Proper actions at Mass


My wife and I are currently attending RCIA at our local parish. We have not yet begun attending Sunday Mass with the class (this starts next month). We have attended Mass on our own and wondered about the proper actions to take during prayer, etc. Is it acceptable for us to kneel before entering the pew? Is it acceptable for us to kneel during prayer? I know we can not take communion, so we stay seated at this point (although I have heard that we need to leave).

Thanks for any help you can give. I keep meaning to ask these questions in class but always seem to forget or get sidetracked with another subject.


You will need to confer with your RCIA instructor about these matters.

As for attending Mass, please consult this book:


If the Blessed Sacrament is present in the tabernacle then it is proper to genuflect before entering the pew. If the tabernacle is in a separate side chapel or the Blessed Sacrament is not present it is proper to reverence the altar with a bow.

Is it acceptable for us to kneel during prayer?

Yes, it’s acceptable to kneel during prayer. Best advice is to follow the postures of the rest of the congregation. If they are sitting or standing, then you probably should too.

know we can not take communion, so we stay seated at this point (although I have heard that we need to leave).

Not exactly sure what you mean by needing to leave. Are you talking about leaving the Church? While you cannot receive communion you may stay in the pew and pray. In some areas those who cannot receive communion may go up and receive a blessing from the priest. Just depends whether or not you parish does this. By no means you do need to leave the Church.


If you like to read and can afford it, these books will give you a wealth of knowledge about your new faith:

Also, don’t forget the Douay-Rheims Bible. A really nice and inexpensive one is offered by Barnes and Noble:

God Bless


" I know we can not take communion, so we stay seated at this point (although I have heard that we need to leave). "

I know in my parish when they attend as a group they do leave after the homily and a blessing from father for further instruction. I think when you attend on your own staying is the right thing to do.

Liked marty1818 responses to all the rest of the questions.


I don't like to say "do what everyone else is doing," because what some people do is liturgical abuse.

For example, you might see people holding and raising their hands at the Our Father. Don't do that. That is liturgical abuse, even though it is widespread.

Also, you might see people moving their hands, directing them toward the priest when responding "and with your spirit." Again, don't do that. That is liturgical abuse.

God bless you through RCIA. :blessyou:


You genuflect before entering the pew. You kneel after the prayer of “Holy,Holy, Holy”, and kneel after the prayer of “Lamb of God”. You can either remain seated during Communion or you can cross your arms on your chest and receive a blessing from the priest. You can also kneel and pray as people do after the Communion. You don’t have to leave during Communion when you attend Mass on your own. If you are with the RCIA class, you leave with everyone else when you are told to.


Thanks to everyone for your answers. We will continue to do what we've been doing until we start attending Mass with RCIA class.


Yes, you can genuflect, kneel, make the Sign of the Cross, etc… No need to be Catholic for such things.

I know we can not take communion, so we stay seated at this point (although I have heard that we need to leave).

When your RCIA group attends Mass, you will be dismissed after the homily for instruction. This “Dismissal of the Catechumens” dates from the very early Church. When you attend Mass as an individual, just stay in your pew when others are going up for Communion.


That was a very old rule. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is sometimes known as the Liturgy of the Faithful because it is only intended for the baptised faithful. The unbaptised were required to leave at the end of the Liturgy of the Word. I have attended Eastern Catholic masses where the priest still intones “Catechumens depart, all catechumens depart” after the homily. I has told that this dismissal is what gave rise to the word mass (missa in Latin) but I haven’t been able to substantiate this. There were also fears in the early Church of non-Catholics going for communion with the intention of abusing the Blessed Sacrament - before Constantine, Christianity had a very bad rap.

Today, we allow non-baptised to stay for the whole mass (in the Western Church in any rate). So, stay on. Some priests will also be OK to give you blessings in place of communion. To do this, you go up with the communion queue (the priest’s queue) with your arms folded in an “X” in front of your chest. But talk to the priest before hand to make sure he is OK with it - there may be some who may not, but generally they are OK.

God bless you faith journey.


Basically you can do what everybody else does, except receive Communion, but you know that. If people genuflect before entering the pew, then go right ahead.


But don’t get caught out when the priest says ‘Let us pray’ and automatically sink to your knees, as you will find everyone else standing up. Truly, we Catholics are a funny lot - many times we stand to pray and sit down to sing hymns but don’t do either consistently!

A thousand welcomes, by the way - you won’t regret it. I hope your RCIA experience is a happy one.


I still have trouble with stopping after “deliver us from evil” during the Lord’s Prayer. I must admit it was a bit embarrassing the first time when I continued on. Oh well…no harm, no foul.


Hi roverchris! Welcome, welcome, welcome!

At my parish, when the RCIA catechumens and candidates leave after the homily. They go over to the Hall, reread/discuss the Gospel reading. We call it, "Breaking Open the Word".

Each parish is different. Your RCIA instructors will guide you.


Those are NOT liturgical abuses. They’re not prescribed but neither is genuflecting before entering the pew. Neither is receiving a blessing instead of Communion. Neither is closing your eyes or clasping your hands.


Genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament is prescribed in the GIRM and it is not optional.


Right, but nowhere is it prescribed for entering and exiting pews.


Guys, I think this thread was started as an inquiry into our faith by an inquirer/catechumen. Can we take our debates over liturgical practices to another thread? It can be rather confusing for the OP.

Roverchris, I think by this point, you have all the necessary answers that you seek. Anything that follows could well be the traditional way that Catholics try to keep their faith pure in the way they see it - by arguing. Sometimes, it creates more heat than light, but it really is part of being Catholic, I guess.


The point is that it is so acceptable to genuflect when entering and exiting a pew that 99% of Catholics and some non-Catholics do it. It is proper reverence due the Blessed Sacrament. You are free as a non-Catholic to do or say anything else prescribed in the liturgical books as long as it does not conflict with your own developing faith, and Catholics will be happy to see you doing it.


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