Cell Phones in Church??

We’ve all done it, whether we admit it or not — found our mind wandering when it should have been focused.

Perhaps we were stuck in a boring meeting at work when we’d have rather been outside playing golf. Perhaps we were subjected treated to yet another dissertation from a friend bewailing her significant other’s lack of sensitivity, while our thoughts pondered recipes for dinner. Perhaps our children were giving us a blow-by-blow discussion of everything that happened at school that day, while we were trying to navigate traffic.

Wandering minds seems to be a casualty of our busy society. But it’s one thing to have your mind wander. It’s another to be actively distracted.

Take this weekend, for instance.

I was at church when a father, mother, and their teenaged daughter entered the pew right in front of me.

Now, whose mind hasn’t on occasion wandered at church? There’s something familiar and soothing about the recitation of the prayers. And Saturday evening Mass is sandwiched between the busyness of the day and the calm of the evening.

Too, most priests aren’t “fire-and-brimstone” preachers. They read their homilies from a stationary position, droning on until suddenly, you realize they’re done and you have no idea what they said! Teachers must encounter the same blank stares from an audience that’s primed on excitement and drama, on 15- and 30-second TV slots (or worse, instant surfing on the Internet!)

I digress.

The teen in front of me spent most of the Mass checking her smart phone, texting friends and the like.

Oh, she tried to hide it. She kept it in her palm or tucked it in the waistband of her jeans. But she was texting. No doubt.

Domer, seated to my left, recognized it right away. To my right, Mom was oblivious.

The girl’s parents, perhaps fearing her anger, didn’t bother reminding her that cell phones don’t belong in church. Nor did they insist she put it away or turn it off.

Tacit acceptance.

Maybe she had a legitimate excuse for texting in church, but I can’t think what would be so important that it couldn’t wait 45 minutes.

Maybe her parents were just relieved she was there, perhaps assuming that meant she wouldn’t “fall away.”

Sorry, but attendance in body and not in mind isn’t really attendance.

Is it?

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18 thoughts on “Cell Phones in Church??

  1. You know what would be totally fun? To somehow send her an anonymous text message saying, “This is God. Pay attention. Thank you.” I don’t know how one would do that, but I’m sure it could happen.

    • I love the way your mind works! Wish I’d thought of that (of course, I didn’t know her phone number so it would have been impossible — for me, at any rate!). Not discounting a miracle, though. After all, it was in church!

  2. Love Hippies suggestion, too funny! Some don’t turn their phones off for anything! I hate when I am with someone in person and they are testing while supposedly speaking with me! Oh, and the people who don’t turn their phones off in theaters or other places with posted signs stating to turn it off. Wasn’t there a big tado about one of the celebrities (one of the Baldwin brothers I think) because he wouldn’t turn his phone off on the airplane?

    • I agree, Suzi. In fact, our church has recognized the problem and has a sign posted outside for people to turn off their cell phones before entering! It’s just common courtesy, I think, to leave the phone in your car if you can’t resist the urge to use it. And for people to text while talking in person to somebody else — well, that just sounds rude to me!

  3. Unless you’re paying attention, attending church service doesn’t “count”. I’m surprised the parents didn’t say anything…then again, maybe I’m not :)

    I hope some of the message seeped into her subconscious mind, anyway.

    • I was surprised her parents didn’t insist she put it away, too. They didn’t have phones on, so at least they were trying to be good role models. Still, she wasn’t too old to stand corrected!

  4. Love the “message from God” idea. IMO Church is not an appropriate place to text and check messages. I do remember one very long winter school concert where I was in good company while I checked my messages and texted my fellow parents asking, “Will this ever end??” Parents of teens need to pick there battles but I think texting during church is one I would pick.

    • I tend to agree, Kb. We’ve all been stuck in lengthy, “boring” activities where it’s so much easier and enjoyable to do something else. However, shouldn’t that kid have been reminded that this is considered “the short Mass,” and surely her BFFs could wait 45 minutes to hear from her?!

    • Sadly, our priest has had to do just that! Even then, every so often we still hear cell phone tunes chiming out periodically. It’s truly distracting, much the way it is when you’re trying to listen to a concert or watch a movie. Too bad good manners aren’t a prerequisite for getting a cell phone!

  5. Debbie, Oh my have you struck a chord here.”Turn off your cell phones” has become a routine message before Mass. I absolutely love Hippie’s “this is God” text. Brilliant! I find that some parents tend to be afraid of their teens these days. It’s too bad these parents couldn’t set those limits. I like your idea of “good manners being a prerequisite for getting a cell phone.”

    • Thanks for affirming I’m not crazy, Monica! Church and cell phones just don’t mix. If I (seated behind her) could see what she was doing, I know her parents (seated beside her) did. Even older kids need boundaries to know they’re loved!

  6. I think the parents should have asked their daughter to put the phone away. Chances are she still wouldn’t be paying attention, but if the parents pretend not to notice or not care, the daughter will only think she has their approval to play with her phone in church.

    • Sounds like a reasonable solution to me. It really does come down to parenting, doesn’t it? And as long as a kid is under your roof, he/she should be subject to your rules (not to mention, that girl’s parents were probably the ones paying for her phone!)

  7. What happenned to the good old days of just writing and passing notes? LOL! My kids would not have done that because I would have set rules about texting, phones and stayed on top of this. It’s up to the parents to set the rules and be consistant about seeing it through.

    • I totally agree! My son wouldn’t dare behave this way, especially in church. It’s just a matter of respect — for God, one’s parents, and the rest of the congregation.

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