Friday, April 08, 2005

Applause and Liturgy

Am I the only one who finds the applause at the Popes funeral wierd?

From what I can find out from a web search, applause seems to be a recent innovation even for Roman Catholics.

Before becoming Orthodox, I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene, which is part of the Holiness movement, from whence comes phrases like "Holy Roller" (from people literally rolling on the flow). The Nazarenes are a bit tamer now, but shouting, pew jumping, hanky waving, and dancing are still a living memory, and occassionally one stills sees such things in some local churches. But as strange as all that might seem to others, applauding at a funeral seems even wierder to me.

Even a Roman Catholic Cardinal Ratzinger has the following comments on applause during the liturgy:

"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liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.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."

It seems to me that applause during a worship service is the final step in the process of making the services a show. This is not unconnected with the innovation of the pew, which invites people to sit and watch, rather than to stand and pray. In the Scriptures, it is clear that public worship was always done either while standing, or bowing, but never while sitting.