Throughout the city of Rome - and throughout many of the great cities of Europe - you will see signs dissuading people from entering a church while wearing sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts, and hats on men. Similar signs also forbid the taking of photographs (with or without flash) and even - sadly necessary - from using cell phones.
Over the years, I've advocated similar signs outside our churches in the United States of America, though I've frequently been counseled (I think wrongly) against it. One day in particular stands out as evidence for the need of such signs.
While I was the Parochial Vicar of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Effingham, a man's cell phone rang in the middle of the consecration of the Precious Body of the Lord Jesus. The man took out the phone, looked to see who was calling, and put the phone away. But then his phone rang again in the middle of the consecration of the Precious Blood of the Lord Jesus. He again took out his phone, looked to see who called, then stepped into the aisle - as I elevated the chalice - answered the phone while still in the nave, and left the church. I've no idea who could have been so important to warrant such blatant disrespect toward our Blessed Lord.
It seems nothing is any longer held as sacred in the U.S.A., except sports and especially golf. And, in the U.K., maybe tennis.
Organizers of the Augusta National have banned cell phones at this weekend's event, and golf fans do not seem to mind:
The historic Georgia golf course's policy is embraced by golfers and fans as part of the it’s mystique and forces people to fellowship more, interact and socialize.Derek Jensen, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told the Associated Press Wednesday that his itch to post and share passed quickly as he and three friends wandered the course."It's part of the mystique of this place," said Jeff Nelson of Rockford, Illinois. "Everybody knows there's no phones, so that becomes part of the whole cool thing. It's like we know we can't use the phones. It becomes part of the experience of knowing you're going to have to turn that phone in because you can't have a phone at the Masters."
We can ban cell phones at a golf tournament, but not in a church. It's a very sad direction in which our society is heading.