On the first Sunday of Lent, our awesome parochial vicar made an announcement before the final blessing. He took the time to point out that the applause (which is loud, energetic, and consistent. You can almost hear the woohoo's!) after Mass for the choir is inappropriate. We should never applaud human accomplishments at Mass because we should have our focus on the Lord. He even quoted Cardinal Ratzinger from his book The Spirit of the Liturgy:
"Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment"
Dear Fr. _(Pastor)______,
Last Sunday I congratulated Fr. _(Parochial Vicar)__ on his courageous teaching of the truth. Today, I am very sad to hear that "the situation has been dealt with" for you have done nothing so much as undermine Father's authority as a priest. I am disappointed you would discipline him based on your negative mail, as opposed to the veracity of his teaching.
I appreciate the joy that you, yourself, bring to the priesthood, but you will have to answer to the Lord for how you have allowed the holy sacrifice of the Mass to become a feel-good, social occasion where our focus is continually drawn away from Christ. As a long-time choir member and cantor at my former parish, I can tell you that I absolutely do not appreciate nor desire applause after Mass. My service is for the Lord, and I "perform" to enhance the worship and help the congregation pray, not to draw attention to myself.
All of Mass, from beginning to end, should be prayerful, yet just as it begins, our contemplation is disturbed by the command to "Rise and greet one another as brothers and sisters in Christ." Most of the congregation holds hands during the Our Father as a sign of solidarity with one another. This is all the more disturbing as there is no instruction in the Missal to do so, and it de-emphasizes the true sign of solidarity which is communion, itself. Even the Sign of Peace becomes another feel-good free-for-all where we socialize and forget Who is on the altar.
It is your business if you choose not to teach your parishioners proper behavior because you don't want the "hate mail," but to undermine and discipline a priest who has the courage to do so is unconscionable. You should be happy that he is willing to step forward and teach, knowing there will be a backlash. You should be happy that someone is willing to do the dirty work for you. I can only pray that this attitude does not extend to the more difficult teachings of the Church.
You may be assured of my continual prayers as I pray for all priests to be faithful to the Church and to the magisterium.
And, need I point out that there was a lot more applause after this Mass? :-(