Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mass Etiquette from a Roman Catholic Lay Perspective...

I quote the bulk of a post from another blog on church etiquette which one Roman Catholic woman has posted.  While I might quibble here and there (our church actually has religious activity bags to use during the service] her words are worth considering:

Mass Etiquette:  How to behave during a Catholic Mass

Remember you have entered into the house of God for the purpose of prayer, adoration, reflection, or  to celebrate a sacrament. Now is not the time to talk to your friends, but to talk to God. Please do not bring in any cups of coffee!

In order to help you enter into a sacred space we ask you to remember,

1. Turn off cell phones. Do not text messages or check your Facebook account from the pews or the back of the church. Leave your social media devices in the car. It’s time to focus on God. It’s distracting for others who are trying to pray. If you are waiting for an important phone call, consider going to mass at another time. Cameras, likewise should be left in the car, unless you are coming for a tour of the church and you have checked with the tour guide.

2. Do not chew gum during mass or put it in your side cheek, to chew on it later. Spit it out before entering into a church.

3. Dress with dignity for Mass. It seems that many women, many girls in this day and age have a need to always have a ‘sexy’ look. Mass is not a cocktail party. Mass is not a hockey arena. Come dressed with decorum, an aura of dignity. Consider teaching your children the different types of dress are important for different occasions. For everything there is a time. Please remember to dress modestly and ensure sure your daughters do , too. Bare shoulders and visible bra straps are not a good idea. They are highly distracting.

4. Do not bring children’s activity bags, granola bars, cheerio’s, juice boxes, water bottles, toys including a child’s DS, play station, game boy, iPod touch or similar types of amusements to church. Mass is only one hour long. Children would grow in virtue if their parents expected them to detach from these things for at least an hour a week.

5. Parents have a duty give their children ongoing, on the job training, all the time. That includes the obligation to train their children in the appropriate times to kneel, sit, stand and face the altar If children are engaged in playing with toys, eating, and drinking, they are surely not being taught about the fact that Jesus is really up there on the altar, significance of prayer, self control, and the importance of participating in the mass. Parents themselves get distracted with managing the dispensing of food and toys. On top of that it is a distraction to others in the pews who are hungry themselves, or who are trying to fully participate in mass.

6. Do not drink bottled water in a house of worship. If an adult, for some reason needs to drink water to take some medication, please leave the church premises or at least the mass and drink the water, if you must outside the celebration of the Eucharist.

7.  If you are late for mass, please do not walk down the aisles looking for a seat until it’s appropriate. You are disrupting others. The Toronto Symphony does not allow late comers to waltz in at ‘whatever’ time. Church ushers should be trained to enforce this. Please do not leave mass before it’s a bad example for your kids

8. Do not be an observer of the mass, but a participator. Don’t ask yourself, ‘What is this mass doing for me?” Instead, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to participate in the mass more fully?” Make an effort to listen, follow the readings, the homily, read scripture passages before mass, learn the prayers of the mass, follow along in the misslette and sing! You will become an outstanding role model for your kids.

9. Do not have conversations during the mass. You would never have a conversation, during a performance of the symphony. If you did, you would be asked to correct your behaviour or leave. Quite simply it’s rude.

10. It might be useful to ask ourselves, Who am I? Why am I here? The answers: To know God, to love him and serve Him especially at Mass!

HT to Dorothy Pilarski


Brian Yamabe said...

As a father who weekly struggles to get a 4 year old through the divine service this woman comes off as bitter and unloving. I hope she went up to the father after mass and gave him some helpful hints on getting fidgety child through the service. I know I appreciate any suggestions.

My friend, Joshua McNary, and I did a recent podcast on this exact subject ( We talked about what we've tried, how we've failed, and how we end of depending on the Word of God to work in our children. Guess we should have had this woman on to tell us what to do.

Pastor Peters said...

For my part, I think her most valuable instructions are aimed at adults whose conversation and attitudes are somewhere other than in the worship service and NOT about the parents who are struggling to keep their children attentive to the service and not disruptive for others. As a Pastor I give those parents kudos for their efforts (my wife was one of them). On the other hand, there are parents who use things to distract their children and never try to engage them in the service. Those are the kids who never understand what worship is or how to pay attention as teens and adults. So take heart you struggling parents. I am not so hard on books, cheerios, and the like. Hang in there for the sake of your children and for your good witness to the adults who sometimes forget that worship is for the children as well.