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The noise of Catholicism and how to get past it

Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Katrina Fernandez - published on 02/02/17

Whether distracting "noise" comes from news or the internet or the people in the pews around us, finding silence is up to us

Catching up on some unanswered reader emails, today’s column addresses a topic I often receive; that of noise. Mainly how to ignore noise and how to move past it, as well as how to recognize what’s worth actually hearing through all the cacophony. It’s plain to me that so many souls crave silence. – KF

Dear Katrina,

Can you be a good Catholic even if you don’t like the pope and don’t agree with half of what he says? Nothing challenges my charity more…

David

—————————————

David,

I’ve got enough that challenges my charity on a daily basis that I don’t need to add to the list. I’m sure you feel the same; it doesn’t make sense to intentionally make life unnecessarily harder or more frustrating than it has to be.

Here’s the thing about popes… everybody doesn’t like every pope. I know people who didn’t like Popes Benedict XVI or Pope Saint John Paul. We aren’t required to “like” them. Make praying for him part of your daily prayer routine, then simply move on.  It doesn’t make you any less Catholic if you decide not to fan-boy after a particular pope.   

It’s really a new phenomenon in the Church that a pope’s every verbalized thought is made immediately available for all to read and hear. For centuries the average Catholic heard little from the pope beyond when he spoke ex cathedra, and just went about their lives trying to live in holiness.  

My only question to you would be what exactly is Pope Francis saying that you don’t agree with? If it’s just an airplane interview, or homily — things that don’t carry magisterial weight — I don’t see any conflict. But if Pope Francis is actually preaching and upholding some Catholic doctrine that you find problematic I would suggest you speak to your priest.

So in other words, ignore the noise and focus on what is going to make you grow in holiness.   

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Dear Katrina,

I am constantly distracted at Mass by kids, phones, people coming in late and leaving early, and talking and whispering during Mass. When I get to Mass early to pray before or try to pray after there is just much noise. How can I stay focused and learn to tune out all the constant noise and chatter?

APK

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Dear APK,

A while back I started regularly attending Mass in the extraordinary form, or the Latin Mass. After awhile I began to notice, that yes, the regular Novus Ordo Mass is incredibly noisy in comparison.  Some people are better equipped at ignoring the background noise than others, and that’s OK. It’s when it becomes a distraction to worship that a real problem develops.  

At many parishes, the earliest Mass of Sunday is sparsely attended, and usually lacks music. Might that Mass as described here be an option for you? If not, I would suggest attending a few Latin Masses if they are available in your area. If not, try a few daily Masses during the week or spend time in Adoration. Either one of these will inject a little bit of that silence in worship you seem to be craving, which in turn could help you be better recollected and less easily distracted during the more crowded Sunday Masses.   

If none of those options work for you, try sitting all the way up front to minimize distractions. Keep your head down and eyes closed during the readings, the homily, and when praying. And every time you hear a baby cry or a toddler fidget just remind yourself that they are the future of the Church and possibly future religious or saints. I dare you not to smile at the thought of future Sister Mary Wails at Mass.

And if all else fails, ask Father if you can lead a Rosary before Mass and possibly add a devotion after Mass, like the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Both would communicate to the parish that those times before and after mass are meant for prayers of preparation and thanksgiving.  

Read more: Go to church; meet annoying people

Tags:
AdvicePope Francis
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