Crowded church and diagnosis


Anyone here who struggles with attending Mass at a big parish?
This could be due to psychological and spiritual issues.
I myself have an asperger syndrome diaagnosis and don’t like a crowded church on a Sunday. Due to spiritual issues as well, I suppose.
I always imagined how wonderful it would be if I could go to a small countryside church (or a smalltown) but then again that has problems as well. Just fitting in at a small parish could be a problem as well I suppose. But smaller gatherings are easier and I know of a lovely smalltwon parish I really like. But I don’t live in that town. The parish closest to me is located in the heart of the city but it is not the Cathedral I am talking about.
What are your thought on this? And how has you dealt with this (practical tips)? Did you seek out help from a Priest or psychologist?


@jesusmademe a man lived across the road from us in the 1950/60s .

He had a phobia about going to church , probably related agoraphobia .

One of the priests in the parish used to bring him Holy Communion each month .


I had a horrible social phobia to the point I would get panic attacks when I was in high school and college. It would cause me have these attacks when I would go to church, to the point that I was scared to go. I always tried to sit in a corner or find a mass where there were few people and find an area where there was no one sitting directly beside me. I only got through this to where I am now through prayer and psychologically analyzing what caused me to have these attacks and then try to address the underlying issue. From my own experience, it is nearly impossible to do this alone. I had my religious community to help me through this. I would suggest a psychologist/therapist with a Christian background to help you. The fact that you still want to go to Church despite this point to it not being a spiritual one, but a psychological one. There is never any shame in asking for help.

I will be praying for you.

God Bless,
Br. Ben, CRM


Sorry to hear you’re struggling. I definitely agree, talk to a Priest and maybe a psychologist who can help you develop techniques to deal with the amount of people.

On a practical level, could you ask the Priest which Mass times are the least busy and attend one of those?


I know exactly how you feel, cause that describes me, too. Most of the time it’s not a problem, since I go early and it’s not that crowded. But we have to show up for Christmas and Easter at some Mass or other, and they’re full of people who apparently don’t go any other time. I go to the late Christmas Eve Mass–the midnight Mass, which is at 10:00–and I go to the Easter Vigil Mass. I drag my husband to both of these. It’s easier in a mob if you’re not totally alone, so I tell him, You can go to church twice a year!


I used to be extremely shy and that has eased over time but I still have moments of nervousness. When I first started attending my church I was lucky that an elder was very friendly and helped me in various ways to feel more at ease. I have also made attempts to be as friendly as possible to as many parishioners as possible, not just because I should but also because it helps me to feel more relaxed in their company. I am actually asked to do the offertory practically every week and I must admit this stretched me the first few times but having experienced this ‘exposure’ to public gaze simply sitting in church was a walk in the park.

So I tend to make sure that I’m dressed properly and well groomed and then I concentrate on Jesus and Mary when I’m in church and try to keep my thoughts confined to my purpose in being there. Another poster mentioned going with someone else helps, I agree, and though I may look alone when I enter church I, like you, never really am.

Many of our parishioners are elderly and probably aren’t thinking that much about me anyway and I wouldn’t expect them to be being good Catholic people! And if they were, well what would it matter.


I always attended the earliest Mass [with the fewest people].


Attending Mass early won’t work for me. 1. No music I think. 2. No coffe (kyrkkaffe) after church at early Mass.

I am well aware that going with someone is very smart or you meet the person at church before Mass.
The problem is that I don’t even know anyone in the church except the Priest who helps me on my road into the church but that wont help.
I actually think that attending Mass together is not enough for ypu to talk to someone. You really have to do something eg playing music together or goibg to a course.
I went to a place to play with ca 40 musicians (big group but not too much) and It was easier to talk with people there than at a church on a Sunday.
What strucks me is how freaking hard it is to find people you can talk with at a church. Even when attending a small
Extraordinary Form group it was hard but easier than a big crowded Sunday church.
The question would be: is it that people already know eachother at church?
Well, people already knew eachother at the musical gathering. I guess at a course or a musical gathering you will be noticed since you must enroll/sign up (whatever is the correct term). At Mass it is just you looking at Jesus and a crowd.

Having a religious community sounds awesome.
But that’s not a help for us lay people (or converting guys), right?
Even as a layperson there must be some help from a religious community.


I tried going to Sunday mass - but no way. Too crowded.
I watch Sunday mass on tv.
You say it’s tough to talk with other Catholic believers -
I had to laugh - often they don’t even like granting you peace.
Even that seems to be some sort of chore.
I sympathize with you - it’s discouraging -
But do try to attend mass when you can -


Just in case this is helpful . . . .

Canonically, you are a member of the parish in which you live. But (also canonically) you are allowed to attend Mass at any parish, whether or not you live within its boundaries. So, if there’s a smaller parish that you are able to handle, feel free to go.


Offertory, Consecration, Communion are the three parts of the Mass.

Music and coffee are not parts of the Mass.


Here is a tip from my doctor about anxiety and social phobias. Try to stay away from coffe and tea. It contains an ensyme which exaserbates anxiety and can greatly increase the occurance of episodes. I tried this, and I haven’t had a panic attack on days when I didn’t have coffee or tea.


I have undiagnosed ptsd and the bishop sais he could not excuse me from Mass but said if I didn’t attend Mass I didn’t have to confess it.

The problem is in every nearby parish people are talking in church and I cannot pray. People seem to have lost the sense of the sacred, that the “church” is really a temple, the dwelling place of God. They act like the little red candle is burning there as a decoration. Canon Law (around 1205) says that the church is a sacred space and that not everything is permitted there.

Perhaps people get the idea that they talk in church during Mass, that talking in church in general is OK too.

I think I had agoraphobia for a while and I had a hard time going to big shopping malls.


If music is not part of the Mass then why do we have a lot of music at the High Mass?

And coffee/tea (or whatever) is obviously what you have afterwards. It is a tradition that after High Mass there is coffee. As Catholics you should be aware of this. I don’t think it’s only a Swedish thing.


Hello Jesusmademe!

I smiled to read your comment about the coffee hour. My mother lived in Sweden many years and often said how it made a true coffee drinker out of her! : )
It sounds like you are interested in joining the Catholic Church. I wonder if you have spoken to a priest, or attended any RCIA classes yet? I feel sure that a priest could help you find a sponsor, someone who could attend Mass with you, and be a mentor and friend along the way.
And yes, I think it is true that it can be difficult to find people to talk to at Mass. I think that often a parish can be dominated by large family groups, so a lot of them are maybe cousins or related to each other in some way, so if you are not part of that network, you have no idea how “out of it” you are.
Best of luck to you in your journey and God’s blessings!


I’m having problems w chronic pain. Not being able to move fast. If all that goes well, I can’t get a parking spot close to church & cant walk that distance. I am bi-polar w depressive tendencies. Fibromyalgia isn’t helpful. I feel I can get better but will have to go to confession first. I think 5 times, I could have made it. I love mass & communion. I enjoy ppl & singing. It’s moving that’s the problem. SIGH
GOD BLESS US ALL. Forgive our sins. Have mercy on our weaknesses. In Jesus name

PS there is TV mass.


Dear God, our Father,
You see the discussion and know our situations. Help us know, You are w us as we prepare for mass and are in mass. If we keep our eyes up front on You, the ppl beside us won’t bother us. Look up, not sideways.
Thank You for loving us
In Jesus name


Good one!

I hope the OP doesn’t look up all the “anti-sign of peace” threads.

OP. my husband and I agree with you that it’s hard to make friends/talk to people in a Catholic parish. But it’s kind of logical–many of the people grew up in the parish and knew each other from childhood and teen years at the parish schools. Then they married and had children and now they know each other from school and sports involvements. And then they got older and their children got married and they had grandchildren–what I’m saying is that these parish friendships go back decades.

So trying to break into their circle and be friends is really hard and probably not going to happen. Your best bet is to look for ex-Evangelical Protestants like us who are eager to talk to others (outside the nave, of course!).


Offertory, Consecration & Communion are the three essentials.

10 minute Mass with Gospel and Homily.

High Mass is merely nice.


The Catholic Mass is a re-enactment of the Last Supper … “This is My Body” … This is My Blood".

Jesus did not play a guitar and sing … and there was no coffee.

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