What constitutes worship?

In this context:


On the other hand, it would be wrong for you to worship at (as distinguished from to visit) a non-Catholic church.

Say I were to visit my former church to see someone baptized. Would I have to sit there and not do anything? What could I do that would not mean worship?

It is best not to place yourself in a position that can lead to the falling from grace.

By going to non Catholic churches you place yourself in harm’s way by being in a place that is definatively non Christian in some way because of their falling from universality of all Christendom. It is only when in a truley Catholic environment is one in a place that is fully fertile for growth. Protestant churches all have failings because they have all strayed from the full Truth. They also lack all Sacraments.

There are few reasons to associate ourselves to teachings that are not fully Christian and it also depends on an individuals strengths. As an individual we can fool ourself in to thinking we are actually stronger than we really are and thus we become even more suseptable to corruption. Corruption in thinking and teachings…

As to “what constitutes worhip” you have many detailed answers that are all part of the whole. Yet your concern seems to be less involved in what worship is but rather a desire to have the Full Truth and the corruption of Truth. Kind of like wanting to have our whole cake and eat it too… You either have the Full Truth or you do not. If it is not Catholic then it is corrupted and lacking (period). No reason to stray, or is there?

I think that’s a bit over the top. We can and should join in prayer with our separated brethren.

I’m willing to listen to arguments both ways, but I’m inclined to agree with this. One point I would make is that this would have to be an initial baptism and not a “re-baptism” that is so common in many Protestant circles. That would be imitating, if not abusing, a sacrament, and I would have no part in that.

I don’t believe the Church Herself agrees with you, as baptisms and marriages can be valid outside the Church. As Protestant churches (at least none I’ve attended) do not combine worship services and weddings, baptism of family members is one of the only reasons I can see myself attending a Protestant service. Besides prayer, I want to know what am I to do. Do I have to stand in the back and not appear to be part of the congregation? Can I sing or should I stay silent? How do I make it clear I’m “just visiting”? If “visiting” is okay but “worshiping” is not, then there is a distinction, and if it’s such a big deal, surely there are guidelines which would be clear to longtime Catholics. Aside from, obviously, not taking communion there… how do I “not worship”?

No you would not have to sit there doing nothing. You can sing hymns, join in prayer, etc. (Assuming the songs and prayers are not in opposition to the Catholic faith… I’m thinking of fringe groups like LDS, Jehovah Witnesses, and non-Trinitarian churches).

You should refrain from doing anything that clearly denies or goes against a Catholic teaching or prohibition in canon law-- for example you cannot participate in non-Catholic communion, a “same sex” marriage, being a “godparent” to a non-Catholic child, etc.

This Catholic Answers Q&A you link to is NOT an authoritative teaching of the Church. It is a Catholic Answers staff member opinion.

There is a definite difference between a one time special event like a family/friend wedding, baptism, funeral, and regular attendance at a non-Catholic service. I think the Catholic Answers response is a little off. Catholics are not prohibited from attending non-Catholic services on an exceptional basis for reasons such as the one you mention. Nor is there any prohibition on praying, singing, etc, while attending.

For Church teaching, look to the Vatican II documents on ecumenism and also to documents such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Ut Unum Sint, Dominus Iesus, all available at the Vatican website.

Thank you … I see now that I was misinterpreting the statement; the writer must have meant that it’s wrong to routinely attend a Protestant church for purposes of worship (perhaps even neglecting Mass obligations) as if it’s just as good or close enough, rather than meaning that one may visit occasionally but be careful not to worship while visiting. I’ve read the question/answer I linked to several times over the past few months and was concerned every time!

First of all, I would like to say that the answer provided is not 100% accurate. It states that worshiping at another church breaks the fist commandment. If it is a Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim church then, according to Catholic doctrine, it is the same God and you would not be breaking the first commandment.

Secondly, the initial premise seems to be flawed. It is prudent to invite them because Catholicism is true but not prudent to go to their services because their religion is false. From their perspective their religion is true and Catholicism is false. We’re talking about interacting with others here. For the Catholic to ask someone to do something the Catholic themselves is not willing to do is not appropriate no matter the reason. So, if you’re not willing to go to their services that’s fine but then don’t invite them to yours and the reasoning is that they feel their religion is true as strongly as you do.

The Catholic Church recognizes, almost universally, Protestant baptisms and marriages. Please speak truthfully on matters and do not twist them to make your case stronger.

Yes, the Catholic Church recognizes baptism and marriage, but Jack said they do not have ALL the sacraments, so he spoke truthfully. There was no twisting, just a failure to understand his point.


Since God has ordained that we worship Him by offering proper sacrifice, and since that sacrifice is the Mass, attending a Protestant service is in fact like going to a prayer meeting or a praise service. It is not that it is bad, it is that it is not worship, or at least not complete worship. And it does not, in fact, fulfill ones Sunday obligation to participate in the Mass. So, for example, if you are in a mixed marriage you may attend your spouse’s church for the sake of harmony, but you must also go to Mass (you can’t do one this week and the other next week). And, sadly but perhaps obviously, you cannot received their symbolic communion, as that would imply a unity or equivalency that does not exist.

That is not what jack said. Jack said that they LACK ALL THE SACRAMENTS which means that they do not have any of them. You are the one who failed to understand, so much so that you completely rephrased what he wrote.

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