Pre-Mass etiquette for non-Catholics


#1

I need some advice. My husband is a non-Catholic, but he’s been coming to Mass with me for about a year and a half now and he’s thinking seriously about entering RCIA in the fall. There’s just one problem—I’m having trouble getting him to see eye-to-eye with me on proper etiquette before Mass starts.

For example, he usually has the Internet up on his iPhone before Mass starts (although he puts it away as soon as the bells ring and doesn’t touch it after that). And at last night’s Assumption Mass, he arrived at the church before I did and brought a comic book in with him. o_O When I arrived, I asked him as gently as I could to put it away, but the conversation didn’t go well—to put it mildly. We had an argument about it after Mass, with me trying to explain that it was inappropriate and may have been distracting to people around us; and him replying that reading silently was better than the people who have full-blown conversations pre-Mass, and that as long as he wasn’t reading during the Mass, he didn’t see what the big deal was.

Was it wrong of me to bring this up? Are non-Catholics even bound to etiquette rules while in church? (He also doesn’t genuflect, kneel, do the sign of the cross, etc., but I know that will come with time.) Until he’s in RCIA, should I just enjoy the fact that he’s attending with me, and not worry so much about the particulars? I don’t want to harp on him and end up inadvertently pushing him away from the Church while he’s still in the inquiry phase.

(Also, please pray for him. And for me.)


#2

I wouldn't carp about the iPhone or the comic book, but you might want to get him one of those generic book covers so at least people don't see it's a comic book! (Actually, if I saw an adult reading a comic book before Mass, I'd crack up laughing myself.) Don't discourage him from attending at all right now. As for the iPhone, there is an app called iBreviary that has the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the Mass readings on it. Don't use it without an unlimited data plan, though!

My husband is Lutheran, and has never been interested in joining the Catholic Church, although we were married in the Church and he does respect my beliefs, as I do his.


#3

To me it seems there is something more going on here.

Pre-Mass etiquette isn’t about being Catholic or non Catholic, it is about being polite and having respect both for the place you are visiting AND the people in that place.

I would not surf my iPhone or read a comic book in a synagogue, mosque, church, or Buddhist temple. I would not do things considered rude or disrespectful at a funeral, wedding, graduation ceremony, or grandma’s 80th birthday party.

This, to me, seems like it is more about a power struggle or something else. His refusal to stop his behaviors after you have **asked **him to do so and explained it is not appropriate to the location or occasion really are clues this is something bigger.

It says “this place is not special and God does not deserve reverence, attention, or prayer”. So, yeah, it’s a problem.


#4

The best pre-Mass etiquette is to keep your talking, reading, or phone/internet use in your car or in the narthex. When you sit in your pew, you should silently pray and prepare yourself for Mass, not talk. If you want to read, read the readings for the Mass or some spiritual work. After all, you are in the Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, not in a bus station.


#5

[quote="odile53, post:2, topic:295481"]
I wouldn't carp about the iPhone or the comic book, but you might want to get him one of those generic book covers so at least people don't see it's a comic book! (Actually, if I saw an adult reading a comic book before Mass, I'd crack up laughing myself.) Don't discourage him from attending at all right now. As for the iPhone, there is an app called iBreviary that has the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the Mass readings on it. Don't use it without an unlimited data plan, though!

My husband is Lutheran, and has never been interested in joining the Catholic Church, although we were married in the Church and he does respect my beliefs, as I do his.

[/quote]

This. But also what 1ke says has merit. On the same token you have expressed your objections. Maybe at this point it is best to know you have planted the seed and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.


#6

I’m with the husband. I’m one of those dorks who carries a book everywhere and my nose is always in it. If I were in a situation like waiting for church to start and everyone around me was carrying on conversations, I would probably try to get in a few pages.

Just be grateful that he’s going to mass and that he puts it away when it starts.


#7

It sounds like he's being discrete, non-distruptive, and putting it away when Mass begins.

I wouldn't get worked up over it; leave it in prayer.


#8

It's wonderful of him to accompany you to mass and now he's even considering RCIA which is fantastic! Maybe he's a bit more "simply knit" when it comes to church. Take it easy on him. He made a start. God will do the rest :thumbsup:


#9

My non-Catholic, non-believing husband attends mass with me almost every Sunday. Although the church has no special meaning to him, he respects the fact that it has meaning for me and for the other members of our parish. His pre-mass routine is to read the bulletin and to look up the hymns to see if we will be singing any that he especially likes. Once these tasks are completed he just sits there quietly.

If he were to discreetly surf the net on his iphone I wouldn’t be too pleased, but I wouldn’t make a big deal of it. A comic book? He’d need surgery to remove it from the dark place I would deposit it.


#10

I have the same problem with my wife - ill catch her playing words with friends on her I-phone and it drives me nuts - but I told her it makes me feel so much better when she doesn't do that, and if she cares about my comfort she would be able to hold off till after mass to do those things


#11

[quote="1ke, post:3, topic:295481"]
To me it seems there is something more going on here.

Pre-Mass etiquette isn't about being Catholic or non Catholic, it is about being polite and having respect both for the place you are visiting AND the people in that place.

[/quote]

I was thinking the same thing...


#12

I agree with this. I went to Mass weekly when I was at college (I’m not Catholic, but the priest was a friend and I found a really great community of friends which was a challenge at because of my physical disability). I spent the time before Mass praying or reading from the Bible, Missal, or devotional they had in the pew.

I felt weird when there were times I had to text someone before Mass (if my mom or sister didn’t hear from me, they’d worry I’d fallen or something), and I usually left the sanctuary and took care of it.

I’d never dream of bringing in a book, unless it was a devotional-type book. I just think a church, regardless of denomination, is a place to be reverent, even if you are not a member of said church.


#13

When I'm in church I recognize the real presence of Jesus Christ in the tabernacle, so I wouldn't do anything that I wouldn't do in front of Jesus. I mean really...who would sit and read a comic book if Jesus were standing in front of them?

I think maybe your husband doesn't yet understand that Jesus is truly present in the eucharist? I would say give him the benefit of the doubt for now and don't risk driving him away from the church. Hopefully he'll complete RCIA and then he'll 'get it'. If he's still reading comic books after that, then I'd have a more serious discussion about it.


#14

Glad to hear he's planning on RCIA! And that he's been attending Mass with you.

I agree that the etiquette rules would apply no matter what church or solemn occasion it was (grandma's funeral, etc.) However, I have a feeling that he simply has never learned better - especially if he grew up without going to church, funerals, or formal concerts (rock concerts are a whole different thing!)

RCIA will be starting in just a few weeks I assume. Once it does, make a point of sitting with others from thr group at Mass. I bet he'll get the hint a lot faster if he sees the habits of other men joining the Church.


#15

[quote="joanofarc2008, post:5, topic:295481"]
This. But also what 1ke says has merit. On the same token you have expressed your objections. Maybe at this point it is best to know you have planted the seed and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

[/quote]

You might be right. It's certainly not proper etiquette (Jesus is right there in the tabernacle!). But if your husband is considering RCIA, hopefully he'll get a better sense of why it's not proper as he goes through the process.


#16

If you told him how you feel, I don't think there's much else you can/should do about it. I agree with you that it's rude and wrong, but what else can you do? He's not a child, so you can't force him to stop. I would just pray for him and be thankful he wants to go to Mass. I attended Mass for so long without my husband and now he's finally going again with me. I took it for granted that he came with me until he stopped. Now I am just so happy he is going again.


closed #17

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