Do you applaud after the homily?

By Paul Dion, STL

I am 70 1/2 years old. I have an advanced degree in Theology. I don't think that I have missed a Sunday Mass 10 times in my life. I have participated in the Holy Mass hundreds of times on Sunday and during the week. I have done this in hundreds of churches in at least 10 countries plus the West Bank.Needless to say I have listened to countless homilies and slept through more than I can count.

But last Sunday, four days after the 70.5 point of my first glimpse of the light of day, I had a new experience. After the homily, the church broke out in applause. Please notice that we are not talking about applause that happens at the beginning of Mass as the bishop walks into the Church. It is not the applause that spontaneously happens as the Bishop or some other dignitary walks out of the church after Mass. We are talking about applause immediately after the homily. could not help but investigate to see if this was against Church law or maybe even against the common morality. We did find out that the question is not a new one. In fact we discovered some quotes from some of the Old Testament Prophets. is asking why people would applaud after a homily. We are sure that those of you who read have opinions about this question. Please let us know what it is.

Would you applaud after the homily? What would you signify by your applause?

The liturgical correctness of the delivery?
The theological content of the speech?
The oratorical brilliance, the grammatical quality?
The linguistic mastery?
The magnificence of Biblical understanding and communication?
The sharpness of the priest's wit and the ability to manipulate secular and religious punditry?

Please let us know. Also here's a related article on applause at Mass that is sure to interest you.


  1. Anonymous5:47 AM

    I think if the Gospel had been interpretted clearly and had shed a new light or perspective on the Gospel the homily might be applauded. It is so wonderful and enlightening when I have a "light bulb" moment because the Priest has clarified something I have read in the Bible but not fully understood or was able to put it into practical application.

  2. Anonymous6:08 AM

    We are not at a concert or recreational facility when we atted mass. Therefore, applaise is inappropreate.

  3. Anonymous7:55 AM

    I have witnessed applause after a homily. I applauded our priest because of the way he delivered his homliy with such passion and reminded us just how amazing Our Heavenly Father is. It was a very touching moment.

  4. Anonymous8:50 AM

    I honestly think that when a Homily has an extraordinary message and the method of delivery of that message is done in an outstanding way, it is almost necessary to applaude after a Homily. I have been to many masses when I want to shout "AMEN!" at the top of my lungs, but being inside mass, I cannot. That is why I think it's more than okay to applaude after a Homily. The priests work so hard to prepare for them and yes, God will pay them when the time comes; however we should feel free to express our gratitude and enjoyment towards them for delivering that message.

  5. I was going to remain silent until Monday as I had promised, but your dynamic participation has pushed me over the edge. Congratulations.
    BUT... and this is a personal opinion, not an official popsition, I would far prefer a vocalization of "AMEN!" during the presentation than a final approbation by applause. After all, applause happens inside Mass too, right. Shouting "AMEN!" would emphasize the point that has just been made and, in my opinion, be more prayerfully effective.

  6. Anonymous9:34 AM

    I've witnessed many times after a homily when the congregation has applauded and I don't see anything wrong with it . It usually is after a spirited and moving way the homily was presented or many times just the fact that the congregation generally agreed with the priest or deacon with the subject matter. However I personally prefer that it should be silent after the homily so that we all can reflect on what was said.

  7. Dennis Sheahan11:38 AM

    I do not applaud sermons or homilies. At the end of a semester I might applaud an out standing instructor, similarly if I were attending a series of talks, of an homiletic style or nature, I might applaud at theconclusionopf the series. The preacher in church is not performing, he is teaching, unpacking the Word of God, as it were. His due is attention and silence in which to propound his thoughts. I do take notes sometimes to bring up later for private discussion. The homily of which you speak was delivered in an active and vigorous style which, although it fell somewhat short of the Elmer Gantry level, was different from the delivery wth which we are familiar. Even so, the "Queen of Heaven" does not, I think, bow even to the "Prince of the Apostles".

  8. Anonymous8:42 PM

    I too have witnessed applause after homilies. I seem to think the reason for the applause might be that the sermon was delivered in a way that enlightened and moved the congregation. The applause is merely a sign of acknowledgement
    and agreement to the word of God.

  9. In the Examination of Conscience of my 1962 Roman Missal, it asks whether or not I have applauded or laughed during Holy Mass...

    I find applause highly inappropriate during Holy Mass. Out of the 168 hours in a week, we give one solely to God, at the least, and for a number of people, sadly, that is the only hour they give to God... Why deviate from the praise and glory of God and give it (even some) to creatures?

  10. Laurence:
    Please allow me some humor before I get serious in my following comment. You sent me scurrying to my 1942 Roman Missal put out by the French Benedictines. They had "Modesty of dress for Sunday Mass" in tghe examination of conscience, but no mention of applause. I checked my 1962 "Manual of Moral Theology" put out by a couple of mighty strict Jesuits. "Applause?" Silence. I checked the two codes of Canon Law that I have, 1912 and 1985 (The dates could be wrong, I'm not at home as I write), but they to are silent on the matter.

    As I promised, I will provide a fairly well thought out comment tomorrow (9/17/07).

  11. "Silence in the presence 0f the Lord God." (Prophet Zephaniah, 1:7)

    "But the Lord is in His holy Temple, silence before Him, all the earth!" (Prophet Habakkuk, 2:20)

    "…Let him admire in silence: there is none to prevent him…Even the heathen philosophers – we hear of
    their discoursing, and nowhere do we find that noisy applause accompanied their words: we hear of the Apostles, making public speeches, and yet nowhere do the accounts add, that in the midst of
    their speeches the hearers interrupted the speakers without expressions of approbation. Christ spoke publicly on the Mount; yet no one said aught. Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres and baths, and public processions, and marketplaces: but where doctrines are the subject of teaching, there could be stillness and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church – 349 – 407)
    If you don't applaud the Consecration, why applaud anything else?

    "It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in the Master's house." (St. Pius X)

    "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. (Pope Benedict XVI)

    If you're not willing to "HISS" and / or "BOO", don't applaud in approval. Remember, the truth
    should prevail in all we do in church. Sleeping through a bad homily can't compare with applause, so, if it's that bad you should "hiss" especially if you are convinced that to applaud would be a conformation of the good. If you don't agree with that philosophy, keep quiet, both on the positive side and on the negative side.

    Note well: I am talking about applause after the homily, not before nor after the Mass.

    The comments that have preceded this one have been well stated and calmly communicated. That is the hallmark of the behavior of readers. The one that came from me about the "AMEN" during the homily says what I think about that. Now, that, I think, at the right time and not habitually done, is preferable to applause.

    The above quotes are a sign that the problem of applause during and after a homily is not a contemporary phenomenon. It is well recorded that St. John Chrysostom, "Golden Tongue", would often remind the audience that silence and a meditative attitude were preferable to applause. Maybe that's one reason why he is a Saint, he warned people to keep quiet. When is the last time you saw that happen?

    Lately, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the European clergy warning them that delivering stage performance homilies with the goal of causing applause was outside of the spirit of the Liturgy. You know, I agree with him. Here's why.

    Joe Catholic is out there in the back row, right close to the exit. This one Sunday comes a visiting priest who talks loudly, tells jokes, stomps up and down and across the front of the church, waves his hands and really crosses the "T's" and dots the "I's" that Joe Catholic hasn't heard crossed and dotted for a long time. So, when the applause starts, he says, "wow, this is great!" and so he joins in. I've been there. I've heard that applause. I sit there and ask myself, "How many of these people really know what this priest said? How many of them can judge the theology that he shouted out at them with such conviction? Who are they to judge the exactitude of his statements? How many of the engineers, accountants and lawyers in the audience are sufficiently prepared to judge the priest's application of his Theology and Biblical studies to allow themselves to applaud the content of the homily?

    Let's get practical. If you hear a homily about ecumenism and the priest is talking about getting along with non-Catholics and you think that is a good idea. You applaud whether or not you know that this fits the description of ecumenism. Have you been snookered? or the priest?

    Brothers and sisters: Hold your applause. I can guarantee you, 95% of you won't know what you are applauding. Let the priest walk away with his own perception of his "success". Bring what you hear home with you and meditate upon it so that you can walk away with your own perception and conviction of what God wanted to teach you that day.

    If you do that, you will be convinced that you will not have to cry at my funeral.

  12. Anonymous2:25 PM

    I simply thank the priest personally for a beautiful homily. Priest should hear from the congregation they are human. It touches their spirit when a brother or sister reaches out to them. "GOD'S WORK WELL DONE".

  13. I could not agree more.

  14. Anonymous5:56 PM

    I prefer silence after the Homily to comtemplate God's word and the Homily. I don't feel it's appropriate to applaud. I would let the priest know after Mass if the Homily was exceptionally good and meaningful.