Quiet Please
Off the Wall, November
09, 2012

I realize what I write is an opinionated column, and what I share are my thoughts at a given time on certain subjects at least as I see them sometimes from experiences that took place in my childhood, schooling years or even living in the present time. So, when I got an email from one of my readers interjecting information into one of my stories, I was taken aback a bit that she didn’t just take the subject matter at face value as so many of my other readers did, but added something that really wasn’t meant to be part of the column at all.

This is what Ida Ishcomb, from Essex, Iowa, said about my column, “My Pew?” “It does become theirs (a church pew) once they are sitting in it.” My view exactly. My belief is that once someone sits down on it, no one can come up to him and tell him to move, that this is his pew. I went on to state that unless a party rents the pew and has his name on the seat, he does not have ownership of it.

This is what she said. “The right of way should always go to the person in prayer! Before we receive the God of our universe in our very bodies…yes, lots of prayer, quiet and peace before Mass…” She continued, “As Catholics we should protect our quiet reverence and a person’s desire to pray prior to Mass. If the whole church was available, then people in conversation can move just as easily…praying before Mass should have the right of way, right? Moving a conversation to accommodate the person in prayer so they can stay in pray - - sets the example of prayer being, well, at the very least, important.”

It goes without saying that I agree with Ishcomb when she stated, “We NEED all the quiet prayerful examples in our parish prior to Mass that we can get,” she said. “Otherwise, how will others find that reverent example?” Good point! But the subject of prayer is a story in and of itself, and my intentions were to keep the subject light, with a little bit of humor tied in. Prayer is not to be taken lightly. Thus, it would not be something I would include if I wrote to expect readers to smile or laugh.

I was talking to another devout Catholic woman who agreed with Ida. “The Church should always be quiet. If you want to talk, go outside and do so after or before Mass, but once you enter inside the area of worship, talking has to cease.”

Then in all due respect, no one should have the audacity to come up to me and tell me to move because I am sitting in his seat. He would be talking, which goes against church teachings.

It is so different than the Protestant churches. I am a convert. When we walked into the place of worship, we would greet our fellow Christians and talk about anything that sparked cheerfulness. I remember one fellow greeted me and asked why I hadn’t been to church the previous Sunday, that I was missed. And he said it in a loud tone of voice. That would definitely be a no no in the Catholic Church.

Attending Mass recently, remembering what Ishcomb said, I decided to put my ears to work. My mind became set as I felt I was kneeling on one side of a social hall. It was very distinct that on one side of the building people gathered and gave no thought to whispering. The noise continued as more parishioners entered. After Mass, groups of people got together toward the front, middle and back aisles. Not one person considered keeping his voice to a whisper. I felt as though the groups of worshippers were there to see and talk to the others, and God, all of a sudden, was pushed out of the picture.

I was happy to the extent that Ida “did get the point of the article and ‘rent a pew’ part was funny.” I hope most of my readers know that many of my columns do have that uplift of humor tied in. Need I tell you, that was my intent here. I wanted people to sense something amusing and let it go at that. Having written well over 400 Off the Wall stories, I was a bit sad that one person didn’t get my drift and tried to make it more than it was.

But that’s life. I can only imagine with everything that I write, there are going to be readers who agree with me or oppose my views. That’s what’s great about this country. I can write as I see things and not worry about being physically harmed for my views. At least, it hasn’t come to that point yet, anyway, and I hope it never does.

So, in the future, if you find that my columns are humorous, take them for what they’re worth. Believe me when I tell you, I will never write serious stories with a comical twist.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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