Meaning of clapping at the end of mass?
Hic est Domus Dei et Porta Coeli. (This is the house of God and the gate to heaven).
Every once and awhile we can come across such Latin mottos on the facades of our Catholic churches. This should inspire our intellects to realize the nature of the edifice we are entering into. This is not an auditorium or an entertainment site, but a building set apart for the Divine Worship of the Blessed Trinity. Our Lord resides in the tabernacle of each Catholic church, thus an atmosphere of reverence should be maintained at all times.
Even the Good Pope St. John XXIII asked the faithful not to clap in in church, as it is the Temple of God!
The fourth Sunday of Lent, John XXIII was once again among the crowd, at Ostia. (about 15 miles to the south-west of Rome.) Thousands of people were waiting for him along the street, in the piazza, in the church. They wanted to see him, to applaud him. They did not know that afterwards, he would rebuke them, in a good-natured way, in his simple , spontaneous, familiar way of speaking.
“I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’ (‘The temple of God is the temple of God.’)
Now, if you are pleased to be in this beautiful church, you must know that the Pope is also pleased to see his children. But as soon as he sees his good children, he certainly does not clap his hands in their faces. And the one who stands before you is the Successor of St. Peter.” - St John XXIII Asks the Faithful Not to Applaud in Church
Father Edward McNamara Goes on to express the following about clapping in church:
First of all, the Roman liturgical tradition is usually sober in its external manifestations. This holds true even in those Catholic cultures that are exuberant in the demonstrations of popular piety such as the processions of Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy where applause, cheers and the like are regular features.
After the homily, the liturgy recommends a moment of silence in order to reflect upon and assimilate the message. Applause easily breaks the concentration and makes it harder to gather one's thoughts and bring them to bear on the essential questions of living the Gospel.
When applause is neither common nor expected a priest can prepare the homily with greater freedom, both regarding the doctrine he wishes to transmit and the best means of delivery. In other words, although he should always strive to prepare an excellent homily from the rhetorical point of view, not having to worry about applause makes him less subject to the temptation of striving more to please than to instruct and exhort toward sanctity.
Not being expected to applaud also frees both priests and parishioners from the danger of making subtle and not-so-subtle comparisons among priests. Father X's homily received timed respect; Father Y got a standing ovation, while Father Z's preaching on Christian morals got the silent treatment. I am exaggerating, of course, but the point is that any element that might induce disharmony should be avoided.
The best reaction to a well-thought and delivered homily is a decision to move forward and grow as a Christian. If this is lacking, then all external applause is just so much fluff.
In his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy" the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: "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" (Page 198).
The context of the present Pope's remarks was regarding applause after so-called liturgical dancing; it did not directly address our present case of applause as a sign of respect and agreement to the message of the homily. The principle involved, however, of not applauding the merely human achievement of one of the liturgical actors could be a good rule of thumb for deciding when applause is appropriate or not.
Applause at Homilies
I have noticed an increase of this behaviour in Catholic Churches recently, even amongst traditional priests. It is like no one desires to take the issue on and thus I feel it will continue and spread to other parishes, for good or for bad.