Friday, August 24, 2007

Etiquette for Mass

From Fr. Jim Tucker. Even a Novus Ordo Mass can be reverent, with a little effort.

Make sure to turn off your cell phone and set your pager to silent before you go into church.

Lower the kneeler on the pew carefully. It’s not meant to be a thunder simulator.

Scoot into the pew as far as you can. This makes it easier for others to take a seat as they arrive.

Church is certainly an appropriate place for children. If yours is prone to make lots of noise, sit toward the rear so that you can take him out if he begins to make a scene. Many churches provide a crying room where one can take crying children for brief periods.

Although there’s a long-standing custom of Catholics saying rosaries and reading prayerbooks during Mass, it has never been considered appropriate to read the bulletin or the New York Times during the sermon.

Plan to arrive at church at least five minutes before Mass begins, and don’t try to beat the priest out the front door at the end. Even better, stay until the closing hymn finishes and linger to offer some prayers of thanksgiving afterward. Besides, the parking lot is crazy right at the end of Mass.

If the parish offers a coffee social after Mass, you are most welcome to go, even if you are not a parishioner or not Catholic.

Even if you are not Catholic, you are most welcome to join in all the prayers, songs, and actions of the Mass. Holy Communion is the only part of the Mass reserved to Catholics who have spiritually prepared themselves for It.

At the Sign of Peace, it is customary to offer the peace of Christ to those around you (in this country, it is usually a handshake). Since it is a sign, you only need to offer it to those beside you (and perhaps to those in front and behind, if you wish). Even if you don’t reach someone, don’t worry: he or she still gets the peace of Christ.

There is no need to come to Mass in a tuxedo or formal gown. As a sign of respect to God and to those at Mass with you, though, it is customary to dress up a bit. As a general rule, one should not wear shorts or come with bare shoulders, low-cut tops, or skirts that are above the knees. Ladies are no longer required to cover their heads in this country, but gentlemen are expected to remove their hats at the door.

Since the church is a house of prayer, one should avoid lengthy or loud conversations. If you need to speak to someone, do so in a lowered voice, even if Mass is not going on. Most churches have a vestibule (sometimes called a “gathering space” or “narthex”) where one is able to converse.

In American churches, one does not typically bring animals in.

It is poor manners to chew gum in church. To go up to Communion with gum in one's mouth is mind-bogglingly poor manners (and arguably a violation of the Communion fast).

Coffee and sweetrolls are often served in parish halls after Masses, but it is inappropriate to eat them in the church itself. It's also inappropriate to bring other food or drinks into church, even if one expects the Mass to be rather long.
Share

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!! Esp. that one about moving as far into the pew as you can...people act as if the end of the pew is some sort of prize that is won by getting to church early...i understand if you have a fussy baby

Vara said...

Can we not boil this down to a single simple statement? Remember that you are in the presence of Almighty God, and DO act accordingly. Everything else is mere commentary.

Vara

Death Bredon said...

"Coffee and sweetrolls are often served in parish halls after Masses, but it is inappropriate to eat them in the church itself. It's also inappropriate to bring other food or drinks into church, even if one expects the Mass to be rather long."

* * * * *

Believe it or not, several Catholic and Anglican parishes in my town offer early "Donut Masses," in which the congregation take provided refreshment in the Nave during the service, especially during the homily!!

Elisa said...

"Parking lot is crazy right after"
The only parking lot that we've got at my parish is reserved for the handicapped in back of the church. The rest of us parishioners have to park and walk from elsewhere. Downtown Frederick is a lovely place to walk any time of year though.