Taking protestant parents to mass?

Just to give a bit of background, I’m currently going through RCIA and will be accepted into full communion with the Church this Easter. As I am going through RCIA 1,000 miles away from my parents at College, most of the changes that I have gone through as a result of this journey have taken place where my parents were unable to notice when they happened.

I guess that I have the dream of any convert with parents in another denomination to share my newfound faith with them, but I am not certain as to the best way to do this.

If I had to chose between telling them about my new faith and showing them, I’d have to chose the latter of the two choices, and I can think of no better way to show them than by taking them to celebrate mass.

Obviously if I do this, however, there are probably some things that I need to explain before taking them there.

So my questions then :

  1. Taking my protestant parents to mass : good idea or not?
  2. What should I do to let them get the most out of the mass?
  3. What should I say to let them get the most out of the mass?
  4. What would be the best way to convince them to go to mass with me? Should I convince them for example to go to a Saturday night mass so that they/we can go to church on Sunday or some arrangement like that?

Any help would be great.

God Bless,
Humilis Viator

This sounds like a tough one. A friend of mine once told me of a quote something like this “The holy mass is for the evangelized, not TO evangelize”. That makes a lot of sense to me, especially in retrospect. My girlfriend is not Catholic and I wish I would have waited to take her to mass. But, this situation would really depend on whether or not your parents are “Catholic friendly”. If they show prejudice toward the church it may be a better idea to wait and show them the church through you example of living the gospel as a member of the Catholic church.

I don’t know if this will help, but here is a pamphlet from the Pope John Paul II Society of Evangelists called “Scripture in the Mass”. Maybe that would be a good “primer” for them if they decide they want to attend with you.

Not long ago, someone also posted a link to the website Why do Catholics Bounce on One Knee?. That would be a great resource to help them learn about the mass.

Hope that helps, good luck and welcome to the Catholic Church!

I am also a covert with more agnostic leaning family. I’m not sure mass is the best place. I find that mass confuses my parents since it is so full of Christian symbols. With Protestants there tends to be confusion, then anger when they are told not to recieve. Probably the best way is to talk to them outside church. It gives you a good chance to have an honest discussion, and allows you to answer any questions. It’s also a lot less intimidating for them. If all goes well after that, then you can invite them to mass. Slow and steady is usually the best. With lots of prayer.

Thanks to you both. You raise up some very good points that I overlooked.

God Bless,
HV

there are masses called “teaching Masses” where the priest gets an ok from the Bishop to speak out of form…basically to stop the mass and say “this is why we do x” they are incredible and usually very well done. (the consencration, of course, isn’t interrupted). This would also prevent you from being put on the spot. I know some churches who do them for confirmation groups, or even bi-annually as a “brush-up”

The down side is that well done they’re atleast 2.5 to 3 hours long which can be off-putting to someone who’s nervous to begin with.

Thank you for informing me on the teaching mass, I didn’t know they existed, what a gem to have.

Ok, parents will get something out of mass, something big, something quite valuable, even if they reject the whole thing out right, they do and if anything, it’s because Jesus is there. I brought a friend of mine over to my local parish. The building was empty, just me, him and my Lord. He noticed our Lords presence there, it made a big impact, and this is just the empty building.

Tell them that it’s not necessary to understand anything about what’s going on, simply observe and know that nobody is looking down on them for not being able to participate. I have a great deal of respect for visiting protestants. If you can ask the choir ahead of time for a special request, ask them to sing Amazing Grace or something that your parents will find familiar, they will also enjoy participating with our Lords prayer as well, so a couple of common ground elements will be quite helpful. They will also remember the scripture being read as well as the sermon, these are elements that we must convey to all protestants, for it’s very much common ground we can stand firmly along the same side with.

If you want to take the initiave, prepare the parish by letting them know of your plans, have a welcome basket and welcome wagon created by them waiting for their visit. This is kind of over the top, but it’s giving them the warmest possible welcome to your parish, hopefully planting the seeds to get them to inquire further into the church itself. “we do have our way’s to evangelize, believe it or not”, but it’s not a matter of simply filling in the pews, we want to share the fullness of our faith with others, not because we get something out of it by doing so “well sorta, you get the warm and fuzzy’s helping others to find home”, but that we get to share what our Lord has been so generous to us with along and he has plenty more of this for all that want it.

That said, if you can get a couple of miraculous medals, place them on a chain to wear around their neck, do so, it will help facilitate Mary herself onto their involvement into the church. They do not need to know what it means, how it works, what it’s for, or any of that, just don’t tell them it’s a good luck charm please… Trust me on this, if you can get anybody to do this, be prepared for results.

Pray for it all to go well, and pray with them regularly as well. Along showing your faith, it seems I’m finding protestants to be most impressed with my understanding of scripture, it’s partially their fault due to their influence with me in the past, and partially now, because of the church, I’m even more deeply into it. We hold the word in the same regards as they, with respect and reverence, and again, it’s common ground you can share.

I (a convert) was very nervous about taking my mother to Mass with us, especially since we conclude every Mass with a pro-life prayer and my mother and I regularly argue about her pro-abortion views. Since then, she has gone with us 6 or 7 times, and it has gone better that expected. Of course, she was raised as a traditional Episcopalian; so many elements of the Mass are familar to her.

Make sure your parents have a copy of the missal in the pew, as Protestants are used to having a program to follow. Try to sit near the end of the pew, so they aren’t as embarassed by everyone filing past them to receive the Eucharist.

I agree with the above advice to pray that it goes well and that their hearts and minds are open to the experience. I think it is a good idea to take them. :thumbsup: My mom has even said recently she would become Catholic, if it weren’t for those pesky pro-life positions and all-male priesthood! :wink:

An idea that someone posted on another thread and I thought was a very good one was to write a letter to you parents. If you have not told them about your spiritual journey and why you have decided to become Catholic is can sometimes be difficult in conversation because the discussion can jump all over the place and lots of emotions can come up. If you write to your parents then they have time to digest and reread what you have said in their own time.

This might be the way you can invite them to mass and explain why you would like them to come with you some time. In the previous thread the posted said they thought “snail mail” was best because then people can sit around and read at their leisure while email can be very direct and immediate and feel like it is forcing a quick response. I would be very respectful and loving to your parents and let them digest this change in their own time.

I think whether or not it’s a good idea to take your parents with you to Mass depends on what type of Protestant they are and how strict they are in that regard.

I could not imagine taking my father to Mass when I first became Catholic. In fact, I still haven’t as of 3 years. His first time will be mine and my fiance’s wedding Mass.

The reason? Because of the type of Lutheran he is. We grew up pretty much hating Catholics and not understanding anything, but believe lies.

Before I became Catholic, my fiance (then boyfriend) and I would go to Mass as well as my Lutheran service. At first it was awkward for me, but not too terrible since the Lutheran I was is actually very similar to Catholicisim.

What I would suggest is to offer it to them. Just put it out in the open. Perhaps say “You know, if you ever want to go with me just to check it out, let me know”.

I believe in evangelizing by living the faith. If my dad can see my love for Catholicism and see how great of a Christian I can be despite being Catholic, I think he’ll become more open to it, and learn to respect it more. But if your parents aren’t strict or Catholic hating, then I think you’ll have an easier time of getting them to Mass.

I agree with sitting either in a side pew if your church has those, or at the back of the church on the end so that they won’t feel awkward when people need to get by for Communion or if they don’t want to kneel that they won’t feel like they stick out. Also make sure and open the books or pamphlet to the corresponding part of Mass so they can read along and know what’s going on.

Not all Protestants will be offended by not being able to receive Communion, depends on the type of Protestant. Some Lutherans also have closed Communion.

If your parents are not familiar with Catholicism, one place I really like for a powerful but brief presentation is CatholicsComeHome.org. Despite the name, it speaks not only to returning Catholics but to non-Catholics and even the Catholic faithful.

Also - if your parents currently have anti-Catholic feelings - consider what the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen once remarked: “There are not even 100 people in this country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church to be.”

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