Monday, September 15, 2014

Mass Etiquette: 20 Things To Do And Not Do In Mass

Mass Etiquette: 20 Things To Do And Not Do In Mass
  1. Fast before Mass. It is Church law that one fasts for at least 1 hour before receiving Holy Communion. Water and medicine can be consumed, of course. The purpose is to help us prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. 
  2. No Food and Drink in Church. The exceptions would be a drink for small children, water for the priest or choir (if discreet) and water for those who are ill. Bringing a snack into church is not appropriate, because we want to set the church apart as a place of prayer and reflection.
  3. Men take your hats off. It is impolite to wear a hat into a church for a man. While this is a cultural norm, it is one that we ought to follow closely. Just as we take off hats for the Pledge of Allegiance, we do so in church too; as a sign of respect.
  4. Don't chew gum in church. It breaks your fast, it’s distracting, it is consider impolite in a formal setting, and it doesn't help us pray better. Can you imagine the Pope popping gum in during Mass?
  5. Cross yourself with Holy Water on entering and leaving the church. This is a reminder of our Baptism, which made us members of Christ's Church. Just try to remain mindful of what is happening when you do so and don't do it without saying a prayer.
  6. Dress modestly and appropriately. Wear your Sunday Best. As Catholics we believe that God comes down to meet us at every Mass. So, why would we not dress up? 
  7. Show up at least a few minutes early. If for some reason you can't be on time, then try to sit in the back so you don't disturb others. Getting to Mass early allows you to pray and prepare yourself better for Mass.
  8. Cell phones should never be used in Mass for calls or texting. The exceptions are emergencies (big ones, not everyday ones) and if you do use one, please walk out of church to do so. Also, if you are using the phone for readings or prayers, this is appropriate, but try to be discreet.
  9. Don't sit on the edge of the pew if you sit down before others. Rather, sit in the middle so others don't have to climb over you. Furthermore - Gentlemen offer their seats to a any lady (elderly, disabled, etc) who must stand. Some churches, like ours, get packed. We live in Texas (Howdy!). In Texas men don't sit when a woman is standing. 
  10. When we enter and leave Church, genuflect toward the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake. By allowing our right knee to hit the floor, we acknowledge He is our Lord and God. If someone is physically unable to genuflect, then a bow is sufficient. During Mass, if you pass in front of the altar or tabernacle, bow reverently.
  11. Please be quiet while in church. Once you enter the sanctuary - it is not the time or place to visit with those around you. If you must talk do so as quietly and briefly as possible. Remember that your conversation might be disturbing someone who is in prayer, which is much more important. Sssshhhhhhhh.
  12. Take loud children to the back. Every parent knows that sometimes the baby is going to have a bad day. Don't make everyone else's day bad as well. Sit on the end of a pew, if you can, and take the kid to the back quickly. Don't wait too long before you make a move. There is no reason to be embarrassed about having to quiet your child in the back of the church. It is worse to allow them to disturb Mass continually.
  13. Prepare your offering before Mass. Christ tells us not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you make your offering. Keeping the basket while you get your wallet out can sometimes become quite a scene. For tips on tithing, check this out.
  14. No bulletin reading during Mass. Imagine if you invited a guest to your house and before dinner (or during) they decided to read a magazine instead of talking to you. That is what is happening in God's house when you read the bulletin.
  15. Respect Boundaries others may have. You might want to hold hands to pray, they may not. They might be sick and not want to shake during the sign of peace. These are all OK. Do not make any unnecessary judgment because they worship differently.
  16. Bow before receiving Holy Communion. If it is God, then show your respect with a bow of the head. This is an ancient practice that has continued until this day.
  17. Do not receive from the chalice if you are sick. This is an act of charity and it is not necessary to receive in order to receive the entirety of Jesus' body, blood, soul, and divinity.
  18. Do not leave early. We should stay to the end of the recession and the hymn that accompanies it, if there is one. While there are certainly exceptions to this guideline, most who leave early don't need to and ought not to.
  19. Pray after Mass, if you feel called to do so. It is a good custom, though not required, to offer a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass is over. 
  20. Leave quietly. We encourage you to visit with others, but once you are outside of the main sanctuary of the church so you won't disturb others who want to stay and pray. So, please leave quietly and then have then visit afterward.


andi said...

I agree with all except 9 as it is worded. There are good reasons that one might need to be on the end. From being a reader or EM, to claustrophobia, the need to be able to reach a rest room quickly, leg problems, or what not. As long as that person on the end will get up ( not forcing them to climb over) to let others in - why should they be prevented from sitting where works best for them?

Jerry Subrosa said...

Thank you so much for this! It gives me such negative emotion to see people dressed in flip-flops and bathing suits, among the many different outfits (Football jerseys!) at Mass. And the nonchalant genuflections, taking off after receiving communion, and many more things that are just bad manners. I'll pass a copy along to our priest..

Thanks again! and God bless you,
Jerry G.

bluethunder said...

Noisy child. Encourage them to sit in front because they might feel being unwelcomed. The "regular" mass-goers my simply understand and give a kind nod to a parent struggling to quiet a child. The disciples were rebuked once by Jesus when they prevented children approaching the Lord.

J.O. said...

Chewing gum at Mass is NEVER ok, not just for the reasons you mentioned, but because it can lead to desecration of the Blessed Sacrament--for example, if someone takes Communion with gum in their mouth, or if they pop a piece of gum in their mouth right after receiving Communion. Multiple times I have had to correct people on this, even right before or after Communion, to my total horror. To me this reflects a lack of faith in the Real Presence - people have no idea Who and What they are receiving in Holy Communion. If someone has such severe dry mouth that they can't make it even through an hour Mass, there are other ways to deal with that. NO GUM!

B said...

It is our cross to bear... i am easily annoyed by the little things be it at mass or inside the elevator... till things change i pray for the patience and the grace not to react and give in to my emotion. it is in these little things that God is present... not much in the profound...

i agree with the list... but there will always something that will annoy us... the church is not quick to respond about these things... maybe do an announcement before the final blessing...

may i add? how about reserving seats... maybe one seat is acceptable but if you cannot come early you do not deserve a seat... unless ofcourse the old and the sick

Unknown said...

I have encouraged many young parents with antsy young children to sit in the front pew so the child can see what's going on. Can you imagine the view for a 2 ft. high toddler in the middle of the church? When they tried the front pew, amazed at the difference. I agree with another comment here that worshipers can overlook the unruly child and believe there are real long term benefits for family together worship.

Carlos Mejias said...

It is nice to have some common senses guidelines. We all should try to be Jesuscrist Like, meaning that is not what enter the body what is bad or evil, is what comes out of all of us....our prejudices, our lack of empathy, lack of Love or at least understanding and concerns. So lets worry more about the wooden Beam in our eye before wanted to tell our sister or brother about the splinter on them. And last in today Luke Gospel 7,31-35: Jesus said to what shall I compare the people of this generation.....

Carlos Mejias said...

Children are the future Catholic goers.... so lets not be so insensitive about children been children.... we all must become like children to enter in the glory of GOD.

mater101 said...

Apologies to the "let the children sound off" during Mass supporters.
Please consider:
Many of the Sunday group, do NOT go to daily quiet Mass...Sunday is IT for them. The priest has spent more than adequate time preparing his sermon, homily for the Sunday Mass. It is a measure of common sense and respect to quickly remove All distractions when the priest is trying to address the congregation. That includes any child created distraction. Put yourself in the place of the Pastor, you would appreciate the consideration.
Jesus said, allow the children to come to me....(but it was NOT during the Sermon on the Mount.)!

Gayle Weber said...

I am a catachumen and cannot yet receive communion so we have to be considerate of those who do and likewise, like putting the kneeling bench up so others can pass by or even stepping outside of the pew to let others pass. It is sometimes awkward but God knows our heart.

JumpsterGal said...

I was embarrassed when my husband started wearing flip flops to Mass. He says the doctors can't find a reason for his foot pain and they're the only thing that allows him some relief from the pain. I don't think we can find a good podiatrist soon enough!

JumpsterGal said...

I made the mistake of taking my boys out of Mass when they misbehaved. Now it's a battle and they are old enough to know better.