Catholic Etiquette

Attending Mass
For Catholics, the Mass is a very solemn and sacred event in which they are renewed in faith by their encounter with the Real Presence of Jesus Christ and grow as a communion together with the universal Church. During this sacred moment of prayer it is important to keep a few things in mind when attending Mass:

  1. Please be considerate and arrive in the Church before the Mass begins. It is considered disrespectful to arrive after the Mass has begun. The opening and closing of doors, the movement of people to their pews and the distrubing of people to accomodate people arriving late is very distracting to some very important moments in the Mass.
  2. Chewing gum is NEVER appropriate in a Church. Catholics especially who will be receiving communion should never chew gum prior to Mass or even during Mass for they would violate the Eucharist Fast and therefore would not be able to receive communion.
  3. As in most important moments, cell phones ringing, buzzing or people texting is highly inappropriate. Please turn off your phones prior to the Mass beginning. It is NEVER appropriate to answer your phone in the Church or make a call. Emergencies are obvious exceptions.
  4. While the Church never imposes a dress code, it is a sign of our interior disposition, that is a sign of how important we consider coming to Mass. It is not appropriate for men to wear shorts or t-shirts at Mass. It is also not appropriate for women to dress immodestly. Men must never wear a hat or cap while women are allowed to wear something covering their heads. No one should wear sunglasses in the church unless for health reasons. 
  5. Please do not eat or drink in the Church. The only time this happens is in the sacred moment of Holy Communion.
  6. Silence is most appreciated in the Church. The Church is a House of Prayer, please refrain from carrying conversations in the Church.
  7. While we always welcome and desire to have children be an active part of our parish community, we ask that parents help to keep children well behaved. Patience is always afforded to crying infants, but parents are asked to be as curteous as you can be for others trying to pray and listen. Children should never be allowed to wander around the church, it is appropriate for them to stay with their family.

Prior to Mass

  1. As you enter into the Church it is part of our custom to bless ourselves with Holy Water making the Sign of the Cross.   This ritual is also repeated upon leaving the Church.   It is a reminder of our Baptism, that we are children of God, and members of the Body of Christ the Church. 
  2. As find our seats, it is important to make a genuflection as we enter the row as a sign of reverence and respect for the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle.   To make a proper geneuflection bend the right knee to touch the ground, a sign of our acknowledgement of Jesus' Divinity.
  3. Custom dictates that when we have found our seat we kneel in prayer briefly.   This is great opportunity to offer to God gratitude/thanksgiving or make our petitions that we intend to pray for during Mass.  

Reception of Holy Communion

  1. FOR CATHOLICS: As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

  2. FOR NON-CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS: We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

    Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).

  3. FOR THOSE NOT RECEIVING COMMUNION:  All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.  

    It most appropriate for those not receiving communion to remain in their places in prayer.   It is recommended that they offer a Spiritual Communion