Cell Phones in Church

“Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, cf. Deuteronomy 32:35.) But when a cell phone goes off during worship, I bet we’ve all wished for a policy like this:

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  1. My favourite mobile phone story: I was playing a 5.00 p.m. Saturday liturgy; we were at the communion of the assembly. Ring, ring (x4). Then, the mobile auto-answered, and the caller inquired over the speakerphone, “Hello? Hello?! Are you there?” The cycle repeated itself (x2). And the satchel and coats and purses in that pew remained unclaimed for quite some time following the liturgy.

  2. People forget to turn off their ringers. the larger the assembly, the greater the odds that someone will forget. It might well kill several birds with one stone if announcements are made before Mass, concluding with a request to turn off all ringers, followed by a brief musical interlude to get people in mind for prayer.

    1. Our parish gives a reminder before Mass each Sunday similar to how you have described, but unfortunately some people hear the message and assume they’ve already done it and they don’t need to check. Anytime people are kneeling tends to be a really bad moment for a phone to ring

  3. I try to be religious (pun intended) about turning my phone off when I get to church, but one day I was playing for a funeral and I forgot. About 10 minutes before the funeral began (while people were still gathering and it was not real quiet) it rang. I dove into my purse and opened the phone so it would quit ringing. I don’t think anyone else even heard it, but it sure taught me a lesson.

  4. I’ve seen that before – great. My favorite cell phone story took place at my parish. It was one of those loud, old fashioned rings – you can imagine it going off as the homily was being given. Everyone gasped… You see, the ringing was coming from Father’s pocket. He stopped, closed his eyes, sighing as he drew it out of his pocket and said… “See, this is why I try not to give you guys a hard time about this!”

  5. Best interrupted service: In the gym at the prison, an evening celebration of Christmas. After a number of carols and readings, we’re finally down to Luke’s story of the nativity.

    The angels appeared and were heard to proclaim, “MOVEMENT! MOVEMENT!” and couple dozen people thundered down the stands and headed out the doors.

  6. It usually happens one each weekend here, but people are sort of used to it and it does not seem to bother them very much.

  7. Going back too many years now, not long after I’d acquired my first cell-phone, I was on retreat with some fellow SVD and just after Communion during our daily Eucharist Celebration a phone rang – the ringtone was the opening bars of Beethoven’s Ninth. As I muttered to myself about some not learning the basics of cell-phone ettiquette, I realized it was my own phone. In those days I ran a dormitory for college students, and even during the summer we seemed to manage a minor crisis every second day. From then on I took to leaving it in my room or the sacristy during the Eucharist or whenever we gathered to pray the Office.

  8. When I first arrived in my current parish in 2004, I forgot to remove my cell phone from my left pocket for a daily Mass. As I was distributing Holy Communion, it began to ring (fortunately with a traditional ring, the traditionalist that I am). The problem was that I was holding the plate of hosts with my left hand and my alb did not have a left hand slit for me to reach into my pants pocket to get the phone and turn is off. So I had to shift hands in holding the hosts, pull my alb up and reach in to turn the darn thing off and yes I turned as red as the red vestments I was wearing for the particular martyr we were celebrating. This unhappy occurrence did teach me the lesson to be more understanding of those whose phones do go off as annoying and distracting as it is.

  9. Good Friday 2011 at my parish. Two people quietly chatting behind me for most of the service of the Passion. Cross is being carried in procession into the church. One of the person’s cell phone rings. Instead of silencing it, she answers and loudly begins making dinner arrangements (“let’s meet at 5:30 at . . .”) First time I ever pulled a “Hey you kids, get off my lawn” in church. She looked at me as if I had “the nerve.”

  10. When I was living in Glasgow, I had the great privilege to attend Our Lady of Consolation in Govanhill. At the time, Fr. Neil McGarrity served that church from his base just down the road at Holy Name.

    Before Mass, he would stand at the front and say the following: “If you have a mobile phone, make sure it is in the ‘off’ position; if you have a bad attitude, make sure it is in the ‘off’ position. You are welcome. This is home.”

    Not only did it remind me to turn off my phone, those words of welcome reached deep into my heart week after week and I always knew where I was and that it was the right place to be.

  11. I was in a choir workshop given by Christopher Walker when a participant’s phone rang. He jokingly asked for the phone, answered it, and acted like the person’s secretary taking a message. “I’m sorry, she’s attending a workshop right now, may I take a message? Very well, thank you for calling.” Good laugh, and point made.

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