Some time ago I was hearing confessions after Mass and there was so much noise in the Church from people talking that I could not actually hear the penitent clearly. I decided it was really time I exercised some pastoral authority in the matter. I hope that I was reasonably kindly in explaining to people over many weeks about the importance of respectful quiet in the Church.
I reminded people that Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament and that the Church is the House of God. Everywhere else in Blackfen, including nowadays the local library, we can talk to each other. In the Church we should be talking to God. Whilst it is good for us to meet and greet each other and make friends before and after Mass outside the Church, in the Hall or the Social Club, the Church is the one place that is set aside for prayer. I said that conversations held in the Church make it difficult for others to pray, that is was a good thing to make a preparation before and thanksgiving after Mass and that we should allow people to use the Church for this purpose. From that time, I have tried to ensure that I always say some prayers in the sanctuary before and after every Mass.
It took a little while but now people are used to the Church being quiet before Mass. There is still some ground to cover in the period after Mass but I think it is a bit quieter.
Anyway, it seems to have been noticed. The Mother of a very good family in the parish told me that they went to another parish on Christmas Eve to attend the Vigil Mass with relatives. The Church was full and everyone was talking - there was quite a bit of noise. The young daughter turned to Mum and whispered "Fr Finigan would have a fit!"