Is It Okay to Applaud at Mass? Here’s What Popes Have Said About It

Pope St. Pius X, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain / Pope Benedict XVI, Pxhere, Public Domain / Pope St. John XXIII, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain / ChurchPOP

Has this happened at your parish?

Oftentimes, we see or hear about people applauding others during or at the end of Mass.

Whether it be for the priest after a homily, for a cantor, or even for the choir after the liturgy has concluded. Is this really okay?

Recently, YouTube star Lizzie Reezay brought the point to light:

@lizziereezay, Twitter / @ccpecknold, Twitter

Her tweet reads, “THIS PAST SUNDAY a ton of people at my parish applauded for the cantor and pianist once mass ended. It made me SO uncomfortable and this helps me understand why.”

Below her tweet, she reposted a quote by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (before he was  Pope Benedict XVI).

Here’s what he said about applauding at Mass:

“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation. (The Spirit of the Liturgy

Also, here is a video by Catholic Answers Live that gives us a little bit more perspective on the issue:

In the video, a caller, referring to the parish’s choir asks, “Is it appropriate to applaud for the choir after Mass? Is this an approved practice?”

Fr. Vincent Serpa said, “Absolutely not. It’s most inappropriate and it’s the responsibility of the pastor to make sure that the congregation understands this. The choir is not singing as a matter of entertaining anybody. They’re singing to worship God. We don’t clap for prayer. We pray.”

He continues, “Again, that is not an option. If we were someplace else it would be a different matte.r But Liturgy is liturgy. It’s the worship of God, and it need to be done in an appropriate way as the Church sees fit. It’s good that they appreciate the choir, but they can thank them outside. Applause is not appropriate at that time.”

Fr. Vincent adds, “There are times when that’s called for, as in the ordination ceremony when you are asked to give the response to the worthiness of the candidate for ordination. But this isn’t that. This is something else. You don’t clap at the end of Mass because you had a good time. That’s not what it’s about.”

Pope Saint John XXIII also said as people waited for him to arrive to a church outside of Rome, “I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’ (‘The temple of God is the temple of God.’)

In a very powerful quote, Pope Saint Pius X said, “It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in his Master’s house.”

What do you think? Is it reverent to clap at Mass?