Monday, December 20, 2010

Communication Breakdown

During the past two weekends, I've had occasion to be in the church vestibule during parts of Mass.

Last week, I slipped out during the homily to use the restroom. (I know, it's better to wait, but sometimes you just...can't.) This past weekend, I was over at our other "worship site" helping to set up the Cub Scout Babka sale at a different Mass than the one I actually attended.

But both times, I noticed something strange. Different people, same situation.

There are people who lurk in the vestibule of the church (or even outside the front door) until it's nearly time for Communion. Then they slip in, get in line for Communion, receive, and leave.

I stayed in the vestibule during the entire homily last week rather than be obvious about walking in and out of church--I waited until everyone was starting to stand for the Creed to slip back into my place in the choir area. The whole time, a woman with a son (Little Brother's age) were in and out of the vestibule. Sometimes they were outside the church, other times in the vestibule. During Communion, they were in line to receive and then out the door (they had to pass right by me to do this.)

Yesterday, I arrived around the "Lamb of God" to help set up the babka to be sold after Mass. A woman was hanging around the vestibule. She went in for Communion and then came back out, bought her babka, and left.

We've got a big trend at that particular "worship site" of people leaving just after Communion. It's better than it was, but it's still disconcerting to see 1/4 of the church empty out before the final blessing, week after week after week.

There's a big discussion going on right now at the NCR blog on Communion in the hand. From what I've seen in the past two weeks, it's not whether you receive on the tongue or in the hand that's the issue. It's reverence in general. It's understanding that you don't just show up, get in line, receive, and go home--at the very least!

6 comments:

Ellen said...

Oh boy, don't get me started on this. I don't know about lurkers in the vestibule, but we do have a woman who sits in the third row who walks right out the side door, past the "communion policeman" after receiving. Now you can't tell me that neither the priest nor the deacon don't notice this week after week. And, like at your parish, about a quarter of the people leave from the back. And yet nothing is ever said from the pulpit.

The funny thing is, is that the offenders are, for the most part, former parishioners from the "other parish" from the merger. As soon as the recessional begins, they begin talking and visiting with others - from across the church. I can't stand it.

This merger thing, a crappy idea if you ask me. I'll be interested to see how the new bishop does going forward.

Bean said...

This is really something that your pastor should address, in his weekly homily, the parish bulletin, and even a mailing to all registered households. It is impolite to visit with a friend and "eat and run", so how much more so to receive out Lord in Holy Communion and then leave.
A church we attended for a time, in a rural community, once had a visiting priest from Chicago, he commented at the end of mass, saying how refreshing it was to see that almost everyone remained in the church after receiving.

Lee Strong said...

At my home parish, we have a number of people who duck out early. Some right after Communion, even more when the final hymn starts (but the priest is still on the altar.)

I occasionally attend a more orthodox parish. A while back the priest, from the pulpit, made a comment reminding people not to juis run out early. It was obvious this was an issue that had been addressed before. The times I've been there, very few people leave before the final hymn ends. That's as it should be. They've clearly received directions from the priest, something maybe a few more preists need to do.

Barb, sfo said...

I don't want to pin this one on the parish merger. I only mentioned the alternate site to make the point that this was happening on separate occasions, in separate places, with different people involved.

It just strikes me as odd that people hang around the outside of church until Communion time, receive, and leave.

Father can't even reach these people from the pulpit as they are not there to hear the homily! What do you do?

Gombojav Tribe said...

As you know, I'm not Catholic (We attend a non-denominational charismatic church), but I love mass. My soul craves ritual and liturgy.

I have made a tradition of attending midnight mass on Christmas. (I don't take communion, as I'm not Catholic.)

I keep dragging more and more people with me, because I love it more and more! This year I ended up with four extra people (friends and family) coming with me. We attended a church I had never been to. In the homily the priest gave his goodbye speech (I guess he's going to another parish). So, instead of an hour mass, it went for TWO HOURS! (I thought this was a little bit inappropriate a time/place to say your goodbye....) We didn't get to bed after midnight mass until after 2pm!

I was so sheepish about it, but I admit....I ducked out early. My nine year old actually fell asleep and snored audibly. I felt we just had to leave. I hoped no one was *tsk, tsk-ing* me!

HOWEVER, I tend to agree with you about people who hang about, duck in and duck out for just a particular part. We have the same issues in Protestant churches, I assure you!

Irritating!!!

Fran said...

This happens almost everywhere it seems. Our pastor often says something to all of us who stay - he thanks us for doing just that. He is unlikely to bring it up during a homily or at another point during the liturgy.

Once I wrote about this on our parish blog and a parishioner blasted me back saying that he left early because mass was at 4:30pm on Saturday and he typically had dinner plans most weeks. I gently suggested make his dinner plans for later... He and I know each other and he did not speak to me for several weeks beyond this exchange.

Then I asked him if what would happen if during those frequent dinner plans, he got up right after he ate and left the restaurant or home table, not to return.

He did not speak to me for several months after that. And trust me - I was not obnoxious in how I asked. 3 years on, Mass is at 4pm on Saturday and he is still leaving right after communion.

Being new here, I will not say much about communion in the hand other than it is the ancient tradition and it does not have to be irreverent.