Friday, May 15, 2009

A FHC suggestion

Because of my niece, nephew, and my parish assignment, I have been to First Holy Communion Masses in three different parishes in two dioceses over the past few weeks.  Let me just throw this suggestion out there to anyone who reads this.


Every family wants photos of their little Willie or Wendy receiving their First Holy Communion.  But I've now been witness to anarchy when it comes to people disrupting Mass because THEY want THEIR picture(s), and no one else matters.  Even grandmas and grandpas, who are usually the regular Massgoers of the crowd with some sense of Church etiquette, seem to creep into voyeurism when it comes to little Billy or Betty receiving the Host.

So what do we do?  Now, personally, I'm all for doing a whole "Don Barzini" thing on them (upon seeing someone take a picture, I snap my fingers, some usher rips the camera from their hands and gives it to me, so I can take out the memory card, crush it, and throw it to the ground).  You'd only have to do it once and I bet the rest of the adults would fall into place.  This, of course, is just a tiptoe away from the "Sonny Corleone" approach (taking the camera from them, smashing it, then peeling off some $20 bills and dropping them on the floor as I walk away).  NOW, before you shrug your shoulders in mock disgust and make that grapefruit face, realize that, as parish Priests watch this stuff going on at First Communions, this is EXACTLY what we are fantasizing about doing.  We didn't start it, but we sure know how we could end it.

So here's what I suggest:  We need to take a lesson from the Vatican.  The parish announce that no photographs will be allowed in the Church (they can take as many pictures of Lyle or Leticia as they want both before and after the event).  The parish arranges for ONE "official" photographer to be there.  He/she will take photos of everything, the kids lining up before mass, the procession in, the kids sitting in the pews, and obviously the moment that little Freddy or Felicity receive Communion. The photos will then be posted on the parish's website, the photographer's website, or some web storage database like Flickr or something, where anyone can print, download, or simply peruse the pictures.  If you take a look at this LINK from the Vatican photographers, Fotografia Felici, you get an idea of what I'm talking about (except for the fact that Felici charges for the photos).  I think people might be less likely to reduce a Mass to a school play if they knew someone was taking pictures for them.


Maria said...

Fr Jay,

I'm a long time lurker over here, but I don't think I've ever made a comment. So, first "Hi". And second, I hear you about the pictures. It's such madness.

At my parish, where I am a 3rd grade Catechist, we told the parents, family, friends on the day of FHC no pictures and they were standing up all over the place taking pictures. It's the same for baptisms, which can only be photographs from their seats.

It's sad how people don't listen while in Mass.

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

While I agree about the insanity that pictures produce (not looking forward to that facet of my youngest son's upcoming First Communion next year), I've seen people completely ignore the "no photo" thing even when a photographer is supplied. The rules don't apply to them, you know. People who will crawl under the altar to get the money shot (so to speak) think they're above such things.

As a musician, I have witnessed more abominable church behavior from adults at First Communions (and Confirmations) than at any other event. It's really scary. Maybe the adults need more instruction!

Elizabeth said...

Great idea Father.
There is nothing worse than the craziness that surrounds sacraments...especially with all those non-Catholic relatives invited! I like the Sonny Corleon idea. ;)

Ann said...

No matter what we do there is always going to be problems with photos at FHC or Confirmation. If kids know that someone is taking their picture during Mass, they would be posing and not paying attention to what was happening on the altar. I think we want their attention up there?! There is no answer to this problem. As Catholics they should be going to Mass at least once a week, why do we need photos of our children at Mass?? "Still" pictures of all the beautiful places inside church and on church grounds, with your child and family, after Mass is not enough??
I think so....

Victoria said...

Really good suggestion. I will copy and send my PP an email. I can remember my own First Holy Communion and Confirmation,back in the good old days, there was no diminuition in the customary reverence at Mass on those two occasions. When I see the difference between behaviour at Mass then and now I can only blame the parish priest, sorry father, who lacks the intestinal fortitude to put his foot down.

In my own parish, a comparatively conservative one, there is a bit of a stoush going on between the PP and one of the teachers of the primary school. Father wouldn't permit the children to do their performance after Mass this week because Adoration was taking place directly after Mass. The teacher couldn't see the reason that the children weren't allowed to line up in front of the monstrance and perform!

Mind you, this is the same priest who announced at Sunday Mass that "outside the Church there is no salvation" had been 'shot down in flames' by the Second Vatican Council and it doesn't really matter what religion we belong to although it is good to be a Catholic.

Unknown said...

Father... I absolutely love your blog... but even more I love your sense of humor. The godfather references totally cracked me up. A million Blessings,

Smiley said...

In India we had one official photographer who would take pictures that is it. It worked very well.