Thursday, May 17, 2012


This is simply a photo I got from the internet to illustrate the reality I describe below:

I don't know if this is just a southern thing or common in other parts of the USA, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Canada, United Arab Emirate, Russia, Australia, New Zealand or what, but southerners like to chew gum like a cow chews cud and in public places, like classroom settings, lecture halls, symphonies, plays and Mass!

On Sunday, Mother's Day, a young family was at Mass but were visitors and the husband was clearly not Catholic, but throughout the Mass and I mean throughout the Mass, he chewed gum and not politely, open mouth chewing! It distracted me to no end, reason #666 why ad orientem Masses in either the OF or EF are psychologically most healthy for priests.

Fr. Dawid tells me that he has had communicants come to him for Holy Communion chewing gum and it is visible in their mouths although they are receiving Holy Communion on their hands. He refused Holy Communion to someone recently.

On Tuesday night when we were having Confirmation Rehearsal, a great number of the candidates and sponsors were chewing gum in the Church and others talking on their cell phones. At the end of it, I threw a good ole southern hissy-fit and warned them like Sister Lillian warned my first grade class about appropriate etiquette in public places especially the Church. Chewing gum in forbidden in the Church, no matter when, how or where.

How did we lose this sense of Catholic etiquette? Well for me it wasn't instilled by any priests that I knew, it was instilled and enforced by the good sisters who have all but disappeared from most Catholic parishes and schools in the south. Lay Catholic teachers and catechists don't seem to have the same "prophetic" edge that the good sisters did in our schools and religious formation programs (CCD).

Is this just one of the many perils of southern living?????

And on top of that peril, our Music Director, Nelda Chapman who has lived in her suburban home for years and it is one of the older suburban neighborhoods in Macon and not considered "country" at all, saw a rattle snake on the sidewalk in her front yard leading to her front porch as she walked on it the other day. It slithered into her garden ivy near the sidewalk and in front of her home. This has been most disconcerting to her as she usually works in that ivy, gardening. Is this as bad as rats in the rectory or worse? I still suffer current and post-traumatic stress syndrome from that!

A couple of years ago as I was about to enter a hospice facility in Macon and as I approached the front door of the facility, I saw a stick by the front door which quickly moved out of the way for me to enter. This stick slithered into the bushes by the door. So strange, these southern living slithering sticks!


ytc said...

Yes, Father! I truly believe ad orientem is 100% psychologically better for priests, and lay people, for that matter.

Pater Igntous said...

The gum thing is, I fear, universal. Don't check under the pews of your church . . . .no, you REALLY don't want to do this... DON'T DO IT!

rcg said...

Times have changed considerably. Even today, I feel shame if I even chew a breath gum after lunch. My daughter will return from school chomping away. Until we make eye contact.

In related matters my daughter from Kansas sent a copy of their bulletin wherein on of the deacons has 'lowered the boom' on the EMHC that they must dress appropriately for that function, shit, tie, jacket, dress, blouse or knee length skirt. She wonders if this will reduce the ranks enough that they will have to do away with them altogether.

As for snakes: I happen to like them; spiders, too. But I like gardening and consider them assets.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

rcg, you make me blush, certainly the good deacon didn't ask them to wear that! Or maybe you left our a very important "r!" :)

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

We live in a nation of slobs. Rudeness in public is standard. And, the South is still better than most places!

For some folks, every snake they see is a rattlesnake. I don't know where in Macon she lives, but a rattlesnake in an urban or heavily populated suburban neighborhood is a rare thing. It does happen, however, especially in Fla., Texas, and Ca.

I am glad Fr. Dawid refused Communion to that person with gum. They should not be allowed to receive.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

rcg needs to quit posting from his phone. Although, I can think of even more humorous possibilities! LOL!

Joseph Johnson said...

Maybe rcg is still thinking about "bishop Pelosi!"

Anonymous said...

Father Dawid is to be commended for his gumshun.

Why are they holding the snake? If it is what she thought it was, I assume it is an ex-snake.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

That's not the music director in that picture, although she could pass for a younger version of herself, but I photo I simply got off the internet. That rattle snake is still on the lose and presumably around her home. YIKES!

Carol H. said...

I live in a new subdivision in Kathleen. It had been a pecan grove until about 12 years ago and most of the trees are still here (I have 6 in my yard). Two summers ago, one of my neighbors found a four foot rattle snake in their yard. I have seen an armadillo on my front lawn, and there is an oppossum who steals my next door neighbors dogfood almost every night. (Thankfully, it hasn't figured out how to use the doggie-door)!

As to gum, maybe now that the heat is back, an announcement concerning gum could be added to the bulletin along with the mostly ignored (unfortunately) announcement concerning proper and modest dress? At least this way no one can claim that they didn't know any better.

rcg said...

Ahr, matey.....

A sin of emission.

ytc said...


Carol H. said...

Thank you, rcg; you've had me laughing all day!

Jim said...

I know this is a different issue, but I still remember the Sisters telling us not to lower and raise the kneeler with you feet, "bend down and use your hands to lower or raise them." they use to tell us. It still bugs me to this day when people see and hear drop kneelers on the floor because they are using their feet!

Anonymous said...

Chewing gum...argh!
A couple of weeks ago I was hugely distracted by a tall man who was sitting about four pews ahead of me. He kept rubbing is wife/lady friend's shoulders throughout the Mass, he kept looking all around (as if he hadn't seen people in a church ever before), and he CHEWED that gum like crazy for a solid hour.
If I was closer to him I would have slipped him a tissue to spit out the gum!
I prayed that the priest wouldn't notice or it would drive him nuts!
Perhaps it was the same guy and my prayer went unanswered.
Actually, in my opinion, the blame goes to his family/firends who clearly didn't prepare him for what would occur during Mass, nor about church etiquette. If he was indeed ignorant, then the blame goes to those who didn't think to or bother to prepare him. By the end of the Mass, I sensed that would have appreciated it..he often didn't know what to do and looked dazed and confused...while chomping away stretching his neck all around.

and PI is right about don't check under the pews...I saw Fr. Justin retrieve some ABC (already been chewed)Gum was not a pretty sight.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah..I just remembered the thought I had after that chewing gum guy episode...
How about signage that reads something like:
House of God
No Food
No Drinks
No Chewing Gum
No Cell Phones

Did you know, parents bring food and drink cups for their toddlers to keep them quiet during Mass...not so good
It's better that we see/hear a kid being a kid, than see him eating or drinking (other than for infants a bottle or very discreet nursing).

Carol H. said...

Anon @ 8:41,

We need to add NO GROPING to that list!

Militia Immaculata said...

Doesn't chewing gum break the Communion fast too?