Tips for Mass for a Protestant?


#1

Hello all!

My cousin and I are going to be traveling extensively in Europe next summer, which means we will be visiting a lot of churches, cathedrals, etc. (even the Holy See!) We want to get as much culture in as possible, and would like to attend mass while we are there.

The only problem is, I’ve only been to mass once in my life (3 years ago) and my cousin has never been. We really don’t know what we’re doing.
I’ve of course read all about the general order the mass occurs in, but we really don’t know what to say when, when to stand, when to kneel. The one time I went to mass I barely got to pay attention because I was so concerned with not being the crazy person standing while everyone else was kneeling.

I also know we are not permitted to take communion. Is there anything else like this we need to know? Perhaps specifically regarding relics?

Also, is it rude of us not to make the sign of the cross?

Like I said, we really have no idea what we’re doing.

For those who are wondering, we are going to Italy, Greece, Austria, France, England, and Ireland.

Thanks for any tips!


#2

Also, is it rude of us not to make the sign of the cross?

Like I said, we really have no idea what we’re doing.


#3

When to sit, stand and kneel is partly up to local custom and law. Therefore, it will somewhat vary. However, the whole world basically shares: stand for procession and opening rites, sit for readings, stand for Gospel, sit for homily, stand for Creed if there is one and the part following, sit for offertory, stand for Prayer Over Offerings and Preface, stand or kneel for Eucharistic Prayer (if standing is the custom, you will nevertheless kneel for the Consecration), stand after the EP, stay in your place for the reception of Holy Communion, stand for Prayer after Communion and dismissal.


#4

Sit, stand, or kneel when everyone else does. Maybe sit towards the back if it makes you feel more comfortable. I’m sure others will give you more detailed tips, but I think as long as you aren’t making a scene by, for instance, standing when everyone else is seated, no one is going to mind anything. They are probably quite used to it in churches tourists routinely visit.


#5

Make sure you are dressed modestly. You may want to see about getting a missal so you can follow along. There are usually copies somewhere in the vestibule. You might see if you can find a bilingual one online. It is not disrespectful for a guest to not make the sign of the cross. You might try to sit on the end of the pew that begins processing for communion because it is less awkward for people to get in and out. I don’t know that there is anything particular you need to do in regards to a relic.


#6

Anyone can attend Mass. You can just sit and watch if you want. Or you can stand and kneel at the same time the Catholics do. Nobody will accost you.

Here is a simple guide to the Mass:

grigaitis.net/mass/guide/


#7

Many churches in the US, and some in Europe, provide missalettes or missals either in the pews or by the entrances which will often state when they stand, kneel, sit, and what to say when, what the readings are (missals provide full text, missalettes provide summary), and provide the hymns (music and text). I’m sure there are also places online where you can download the order of mass with what to say and what posture to be in.


#8

See Mass Appeal: The ABC's of Worship by Jimmy Akin

Not sure what you are questioning regarding relics...?


#9

And remember that in Greece it will be tough to find a Roman Catholic Church. You will easily find a Greek Orthodox Church, or perhaps an Eastern (Rite) Catholic Church. I am sure that others will have more to offer.


#10

Yes, you will probably find a Greek Orthodox church literally on every street corner. No exaggeration–I’ve never seen so many churches in my life!


#11

Don't fall into the holy water font:D


#12

When in Rome....


#13

There are a lot of good recommendations in the posts above so I won't repeat them. Instead, I will tell you to make sure to relax while you are there. Stand, sit, and kneel when the others do but make sure to really focus on taking in the meaning of why you are there in Mass. You are there to worship. It is incredibly beautiful and peaceful when you let yourself get lost in it. You are surrounded not only by Scripture, but by thousands of years of tradition. Before the reformation, all Christians were doing what you are doing at that Mass. It is as much your history as it is mine and Christ is so incredibly present there. Don't forget to let yourself soak it all in. :)


#14

A few months before you leave, pick up a missel in english that way you won’t have to worry about not having one when you travel. I also suggest that you try to attend a few masses, read a bit about what’s going on in the mass, that way things won’t be as strange when you are travelling.

In terms of communion, as a non catholic, unfortunately you can’t have communion but you can go up for a blessing. What you do is, once the person ahead of you has had their communion, you cross your arms and put them on your shoulders. That way the priest knows that you aren’t Catholic. I used to do that all the time before I joined the church.


#15

[quote="SecretGarden, post:14, topic:300763"]
In terms of communion, as a non catholic, unfortunately you can't have communion but you can go up for a blessing. What you do is, once the person ahead of you has had their communion, you cross your arms and put them on your shoulders. That way the priest knows that you aren't Catholic. I used to do that all the time before I joined the church.

[/quote]

OP, I don't recommend you do this, especially not at an Eastern church. This may be a custom in America (I don't think it should be done, but I digress), but not necessarily in Europe. Some Eastern churches use the arms crossed over the chest as the position for Holy Communion, so the priest might not know you don't want to receive.

Your best bet is probably just to stay in the pew.

Have an amazing trip!


#16

Stand up when everybody stands up. Sit down when everybody sits down. Kneel when everybody kneels.


#17

As someone else has said this is not a good idea. It is not a normal Catholic practice, but a recent innovation one occasionally finds at some parishes in North America. I don’t know whether it exists in Europe at all. When it comes time for communion, if you are not going to receive you should just remain seated, or perhaps stand up and allow others to more easily move past you if the seating arrangement makes this desirable.


#18

[quote="Aelred_Minor, post:17, topic:300763"]
As someone else has said this is not a good idea. It is not a normal Catholic practice, but a recent innovation one occasionally finds at some parishes in North America. I don't know whether it exists in Europe at all. When it comes time for communion, if you are not going to receive you should just remain seated, or perhaps stand up and allow others to more easily move past you if the seating arrangement makes this desirable.

[/quote]

Depends which country you mean in Europe.

In the UK, not only is it allowed, it is officially encouraged in a recent document from Westminster.


#19

[quote="traveler2013, post:1, topic:300763"]
Hello all!

My cousin and I are going to be traveling extensively in Europe next summer, which means we will be visiting a lot of churches, cathedrals, etc. (even the Holy See!) We want to get as much culture in as possible, and would like to attend mass while we are there.

The only problem is, I've only been to mass once in my life (3 years ago) and my cousin has never been. We really don't know what we're doing.
I've of course read all about the general order the mass occurs in, but we really don't know what to say when, when to stand, when to kneel. The one time I went to mass I barely got to pay attention because I was so concerned with not being the crazy person standing while everyone else was kneeling.

I also know we are not permitted to take communion. Is there anything else like this we need to know? Perhaps specifically regarding relics?

Also, is it rude of us not to make the sign of the cross?

Like I said, we really have no idea what we're doing.

For those who are wondering, we are going to Italy, Greece, Austria, France, England, and Ireland.

Thanks for any tips!

[/quote]

The following link is a "magnificent" link to hopefully what you will encounter in Europe (I have heard our brothers and sisters in europe have fallen away from practicing their faith though and the pews are very empty, but if you go to Africa, you will be met with vibrancy and the fire of God's Spirit) scroll down to the video link of what happens at Mass - an encounter with Christ Himself!

olgcparish.net/education/true_magnificence.html

Peace of God with you when you travel.


#20

Most of the churches you go to will have relics in them, but they don’t have any role at Mass. Some Catholics venerate them with a kiss or a touch, but no one will be expecting you to follow suit; you won’t stand out in any way if you simply ignore them. :slight_smile:


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