I told my mom that I am converting and I asked her friend to be my godmother for baptism. My mom has also requested to attend Christmas mass on Sunday. This will be her first mass ever and I am nervous because this could change her opinion of the Catholic Church or make it worse. Should I prepare her for anything? This might be a silly question because I have been going to mass for a while now but it is her very first one. Anything I should tell her before she goes?
Welcome! And welcome to her, even if she is just visiting. If she’s not comfortable with the kneeling during the mass, don’t pressure her to. She is welcome to kneel, but can remain seated during those times if she desires.
The one thing I can think of that may be a shock to her is that Catholics practice closed communion. Communion is for those fully received Into the Catholic faith, and out of respect for our traditions we ask that she please not receive. The most you can do is explain the Church’s position. You don’t need to argue with her, prove anything to her, or prevent her from approaching. Once you’ve advised her of this, you’re not responsible for her actions or choice.
If your church welcomes those not receiving to come up for a blessing, you can let her know she may do this. Typically one approaches the priest with their arms in an X across the chest to show you will not be receiving today, and a blessing is typically said instead (some EMHCs are awkward at this part), but not all Church’s do this so I’d check first. Since you’re still in RCIA, maybe she should just do what you would do.
But otherwise, we all welcome her to mass and are glad to worship alongside her.
Just to note, if your mom wants to go up for a blessing, it is preferable that she would join the priests’ line, rather than approaching an EMHC, not only because an EMHC is not supposed to give blessings, but because the priest will know what to do.
On most Sundays when the Creed is said there is usually a bow of the head at the words “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” On Christmas, when that part of the Creed is said, instead of just a bow of the head, there is usually a genuflection, a going down on one knee. At least that’s my understanding of the practice in the USA; I don’t know about Canada.
At my parish, incense is rarely used. Because incense bothers some people, my parish has made it known ahead of time that incense will be used at certain Masses on Christmas. If your mother would be bothered by incense, you might want to make sure you go to an incense-free Mass.
Christmas Masses will be longer than other Sundays and more people will attend than other Sundays. I make sure to arrive early for Christmas and Easter Masses.
Welcome home! It might be helpful to know what faith background you mother has to know what might throw her off. I think others have covered most things well but if she’s Protestant the various responses and such during the Mass might also be off-putting and the Creed if she doesn’t know these so a missal or just printing those off if she’d like to have them to know what the lay people say and when may be helpful too. A blessed Christmas to you!
Before I take anyone to Mass for the first time, I always introduce them to the gestures we use, so that they don’t have to try to navigate those things for the first time in front of other people. I teach them how to genuflect, how to make the sign of the cross, how (and why) we do those three little crosses before the Gospel, and I instruct them on what to do with themselves when lines are forming during Communion. I tell them that with the sitting/kneeling/standing, they can just follow everyone else: there will be a lot of rustling noises, so the change will be obvious.
I also tell them to give it time, because there’s so much new information – it might be many Masses before they become comfortable with the Catholic liturgy.
Afterward, I ask them if they have any questions.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken a first-timer to Mass, but this approach has always worked well for me. Best wishes for you and your mom.
Not sure your level of knowledge about the Mass but if you aren’t that knowledgeable then now would be a good time to study up on it. This way you can explain to her maybe whispering to her or after the Mass why things are being done the way they are.
For example, the procession. This symbolizes the walk of life. We come out of the narthex through the nave which is like womb and we walk through life, and at the end we meet Jesus. (Interesting tidbit that some people do not know.)
And that’s just the start of it. When protestants understand the Mass they come to appreciate the beauty of it.
I have been told that EMHC are able to give blessings per Vatican II
We have been strictly forbidden to give blessings in our parish (Seattle Archdiocese) and here is a discussion of the response from Rome on this topic from Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as published in the diocesisan newspaper in Wisconsin:
What we do is welcome them (some bow to them). I might say something like “May Christ live in your heart”. A wish more than a blessing.
Indeed. When I trained as an EMHC, I was told we could say something like “May God bless you”. That is licit, but it isn’t a blessing. Going on a 2 day course on how to distribute the sacrament does not give you the power to confer blessings. If you want a blessing, you need to be in the priest’s line.
Here is another option: instead of wondering about what you mom will do when she follows you during Communion, you both stay in the pew during Communion. You aren’t required to receive Communion at each mass (which you probably already know). I have done this with my guests at times.
It’s perfectly appropriate to remain with your guest in the pew during Communion, as a courtesy to them. Plus it has the virtue of avoiding the awkwardness of them going up for Communion.
If you decide to do this, just tell her before mass that you won’t be going up. If she objects, it becomes an opportunity to explain to her that parishioners are not obliged to receive communion each time.
As stated above, we can give better advice if you let us know what background your mother is coming from.
I would recommend touching base with her about communion, the how’s and the why’s. Try to find a place in the back where A) People don’t have to scoot passed you for communion and B ) where hopefully do one can sit behind you. I’ve caught my fair share of off handed comments and eye rolls (even though I get up and exit the pew to let people out/in and scoot all the way up in my seat). That may depend on where you go though.
Touch base with her on sharing peace before hand.
If you know anyone in your Parish, introduce her before Mass.
But, like I said, to really get into specifics it would be helpful to know you’re Mom’s religious background.
As with other suggestions, how about suggesting to her, if she wants, to pre-watch a mass on you tube or on EWTN, by herself or with both of you.
I have tried but she seems very close minded about wanting to learn. I am hesitant to even bring her anymore
let her take it at her own pace. Dont push