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Leave your iPhone at home

The obsession for photos at Liturgies

The following excerpt is taken from a June 24 story on the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. website.

The Bishop has taken his place at the entrance to the sanctuary. He is prepared to confirm some twenty children. It is a sacred moment, a Sacrament is to be conferred. The parents are in deep prayer thanking the Holy Spirit who is about to confirm their children for mission….. Oops, they are not!

Actually, they are fumbling with their cell phone cameras. Some are scrambling up the side aisle to “get the shot.” Others are holding the “phone” up in the air to get the blurry, crooked shot. The tussling continues in the side aisle as parents muscle to get in place for “the shot.” If “the shot” is gotten, success! If not, “woe is me.” Never mind that a sacrament has actually been offered and received, the point was “the shot,” the “photo-op.”

Consider another scene. It is First Holy Communion. Again, the children are assembled. This time the parents have been informed that a single parishioner has been engaged to take shots and could they please refrain from amateur photography. This is to little avail, “Who does that deacon think he is telling me to refrain, denying me the shot!?” The cell phones still stick up in the air. Even worse, the parish photographer sends quick word via the altar server, “Could Father please slow down a bit in giving the children communion? It is difficult to get a good shot at the current (normal) pace.”

After the Mass the photographer has two children alongside, could Father perhaps “re-stage” the communion moment for these two since, in the quick (normal) pace of giving Communion, their shot was bad, as the autofocus was not able to keep up…”Look how blurry it is Father.”

It would seem the picture is the point.

I have seen it with tourists as well. I live just up the street from the US Capitol and it is fascinating to watch the tourists go by on the buses. Many of them are so busy taking a picture of the Capitol (a picture they your get in a book, or find on the Internet), that I wonder if they ever see the Capitol with their own eyes.
The picture is the point.
Actually I would propose, it is NOT the point. Real life and actual experience are the point. Further, in the Liturgy, the worship and praise of God, the experience of his love, and attentiveness to his Word is the point. Cameras, more often than not, cause us to miss the point. We get the shot but miss the experience. Almost total loss if you ask me.

To read entire story, Click here.


Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 1:05 AM By Jon
There used to be a guy that attended Mass where I did, that was always taking photos at Mass. For the sake of charity, people didn't say anything to him. The quote from this article ," Further, in the Liturgy, the worship and praise of God, the experience of His love, and attentiveness to His Word is the point. Cameras, more often than not, cause us to miss the point." would have been perfectly put advice.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 6:13 AM By RR
What I can't believe is how the parents of these little girls allow their daughters to dress as though they are a bride. As we all know, the brides nowadays have the most immodest dresses. I cannot believe how much cleavage and other stuff is shown with these bridal dresses. I, as a mother, would NEVER allow my daughter to wear a sleeveless, strapless, ... First Communion dress that I see all the time. These are innocent, little girls, parents! If the dress is strapless or sleeveless, which is what you can only find nowadays, put a little jacket or sweater on them. They are in the presence of God, their King, and they are dressing like that? Shame on the parents! When women and little girls are dressed like that, they are near occassions of sin. It is a sin of impurity to dress like that. If we are to have Mother Mary as our example, would she wear a dress like that? I think not. Parents, please, dress your children modestly and brides, please, sew on some sleeves or wear a jacket or sweater.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 7:21 AM By Francis
For half the families who participate, the picture and the appearance are the ONLY point left, because the parents attend Mass occasionally if at all. That's my experience in my parish, anyway. I think it would be better to have separate rites for the "real" Catholic families, who actually participate in parish life, and who will obey if told not to take photos during Mass or try to "stage" the Sacarament. Give the parents who want only the superficial appearance of being Catholic what they want: A grand ceremony with lots of pomp, pretty flowers and dresses. Better yet, hire an actor with good teeth and nice hair to play the part of the priest or bishop --- The pictures will come out so much better that way!

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 7:50 AM By Elizabeth
I remember a time after a Saturday afternoon wedding when I was in Church waiting for the vigil Mass.... I saw the bride go up to the Blessed Mother with a vase and some beautiful flowers in it.....photographer in toe..... I thought how beautiful that she wanted a picture with Our Lady......NOT. It was a 'photo op' and she and the flowers were taken away after the picture was taken and off they went to the reception. How VERY SAD!!! And then there was the time when a man was in Church during the week while I was visiting the Lord and he was taking pictures of the inside, he was 'shopping around' to see what Church would be the best for pictures for a wedding!!!!! This is what happens when people do not believe in the true presence of Our Lord, either in Holy Communion or in His House, after all Our Lord is in the tabernacle.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:07 AM By max
i thought this was going to be a condemnation of cell phones, but the cameras are JUST as annoying. why can't people just pray, meditate, worship, listen, be silent, a enjoy the sacraments without having to fiddle with gadggets the ENTIRE TIME?

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:30 AM By Life Lady
The direction at St. Anne's is that all cell phones are OFF during Mass, period. No exceptions.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:37 AM By Bud
Even the Pope has to endure these idiots taking cell phone flash pictures. Most good cameras can have the flash turned off. Even the Easter liturgy beginning in darkness is totally lit up by flash from cameras. It totally destroys the purpose of the "Easter Fire" and candles being lit! The only ones that can discourage this are the clergy with the help of the church councils.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:47 AM By Máel Muire
Jon - for your picture busy guy at Mass, here is a relevant passage from Magisterial teaching, Eucharistium Mysterium – Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (1967), maybe you could pass it on to him: “Great care should be taken to ensure that liturgical celebrations, especially the Mass, are not disturbed or interrupted by the taking of photographs. Where there is good reason for taking them, the greatest discretion should be used.” Don't know what a "good reason" for regularly taking pictures at Mass could be, but it sounds like it was a disturbance to you and others.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:54 AM By Bud
Many of the brides go down the aisle looking like completely overstuffed and oblivious to the fact that they are in a church. They want everyone to know what a prize their husbands are getting! As long as no standards are set for "in church" decorum and dress they will do whatever they can get away with! Probably the best time to tactly refer to the wedding is when the couple advise of their desire to marry!

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 9:23 AM By Roberta Genini
I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion in this article. Cameras are everywhere now, so our parishes need to re-educate on the proper place and time for them. While I have not noticed people taking pictures during Mass, many people at my St. Anthony of Padua parish, Fresno, are so taken with the beauty of our church that they frequently take pictures after Mass. (Myself included. Especially at Christmas.) Now that I consider a healthy reflection of the Catholic virtue of making the church beautiful to honor God.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 10:19 AM By Barbara
Right on, RR! You neglected to mention the super short dresses. I'm tired of having to look at bare cheesecake thighs!

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 2:28 PM By Abeca Christian
I have never seen any girls wear immodest first communion dresses. They are always very long and nice, so I have no idea what some here are complaining about. Barbara it was not necessary to use that language, "cheesecake thighs", come on. These are innocent children, blame the parents. Well I never seen what some here describe. but the going overboard on picture taking is actually a good thing to complain about. It does get crazy during mass and people should be more reverent about it.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 4:09 PM By Delilah
What is happening now is absolutely deplorable. When I made my profession into the Third Order Secular, a friend, a professional photographer took pictures for me. He photographed from the choir loft and from the cry room. He did not use a flash and was as unobtrusive as possible. He respected the sacrifice of the Mass. No flash was seen. I got over 200 beautiful pictures. Why people can't respect the Mass is beyond me. You see, my friend is not a Catholic.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 5:21 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
If you want to know why Catholic divorces are now equal or even greater than non-Catholic divorces, just look and see how these women who are supposed to imitate our Blessed Mother are dressed at their weddings. How can Our Lord be expected to bless a wedding that mocks His Mother's many warnings on immodest dress? God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 6:52 PM By Maryanne Leonard

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 7:02 PM By Anne
Movie star George Clooney said that ten years ago, if he was "discovered" eating in a local restaurant, everyone in town would come in to talk to him, ask for an autograph, shake his hand. Now when he is recognized, he simply faces a wall of anonymous cell-phones. He stated that it was very strange.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 7:39 PM By Abeca Christian
Mr Fisher if the priests gave a dress code to these brides, then we may not have this problem. I recall hearing from our elders that there use to be a time when the church actually enforced these dress codes and even did not permit the ceremony to go on if the dress what not approved before hand. Too bad, the church has loosened these conditions to bridal wear. I must admit I have become DE-sensitized too...God have mercy. Of course my wedding dress was very modest because I didn't want to offend God, also because I was raised to respect this sacrament but many do not have the fortunate gift of being raised to understand these things. I'm not making excuses for them but how can we judge when many are a product of this society and many Catholic parishes aren't practicing.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:16 PM By RR
Abeca: Just because you have never seen immodest dresses doesn't mean that there is no such thing. I cannot tell you how immodest the dresses the little girls wear on their First Communion Day. They may be long, not all, but they have NO sleeves and I've seen some where the shoulders are completely bare. Like I said, they look like brides and not innocent little girls. What is wrong with their parents? I find it so hard to believe you have never seen improper or immodest First Commnunion dresses. That's all there is around here. I was at JCPenny one day and my daughter and I saw the First Communion dresses and NOT one of the dresses had a sleeve of any type. They were ALL either sleeveless or had no straps or sleeves at all. I am not exaggerating. And the First Communions I've attended lately, in the last couple years, this is the normal, immodest type of dresses worn.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 9:10 PM By JLS
A lot of people believe Heaven is a photo album. They stand before Jesus at Judgment Day and hand Him their photo album.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 9:13 PM By JLS
max, good question about why don't people stop fiddling with gadgets at Mass: Answer, because there is no father present to regulate behavior. Oh, wait, the priest is the father ... well, you'd never know it in so many situations, would you? You know, one of the first things I used to wonder about was why priests are called "Father". I eventually came to understand, but then began to notice that not a whole lot of Catholics understand, not even a whole lot of priests understand. Too bad for them, because God has made being a Father a great vocation ... beyond anything an administrator such as a bishop or many like minded priests would ever even wonder about.

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012 9:24 PM By Cole Thornton
Mass can certainly be a free-for-all especially bad are some Easter Vigils I have been to with all the new adults being brought into the Church. Pandemonium! But it also comes from both sides of the altar. I was at a Mass where a couple were celebrating something like their 60th wedding anniversary and they had known the pastor for years. The couple were in the first row and twice during the Mass the pastor just stopped in the middle of the liturgy and started talking to the man about 'old times'. The second time this occurred was at the start of communion. All the EMs were standing behind the altar, a couple deacons were there, the pastor and deacons were dividing up the consecrated hosts between the ciboria for distribution and suddenly the pastor stopped and started a conversation with the elderly man which lasted 2-3 minutes including a few humorous chuckles here and there. At least the pastor didn't whip out his cell phone from under his vestments and take a photo of the celebrating couple!

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 7:17 AM By Francis
Kenneth (5:21) writes "...just look and see how these women..." All the ladies' fault, isn't it, Ken?

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 11:09 AM By Abeca Christian
RR thanks for informing me, wow, I always thought I lived in a very liberal lukewarm area with many Catholics being them, but I guess we aren't so bad because I have been to many first communion masses and I have not seen what you described but I am not surprised as to what you have witnessed yourself. Pretty sad. We have a lot of Hispanics here too, they have specialty shops where they sell these first communion dresses and they are very modest and lovely but some look very wedding like but with modesty in mind. Maybe there were some like you have described, I guess I never really noticed. : ) Why can't the priests just give guidelines to all the parents and make them mandatory. That would help.

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 2:23 PM By RR
Abeca: Yes, guidelines should be given ahead of time, although parents should know what is immodest and not. They shouldn't have to be told. As far as the Hispanics, I agree. I bought my daughters' dress(they each wore it) at a shop in a little town that was owned by an Hispanic family. It was very beautiful, modest, and there was no skin showing. They looked so innocent. I was surprised that you hadn't come across this since you live in the liberal and progressive state of California. Anyway, I'm happy to hear that modesty still somewhat exists in California.

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 3:50 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Maryanne, 7:39 PM, My sisters were given such instruction before they were married in the Catholic Church and those were much better times for the Church and world. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 3:57 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Abeca, Those guidelines should be universal and common sense says, respected! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, July 06, 2012 3:59 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Francis, The groom should have enough intestinal fortitude and faith to ask his bride to respect the Church as well. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

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