First Communion is in full swing and thousands of young children are entering into what Catholic’s deem a very important step in their lives; receiving for the first time, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. While these children are taught the importance and significance of this event, I can only ask myself; do PARENTS understand the importance? I pose this question to my readers because this past Saturday I took part in my niece’s First Holy Communion and was completely horrified at the behavior of many of the families sitting inside the church. I would love to hear if any of you have experienced what I am about to tell you so please comment below if you have.
First, I come from a large Italian / Irish family and attended mass every Sunday while growing up and I was taught to be respectful of the church and observe good etiquette during the mass and if me or my siblings didn’t, we’d get the “look” from our parents and know that we were teetering on being punished once we walked outside. These teachings from my parents have served me well in conducting myself in an acceptable manner in many situations whether I’m entering into a church, a synagogue or any other house of worship. However I found myself scratching my head on Saturday wondering if my siblings and I were the only ones taught such things.
I’ll set the stage for you: The First Holy Communion mass was to begin at 11 a.m. so families were encouraged to get there early in order to get their children lined up and in order because there were 51 kids receiving communion that day so there was a lot to do. While assembling the children and providing last minute instructions, the noise / conversation level was so deafening that the catechism teacher had to PLEAD three times for the congregation to be quiet because the children were not able to hear the instructions. The “family” sitting behind ours, were quite annoyed by this plea and called the teacher NASTY! Really? This woman is trying to prepare YOUR child for an important moment in his/her life and because you can’t or won’t keep quiet, she’s the nasty one? This same family THROUGHOUT the entire mass continued to talk, curse at each other and speak on their cell phone. I was dumbfounded.
After multiple pleas to quiet down, went ignored, the priest had to finally get involved and request the attendees to stop talking. However, even when the priest walked in, attendees continued to “chat.” I couldn’t believe it and I honestly think the priest was perplexed at the behavior.
As the mass continued and the children received the host for the first time, the families were then invited to come up and receive the host as well but I honestly think for many that this was probably the first time these parents had actually received the host because some did not know what to do with it once it was placed in their hand! At one point, the priest had to run down the aisle after a woman to inform her that she had to place it in her mouth!? Is this the example one will set for their children? Did they not participate in their child’s preparation for that day? Did they not ever take them to mass up to this point? Will they take them to mass AFTER this day? I don’t say this in judgment but if I don’t understand that if a parent is going to go through the lengths of having their child receive First Holy Communion shouldn’t you set an example for them?
As an image and style consultant, I have a better understanding of appropriate attire for certain occasions so I’m willing to acknowledge that at times some people get it wrong. However, when you walk into a church and you are celebrating a child’s First Holy Communion why would one think it’s appropriate to wear micro mini skirts, plunging and revealing necklines, shorts, sneakers and baseball hats? In other cultures, one is not allowed into a house of worship unless they are covered up completely so why would one think it acceptable to walk into a church dressed in a suggestive manner? Children follow our lead, they look to us for guidance and it’s important to lead by example.
Here are a few basic etiquette reminders:
- Keep the cell phone off and that includes the vibrate and texting options.
- Refrain from using inappropriate language before, during or after mass.
- Refrain from chatting during the mass; it’s one hour and unless there is an emergency of some sort, have the conversation AFTER mass.
- Dress appropriate which means: no flip flips, sneakers, mini skirts, bare shoulders, bare midriffs, backless anything, revealing tops and baseball hats!
I only hope that my experience was unique and that this is not happening nationwide.