New to Catholicism - Going to Mass?


I am really interested in the Catholic faith, however, I have never gone to mass before. I am worried that I’ll be confused or not know what is going on. I found a church near where I live, so I really want to try it out.
The first question I had was about what time to go. Am I supposed to go on Sunday? Or would it be just as good if I went on a Monday or Wednesday?
Also, do people dress up for mass or is it more casual?
Is there anything else I should know before showing up for a mass?


Since the Mass is a liturgy rather than a lecture or revival format, it may be a little confusing. You can read the text of it here:
Order of Mass - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

If you go to an eastern Catholic church is will be different.

Formal is not required but it is good to dress modestly and respectfully.

You should not go up for communion, being Baptist.

Watch what other people do, so the front row is not the best place. At one point it is common to join hands in prayer, unless you are sitting away from others. There is a lot of standing, some sitting, and some kneeling. The sign of the cross is often made.


I go to Mass on my own as a (hopefully) soon-to-be Catholic, both in England and also in Italy, where I actually don’t understand much of the language. People are friendly and have started to talk to me a little. The thing that I found very different from the Anglican church services I’m used to was the lack of hymns!


I attended several masses before deciding to become Catholic. I sat in the back, prayed quietly during Communion. If I saw everyone kneel, I knelt. If they stood, I stood, etc. Just observe and enjoy the experience.

I think you should go on Sunday, dress nicely but casually. Good luck:thumbsup:


Just go whenever you’d like. :smiley: The first time I went, I was completely in awe at the beauty of the liturgy. To me, there is something very special about the simplicity of a daily Mass with complete silence except for the words of the Priest and the responses of the congregation. But, Sunday Mass is also very beautiful with music. :slight_smile:

Like the other poster said, I’d sit closer to the back. If you aren’t comfortable kneeling during the Mass, you may sit but you should stand with the congregation when appropriate. That being said, I highly encourage you to follow along by kneeling with everyone else. During communion, just sit tight and let others in your pew get out.

The first time I went to a Mass alone, I was a little scared. Then I realized that Catholics are very nice folks. Nobody will think you are weird for being at Mass and not receiving communion. I got nothing but excited responses when I told others I was there to check out Catholicism. :slight_smile:


If you’re interested in Catholicism, make sure to go to Mass as soon as you can, and as often as you can. If you convert, you will be obliged to go on Sundays (and some other days, depending a bit on where you live), and getting into that habit sooner rather than later is a good idea. It’ll also help you “get into” the liturgical life of the Church, which is a better way to discern this than any amount of conversion classes, reading etc. Those parts are of course also important, but nothing will ever be more important than the Mass.

Also, while preparation is of course useful, I often tell people to not be too prepared. The Liturgy can speak on its own. The church you go to may or may not have leaflets containing the Ordinary of the Mass, which is really all you need, if anything. Just listen, watch and let things sink in. Let books, explanations and everything else come later. Don’t worry about seeming “new” - that is a blessing, not something to be ashamed of.

Lastly (and this isn’t something you really need to worry about now, but I like saying it nonetheless :slight_smile: ), don’t ever let go of the “newness” of it all. Don’t ever let the Mass become routine or something you think you understand. The Mass is a mystery; it is, to use an older word, ineffable. It’s what nurtures us - it is Christ descending from Heaven in flesh and blood. No amount of theological study or rubrical knowledge can ever explain that. Speaking as a former Master of Ceremonies in the Latin Mass, and as a complete liturgy geek, I can tell you I am no closer to understanding the Mass now than I was more than eight year ago, when I first set foot in a Catholic church.


AWESOME! That’s great!

Don’t sweat the confusion. You’ll get it down before long. You can invest a little ($1.94) and get a 2014 St. Joseph Annual Sunday Missal that will guide you through the liturgy and the readings. That’s what I started out with. :slight_smile:

The first question I had was about what time to go. Am I supposed to go on Sunday? Or would it be just as good if I went on a Monday or Wednesday?

There are daily Masses in most churches, usually in the mornings. It is a little different there, but it’s the same Mass.

Sunday is a definite GO. May as well get used to it because faithful Catholics go every Sunday. It’s not an option.:thumbsup:

Also, do people dress up for mass or is it more casual?

Depends on where you live and whether it’s a daily Mass or Sunday. Dailies tend to be different because people are either going to work or are just doing their day’s routine and so Jeans and a shirt are okay. Sunday…I’d say wear what cruise ships call “smart casual”. Nice shirt and pants…

Is there anything else I should know before showing up for a mass?

Yep…definitely do not take communion as we do not do open communion. We do ours more like the early church did.

If you would like to really get an excellent insight into the Mass, I strongly recommend Dr. Edward Sri’s book A Biblical Walk Through the Mass which, especially for someone like you whose coming from a Sola Scriptura background, it will really set you on a solid understanding of what it’s all about, while walking you step by step through the whole liturgy. It’s amazing…and I think every Catholic should read it as well.:smiley:

See also, What can Protestants do at Mass?

Feel free to PM me if you have anything you need to talk about.

You are always welcome here at CAF.


You can go to any Catholic Church to attend Mass. Most Catholic Churches have a bulliten board in front of the Church that lists the times and days of Mass.I suggest that you get to the church a few minutes before Mass starts so as to get oriented with the church,
When you go up to the pew you wish to sit in, it is proper to genuflect, that is to go down on one knee and rise before entering the pew. It is ok to hold onto the side of the pew with one hand in order to balance yourself. One genuflects out of respect for Christ who is present in the Hostsat are in the Tabernacle near the altar.
After you enter the pew, you might find a booklet in the rack behind the pew in front of you. This is a missal and prayer book. When you open it, you will see the prayers that make up the Mass. It is very easy to follow.
With reguards to standing, kneeling, and sitting,it is customary to rise and stand when the Priest enters the Altar area from the side room, which is called the Sacristy. As for the rest of the Mass, just follow the actions of other people at the Mass.
G*d Bless.


Well, the only way to know what you need to know is to try it out! :wink:

Like others posted, sit toward the back so you can see what’s going on. (although you might have to squeeze in with all the Catholics. We have a tendency to want to hide in the back. :smiley: )

I don’t know how Protestant services go (I’ve been to several, but never to the same denomination more than once), but Catholic Masses are nearly always the same every time. Once you go a couple times you’ll know what to expect.

Also, nearly everything is laid out in the Missal, so you can read what’s happening as it’s happening. And the day’s readings are organized by date, so if you go on Sunday, January 26, you turn to the page marked for Sunday, January 26. :slight_smile:

Again, I don’t know what Protestant services are like, but Masses don’t have any freestyle component other than the priest’s sermon.


I so understand how you are feeling. The parish that you are considering should have web pages listing the Mass Times. Call the parish office, usually they are willing to answer any questions. Going during the week helps a little, however I like Sat. or Sun. best. One should wear his or her best when going before the King. I am not saying go out any buy all fancy clothes, just wear the best you have in your closet. GOD BLESS YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY!


When going to Mass on a Sunday, there are hymns to be sung. These are usually posted on a hymnal board or may be announced beforehand.:slight_smile:


Wow, thank you SO much everyone! I didn’t expect so many responses haha :slight_smile: I have never seen people with such enthusiasm about their faith, this has made me even more interested in Catholicism.
So I emailed the church I want to visit for some general information on their services, like times and everything.
I also watched some videos on youtube of masses so I could get a general idea of what it looks like. I loved it, I really like how respectful and traditional the mass is.
Should I bring a Bible to mass? I have an NIV version Bible, but I’m not sure which version Catholics use. I know there Catholics have 73 books instead of 66 in their Bible, but will there be Bibles in the pews or anything?


You don’t need to bring a Bible to Mass - but if you want it’s okay! :slight_smile:
Usually Churches will have misalettes (spelling?) in the pews, which are little books that contain the prayers (so you can follow along) and the readings from Scripture that will be used that day (at least for Sundays). They can be confusing at first, but you’ll get the hang of it! :thumbsup:

Welcome! :smiley:

-J. S. S. P.


Right–we don’t use Bibles during Mass. Which is probably where the stereotype that Catholics don’t read the Bible comes from. :stuck_out_tongue:


Okay that makes it easy haha! Which version of the Bible do you guys use when you read the Bible on your own?


1970 New American Bible
King James (for comparison)


There’s a long list of them.

I should clarify: we don’t use the Bible per se, but on Sunday there are at least five readings that are directly from the Bible: first reading (Old Test), second reading (New Test), Gospel, the Our Father, and the Responsorial Psalm.


If you are referring to holding hands during the Our Father, the Church discourages this practice.


Further clarification: Each day’s readings from scripture are different, are read aloud, and progress through the Bible. The way I understand it, there are three cycles of readings we use, one cycle per year. So the entire Bible will be read (and listened to) within three years. The scripture readings for a certain Mass can have a common thread that ties them together. The music emphasizes that and the priest’s humily, or sermon, is usually pertaining to that common thread.

There are two sections of a Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eurcharist.

The Our Father is said by everyone during the second half, the Liturgy of the Eurcharist. The scripture is read during the first half, Liturgy of the Word.

In many Catholic churches in America, the congregation does hold hands during the Our Father. Although the Church may discourage it, the practice is quite common and you may offend someone next to you by refusing their hand. You can certainly decide later if you should not engage in the holding of hands. Sometimes the Our Father is chanted, started by the priest with the people joining in. It is very lovely chanted.

Prior to Communion, before the prayer Lamb of God, we offer each other the “sign of peace”, a symbolic gesture to show we made peace with our brothers before receiving Communion. Simply shake hands with your neighbors to either side of you, in front, and behind, and to anyone who extends their hand. You may see some people hugging. These are family members or friends. In some parishes, we are asked to greet each other just prior to the start of Mass as well, but this has a different intention.


Regarding dress, I try to think of dressing for church as I would to go to work and I used to work in office type settings. I am not thinking management suit type of dressing, although that can be nice.

During the hot summer in Southern California, I need to dress as I would for Casual Friday. I use public transportation, so I need to be mindful of weather, rain or sun. Since I need to do some walking too, I wear comfortable shoes. When I wear a dress, I take a canvass bag with a pair of heels to change into when I get to the church. I am in a choir, which helps me to be more mindful of what I wear, since I am more visable than sitting in the pews.

Casual dress is fine, but don’t get tempted to follow the bad example of those who wear tee shirts with writing on it. Even tastefull ones are distracting.

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