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Concerning the obsession for photos during Liturgies – A Consideration of a Liturgical and Pastoral Problem

June 9, 2014 52 Comments

060914Consider the scene. The Bishop has taken his place at the entrance to the sanctuary. He is prepared to confirm some twenty young people. It is a sacred moment; a Sacrament is to be conferred. The parents are in deep prayer thanking the Holy Spirit, who is about to confirm their children for their mission … oops, they’re not!

Actually, they are fumbling with their cell phone cameras. Some are scrambling up the side aisle to “get the shot.” Others are holding their phones up in the air to capture blurry, crooked shots. The tussling continues in the side aisle as parents muscle to get in place for “the shot.” If “the shot” is gotten—success! If not, “Woe is me!” Never mind that a Sacrament has actually been offered and received; the point was “the shot,” the “photo-op.”

Consider another scene. It is First Holy Communion. Again, the children are assembled.  This time the parents have been informed that a single parishioner has been engaged to take shots, and are asked if they would they please refrain from amateur photography. This is to little avail. “Who does that deacon think he is telling me to refrain, denying me the shot?” The cell phones still stick up in the air. Even worse, the parish photographer sends quick word via the altar server, “Could Father please slow down a bit in giving the children Communion? It is difficult to get a good shot at the current pace.” After the Mass, the photographer brings two children up with him; could Father perhaps “re-stage” the Communion moment for these two since, in the quick (normal) pace of giving Communion, their shots came out poorly.  “You see, the autofocus wasn’t able to keep up.  Look how blurry they are, Father.”

It would seem the picture is the point.

I have seen it with tourists as well. I live just up the street from the U.S. Capitol and it is fascinating to watch the tourists go by on the buses. Many of them are so busy taking a picture of the Capitol (a picture they could easily find in a book or on the Internet) that I wonder if they ever see the Capitol with their own eyes.

The picture is the point.

Actually, I would contend that it is NOT the point. Real life and actual experience are the point. Further, in the Liturgy, the worship and praise of God, the experience of His love, and attentiveness to His Word are the point. Cameras, more often than not, cause us to miss the point. We get the shot but miss the experience. Almost a total loss if you ask me.

At weddings in my parish, we speak to the congregation at the start and urge them to put away all cameras. We assure the worried crowd that John and Mary have engaged the services of a capable professional photographer who will be able to record the moment quite well. “What John and Mary could use most from you now are your prayers for them and your expressed gratitude to God, who is the author of this moment.” Yes, we assure them, now is the time for prayer, worship, and joyful awareness of what God is doing.

Most professional photographers are in fact professional and respectful and know how to stay background and not become a part of the ceremony but rather to record it discreetly. It is rare that I have trouble with them. Videographers still have a way to go as a group, but there are many who I would say are indeed professional.

Pastorally it would seem appropriate to accept that photos are important to people and to make reasonable accommodations for them. For major events  such as weddings, Confirmations, First Communions, and Easter Vigils, it seems right that we should insist that if photos are desired a professional be hired. This helps keep things discreet and permits family and others to experience the sacred moments more prayerfully. Infant Baptisms are a little more “homespun” and it would seem that the pastor should speak with family members about limiting the number of amateur photographers and be clear about where they should stand.

That said, I have no photos of my own Baptism, First Communion, or Confirmation. And yet somehow, I have managed to survive this (terrible) lack of “the shot” quite well. Frankly, in the days I received these Sacraments, photos of the individual moment were simply not done in the parishes I attended. Some parishes did have provisions for pictures in those days. The photo at the upper right is of Cardinal O’Boyle at St. Cyprian’s in Washington D.C. in 1957. But as for me, though I do have a photo of me when I was on my way to Church for my First Communion, there is no photo of me kneeling at the rail. And I am alive and well. There are surely photos of my ordination. But, I will add, the Basilica and the Archdiocese were very clear as to the parameters. Only two professional photographers were allowed (my uncle was one of them), and the place where they worked was carefully delineated.

Hence pastoral provisions are likely necessary in these “visual times,” to allow some photos. Yet as St. Paul says regarding the Liturgy, But let all things be done decently, and according to order (1 Cor 14:40).

A final reiteration: remember, the photo is not the moment. The moment is the moment, and the experience is the experience. A photo is just a bunch of pixels, lots of 0’s and 1’s recorded by a mindless machine and then printed or displayed by another mindless machine. A picture is no substitute for the actual experience, the actual prayer, the actual worship that can and should take place at every sacred moment and at every sacred liturgy.

If you missed my post from yesterday on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as a preservative for culture, I would be grateful if you would click over and read it. For some reason readership was very low on the blog yesterday. I also know that Newadvent did not pick it up for some reason. Here is the article: The Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the Evangelization of Culture

Below is some very rare footage from a nuptial mass. It is of my parents’ wedding in May of 1959. What makes it rare is that it is film, not mere pictures, and that it was filmed from the sacristy. My parents told me years ago that they presumed it was filmed by a priest, who alone in those years could get access to the sacristy and other back areas.

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Comments (52)

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  1. GP says:

    Great point, Msgr. However, whenever the Pope celebrates Mass or of anything as of late, but especially a Mass that is televised, you will see many bishops, priests, deacons, etc., holding up their cell phones, iPads, etc., to take photos of the Pope while Mass is going on. I think in this day and age (and years to come), everyone will become a self-proclaimed paparazzi and do anything just to get that “perfect shot.”

  2. Paul Rodden says:

    Ironically, from my experience, the place where I have seen the most photos being taken is at ‘usus antiquior’ Masses.

    Notice how many EF blogs are littered with photos of ‘the latest EF Mass’ where there was no Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Wedding, or Ordination?

    In my experience, the ones taking the photos are the key members of the Liturgy Police in their community, too, and usually have strong words to say to anyone who deviates from ‘the red’ in the slightest.

    Strangely enough, Charismatics do the same, too.

    I wonder whether it’s motiviated by some deep need to affirm themselves?

    • Whatever the liturgy, tlm or charismatic, if there is need to record photographically the use of a designated photographer, professional or parishioner is a good compromise. Its what I do in my parish. I provide a professional photographer with a non-flash camera to discretely capture the Mass and request all others refrain and pray.

      • Paul Rodden says:

        Thanks for replying, but how can one be present at Mass as a (faithful) Catholic, and do this kind of thing (photograph it) whilst ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ is taking place, especially if one thinks the EF is the zenith of liturgical practice?

        Isn’t the photographer, by their photographic ‘gestures and postures’, doing the equivalent of having their ‘back to the Lord’? Isn’t it utterly disrespectful of what is taking place, however quietly or discreet?

        In other words, would they snap away at a NO Mass like a holiday maker at the beach? They’d probably say yes, because it’s not a real Mass. Whereas, in all likelihood, they even wouldn’t bother (or attend).

        But if that is so, it implies the EF a spectacle. No? So much of a spectacle, in fact, that one doesn’t humble oneself, but treats it like going to the Oscars.

        Maybe, one might choose a non-Catholic/secular photographer to ‘do the dirty deed’, who doesn’t respect what’s going on? But what impression is that giving them of the sacredness in which we hold the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Just a fancy dress party but with bells and smells, no? But, in the early Church, why were the catechumens sent out before the Liturgy of the Eucharist if aping about – even if it is to take photos – doesn’t matter?

        In a real sense, the laity is incidental to what’s taking place on the Altar, but why do EF-lovers get so het-up about anyone else stepping out of line of the rubrics in the slightest manner? Are photographers exempt?

        In short, I would expect photos at NO Masses, because it’s often accompanied by all sorts of other strange practices which aren’t corrected either.

        Maybe I’m just expecting the people who prefer the EF to understand that what’s taking place isn’t for their entertainment and fun – the usual place for cameras – but they’re present at a sacrifice which requires their obeisance so, in reality, indicating they’re just as liturgically illiterate as those they despise?

        • You come across as very rigid and argumentative. I don’t know how to answer you because I do not live in your world of unnecessary absolutism.

          • Augustine Thomas says:

            I know. Why have rules at all, am I right? Why even go to Mass? SO ABSOLUTIST!

          • Now you see, there you go. You take what is a nuanced point and absolutize it. Shame on you. You know that I don’t mean that there are no absolutes, especially if you have ver read my blog before. But taking pictures or not is not a matter of divine law and does not require an absolute, all or nothing solution. A matter like this can brook compromise. A modest attempt to meet people’s needs by having one photographer discretely working is a good compromise. There is no need to have an all or nothing approach to something like this. Fornication, abortion, or changing the words of consecration are different matters. They ARE matters for absolute norms. Can you not see how silly your all or nothing thinking seems in a case like taking pictures? Avoid all or nothing thinking in such cases. To say that some rules can be relaxed or compromised is not to say there are no rules. You know better than this. Your namesake, St. Augustine, would be embarrassed by your logical fallacies here.

          • Fr. Mark McKercher says:

            Not to mention Thomas. Augustine Thomas’ comment is an embarrassment to both his patrons.

    • Sam Schmitt says:

      My experience is not that everyone in the pews at EF masses are taking photos (the problem addressed in the article), but only a single photographer who then posts it on the web (you won’t see very many grainy “cell phone” photos on those websites).

      I’ve always thought that the photos were for the benefit of those who are not able to attend an EF mass, since they are relatively rare and hard to get to for many people. And though they are not weddings or confirmations, they are often special masses – visiting bishop, first mass of a priest, or the first EF in a church or parish – not just the regular Sunday mass. We are having the first EF mass at our parish in a few weeks – an important event in the the life of the parish – and I wouldn’t mind seeing some photos on the parish’s website.

    • Dysdjs says:

      My experience of photography at EF masses as been that there is a designated person taking pictures not the free for all the Msgr. Pope describes. Have you been to a EF Mass where this occured or are you just assuming this happened because you saw some pictures?

    • YGP says:

      Unfortunately that can be all too true. At our local Traditional Latin Mass, a parishioner was taking pictures during Mass every single Mass. Every one. And yes, this person was a very ‘by the red’ kind of guy. It was such a horrible distraction, an annoying gadfly while trying to assist at Mass. I can’t know someone’s mind of course, but the appearance seemed to suggest some sort of need for self-affirmation and attention. It was hard to endure the tri-pod and constant clicking during Mass, every week.

  3. Amy says:

    At our parish we started having assigned photographers (not generally professional, but experienced) take pictures at First Communions and the like. Our goal was a bit less spiritual though…we just wanted to keep people out of the sanctuary. But I do like the idea of allowing the parents and family to focus on the moment rather than worry about the picture. I’m going to suggest we change our approach on that. Thank you.

  4. Suzanne Carl says:

    Guilty… kind of. I was in the aisle with my phone, way off to the side, when my son was confirmed a few weeks ago. I didn’t get, or try to get the “money shot.” I did get a few pictures of him as he returned to his pew with my brother as his sponsor. Likewise, the camera’s were busy at our nephew’s ordination last weekend. I’m glad for the photos, but the memories are better. I prayed, sans camera, as my son was confirmed. I prayed, sans camera, as my nephew was ordained. It’s a hard call. Strive for decorum. Maybe if churches would install security cams and allow parishioners access? Naw.

  5. profling says:

    I don’t like seeing mass on TV either. Why should the mass, a mystery, be seen by non-believers? Even catechumens were made to leave before the offertory or anaphora at one time. At least the Tridentine mass, with the priest praying ad orientem, was able to better conceal the mystery of the rite than the Novus Ordo. I think cameras and idle spectators should not be permitted.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      the televised Mass is a boon for the homebound and hospitalized.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      also the snowed-in

    • Buckeye Pastor says:

      To profling: Why shouldn’t the Mass be seen by nursing home residents who faithfully attended every Sunday, no matter what the weather, no matter how inspiring (or uninspiring) the preacher, no matter how many babies they had?
      To everyone else: I once had a principal, beloved in the community, a most outspoken person, and a person of considerable size. At the First Communion parents’ meeting, she would make it clear that she was unequivocally opposed to photography during Mass. Her parting line always was, “And if I see you heading up the aisle to get The Shot of your darling receiving Jesus, I will be out of my pew in an instant, you’ll be amazed how fast I can get up the aisle, and if you think you’re going to get around me, I’D JUST LIKE TO SEE YOU TRY.” She single-handedly eliminated the problem of First Communion photography.

  6. Heather Latham says:

    From experience, I do not think photographers should be allowed at the Easter Vigil or Confirmation Masses. This past year, at the Easter Vigil, we had 70+ people entering the Church. The photographers pushed a newly baptized adult man aside so they could get a photo of a person on the back row being Confirmed. It lessened the sacredness of the moment. This is a Holy Sacrament. Get your photos on the front steps before Mass, or in front of the altar after Mass.

  7. Jennnifer Fitz says:

    I was very happy with my parish’s decision to let parents come photograph the FHC *rehearsal* with unconsecrated hosts for all their precocious-cuteness needs, and then to make Father available for photo-ops after Mass on the day of the real thing. The actual picture of the child receiving the sacrament is usually not all that great anyway. Posed shots with friends & priest come out better and capture the memory just as well.

  8. laura says:

    Totally guilty as charged. My sister (fallen away from the faith) once commented that church was obviously not important to our family because when she looked at the pictures there was only 1 of each 1st communion – a group photo following the mass with the priest and zero other pictures at church but albums full of the rest of our lives. Her memories of reality are very distorted in regard to lots of our childhood, but I want our faith life to feature prominently in my kids mementos as well as they should in memories. I have been the “paparazzi” taking pictures during 1st communion and confirmation of classes, but I have also always respected the pastor’s guidelines too. I think that comes down to communication. Oddly, watching the sacrament through a camera lens has helped me focus and be truly aware of the sacramental moment instead of being distracted by the crowds of people.

  9. April says:

    I am total agreement with this post, and it took me a long time to get there. I am saddened when I attend these masses, but the joy of the reality still overcomes my sadness!!! I pray for our world, as this seems to fall into the category of our focusing too much on the worldliness of our state of being, our temporal state, instead of focusing on the reality of our existence and our opportunities on earth to be in union with Our Lord. Maybe our friends in purgatory, away from any of the sacraments, could enlighten us, if only we would think about that.

  10. Charles Lewis says:

    I recently asked the person in front of me to stop taking pics. I got this icy stare as if to say, What’s your problem? In a low voice I said this isn’t a prom it’s a mass so show some respect. The guy was angry but stopped. Then just last week a woman was yakking away on her cellphone before mass and I politely told her to stop. She said the mass hadn’t started yet but I reminded her that this being a church you may have some people who want to pray. What I’m getting at is not that I’m a super hero (though people have called me that) but I think I was helping the priest by keeping things in order. We should all be able to do this. I think there is no reason, none at all, to take photos during a mass. The only time should be when there’s an announcement before the mass that says when – as for confirmations, etc. – and at no other time. And certainly never during the eucharist. If you think people around you are too selfish to get for themselves, approach a priest or deacon after mass and request that a ban on photos be made known. But above all, since we are all the body of Christ we have the duty to politely remind our fellow Christians not to mess with the mass. I’ll admit my “prom” remark was snarky but it seemed the only way to get the guy to stop.

  11. Jay says:

    Oh bless you, Msgr. Pope, for addressing this issue! If art museums and concert halls can ban photos, surely they can be banned in our Catholic churches when there is a holy sacrament being conferred.
    USCCB, PLEASE take notice!

  12. Rev. George E. Stuart says:

    I was present at a Confirmation Mass when a girl stepped forward with her sponsor. With his hand on the girl’s shoulder, the sponsor reached around with his other hand to take a “selfie” as the Bishop anointed the confirmand with the chrism. This was not pure ignorance. The man knew that he was out of bounds, because as he did this, he said, “Forgive me.” The Bishop and I were so astounded that we did not know how to react. It never occurred to us that someone could deliberately be so boorish.

  13. I Like The Church Fathers says:

    “Why should the mass, a mystery, be seen by non-believers?”

    It’s unlikely you’re going to make many converts if would-be converts cannot even view the celebration of a Mass on television, let alone in person.

  14. Jason Miller says:

    The other thing that kills me – after a couple of weeks, how many people actually go back and look at these pictures again? This is even more the case with the thousands of photos being shot during the course of a year on people’s phones. There are so many photos, there is even LESS of a likelihood that folks go back and look at them. Ridiculous.

  15. Serafino says:

    This is a problem not only for the laity, but for the clergy as well. I noticed more than several concelebratiing priests in full vestments taking photos with their cell phones during the Pope’s Mass in the “upper room” several weeks ago when he was in Jerusalem . I’ve seen the same thing during papal Masses in the Vatican! Instead of concerning themselves with a “photo op” one would think they would be in deep prayer and reflection as they offer the Most Holy Sacrifice?

    This would never happen in the “bad old days” before Vatican II. Could you imagine the Sub-Deacon taking a camera from under his tunic during a Tridentine Mass to capture some “candid camera moments?” What can we expect next, an over enthusiastic con-celebrant to interrupt the Eucharistic Prayer and take a “selfy” with the pope?

  16. Serafino says:

    This is a problem not only for the laity, but for the clergy as well. I noticed more than several concelebratiing priests in full vestments taking photos with their cell phones during the Pope’s Mass in the “upper room” several weeks ago when he was in Jerusalem . I’ve seen the same thing during papal Masses in the Vatican! Instead of concerning themselves with a “photo op” one would think they would be in deep prayer and reflection as they offer the Most Holy Sacrifice?

    This would never happen in the “bad old days” before Vatican II. Could you imagine the Sub-Deacon taking a camera from under his tunic during a Tridentine Mass to capture some “candid camera moments?” What can we expect next, an over enthusiastic con-celebrant to interrupt the Eucharistic Prayer and take a “selfy” with the pope?

  17. Hegesippus says:

    On my first visit to Jerusalem, we approached from the top of the Mount of Olives. Inexplicably, my camera slipped from being looped securely around my wrist. The camera broke and my first instinct was to be upset over this but that “little voice” told me that it was a time to look through my own eyes and not through a camera lens. I will always remember the feeling of approaching and entering the Old City for the first time. It cost me a camera but gained me something worth so much more. And taking photos was another good reason to return a few years later.

    • Anita says:

      A few years ago while attending an information session for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the tour leader quite adamantly said that she preferred no cameras clicking away at the Holy Land. “We’re going to the Holy Land to pray, not to take photos like those other tourists.” She relented later on by assigning a couple of people to take the photos/videos which I think worked out perfectly because it gave us a chance to do what she said – pray. I remember in Bethlehem, at the Church of the Nativity, an unsuspecting pilgrim got the brunt of her anger for clicking away at the place where Jesus was born – a silver star on the ground. She literally picked him up by the scruff of his neck and said to stop clicking. It was a funny sight.

  18. C says:

    From the official photographer’s point of view, I very much agree that these unofficial photographers can become a hindrance to those whose role is to be the official photographer.

    As the photographer for my parish with the approval of my pastor, I take photos of liturgy to use on the parish website and social media. The images have also been used in promotional material by the national office of the apostolate of priests that serve in my parish.

    I have a very small camera and I am discreet, standing when others stand, kneeling when others kneel, etc. I never use a flash and my camera is silent. I’ve had some very easily distracted people sit right next to me and said I was not obtrusive at all.

    I do this work gratis, and put no copyright limitations on the images so that they may be shared freely, in the hope that the beauty of the liturgy will lead people to the beauty of Christ on our altars. I consider the photography a vital part of the “digital ministry” of my parish and am thankful that I can give this gift to the parish.

    That being said, I cannot tell you how often I have been distracted during Masses by people with flash photography and loud cameras, literally standing up when all others are kneeling during the moment of the elevation to take these photographs. I’ve also taken pictures that have been ruined by people putting up their cell phones in the middle of the range of my shots. On top of all of these things, these other photographers also never contribute these images to the parish image library, which quite honestly is the biggest peeve of all.

  19. E G Lewis says:

    I’ve seen everything you’re talking about and it upsets me greatly. When people began to applaud Pope Benedict, he quickly silenced them saying that he was not a performer and it was inappropriate behavior. In our parish we regularly have applause and even Happy Birthday to You’s. They’ve forgotten what the Mass and sacraments are and why they’re there.
    Unlike you, I DO have a picture commemorating my first Holy Communion. After the Mass concluded they lined us up -45 boys and girls -all the boys in suits and ties and the girls in white dresses with veils- the first graders who accompanied us as honor guards, the four Mass servers and the pastor, and took a picture. It’s printed on 8 1/2 x 17 paper. By the way, this was in a poor neighbor and a large portion of the youngsters, me included, lived in a government housing project. Those who couldn’t afford even the minimal rent, lived for free in adjacent Army barracks that’d been abandoned after the war. Yet somehow, we all had new clothes. The kids in our current parish wear a vest like the scouts. They also hung a rainbow banner above the altar for First Communion. Go figure.

  20. Matt says:

    I work for a Diocese and one of my duties is to capture events by photo. It started as the bishop telling me to take a few pictures, as I happened to have a camera with me. Since then, it has truly become a ministry and I have spent countless hours and many dollars honing my craft. I still have much to learn, but there are a few things I have learned.

    One is that I don’t want people to notice me, as I am not the event. I walk quietly, move quickly, shoot and get out of the way. I plan my movements beforehand with the master of ceremonies to make sure I am in a position to get the shot I want without disturbing anyone or disrupting the sacred nature of the proceedings. We use the photos in a variety of ways, but two of the most important are for the bishop’s blog and our newspaper. Our diocese is quite large in area, and this is a way we have of bringing the bishop to people hundreds of miles away. They can see the pictures and become part of the event.

    The second thing I have learned is that my best photos come when I was looking for Jesus in the faces of the people in my viewfinder. Jesus truly is everywhere, and faces are the most outward manifestation of the presence of our Lord. St. Veronica is the patron saint of photographers, as she wiped the face of Jesus on his way to crucifixion, only to have his image left on the cloth. That’s what I look for.

    The third thing I have learned is that if one is taking photos, one is not participating in the Mass. I expressed my concern about this to the bishop one day and he told me that that was part of the ministry. Some days I wish I had never brought the camera with me that first day, because I think of all the Masses I’ve been to where I was on the outside looking in, through the lens of my camera.

    Many times I look at my photos and can’t believe I pulled the trigger on that image. The Holy Spirit truly guides my eye and sets my f stop. This is important work, as it provides that connection to those far away while creating an historical record of the diocese.

    If you see a professional photographer, put your phone away. If you want pictures of the event, ask the pastor who the photographer is and contact him/her. I upload my photos to a photo sharing site where people can download them for free or order prints at cost. Finally, 99 times out of 100, my photos are better than the ones you got from your iPhone. Be a part of the Mass. The gifts offered there are far more important than the blurry memory captured on your mobile device.

  21. Therese says:

    For a start there should be a ban on pictures during the Eucharistic prayer. Also, at my daughters’ first communion practice the priest had them practice receiving the host, and I was waiting for this wonderful reminder to the children of who they would be receiving. He began to tell them to come up slowly and make sure you pause here, and with great anticipation I am waiting for him to instruct them to pause and to make a sign of reverence, to remember who they are receiving, but no, it was take a pause here because there will be a photographer ready to take your picture. My heart broke. Here I had been telling my children what a wonderful and sacred moment this is at our first holy communion. So at home I told them Father must have forgotten to mention that and reminded them that the photo op is not the highlight. We have no pictures of that moment, but they have all, so far, remained faithful Catholics, even with the two in college

  22. mgoog says:

    I have witnessed hordes of photogs at EF Masses. – think this because it is still a novelty and so different from what a typical parishioner may be used to. Unfortunately, it is also very distracting and inhibits the solemnity of the Mass. I have also witnesses clapping at the end of a sung EF Misssa as many of us had never heard such beautiful singing.

  23. David Gardiner says:

    I have a group photo of my First Holy Communion Class, taken AFTER Mass on the predella of the main altar. Every other beautiful and vivid image of the moment when I approached the rail for the first time is in my heart and mind and will be until I die.

  24. Gloria Gomez says:

    I think our parish has the best solution for pictures. We have a professional company, catholics who understandthe desire for great pictures and respect for worship. The bring several photographers, 1 one each side, they give, yes, give ine complimentray photo to each person receiving a sacrament with no obligation to buy more. The in turn, get business for the entire group. We ask people to be respectful andd they no longer have the need to rush ans squeeze between pews for pictures. The pictures are beautiful, professional and everyone has a wonderful celebration. After Mass, the photographers have a presetup background where the bishop for confirmations will stah and take a photo with him if they wish. The prices are reasonable and crowd control goes smoothly. We have a large group confirmed yearly about 150. This really works well.

  25. Teresa says:

    I second Profling -televised Mass makes me feel very uncomfortable. I sympathise with those who are prevented for whatever reason from attending in person, but are you really attending when you watch on TV? I think Our Lord wanted us to attend in person, and while watching on TV you cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament anyway, as you are not physically present. This is what EMHC are for, and if I were sick I would desire that someone bring the Mass to me! Watching on TV is no substitute! Also we cannot control the profane situations in which the Mass might end up showing, I think this is reckless.

  26. . robert carrucan says:

    hire a jammer. that stops all cameras working inside the church

  27. Virginia says:

    I can understand how upsetting it must be. I love photography and I love photographs and I rarely use flash and photography can be done inconspicuously now with the availability of photo editors.
    Photos are so heartwarming when you are growing old. And I am glad that my mother likes scrapbooking, it gives us a glimpse of the past and a little bit of history. Photos are also good starting points of storytelling, “the day you were baptized…” Don’t be too hard on the photo bugs, they most likely value the Sacraments just as much, or else, they would have just let it pass.
    For the photo enthusiast, there will always be a tearing apart. When St. John Paul II was passing by in his popemobile, there is that decision one has to make. To experience that brief moment through the lens of a camera or just experience it with my eyes and senses

  28. Debra says:

    I forgot I was suppose to respond to this concerning the photography, but what I enjoyed the most was watching the Tridentine Mass the most. At first I thought , (as I saw your dad swaying back and forth), that he was going to fall over, but that was not the case.The wedding of your parents was most holy and the best part was the holiness and sacredness of the entire Mass itself. If we can only go back in time and have a do-over…….Great video, it’s a keeper!

  29. Msgr. Sean Ogle says:

    As an urban parish priest for many years I’ve dealt with this situation by arranging to have a professional photographer at Confirmations and First Communions and communicating that fact to all the families many months repeatedly before the event. This has cut down considerably on guests taking their own pictures during Mass. We also make it clear that they can take an infinite amount of pictures after Mass, and that the clergy will be available to join them. I find that arranging a group shot after Mass eliminates much of the line for individual pictures at that time. By the way, one side benefit of taking pictures is to provide some level of moral certainly for proving the conferral of a sacrament years later when for some reason there may be no registry record of the original event event. This is just another pastoral challenge in a rapidly more technological world where the images indeed speak more to a new generation. We have to find the language to integrate this trend– morally neutral in itself– into our articulation of sacramental life.

  30. Fr. John Higgins says:

    This is one of my pet peeves. I’ll never forget one day at First Holy Communion the parents were bunched up near the Sanctuary on both sides of the Church, each one trying to jockey for the best position for that all important “shot”. I had told them to be respectful, but they were more interested in their right to take a picture than the Sacred Eucharist. One woman stepped in front of a man and ruined his “shot”. He pushed her. She fell and hit her head on the marble communion rail. It was serious. She was bleeding. We called 911 and Police and Fire showed up. She was taken out in an ambulance and he was taken out in handcuffs.

    I tell this story moments before we begin First Holy Communion Mass in my parish to this day. Still, people ignore me and stand up and take pictures. If it starts getting to look like there will be more than just a few I stop Mass and tell them I will not continue if they persist.

    • I Like The Church Fathers says:

      Unbelievable! This would be comical if it was not so tragic.

      Perhaps the solution is to ask members of the Knights of Columbus to attend at First Communion ceremonies and have them deny entry to anyone who refuses to leave his/her camera in the car. As a K of C member, I would be happy to provide this service!

  31. Lisa Julia says:

    I am a Catholic and professional photographer. Recently (like this weekend) i was received as a lay Dominican novice. A friend took photos of my reception of my habit/scapular. Also this weekend a wonderful new priest, recently ordained from our parish said his first Mass. I was asked to take photographs during the Mass. I was also asked to take photos when our current pastor was installed. I agree that the site of ‘gadgets’ during the Mass is a huge distraction and i do appreciate the sentiment that a professional photographer or two is a better option. It’s also helpful for the photographer so we don’t have to ‘fight’ to document the event with a congregation of paparazzi.

  32. Rebecca says:

    Professional photographers only would be GREAT. If each parent knew they would get a shot of their child and not have a professional photographer’s fees for them. If you can find a pro willing to shoot for free and then upload images to a website so parents can just pic out their own childrens digital images it would be GREAT. And then simply FORBID anyone else approaching with a camera. But if you are going to tell parents they are going to have to pay a professional photographers fees, there will always be some who WILL approach, especially those who cannot afford the photographers fees. ANd losetimes professional photographers fees ccan be outrageous.

  33. Susan Rodriguez says:

    Photography during mass and public sacraments: my thoughts as a photographer. Please excuse the randomness of my thoughts.

    *Youth record and share their lives.

    *Evangelism, questions are asked about the photo recorded event by both believers and non believers. Discussion are deep and not usually about dress and food (give us more credit.)
    *My daughter was sharing her First Communion photos with a friend (years later as a fifteen year old.)The friend was baptized but had not been to Church since Baptism. The friend had concluded that God was nonexistent and if there was a God, he was vengeful and non forgiving. My daughter told her about Reconciliation. The friend decided to re-look at what it means to be Catholic. My daughter concluded that not having faith was profoundly sad; she could not imagine living like her friend with no loving God and no hope.

    *The Catholic Church needs to adjust to technology, it is here to stay. Even in schools, Elementary thru Post Grad; it is here to stay and there must be someone to say this is okay and guide them. How will the future (and technology is a huge part of the future) be guided for those faithful and those in need of faith? By saying,”No”? Can the future Church afford this line in the sand?

    I visited Asturias in Spain this summer in a remote village where the priest celebrates Sunday Mass in eight different villages every week. Guess what? The village was taking pictures throughout the mass and the Baptism. I saw as many as 15 cell phones and six cameras.

    *Pictures will be revisited over the years and the sacredness of the captured event will be looked by generations. The message being that we are a “Family” of faith. We have a history of being Catholic. Catholic, not as an institution, Catholic as Family and a heritage. Or ….. Catholicism to be shared and further (re)explored by ex or non-believers.
    (Remember, the rich, throughout the Catholic Church, have been painted in sacramental settings and as participants in holy events.)
    The ordinary people can now be a part of those pictures. The difference is that the pictures are capturing the reality and not some regal fantasy.

    We are building our own history, recording our daily lives, which includes an intimate link with our Faith, our personal history as a Catholic that is not separate but a part of all our daily lives.

    As a photographer, educator, and tech user, I do acknowledge this opens the Catholic Church to those who abuse by inappropriate social skills and inappropriate editing. But the Catholic Church should embrace the future and needs of those people who value their Faith enough include it as recorded part of their lives.

    Possible rules:
    No flash or sound should be permitted. Photos taken from your seat and not the aisle.

    *Records our history as participating Catholics.

    *Youth record and share their lives.

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