Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mass Etiquette

In a couple weeks, we will have some new Catholics! All across the world, converts to the Faith will be fully initiated during the Rites conducted during the Easter Vigil.

Part of their instruction is giving them a small course in Mass Etiquette. I borrowed very liberally from a post on "Aggie Catholics" then just kind of St. John'd it up a bit.

You may want to take a look yourself. There's always room for improvement. Even with the priest!
Not everyone is a hugger!

  1. Fast before Mass. It is Church law that one fasts for at least 1 hour before receiving Holy Communion. The only exceptions are medicine, water or unless someone is ill and needs to eat sooner.
  2. No Food and Drink in Church.
  3. Out of respect, men should remove their hats/caps. Women, still, may wear a veil.
  4. Never chew gum in church! It breaks your fast and it’s distracting! 
  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.
  6. Dress modestly and appropriately. Dressing up in your “Sunday Best” is also acceptable! 
  7. Cell phones should never be used in Mass for calls or texting. No exceptions. Even if you are waiting on that call that your liver is in at the hospital, take the call outside of the church!
  8. When we enter and leave Church, genuflect toward the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake and 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 (although technically a genuflection is still the proper gesture).
  9. Sit quietly while in church. Remember that your conversation might be disturbing someone who is in prayer, which is much more important.
  10. Respect the gestures of the Liturgy: Kneel, stand and sit when the liturgy calls for it. There is no time for “handholding” or “hugging” during the Lord’s Prayer or the Sign of Peace but be respectful of people’s boundaries.
  11. Bow before receiving Holy Communion. If it is God, then show your respect with a profound bow from the hip.
  12. Don’t BODY SNATCH the Host! You may either take communion by the hand or on the tongue but do so with reverence.(SEE BELOW)
  13. Do not leave early. We should stay to the end of the recession and the hymn that accompanies it, if there is one.
  14. Leave quietly. Leave others to prayer but you can visit outside.

    And as much as I wanna dump this on getting a new pope, I can't. Here's my new, revised, enlightened and researched (online for about 20 minutes) commentary on taking communion.

  1. Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the “real presence” of Christ. It is not just a symbol or a recreation but the actual presence of Christ is in the host and cup. During Mass, receiving the host and cup must be an act of devotion and respect.
  2. The Catholic approaches the minister and makes a simple bow, from the waist, and then may extend his/her hands (the left hand under the right) to take the host.
  3. Standing is the ordinary position of taking communion, at least currently, but tradition has held that kneeling is also proper. Be respectful of the traditions of the parish when choosing a posture.
  4. The minister says, “The body of Christ” and the Catholic responds, “AMEN”. The minister places the host in his/her right hand and the communicant then is to bring the host to their mouth and consume it.*
  5. If the communicant chooses they may also receive on the tongue. He/she makes the same bowing gesture and then after saying, “AMEN”, the Catholic opens his/her mouth and extends the tongue far enough to take the host.
  6. One may either gently chew the host or it may be more preferable to allow the host to dissolve in one’s mouth.
  7. When the communion cup is present, one goes to the cup, the minister will say, “The Blood of Christ” and the Catholic responds, “AMEN”. The chalice is handed to him/her and he/she takes a modest sip of the Precious Blood and then returns the chalice to the minister.
  8. Receiving from the cup is optional in most parishes.
  9. Upon returning to his/her seat, the Catholic may kneel or be seated in prayer. They are encouraged to pray an “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” or to silently say, “Sacrament Most Holy, Sacrament Divine, All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine”. Prayers of need and gratitude may be also done silently.
  10. When the priest has returned to his seat, the communicant is to be seated (if kneeling).

*In 1969, Pope Paul VI granted permission to receive the wafer in the hand, echoing the ancient instructions of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who wrote around the year 350 A.D.: “When you approach Holy Communion, make the left hand into a throne for the right, which will receive the King. “ The pope added to this: “Then with your lower hand, take the consecrated Host and place it in your mouth.”