Church Etiquette Is Slowly Diminishing
One thing I noticed this past Christmas Eve was that there seems to be a lack of respect lately in the House of God.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't attend church as much as I use to or would like to, but when I do, I'm there for the Big Guy and to honor his welcome.
Just like clockwork, every year around Easter or Christmas, the pews are packed to the brim with bi-annual church-goers. Again, I know I'm not as frequent of a flyer as I used to be, but I still make an effort. Admittedly, as I looked around the church this past Christmas Eve, the unfamiliar faces had an effortless expression of wanting to actually be there, but I suspect it was only so they could say that at least they showed up.
Now, that's not even the worst part. I sat there with my hands folded, trying my best to recite the "Our Father" prayer in my head without the rude distractions buzzing around my ears. The place was loud, and I'm not talking about whispers here and there—there were full blown conversations throughout the church, like a swarm of angry bees, while the priest was trying to deliver his sermon.
It was only then the priest briefly mentioned the two words that will cause an uprise of hate and anger and utter commotion that would turn even a Christmas sermon upside-down: Donald Trump.
That was it. A political uproar cried through the pews, and it was then that I realized that politics and religion just shouldn't mix.
I will say this: if you do not get to Easter or Christmas Eve mass early (seriously, like 35-45 minutes before start time), you WILL NOT get a seat and will have to stand along the back or along the side for the remainder of the time. As I was people watching, waiting to see who was coming in to find out every last available seat was gone, I noticed not once, but twice, an elderly lady and man forced to stand, left with no other option. I waited for someone younger to kindly give up their seat; sadly, it never happened (I would have given up my own seat, but I was on the other side of the church).
If you're not someone who attends mass, allow me to explain the "shaking of the hands." Towards the end of most sermons, right before Communion takes place (when us religious people consume a small round wafer that represents the bread of life and the body of Christ), the crowd exchanges handshakes to all around them in a sign of peace to one another. It's also a showing of respect.
There will always be the argument from those who do not wish to shake other's hands due to illness, or fear of becoming ill, and that's completely understandable. But at least give a simple wave of acknowledgment. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I said "Peace be with you," and not only did not receive a handshake back, but they turned their heads and proceeded to ignore the gesture completely, with not even a word returned.
Lastly, I will leave you with the ultimate sign of rudeness and poor etiquette, and it all revolves around cell phones. Not once, but twice, I was asked by people I've never met before in my life to help them take a photo of the Christmas-themed decorations that draped the altar. I should have kindly refused, but didn't want to be rude.
Of course the flash went off, making everyone turn towards me. That was the last straw for me; I was not only embarrassed for myself, but for more than half of the snowbirds who found it acceptable to be glued to their phones while the priest was spreading the good word. I will defend myself by saying I took the photos before the sermon started, but the point is that once you're through the entrance doors, the phone can wait until you're back outside again once mass has finished.
This discussion has been a long time coming, and I most certainly had this building up inside for the past couple of weeks, but it all had to be said and brought to attention. Church etiquette is not the same as it used to be, and it saddens me. Come in, welcome others, sit down, open your ears, close your mouth and PLEASE leave your phones at home.
It honestly doesn't get any simpler as that.