James Fitzpatrick discusses people’s behavior in church after Mass, specifically chatting and socializing in the main body of the church, the nave. At first, he says that the socializing is a new development, that it might reflect a declining real belief in the Real Presence and a lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament. Yet, he notices that many of the people doing the socializing, chatting with their kids and grandkids, exchanging hugs, and greeting people they hadn’t seen in the past week are those who are most reverent at Mass, who belong to Rosary Guilds and attend daily Mass. In the end, he admits that perhaps it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In other words, I suspect that they have come to the conclusion that Our Lord does not mind if those who have just worshipped Him reverently in prayer at Mass express their love for one another in a warm and cordial manner as they leave the church; that there is no great need for them to wait until they cross the threshold of the vestibule to drop the demeanor we associate with prayer.
He’s not entirely convinced that the practice does not do harm to our spiritual lives and that of our fellow parishioners. I understand how he feels. I’ve mentioned before that I attend Mass with my sister and her family, and I help her and her husband with the kids. After Mass, our friends usually gather around for a brief hello as we gather up the kids and Fr. Murphy will come over to greet us or perhaps to mention a matter he’d like to discuss with me at some point. Yet, when I’m attending another Mass by myself for whatever reason, afterward I take the time for a silent thanksgiving, prayers to my favorite saints, and the St. Michael Prayer, which I often can’t do at my regular Mass.
So how does everyone else feel about it? Is it better for everyone to remain silent in the nave of the Church after Mass or is the gathering of people together a sign of a healthy community? (Assume for the sake of argument that there isn’t space in the vestibule for everyone to gather.)