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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

Why can’t I chew gum in church?

Neela Kale Answers:

A church building is a special place calling for special behavior. While the church is our home and we should feel comfortable there – indeed, the church (small “c”) is a gathering place for the Church, the people of God (capital “C”) – that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Your actions in church show respect for God and for the community that gathers there. If you are stopping by the church to pray, even just for a moment, your actions should respect the place and its purpose.

Spit out your gum, turn off your cell phone, check that you’re appropriately dressed and make the most of the precious opportunity to step away from the ordinary and into a sacred space and time. If you are in the church for mass and you wish to go to communion, remember that Catholics are required to fast for one hour before receiving the Eucharist. This ensures that we are “hungry” (at least symbolically) for the Eucharist and that we show respect for the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is real food, but it is not ordinary food, and thus we don’t mix it in with bites of our ordinary food and drink. Snacking or chewing gum distracts us from the sacred fast that prepares us to receive the Body of Christ. So there’s one more reason to lose the gum.

 
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The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Veronica

    I guess I’m old-school. In parochial school, where I received my First Communion and Confirmation, we were taught to NEVER chew gum in church. As Neela says, the Host is real and Extraordinary food. We should not have any other kind of food or drink in our mouths when we receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Even if you don’t receive communion, you still shouldn’t chew gum in church. Would you smack and blow bubbles with gum if you were standing in a court of law, and in front of a judge? Or would you chew gum during a funeral service? God deserves RESPECT and HONOR above these two examples, and chewing gum or snacking in a church does not respect or honor Him.

  • Warren Songbird

    I’m a bug!

  • CARMEN

    Your relationship with GOD has nothing to do with chewing gum in church.Chewing gum in church does not make or break my relationship with GOD.I have a very strong foundation in GOD.

    GOD bless all of you
    carmen

  • Heather

    In addition to all of these very good liturgical reasons – perhaps a practical one is that you cannot properly SING with gum in your mouth!

  • George

    Having knelt in discarded gum that someone carelessly left on a kneeler, I can think of some very practical reasons why gum-chewing is not appropriate in church.

  • Steve

    I think another reason why gum chewing should be avoided is that it is often a distraction for others. No matter how hard you can try, gum chewers always make some noise and look odd when their jaws bounce up and down.

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