In a pastoral letter anticipating the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has asked that the faithful should not clap in church, either during or after Mass.
“The season of Lent has a somber purple colour. It has a sober and calm aura. The altar decors are restrained. The musical instruments are subdued. We fast from pleasure and restrain our appetite,” the archbishop wrote in his pastoral letter.
“Let us add more abstinence to this sober season,” he exhorted. “Let us abstain from applause in Church. May this abstinence from clapping flow over into the other days of the year. That in all things, God alone and Him only may be glorified!”
Archbishop Villegas noted that Ash Wednesday is “a good occasion to reflect on the value and importance of sobriety, silence and self-restraint in the pursuit of holiness of life.”
Setting aside clapping at a Mass of ordination to signify consent to the calling, which is directed to God, he suggested that “this is not the case with many of our applauses in the church.”
He said applause is a product of boredom during Mass, noting that it reduces the liturgy to a source of entertainment rather than a spiritual encounter with Christ.
“Is not this boredom coming from a misunderstood sense of worship and prayer? The community of prayer becomes just an audience in need of entertainment; liturgical ministers become performers; and preachers become erudite toastmasters. It should not be so.”
The archbishop cited the words of two popes on applause during the liturgy.
According to a story that seems to originate in the biography by F. A. Forbes, first published in 1918, St. Pius X disallowed applause at St. Peter’s, which had become customary at papal services, saying, “It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in his Master’s house.”
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE)