Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith has a few ideas:
- Start the Mass on time. If it says six o’clock, then let it be six o’clock, not five past or seven past.
- The priest should turn up in good time. Seeing a flustered looking chap rush in at one minute to does not help. After all, Mass is important, and for important events we always turn up in good time, don’t we? Besides, ones needs to prepare.
- Wear a chasuble, and make sure it is the correct colour.
- When you preach, it really is not a good idea to go on too long. And to help you keep within a reasonable time frame it is a good idea to plan the sermon. Less really is more when it comes to saying things: say it concisely and people may get what you are saying; say it in a prolix manner and your meaning may well get lost in the verbiage.
And for the people?
- Don’t answer your mobile in Church. And when you do, which you should not, do not converse in a loud voice on the said phone, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. In fact, just switch the thing off.
- Arrive on time.
- Yes, you have lots of important things to discuss with your neighbour, but surely they can wait twenty minutes? After Mass, you can talk to your heart’s content. During Mass, talk to God. Silently.
- Leave your shopping alone. No need to rustle through the contents of that bag at all.
Those are for starters. Read the rest. And I might add a few of my own:
- Prepare. That goes for the priest and the people. Have an idea of what feast or saint is being celebrated and, if you have time, glance at the readings. Know what you’re getting into. Priests, especially, should go over the collect and the gospel and practice both aloud. I have lost track of how many times a priest has had to start, stop, and restart the opening prayer (especially given the new translation) because it didn’t quite go the way he thought it would.
- Pray. The Mass is a prayer. Treat it as such.
- Father, don’t be afraid of silence. Everything doesn’t have to be said, chanted, sung, explained. A little quiet is a good thing. The Holy Spirit will appreciate it, because that’s where He does His best work.
- Don’t rush. Take your time. And really: less is more. If you’re preaching, don’t feel like you have to spend 10 minutes elaborating on what can be better said in five.
- If you’re in the pews, keep your food at home. Snacking at Mass—even for kids—is inappropriate. And distracting. And frequently obnoxious.
- Silence your cell phones. I remember fondly one Mass when the second collection was about to begin. Someone’s phone went off, with the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance. The priest didn’t miss a beat. “Now, fittingly, we’re going to pass the hat,” he cracked. But would that have been funny during the consecration?
- Finally—and I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will—Father, don’t pick your nose on the altar.