First time going to mass



I’m considering going to mass this Sunday for the first time just to see how it is. I come from a very theologically conservative, protestant (Calvinist) church and am just curious to see how a Catholic mass compares. So I’m asking what a normal mass would look like?


check out this video:


The best part is when you have to walk barefoot across the burning coals.


There are Catholic cultures not Catholic culture. Each mass affirms the sacrament but the experience of the Mass changes depending on location. our lady of Malibu is much different than going to the church of the holy sepulchre.


Just go, and watch. Nobody will notice that you have never been before or expect anything major out of you, beyond a possible handshake.
You may sit while others kneel, and you should not go up for Communion since you are not Catholic.
But…expect lots of oral prayers, 3 Scriptural readings, and you will recognize many pieces of scripture in the various parts of spoken parts of the Mass.
Hope you have a holy experience.
if you really don’t want to stand out, maybe sit towards the back for a better view of things/people. postures, practices etc. but if you want to sit front and center, no big deal. :wink:



You might see if the parish has missals available. If not, at the very least they will usually have a hymnal that will have the order of Mass in the front. I also know that there are some phone apps (I have iMissal for Android) that will give you the order of Mass, as well as the readings.

Mass always begins with the introductory rites. There is an opening hymn, during which the priest and other extraordinary ministers process up to the altar. Father greets the congregation, they ask for forgiveness of their sins, and they sing the Gloria. (The Gloria is omitted during Advent and Lent.) This is followed by the opening prayer, which is unique to the day.

Next, Father sits down and the Liturgy of the Word begins. You will hear 3 readings from the Bible. The first is from the Old Testament, or, during the Easter season, the Acts of the Apostles. Then there is the responsorial psalm/canticle. Usually you can find the appropriate response in the hymnal. The cantor sings the verses of the psalm/canticle, and the congregation sings the response. This is followed by the second reading, from one of the epistles or Revelation. Then everyone stands for the Gospel acclamation, and remains standing during the reading of the Gospel by the priest. The readings run on a 3-year cycle, during which we read from the Gospel of Matthew in Year A, the Gospel of Mark in Year B (which we are in right now), and the Gospel of Luke in Year C. (The Gospel of John is reserved generally for specific feast days; also, some feast days of the Church, such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil always have the same readings every year.) Following the Gospel, everyone is seated and the priest preaches a homily, explaining the Good News of Jesus to the congregation based on the readings from the day. Then we stand and profess the Creed - either the Apostles’ or the Nicene Creed. (These are in the missal/hymnal.) We remain standing for the general intercessions, or the prayers of the faithful, in which we pray for specific intentions.

The Liturgy of the Word is followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Everyone sits down and there is a collection, followed by a specific family bringing up the altar breads, water, wine, and collection money. Father invites us to prayer, the prayer over the gifts being specific to the day. Then, he begins a dialogue with us to start the Eucharistic prayer. The preface is followed by the “Holy, Holy” (Sanctus), and then he moves into the main Eucharistic prayer. (Usually the preface is specific to the day/season. There are several different Eucharistic prayers Father can choose from - some are more general, some are for specific needs, such as for a Mass for children or for reconciliation.) He invokes the Holy Spirit and then speaks the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, to consecrate the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. (Note: Jesus does not literally die on the altar. Rather, He symbolically dies. At Mass we are at the foot of the cross. This is the unbloody version of the sacrifice of Calvary.) Usually we kneel during the consecration. Then we stand and sing the memorial acclamation. Father then prays the memorial prayer and asks God to bless the Pope, the Church, and the deceased, and asks for the prayers of the saints. Finally, he concludes with the doxology - “Through Him, with Him, in Him,…etc.” (This is always the same for every preface.) We sing the great Amen. Next, we move into the Communion Rite. We pray the Lord’s prayer, offer each other a greeting of peace, and prepare ourselves to receive Jesus. During Communion, you can stay in the pew. (Catholics do not have open Communion because those who are not Catholic are not in full Communion with the Church. However, those not receiving Communion are still encouraged to pray for unity.) There is usually a hymn during and just after Communion. Then, Father will pray the prayer after Communion (specific to the day). There may be some announcements.

Last is the concluding rite. Father blesses and dismisses the congregation, and he and the other extraordinary ministers process out, to the recessional hymn.


Catholics hold that Jesus is truly present 1) in the proclamation of the Gospel. As a result, you normally see candles lit at the pulpit (or what we call ambo) and 2) there are candles lit at the altar (table) where, according to the Bible and our beliefs, the words of consecration result in the presence of the Lord, in place of what was the bread and wine.

So, despite perhaps ordinary outward appearances, Catholics participating in (receiving) the Eucharist believe we are united with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Recall that in the Hebrew Passover rite, the participants consume the sacrificial victim. We believe this is a “type” or foreshadowing that we actually consume the body and blood of the Lord, who is the new Passover, the victim sacrificed for our sins. The “new testament” is not a book, it is the body and blood of the Lord. Only much later, after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord, that the writings were composed that we now call the New Testament.

This rite is not a re-sacrificing of Christ on the cross, we believe it is a continuation of Christ’s eternal sacrifice, in the same sense that Jews celebrate the Passover not as something to be remembered, but as something they participate in, in modern time as much as if they had been in Egypt for the first Passover.

The worthy reception of the Eucharist is not just a holy meal, it is an acknowledgement of the new covenant in Christ’s blood.

“Mass” is derived from some obscure term that refers to the combined liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist, which compose it. In the Eastern rites, the Mass is instead referred to as the Divine Liturgy, as it was instituted by Christ.

In early post-biblical times, newcomers to the Church did not participate in the liturgy of the Eucharist, until they were properly taught the meaning and significance of the sacred mysteries which it contains.

While you may attend the Mass in its entirety, it will not be totally clear what the significance is.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Catholic faith.”


Enter the building. Come a bit early so that you can orient yourself, figure out where the bathrooms are, and scope the place out a bit ahead of time.
Notice the little bowl of Holy Water, and bless yourself with it if you want to. (Watch how the person in front of you does this.)
Find a place to sit where you will be able to see and hear everything that is going on up front.
When the music begins, stand to sing.
Remain standing to pray for God’s forgiveness of your sins, to give Him glory, and to offer up your thanks and petitions for this week.
Sit to hear the Scriptures read out.
Stand for the Gospel reading.
Sit to hear the homily.
Stand to pray the Creed and attend to the Prayers of the Faithful.
Sit for the Offertory.
Stand for the prayers.
Kneel for the Consecration.
Stand for more prayers, ending with the Lord’s Prayer.
Share a greeting of peace with those around you.
Stay put and pray to ask Jesus into your heart while the rest of them go up for Holy Communion.
Kneel to give thanks to God.
Stand for the final prayers and hymn.


This is good and I like Cardinal George but if the vernacular is self-explanatory, why the need to further explain it?

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