CONVERTS: First reactions to the Mass?


#1

Hi all,
So I'm still pretty new around here on the forums, and I joined after deciding to seriously consider converting to Catholicism from my Mainline Protestant denomination (Disciples of Christ). At any rate, I've noticed a lot of people who have joined the RCC talk about how the Mass is part of what really drew them in. However, after attending a couple of Mass' at two different parishes (one a...."regular" western parish, the other the Principal Church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter a.k.a. the Episcopalian Ordinariate) and my reactions to the Mass have been very mixed.

On one hand
-I love how much Scripture is read. In my normal worship services only a few verses from one book of the Bible are typically read (with rare exceptions when there might be multiple readings, of course we make up for it with extensive Bible studies outside of our worship services), but at Mass four passages are read. Affirming the importance of Scripture as well as approaching the Bible as a whole, Old Testament, Psalms, Epistles, and the four Gospels. I think the part where the priest holds the gilded copy of the Gospels up above his head is cool too. The Gospel " is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16 RSV-CE)", it should be venerated.

-I like how everyone leading the Mass seems to take worship really seriously, although when some people attending the Mass then proceed to talk or let their children go on screaming during part of it, it can really ruin the environment.

On the other hand
-It seems sort of...regimented and/or scripted, and therefore sort of impersonal. Stand here, kneel here, read this, recite that. Now that said, I am an aspiring actor, so I'll be the first to affirm that something being scripted can indeed still be authentic- but I just haven't gotten that vibe of vitality very strongly, at least not yet.
-It's very confusing sometimes, not knowing all the words and when to say/do the right things in the Mass.
-It just sort of feels...wrong. I guess having grown up in a Protestant environment with only minimal exposure to the Catholic Mass the fact that it is so different from Protestant worship probably accounts for at least part of this- culture shock I suppose- but it's just a sort of disconcerting feeling.

So, are these feelings normal for someone in my shoes? Does EVERYONE love the Mass the first time they attend? Did it take anyone of you a while to "get used to it" or "learn to love it"? How seriously should I take these initial feelings, impressions, and reactions?


#2

I loved it right from the beginning. The reverence of the service just blew me away.


#3

Also a members of the Disciples of Christ. Our particular congregation has a great emphasis on sacred scripture with multiple readings from the Common Lectionary, great preaching, and a style of worship that for some Disciples would be considered "high church". I enjoy watching Mass on EWTN and attend Mass with friends but for me personally it is a bit too ritualistic and definitely less spontaneous than I am familiar with or I am comfortable with.


#4

From what I've read on the forums some people love it immediately while others feel out of place. I kind of felt out of place at first b/c I didn't really know what was going on and what was going to happen next. It didn't take long for it to click. Now I see the beauty of the Mass. It's a prayer.

When I walk in my church I feel the presence of God. I've never felt that in any other church I've attended.

Give it time. It's all foreign to you right now.

God Bless your spiritual journey.


#5

I am new to Mass also and what I will say for it is this, it is a bit confusing at first. I just followed suit as best I could standing when others stand,kneeling when that others do etc. However, my first Mass gave me an incredible sense of peace. I loved the worshipful attitude that I felt all around me, felt the presence of the Lord. I was raised a Baptist and those services are so very fire and brimstone that I feel like they lose the true beauty of worshiping the Lord and in that lose some of the reverence one should feel. It may take some getting used to but I feel like Mass is beautiful and truly a time of glorifying our Lord.


#6

Give it time, it is a bit of a spiritual culture shock at first. The turning point is when one cannot imagine getting through a week in one piece without going to Mass. It becomes part of one’s heart and soul.

The first time I went, I sat there with my mouth open and heart pounding, a bit like an asthmatic goldfish. When I started going every week, it took me months to get through the Mass from start to finish and get everything in the right order and right words.

The standing, sitting, kneeling thing was the easiest, just place yourself with people in front of you and follow them. But the responses, especially the lengthy ones like the Gloria and the Creed, took me ages to learn. And then of course the liturgical wheel turns and somethings are said at certain times of the year and not at any other times, that really threw me until I did a whole year and could see the glory of the wheel turning in its entirety.

The thing is, until I did learn those responses, I found I was concentrating on the saying of them by reading them out loud, rather than concentrating on what I was saying. The Mass is a feast and one long prayer from beginning to end, every single little bit is important. It deserves time being spent on it, to get familiar with it so that approaching it is like going somewhere regal and yet familiar, namely into the arms of Jesus, into His presence, the sacrifice and the love.

One of the things I found very comforting as a convert and also awesome is that, local language apart, one can go to a Mass anywhere in the world and the basics are all there, all the same. That made an echo in my heart, the voices of over 1 billion Catholics the world over, all down on their knees in adoration. To me that “regimentation” is beautiful, to me it means that I am one of so many, and we all together in the Body of Christ. That permanence, I stand on the shoulders of billions who have gone before me, walking in the light of our Lord down through the millenia.


#7

My first Mass, then it was entirely in Latin. I followed along in the missal and asked my girl friend tons of questions. God love her, she was patient. At the consecration, I was totally awestruck with the reverence shown and God was there!. Matter of fact the stillness and ability to pray, the grandeur of the Church and all that the Priest and alter boys wore and did. I found the Mass totally beautiful, reverent and wonderful. No I did not speak Latin and do not to this day. :D Today's Mass is different but I still find the Eucharist toatally awesome - can't quite find the words for the presence of God.

That was my first Mass and second and etc. God bless you and take it all at your pace. :).


#8

I am a cradle Catholic who spent some of my youth away from the mass. I was confirmed in my thirties and had some profound experiences, at that time, during mass. Then the years went by and I got distracted and at times the mass became kind of rote and seemed robotic. I can certainly imagine what it must feel like to a convert. Like that Danny Kaye movie where he doesn't know when to sing or stop singing a new national anthem.

However, several things have helped me on my path.

First, the awareness of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.....Much of mass is in preparation for that transformation, especially the Eucharistic Prayers.

Then an educated R.C.I.A. leader took me through the whole mass and the purpose of every section, every prayer, every kneel or stand, I began to connect with the mass and keep more focus.

I am an actor too. Learning a role through its externals is integral to good preparation; so is internal work and exploration....So, sitting at a Eucharistic Exposition has increased my love of mass. So has prayer and rosary--meditating on scriptures.

And then there is Real Life stuff. When I lost my parents, I thought more about what they said and did and I wanted to keep it alive--keep them alive. It dawned on me at mass that that is what the Catholic Christian mass is: keeping Christ alive.

You have seen the actors who "call in" their role and play on auto pilot. At times, I get tired and do that too. And then you see the ones who inspire you in every moment and they never seem tired. There have been times when a priest said mass, all the correct words, but it felt like he was making it all up for the first time and I could actually listen and understand deeply (the Holy Spirit).

I was recently reminded that the priest is not the only server at the mass: that we also are important participants of the liturgy. There have been friends who take me to mass and tell me their favorite parts. One friend told me that she actually saw angels during the Sanctus at my mom's funeral. Another told me that when the priest holds the host up high at the altar, she always focusses on her deepest prayers and knows that they will be answered.

Someone reminded me that Catholics used to say the "Sacrifice" of the Mass, not the "Celebration". That gave me a deeper idea of how we are to reach inside ourselves in imitation of Christ and his sacrifice. And, by the way, being a parent taught me more about the word "Sacrifice".

So, like an actor, I have my dry moments where I feel like I'm going through the motions; but more and more I am finding more of the real moments at the mass and then the kneeling makes sense and the standing makes sense and I feel connected to many people who are present and also to many of the saints and to many friends and relatives who once lived and attended mass and it feels greater than I can behold.


#9

I thought it was dreadfully boring. I hated the liturgy and thought everything was dead and stupid.

Seriously, God gave me an instantaneous heart change one day and I felt God’s presence and felt the reverence of the Mass :slight_smile:


#10

I believe that Jesus Christ Himself worshiped in a very ritualistic manner. From the little I know of Orthodox Jewish worship, it has similarities to the Mass.

I was brought up in a church full of ritual and when attending other churches always felt a lack of reverence, even at the age of 12. I recall taking a friend who attended a more fundamentalist church to church and thought now she will see what real worship should be.

Since coming from a church that had much ritual I am not qualified to react in a negative manner, as the Mass was familiar to me. I also never found it difficult to learn how to participate nor memorize the prayers and responses. In fact, being Catholic makes me feel that I am actually taking part in the worship of our Lord and not just sitting there listening to a sermon and singing hymns. All new experiences take time to assimulate within.

God Bless

Bernadette


#11

My husband and I are 55 years old. We converted to Catholicism 8 years ago.

I grew up Evangelical Protestant, so I was used to worship services that included dynamic music, enthusiastic congregational singing, and at least 45 minutes or more of thoughtful, interesting preaching. (If the pastor preached less than a half hour, we started wondering if perhaps he had “gone carnal.”)

Then came the 1990s, and the worship services started getting more and more trite and theatrical. It seemed that the pastors and worship leaders were going to extremes to try to “surprise us” each week. I remember one worship service where the ushers solemnly marched in with a casket, and the pastor preached about new life and at the end of his message (at least 45 minutes long), he opened the casket and several dozen red balloons floated out (and got tangled in the ceiling fans). I didn’t get the point. It seemed silly for grownups, more like something I would do in a VBS for little children to teach them about God.

And the music became centered around “P and W,” which is very nice, but it displaced the beautiful traditional hymns and shuttered up the organ. Again, I like a lot of P and W and contemporary Christian music, but what I was seeing most often was “boomer rock,” a P/W team consisting of several middle-aged rockers, and it was all pretty mediocre.

Now don’t get me wrong–I LOVE participation by non-professional musicians, and I think it’s really too bad when people don’t sing along. The problem with the P/W worship team approach is that the congregation stopped singing along, and just stood there. That’s because much of the P/W music is written as solo music, and when a group tries to sing it, it all goes wrong because the melody line is vague and the blue notes and rock licks are hard for the average person to do.

OTOH, there were “Tryouts” to be involved with the Evangelical church music programs, and people were actually “rejected.” I remember talking with one of my old friends from my childhood church, and asking if she was still singing in the choir. She said, “No, I didn’t do well at the tryouts.” I was shocked!

But that’s nothing compared to this story–TRUE story, I should say. My sister-in-law wanted her 3-year old son to be in a Christmas pageant, so she took him to the local non-denominational megachurch to try out for their pageant. She was asked for his “portfolio.” He didn’t have one, of course. And he couldn’t sing or dance or speak well. He didn’t get a part, and my sister-in-law was told that they were only interested in children who had theatre experience. We’re talking 3-year olds here!!!

:eek:

When I grew up, every child got a part, and if a little one was too scared to stand in front of people and listen to the pianist play “Jesus Loves Me” while one girl or boy sing very loudly while all the other children waved at their parents and pulled up their dresses–well, then the parent was encouraged to sit with their little one during the pageant!

All too often, the sermons about the Word of God were so trivial and based not on theology, but on personal experiences and opinions of the pastor.

Finally, the two ordinances of the Evangelical churches (baptism and communion) were never practiced. We were in an Evangelical Free Church in America for seven years, and during the last year, we never saw even one baptismal service, and only had one communion service. This was alarming to us–we found ourselves wondering when “marriage” would be discontinued!

So we were not particularly happy with the state of the Evangelical church “worship services,” and that means we were more disposed to like something “different” like a Mass.

Our first Masses were OF Masses at the parish down the street from our house, a very modern parish. We felt like we had stepped back into time into the medieval times.

We were quite lost, and the only thing that sounded familiar to us was The Lord’s Prayer and the readings from the Bible.

Some people on this board claim that the OF Masses are too “Protestant.” Nothing could be further from the truth, at least for Evangelical Protestants. Maybe mainline Protestants find Catholic Mass “familiar,” but to Evangelical Protestants, it’s totally, completely different than anything we ever experienced in our fellowships.

The “modern” hymns (we didn’t know at the time that many Catholics despise them) felt ancient to us, like oldies from the 1970s.

What I really appreciated about the Mass is that is was slow and quiet and not very well-done and many of the people seemed bored and disconnected. In other words, the Mass wasn’t a “show.” We were used to a show at the worship services. I play piano, and I can testify that "backstage "before a worship service was like being “backstage” at a show–the “director”, usually the pastor, would give us all our “notes” and make sure all the “special effects” were ready to go.

But Mass isn’t a show at all. I liked that a lot. I liked the genuineness of it, and the history behind it.

But we were very confused about what was going on, and so what we did was make an appointment with the priest in the parish, and ask him to explain the Mass to us. He did so, spending over an hour with us, and this was immensely helpful. He also recommended the parish Apologetics class, which was wonderful.

I suggest that you get hold of a great book called The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn. This book does a great job of explaining the Mass. Dr. Hahn is a convert to Catholicism from Presbyterianism.


#12

Hi there,
I’m a “cradle Catholic” and would just like to put forward the reality of Holy Mass in the Catholic Church. First and foremost it is the most supreme sacrifice, the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, truly present on the Altar, under the appearances of bread and wine, offered to God for the living and the dead. We should never forget this!

It is one and the same Sacrifice with that of the Cross, where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offered himself to the Father, a bleeding Victim for the sins of the world, continuing each day through the ministry of his priests in an unbloody manner on the Altars of His Church for the salvation of mankind.

It is offered as 1. the supreme act of worship and adoration. 2. a worthy thanksgiving for all blessings. 3. In atonement for sin and to obtain God’s full forgiveness, with remission of punishment. 4. As an efficacious prayer for graces and blessings needed by man.

As for bobbing up and down, standing, kneeling, sitting. These are correct human bodily stances which reflect our conscience and innermost heartfelt reaction to what is happening at Mass. Generally, for example, kneeling at the moment of the consecration speaks for itself. As does kneeling at times of imploring forgiveness of sins. Standing for the Gloria, The Gospel, Credo and Pater Noster, But sitting for the Epistle and homily and preparation to the Offertory. These actions I think are all self explainitory.

If one is to hear Holy Mass for the first time, maybe it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the basics first. This should help in understanding what’s going on. It’s a bit like me going to another country for the first time. I always check up on specific customs of the nation and some basic common words and phrases in that language.

May we all grow more and more in love with the Holy Mass each day.

Simon


#13

This pretty much sums it up for me to, on one hand, I was confused because I didn’t know what on earth was going on, everyone knew what to say and I when to say it, and I had no idea! But the sit/stand/kneel part was pretty easy to follow along with.

But on the other hand? I loved it. There was something so reverent about Mass, that I had never had at a worship service. There was such a beauty to it. I went to a “mega” Baptist church before, (not super mega, but mega for my area…). The services weren’t a huge production, but it felt like a production none-the-less. There wasn’t “fire and brimstone” there, but there wasn’t much of anything. We maybe read a few verses of scripture. I LOVE how scripture is such a huge focus at Mass.


#14

Haha, you think 1 billion people go to Mass every Sunday? If only. Perhaps this is just England but the vast majority of Christians I know, including RCs, never even bother to darken the door of any sort of church.


#15

If you count those who came before him (what he said), then yes, around that number. probably even more. :slight_smile:


#16

BEING NEW MYSELF I VIEW MYSELF AS WORSHIPING AND HONORING THE LORD BY SUBMITTING TO THE RITUALS OF THE MASS. I FIND IT ALL LOVING AND BEAUTIFUL.

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#17

I was raised in an Evangelical demonination where only the preacher prayed aloud, extempore and even supplying his own Aymen. I hated it especially the fourty five minute sermons and long “altar calls” in an altar less church. Sometimes the altar calls would last an hour themselves with people squatting around what was really a bench crying and cryiing.

I was very relieved to go to mass where everyone prayed aloud in the same words and it was reverent and not folksy.

I had been to Episcopal and Lutheran churches before where they said ahmen. I was surprised when Catholics said aymen just like the Baptists and Campbellites.


#18

I too am a convert, since 2008, but I started attending the Saturday night Mass in the late 80’s with my best school friend. For alot of those years Mass didn’t mean much to me personally…it was just something that my friend & I had to do before her parents would let us go to the movies, etc…

But then a very close friend developed Cancer - she was a devout Catholic and as Cancer slowly took her life, her Faith in God increased and her continued attendance at Mass inspired me. She spent alot of time in Adoration as well. I asked her once how she could tolerate the pain of sitting thru Mass…she said her pain was nothing compared to Christ’s pain & suffering. She said the Mass was bringing her closer to Jesus and to Heaven.
From then on I started looking at Mass thru her eyes, and slowly I began to “see” what she saw.

I think the Mass is beautiful…I even sit in the very front pew because I do not care to be distracted by others. It is my time to worship and encounter Christ and I don’t want to miss anything. At the foot of the cross, you might say!

Peace to all…
Prairie Rose


#19

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Maybe where you live. :wink:

Our church is full to the brim for two out of the three Sunday Masses, even the third one is about 1/2 full. (the church holds about 700-900 depending on whether the side chapels are put to use)

The same is true of the other 3 RC churches within 5 miles of us. I don’t want to get into a contest about it, but you cannot judge the numnbers of the RC church in the UK by the sadly falling numbers in the C of E.

And sure, numbers are variable world-wide, but the last figures I read reported that the RCC is growing not shrinking. :smiley:


#20

I’ve gone to Mass a few times. I’ve attended a Protestant church since last May.

What I love about Mass:
*pure devotion to our Lord
*worshiping as a unit (body of Christ) but with that devotion can also be quite personal
*kneeling - throwing yourself down before the Lord is amazing
*worshiping will all of your body (I don’t take Eucharist but instead pray for those who partake)
*the pureness of the “sermon” (liturgy?), no distortion or twisting/grasping straws to apply it to modern life
*the music is breathtaking (the words are focused on God)
*there’s more but can’t list every single thing

What I could change about Mass:
*It’s only an hour? :stuck_out_tongue:

Going to the Protestant church leaves me thirsty for Christ despite that church proclaiming the gospel. Leaving Mass, I feel full. 'Nuff said. :thumbsup:…especially when I go 1/2 hour early to pray the rosary with my brothers and sisters in Christ.


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