I am currently discerning whether or not to become Roman Catholic. I have not begun RCIA yet, but plan to. I am a Lutheran, and I was raised Protestant. In my effort to grow nearer to the Lord, and to learn more about the Church, I have been attending Mass daily. I understand that I cannot, and should not, receive Communion. Now that I know not to go up for a blessing, my only choice is to remain at the pew. I am concerned (and embarrassed) that the communicants will think I’m a really bad person for never taking Communion (since they don’t know I’m not Catholic yet). What should I do? I don’t want to miss out on the instruction and worship of daily Mass, yet I’m now having mixed thoughts about continuing to go every day. What should I do?
Don’t be embarassed!
People in the pews wont think any less of you. If anything you give them a great example.
Even though you cant sacramentally communion with the Lord, you most certainly can make a sincere spiritual communion.
Also dont be afraid to introduce yourself to those who are there. Get to know them. When the time is right tell them that you are an inquirer and thinking about joining. And when you feel you tell them comfortably then they will understand why you arent going up. If anything it will may very well enrich their attendance at Mass as well.
Catholics should not be making rash judgments, so let’s hope they don’t. Regardless, don’t let other people’s attitudes keep you from attending Mass.
In reality, you may be setting a good example and providing moral support to someone who needs it. Some Catholics are afraid to remain in the pews, for the same reasons you are, and are tempted to receive the sacrament unworthily so as not to call attention to themselves. If they see you remain sitting, the perceived “pressure” to receive unworthily will be relaxed, if you see what I mean. So you could be helping a brother or sister without even knowing it.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages: “All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.” You can use your own words to do this.
When I go to Mass, I say my own prayer before receiving communion: “Lord, please extend the graces of this Eucharist to all those who are not able to receive, for whatever reason, inasmuch as they are able to receive your grace without condemnation, for their sanctification and salvation.” I pray this for everyone, including both non-Catholics and any Catholics who are not able to receive communion at that time (including me, when I am not able to receive!).
I’d like to repeat the reassurance given by previous posters, and add a comment of my own.
Whenever I see someone at Mass who doesn’t seem to be Catholic - hesitant about when to sit down or stand up, for instance (the ‘Let us pray’ often causes a problem for them, as they instinctively start to kneel whereas we Catholics start to stand up) , or doesn’t cross themselves- I pray for them all through Mass and try to send out a wave of welcome. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
We certainly wouldn’t think any the less of them for not going in the Communion line. (Although, as it happens, our parish priest is happy to give blessings).
You are very welcome! Please keep coming!