January 13, 2010

Toying with the Talkers

One of the quiet and profound joys of my current life is the early Mass on weekdays. A devout group of fifteen or so gather at 6:45 am to offer a simple but perfect sacrifice of praise to God. I have written about it before, about its light, its people, and the chapel where we pray.

The chapel is the so-called friars' chapel, which is adjacent to the left side of the sanctuary of the church. It suits the early Mass very much. Unfortunately, however, sometimes the intimacy of the smaller space becomes an occasion for the temptation to visit and chit-chat among those who like to come fifteen or twenty minutes early.

Of course I'm not into this. I like to get everything set up by 6:15 or so and then settle down for a half-hour of prayer and meditation before it's time for Mass. So what to do about the chatters, whom I do not wish to hear nor afford the right to steal my recollection? Up until today my solution was to remove myself physically as far as I could. I would get all vested, except for the chasuble, and then go sit on the other side of church, all the way in the back. This put some distance between me and the chapel. When it was almost time for Mass, I would walk up to the front, put on the chasuble, kneel before the tabernacle for a moment of final preparation, and walk into the chapel for Mass.

Recently, however, I have wondered if this was truly responsible. On the one hand, I could still hear the talking, which disturbed my prayer. On the other hand, shouldn't I be doing something to help the chatters confront the temptation to use the time before Mass in a frivolous way?

So today I tried something different. Instead of going to the back of church for my prayer before Mass, I knelt down right in the middle of the chapel. Everyone was quiet.

12 comments:

4narnia said...

i think kneeling down in the chspel like that was a good way to sget your message across. it seemed to work, right? i've run into the same problem you speak about in this post in regard to "talkers." saturdays (except when there are occasions or something going on) are,for the most part, my days for quiet prayer, meditation and simply just being in the Lord's presence. i love spending this time st Sacred Heart church, but late in the afternoon, i'm met with distractions by people coming into church, coming over to me and they start talking-there's no escape! so, i did find a way to alleviate the problem a little bit- i spend the early part of the afternoon at Sacred Heart and then go down the street to St. Michael's for the later part of the afternoon. this works out better. thanks for sharing on this topic, Fr. C! PEACE! ~tara t~

Adoro said...

Great move, Father! Will you please call my parish and suggest our priests do the same thing...except maybe both before AND after Mass?

Sundays, specifically. for us, Daily Mass is in the Adoration chapel so it's very quiet. Sundays are a totally different story

KAM said...

Beautiful. How Franciscan! Spread the Gospel, and sometimes use words! This time you didn't need words at all.

pennyante said...

There is a lot of chitchat before Mass at the hospital chapel also. I try to come early to pray alone but I have been thinking about the chitchat in a different way.

The chitchat among people who see each other twice a week (in our case) can have a redeeming factor too. We learn who is in need of prayer.

Most of these dozen older people have known each other for a long time (way before I joined their ranks as a Lenten thing last year and then have continued). They worry about each other and wonder what has happened when one or another is absent.

I have simply tried to adapt myself to the chitchat. I pray silently until my neighbor begins to speak to me. Yes, it is difficult to find time for meditation even in a chapel. But maybe God has other plans for me at that time...

Evelyn said...

Good for you, for doing this gently and kindly. The folks in question may have had no idea at all that they were disturbing you.

Benedicta said...

After our devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help on Wednesdays which only takes 15 minutes, I did find a way to solve the problem a little bit, I suggested praying one or two decades of the Rosary before the 7:30 pm mass and continue the remaining decades later.

Brother Charles said...

So that's where that came from!

Qualis Rex said...

Extremely well-played.

breadgirl said...

Hi Bother
Way to go! When I was growing up (not yesterday, I admit) nobody talked in church unless it was 110%necessary! I find that today, everywhere I go, folks stay quiet only while Mass is being celebrated. I think, whenever we are in church, we should not be talking to our neighbours, but to Our Blessed Lord who is present and in whose house we are. After all, if I go into your house, talk to everyone there and ignore you, I would be pretty ill mannered, wouldn't I? Anyway, if these talkers make the effort to go to Mass, they must be pretty good folks so God bless them all. God bless you too Brother Charles.

Karinann said...

The same problem exists in my parish. Our daily 7am Mass is said in our very small and quaint Holy Family Chapel. The familiarity of the same people who attend daily lends itself to the chit chat; they don't even whisper!
Most days I can keep myself from getting involved. They finally settle down around 6:45 when they pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
I love you solution; that was brilliant!

Sharon said...

Like Breadgirl when I was growing up no one thought of talking in church. We were there to worship the Lord not to chat with one another. We could talk outside. Perhaps you could suggest to someone who wishes to talk to you that you go outside and not talk in front of the Blessed Sacrament. If people say that Jesus wouldn't mind that's not the point. It's about what we think is reverent behaviour towards the Blessed Sacrament.

If catechesis on the Real Presence was given in schools and from the pulpit the reverence would come back.

KAM said...

A fond remembrance; Fr. Groeschel gave a series of talks in St. Patricks church in Norwich, CT. a couple of years ago. When he came hobbling out after his first break he blasted us pretty good for all the yakking that had taken place after his first lecture. My wife and I never forgot that!