Visitors Etiquette in Church Question

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Messages: 1 - 4 (6 total)

1/7/2004 9:54 PM
1 out of 6

My wife and I have been drawn to Catholicism and intend to approach the local parish about our desire to take the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults at the nearest opportunity. Our question is this - being unbaptised, are we permitted (and welcome) to attend Mass or other prayer services as visitors? If so, are there certain guidelines of etiquette which we should observe? Such as reserved seating for guests, should we kneel during prayer, or upon entering, or conduct ourselves otherwise? As we wish to attend regularly any advise or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.


1/7/2004 10:14 PM
2 out of 6

I would suggest that you contact the parish and ask if you could meet someone, possibly a previous convert, and attend Mass with them. They can direct you in the practices of the local Church. Otherwise, the only restriction is that you should not receive Eucharist. You can sing the songs; stand, sit and kneel when others do, make the sign of the cross and share the sign of peace as you feel comfortable doing. Other than not receiving the Eucharist and the other sacraments, there really are no restrictions. You may participate in the saying of the rosary, etc., if you wish.

Roman Catholics typically place a holy water font near each door. We dip our fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross on ourselves as a reminder of our baptism, and a sign that we are leaving the world and entering sacred ground. As we enter the pew, we genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament if present (it is usually indicated by a lighted candle which is most often red), or bow to the altar if the Blessed Sacrament is not present. We kneel in personal prayer as a way of putting ourselves in God's presence. Afterwards, until Mass begins, I sit and read the day's scripture readings, so that when Mass is taking place I can listen to the word proclaimed as it should be. On your first few visits, you can also spend some time before Mass learning where everything is in the missalette. (If you attend with someone else, as I suggested above, they can help you locate where everything is.) You might want to bring a couple of paper clips to mark the pages so you can find them quickly.

Welcome aboard!


1/8/2004 10:48 AM
3 out of 6

As a visitor you are permitted to participate in the Mass in all aspects except reception of the Eucharist.

3/4/2004 12:33 PM
4 out of 6

I would just like to add that, although you can do anything the Catholics do except take communion, you don't HAVE to do anything. You can march right in, skip the holy water and the genuflecting, sit down in a pew and stay the whole time. Everyone else will be sitting, standing, and kneeling at prescribed times, but you are not obligated to do any of these things, and nobody will think badly of you for just sitting there.

You should be prepared, however, that at a certain point after the sermon, the priest will say "Let us offer each other a sign of peace." At this point, everyone turns to the people standing near them, shakes hands, and says "Peace be with you" or perhaps "The peace of Christ be with you." Don't be worried about doing something wrong -- lots of people come to visit our church, so we are accustomed to seeing visitors.

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