We’ve had this discussion in our parish and have come down on the side of a reserved and thoughtful silence. Once, somebody gave a gift to our matusha, a woman who deserves our respect and, yes, applause, if anyone does. But people talked to the priest about it. I didn’t hear the comments, but I can just hear the comments: “not dignified,” “church isn’t a theatre,” “it’s not entertainment, Father.”
Well, along comes Seraphim to inform us that in the time of St. John Chrysostom, it was indeed Entertainment!:
It was a longstanding custom for the congregation to applaud in church, or to shout out signs of their disapproval, when bishops preached to them.
Applause, like a lot of things, is cultural, but Seraphim puts the “entertainment” of theology into its context in the glory days of the Golden Tongue.
I’m going to send his post off to my priest.