Mass etiquette for a non-Catholicgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
I attend Mass weekly and I always feel terribly uncomfortable because I am not sure what activities, prayers and motions I am “allowed” to participate in. I know I am forbidden to receive the Eucharist, something I did unintentionally as a small child and was severely scolded for, but I would like to know if there are other things I should/should not do while in mass. Usually I abstain from touching the holy water, making the sign of the cross, kneeling before entering the pews, and kneeling during communion. I do participate in prayer and song, when I know what to say, and offer my hand to my neighbors during the appropriate time. I also say hello to the Father and shake his hand when I leave, I am guessing that is ok because he knows I am not of the faith because of my upcoming wedding. Also, my fiancé is a Eucharistic minister as well as a lecturer and I noticed there are other members of the church that read or lead songs (sorry I don’t know the appropriate term for the melodies sung in the church) are these activities strictly reserved for those of the faith? If so are community activites sponsored by the church also limited to those of the faith? Meaning if I volunteered to help at a function would I be allowed? Secondly many times during my lunch break I spend time in the Catholic church across the street where I pray and light a candle for my brother and sister who are both suffering from serious illnesses. I wanted to know if, as a non-Catholic, I am allowed to do such things. Thank you ~ Emelyn
-- Emelyn (email@example.com), August 11, 2004
I want to appologize in advance if I have offended anyone by not capitalizing words that I should have. I am not sure which ones have to be capitalized in order to show respect, but I am aware that I may have missed some in my question.
-- Emelyn (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 11, 2004.
you are more than welcome to engage in many of the church activities. you SHOULD be making the sign of the cross using the Holy Water, you SHOULD be kneeling during communion, you SHOULD be kneeling before entering the pews (if the tabernacle is on the altar) or bowing (if the tabernacle is not on the altar). you SHOULD be participating in the singing/praying/offering the sign of peace/etc.
you MAY offer to sing with the choir or lead songs (dependant on the parish). you MAY help at catholic functions outside of mass. you MAY greet the priest afterwards. you MAY light candles for your special intentions.
you MAY NOT partake of any of the sacraments without the proper training and preparation/disposition (ie- no taking communion, no going to confession, etc). you MAY NOT volunteer to be a eucharistic minister (passing out Communion). you MAY NOT be a God- parent to a catholic, nor a confirmation sponsor. simple rule of thumb: do as the majority of the catholics do, without taking communion.
-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), August 11, 2004.
When you attend a Catholic Mass, you are welcome to participate fully, except for reception of the Eucharist. Any of the other items you mentioned would be perfectly acceptable as long as you feel comfortable with them. Before you do such things as use holy water, make the sign of the cross, or genuflect before entering the pew, you might look into the significance of such acts from the Catholic perspective. If you can accept the significance, then there is no reason to refrain from the act. Eucharistic ministers and readers have official liturgical functions, and should be Catholic. Choir members usually are also, but there is no strict rule about that, and I know of some exceptions. As for non-liturgical functions sponsored by the parish, there are no such rules. We have a number of functions in our parish in which non-Catholics participate, such as a Christmas bazaar to raise funds for our social services ministry, and a weekly soup kitchen for the needy.
-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), August 11, 2004.
Hi all ! I just discovered this site a few days ago and first off want to say it has been very helpful to me and my husband as we (and our children) are in the process of converting from being Baptist all of our lives....Thank you.
Emelyn, I had the same questions as you did, and the first few masses we attended we felt really lost and didn't know what to do, but I asked a friend who is catholic and she gave me the same advise as Paul gave to you. It is appropriate to do almost everything, except take the eucharist . After that first awkward Sunday we begin to watch and learn from the others, and ask questions when we wanted to know something. Now it feels natural to bless ourselves with the holy water and to kneel when we get to our seat, or to say the prayers and sing the songs. The whole conversion process is a joyous blessing and my family and I are looking foward to the day when we are confirmed in the Church.
-- Suzanne (email@example.com), August 11, 2004.
I am so excited to hear about your conversion! What a blessing. I too am converting from Protestant and will join the Catholic Church next Easter. I am so glad that God has brought us home to His Church!
Thank you for the respect that you have shown Catholics in your post. I am not sure whether you are converting, but nonetheless I am so pleased to hear that you are attending a Catholic church. I always get an overwhelming sense of God's presence during the mass - it is like nothing else in the world. God has truly blessed us with a wonderful gift of his presence.
I have been attending the Catholic Church regularly since last February, and I'm still catching on to some of the things we do during the mass. It is a long process, but the meaning of everything is very significant. I have found a profound depth of insight into things, the more I study. I am in awe at the presence of God and the reverence of His people in the Catholic Church. I feel God so strongly that I long to pass by the tabernacle and kneel before the Eucharist. Pray that God would make His presence known to you there if He has not already done so. May God bless you in your journey!
-- Emily ("firstname.lastname@example.org), August 11, 2004.
To all non-Catholics who wish they could receive Holy Communion,
Do what I do: attend Holy Hour. It's not the same thing, but it's still wonderful.
-- JJ (email@example.com), August 11, 2004.
What is "Holy Hour"? If by this you mean Eucharistic Adoration, then I agree that it is wonderful. I have never heard it called that before, though.
JJ reminded me of a beautiful prayer that I heard on EWTN radio for those not able to receive communion. I made a new thread about it, which can be found here: Prayer for Those Not Receiving Communion.
-- Emily ("firstname.lastname@example.org), August 11, 2004.
Emily, yes, Holy Hour = Eucharistic Adoration.
The most recent one I did was at the Franciscan friary in the Bronx, the same one where you can usually find Frs. Groeschel and Apostoli. Unfortunately, they weren't there at the time (last Saturday evening) but the brothers did a beautiful service. I can't wait to go back again!
-- JJ (nospam.@nospam.com), August 11, 2004.
Thank you for the warm reception Emily. We started attending Mass back in April. We were both raised and baptized in the Southern Baptist church. We got married when I was 15 and he was 19 and I was expecting our first child. We moved out of our parents homes and needless to say weren't faithful about goin to church at all. Then a cousin asked us to attend with him at his church. He was the pastor of the Church of Christ. We attended there for a while and then went back to my mother's church for a while, but never really felt a longing and a pulling of the heart in either. My very best friend who is Catholic asked if Brad and I would want to come to Mass with her. I was almost afraid to ask Brad (Like me he had alot of misconceptions about the Catholic faith.), but he agreed to go, and boy was it an eye opener for us both! We found our home that day, and have never turned back. It was wonderful! After so many years of searching, we found where we truly belonged. It has been quite a journey for our oldest three daughters who are 15 and 13 year old twins, but they have come to love Mass and the people there just as we have. Out son (7) just sorta fell right into it and Father Ed says he will have an easy time, because he will in essence grow up in the church and never know anything else, which is perfect. There is so much to learn, but oh what a blessing it is to learn it! I learned to recite the Rosary and began to sit down with Brad and the kids every night before bed to pray it. Now they all know it by memory....No papers with the prayers needed anymore! It is very powerful and moving for us all when we pray it. Keep me posted on your journey into the Church and I will you too !
-- Suzanne (email@example.com), August 12, 2004.