Dear Catholics,

Please explain to me mass. In Judaism we have a weekly shabbat service and three daily prayers. What is the purpose of mass? Is it designed as a sort of holiday event like shabbat, or is it sort of like bathing or brushing one’s teeth in that it is a mandatory and socially-expected display of worship?

I want to attend a mass in my local town (just as an observer, don’t get excited), but I have no knowledge upon which mass service is deemed the most important above the rest that week or upon what the customs are when attending such a service. I’m assuming that appropriate dress is required alongside the basic general courtesies that are expected of a religious ceremony, but as for the actual ritual itself, I’m entirely confused.

Your Jewish Neighbor

Well, you’re in luck. Fr. Dwight Longenecker serves at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Greenville, SC. If you’d like to meet him and get a tour, that could be arranged.

His blog is here:

A Sunday mass would be the best, but there are weekday masses also. The mass schedule is on this page:

A Sunday mass lasts about one hour. Here is a basic outline of the mass:

Whoa whoa whoa! Slow down there. I wasn’t born into this faith. I don’t know what these words mean.

Introductory Rites
Rite of Sprinkling or Penitential Rite
Opening Prayer (Collect)
Liturgy of the Word
Profession of Faith (Creed)
Prayer of the Faithful (General Intercessions)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of Gifts (Offertory)
Offertory Prayer
Preface and Sanctus
Eucharistic Prayer
Pater Noster (Our Father or Lord’s Prayer)
Sign of Peace
Fraction Rite — Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)
Communion Rite
Prayer after Communion
Concluding Rite

Sorry. Here are two videos:

Questions on the Sacrifice of the Mass

  1. What is the Mass?

The Mass is the Sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.

(a) The name “Mass” comes from the Latin word Missa meaning dismissal. In the early days of the Church the catechumens were asked to leave after the gospel and sermon were finished. The faithful, however, remained until they were dismissed after the sacrifice was completed. Then, as now, this was done by saying or singing Ite Missa Est. In the course of time the word Missa, or dismissal, was used to designate the entire sacrifice.

  1. What is a sacrifice?

A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things.

(a) By his very nature man wants to adore and thank his Creator. Men mistaken at times about the nature of the true God have offered false worship; but they have always recognized the obligation of adoring the Supreme Being. As far back as the history of man is recorded, there is evidence that men acknowledged their dependence on the Supreme Being by offering sacrifices to Him. (b) Before the coming of Christ, sacrifices were offered to God in many different ways. The patriarchs and Jewish priests at the command of God offered fruits, wine, or animals as victims. Cain, for example, offered fruits; Abel offered some sheep of his flock; Melchisedech offered bread and wine. The destruction of these offerings removed them from man’s use and thereby signified that God is the Supreme Lord and Master of the entire created universe and that man is wholly dependent upon Him for everything. Sacrifice, therefore, is the most perfect way for man to worship God.

© All these different sacrifices of the Old Law were only figures of the sacrifice which Christ was to make of Himself. His offering of Himself on the cross was the greatest sacrifice ever offered to God. All the sacrifices of the Old Law derived their efficacy, or value, from the sacrifice which Christ was to offer on the cross.

  1. Who is the principal priest in every Mass?

The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His body and blood which were sacrificed on the cross.

(a) The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross. It is now in the New Law, the sacrifice that is acceptable to God.

  1. Why is the Mass the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross?

The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.

(a) Christ, though invisible, is the principal minister, offering Himself in the Mass. The priest is the visible and secondary minister, offering Christ in the Mass.

(b) The most important part of the Mass is the Consecration. In the Consecration bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ who then is really present on the altar. Through the priest He offers Himself to God in commemoration of His death on the cross.

© The other most important parts of the Mass are the Offertory and the Communion. In the Offertory the priest offers to God the bread and wine that will be changed into the body and blood of Christ. In the Communion the priest and the people receive the body and blood of Our Lord under the appearances of bread and wine.

  1. What are the purposes for which the Mass is offered?

The purposes for which the Mass is offered are: first, to adore God as our Creator and Lord; second, to thank God for His many favors; third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men; fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him.

(a) In every Mass adoration, praise, and thanksgiving are given to God, and reparation is made to Him.

(b) Besides the purpose for which the Mass is offered and the effects that it produces, there are also special fruits of the Mass. The fruits Of the Mass are the blessings that God bestows through the Mass upon the celebrant, upon those who serve or assist at it, upon the person or persons for whom it is offered, and also upon all mankind, especially the members of the Church and the souls in purgatory.

© The measure of these blessings depends especially on the dispositions of those to whom they are given.

  1. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass?

The manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the cross Christ physically shed His blood and was physically slain, while in the Mass there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death, because Christ can die no more; on the cross Christ gained merit and satisfied for us, while in the Mass He applies to us the merits and satisfaction of His death on the cross.

(a) On the cross Christ was offered in a bloody manner; in the Mass He is offered in an unbloody manner. On the cross Christ alone offered Himself directly; in the Mass He offers Himself through the priest, who is the secondary but true minister, dependent upon Christ.

(b) On the cross Christ suffered and died; in the Mass He can no longer suffer or die. On the cross He paid the price of our redemption; in the Mass He applies to us the merits of His Sacrifice on the cross.

© There are various kinds of Masses:

first, a Solemn Mass, which is celebrated by a priest who is immediately assisted by a deacon and a sub-deacon; second, a High Mass, in which the celebrating priest sings certain parts of the Mass; third, a Low Mass, in which the priest reads all the parts of the Mass: fourth, a Pontifical Mass, which is celebrated by a bishop and by certain other prelates.

Any of these kinds of Masses can be a Requiem Mass, which is one offered for the dead. In a Requiem Mass the celebrating priest wears black vestments and reads or chants special prayers for the dead.

(d) Some prayers make up the “Ordinary” of the Mass and are practically always the same; others make up the “Proper” of the Mass and differ according to the seasons and the feasts of the ecclesiastical calendar.

(e) Ordinarily Mass must be offered on an altar stone consecrated by a bishop or by his delegate.

(f) The priest wears the following vestments during Mass:

an alb, a long white linen garment covering the body;
an amice, a white linen cloth placed over the shoulders and about the neck (as needed);
a cincture, a cord tied about the waist (as needed);
the stole, a long narrow band of cloth worn over the shoulders; and
the chasuble, an outer garment covering the greater part of the body.

These vestments have an ancient origin, and most of them resemble the garments worn by the apostles.

(g) The colors of the outer vestments worn during Mass are: white, which signifies purity of soul and holiness, red, which signifies the shedding of blood and burning love; green, which signifies hope; violet, which signifies penance; black, which signifies mourning; rose, which signifies joy in the midst of penance; and gold, which is used on solemn occasions in place of white, red, or green vestments.

White vestments are worn on feasts of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, saints who were not martyrs, and during the Easter season; red is used on the feasts of the Holy Ghost, the passion of Our Lord, and martyrs; green is used on the Sundays outside of Advent, Lent, and the Christmas and Easter season; violet is worn in Lent, Advent, and on penitential days, black is worn in Masses for the dead; rose may be used instead of violet on the third Sunday of Advent and on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

(h) Some of the important articles used during Mass are: the chalice, a gold-lined or other precious cup, in which the wine is consecrated; the paten, a gold-covered or other precious plate, on which the host is placed; the purificator, or cloth, for wiping the chalice, the pall, or linen-covered card, used to cover the chalice; the corporal, or square linen cloth, on which the host is placed; the missal, or book, from which the priest reads the prayers of the Mass; the candles, usually of beeswax; the crucifix over the altar; and the three linen cloths that cover the altar.

Hi GFresa9.

I have had Jewish friends as guests at Mass and have been to Synagogue several times. My Jewish friends were interested to find that we read from the Law and the Prophets, chanted the Psalms and even had an Elijah cup. You might recognize the Kiddush, HaMotzi, washing of the hands and lots of other things familiar to Jewish Shabbat. Please forgive my ignorance - I am not familiar with Shepardi in any way. I apologize if I assume too much.

I would suggest getting there early so that you can sit up front where you can see. I hope you post and let us know how it went and what you think.

Mass is similar to Shabbat in that it is a gift from God and a day of great joy. We look forward to Mass and (should) build our entire schedule around Mass. It is the pinnacle of our faith. At it’s heart, Mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross to God the Father and is divided roughly into two parts.

Liturgy of the Word - we hear God’s word from the Old Testament, Pslam, New Testament and Gospel and the priest or deacon explains God’s word, gives us reason for hope and exhorts us to live according to Gods commandments.

Liturgy of the Eucharist - The priest makes Jesus Christ present under the appearance of bread and wine. The same Jesus who hung on the Cross 2000 years ago is made present for us. The sacrifice He made for the world is made present and effective for us at that specific time and place. His sacrifice on the cross is re-presented to God the Father. We receive Jesus as food and are incorporated into his body. The bread and wine which are changed into Jesus is the Eucharist. One of the Prophets wrote that all offerings would cease with the exception of the thank offering. Eucharist is a Greek word which means thanksgiving.

There is a short rite before the Liturgy of the Word where we call on God’s name, acknowledge our sins and pray for each other. There is a short rite after the Liturgy of the Eucharist where we receive God’s blessing and are sent forth.

The word Mass comes from the Latin word missa meaning dismissal or sending forth. We are sent to do God’s work in the word.


I see that you are Sephardi one of my dearest friends is Sephardi too! Her family comes from Libya.

Very cool! The Sephardim extend through most of the Mediterranean nations. My ancestors were Italian and Spanish. Sadly, there aren’t many of us in the states.

It’s too bad her sister Tikvah moved from Charleston a few years ago because we maybe could have exchanged emails if it wasn’t completely creepy for everyone!

Please explain to me mass. In Judaism we have a weekly shabbat service and three daily prayers. What is the purpose of mass? Is it designed as a sort of holiday event like shabbat, or is it sort of like bathing or brushing one’s teeth in that it is a mandatory and socially-expected display of worship?

There are also various versions of the Mass. What is called the “Novus Ordo Mass” is what you will find nowadays at a large majority of American Catholic parishes. This is the Mass that was implemented after the reforms of Vatican II in the 60’s. The Novus Ordo Mass is said in the “vernacular” English in the U.S., with the priest facing the parishioners during the liturgy.

Prior to Vatican II, the older liturgy, called the Latin or “Tridentine” Mass, was celebrated. You can still find the old Latin Masses celebrated in many locations throughout the country, and this Mass was given more liberal usage by Pope Benedict in recent history. The Latin Mass is considerably different liturgically from the Novus Ordo Mass, replete with Gregorian Chant, Communion given kneeling at an altar rail, and other significant differences too numerous to mention here.

As in Judaism, there are both conservative and liberal wings of the Catholic Church. Those celebrating the older form of the liturgy, the Tridentine Mass, are considered to be “traditionalists”. This brand of Catholicism is even referred to as “traditional Catholicism”.

In Israel, there is also a Hebrew Catholic movement, in communion with Rome, that celebrates Mass in Hebrew. With your background in Judaism, you might find Hebrew Catholics to be more similar in background. Hebrew Catholics celebrate the liturgy of the Mass, but they also keep many Jewish religious practices as well, such as keeping kosher, celebrating Passover, etc.

In the Eastern Rite, they, too, have their own versions of the liturgy. In some ethnic parishes, Mass is also celebrated in other languages, such as Polish, German, etc.

One of my uncles was Sephardic; he was born in Tangier, Morocco and so was his son, my cousin.

I would say the Mass can be likened to the Friday night Shabbat service at home, in which there is also bread (challah) and wine, as well as lighted candles, and of course prayers. The table serves as an altar and the home is similar to a synagogue. I’m not sure if you practice that tradition, however. An interesting feature of the Mass is the use of incense, which must surely hearken back to the ancient days of the Jewish Temple.

Incense is not used in every Mass in all churches.

I just want to make it clear that Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of our Lord thus making us partakers in his divine life, they are not just bread and wine. We are also anointed with oil at our baptism which comes from the Jewish tradition of anointing of the priests, prophets and kings because we partake in the divine life of Jesus - so we share in his divine priesthood, prophesy and kingship although in our own very small way but it is all interconnect for the sake of his earthly kingdom on earth, the Church.

I used to go to Mass with my ex-girlfriend. She advised me to stand when everyone stands, sit when people sit, stay seated when people kneel, and stay put during the Communion portion. It always worked out well and everyone was very friendly.

Actually the Mass combines the synagogue, reading and expounding on scripture. And
all the Old Temple sacrifices are fulfilled in in the sacrifice of Mass, where the Lamb of God is eaten.

For a Sephardi, some of the Eastern Catholic Churches may seem more familiar. Not exactly, but somewhat. Especially Sepharidic Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.

Here’s an example, which is the Orthdoox Sephardic Chief Rabbi and which is the Catholic/Orthodox Patriarch/Catholicoi?!/image/721168079.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/721168079.jpg

Hey neighbor. How are you doing brother?:slight_smile:

Well, since the Catholic Church (speaking as a former Protestant who refused to take the time to understand for the longest time) views each and every Mass as an event when heaven ineffably opens up to partake of this Eucharistic Mystery, it’s safe to say that it is viewed differently than just another holiday, or sort of like bathing or brushing one’s teeth in that it is a mandatory and socially- expected display of worship. Hopefully this will help. It’s short,edifying and to the point:

This goes more in depth vis-a-vis the heavenly banquet, when you get some free time to kick back, have a coke, and watch at your leisure:

This goes more in depth vis-a-vis the heavenly banquet, when you get some free time to kick back, have a coke, and watch at your leisure:

I don’t have anything to add because I too am not Catholic; I only wanted to say shalom! ¿Favlas ladino?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit