How many times do I arrive? (The etiquette on genuflecting)


If I’m in church or in chapel, when I go in, I hit the holy water, then I walk to where I’m sitting and I genuflect and cross myself. If I hurriedly go out to get a drink of water before the service starts, do I genuflect and cross on the way out (as I would do at the end of Mass)? And when coming back in, do I do the holy water again and genuflect and cross again, just as if I had never been there?

Can you tell I’m kinda new to this?


You should always genuflect when you enter and leave the presence of the Lord. Crossing yourself and holy water can be done once or as often as you like.


I have seen Priests drop and genuflect the MINUTE they enter the doors of the Church, even if in the vestibule or the entrance of Church. In other words they enter the same building Our Lord is in so they genuflect.


Yes - you got it !

As a side note, I keep Holy water in my car.
Recently I heard that 1.3 million people - die -
a year - in car accidents. ( phones? )

Also. Before going inside my company that I work at.

And of course - at home.
You can never not bless yourself enough - in my book !


I’ve wondered this myself. As a convert, I’m not super clear on the correct etiquette and times for genuflecting, bowing, crossing, etc.


Bare minimum I’d say genuflect upon entering your pew and when leaving at the end of Mass.

Maximum I’d say genuflect everytime you leave or enter the pew, even if you’re just leaving to go to the back of the Church.

I would say cross yourself with the holy water when you enter the nave the first time and when you leave the nave a final time.

I have been told, however, that you need only cross yourself with holy water upon arriving because you receive a blessing at the end of Mass so have no need to bless again but I see everyone blessing as they leave as well and I’m quite sure blessing yourself twice isn’t an issue unless you’re doing it for superstitious reasons.

As a side note, when you enter the pew, kneel and pray.

For a long time, as a convert, I was entering pew and just sitting and reading the readings for the morning but eventually the priest scolded me for it and encouraged me to kneel upon entering as I was in the presence of the King.


I always felt guilty because, even though 90% of the time I remember to do this, and it’s important to me, there have been many times over the last year when I forgot to kneel when entering the pew.

Sometimes it was because it was a new habit I needed to create, but usually I would forget because I was herding my cats…I mean, kids…who were very unfamiliar with the Church, and I’d be so absorbed in getting us an empty pew and having everyone sit down quietly that I would be completely distracted.

But I don’t worry anymore, because Jesus knows my heart and that I never meant disrespect. He knows how distracted I can get. I used to worry more about judgement from other parishioners, but I don’t let it get to me anymore. People need to mind their own business. I’m not there to judge anyone else.

I can’t imagine being “scolded” by my priest, though. He’s much too nice. Maybe a gentle suggestion.


At least in the parishes I’ve attended (larger urban ones) no one at all is looking at you to judge, and Catholics do stuff so second nature they do it mindlessly. Unless there’s some busy-body old biddy (and they exist in all walks of life) never fear you are doing the wrong thing.


Genuflect—before entering and leaving pew, when walking directly in front of Our Lord in the Tabernacle

Bow—when crossing in front of the altar


At one of the first Masses I attended after my entry into the Church, the time came for the Paternoster. Everyone was holding hands, so I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. The lady next to me took me hand, then started twisting and turning her hand in mine, sighing and saying ‘Tsk! Tsk!’ the whole time. Apparently I was holding hands incorrectly! :open_mouth: Ever since then, at the Paternoster I keep my hands folded on my chest. I’m not going through that again.


I don’t blame you!
Years ago I was dating a non-Catholic man. I was so happy when he said he wanted to come to Mass with me, eager and hoping it would attract him. At that Mass the man next to my friend simply refused to shake hands with him at the appropriate kiss of peace time. That man just stared stone faced directly ahead and did not even acknowledge my friend, who had his hand extended. I was mortified; my friend was embarrassed. He never returned to Mass as far as I know.


Hmmm…I wonder if that stone-faced gentleman is here on CAF…? :thinking:

ducks out of sight


Probably. The welcoming type :slight_smile:


It’s customary to at least genuflect once when you enter the church (usually at your pew before you sit) and once when you leave (either in the aisle by your pew, or sometimes in the pew if the aisles are full of people leaving and you can’t really do it in the aisle without a collision).

Many of us were also taught to genuflect when we passed the Tabernacle. In those days the Tabernacle was usually right in the back center of the sanctuary behind the altar. The only days we didn’t genuflect were Good Friday and Holy Saturday because Jesus was not in the Tabernacle and was dead in the tomb on those days - the tabernacle would be open and empty. Nowadays it’s not clear in some churches exactly where the tabernacle is, or it’s off in a corner someplace, so we can get a little confused as to where we are supposed to be aiming our genuflection.

If you go to Adoration you need to make sure to genuflect (many people will do a double knee genuflection and often a deep bow) because that is the one place where, if you’re not visibly disabled, people might get annoyed at you if you don’t genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament.



If the tabernacle isn’t visible, bow toward the altar; you save your knees for the real presence of Jesus.


Thanks, Bearself and others who answered. I guess, as somebody at church told me, you really can’t genuflect, cross, or do holy water TOO often. That seems to be the consensus.


i don’t think there are any rules on this

my personal philosophy: do what is comfortable to you and don’t make a spectacle of yourself


Huh. In my experience, most people sit prior to Mass. A decent number will kneel for a prayer after entering, but they sit when finished with that prayer.


Yes you should.

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