To all my Catholic friends and dear ones: Etiquette is not only about behaviour at a party or formal meeting. There is also Mass Etiquette which is neglected:
20 Etiquette during Mass
- One must fast 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.
- Don’t pack a snack basket for kids. It’s no picnic. The only exceptions would be milk for infants, water for the priest or choir and sick.
- Don’t bite your nails, it indicates nervousness. Don’t shake your legs, it indicates tension. Don’t fidget with your hair, it indicates distraction. You may haven’t been taught this when you were young, that it is wrong to focus on any other person or object, when the focus should be on God alone.
- Never chew gum in Church. It breaks your fast.
- 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.
- Dress modestly, the mass is not a fashion show. And Christmas and Easter masses are not a part of Milan Fashion Week. Dress in a way that gives witness to your faith not to seduce anyone. Don’t go for mass to check out who is hot in the parish.
- Come early and be as close to the altar as possible. Don’t walk in when half the mass is over. Don’t stand outside the Church. One shouldn’t go for mass for the heck of it or to be noticed or to avoid uncomfortable questions.
- Cell phones should never be used during Mass for checking messages, making calls or texting. Keep them on silent mode. No call is more important than mass.
- Youngsters should offer their seats to the pregnant, sick or aged who are standing.
- When we enter and leave Church, genuflect (bow your knee) toward the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake. By allowing our right knee to hit the floor, 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.
- Sit quietly in Church. Don’t talk or comment on what others wear. You don’t go there to judge anyone’s dressing style, make -up or accessories.
- Take loud children behind. Sometimes the baby will be restless. Parents with young kids should sit at the end of a pew, so that you can take the kid behind quickly. Don’t joke with them & disturb others during Mass. Stop them from playing with hymn books and reading material. Don’t joke or play with toddlers during mass.
- Prepare your offering before Mass. Christ tells us not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you make your offering. Keeping the basket while you get your wallet out can be quite a scene. Digging the basket for change is wrong. Come to mass with your offering prepared.
- No sleeping, day-dreaming, bulletin reading or saying the rosary during mass. Pay attention to God’s Word.
- Respect the worship. Stand during the gospel reading and other set time during worship. Kneel at the consecration, it is part of worship. The only exceptions are for the sick, people with knee problems, aged and those with infants. If you can’t kneel occupy a pew that does not obstruct the view of the Lord from those who do kneel.
- Bow before receiving Holy Communion, you are before God.
- Say Amen and bow before receiving Communion. Do not drop the host, or play with it with your tongue or bite it.
- Do not leave early. We should stay to the end of the final blessing and the recessional hymn that accompanies it, if there is one. Remember who left the Last Supper early (Judas).
- Pray after Mass, thanking God for His abundant blessings.
- Leave quietly. We encourage you to visit others especially your pastors as a part of Christian fellowship, but once you are outside of the main sanctuary of the church so you won’t disturb others who want to stay and pray.
Don’t say’ Thank God mass is over,’ when you come out. You will sound as if you were forced to attend or as if it is a weekly punishment.
We may have not always behaved well during mass, but it’s never too late to learn.