Church Etiquette

Church Etiquette

1.  Please try to be on time for Mass.  Entering the church once Mass has begun is a distraction to the congregation.  Coming early helps you to find a place to sit and gives you time to prepare mentally and spiritually for Mass.  Remind children to take care of any necessities before Mass begins and make sure all cell phones are turned off.

2.  On entering church be mindful that you are entering the house of God.  We begin our personal prayer at the entrance by making the sign of the cross with holy water which reminds us of our baptism.  At this point there should be no chewing gum, candy, and idle conversation should cease out of respect for others who have already gathered in prayer.

3.  When entering the pew we should genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament to acknowledge the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle.

4.  On entering the pew, try to move to the center.  We should always begin by kneeling and making the sign of the cross; even if we have arrived after Mass has begun.  During this initial preparation time we should try to clear our minds of distractions as best we can and reflect on why we are here.  We leave the world behind with all its noise and activity and direct our minds and hearts to God.

5.  After we have completed this initial preparation, we may want to look over the Sunday readings and quietly reflect on the theme of the Sunday Liturgy.

6.  When Mass begins, be ready to open the hymnal to the designated page and join in the processional hymn.  The Sunday Liturgy is the universal prayer of the Church throughout the world.  We lift our hearts to God in hymns of praise as we begin our common worship.

7.  In the introductory prayers we begin with the penitential rite wherein we call to mind our sins in a general way and ask the Lord for pardon and mercy.  We strike our breast during the words, "through my own fault" to symbolize our unworthiness before our merciful Lord.

8.  We are then seated for the proclamation of the Word of God.  We should be attentive and listen with both our minds and hearts.  We may want to follow along in the missalettes or Worship hymnals if that seems helpful.  God speaks to each one of us in His Word.  The Liturgy of the Word prepares us for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

9.  After the homily, we stand for the Profession of Faith and make a reverential bow during the words, "by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man," in honor of the Incarnation of Christ.  The Liturgy of the Word is completed through the Prayers of the Faithful and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is begun with the offertory.  The Eucharistic Prayer is the most solemn part of the Mass.

10.  After the Holy, Holy, Holy, the entire congregation kneels as we prepare for the Consecration.  One should never get up and leave the pew during the Eucharistic Prayer.  Our attention is focused on the altar where, through the words of consecration, our gifts of bread and wine are transubstantiated (changed) into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

11.  As we approach the altar for Holy Communion we should assume an attitude of profound reverence.  We should have fasted from everything except water for one hour before receiving Holy Communion.  We should make a devout sign of reverence before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

12.  One may receive Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand.  If you choose to receive in the hand, please open your hand flat, placing your other hand underneath.  When the Sacred Host is placed on your hand, immediately consume the Host using your free hand to place the Host in your mouth.  This should be done slowly and reverently.  It should go without saying that our hands are to be clean before receiving the Body of Christ.  When the priest say, "the Body of Christ" the faithful respond, "Amen."

13.  If you are holding a small child, please receive Communion on the tongue.  It is often too difficult to use both hands and there is a danger of dropping the Host or the baby.

14.  If the Host is dropped, allow the priest or extraordinary minister of Communion to pick the Host up and consume our Eucharistic Lord himself/herself.

15.  When we return to our pews we should assume a kneeling position.  This is a very special time of prayer, thanksgiving, and meditation.  Our Blessed Lord is so very close to us in these intimate moments immediately after receiving Holy Communion.  This is a good time to ask the Lord for special favors to deepen our faith and love for Him.

16.  The practice of leaving Mass after Communion or any time before the final blessing is irreverent and hardly worth the two or three minutes saved.  Many people have the practice of kneeling back down after Mass is over to say prayers of thanksgiving.  Out of respect for the Blessed Sacrament and those in prayer, all visiting should be done in the vestibules, narthex, or outside.