the video, “Reform or Revolt: The Mass of Pope Paul VI.” It’s available on youtube. It’s very interesting and I was surprised to learn that the seeds of the liturgical reform movement began long before VII. There are also two books I would recommend, “Iota Unum” (haven’t read it yet but there are intriguing reviews on amazon and it is highly recommended by traditionalists) and “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber,” which I have just begun.

    The above-referenced film is in two parts – about 45 min each. It illustrates the importance of restoring orthodoxy to Holy Mother Church. This can be summed up in the phrase, “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” or, loosely translated, ‘as we pray, so we believe,’ with the converse being true as well. The changes made when the ICEL rewrote the Latin to English in 1969 were more of an interpretation than a translation. A Catholic lecturer made a pertinent comment on such saying that social engineering is always proceeded by verbal engineering. He made these comments in regards to the Pro Choice movement altering language to make abortion more palatable to society. Thereby, the National Birth Control League became known as Planned Parenthood. Here are links to a couple of articles discussing two of the most hotly debated interpretations by the ICEL which are scheduled for reversion by BXVI:
    http://www.latin-mass-society.org/promult.htm and http://catholictradition.org/incarnatus-est.htm

    I hope you will pray and consider how much we stand to lose if another generation or two goes by without emphasising the importance of proper catechesis. If so, I fear one will not be able to distinguish Catholicism from your garden variety Protestant denomination.

    Pax vobiscum

  • Robin

    As a convert I want every one to remmeber that Jesus taught balance in life as in love and rules. We know we are not to clap at Mass. We know we are suppose to be reverent and prayerful as we worship, pray and partisepate in the Holy Sacriface of the Mass. JESUS is in that tabernacle right there in the Church! With all the arguing going on about children making noise, adults not dressing aproperately or talking . clapping etc. that is what keeps me there because if he wasn’t and I had to listen to all of this complaining I wouldn’t stay! Do you know Protestants don’t have this? I’m sitting here almost crying because we are worrying about these other things oh my…. Let’s set an example encourage folks to be more Holy by Us being Holy not worrying about all this other stuff. Maybe some can volunteer to teach CCD or Confirmation classes or help parents with thier little ones. Please remember who is in that tabernacle….JESUS let’s live the way he wants us to instead of worring about others are doing it will work out the gates of hell will not prevail!!!!!

  • Brian

    Jan B!
    That is an awesome account you gave of your interaction with the elderly lady. It calls me on to do a better job of interacting with people after Mass outside. I pray for her that she can understand and learn from your example and others the need for silence during Mass. God bless you, though, for striking up a relationship with her. I pray that you would also hit it off with the cantor.

    I totally agree with your take on all the clapping and hugging being a replacement for the real thing that best happens outside the setting of the Mass. There’s no closing time of the church building after Mass on Sunday, nothing’s stopping us from inviting other parishioners to our house after Mass for lunch, etc.

    I’d love to see some teaching from good priests and bishops talking about that. Talking about turning off your TV’s and computers on Sundays, and inviting people over, or visiting shut-ins. And at the same time, recognizing Mass as a time set apart and Holy. How a reverent, holy prayer time during Mass can be the source of true (not pantomimed) Christian relationships.

    Some of those priests with dynamic personalities could welcome newcomers, introduce people, share about themselves, etc., in the basement/fellowship hall after Mass. Think of it like a patriarch at a family gathering making some announcment. If the priest doesn’t care for that type of public speaking, recruit someone else to do it.

    It’s probably not feasible to do that after every Mass – but perhaps after the last Mass or monthly, do the fellowship thing. I think the key would be not just to put out donuts and then expect everyone to meet the needs of any newcomers. But actually have a short 3 minute or so greeting. Ask if anyone is new, introduce key people, etc. That would be great for newcomers to a parish who are trying to break in and get to know someone at their parish. If there was a place for that outside Mass, people wouldn’t feel the need to do it within Mass.


    This debate has been going on on many different blogs and of course I see some familiar names (Hello klaire)
    I am a proud member of the parish that Prayznhym belongs to and while I agree that there should NEVER be any applause for ourselves or others, we proudly applaude for our LORD and SAVIOR before we begin and after the mass ends. The spirit moves us and our ultra conservative pastor with permission from our bishop, allows it. I am SICK to DEATH of the division that a few who think they know our hearts promulgate. If you truely knew what Our Lord wanted or intended YOU WOULD NOT DO THIS!!!!!
    Come to Erie, Pa. Look us up. You won’t be able to miss us. We are the “Beacon on the Hill”.

    May the peace of Our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ be with all of you.

  • nativity



    1. The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.

  • skylark

    I’ve been wondering about the clapping in Mass for the longest time. It had always bothered me but I figured it was okay since the priest clapped himself. But now I know better, thanks for posting this information and clarifying.

    Pax Et Bonum…

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  • Todd Michaels

    Good for you. I know the post is a bit dated, but it is still encouraging. I feel like I’m living on a steady diet of crazy pills Church wise.